Raven Audio Nighthawk MK3

Well, I finally did it. After about two years and looking at Vincent, Primaluna, Leben, Rogue, I decided to buy the Raven Audio Nighthawk. I've had it for about a week. Running NOS RCA Clear top tubes in preamp front besides the rest stock. My speakers are Klipsch Lascala II, Yamaha CD player S2100, Uturn Orbit turntable with Ortofon Blue, Cambridge Audio phono preamp, Tellurium Q cables/interconnects. Interested? Having already played several of my favorite Cd's and LP's I have been amazed, shocked, stunned, mesmerized, I'm running out of words. Probably a tad less expensive than I was planning to spend. My wife had tears of rapture as she heard her favorite Pink Martini CD. She asked, "How can it be this much better?" It is completely blowing me away. Power? Seems to have more than my previous 175 RMS at a mere 20 watts! Bass is so right before I added the Sunfire sub (HRS10) I've decided to leave it out. I really believed LaScalas couldn't do real bass. Wrong, Curious to hear more? 
Beautiful. Not surprised. I've been searching around a while looking to upgrade my Melody integrated https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367  its been a good amp but everything around it has upgraded to the point where its probably just about the weakest link. Its real hard to find what you want to home audition so I have gotten pretty good at reading reviews and comments and narrowed it down to a Raven. 

My 50 wpm Melody has greater dynamics, slam and bass than the 150 wpm McCormack I had before, so not really surprised to hear your much better Raven's 20 seems more than 175. My only question is would I need the Reflection to make it worth my while. You seem to be saying no, the relatively affordable Nighthawk will do that just fine?
Millercarbon ---Dave Thomson is a straight shooter.  Call him.  As you know I loved my Reflection.  I wanted more power and that is why I went with the Reflection.  I think they are coming out with a MK3 version soon.  
Allears - Congrats on your purchase.  I am sure they make your LaScalla's sing!

Glad you love your new Nighthawk.  I have read about these as well and they seem like a tremendous value and look great to boot.  Would like to hear more on the Avian series.
I'd like to know if ANY buzz or hum present? From 1 foot? anything?
I was heartbroken when I purchased a demo PrimaLuna Prolouge form my La Scalla's and could hear buzz 12 feet away. Sent it to Upscale who gave it a clean-bill-of-health. 
Friend bought a used PrimaLuna Prolouge and on Silverline speakers had noise issues, it was a joke! Sold it only after owning for 3 weeks.
Prima Luna was on my list for a while. Design and features look real good on paper. Reviews say it sounds real good too. But they are made in China. And not to pick on China, but last I looked it is not the USA. Neither is the UK. Or Japan. Texas, on the other hand, could not be more American. 

I've been doing this a long time now. Used to be I could care less who made it or where. Time goes by, stuff happens. Gradually over the years you come to realize being made right here in the USA by Americans is better. Better customer service, better diagnostics and repair, way better quality and reliability. This is nothing to do with being a patriotic American. Which for the record is a good thing to be. But that has nothing to do with it.

Its simply that after 30 years I look around and see Ted Denney at Synergistic Research in California, Keith Herron at Herron Audio, Eric Alexander at Tekton, Graham Engineering, Peter Ledermann at Soundsmith, and more that's just off the top of my head, all legends or on their way to becoming. More to the point, all making total world class performance products. In many cases, best in class. That to me is all the reason I need. The rest is icing on the cake . It doesn't completely rule out Prima Luna. But it does make Raven a slam dunk.
Addressing your question of hum and/or noise with Raven Nighthawk. Yes, at first noisy. Realized with Klipsch Lascalas sensitivity and Raven tube combo I needed to really isolate everything. We all know not to lace AC cords with speaker cables, etc. but with a Klipsch /Tube combo all that needs micro attention. Almost sent Raven back...then I moved the modem and wifi router further away from those amazing transformers at rear of the Nighthawk. SUCCESS! And wow...quiet, lush, warm, deep, organic....The modem and router were about 2 feet behind Raven...I should have known better. And may I add, YOU'VE NEVER KNOWN CUSTOMER SERVICE TIL YOU'VE DEALT WITH RAVEN AUDIO! Bryant W. put me in direct contact with their engineer James C. They all say call me anytime day or night. (I believe they mean it) If you have tube phobia like I had, fear no more. Tubes really do sound way better in realism. No....really better...
@dweller,  I did read one post a few years back about one member who owned either a Nighthawk or Blackhawk and  did have have a slight humm that he could not fix.  Not sure of the details on that.  He moved on to Aric Audio gear.  Suspect that was a fluke.  In any event, there is a trial period to ensure your satisfaction.


