Are those the ones made by Dennis Haad from Cary fame?
They were the "Wave 8".
A friend had a pair that he liked (tested a batch of Svetlana 6BM8’s purchased for them).
He never brought the amps up from Palm Springs (I live in the Los Angeles are) so never heard them.
If you are in the market for something "like" that perhaps look @ the little Musical Paradise stereo amp that is around $500/shipped from a US or Canadian dealer.
It has a volume pot, two sets of RCA inputs and accepts a wide range of tubes for tube rolling (unlike the 8’s).
There is also a small (well reviewed) Jolida/Black Ice EL84 based amp for $100-$200 more.
Used Wave 8’s ended up selling in the $300-$400+ range last I looked years ago.
Thanks for the responses, but I'm mostly curious about whether the brand still survives, and how they are viewed by this community. The other thread was about some dealer apparently bashing all Chinese tube amps. ASL came to mind as a fairly early Chinese maker with a good reputation at the time. Has anyone had any experience with them in the last 10 years?
I recently got in touch with Divergent Technologies in Canada who was the North American distributor of ASL for a schematic of one of their headphone amps.
I asked what had happened to Antique Sound Labs and was told:
On Fri, Aug 27, 2021 at 10:12 AM Tash Goka <[email protected]> wrote:
Make of that what you will...
My very good friend has a pair of these Wave 8 Antique Sound Labs mono amps. I borrowed them for 10+ years or so to use in my office. I used these with an Adcom 555 Mk II preamp with a Sumo Delilah crossover into a pair of Kef C10 cabinets (with a small sub). A modest system that I used to playback signals from various PC’s and a ProJect turntable in a very small office environment.
The build quality was decent considering the price point. Each amp chassis was quite compact with a power switch on the front of the amp. 1 RCA input with the power socket on the rear. More power than you’d expect. While warm sounding and reasonably neutral, I didn’t think they were overly accurate or revealing, though the mid-fi stuff I was using them with wasn’t exactly top shelf components either.
It was fun to have them around, I was thankful to be allowed to use them and I believe my good friend still has them (sitting on a shelf unused). I would not seek out my own pair based on my listening experience.
Hope this is helpful.
I spoke to Tash Goka (owner of Divergent Technologies & former North American distributor for Antique Sound Lab) a few years back and he said that Antique Sound Lab was no longer in business. Perhaps he meant that Joseph Lau, owner of ASL, has decided to get into another business. I still own my ASL Wave 25 tube monoblocks as well as my ASL MG Head DT headphone amplifier, now 21 years old, and enjoy these audio components very much. Antique Sound Lab was a force to be reckoned with in the world of hi end audio back in the 1990's, and much of the 2000's, receiving many awards for their outstanding products. Including a few from The Absolute Sound audio magazine.
I was sorry to learn that they are no longer selling products in North America.
To this day, my main amplifier is an ASL MG SI 15 DT integrated (5 wpc triode/15 wpc pentode) that drives a pair of Belle Klipsch horn-loaded speakers (104 db SPL). It's a very capable little unit, and also has the subwoofer out jacks - a necessity with the Belles. If memory serves, initial models retailed in the $600 range; later versions were closer to $1000. I'll eventually upgrade, but it might be among the last components to go. At their price point, they were a good way to get into tube amplification. (I believe ASL were among the earliest Chinese-manufactured tube amps).
I remember when I first got into higher quality audio with headphones, in the early 2000s, their MG Head tube headphone amp was quite popular - but that fizzled quickly as the headphone amp market rapidly developed. Then I remember seeing their Hurricane amps over the years - impressive looking. Haven’t heard much discussion about them lately. I’m also curious what happened.
Thanks for all your responses. It looks like ASL no longer exists, and Joseph Lau remains unfound. I did find this brief history at this equipment review from 2007:
Twenty years ago, Antique Sound Laboratory and its affordable tube amps probably couldn’t have existed. Founded in Hong Kong by Joseph Lau, the company is a United Nations of electronics, employing Chinese manufacturing, Russian parts (in the form of EL34 tubes), and North American distribution through Canada’s Divergent Technologies. Prior to the partnership with Divergent, Lau offered tube-based amplifier kits, specifically low-watt single-ended-triode (SET) power amplifiers. However, Lau had limited reach in the marketplace, and his distributors were hesitant to support his plans for more ambitious design and production.
About that time, Tash Goka of Divergent Technologies had received rave reviews for his high-efficiency Reference 3A loudspeaker, specifically for how beautifully it responded to SET amps. Unfortunately, most SET amps were expensive, and Goka was looking for a low-cost alternative that would mate well with the 3A. After he’d talked with Lau and tested his designs, the two agreed to combine Divergent’s expertise in speaker design with Antique Sound Lab’s fine workmanship and ability, to jointly produce affordable electronics that would make musically sophisticated tube systems available to a wider range of buyers. To further its goal of attaining audiophile levels of performance in its products, Antique Sound Lab makes its own transformers, and operates its own metal shop, powder-coating paint facility, and tube-electronics assembly and testing group.
Thanks for the update, fsonicsmith! By unfound I meant that I'm assuming this quote from above "ASL IMO has decided to change course and pursue more profitable businesses " meant Joseph. A lot of high end businesses are that way - there are 1 or 2 people who are essential to the company's existence. The unspecific nature of the information about him suggests he may have left the audio industry. It's not like there's no future in electronic circuit design.