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I have Frankensteins for close to two years now. They are everything that I had hoped for and more. Prior to buying,I had listened to and researched many tube based amps.After reading what people said about 300b`s on the internet, I was scared off because they were thought to be slow and lacking in bass. All I can say is that these amps are ANYTHING but slow and as dynamic (with the right speakers)as my ss Denon monos that I had before. Bass is tight and realistic.
Definitely worth seeking out to audition.
I have owned the Coincident Frankenstein amplifier for 10 mogths and it`s a wonderful state of the art component when used with the proper speaker. It has the most pure, natural and non-electronic/mechanical character of any amplifier that I`ve heard so far. I have own and heard verygood push-pull tube amps that use indirectly heated tubes of the pentode type but the SET/DHT design when implemented to a very high standard(the Frankenstein certainly is) to my ears just plain sounds more convincingly real and thus is quite emotionaly involving. The Frankenstein has an exceptional ability to provide a lot of drive, control and dynamics that most would`nt expect from a 300b with 8 watts per side. The only problem I`ve had is it`s difficult to bring a listening session to a close due to the fabulous musical reproduction and enjoyment it gives without fail. The hours really do seem to pass without notice. I hope you get an opprotunity to hear it yourself.
Coltrane, I look forward to see what you think of that amp. I really liked it. Great looking piece, and I like the idea of EL34 driver tubes for the 300B power tubes. Unfortunately, it's not a match for me. Spoke with Ian Grant. Seems like a great guy. But the 534B cannnot operate as a "direct" option power amp, and my subs can't run off speaker taps. Also, the A534B doesn't have a phone stage, so I'd have to forsake the very nice phono stage in my EAR 868 and buy a separate one.
Too bad. Seems like a very nice amplifier. Still taking a long hard look at the Franks....
I think I will...so psyched to try them out, I actually sent the payment today- by overnight express no less. Really want to hear these amps. I see yours have black faceplates- were they the first iteration of the Franks, Montejay? What are the differences between those and the one I will be receiving? Did you get the upgraded tubes? Israel calls them the "black bottle" 300B....are those the KR300B that he used to use as upgrades, or are the the Shuguang Treasure models? Have you tried any other 300B tubes? I have read that the tubes used in these amps can significantly alter the sound. It's easy to roll since they auto-bias.
You must be very excited.:)!
My Franks are the last of the original MKII's. Coincident has made several improvements since then. I believe the biggest change besides the cosmetics is that the tranformer is bigger and they now run cooler.
I initially had the KR's but one failed in less then 100 hours.I currently have both TJ carbon mesh plates and black bottles.I have yet to here a 300b that sound poor with these amps, but if you want to flesh out everything the amps can offer the Black Bottles are the best imo.
In my system the Black bottles are clearly superior in the detail and extending out the highs.That is NOT to say they sound more shrill. If anything they sound sweeter and more detailed. In listening to something like Keith Jarrett's trio, Dejohnette's druming clearly shows off what these tubes do over the TJ's mesh plates(also a very nice tube) much better then how I could explain it in this forum.
They also seem to flesh out the holographic placement of the instruments.
My amp finally arrived and as promised I've returned to give a brief review of the 534B. As with most everything audio each users experience will vary. This is my first 300B SET experience, but frankly I can't imagine why anyone would spend more. Perhaps it was a plus possessing 96dB efficient speakers, but I spent an entire day listening, which I've not done in recent memory. The presentation was as natural sounding as I've heard. It probably doesn't hurt that the 534B is only having to drive the upper end of an open baffle design, and LF duty is covered by a pair of plate amps assigned to each speaker handling everything below 100Hz. I had all the volume one could ask for and more for a moderately sized room, and frankly didn't turn the control past the 10 o'clock position. It's well built, and much larger than I anticipated. I was thinking it would likely be a bit larger than my Prologue 5, but nooooo it's over twice that size and then some. This thing's a beast, and fills up the majority of a Salamander Designs amp stand. I've owned some pricey gear in the past, yet compared to the presentation and build quality of the product I'd heartily recommend running and not walking to snag one. It's the real deal, and I can't wait for the sun to rise so I can begin another listening day. I'd be the first to admit that I'd never had thought a product made in China would have me anxiously awaiting another listening session, yet that's clearly the case. Between PrimaLuna, Melody, and now GF, one doesn't have to mortgage the house to gain serious performance, nor do any of these products leave this listener feeling as if I'm lacking for more.
