Carver Crimson 275 tube amp


I have searched for owners' impressions of this amp, but have found none.  I have never owned a Carver component, but have always admired his genius.  I would like to pair a tube amp with my Spatial Audio M3 Triode Masters and recently heard Don Sachs Kootenay KT88 amp, along his bespoke preamp, and was extremely impressed.  Compared to my Platinum-upgraded McCormack DNA .05 ss amp, the sound was even more fleshed out and 3-dimensional.  The SQ difference was far from subtle... and I loved it.   

I was clear with Jim Clark when I ordered the amp that the comparison of the Crimson 275 would be to the Kootenay so if I don't think it is the equal of it, I will return it.  Stay tuned for my listening impressions in a couple of weeks.  
whitestix

Showing 15 responses by whitestix

flasd,
What an insightful review, just excellent.  I don't hear much about this amp these days, but I do not doubt your ears.  I am very happy with my Don Sachs KT88, and personally -- and this is just me -- would not buy a tube amp without auto-biasing.  Thanks again for sharing your impressions of the Carver amp. 
Ozzy,
I am really keen to see how it sounds, after being away from tube amps for many years.  My Spatial Audio speakers have a 12 ohm impedance which clearly mates well with tube amps.  Thanks for the response. 
Don offers only one amp; the descriptors are synonymous.
Tomcy6,
I did speak with Carver, but it would be more informative to hear from folks who have experience with the amp in their systems.  I will report my impressions of the amp in due course so at least we can get the ball rolling.  Jim Clark tells me that he has sold more than a dozen of them so they are out there.  Music Direct and Wally Underwood are also selling them. 
Ozzy, 
I have a couple of thread going on this amp, but I decided instead to order Don Sachs Kootenay amp after hearing it in my system.  It does everything my Platinum McCormack does... amazing LF control, but Don's amp is vastly more holographic.  Lots of the better tube amps have this characteristic.   It is a tall order for SS amps to perform similarly. 
I am still eager to hear from someone who can comment on the sound of the Crimson in their system.   
Well, this thread is over three month old and nobody has yet responded who owns a Crimson amp.  I note that the Crimson amp only 19 lbs and Don's amp is around 65 lbs.  Presumably the Crimson has much longer tube life.  Nobody seems to know why.  
Jim,
I appreciate your feedback on this thread, and I would suggest that you encourage, if possible, audiophiles to whom you have sold the amp to chime in on the thread with their experiences with their particular systems.  I think this amp might well be outstanding, but I am still surprised that that here are no extant customer reviews of the amp.  I reckon far fewer folks have a Don Sachs KT88 tube amp, but there are many reviews of his unit on this forum.  

Absent  those reviews, I will say that you offer an excellent opportunity for folks on the fence about the worthiness of this tube amp to give it a try in their system.  Bob Carver is a genius and if this amp is found to be similar in performance to the 350 mono-block tubes amps that are much heralded for good reason, then I expect you will sell lots of them.  
Very impressive, no doubt.  Thanks, Jim.
A question to Jim Clark. It is not clear how the biasing function on the Crimson unit works.   I am guessing that one would not need a voltmeter for biasing, but it doesn't appear as though it has auto-biasing.  

Can you explain the biasing procedure?   Thanks. 
Thanks for the reference, shown below.  I don't doubt that the Crimson would be a good mate for your JBL speakers!  For me, personally, a tube amp without auto-biasing is non-starter.  Tiny screwdrivers and a power-up amplifier are the not the way I roll anymore.  Cheers. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ADJUSTING THE OUTPUT TUBE BIAS ON THE CRIMSON 275

The front panel incorporates a bias meter. Turn the preamp volume control all the way down while performing bias adjustments. Use a small screwdriver and adjust the bias control (located on the rear of the amplifier) for 80 mA after the unit has warmed up for about 20 minutes. The normal range to use is from 60 mA to 120 mA, and changes here will vary the damping factor of the amplifier slightly. More current increases the damping factor, whereas less current provides a softer more tube-like sound. The design center is 100 mA, and that should be your starting point if you want to experiment. Personally, I found that I loved the sound best on my speakers when I had it set for their design center of 80 mA. It will vary from speaker to speaker, and most importantly with your taste.

The meter reads the combined current for all four output tubes, and it is normal for this current to vary slightly with changes in power line voltage.


Great to learn that the bias setting in not much vary over time.   How do you actually do the biasing.... does it entail using a small screwdriver to adjust a potentiometer, confirming the correct mA setting on the meter on the front.  If so, where are the potentiometer located?  On the top of the amp or on the back.  Is it done sequentially for each power tube?  That is what I am getting at.  Thanks. 
Jim,
I am flying in from California to attend the show.  I look forward to meeting you and hearing the Crimson for myself. 
Very impressive response and I look forward to hearing the amp at APXONA later this week.  Two points of contention.   Don's amp is a bespoke amp handcrafted from stem to stern in British Columbia, with components sources worldwide, the best components possible at real world prices.   Second, if the bias setting on the 275 as stable as you say, then that is quite fine and takes out most of the PITA fiddliness of lots of tube amps.  In contrast, Don's amp has auto-biasing circuitry, but does not warrant the tubes in the same fashion you do, which is quite remarkable.  Frankly, for me, I will never buy another amp, not that I can imagine doing to now, that does not incorporate auto-biasing.  

I am huge fan of the KEF Blades and I am very impressed that the Crimson amp drives them splendidly, as you have said.   I can't wait to hear them at Axpona later this week! 
dbass,
I got to the Carver room at Axpona and visited with Frank for just a moment, a real swell guy.  During my visit, the 350's were driving the speakers so I never got to hear the 275, but as Frank says, they are voiced to sound very similar.  The fit and finish on the amps were top notch.  I have shared my comments on Dan Sach's amp above and could not make a meaningful comparison as the Line Source speakers have quite a different sonic presentation than my Spatial Audio speakers.  
PLguy,
Great analogy.  But for my running and golf shoe, I am 100% wearing loafers.  Truth be told, I have not heard anything but exemplary reports from Crimson owners.  That should come as no surprise as Bob Carver is a living legend in the audio world.