Supratek or Don Sachs - which way to go?


I'm preparing to replace my SS preamp with a tube unit and have read with great interest many threads on this board. This is where I learned about Don Sachs model 2 preamps. They sound like what I'm looking for and those who own them consistently express their satisfaction with them.

Now I've just been reading and learning about the Supratek lineup. Wow. These also sound like fantastic works of art. Leaving me with a new question about which way to go. 

Thoughts? Advice? Experience? Anyone care to share?
markusthenaimnut
Both are noted for excellent sound.
But internal photos tell a story too. Between the two the Sachs is hands down the winner. Don shows the internals on his website. Google 'Supratek internal photos' for views of the other.
Is there a particular reason why its come down to these two preamps?
@atmasphere Wow, quite the scene inside there...
The question above about how or why I narrowed my search down to these two is worth thinking about. To explain, I need to share a little history.

A friend had bought a Prima Luna integrated to go with his quad 2805s. So initially I was looking at one of the Prima Luna preamps. Through researching and corresponding with others on various boards I came to think the 6SN7 was the tube I wanted as the centerpiece of whatever I bought. 

I'm grateful for the recommendations posted by others on this thread, and I'll continue to read about those preamps. But in summary, everything I've read about the two preamps I mentioned above suggests that they are headed in the direction I want to go. But I'm still very much a novice, and am eager and ready to learn more.
I own both, Don's Kootenay 120 KT88 Amp and his DS2 6SN7 Tube Pre and they are very impressive in their build quality and sounds Amazing!

You will be a happy camper going with Sach's equipment...

Wig

This is Mick, the manufacturer of Supratek. Firstly, I'm getting a bit sick of atmasphere jumping in with 20 year old pix of Supratek wiring , everytime Supratek gets mentioned. Am I that much of a threat?

The wiring I do these days is maybe a lot neater , but what makes people think PCB boards are superior to hard wiring.
PCB's are used to simplify construction and because they are great for economics. 

It takes me a week to build a LCR preamp. If I used PCB's, which isn't hard to do , it would take a day.
Why dont I use PCB's then? Because they sound like plastic, they sound like they look, one dimensional and boring. 

There are many hundreds of hardwired joints in my pres, everyone making solid contact, before its soldered.  With a PCB the lead solder is making all the contacts.
The other isssue is reliabilty, the 20 year old preamp with the "messy" wiring is still going strong, with only one change of tubes , no reliability issues at all, unlike some other manufacturers I could name. 

The Suprateks aren't a 1950's tube design tarted up with "options" .
They are state of the art tube designs which will drive any or multiple power amps. They have power supplies which would drive a big tube power amp, with tube rectification, and tube shunt regulation, which makes for a big sound that is as quiet as a tube pre can be.

They have a signature sound which is unlike any other tube preamp, and if you like 3D imaging and realism, which a lot of people seem to do, then thinking outside the box and looking past conventional  constraints (PCB, 1950 design, soft power supplies)  might be very rewarding.





Supratek products are covered by a transferable lifelong warranty. Pretty impressive. The manufacturer must be doing something right.
Let me chime in on this thread.  I got one of Don Sachs first preamps and now with his latest upgrade,  I think he has pretty wrung every bit of  sonic goodness out of his derivation design.  It is far and away the finest preamp I have every had, and that includes both tube and SS preamps.  CJ, HK Citation I, Modwright, Berning, Belles, Klyne Audio Arts, and several more.  It is just the the most revealing preamp that I have every had in my system, including several very pricey ARC preamps I have had a chance to audition. It is dead solid quiet in operation.   

I have no knowledge of Supratek gear, but you can be impressed by the affirmative recommendations by Atmosphere and Wig posted above regarding Don's preamp.  BTW, like Wig, I also have Don's KT88-based tube amp and it is beyond stunning.   I swore off tube amps years ago, but heard Don's amp in my system recently, and it was an "ah ha" moment, vastly more holographic than my fine McCormark amp.  It is has auto-biasing which has always been a total PITA with every tube I have previously had.  Aaarrhhh, never again with Don's amp.


