As a former owner of several Hafler products (both preamps and amps), I was saddened when David Hafler died. Over the decades since the 1950's, his products and designs made it possible for a lot of audio enthusiasts on limited budgets to enjoy high quality sound reproduction in their homes. His classic tube preamps and power amps are still being used by a lot of people, and provided the basis for the products still being sold by "Audio by van Alstine" (see this link for more info:
My last experience with the Dynaco line of preamps and amps was far too many years ago to offer a comment, but I did own several of Hafler's solid state products during the 1980's (which I had modified by Musical Concepts). The Hafler DH-110 was a pretty decent preamp for its price (particularly if you bought the kit and assembled it yourself). It was hardly the last word in transparency or imaging, but it had decent dynamics and was musically accurate. The DH-110 was a much better preamp that its immediate predecessor, the DH-100. I have an old Web site link to a Hafler discussion forum, although I am not sure how active the site is. Here is the link:
If I were looking for an inexpensive, used solid state preamp, I would buy an Adcom GFP-565 (which I also owned), which was a much better preamp than the Hafler DH-110. The Adcom 565 is often sold here on Audiogon for around $300, and it offers a fine value at that price.
I've been looking at Adcom 565's. Great minds...
There's also a Quad 34 for sale here that looks interesting, but I know little about Quad gear. I need a phono stage since I have lots of old vinyl and an old Thorens to play them on.
Just listed my Dyna PAT-4 here as a fixer-upper, BTW. Wish I'd done the same with my deceased Stereo 120 instead of putting it out with the trash. Somebody could have got it working again and given a bit of audio history a good home.
My recent return to audio has been a real Rip van Winkle/Through the Looking Glass experience!
Bcoppola, welcome back to the audio world. I too was in a Rip Van Winkle state and when I awoke, it was a different world. I commenced to reading through as many of the threads in the discussion forums that I could. That was two years ago. So far, what I have found is a world taken over by the internet, at least in the high end of audio. Since the late 70's technology has advanced quite a bit,especially in the digital realm. In other areas I found that "the more things change, the more they stay the same". I also had a Hafler DH101 preamp modified by Musical Concepts and sold it when I awoke from my long slumber; I wish I had kept it for nostalgic sake. I practiically gave it away because of my naiveness. I hope you get your little nostalgic system up and running soon and begin to enjoy your music once again.
Should add that a NAD 114 has caught my eye, too. But still very interested in the Hafler history.
To put it simple, the Hafler DH-110 is probably one of the best(if not the best) "budget Audiophile" preamp on the used market today. They can be found on eBay anywhere from $50-$150(depending on condition). For decades(literally!) people have claimed that the Hafler DH-110 "sounds better than it has a right to". I for one would have to agree with that statement.
In terms of Hafler history - maybe this is what you are interested in - I was one of the initial Hafler dealers - my partners and I where starting a Hi-Fi/Record store - heard a rumor that David Hafler was going to start a new company - sent him $300 as a downpayment on three of whatever he was going to do - his reputation from the Dynace days was that good! While I am out of the industry now - here's what I remember in terms of Hafler:
1.) Initial products were the DH-101 pre-amp. Had a interesting experience shortly after these started to ship. Stopped by Hafler's suite at the Summer (Chicago) CES show. A trio of Japenese engineer's where leaving as we came in. If memory serves me this was like some very senior designer for Sony plus a assistant and a interperter. David Hafler had this odd expression on his face and comented that they had been amazed that he used such expensive transistors in the 101 pre-amp - what amazed him was that he was only paying something like 5 or 6 CENTS apiece - and couldn't believe anyone could find/use anything cheaper! (especially since Sony got a whole lot better price based on their volume purchased than he did). So I asked him what was the single most expensive component in the DH-101 - whithout hesitation he said the chasis. Now I was blown away - 101 where great sounding units for their era - but the chassis was hardly awe inspiring - not exactly Mark Levinson quality. he explained that the chasis and PC board where the only unique items in the design - all the other parts where off the shelf components used in a lot of different electronic products by a wide variety of manufactorers - thus getting the unit cost per part down for everybody - the chasis was unique and at that time was being made in runs of a few hundrerd - which made it quite expensive.
The man was simply a genius when it came to employing engineers who could get a awful lot of good sound out of garden variety component parts - and at prices that allowed many of us to "dable" in high end audio while still eating three squares.
2.) DH-200 power amp was next 100/100 wpc mos-fet output devices.
3.) 110 pre-amp has for it's time a full featured pre-amp with multi tape inputs - was shortly joined by the smaller chasis 100 pre-amp - a stripper model that may have been the best sounding pre-amp of the lot. 330 was a FM tuner.
4.) The 220 amp - basically a up-date and olive drab version of the 200 with I think just a little more power - still mos-fet.
