Space-Tech preamp review

The preamp that I purchased was the QA-113 - with 2 RCA inputs, one RCA and one balanced output, and one record out. It uses 4 6G6G and one 6X5 tubes. The preamp is now sitting in a box, not because I don't like it but because I'm getting ready for the long drive from Vancouver to Ottawa (Canada). This review is, therefore, based on probably only 50 hours of listening.
First, you'll have to understand that I am fairly new to tubes and don't have a golden ear (I don't think I do
anyway). I'm also not too familar with the audiophile terms regarding the description of the difference in sound but I'll try my best.

My system first: Quicksilver 300B push-pull monoblock prototypes, Ah! Tjoeb 99, Apogee Centaur Minor (ribbon hybrid) speakers, and pure silver interconnects from Stealth. The comparison is being made only between my other preamp, a Caztech SPa-1(Canadian made but the company is no longer in existence), as the only other tube units I've heard are a VAC pre and a ARC LS-1 belonging to a friend, using 2 6CG7/6FQ7 tubes and based on a PCB. Albert, the owner of Space-Tech, recommended that the QA-113, although much more than what I had budgeted for, would complement my power amp as the 6G6G tubes have excellent highs, and needless to say, I will be eating less for the next couple of weeks. The Caztech sounds REALLY good for only $300 (used)! The ST (Space-Tech) is more laidback while the Caztech seems more analytical. The soundstage seems bigger with the ST, and the sound floor (???) seems to have moved back a bit, meaning that it seems like the performers are now further away. Albert is right that this baby is better in the high frequencies, drumbs sound much clearer and sharper. Bass is more or less the same I haven't really tried to compare that yet - I've been listening to the music while reading a novel. Voices are a little nicer sounding that the Caztech. I've got to pay more attention but my speakers seemed to have disappeared! My room is not ideal and I didn't play around much with placing my speakers but it seems that the ST makes everything sound a little better. I believe the Caztech was retailed at $500 or 600 while the ST QA-113 retails at $880. I think the money was well spent, even though I don't have much to spend as a recently graduated MSc student. Now I have to start looking for tubes to roll. Albert indicated that the tubes for the buffer stage could be substituted with other 6 volt tubes to alter the sound thereby making this preamp somewhat flexible. Time to start saving to roll the tubes.

To check out all the cool stuff that Albert has, go to his website at:
hey turbo, we've talked about space-tech before so I won't get into that here. Just wanted to say you did a great job describing the sound. from what i know about space-tech you got a lot more than you paid for. enjoy.
Turbo: Glad you like the preamp in your setup. I was able to audition Kublakahn's entry level S-T preamp ($300) and was very impressed with what I heard. Did you have a chance to listen to any of Albert's digital gear (either a transport or DAC)? Also what other replacement tubes will the preamp accept? Will it take 6dj8/6922 types?
Kubla, thanks for the comments and I believe you're right that I got a lot more than what I paid for. Dekay, Albert recommended using the 6G6G tubes (2) for the amplification stage and mentioned that tubes like the 6K6, 6L6, 6V6, etc could be used for the buffer stage. All those tubes, according to him, would result in better bass at the sacrifice of the mids and highs. With regards to his digital gear, he had his CD player hooked up to one of his integrated amps - don't know which DAC he was using. There was a subtal but noticeable change in the sound when he connected the CD player to the preamp. I'll probably drop by his store sometime this week as I'm getting him to replace the hardwired power cord on my monoblocks with an IEC connector. By the way, he doesn't just build very nice amps, etc., he also does modifications and repairs to existing gear.
Wow, I did not realize that you were so close. Please keep us informed on his other products.
hey dekay, wirehead also lives in the area and has checked it out and had interesting things to say about it. he did a demo of a bunch of space-tech's gear.

by the way dekay, i never got around to swapping the tubes you researched for my pre because i went with an arc ref1. if you're interested in giving the space-tech a workout you can borrow it for as long as you like. let me know. maybe i can give it to you at randy's again and we can demo some more goodies.
Kubla: Yes, I would be interested in trying to run the Audion 300B through it when I put together another set of the OTA IC's (right now I am short on IC's). Thanks for the offer. Perhaps we can get together over here later on and/or even share a ride up to Brulee's if JHunter schedules the PC shoot out later this month. I will try and dig up a better pair of 6SN7's for it, which will then stay with the preamp. I wish that we had a Bottlehead Foreplay to compare it to (a friend of mine is going to build one, but it may be awhile). I will start researching the tubes in the meantime.
ok dekay, im in. when you set everything up let me know and we'll get to it. too bad i ditched my morrison! would be nice to have more people backing me up on my opinions on that one.
Dekay, I live about 20 minutes away from Albert's place of business. I also have a Foreplay still in the box. I'll get it built after I move, ie, late August or September, and will let you guys know how it compares with the QA-113.
Turbo: Excellent. Kitch at this site is putting one (the Foreplay) together as well, I just remembered. My local friend is condsidering the Foreplay with the little ASL Wave mono blocks for an office system. The QA-113 Vs the Foreplay will be a great comparison to have.
so, looks like only left-coasters and cannucks been invited to this party, eh? that's ok. i'm within a 50 mile radius of avalon, boulder, dunlavy, green mountain, ayre, ps audio & jeff rowland. let me know if you need anything. ;-) -kelly
Yes Kelly, let's play all of those off the S-T and the Foreplay as well. Maybe we can get Robert Klein to deliver "every preamp ever made" to our door if the offer is still going. Remember the "every album ever recorded" bit?
Hey Turbo- get that Foreplay out of the box and we'll swap lies about how there's no flux on MY tube sockets. If you got the Sweet Whispers mod, I came up with a way to solder the resistors with no drips into the wafers.
yeah, dekay, i remember that bit. also the blues delivered with an uncontrolable rythmic leg. -kelly
Thank you for the review, it helped a great deal. Best
wishes on your move and enjoy your home in Ottawa!

Thanks Coolbreeze.

Hey Dekay, talk about coincidence, I just received my ASL Wave Monoblocks several days ago. Can you believe it, I got mine used! It wouldn't drive the sellers speakers so he disposed of it. It's a far cry from my Quickies but it is bloody good for the price. I now have to put together a TQWT with the Pioneer full-range drivers that I purchased for $19 (for the pair, yup I'm cheap).

Kitch29, I don't think I have the sweet whispers but am planning to get it. Could you email your soldering method to me?

Anyways, back to the main topic of my post. I just got back from Space-Tech. Albert has some interesting stuff lying around. He was putting together a phono preamp when I stepped in (he said he had sold his previous one). Other than the amps, preamps, and DACs that he makes, he also has a Quad tube monoblock, a Dynaco ST-70, some other vintage tube items, and lots of speakers in the store. Word must be getting around as I believe he had way more amps in his store last year. I was listening to one of my CDs on his CD player and DAC (DA-64X-T) hooked up to a little 6BQ5 push-pull integrated amp. It sounded really nice on his speakers (Sansui tweeters, can't remember what woofers) but I still prefer my ribbon hybrids. I guess I'm used to the sound of ribbons and am hoping to be able to upgrade to a pair of Apogee Stages next year, if I can find a pair. I'm also considering purchasing one of his DACs but that'll again have to wait till next year. I'll be picking up my amps from him in 3 to 4 days and will report any other interesting items if I see them. BTW, he has a 300B push-pull demo amp for sale (over Can$1,300 off). I should give that a listen the next time I'm there.