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 sounding...it 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.
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128x128jeffreybehr
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.
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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.
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http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k220/jeffreybehr/Marantz%20M-22/17Jan2011_front_1280w.jpg
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http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k220/jeffreybehr/Marantz%20M-22/26Jan2010_rear_1280w.jpg
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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Jefftsefu, I hope you fall in love with the sounds of wonderful music that SETs can deliver.
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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.
It's difficult to find impressions of NOS 805 tubes. I am looking to venture into that world after trying an RCA 805 and liking it. Do you fellas have any experience with other NOS 805s and what are your preferences?