For some reason some of the spec data did not post on my review. The amp is rated at 75 watts per channel. The small front tubes are said to last for 10,000 hours while the output tubes will last for 5000 hours. Circuit is designed in a way to give long, long tube life.
Boy, what an excellent review! You really did a great job of expressing the sound character of this amp. In this day and age of overpriced, highly marketed competing brands, it's refreshing to find another "hidden gem" out in the audio market place.
BTW Grannyring - how did you happen to stumble on to this amp?
Again, thanks for taking the time to pen your impressions for all of us!
It came up used here on Agon - first one I have even seen. I started reading the website and decided to give it a try as I wanted a tube amp without having to spend big $$.
It was between this amp and several of the "cheap" Chinese amps found here and on Ebay. Had a gut feeling this handmade amp from one man in Canada designed with a new and fresher circuit approach would be best.
Boy did this amp knock me over. Transparancy is unsurpased to my ears and experience. Amp is a steal and serious high end piece.
You are not the only person who saw and considered the listing for this amp. If the timing of this listing (with my PreAmp off for repairs, and spending more money than planned on house remodeling) had not been so unfortunate, I am not sure that you would have had the pleasure of landing it. :o)
With all of that said, good for you. Your review is terrific. Thank You! Some thoughts and some questions if I may...
You said: "Stock power cord sounds as good in my system as my other more costly upgraded cords". In reading the designers language on his website, it would seem that he is particlarly pleased with his power supply design, stating that "This transformer design produces its output voltage in relation to the 60 Hz line frequency producing a stable secondary voltage that does not vary with current demands of the amplifier or input voltage variances from 90 to 135 volts". What aftermarket PCs did you use? Did you notice any changes at all with other PCs?
You said "The stage size is not overblown, but realistic with more of an imtimate feel and experience". Did you find that this amp was constrained by the physical position of your speakers, or did it tend to "fill the room with the acoustic space"?
You said "The amp comes with a nice separate power supply. Mine makes a little mechanical buzzing noise that can be heard a couple of feet away from it. I dont hear it from my listening position". I fear that I might find this a bit troubling. Have you spoken with the designer regarding this. Did you have any desire to try to mitigate this?
You said "If you desire that intimate music setting with wonderful inner detail exposed before your ears, then this amp is world class". Being one who finds himself commited to electrostatic speakers, this statement of your really caught my attention.
Thanks again, for a highly informative review. I am especially appreciative as I had so seriously thought of this unit. I appreciate your efforts in writing this.
Gary, good questions. First, the power supply was damaged in transit and a $20 DIY fix rendered it very quiet. Check my threads and read about the fix. The title of the thread is "My tube amp power supply is buzzing away Help"
Regarding power cords.I have a Blue Marble Audio, Signal and Aural Symphonics Missing Link. The stock power cord sounded better then the Blue Marble and about the same as the others. The BM cord bested many other PC's I have tried on tube amps as an FYI.
Soundstage extends well beyond the sides of the speakers and the center is filled in nicely. Yes, like most good tube amps the room is filled with music. I never feel as if the notes are firing out at me from the speakers, like some SS amps. I am saying it sounds natural and life-like.
The amps greatest attribute is it's wonderful tranparancy and detail. I like the amp more and more the longer I have it.
Your remarks would make it seem that you have been pleased with Scompracer's fix. His methodology seems pretty complete. What did you experience with this? Did all of the induction noise seem to vanish, or was it simply reduced?
Hello Jeffcott. Thought I'd join in here again as I too am very interested in the McAlister amps.
I spoke at length, on two seperate occasions, to Peter McAlister, and one of the questions I brought up was the "transformer buzz" issue. He assures me that this minor problem has been totally addressed in all models henceforth and will survive even a shipping mishap similar to Grannyrings, without having the transformers omit any noise.
BTW, thanks in large part to Bill's (Grannyring) excellent well-penned review, I am putting my money where my mouth is and have placed an order for McAlister's mono-block version of this amp.
