Ultra Fi Sebring Stereo 300B Amplifier
Although I have owned and enjoyed several tube based amps over the years, this is the 1st 300B amp that I have owned. The fit, finish, and build quality is absolutely top notch.
It appears somewhat minimalist but that very much lends to its graceful good looks.
With the wealth of direct to consumer audio companies that have sprung up over the past few years it’s hard to get a grip on who is doing something special. The name Larry Moore didn’t come up that often during my online cruising search for a new amp to mate with the very efficient Zu Druid speakers that I was going to buy, but he and his custom design amps were always mentioned with glowing terms. Which is how I came to discover Larry’s; Ultra Fi Audio out of southern, Ohio
I did have a few informative conversations with him, but the technical aspect
is not my area, so I won’t delve into that. The Sebring does have 4 James Audio transformers atop a narrow in height black base. It came stock with 2 current production EH 300B Power tubes and 2 early 70’s vintage NOS RCA 6SN7. I did swap out the RCA for late 50’s GE 6SN7-GTB tubes. They seemed to very slightly flesh out the tonality and add a touch of fullness to the sound. The front is without any knobs or switches and the back panel is simply 2 pairs of solid Cardas gold speaker binding post’s, a pair of gold Cardas RCA inputs, ICE receptacle, and a toggle power switch.
If not for a gut feeling and the stellar comments about Larry’s other amps I probably would not have chosen a 300B amp. My thinking at the time was that the 300B might be a little too romantic in the mid band for my tastes. Lets just say that in the case of the Sebring, I was wrong. I was quite surprised in my first listening sessions that it was actually very linear in nature. At 8w/ch it was more than enough to drive my 101dB efficient Druid. Neutral and quiet with just the right amount of mid range warmth and slight lushness. I let it burn in for a few weeks before any critical listening and it always sounded good.
Over the next 4 months following that initial burn in I have come to really like this amp.
And although I will describe its different attributes, its real strength lies in it’s natural,
realistic ease of presentation. No mater what the type of music, it never really seems to be stressed;..the music always has a very true to life quality.
For me this begins with the fact that it portrays the tone, timbre, prat, and note density
from a dark and quite background. The bodies of the notes have depth and extension that allow the tone an authority to convey a “live in the room” sound. Proper attack, excellent note decay and resonance add to the equation. Acoustic instruments have body and texture, vocalists are in the room.
As expected, the Sebring excels with Jazz, Chamber, Baroque, Acoustical and Folk music
I was pleasantly surprised that it is also very good to excellent with full orchestral and rock and roll. Handling dynamic swings; going from dramatically loud to subtlety soft
with a certain deft ease. Although the dynamic drive and extension in the room is limited it never subtracted from the overall excellence. It reaches into the highs with clarity and a good sense of air and is even better at the low end. Tight, focused, and clear is what I consistently hear from the bass notes. They are never artificially loud or boomy and although my Druid only reaches down to the 35-40 level, I rarely felt that I was missing anything.
Sound staging from side to side is very good. Sound field depth is good, not getting excessively deep but stills allows for a layering of the players, front to back. Transparency is just ok, but again this was not an issue as all the music is there and there is a realistic spacing. One of the nicer aspects is that boundaries literal disappear; speakers and front wall are gone.
The only downside that I can mention is that it is sensitive to changes in the system. The hum level is almost non exsistant (only audible with ear direct to speaker at about 3 feet) But when a cable sometimes touched another, or when I went to put wood blocks under another piece of gear while the amp was on, the hum level went up. It was always easily resolved (packing peanut between the cables, speaker cables up off my synthetic carpet, turn the amp off before any changes. Anyway it always wen't back to its very silent manner, so it isn't really an issue. Soundstage depth and transparency is slightly less than some oter amps I heard, but again this is a minor nit pick on my part.
So overall it is obvious that I love what this amp does. Offering a refined detail that is tonally rich. Good extension in the highs and an excellent tight and deep bass. It is excellent or at least very good with a wide variety of music. It does so many things right that I truly just enjoy the music. It portrays all the details in a tonally correct manner and never really calls attention to itself;...it makes the music a presence in the room which is what makes it a great amp.
This is an exceedingly good amp and I highly recommend an audition to any one interested in a low powered type .
During my listening sessions I used the following gear:
Ultra Fi Sebring Stereo 300B &
Channel Islands VPC1
Cambridge Audio Azur 840c
Zu Druid Mk IVAssociated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
Jolida, Rogue Audio, McIntosh, Melody, and Wolcott Audio. All tube based, but not SET.