Review: Golden Tube SEP-1se Tube preamp
Been using 2nd-hand Dynaco 3X with a pair of Grommes S35 monoblocks. Not a good match with the MX-190 for some reason. Worked nicely with the Grommes with very smooth sound compared to my old Nakamichi gear, but a bit mushy in the bass on classic rock. Very nice with easy-listening and jazz. Interested in better bass controle, ordered a Pas upgrade kit. 6-mo later, still not installed! Searching on-line for $250 to $350 holdover, China made, Audio Experience MK2 kept popping up. Preference was for a SEP-1, but not for the usual $450 used, so got a MK2/$150.
Immediately, less-tubey, more balance and generally pleasant. Good construction, fair appearance & electronically more stable than the old Pas. Tighter bass, more sonic detail w/ classic, alternative, and modern rock. Eupohoric, non-fatiguing character of the 3X was missed with softer, easy listening music, however.
So... got a SEP-1se. Very DALLAS, TEXISH! Very GOLDEN, and beefy unit w 1/2 inch faceplate and 1-lb gold nuggets for knobs. Way over engineered! Supprised, it uses 1-tube only. Dissapointment went away immediatly when plugged in. Very musical, nice ompromise b/t the Pas and MK2. Mature sounding w/ smooth highs, controlled bass and great w/ classic or soft rock w/o being overly euphoric or analytical. Low sound floor, yet quiet background. Inevidable repair is primary concern. Greatest attribute is late 90's, all board construction. Only easy upgrade is a better tube so all you can do is listen and enjoy! Good value at $300 to 400. Above $500 and time to consider waiting 6-12 mos for CJ, Q-silver or VTL's entrees. By then the strong supply of new/refurbed tube amps & weakening economy will ultimately lower prices significantly for all but ultra-high end audio. Recall 1989-92 anyone?
Quicksilver MX-190 Tube Amp(8 x EL34's)
Grommes S35 Tube Monos x 2 (2 x 7868's)
Crown VFX2A Active Crossover (2-Way)
ADS L-710 Speakers (4-ohms)
Audio Experience "Music MK2" Line Level
Dynaco Pass-3X (Refurbished)