Antique Sound Lab 805 DT SETs--WOW

This isn't a review but more an attempt to reduce my initial impressions to writing. I'm anything but a golden-eared audiofile; I'm more a tin-eared audiofool as I've said many times. One reason for that is my aural memory seems to be about 3 seconds long. Others change a component and listen to a system they haven't heard for a day and say 'gee, listen to that', or 'doesn't THAT sound lots better!'. I stand there and think something like 'yea it sounds OK, but how does he REMEMBER how it USED to sound?'. However, I seem to be good at longer-term evaluations done over days, weeks, etc.

Thursday a pair of new ASL Explorer 805 DT poweramps arrived. (They're 50-Watt Single-Ended Triodes that use the big 805 transmitting tube for output, a 12AX7 frontend, and a 6L6/KT66/EL34 driver. [Mine were supplied with EH 12AX7s and Chinese 6L6s. I'm using a pair of National Union/Amperex 805s I bought USED.] The amps retail for $2995/pr. I bought mine from the very helpful Chris Kipp of The Audio Gallery in Sacramento.) I've been using a pair of very-nice-sounding New Generation 100-Watt (in UL) mono amps in triode, producing about 40 Watts each. (See my System for more info.) The 805DTs went in Thursday, I listened for a couple hours, rebalanced* the multichannel system Friday nite and listened a bit that evening too. Today I played a DVD-A, Korngold's music from 'Robin Hood', on Naxos. I love this music and this recording and have heard it many times.

WOW is the best word I can come up with to describe the wonderful sound I hear today. The sound is simply more natural and PLEASANT sounds more like real music sounds to me, and I hear a LOT of it in concert halls all over the West. Euphonic colorations? Maybe; I don't care...the MUSIC sounds GREAT and makes my investment worth every penny. NOTHING else changed in the system; only the poweramps. Just think...they'll get better as everything breaks in--I can hardly wait.

Back later--there's MUSIC to listen to. ........ :-)

* This required only a 1dB increase in the front-L/R channels. NOTHING else was changed.
Jeff, glad to hear you have found set to your liking. Hearing what set can do for your favoritye music is truly a revelation. I bought an ASL Orchid from Chris for my office system. You in Sacramento? We have a loose group going...
I'm in Phoenix but would be happy to be included in an e-mail group. but substitute '@' for 'at'.

Have upgraded a couple caps in one by now; will send details if you're intertested.
Congratulations. I had the same response to the C-J Premier 11a that you sold me two weeks ago. That ASL must really be something special. We'll see if you're ready to commit to this amp long-term by checking up on your system description. BTW, how big did you say those single output tubes were?
Changing and moving up for better sound IS what it's all about.--My hearing is not much better--should rephrase and say---maybe not as good.But that doesn't keep my joy-of-the-search muted.--Nor the joy when your system becomes elevated by 'that' new piece. I just received my DeHavilland Aries g;on Fri.---My first ever brand new tube amp. I think my expatiations were to high---or it takes more breakin. My jaw is right where it always has been.
On the rare occasions where I've heard 805-based amps, I've been very impressed. I've often wondered why we don't see more amps based on this tube.
I think one reason the 805 isn't used more is that it's hard to drive, in that it takes lots of voltage. The ASLs use a 6L6/KT66/EL34 driver (in triode, of course) plus an interstage transformer to do that.

The music sure sounds good.

I have NOS RCAs (on loan from Chris, as one of the originals was broken when they arrived at TSG) plus pairs of used Cetron and National Union(Amperex) 805s. The Cetrons won't bias correctly...i.e. they require lots more initial bias voltage to avoid motorboating than ASL wants us to start with, so I'll send those back (to Leeds, BTW). Have ordered a pair of new-production Mullard EL34s for drivers.
Congratulations on the new amps, Jeffreybehr!!!

Enjoy them with the best of health and sound!

I think ASL amplifiers are more than underrated. My friend had a pair of ASL 1009 (double 845 tubes), and although he moved away from them, I found them to be by far the most compelling amplifiers he has ever had in his system. I still regret him selling them...
The 805 tube seems to get less "respect" than other triodes because it was not originally designed for audio amplifier use. SET cicuit simplicity/sound and 50W per channel - what's not to like? I've a pair of Ming Da MC-805A monoblocks that use 6L6s without interstage transformers and love the sound. At $1100 new they were a huge bargain, leaving me the funds to send them to Bill Baker of Response Audio for all out modding with V-caps, all new wiring, Yamamoto teflon tube sockets, yada yada. Versatile enough for added duty as night lights and winter space heaters. Happy you're enjoying the music!
TYVM Trelja and Jb. I SURELY am enjoying the music more now; even movies sound better.

