Dennis Had Inspire amps and preamps.


Recently acquired a lightly used LP27a and a SEP Firebottle HO amp after a recent dip into SET/SEP-dom.  I liked them enough to order a new LP3a preamp from the "auction site."  Hand-made in USA by an arguable hifi "legend" at, imo, comparably reasonable prices.

These pop up from time to time in various A-gon discussions.  I know there is an unwieldy and lengthy discussion on another site, but thought would try to open up a fresh one, here.

Curious about (good or bad) experiences, listening impressions, tube-rolling, mods/upgrades, speaker/gear pairings/synergies, etc.

Right now, I have the Firebottle with Omega 3 HOs, and am enjoying the result.  One immediate question would be what tubes can be used in the Firebottle and in the output tube in the LP27a.  I bought them used.  I have an inquiry to Mr. Had on that, but maybe others have first hand experience on what works well?  For example, the LP27a came with a 6sn7, but I've read that others have been able to use 6sl7 and even 6bx7 in that spot.

Thank you.

stfoth
No clue about the preamp except that they’re well regarded, but I’ve been raving about the Fire Bottle HO amp ad nauseum since I bought it a couple of months ago…my fave tubes are the supplied new version Gold Lion KT88s with an Amperex 6SN7GTB (NOS USA version I like enough that I bought another one), with a serious looking Shuguang 274B rectifier (the amp came with a JJ 5Y3S that sounded fine, but the other rectifiers seem more suited to the 88s). I tried KT150s in the thing but the 88s sound better to me, and KT77s are just OK in my rig but others have had good sound from those. The new Gold Lion GZ34/U77 is a great sounding rectifier tube also but the 274B just looks so cool…you can hear the tube differences immediately with this amp, and it seems you can stick nearly anything in it and it handles it fine. I use 91db Silverline Prelude speakers with 2 REL subs….best sounding amp I’ve owned in over 5 decades of this stuff….amazing…and FUN.
I had no success with an Inspire Fire Bottle KT88 amp. I really wanted to love it, I even had Dennis custom make it in blue, to match the color of my Cary SLP-98 F1 preamp. Unfortunately, no matter what tubes I tried, and Dennis did send me many to try, I just couldn't get it to open up.
Always sounded closed in and congested, with rolled off highs and lows.

Speakers were Soliloquy 6.3i, which I thought would be a good match, since Dennis helped to design them. No dice.

It was a joy working with Mr Had though. It was a fun experience, and in the end, he had me send it back to him because he was sure it was damaged.
Upon receipt though he said there was nothing wrong with it, so he refunded my money. No harm, no foul.

If it works for you, enjoy it!!!
Wolf and John have such vastly different results with the same power amplifier. Either the speakers used account for this or Wolf has possibly a "later" or "improved" version of this amplifier.

Wolf is the Silverline Prelude a better match than your Sonist speaker with this Had amplifier? Best sounding amplifier you’ve had in 5 decades is quite a compliment, congratulations on obtaining this level of sonic bliss.
Charles
Wolf--Pretty sure your "raving," at least subconsciously, influenced my decision to pull the trigger on it.  I bought my amp lightly used.  It came with GL KT88s, a vintage RCA 5u4g, and a metal base 6sn7w(!).  I've read that Mr. Had pretty much built these to be able to take just about any tube that will fit.  But, I'm afraid to just start changing without knowing.  I'm pretty sure KT77, 6l6, 6ca7, 6550c, kt90, el34, kt90, kt99, kt66, kt120, and kt150 work, but not sure if the rectifier needs to change with the power tubes.  The kt150 is supposed to kick up an extra watt.  It's the one that's supposed to do 17 watts with KT88 and 18 with kt150 (with the big square output transformers).  Can't imagine the tubes last very long burning that hotly, so need to at least have some spares ready.  It sounds great as is, and I imagine the prior owner took some time to roll to the specific tubes.  No "need" to change, but sure wanna try it.

I have a bunch of 6sn7s, but no Amperex.  Maybe I'll hunt one down.