Nice. The Grant is made in Canada, no? It looked like a very nice amp cosmetically, quite attractive, and the reviews were very strong. I'd have gone for it had I been able to use it as a power amp only, but that's not an option, nor would it have allowed me to run my sub without some serious jack rigging. Perhaps it's the 300B sound you like so much? I'm sure the amp has a lot to do with it. The Grant products seem to be quality built pieces. Meanwhile.....my Frankensteins were shipped to Denver (I'm in South Carolina)....imagine that person's surprise when he opened the boxes and found Franks instead of the Dragons he ordered....they've been re-routed to me, but won't arrive until Monday at the latest. Boooo.....
Coltrane, nice to see you enjoying the Grant.
Ah. I see that Grant imports products from China and sells them under the Grant name. My bad.
Got the Frankensteins today. Too soon to form much of an opinion, but they seem very transparent in the mids without coloration. Doesn't seem to lack much in the guts department, either, as they get plenty loud without any signs of stress.
I totally agree.Be patient any enjoy the fun in breaking these special amps that are in my opinion, one of the finest amplifiers available.
As amazing as they are, their performance can be enhanced by the addition of the Coincident Statement Line Stage I had in my system for two weeks a few month ago. The linestage is totally transparent so it does not diminish those qualities of the Franks, but it adds a sense of impact and authority that makes them seem like they are now 50 watts instead of 8. The combination of those 2 units brings about an incredible enhancement in the musical experience.
Are yours a bit grainy on warm up? For the first 15 minutes of listening or so, they seem a bit dirty- but once warm, they're crystal clear. It's an interesting transition from the Franks to the MastersounD. The former is exquisitely detailed- you can hear picks moving over strings, and everything seems right there. The MastersounD has WAY more grunt- it can overpower the solid state Rowland without breaking a sweat. I was a bit surprised at how much more headroom seems available with the 845 amp than there is with the Franks. Yet, the MastersounD retains a lot of the clarity of the Franks. Each have their strengths.
The Mastersound 845 is an exceptionally good amp and of course in your case fully broken in. The 300b won`t match the power of a 845 tube. You need hours of break in for the amp and 300b treasure tubes before they reveal their wonderful capabilities. If you think the Frankenstein is detailed and transparent now, you`ve heard nothing yet!
Very true. Also very true about comparing a 300B tube to the output one gets from an 845 tube. But I have been just a bit surprised by the relative headroom the amps seem to have....the MastersounD seems to have a LOT more- more than I had expected. I think a lot of it has to do with the music you listen to as well. Jazz, classical (some of it), seems like the Franks win with their accuracy and detail. You want to crank it up with some rock and roll, or even the 1812 Overture, the MastersounD becomes boss. The 300B's have that delicacy in the mids that is really, really nice....but the 845 tube isn't that inferior to it. I'm fortunate. Have the option of going back and forth between top notch SET amps based on different output tubes. It's a fun trial and error routine. Also need to nab some better IC's to run with the Franks- the old MIT's I'm using don't hold a candle to the Audio Metallurgy GA-0's I have with the MastersounD. Hoping that changes when I add in the Discovery Plus 4 IC's to the Frankenstein circuit. Waiting on some XLR-RCA adapters right now.
Wonder why the Franks are only rated at 8 wpc, while some other SET 300B's are capable of 15-20 wpc? Not complaining, just curious.
The type of music and volume level preferences make a difference for sure.The 845 amp will win the grunt/rock and roll/large symphony battle, as the Frankenstein breaks in it will narrow but won`t completely close that gap. The special beauty of the Franks is with acoustic jazz and un amplified music in general. Although the mastersound is very good with this type of music ultimately I think the franks will be subtlely superior as they become increasing more organic,pure and oh so natrural with tonality,timbre and harmonic preservation. No amp can be perfect and excel in every single parameter of sound /music reproduction.The Mastersound will have the power upperhand beyond the Frankenstein`single 300b yet not quite match the transparency and purity. How forunate you are to have both.
Found a cure to some of the issues. Well, not a cure, because it wasn't really a problem....the Discovery cables added more neutrality to the Franks...definitely cleaner. Going to go with some Coincident IC's to clean things up even more. The big thing was setting the gain down on the CD5. It really brought out the clarity in the Franks. Was using high gain- on the medium setting, they're clear as a bell. Not too surprising, as Doug Schroeder mentioned in his CD5 review that the high gain can add some noise into the circuit. The Franks get better with each listening session.
Update: The Frankensteins are really opening up. Very clear, great imaging, dead quiet. Bass is authoratative, not rolled off, and the highs are excellent, with little roll off as well. Think some of the grainy character was due to the MIT cables I was using- they're old and have seen their fair share of abuse. The Coincident Extreme IC's make the amps sound even better. Very neutral. Seem cleaner than the Discovery cables. Thanks to all who helped me out here. These are great amplifiers, and I'm exceptionally pleased with them. Sure as hell don't sound like "only" 8 watts now. New turntable arrives this week. Can't wait to see how it sounds then.
