Counterpoint, Modwright, Aesthetix sound?

Hello folks,

How does the Counterpoint SA-5.1 perform in comparisson with the Aesthetix Calypso and Modwright 9.0 SWL Se?

I believe the Counterpoint 5.1 may still be the top?

I am looking for an affordable premap, very warm like the Precision Fidelity C-9.

I don't know how the Audbile Illusion preamps perform in comparisson to them.

If anyone has compared a Counterpoint SA-5, 5.1 to Modright and Aesthetix please give feedback.
I am selling an affordable preamp. It's a full function quicksilver pre in great condition. I bought it over the AI as the dealer I worked with sold both those and we had the Counterpoint in with us too as he was trying it out. He was an AR dealer and Carey dealer as well. We both came to the conclusion that my Quick (we'll it's the one I walked out of the store with) was more open and dynamic. It was tighter in the bass too and it threw a huge soundstage on the Proacs (selling off those too as it's upgrade time for me). The Aesthetix is a great sounding pre and I believe a big step up from these other pre's you are looking at.

Counterpoint was great sounding stuff, however they had some major QC problems. Most of my friends who went that route ended up buying Quicksilver or AR since they are bulletproof. Which Aesthetix pre?
The Counterpoint 5.x preamp portrays space that the Calypso can not even begin to do. However, the Calypso has much more defined top-end extension and detail. Once you get used to a preamp like the 5.x, you will ultimately upgrade to a refined product with the Counterpoint's strengths in due time.

Moving onto an ARC preamp from the Counterpoint line years ago would not have given you the Counterpoint magic other than perhaps the SP-10 which I also owned for 8 years. The 5.x was/is a phenomenal product way ahead of its time….I suspect because of it's tube rectified power supply.
I think most agree that counterpoint was some of the best stuff you could get way back when. It was awesome stuff. I personally liked the Jadis stuff a TON...Counterpoint just had too many problems. It's too bad the company didn't make it. Great sounding gear for sure.
Yeah that was basically what a lot told me. The Counterpoint SA 5.1 did outpeform the Audio Research SP-10.

Many say it sounds warm, deatiled and very liquid unsurpassed by anthing else there on the market.
I purchased a brand new factory fresh Counterpoint 5.1 back in the day, and it proceeded to literally smoke before my eyes upon its initial power up. That was enough excitement for me!
I guess the smoke was coming from the PS/Unit, not the preamp itself
There were some issues with parts supplies with Counterpoint. Sadly, such events turned people off and that's understandable. But these were later resolved, and Michael Elliot continued on with the evolution of the 5.x into legendary performance products like the SA-11/9, the Elliot series and finally the Aria WV5 which I own and is so incredibly refined throughout. If you can find a good deal on an SA-5, go for it. if it has lasted this long, it is a keeper.
Counterpoint just blew up right when I was looking. That's why I went with Quicksilver silver monos with a full service Quick pre amp. It has been bulletproof (selling all as you know), but I was going to get Jadis within a year or two back in the day and it never happened, but kids did, lol. I personally loved the Jadis stuff back then much better, but for the cost Counterpoint was great stuff. I didn't really keep up with Elliot's newer stuff as dealers were scared off. thanks for the story.
No, the 5.1 that I bought smoked from the main preamp itself and not from the external power supply. I also had a friend whose SA-11 literally burst into flames!
We've all seen the Counterpoint breakdown. It's what they were known for. Great sounding. Did they ever figure out the problems with them? Really too bad. I wonder where they would be today if that never happened.
I am interessted What was the reason?

I suspect a voltage regulator o a cap did blow due to age reasons.

What was the reason?
I would get a Quicksilver, or at a higher price point an Art Audio Alana. Both are great preamps. I think the Alana has better definition and imaging. The Aesthetix is not really "warm".

None of the above are known for catching fire, so if you want to roast marshmallows, stick with Counterpoint.
I wonder where they would be today if that never happened.
Actually, after the Counterpoint demise, Michael Elliot returned with a new company Alta Vista Audio which was a repair/update company of older Counterpoint products. This resolved all past reliability issues with the many levels of updates being phenomenal.

And then in the mid 2000's, he created a new company, Aria Audio, to do a new design of amps….and then a few years later, the outstanding WV5 preamp. I own the WV5 and I would put this line stage up against anything today. The MM phono stage is outstanding, but the MC stage is a pair of Sowter step-up transformers which are ok, but some pre-preamps (head amps) outperform the SU devices.

Finally due to health reasons, Aria and Alta Vista Audio ended in 2012 or so.

If you go to the website, here you are likely to get the answers you're after.

As for tube-based products going up in flames, this is always a possibility. Audio Research went through a nasty time in the 1980s as well with their D250 stereo amp. And I had many events with an ARC VT130 in the 1990's with a tube failure causing a power resistor to explode causing quite a smoke bomb in the room. And the CAT amps which I now own can result in serious destruction upon a tube failure if the unit is not powered off immediately upon a tube failure.