Congratulations!  Your obviously successful pairing  of the Raven and Klipsch is an example of quality versus quantity  which is a frequent topic in High End audio. Your speakers are high sensitivity and have an easy impedance load so they aren't difficult to drive.

The Raven amplifier is 1/9 the power of your previous amplifier yet sounds much better to you and your wife. I'd have to assume this is the result high quality output transformers/parts/wire and a very stout power supply. 20 watts but very high quality watts for certain.

Many people familiar with Klipsch believe they sound their best when driven by a good tube amplifier. Your comments seem to support this perception.  I'm glad you took the chance and gave tube amplifiers a try in your home  audio system. Tubes are capable of presenting  a heighten  sense/feel of naturalness or as you put it, realism. I hope you enjoy your Raven for many years.


One of the downsides of being an audiophile is the tendency to OCD focus on the slightest flaws in reproduction quality. Yet that also is one of the upsides of this hobby. Refining the sound to meet one's expectations can be extremely satisfying. The fun of ordering upgrades with the expectation of delivery, adjusting gear, tweeking everything. This is the greatest, most rewarding hobby. IMO When I bought my  Klipsch LaScalas I said I now had legs, when I bought my Yamaha S2100 CD player I said I had a brain, now with my Raven Nighthawk I have heart. Adding top interconnects and speaker wires has been done. Brothers, this combo simply blows my ears off. No incremental upgrade here. Tubes rule....
allears, what amps have you had in the past?
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Back in the old days...McIntosh (solid state only), Crown, Luxman,  most recently the Cambridge Audio Azur 651r, (which has a direct mode to bypass all the crap circuitry of a AV receiver) ....I knew my amp was my one big weak spot. But I didn't want to repeat my normal practice of buying incrementally with slight upgrades spending a ton of money until I get sonically where I want to go. 
Raven Audio allows one to return a unit for full credit in exchange for buying up the product line within one year. I thought the Blackhawk sounded more like what I'd be satisfied with but the reviews claimed the Nighthawk was great so why not try it first? And it is really super....with stock tubes no less! I have some Brimars to try eventually. Call Raven Audio and get one to try. You'll be astonished. 
Realize this is an older post but wanted to follow up on a question/statement made earlier in tbis thread regarding the Reflection. 
The Reflection MK3 is now underway with a few big enhancements. Feel free to contact Raven for more details.