$1100 for a pair of 805-powered SETs?

I'll be modding mine a little bit at a time. For the 2 couplers, one a 3/1200(!!!!!), I'm using Mundorf's M-Cap Supreme Silver/Oil 1200VDC caps for the first time. I have not yet carefully compared the recapped amp to the original. Also will adding some PS-bypass caps and replacing the 3 polarized-electrolytic decouplers with 'propylenes...630V. Solens bypassed with "1.22uF" Northcreek Zens.
I was interested in the experiences in this thread, because of my recent venture into the world of SETs - with an ASL MG Head MKIII for my headphones. Marvellous, shimmering, living, resonant air! I'm afraid it may have spoiled quite decent SS for me in my main system. Any experienced recommendations for the best ASL tubes for high quality, not-particularly-efficient mini-monitors in a small room?
I have just purchased a set of 2nd hand ASL explorer 805 SET (old one with a meter). At 50W they can drive the 85db MBL 111 without any problem and really a different kind of sound from the push-pull. Seems more coherent and real. Push-pull is more dynamic where this 805 mono still delivers firm grip on the bass.

Try 4ohm settings which sound the best to me.
Congrats. A lot of people dismiss high powered SET amps but I like them just as much as the flea powered SET's. I had the same reaction when I received my GM-70 amp (38W). Sit back and enjoy.
Hello Jefftsefu. Thx for resurrecting this tread; it gives me an opportunity to blab.
I kept and loved these amps thru a pair of Quad 989s, but I tired of the 989s' excessive treble energy (for me) and bought a less-sensitive mag-planar speaker. The 805s didn't have enough power to drive them, so I sold the 805s and bought a pair of ASL Hurricanes, improved them greatly, sold the mag-planars, built hi-sensitivity open-baffle line-arrays, retired the 'Canes, moved to low-power SETs, bought in August 2010 a pair of Audio Physic Avanti IIIs, continued to use the 12-Watt SETs, sold them this month, and bought a pair of (GASP!) Marantz sand amps. The latter are the M-22s, 75-into-4, Class-A-biased monoamps.
I also ordered a new pair of ASL Explorer 805 amps (the RR is up to $4750!!!!!!!!) which should be here in a month or 3, and I've also ordered a pair of Monarchy Audio SM70Pros. The latter are 40-into-4, Class-A, MOSFET-output stereo amps that have an excellent reputation for sounding much better than their low price and overall at least very good. (I'll vertically biamp the lower-MR driver and the MR/treble drivers, which is doable since I've outboarded the X-overs and rewired the drivers.)
After the SM70Ps get here and break-in, I'll determine which of these sandamps sound better (and return the SM70Ps if necessary) and also if I can live for years without vacuumtubes in my poweramps. If I decide I can't--that is, if the better of these sandamps don't create enough 'goosebump' moments of sonic bliss--and I've had them several times with the Avantis driven by the Marantzes, but more often when driven by the now-gone 12-Watt Music Reference SETs--I'll accept the 805s and see how they sound.
So maybe I will return to SET heaven, and maybe I won't, but whichever I choose, the new system has never sounded better, overall.
Jefftsefu, I hope you fall in love with the sounds of wonderful music that SETs can deliver.
Jeffreybehr, we exchanged messages a few years ago (Two Jeffreys question).
Apparently you still have that turnstile installed in the doorway of your
listening room! You certainly have gone through a variety of equipment. But
it sounds like you're having fun and that's good.

Now, regarding power needs. A year and a half ago I bought a pair of 97 dB
speakers, my first venture into HE systems. I was able to borrow a number of
amps from friends (no local dealers seem to be into HE systems) that ranged
from 3-4 watts up to 25, and a mix of SET and PP. In general, even with the
efficiency of my speakers, musical realism/satisfaction improved with each
increase in power output. There was one exception, a 6 watt PX-25 amp that
sounds like it has roughly triple the output. It also offers a musical
refinement most of the more powerful amps didn't produce.

My bottom line conclusion? Generally you can't rely on an efficiency/power
needs chart, so don't hesitate to try more powerful amps than such a chart
tells you. A 97 dB speaker will play at 103 dB with only 4 watts? Not
successfully if you listen in at least an average size room and to anything
other than chamber music or solo folk singers.