Tony, before I purchased these amps that was my primary concern also, would 8 watts drive my speakers. Israel Bloom promised they would be more than enough, well that was an understatement they are simply fanstatic with my speakers(Coincident Total Eclipse-94db and 14 ohm load). My room is fairly large but the sound completely saturates the entire space, not just in terms of volume, I mean spooky presence and sound projecting seemingly from real performers on a stage. I would think with your Zu speakers your experience will be quite similar. As they continue to breakin your appreciation of the Frankensteins will grow much deeper.
What`s your impression of their performance in terms of tonality/timbre and harmonic overtone preservation?
Tonality/timbre is very neutral in my opinion, Charles. They don't seem to color the sound at all- what's on the source is what you get, right down to very fine soft sounds at the fringe of the recordings. They pull everything out of the source. The soundstage and imaging is fabulous- you seem to be able to place instruments and voice in space like you don't get with the 845 amplifier. Cannot wait until my analog rig arrives tomorrow- should open up a whole new world with which to play in. Israel Blume was dead on- these 8 wpc are a very, very big sounding 8 wpc as the amps and tubes begin to break in, and it will only get better. He's also been an invaluable source of information to me. Just a great guy, very easy to work with. I think a lot of my initial issues with "grunt" and "graininess" were related to interconnects- the improvement I've seen with better interconnects is substantial, as in any initial reservations I had with the Franks has vanished.
Harmonic overtone preservation? LOL. You got me there, Charles. That means as much to me as pterygopalatine fossa probably means to you. If you know what the latter is, my hat is off to you in a very big way. Care to help me out with the harmonic overtone preservation stuff? Always open to learning from others here.
Good Morning Tony,
I happen to be an ER physician and I think that fossa is cranial and near the nasal bone( it`s been many years since gross anatomy in med school LOL). What I mean regarding overtones are the additional notes and harmonies you hear following the intial note or tone particularly with the playing of chords. The Frankensteins sound much more like a live guitar in it`s ability to reproduce the blending of the mixture of notes and harmony. I`d been a user of push-pull amps for years prior to SET amps exposure. The PP amps were good at reproducing these overtones, hower the Frankensteins are just excellent in this regard and sounds much closer to what I hear live. My reference is live jazz in small clubs and most often unamplified. I don`t know if it`s due to the SET circuit, the use of DHT rather than pentode tubes, or having an interstage transformer in place of coupling capacitors. Probably all the above, I`m no engineer but something`s happening for the better. Any way I`m pleased that you`re enjoying these amplifiers already and your right they will continue to improve, what fun this hobby is.I agree with your opinion of Israel completely.
Try Coincident Dragons if you need more power! I had the Franks for 8 months and it really shines with most music, no lack in dynamics and bass....except power. If you listen to alot of complex music like symphony orchestra, or even some movies....hence I've recently upgraded to Dragons. Just as Israel said, it sounded like Franks but more dynamic and transparent, more power....but it will not equal to Franks in absolute finest qualities in areas of refinement and subtly....Franks are champs in defining micro details, ultra low sound floor for purer sound, even dynamic shifts...it's ability to reproduce live music is startling.
I've read your review on statement linestage and seen your picture of your system, you certainly have my envy of owning the PR extreme!!!
No, I've not tried pairing with statement linestage. I have no doubt about the excellency of the statement linestage and would love to hear the linestage with Franks or Dragons. But the cost of owning both Statement preamp and franks is prohibitive at this point. I'm using Promitheus Audio tvc passive preamp with my Franks before and now a pair of Dragons. My music preference is classical symphony and movies, jazz and oldies are seconds....yes, movies on the Franks!! Surprisingly, movies still sound very good, never feel slow or out of steam...but 8W simply couldn't create the drama i'm craving for, and why would anybody use Franks for home theatre??? Yes, you'll find there's crazy people who does crazy things all the time....hence, the move to Dragons. :)
My next project is upgrading my Triumph Extreme Mk2 to a Coincident floorstander....
Unless you`re just determined to blow out your ear drums I`ve felt that with your very efficient Zu speakers the Frankenstein would provide all the high volume one could want. My speakers are 94db(4 to 5 db less than yours) and in my resonably large space I can produce more sound pressure than I`ll ever need. In fact I`m having the gain in my Statement linestage reduced by Israel as 20db is far more than my system needs. Lastly tony, welcome to the Frankenstein owner club
You were right on, Charles. I've since let the MastersounD out on loaner duty to Zu Audio. They'll take good care of it, but I don't think I'm missing too much. Pairing the Franks with a nice analog front end is simply intoxicating. Haven't listened to a CD in weeks now. Would love to hear the Statement Linestage. Supposed to be a great match for the Frankensteins. Wanna swap for a bit, EAR for Statement? LOL! Only problem is, I'd lose my phono stage if I did that.....