Disclaimer: I am associated with Raven Audio and your Reflection would be built by my own 2 hands 
BIG NEWS....my Raven Nighthawk MKIII apparently has gotten broken in finally. Yes, I WAS impressed but now shocked. And something happened that I didn't EVER expect....my system now exceeds what I thought was even possible in any kit. We've all heard super systems at shows or private set ups in shops and thought "How can I get this sound at home?" only to be chasing an apparent mirage. I sit here now totally enthralled and not infrequently stunned at the realism being projected. (Yamaha CD player S2100, all Tellurium Q cabling, Klipsch LaScalas (bass is now super. Apparently was being limited by links, I've removed sub now. Unnecessary) AND then finally the tube integrated Raven Audio Nighthawk MKIII (self biasing, no adjusting. I was originally put off tubes because of hassle. No hassle here) Then there's this, Raven Dave is sending me hand picked tubes to upgrade my preamp section. Really? No one in China, Japan, or even California is going to do that! This company is above the top of the industry. No one else comes close. Find the reviews on line. This amp is true super high end. If you own LaScalas let me say they are capable of so much more being wedded to tubes with the Nighthawk. In musical dreamland .....
This has not been active for a while but I thought I could inquire how you came to the decision of purchasing Raven Audio Nighthawk.  I have researching options for the past few weeks and have started to narrow down my potential choices.  I too have La Scalas IIs and Cornwall IIs and is currently using what a lot of folks would consider beginner tube amps.  They both do sound great with what I currently have but from what I have been reading, I can get more out of these speakers and enjoy them more.  So far, I have been looking at DECWARE Torii Jr, Raven and Bob Latino's VTA ST-70.  And from your description of the musicality of the Ravens, they compare well with the DECWARE.  Both are transparent and can bring out the best in your speakers. Both have  lifetime warranty and excellent build qualities.  Except that the Raven is a true integrated amp.  If they perform very similar, the Raven would be a better buy price wise.  It is a tough decision without trying out the amps and both have return policy with restock fees but would rather not go through that if I can. Opinions from fellow La Scala or Cornwalls owners would be valuable and appreciated.  Many thanks in advance!  
Can someone please explain to me how the Bypass switch works? I want to make sure I fully understand it correctly. I got my Nighthawk today!
In answer to how I arrived at the Raven Nighthawk 1) Made in USA 2) Crazy good reviews 3) Total upgrade value within year (Or immediate refund) Primaluna, Leben, and Line Magnetic are made overseas. NOW I know that the personal service from Raven Audio in Texas is way above and beyond anything I've ever experienced from any dealer or audio manufacturer. These guys at Raven really care and help on a level which is simply unbelievable. Klipsch heritage line are hyper sensitive. When I first hooked everything up I had hum. My router, phone, and modem were are way too close to the amp. Once moved all was well. The tech called me to talk about the situation. Offered to ship back. Since then the owner Raven Dave has helped me get tubes, James has called, Bryant calls...Do Raven....these LaScala are totally blowing me away. (No subs necessary any more) Paul Klipsch would be proud....my Mullard preamp tubes up front are truly miraculous. Thanks Raven Dave....  
As to bass bypass... just follow the overly simple instructions in manual EXCEPT do NOT trying switching it back and forth while amp is on. TURN OFF before changing setting. The manual does say this but it bears repeating. With Raven off, and connect your sub(s), set bypass to on and the bass signal is bypassed through raven main speakers to bass sub unit, then turn on Raven.  This relieves the amp from having to amplify those demanding lower frequencies and saves your power for mains. The lower frequencies are filtered from mains into sub(s) only. The Raven Nighthawk 20 watts will allow Klipsch LaScalas to be able to blast into rock concert volume WITHOUT using the bypass feature. (Not exaggerating at all!) Plenty of headroom. LaScala's are very low distortion at low volumes by the way. Saves ears!
I ordered mine a week ago,can’t wait to hear it at home.
Hopefully it will pair well with my Goldenear Triton 2+ .
@gregoriomtb16. No worries you will love it. Raven is building great gear. I have the Blackhawk, CeLest towers and Soniquil cables all around. I am in audio bliss.

Hear the music not your gear.

@gregoriomth16.  I have Triton 2’s as well and am looking at the nighthawk as an upgrade.  If you don’t mind, let me know how the nighthawk pairs with the tritons or if I need to start speaker shopping... Cheers!
The Triton 2's are rated at 92 @ 1 watt so...they are a tad hard to drive but (depending on your volume preference) they should be fine. Room size and brightness will also be a factor. (If you live in a 30' X 30' carpet store it could be a problem.) However, your relatively low efficiency speaker has the benefit of not picking up on the low level hum which can faintly be heard in dead quiet rooms with high efficiency speakers like Klipsch LaScalas. (104 @ 1 watt) I'm told a recent upgrade on the Nighthawk has lowered the noise floor. (Getting mine upgraded to Blackhawk-ish now) (New model is labeled the Nighthawk MK3i) I went from 175 watts RMS per channel to Nighthawk at 20....and let me say, the Raven seems to have more depth, slam, and sheer volume potential. Nighthawk gave me the human realism touch I have been searching for. 
May I ask the Raven owners if they feel that the amps prefer certain music genres? From my recent researching into tube integrateds, it seems like the reviews (across various tube integrateds), especially the video reviews are mostly focused on acoustic/vocal/sparse arrangement music and not rock or electric jazz. The Raven Avian amps look really enticing, but not sure how they would deal with 70’s rock/prog rock, fusion, electric jazz and blues, and more electric guitar oriented music, etc.
stonecutter54, You just heard allears4u say his Raven has more slam and sheer volume than 175 watts. What more do you need??!