Just for fun, I hooked it up to a pair of power hungry Salks, and it actually sounded good--at conversational level.  It lost its mojo at a reasonable listening level.  It's the best sounding amp that I've tried with Omega 3 HO, even better than with much more expensive PSETs.  It also sounded really good with Sophia Princess Model 2 (88db).  It's a small carpeted room, for now.  Basically taking over the guest room with gear and disrupting domestic tranquility.


John:  How do you like your SLP98?  I have a red one and really like it, but it does this weird thing--as I turn it up to rockin' levels, the singer gets larger and larger--not that the singer gets closer or louder, just larger and takes up more space.  Weird.  Swapping things in and out, I've narrowed it to the SLP98.  That's my only criticism of it.


The 3,987 posts (true…likely more once I finish this post) on the Audioaficianado site are a treasure trove of info in this amp (and the preamps). The GZ34 and 274B rectifiers allow less "voltage drop" so seem to drive the 88s and similar tubes with more gusto. The Sonist speakers when compared to my Silverlines are somewhat reticent in the treble, and I'm swapping out resistors in the Sonists to fix that…we'll see…it might be some sort of system synergy issue, but it is kind of a drag as I really wanted to like the beautiful Sonists, but the Silverlines, although less efficient, seem efficient enough and have never sounded better…I was surprised when I put these back in my system at how utterly revealing and clear they sound at any level I need. I'm considering a pair of Klipsch Heresy IIIs as an experiment in efficiency since they're relatively inexpensive…but in no hurry as my system is working so well. There's an AE-3 DJH Dennis Had preamp with remote at a local shop that's interesting to me as the current Inspire preamps lack remote control…also the Shiit Freya seems like fun and I like the balanced bits (my current preamp is a dual mono SS balanced beast with isolated power supplies made by Kavent as a rebadged Vincent…strange but true).

Intuitively you’d think that the Sonist is the better speaker match for the Had amplifier due to its specifications. The Silverline Prelude apparently must present a gentle and easy load in order for this amplifier to excel to such an extent. It will be interesting to see if swapping resistors in the Sonist makes an appreciable improvement. The Had amplifier must possess a pretty respectable power supply and output transformer for it to preform this well.
Charles
Hello all,

This tube was never made by Amperex. ALL Amperex tubes on the market are Russian relabels. The Ameperex tube looked suspiciously like a Sovtek, right down to the 'flying saucer' getter. Amperex catalogs have been checked and verified to prove that Amperex never made a 6SN7 tube of any kind.


Amperex 6SN7GTB
These tubes are likely Russian-made. Be wary of overpaying for them!
Base: black
Glass: clear, orange Amperex labeling with globe logo, may have white ‘6SN7GTB’ labeling
Plates: grey, T-plates
Getter: bottom, ‘flying saucer’ getter holder, flashing extends a little bit past base, usually more so on one side
Top mica: rectangular, has ‘spring-loading’ for plates (U-shaped structures)
Other significant features: bottom mica identical to top mica. micas appear whitish. 2 support rods on either side between both micas.

I have seen a couple of these over the years either gt or gtb and both were just relabeled Russian made tubes.

I recall just ok sounding,nothing like early Slyvania's and Tung Sol's
IMO.

Kenny.


Amperex labeled tubes were made in both Hicksville and Brooklyn. Look it up.

And although the Sonists are a couple of DB more efficient, the Preludes have a certain something that just sparkles…I was surprised really, but haven't given up on the Sonists yet…more resistors are goin' in!
Wolf--can you describe what your Amperex looks like?  I did an "auction site" search, and there were a couple different ones....one claimed to have been made by GE, another labeled "made in Holland," and at least one other that I think looks like maybe a Russian re-badge.  Price on a couple--whew.