Lastly, I want to point out that Peter McAlister has been a real pleasure (and braintrust of circuit knowledge!) to deal with thus far -- will keep you "posted" with my own impressions, in a month or so when I get 'em!
Thank You! for chiming in. I too, have communicated
with McAlister about Monoblocks. They are a nice looking
pair. I will email you offline with my contact info.
Please let me know what you experience when you get them.
Denf & Jeffcott. As an FYI, yes the mechanical noise or buzzing of the power supply is gone! Never any noise through the speakers so all is very quiet. Noise vanished from a position of 2 feet away. Non - issue.
How does this amp compare to the Thor amp you used to have?
Nathanu, very interesting question. I no longer have the same associated gear for a true comparison. I do have a general sense however. The Thor amps are $9,500 as you know. I find the Mcalister to be more see through transparent with more air and sparkle.
The Thors throw a larger stage and have a more "beefy" sound. Thor amps are very organic sounding. The Mcalister is just as fast and has that same jump and wonderful pace to it.
Bottom line is this $1100 amp does not take an overall back seat to the Thor in sound. I know this sounds nuts based on the price difference, but I call it the way I hear it. Thus far the only amp I have owned that is better overall is the Mcintosh MC402.
Thor looks a whole lot better and is built to last. If looks are important, them the Mcalister will come up short.
I like the DIY look however.
I am considering getting the monoblock amps custom made for me by Mcalister. For now I keep trying other amps to A/b against the Mcalister. My very good Marsh a400s amp is bested by this baby and I soon have some Monarchy SE250's coming for audition. I used to own the SE160's and loved them. I am sure the SE250's will be stiff competition. We will see.
I like to always have two amps on hand for fun.
Don't know if you can help but I am interested in McAllister's creations. My current system is...
Kolida JD 100 CDP
Eastern Electric MM pre
Custom tube pre (listed on A gon at present - hate to part with it)
Consonance Ella tube amp
Ed Schilling's the Horn speakers
I am considering the Nelson Pass F1 SS amp which is supposed to be a wonderful match for the MM and the Horns but...I have enjoyed what tubes do and these seem to be a bargain.
THE custom pre I have is "fleshy" and smooth with good bottom end but lacks the airiness and staging of teh MM. I would like to retain the attributes of the MM and perhaps find a different amp that would provide for more fullness and bottom end.
Any thoughts you may have would be appreciated.
I would call Pete of Mcalister as he makes many amps and custom amps. I am sure he has the perfect amp for your SET system. His amps have great bottom end and have SET like transparency.
The PP150 is much more powerful then you need, but would sound great. Should you go to more power hungry speakers you will be all set.
I spent an hour on the phone with Peter today and he was great to talk to. Certainly knows his stuff and was honest and forthright.
Thanks for the thorough review, and I appreciate the fact that you’re able to provide this in the context of the extensive list of amps you’ve owned. After reading this, and spending a significant amount of time on the phone with Peter McAlister, I’ve placed an order for the PP150S.
I’m also driving Dali’s, though mine are the Grand Diva rather than the Grand. If you get the monoblock SETs, I would be interested in hearing your opinion on how well they manage the Grands. I had considered going that route also, but Peter felt that I’d be better off with the PP150S considering that the Dali specifies a minimum of 50 watts into their 4-ohm load Grand Divas.
Also wanted to add, the bias pots are on top as a standard feature now.
This amp has been traveling into some other systems as well as going up against some very nice Monarchy SE250 monoblock amps in my system - $5000. Overall the Monarchy amps win out as they image better and have a sweeter midrange. They are also much more powerful.
On Merlin VSM SE speakers the Mcalister amp is fast,dynamic and transparent. The mids were a little thin for our liking on this speaker. The Mcalister amp seems best suited/matched to warmer, full bodied speakers such as my Dali Grands.
I am always listening to new gear and will soon try Nuforce 9.02's.
Hi Bill. Have you tried some NOS tube rolling in your Mcalister? I would be curious how that would affect the overall sound.
No I have not tried using different tubes. That could prove interesting.
But then again, you might want to check with the designer before tube rolling. He might have voiced this amp with the tubes that came with it,maybe?