Back to Don's preamp, I tell ya, there is pure magic in 6SN7 tubes, which Don uses in his preamp, as well as in his amp.  Surprisingly few tube preamps are designed around this dynamic tube, which is which Don's preamp sound better than anything I have ever heard in my system.  I suspect there are better preamps around, but they would cost several times the cost of Don's preamp, no question.  I think Don's preamp is around $2700, plus/minus, and it splendid.  The only downside is that would have to wait a couple of months to have him build it.  But, good things come to those that wait!
Through researching and corresponding with others on various boards I came to think the 6SN7 was the tube I wanted as the centerpiece of whatever I bought.
Its an excellent tube- and nearly every preamp that uses it has gotten good reviews.
This is Mick, the manufacturer of Supratek. Firstly, I'm getting a bit sick of atmasphere jumping in with 20 year old pix of Supratek wiring , everytime Supratek gets mentioned. Am I that much of a threat?

Please direct me to the photo that I linked. OTOH, a photo of a current preamp would be better. I often recommend products that are not my own (as seen in this thread) and would be happy to recommend yours as well, provided I don't have to worry about someone that took my recommendation getting mad because a fire or shock hazard was present in that equipment because a component came loose in shipment or the like. I was unable to find any interior views on your website. As nice as they look on the outside, and as nice as they sound, shouldn't they look as good on the inside? Wouldn't you want to show that off?

Seems to me that any equipment is prone to a fire or shock hazard being present in that equipment because a component came loose in shipment or the like.  Such scare tactics work because they prey upon the fallacy that only certain equipment (here: point-to-point wiring) is susceptible to such breakdown when in fact it is true for all equipment that include soldered joints. In fact, it is more likely that a soldered PCB-containing equipment is more susceptible to such breakdown due to the nature of a soldered trace being inherently weaker than wire-to-wire soldered joints. 

And yes, point-to-point soldering results is “messier” wiring presentations than the corresponding PCB soldered wiring. If one wants aesthetics of what’s presented under the hood but never seen, then buy an all-PCB component. 

But I return to the warranty issues of the companies involved: 

1. Doug Sachs: Full 2 year warranty
2. Supratech: Transferrable lifelong warranty. 
3. Atma-sphere: Transferrable 3 year warranty

To me, the warranty is something that should not be ignored when evaluating equipment. Too bad all reputable manufacturers don’t stand behind their products like Supratech apparently does.   
celandar….."To me, the warranty is something that should not be ignored when evaluating equipment. Too bad all reputable manufacturers don’t stand behind their products like Supratech apparently does."


Agree with you, which equipment have you purchased because of its long warranty, Bryston, other?   
And yes, point-to-point soldering results is “messier” wiring presentations than the corresponding PCB soldered wiring. If one wants aesthetics of what’s presented under the hood but never seen, then buy an all-PCB component.
It does not matter if its point to point or not. Maybe its jut me but I want my audio equipment to look good inside.

http://www.atma-sphere.com/
We like the customer to be able to see that we take pride in our construction quality.
Marantz made their reputation that way:
https://www.stereophile.com/images/312listen.marbottom.jpg

Jetter: None of my audio equipment has a lifelong warranty. All of my Teo Audio purchases (a preamp and several IC’s) were influenced by coverage with a 5 year warranty, given the new technology used in their products.

Ralph: And the absence of a wiring photo should implicate an audio designer as not having pride in his construction quality?
Ralph: And the absence of a wiring photo should implicate an audio designer as not having pride in his construction quality?
No! - just a missed opportunity IMO.
Ralph: Nice video clip on your landing page! That must have cost more than a few pennies to put together. 
When spending the kind of money we do on our equipment it's a plus when you see a photo of the internal in preamps like Don,s and the Atmasphere I must say is the best looking wing job I've seen, cant even imagine how many hours that must take.

There are alot of great threads on the Supratech so it must sound impressive but when looking at there website and all you see is the external photo and a page with pricing but nothing on what exactly that pricing includes besides finish makes it difficult to choose over the other.

Don,s website is full of whats included and options to choose.

