MF is good, but VanAlstine components have been,(in sound), way beyond their purchase price. they compete with the likes of bat, cat, cj, macjaybo and others.
7 responses Add your response
Danny, I own the FetValve 550EXR. The quality of the amp is excellent. Frank van Alstine does not use solid gold binding posts, or lamb placenta chassis linings to absorb EMI. He builds well designed components without pomp, but in a very well executed fashion. You won't have to worry about poor craftsmanship with his stuff.
The sound is very excellent. My EXR is musical, dynamic, with tremendous bass authority and extension. There is not one aspect or the other that "sticks out" with the FetValve amp. Airy? Yes. Great soundtage? Yes. Liquid and organic? Yes. One thing it is not is classically tubey. If you are looking for that in the midrange you won't find it. Yes it's great in the midrange (and I've heard the Ultra is better), but Frank does not build amps that fall into the "classic" sound categories. The FetValve sounds neither like a FET nor a tube; it's better than either. The nice thing about van Alstine's gear is you can try it with a pretty generous trial period. If you don't like it you can send it back for a refund (minus shipping, of course).
Jaybo - Thanks. BAT, CJ, etc. ... if V.A.'s build quality is on par with those then I'd certainly be happy with that.
TonyPTony - Thank you for explaining the sound qualities of the 550. You described it very well.
After hearing from both of you I feel comfortable about ordering one to try out. I don't have much spare time to try numerous gear and depend on research to help me narrow the field considerably. Also, I don't have extra cash to be making mistakes. So your replies are a great help to me. Thank you again.
AVA build quality has always been ABSOLUTELY first rate. He has been in business...well I don't know...30 years? The basic principles have always been, No designer components (magic caps or whatever) or anything of that nature...just top quality components, top quality engineering and top quality build. Very straight forward.
Danny, good luck if you get one in your house to try! I'll certainly be hoping to hear from you and how it sounds in your system. I have to admit I'm a little nervous; my gear is mostly out of the "main" mainstream. Not too often that something I own winds up getting looked at by someone else!
As always, there's never a guarantee, and YMMV, but I was a SS guy for a long time and had a chance to hear plenty of good tube gear in my system (CJ, Moscode, VTL, AR, Quicksilver and others) and other SS gear over the years. Some worked great but were too expensive; most did not work well enough in my system to warrant a change. The FetValve did. Is it the best amp I ever put in my system? Honestly, no, but I wasn't about to or able to pay close to $10K for the one that did! And just so I don't scare you off from the prospect, I turn my system on and never think of replacing the FetValve. (Unless it's with the possibility of an Ultra!)
Best of luck. I just bought the one from gongos that was listed here. I actually recommend he try one but it was too expensive for him to keep. The way he describes the sound is like tonyptony. It's better than either.
The reason I bought it is because I have a Blue Circle BC 24 hybrid. If the AVA 550 is similar then I will be one happy camper. I totally agree that it's better than SS or a full tube amp when it comes to my Blue Circle. If it had more power I'd just keep it but 80wpc isn't enough.
Two people I know that heard the AVA 500 on similar speakers to mine describe the sound the way I'd describe the Blue Circle's sound. I'm sure that they're different but hopefully not too much, maybe I'll like it more maybe not. I've read the same type of description from others of the very clean and natural sound that is full and rich yet detailed which is exactly what I'm looking for.
You will have to let us know what you think of it. I doubt too many people would ever send them back.