That`s quite an endorsment for the Franks from someone who owned the excellent Mastersound 845 amp(I know that it was superior to your former Jeff Roland amp). It`s amusing that with your recent amp journey as you have decreased amplifier power your system`s sound quaility has improved LOL. yOU have a very good full fuction preamp in the EAR, but yes the Statement linestage/Frankenstein duo is marvelous. The linestage sonically is a clone of the sound you`re getting with the Franks, but the addition is even better dynamics,scale,sense of even more power, yet relaxation and ease. I`m glad you`re happy with these amps.
I may have "decreased" my power requirements some, but that's changing....bought a brand new Ayon Triton a few weeks back. It's at a friend's house in Rochester being broken in. I am in no rush to get it, since I have the Franks on hand...but when my buddy does ship it down, it will be interesting to see how the 80/120 wpc of the Triton compares. Amplifiers, for me, are just a nice way to change up the sound of a system without sucking up the space that speakers do. Didn't need the Triton, just got a deal I could not pass up. Plus, it seems that the Zu speakers, while very sensitive, really like more juice. They seem to really open up when given more power. Will be yet another interesting comparison. That's half the fun, isn't it? But I do have doubts that the Triton, as good as it is supposed to be, will be able to match the clarity and detail of the Frankensteins. We'll see......
Tony what are you doing to the poor little Frankensteins? 8 watts vs 80 watts now thats a true David vs Goliath battle LOL. Well one things for sure , there`s going to be very real differences with this comparison. High power pentode-push pull against low power SET/DHT. My former amplifier was the BELLA Extreme 100 monoblocks, this was an excellent PP design 100 watt pentode/60watts triode. As fine as this amp is I kept the Franks due to better tone,resolution of overtones and it was superior at presenting a more live like sound and realism. The Franks put me right into the jazz club more convincingly. You have a different system and preferences, you may prefer the higher powered push-pull. This should be fun! keep us posted.
My experience with Coincident Frankenstein amps is a mix. The amps really sound warm and the clarity is second to none. These characters make listening to jazz, classic and vocal fantastic pleasant to the ears that I would not want anything more. On the other hands, I am disappointed in these amp when I am listening to pop, rock or and some modern jazz. I believe the drum sound too soft and does not reproduce the drum beat well. Drum beats sound flimsy lack of impact.
FYI: I used 300B tube black bottles, speakers are Tekton Lore, and preamps are Lightspeed passive or Dodd buffer.
Your experience is quite different from mine (could it be system, different
ears ?). One of the many attributes of the Frankenstein has been agility,
speed, trasient performance and vibrant energetic sound when called for. I
appreciate the fact that it isn't soft, slow or rounded off. The better the 300b
tube the better the amplifier sounds, superb resolution and transparency.
Currently I'm using these 300b tubes, Takatsuki-TA, EML XLS and the
AVVTV32 SL and these
all sound exceptional with all types of music (jazz is my predominant
genre). High energy big band and classical music are a joy. Drums sound
terrific with realistic snap, impact and timing.
But one thing is certain in audio, no component will please everyone, there
are too many variables and preferences to account for. The Frankenstein
outperformed my previous 100 watt PP amp across the board. You'll
eventually find what you're looking for in an amplifier. As always YMMV.
I believe the drum sound too soft and does not reproduce the drum beat well. Drum beats sound flimsy lack of impact
Hmmmmm...this hasn't been my experience with the Franks. They won't "pop" like a big, over damped SS amp, but to me they sound far more like real drum thwacks than the big SS amps. Could be the system? Maybe it's our different ears?
Nguyen787`s mentioning the drums in particularly caught my attention.Ironically that`s something they reproduce exceedingly well in my system.Compared to several former PP tube amps and my previous Symphonic Line solid state amplifier.The Franks reproduction is closer to what I hear live.Audio is fascinating as it reveals differences in perception among various listeners.
I'm a Coincident Dragon owner and they don't sound warm or have flimsy bass. My experience is that they are transparent and will reveal what is upstream. What are you using as the source? Could you try rolling in different tubes to see if that helps. I'm using Psvane 300B's and found them to be a step up from the stock tubes.
My source is Oppo 103, set at fixed volume, connected to passive Lightspeed Attenuator before feeds to the Franks. The Tekton Lore can reproduce cymbals like live music, but it seems to have difficult to make the drum snare, tom and kick as live music. I thought it could be my passive, so I tried Dodd Buffer, and it did not improve drum beats, slightly less transparent as the passive. It could mean that a better pre-amp or a change of speakers.
I may try to get a Audio Research LS3 (solid state) or save up for a more expensive pre-amp or different speakers. What are your preamp and speakers that used with the Franks?