5.) DH-500 - an honest 255 wpc - fan cooled
6.) DH-120 60 wpc - my favorite small amp that can - I still own one of these.
7.)All of the above were in their day - reliable - repairable if grossly abused and very good sounding for their time and price. All were available in kit form as well as factory assembled.All the amps used MOS-FET output devices - which is part of the reason they where so hard to blow up. These amps all have a common and somewhat un-usual arraingment of the "protection " fuses - you can blow this fuse and you will still get distorted sound out of the affected channel - this was the most common service complaint on the amps and almost always - a proper sized fuse and you were good to go!
8.) I don't know if David Hafler sold the company before the SE series came out or the XL series - but somwhere in here ownership changed.
9.) SE series where cosmetically a little differnt - used film caps at some crtical points to improve sound.
10.) XL-600 305 wpc ,XL-280 ,XL-240 - don't think there was a 60 watt version - had some input from the people who designed the Acoustat TransNova power amps.
11.) I didn't have real good luck with the Iris pre-amp - ours where the only Hafler products I ever sold that weren't real reliable. In general the big deal at the time with Iris components was the remote and like a lot of small companies - Hafler had problems implementing this - especially when compared to your average Japenese super' ceiver - which tended to have flawless IR remotes.
Rockford Fosgate owns the Hafler name at this point - big points to them for publishing complete manuals /schematics for all the older Hafler stuuf - especially given they never sold this era gear or made a dime off of it.
I realize that some of the Hafler / rockford/fosgate stuff is (gag) car stereo - but has anyone had much experience with their current line of Hafler amps?
I recently bought a used Hafler Iris preamp and I must say it is a welcome addition to my system. Right away I noticed how transparent, musical and non-fatiguing this preamp is. As stated in the owners manual, it seems to have achieved its goal of combining the best characteristics of tubes and solid state. I have no qualms about this preamp and the price was a steal for such quality. F.R. Ps: I've never enjoyed analog more. The Iris's phono section is amazing!
I still have and use my Hafler DH-101 Pre, with a couple of XL-280 Power amps and a cheap, 20W per channel power amp, this is for a tri-amplified system. After much tweaking the original circuits of the Haflers (selecting every resistor and capacitor to match the other channel ones), I found a very good ACTIVE type Crossover, 3 way, 24 dB/Oct Linkwitz-Riley which printed circuit boards are sold by a genius designer from Australia. Please let me tell all you good Hafler-loving people, that with a tri-amplified system, your OLD but good Haflers are ALL you are going to need forever. There is NO need to use an extremely expensive modern amplifier or magic tube setup, the real weak point in any system is the passive crossovers at the speakers. With an active, correcly aligned crossover, the drivers will be perfectly driven by the old Haflers. Transparency, control, authority and lively but not fatiging sound is easily produced at high levels without needing an extremely powerful, expensive amplifier.
Good Luck, and our prayers to David Hafler, a truly extraordinaire and honest designer that allowed us to reach high quality audio at honest prices and without esoteric false premises.
I have had a Hafler preamp, amps (DH... & DH...), and I loved the sound, but would never buy a Hafler preamp now.
After a short period (1 year and on), every Hafler preamp in my circle of friends ( 3 or 4 of us) developed noisy, damn near explosive switching.
If you forgot to turn the volume down when engaging the various switches, you would be reminded in a noisy, kaboom, pick your adjective kind of way.
In my somewhat limited opinion, they had good sound, but lousy switches, pots, etc.
I guess I should also add that I owned the Adcom 565, and it had none of the issues I talked about regarding the Hafler preamps. I recently sold the 565 and at 14 years old, still had no switch or other noise.
Does anyone else have any thoughts on Hafler preamps? I keep trying to acquire a DH-110 at a reasonable price but keep striking out. The Hafler Iris has caught my eye though but am curious what other members think about it. I love Hafler amps though. I currently have a rebuilt Hafler DH-220 and it sounds great. I had a DH 500 and a pair of XL280s and they sounded good as well. My favorite though is still the DH-220.
I consider the Hafler 101 one of the best ever phono preamps, and I have owned (and own now) some pretty pricey stuff. Of course, the price wh*res will disagree.
At the time my 101 was in use (it was new) I was working for someone in the audio industry, and we would get sample amps and stuff from manufacturers to play with. One night I was left to finish up and really cranked the in house system, including a turntable, the 101, a Quicksilver 190 and some speakers we were trying to sell, placed in a "rule of thirds" setup. I spent hours marveling at the imaging and picking minutiae out of Jazz at the Pawnshop, Cantate Domino, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Isao Tomita, The Police, et al. One of the best nights in my entire audio career (I am 61).
Better have any one you get these days recapped and cleaned up....