I have, they were, they are not.
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I had a Phase Linear 400 (one of Carver's first designs and a semi-legendary amp)up until 2 years ago. I bought it new in the 70's. I still have 2 other PL amps.
If you want to read up Phase Linear History and products check out the following website: http://hometown.aol.com/PhaseTek/
Ah ya, the Ol phase linear, the guy had great success. Made a ton of money. The field was not as competitive as it is now. Which could be the subject of a new topic. The Future Of High End stereo Amps. Are there changes taking place, or are all things normal. Normal meaning sales as good as were the 70's, 80's, 90's for the labs of those decades.
well let's have a little balance in this discussion - the "Flame Linear" reputation came I believe from the fact they were used and abused in stacks for rock band performances, and they couldn't drive low impedance loads (ie <4ohms). My 400 performed very nicely from 1974 until I sold it in 2004. I drove it hard, especially in college. I didn't spend a dime on service and I sold it for $375 which is $25 more than I paid for it ('course not the same $'s). I have friends and relative who had the same experience. My brother still uses his.
I bought a Phase Linear 400 in the '70s when I was sixteen. It was very powerful. Then, it went up in flames--literally. A tech at a local stereo store replaced all the output transistors with ones of better quality. He said he put a lot of work in on it to make it "more stable". I have no idea what he did, but the amp worked great for years after that. When I hit my twenties and moved on, I sold it--to a sixteen year old.
Phase linear was designed by Bob Carver.I used to have there 2nd model from the top might be 400 (Led Indicators in the front and separate variable control for each chanel.
It was a heavy wieght and very powerful as most of the Bob carver's designs.I use to drive my old AR 9s (4Ohms and two side firing 10 inch woofers).It was very reasonable sounding amp in the price range.The production of these amps stops couple of decades ago.Be care full if you are considering one of these monsters they are very old might need recap also they give you hum of loose transformer core.
I had an original 700 which I used with a variety of acoustic suspension speakers, including stacked Advents. I eventually migrated to a set of Quad 57's and tube amps, but before I sold the Phase Linear, I did hook it up to the Quads, very briefly.
And, no I did not turn it up.
At the time it came out, there were very few amps with this kind of power- the Crown DC-300, maybe a few others- not sure any of them would pass muster today.
If memory serves, the original PL 400 sounded better than the original 700, too.
And, lastly, the apocryphal story I heard about Carver was that he had the circuitry and power supply rigged up in a prototype that looked like, or was, a coffee can. (Remember when you bought ground coffee in big cans at the supermarket?) He allegedly brought this mess to the 'Mac' clinic- one of those manfacturer sponsored events at the local dealer where you could get your amp 'measured.' (Sort of like dyno-testing). He apparently made waves--- not sure this is true, though.
Wow! A mixed bag of opinions. I think Bob carver made his bucks when the money was easy. Now I see his stuff ( Sunfire ) at places such as Circiut City, and these people are always telling me it is the best. That's becuase they have never took a tour through a high-end audio store ( IMHO ) I had a chance to buy one cheap. But heck then again I see adcom for cheap all the time too!
Not sure if you are still looking for opinions on this but just ran into this thread so let me give you my 2 cents. I own 2 400 amps, the 4000 pre amp (which I don't use any more. Replaced with a Fosgate) and the 5000 tunner. I purchased them from the original owner whom took great care of them. I don't doubt that someone sometime ago did something to their amp as far as using the wrong value fuse, etc which caused the "flames" but for me these amps are GREAT!!!! The are pushed hard playing loud Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc matched to B&W's and the sound is just fantastic!!! Granted, I have not sampled the thousands of amps out there so it is unfair for me to give a comparison. I honestly don't know where you can buy a 2 channel 200 watt per channel amp for around $250-300. I love the look and it simply sounds great. Maybe I lucked out and got 2 great amps but for me I am not looking to replace them any time soon.
I owned an audio retail/repair shop in Florida for years(early 80's). Most in the industry referred to them as, "Flame Linears". Back then(70's/80's) solid state was in it's early days still and people of the "louder is better" set really went for the power of these units. 'Til they self-destructed(usually). The high-end audio press panned or slammed them(horrendous sound), as they did the rest of his designs for years afterwards. He built a very lightweight, high power amp that Yamaha violated his patents rights on back then. The Absolute Sound magazine said that Yamaha had, "succeeded in duplicating the Titanic, complete with the hole"(cracked me up). He's still building audio gear, and some of it has received rave reviews(again- in the high end press).
OH- If you are looking for an inexpensive, and high powered/decent sounding/VERY stable SS amp: Find a Hafler DH-500. 255 Watts into 8ohms, can drive a 2ohm load easily(you can practically arc weld with one). Do a search on them. I'm using a Hafler TransNova 9505 to drive my subwoofers. I'm a tube-freak, but- couldn't pass up this discussion.