Of the three preamps mention Atmasphere is far and away the best looking and lets face it we all want something gorgeous to look at.
Pretty big difference in the price of the various items among the three companies. 
I will take a great sounding piece of equipment over a great looking piece of equipment any day. If you can get both such as I did with my Supratek Cortese it is a win-win. No, I do not look inside my Supratek, I listen to it. I have owned it for many years and have had no problems.
Frankly, I’ve never understood the aesthetics vs. sound quality argument.

(Slowhand: awesome system!)
celander1,

I just updated my system in my profile. Went from a Supratek Syrah to a Supratek Cortese. Other things have changed, but I won't have a system without a Supratek in it.
atmasphere will you please stop posting pix of preamps from many years ago, the wiring of modern Suprateks is completely different.
You have been reported to administration. 
.......and even if I had the time to check every post on Audiogon and take every opportunity to spruik my product I'd still be reluctant.....
Mick, seems like you can address all of this by posting one or two pics of wiring internals from one of your products. 
atmasphere will you please stop posting pix of preamps from many years ago, the wiring of modern Suprateks is completely different.
@mickm

@celander is correct.

I've not posted any photos nor have I posted a link to any. Rather than accuse me of something I did not do, maybe it would be more constructive if you put up an interior photo of one of your preamps on your website. Just as a bit of advice (we've been doing this over 40 years if that means anything), people may not open up the equipment they buy, but they do like to see that the manufacturer is proud of the work they do. And by all accounts, the sound you get is excellent so this would seem to me to be win-win.
I don’t care where it’s posted; it can be there or here. 
@atmasphere Having been a long time member of AudiogoN, I’ve always looked forward to reading your insightful posts. But, not the ones on this thread.


Yeah, it does seem like it’s getting into the mud. To the extent I’ve contributed to the sloppiness, I apologize.
I did learn about a manufacturer of tube gear of apparently stellar quality in the form of Supratek. So the thread has some value to me.
Agree with @steakster have always admired Ralph with his very insightful posts but I think he took this thread too far in the wrong direction. 
It is not like the thread can't be redeemed, with a few surgical deletions here and there.
What happened to Supratek?  I remember that for years they were hailed as a great sounding, high value product, but then they disappeared.  What's the story?
@atmasphere Having been a long time member of AudiogoN, I’ve always looked forward to reading your insightful posts. But, not the ones on this thread.

Agree with @steakster have always admired Ralph with his very insightful posts but I think he took this thread too far in the wrong direction.
@rsf507 , @steakster 

Was my comment 'Between the two the Sachs is hands down the winner.'  going too far?? The OP asked and I answered. Did I make some other comment that is considered problematic?? I'd appreciate it if you could point it out.



Ralph, you might want to review all of your posts here besides the first one. 
Ralph, you might want to review all of your posts here besides the first one.
I did. Are you reading more into my comments than is on the page?
Post removed 
I think cel might be. Mick probably had more free advertising via A’gon zealot members posts than any. They seem to have faded into the woodwork.
The internal photos comment, the advice to google the unit, that was low and uncalled for (in my humble view).
So- a Google search on a thing is 'uncalled for'?? IMO that's a pretty low bar.
As to the posting of the video on our home page that was in **direct response** to this comment, which IMO is untrue:
And yes, point-to-point soldering results is “messier” wiring presentations than the corresponding PCB soldered wiring. If one wants aesthetics of what’s presented under the hood but never seen, then buy an all-PCB component.
I also posted a photo of a Marantz at the same time.  The context is important.
Post removed 
Ralph, it’s understandable to me that you really don’t see what you’re doing in this thread. It’s clear that you’re trying to broaden the OP’s view to include other products. It’s likely that the OP has single-ended connections but that’s not the point: he has stated his preferences and asked for feedback on those TWO preferences from consumers who own those products.

You have systematically attacked Supratek products out of the gates. To wit:

03-29-2019 1:43pm:
“Between the two the Sachs is hands down the winner. Don shows the internals on his website. Google ’Supratek internal photos’ for views of the other.”