Where do these ideas come from, anyway? All those great electric guitar players, what do you think they use? SS? Guess again: TUBES!!!
I don’t know the extent of your tube amplifier experience but I feel you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I own two tube amplifiers that are the common/popular circuit choice for tubes. Class AB, push pull using the typical group of power tubes (el34, KT88,6550 etc.). Raven fits this topology category.

A 3rd amplifier is 300b SET (thus class A by default). All 3 amplifiers sound terrific and authentic reproducing electronic instruments in general and most certainly electric blues and rock guitar. The key factor for you is to have a well suited speaker to pair with a good tube amplifier. You’ll be just fine. Tubes are superb with acoustic instruments but you are not limited to them.
Millercarbon is right again...per usual. I do listen to a wide variety of music, including some Rush, Grand Funk Railroad, J. Geils Band, Aerosmith, but who can beat some Antonio Carlos Jobin, Bebel Gilberto, and Maria Rita? Debussy can shine in amazing ways after some dark Shostakovich. Please don't leave out O2'L, Christine and the Queens, RBTSKT, or Supreme Beings of Leisure. The Raven Nighthawk has earned its 'street cred' with a barrage of eclectic challenges. My comfort zone includes the downtempo/acid jazz/dub chill genre: think Bugge Wesseltoft, Bittersweet, and Sweetback. However, mono LP's with Frank Sinatra and Don Scalatta Band are pure audiophile heaven (despite their often weird and uneven recording methods). My Yamaha S2100 CD player interacts well with the Nighthawk resulting in music so jarringly crisp and quick it often makes my head snap up in amazement. Tube rolling has revealed that the sound textures can be infinitely fine tuned to match personal taste and equipment synergy. This hobby has been a very rewarding one.   
allears4u - what was the solid state amp that you had prior to the Raven?
Yeah and Dave Thompson has quite the tube collection, and from what I hear he knows them all like the back of his hand. 
Its a long story....worked at stereo store back in the day. McIntosh dealer, Nakamichi, etc. So we tried everything. Luxman was hot then too. Lived with McIntosh MC 2105 with Luxman C-1010 pre for quite a while. Crook stole my new Bang and Olufsen turntable and when cops almost got him he threw it in the river!!! Even so, he forgot to grab European DIN connecter. LOL Recently owned Cambridge Audio 651r which has direct bypass feature to skip AV junk circuitry. Owned a Class A power amp too but can't remember details.  I had previously been afraid of tube stuff. (Not alone on that I don't think!) Anyway, Dave Thompson has personally hooked me up on tubes. Has made an amazing difference. He loves his Raven Heads! And let me say, for any American to try and build USA with all US parts is a commitment which deserves our admiration. The unscrupulous tactics from Chinese companies has changed my mind about buying USA  products. (Besides Raven Audio customer service is tremendous.)

I don't have a Raven so I won't offer any opinion on its sound/capability  based upon reviews/research. I will concur with Charles1dad's comments based upon the 3 tube integrated amplifiers that I do own, two being pushpull - EL84M/7189A (22wpc) , and a KT88 65wpc ; and a 22wpc 845 SET.

Thanks all for the info. 
I'll be looking to get a new integrated soon and I just learned about Raven this last week; so this thread is very helpful. I'll be giving them a call.
Hey Stonecutter54...do call them. One of my biggest surprises was when my wife (listening from adjacent room) said, "It sounds like the cello is in the room!" She was stunned and coming into the room said (pointing at the Nighthawk Integrated amp) how can a machine create such lifelike realism? I knew I had made the right choice at that instant. I had achieved the audiophile's holy grail.... "Total Wife Approval" {TWA} I flew into the friendly skies of speculation "I wonder what upgrade I can scope out next?" Just Kidding.....wink wink
I got a good deal from James to upgrade my Nighthawk MK 3 to a Blackhawk 3.1 as long as I was willing to keep it in the same chassis.  They are able to do faster turn around that way and give the customer a good deal.  The unit sounds great.