Well, I guess I am the proverbial contrarian here but; last night I played music for 2 hours non stop to start braking in a new pair of speakers I just purchased. I got the Wharfdale Pacific Evolution 30's. These speakers are rated at 6 ohms, 89 db sensitivity, 200 watts rms. I played fairly loud and continuous for the 2 hours and the sound was very, very good. The amp was hot but no a hint of stress or distortion, or any other anomaly. The speakers are not the most easy to drive nor are they the most difficult out there. Again, I personally can't understand the persistent negative reputation of these amps? Either I got the only 2 great PL 400 amps or others are doing something wrong with them?
I had a PL 440 self destruct in the '80s, taking out the speaker drivers on one channel.
You might be interested in The Official Phase Linear Web Site.
Lots of history, technical, and repair information.
I've been a sound engineer for the past 30 years(a tech for years before that. I'm currently the sound tech for two local bands and my church. This gives me the opportunity to listen to live music(acoustic and amplified) at least twice a week(generally more). Live music has always been the criterion by which I judged a system's accuracy(timbre, soundstaging, rendition of the human voice, frequency response, pace, etc). My recordings are pieces that I am familiar with regarding venue, recording technique and artists. I've never heard a system that sounded live with anything designed by Bob Carver employed in it(from the early 80's through the 90's. Then again: I haven't heard any of his latest designs, and understand that some are quite good(the highest priced pieces).
I beg to differ. Bob Carver has had many excellent products over the last few decades. One thing for sure, you will never see a Sunfire product at Circuit City. The Only Carver products that ever made it to Circuit City, and that type of store,were post "Bob Carver days" products from Carver Corp. If you check your history, Sunfire was operating as it's own company when the non Bob Carver "Carver Corp" was selling junk at Circuit City. Very unbalanced opinion of real Bob Carver engineered products. Last,there was no shortage of competition in those days either. I would place any of the real carver products as above average for the day.
I had a PL 400 for over 10 years. It sounded great. I used with EPI 602s, Maggi MG IIs and Theil CS 3.5 speakers.
I sold my Mac 2105 amp & C-26 pre amp to "upgrade" to the PL and DB System preamp. The PL/DB was IMHO much more dynamic, detailed and fun to listen to than the Mac combo.
Finally upgraded to Spectral & Bryston for the Theil's in 1987. Better than the PL / DB system combo, albeit at 9x the money.
MY PL was taken to many parties to play on other peoples speakers. Never had an issue beyond an occassional blown fuse. I auditioned dozens of amp pre amp combinations back then and the PL was $ for $ hard to beat.
I have fond memories of the joy mine brought to me and my friends.
Thought I'd see if anyone has opinions on the following:
I just bought a 400 series 2 amp in exc. cosmetic condition. I brought it home and hooked it up, and it seemed to be working fine. However, about 2 minutes in, and just as I was about to crank things up a bit, it made a sound like a tire losing air and began to smoke rather wildly. Needless to say, my listening session ended...
Anyway, just wondering what people think about either fixing this thing up through the folks on the web that do such things or maybe hooking the perfect faceplate and cool led meters up to a more stable vintage amp (Hafler?). I know the latter plan might represent heresy to some, but I thought it might be cool to have the level adjustability and meters of this faceplate with the reliability of a (cosmetically challenged) Hafler 200/220/500. Any expert opinions on whether such a hookup would work would be appreciated.
Given the variety of opinions on the sound quality of this amp, I don't know whether there will be a clear answer to the question of restoration, but I figured I'd see what you have to say.
I had a PL 400 for over 10 years. It sounded great. I used with EPI, Maggi MG II and Theil CS 3.5 speakers.
I sold my Mac 2105 amp & C-26 pre amp to upgrade to the PL. It was IMHO much more dynamic and fun to listen to than the Mac.
Finally upgrade to Spectral & Bryston for the Theil's. Better than the PL.
MY PL was taken to many parties to play on other peoples speakers. Never had an issue beyond an occassional blown fuse.
Our Band purchased two Phase Linear 400s when they were first introduced for PA use. This was in the beginning of high powered solid state and the only other options were by Crown, Cerwin-Vega, GAS Ampzilla.
At this point in solid state design it was all about making power. I don't recall any of these manufactures making any claims of ultimate fidelity as one sees today.
We abused the 400s for nine years in a Road case and sold the setup still in working order.
Personally, I hadn't considered Bob Carver's designs since the 400s other than reading about his amplifier voicing challenge, cube subs, and his branding issues, until recently.
In shopping for high powered tube mono blocks and after reading about Bob Carver's collaborative tube circuit design I gave Carver's recent tube design a listen. I am very satisfied with their presentation, hand made yet sensible build quality, and their general performance. I am somewhat saddened and concerned by the recent sale of this little company to a large offshore manufacture who will be in trusted in maintaining the remaining seven year Carver warrantee.