The Schiit Freya is fun, indeed.  I'm mostly running it in passive in my office with all balanced connections.  Not sure it makes a difference, but that's where the computers are, router, rat's nest computer cabling, etc.  Thought it could potentially help with noise.  I still haven't made friends with the JFET stage.  I don't think the tube stage sounds  as good as the LP27a or my other tube pres, but it's "fun" to be able to switch from a passive to add some extra tube-flavor at the push of a button.  With the stock tubes, it was pretty sterile and didn't add a whole lot.  To be fair, I probably didn't give them sufficient time to burn in.  I've tried maybe half a dozen or so combinations--didn't like it with Sylvanias (VT-231, GT, or GTB) or Raytheons.  Very much prefer it with GEs, RCAs, and/or KenRad.  I didn't try 6sn7w or TS BGRP...I refuse to put tubes in that cost nearly as much as the Freya (or more), especially when the tubes keep burning in passive or JFET mode.  I don't find it to be as sensitive to tubes as some others, though.  One note--the remote doesn't do on/off, and the switch is on the back of the Freya, if that matters.  If you don't need the balanced and aren't interested in the passive or JFET push-button tweakability, still easy enough to try and I think good for the money, but probably could do better on a tubed pre for not a ton more dough.
John: How do you like your SLP98?

I’ve moved on from the Cary SLP98. I switched speakers a few years back, and my current speakers love more resolution. I am now using an ARC Ref 5 preamp.
It was probably around 4 years ago when I was trying out Mr Had’s amps. It is quite possible that he has made some changes that make the current models more to the liking of wolfy and others.

I would not bother trying another one myself, as the sound I heard wasn’t even close to satisfactory.
I should never say never though, perhaps if I get a pair of very sensitive speakers, 98 dB or above, I may give them another go.
However, with speakers that efficient, I’d be more tempted to try an SET amp rather than a SEP amp.

BTW, I do recall Dennis recommending different rectifier tubes when using different power tubes. He had me using a different rectifier tube when using KT88's or KT77's than when using 6V6's etc.
That ARC preamp is nice.  Too rich for me, especially while I'm in this--I wanna try different stuff--phase.

I did see a new 2a3 Inspire on the auction site a week or two ago....
Wolf Garcia,

I don't think you would be at all happy with the Hersey as a full range speaker. It does not have any ump down low, a bit honky and not very refined up top. 

I've been all over them, actually having a series 1.5. I modded the heck out of. I was able to improve on their sound but in the end it reinforced the old saying about not being able to polish a turd.

Well, they are not turds but they did not ultimately satisfy, so off they went to someone else who appreciated my hard work.

Funny that most people always comment on how loud they play with little watts, as I found that I liked them best late at night at low volumes.

For the record I tried them with various tube and solid state amps to no avail. My pair was very pretty by the time I finished with them, though.
The Had SEP  amplifier mated to the Silverline Prelude could turn out to be a result of excellent synergy that may not be that easy to exceed within a certain price range .
Charles 
Certainly synergy is the key with all this stuff, and having owned the Preludes for years used with SS and tube power amps it seemed they had become sort of boring (you know how that goes), but the Had amp really woke 'em up.
Thought I'd chime in here.

The Omega Super Alnico HO Monitors that I have sound incredible matched with my Dennis Had Inspire Fire Bottle PSE amplifier. I'm currently running KT66's (4) along with a 5R4 rectifier and a great sounding Sylvania 6SL7 input tube. I had Dennis put a Blue Alps volume pot on my amp as I prefer a direct signal from my vinyl rig.

The Tonian Classic 12.1 S with Phy full range drivers and Tonian modified super tweeters sound amazing to me with my Dennis Had Inspire amp.  I have a variety of tube options but one I like a lot is Pope 6V6GTs and Psvane CV-181 TII with a NOS RCA 5U4-G rectifier.
Jeff--Never heard the Tonians.  Look great.

Received the LP3a, yesterday, and am running it in, today.  Came with JJ 6sn7 inputs, a Sophia 6sn7 output, and a KenRad 80 rectifier.  Supposed to be able to take 6sl7s on the inputs, too.  Sounds much different from the LP27a, but I suspect that has mostly to do with the fresh new production 6sn7s over soggy, but lovely, 80-ish year old mesh plate globe 27s.

For anyone that bought new, did you find significant change with burn it (of the unit, rather than the tubes, assuming an early roll)?

By all accounts the Tonian Labs Classic 12.1 is a superb sounding  speaker that utilized the famed Phy 12" driver. It is said to produce fantastic tone and timbre, very natural sound quality. This a 97 db sensitive 16 ohm load impedance speaker. The French builder of the Phy drivers died a few years ago but I believe the driver is still currently in production.

Charles