@kw6 You'd be shocked how well the Luxman MQ-88uC pairs with O/96's. And the MQ-300 pairing is stellar - even more so.
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"@kw6 You’d be shocked how well the Luxman MQ-88uC pairs with O/96’s. And the MQ-300 pairing is stellar - even more so."
I wonder if @kw6 was referring to the Luxman solid state amplifiers specifically. It’s difficult to imagine why their tube amplifiers (Particularly the MQ series) wouldn’t pair well with the Orangutan/96. I do not doubt that the 4 he recommends are excellent choices.
@charles1dad and crandell25, the stock Bottlehead offerings are ok out of the box, but they really benefit from substituting higher end pieces. These custom amps are built by one of their lead designers (a friend) who is sourcing some rare iron, and letting me spec the coupling caps and higher end parts. The amp design is not currently from BH’s product offering, so a bit custom, though the preamp (BeePre2) is available - I just specc’d higher end caps and a buffered output, plus upgraded NOS tubes. PM me if interested and I can connect you with him. I’m usually skeptical of custom builds but I compared 3 of his builds to my Leben and was shocked by the performance. It was interesting to compare identical amps where the transformer and caps were different - really huge differences. My build gives all the SET magic but with more flesh and bass slam, something I don’t think about when talking about 300b SETs usually, but clearly they are capable if built properly. Biggest gripe about the BH builds is they cheap out on the cabinets and switch gear, but all of those are easily remedied with custom parts and wood worker friends.
I do like the Leben. - it really does sound very different swapping out various tubes. And it’s built like an heirloom piece.
If I was buying a name brand 300b, the Airtight would be at the top of my list, along with an AudioNote, and some of the Shindos. I wish Leben would do a 300b integrated - I liked my Woo WA5.
@ghasley, I agree the cables and mix make a difference. I think the Leben can sound very saturated in a good way, and even while the Shindo is less “juicy” to my ears, I enjoy it, but I tend to like a sweeter, richer sound even if not technically neutral or accurate. On my Leben I’m using Acoustic Zen Silver Reference RCA and Satori speaker cables, but would like to test out the A23 cables (the dealer used these when I demoed the Leben and O/96 and it was a wonderful pairing).
"I’m usually skeptical of custom builds but I compared 3 of his builds to my Leben and was shocked by the performance. It was interesting to compare identical amps where the transformer and caps were different - really huge differences. "
Yep! I've never understood why some people are skeptical of the benefit of upgrading to better quality capacitors, output transformers (Most definitely) and other vital parts.
Many stock parts are often chosen due to cost considerations/price point targets and can be improved upon. Just because a part meets"spec" does not mean it cannot be bettered. Thank you for providing the additional information. No doubt that you are enjoying some beautiful sound quality via your audio system.
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