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.
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.
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....
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.