Tubegroover, OneProf - someone whose done this, feel free to chime in!
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Interesting that you have the First Sound Pr. Dlxe Mk II pre-amp because a friend of mine who has the Berning ZH-270 brought it to my house a couple of weeks ago (and had done so before as well), and we had a great listening session in my system with a First Sound Pr. Dlxe 4.0 (two pwr supplies). We loved the sound of the Berning amp with or with out the First Sound, but on both occasions, we agreed that the Berning sounded better WITH the First Sound in the signal path and the Berning's volume pots turned up all the way.
I am going to put my friend who owns the Berning onto the wiring upgrade. He will probably appreciate the improvement.
On a side note, partly because of the way the First Sound pre' worked so well in that listening session, I went ahead with a new upgrade that Emmanuel Go (at First Sound) now offers called the Paramount Plus. I guess it's a step above the Paramount Upgrade but a step below the full-on Paramount MkII Model. I've had the upgraded pre back for a week, and what an improvement: transparency, air, dynamics, lower noise floor, the musical intent seems to be communicated more easily, etc. Well worth the cost--in case anybody is curious about this one.
Nice combo, the First Sound and Berning.
Hi Kalan. Yes I have heard of the "big brother" First Sound preamps, and maybe one day.... For now, I am very pleased with the sound Im getting. I find these compliment each other very nicely. Both are preetty neutral for tubed gear, both provide plenty of drive pace and control - yet both truly excell in conveying the emotional content of music - it's soul.
I know Emmanuel Go has also heard this particular combination, and he was also very pleased with how these mate-up.
Ill post more after the wiring upgrade, which i expect shortly.
Art, it will be worth it. It took at least two weeks for mine between shipping and all, and that was early on before a lot of people wanted the upgrade. By the way, I got some very small pieces of the upgrade wire from Allan and used it to jump the positive terminals on my 270's, I cannot BELIEVE the difference in clarity and resolution.
I am sure it will be worth it. I don't mean to make more out of this delay than necessary, it was just a matter of expectations (i.e., being told one thing and having something very different happen).
Could you please elaborate about "jumping the + terminals" - you jumped across the speaker output terminals? or where?
Since I have the monoblocked Bernings I have to jump across the positive speaker terminals on each amp to combine both channels into one. The negative terminals are connected internally. Can't be done with a single 270 running in stereo. I wish there were some other places to use this wire in the amp, but apparently there aren't.
IT"S HERE! It will take 2-3 weeks for the thing to break in, and I may never be able to give a fair "before and after" analysis because I changed my digital source and rolled a few more tubes at the same time. I'll try to post more later, though sorting through these variables will be tough.
I will say that already music has never sounded better in my system, but cant say how much of this is the Berning upgrade versus going from the Levinson 390S to an Audio Aero Capitole II SE version, or rolling the 1940's Mullard 12AT7's into the Berning.
Hi Steve. I can't honestly say, because I did the wiring upgrade and changed sources and the wiring upgrade - all at the same time.
However, I can say from my prior efforts (before all this chnge) that the "5-star GE" 12AV7 is very good. it made a HUGE difference over the stock tubes, much quieter and much better bass. I would also say the much vunted telefunken 12AT7's were not as good a fit to my ears - a bit too aggressive. I bought the Mullards based on Allan B's recommendation, and they hit the amp with all the other changes, so i wouldn't be able to say what they specifically added to the equation. I guess could roll the stock back in, but dont plan on it, given all the other changes and the need for the Berning to break in.
here's an older thread on others' experiences.
Having packed up the preamp for shipment, I'm now sans preamp, and I'm starting to really like what I hear. Allan B, who sells /upgrades the Berning had told me that with the rest of my system being what it was, that a fully modded (i.e., wiring and cap upgraded) Berning would be "involving and developed" enough to run direct without a preamp. I said, "yeah right" based on every other experience I had running without a preamp (wadia, levinson, eg).
Well, now that's it's got some 80+ hours on it, it is starting to really open up. He and other who have done it say it takes 250-300 hrs to be fully broken in, so i expect it to improve even further. As of right now, maybe a little less sparkle than with the preamp - but you must also consider the deleterious effects of another power cord, another set of IC's,and whatever circuitry is in the preamp - no matter how good a preamp it is - the system is really clean now, yet still obviously posseses that little bit of tube warmth the AA and Berning supply - sort of the best of both worlds (clean and detailed like SS,immense soundstage and timbral accuray of tubes)......
I think part of my being able to run this way was the addition of the very capapble audio aero - which also has a very fleshed out believable and inviting presentation - not dry or sterile at all - so there's less for a preamp to "correct." Again, i have no way of knowing how much of what im hearing is attributable to the berning wire mod, or the AA breaking in - likely both.
I certainly will add a preamp someday, just not rushing into things (for once).
Art your comments are interesting concerning running the Berning direct. I've tried it and although it it is very transparent, it seems to lack much of the involvement and presence than running through a pre. I can't tell you why this should be, maybe cabling, front end speakers. It would take some time and inclination to narrow it down and I haven't had enough of either to give it a go. Please keep us posted on your further impressions. I REALLY like the Aero Audio Capitol, maybe that unit would make a pre-amp moot.
If you go the AA route, you should spendf the extra for the SE version, which adds cryo'd tubes and upgrades the key capacitors. As I said, there is slight drop of in "goose-bump factor", but only slight, and I'm hoping it will continue to narrow the gap as both berning and AA break in.
I guess what im saying is it would have to be one damn good preamp to provide that little tiniest bit of extra magic sauce without robbing clarity and that "nth degree" of openness.
more info on the wiring/cap upgrade:
The amp is opening up more and more with more burn-in. The soundstage is quite a bit deeper than before. Individual images more clearly defined on that stage, with better timbre, and overall ease and delicacy is improved - this this thing will never compress or distort, it's immensely powerful as it always was (in my expereince as good in this regard as the better SS amps) - yet a it has an even more refined presentation, it's "like butta." Also, the bass is tight and tuneful, as before - maybe even deeper (this one is hard to say for sure).
Anyway, i still need a preamp to give a bit more body and emotional context to the music, but the fact that Im making these observations WITHOUT a preamp in the chain really does speak volumes on the Berning upgrade.
I dare say that you have not heard a Berning ZH270 until you hear it WITH the wiring and cap upgrade. Without a doubt, this is much more than a tweak. It bettered the Cryo'd tubes, ERS and after market PC (an Electraglide Epiphany in my case) - by far. Of course some of this is likely a cumulative effect of these things.....