04-01-2019 11:22am:
”I often recommend products that are not my own (as seen in this thread) [D. Sachs] and would be happy to recommend yours [Supratek’s] as well, provided I don’t have to worry about someone that took my recommendation getting mad because a fire or shock hazard was present in that equipment because a component came loose in shipment or the like.”

You don’t engage in this behavior in other threads. So I ask why now?

And Ralph and @jetter, I’m not reading anything into any of the posts other than what is posted.
@atmasphere IMHO, from my perspective - years ago, you kind of set the gold standard for the manner in which a manufacturer participates in these discussions. Your knowledge, experience and cordiality has earned enormous respect and appreciation in our community. It would be great if certain dealers followed your example. Yet, the posts in this particular thread appear to be an outlier. Perhaps, you were responding to the OP’s question more as an avid audiophile rather than a manufacturer. This would make perfect sense. With you wearing several hats as a manufacturer, audiophile and musician, it is quite remarkable. Yet, when one manufacturer comments on a competing manufacturer’s product, there is an invisible line that needs to be respected.
And god help us all when we decide equipment purchasing decisions based solely on a manufacturer’s website content.
@steakster
It might help to know my perspective is also that of a service technician. I started working at the Allied Radio service department near my house the day after I graduated from high school. I continued to work in consumer repair while I put myself through college; after I got my degree I continued working consumer repair well into the 1980s.

Some equipment I serviced was extremely well-built internally and often I had to marvel at the pride that companies like MacIntosh or Tektronix obviously took in their work.  Knowing what's under the hood has always been a curiosity of mine and I still do repair work on occasion just because I enjoy it. 
A quote from the Four Tops "I can't help myself". 

I suspect this will get removed too.  So be it.  
I was an audio consultant at a HEA shop in a suburb outside DSM during high school in the mid-70’s (Ecologic Ear in Windsor Heights). The shop offered all sorts of gear, ranging from value-oriented to high end audio. I always directed customers to the “back room” showcasing the cream of the store’s offerings, because I wanted them to hear what HEA sounded like, even if they might not be able to afford it. Nobody ever asked me to open up a piece of gear to see the inner wiring arrangement.
Well I find this all a bit unnecessary, but for those who want to read about the wiring of my preamps, I’ve put a page on my blog
www.supratekaudio.blogspot.com.au
The internal layout of Supratek was never considered a secret to those of us ever considering or purchasing the brand. There has been no secrets uncovered here, the OP asked for opinions, and opinions were given. Frankly, Mick’s preamps have received as much, or more free, good press, from users on A’gon as any other product.

Those of you who mention that no one looks inside their equipment reflects your values and sense of curiosity, not all of ours. I applaud Ralph for providing his opinion and Mick for posting a picture on his blog.  Peace
Going forward, I would like to here more from owners of these preamps. I have been looking toward moving into a 6sn7 tube based preamp myself.
Me too, beautiful looking pre amps, I would like to know how the volume knob feels, if the remote is only for volume and if would hear any noise trough my speakers when no music is playing, my speakers are 8 ohm and 87db.
it would be nice if the pre would have a digital readout of the volume, but that would maybe hurt the beautiful design.
mesch and grphongryph, here are 3,688 posts in one thread as an introduction to Supratek.  It is the definitive thread.  They are nice looking for sure.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/preamp-deal-of-the-century
Hi everyone - 
Remember me? I'm the OP. I REALLY APPRECIATE everyone's comments on this thread. I am still learning and appreciate the discussion here. 
Frankly, I'm still on the fence about which of the two preamps I'm going to pull the trigger on. Mick's lifetime warranty is really cool and is a testament to his faith in his products. Having said that, living in the PNW in the US, Don Sachs is practically local, so shipping (should it be required) would obviously be a simpler affair.
I retired last Friday. This preamp is going to be a (notionally) final upgrade for my system. I think either one will be a wonderful change to my system. 
Thanks again - I'll post the results of my decision on this thread and my impressions of the new equipment when I get a chance. Still awaiting a final thumbs-up from SWMBO.
Markus