For those people which have all these claims of Counterpoint issues and other tube products not also being vulnerable to sudden disasters, either have not lived with tube products very long, or have been very lucky to not yet have experienced such an event.
and enjoy the music
In general most of the Counterpoint preamps did not have the same issues as the amps. The mosfets used in the amps just could not take the heat and eventually blew. Funny that they had a plastic cover over the mosfets. That being said, the modified units are at a different level and to me they are very reliable. I actually do the modifications/repairs and I am listed on the Alta Vista Audio website. Two things I can tell you is that once upgraded/modified you'd have to spend a lot to beat one. I have also found ways to do the modifications that go beyond what Mike was doing. I recently rebuild the larger SA-220 amp with biploars replacing the mosfets and they amp sounded excellent. I think the sound opened up (the original mosfets were to my ears a little dark and had a sort of haze sound), the sound is also more refined and dynamic. I was the person who recommended this option on the Alta Vista Website. I have not heard the Quick Silver preamp in some time and the one I heard was under $1000 if I remember correctly. The stock Counterpoint SA-5000 smoked it using good Amperex tubes. It also was better than the AI preamp. Once modified, it is another level. The SA-5000 can be taken to another level b simply getting the trim controls out of the way (see the AVA website). I do like the 5 series but the smaller chassis does not offer enough room to do that much especially with the newer caps being so large. In my opinion, get a SA-3000, send it to me and you'll be amazed what it will sound like. Probably the most musical preamp that I have heard besides the DHT preamp I build.

Jafox knows what he is taking about although my DHT preamp will probably be better sounding then what he is using now. Too bad your not in the NYC area.

Happy Listening.

05-31-14: Audioconnection
and enjoy the music
Audioconnection (Answers | This Thread)
Quicksilver V4 is now using KT150. How does it compare to Convergent, ARC, VAC ... in terms of sound quality and sonic characteristics?
Big, thanks for sharing and it's good to know about. The Quicksilver pre that I'm selling (sorry again for the shill) is the one that Johnny R and I are talking about. It's the first one. Full function with the 5AR4 rectifier tube. It may be the best product that Mike Saunders has ever built. To this day it sounds better than most of the tubed preamps up to 6k or so. It's in a different league than any of his newer line stage or the remote preamps. When I heard it against the more expensive Counterpoint it was very close and that says a lot. I'd love to hear them side by side, but the Quick pre is still affordable for most as used it's going for under 1k. How much is the Counterpoint going for? Not saying it's not worth it, but once you start to do the upgrades just to make the preamp work properly and to sound better, you are in the multi thousands and up and that doesn't include the cost of the used preamp itself or am I reading that incorrectly? Again, please don't think I'm not saying it's not worth it, because it probably is for the person who already has one and wants it fixed or to just upgrade.

This reminds me of why I went with Quicksilver and that AI was my second choice....price vs performance. For me I was able to get 95% or more of what I wanted and needed by going this route rather than going with Counterpoint (again I loved the sound, but worried as all my friends who went that route got screwed when they blew up and couldn't get them fixed properly...back then). AR stuff was solidly built. Company stayed around and fixed any problems and it was close in sound to the Counterpoint.

I think it's a personal thing, like anything else in audio. I wanted and still want to buy from companies that have been around for awhile with a track record of strong customer service and with products that were designed properly out of the gate. I am in NO WAY putting down Counterpoint and for you to be still upgrading and fixing their units is a great thing and I love hearing that story. Hope I haven't put foot in mouth. It's just your typical, how much is it worth to get that last percent? thanks for listening.
I can honesly say myself I have lived with a lot of tube and solid state products and yeah once I experienced myself an amp going up in smoke.

It was a loud bang and that was it, but it did never burst into flames.

That just sounds a little strange to me mhm???
AGreed with JaFox above
I agree with you Jperry. I have heard Aesthetix at Johnny's a couple of times and it was on the Vandy 7's. Sounded just awesome. Also heard the AR stuff on them and they too sounded great. Two different sounds. Most could live with either.

The Quick is sold (now he has 2 sets of Proacs and the Quick Silver mono's to sell). It will be interesting since he can put KT 88's, 120's or 150's into the SilverMonos for those who need more and more power. I would love to hear the differences other than more power. The original amps sounded really great vs the AR stuff considering they were half the cost.
After reading threads and research, I'd stay away from any of the Counterpoint stuff. I have seen the prices for the modded out gear that fixes the problems, but for that cost, I can get new that sounds amazing or used from AR or Jadis that rocks too. JMHO. I have enjoyed the Aesthetix gear as I"ve posted in the past. Tubes are just an interesting breed as they always sound different in different amps. I'm just not into the tube rolling deal like so many are. Knock yourselves out. I think at this point in my life, I just want stable, easy to maintain equipment that sounds awesome and it's the price of a foreign sports car.
I am currently listening to the Quicksilver, (great preamp BTW), the Marsh b2000, also great, the Marantz AV8003, and Calypso. Recently auditioned ARC Ref 5 and 10, with my amp, and preferred the Calypso. The ARC preamps were superb, just a little less fleshed out. But, better separated and layered stage. Hard to fault, just taste preference. I also compared with the latest VTL, good but balanced a little warm...a beautiful warm though. Must match with your amp and cables.
The Calypso is just magical. Forgiving, yet revealing and accurate. A real keeper.
The calypso is flat as a pancake once you hear the Callisto.
If you guys are in the New Jersey area send me a message. You can come by and hear different items that I make and repair. If you can find a Counterpoint SA-2000 cheap I can take it to another level for $500. I am thinking about producing a preamp based on this overall design.
Forgot to add Jafox The 5.x was/is a phenomenal product way ahead of its time….I suspect because of it's tube rectified power supply. This what I do to the SA-2000 preamp only better. It filters out the AC noise, provides a black background so you can really hear the dynamic contrasts better and way musical tubeish sounding but no smearing of the sound.