Great initiative Markus, I will hopefully have a Supratek pre later this year, will follow this thread going forward and hopefully many Supratek owners will join inn.
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The phono preamp is very, very good. As noted above, I am using a Dynavector 17D3 cartridge on a Linn Ittok arm. I have previously owned (and enjoyed) the Dynavector 10x5 mkII, which is a very nice cartridge, and, many years ago, a Sumiko Blue Point special.
In terms of other phono stages, I have used internal phono stages in the following order -
Eico ST70 integrated
Luxman 1055 receiver
Naim 72 with MM and MC phono boards
Main 82 with MM and MC phono boards
I acknowledge that, of all these, only the Linn Linto would be worth talking about. The Linn is a well-regarded phono preamp, but by no means would it be considered reference quality. I've never had the chance to hear listen to a reference quality phono stage. Over the many years I've "been an audiophile" I've mostly concentrated on buying and listening to music. Mostly records. I've had little interest in upgrading. I find auditioning equipment to be stressful and no fun.
I chose the Cortese with LCR because A) the vast majority of the comments about Suprateks on the internet are overwhelmingly positive. No, they are more than positive - they are the comments of very happy people who are delighted with their purchase. B) After reading Mick's blog posts about the evolution of the design of the Cortese and development of the LCR phono stage it sounded like what I was looking for. I wanted to treat myself (I just retired from a near 40 year professional career) to a "final" preamp, with a phono stage. And because I have many thousands of records, I went ahead a pulled the trigger.
I recognize my ability to compare this phono stage to others is very limited. But here is what I notice when listening to my records now;
1. New sonic details emerge which greatly contribute to my enjoyment and and understanding of the recording. Tunes which were previously boring often have become much more interesting, because I can hear how the musicians are - or are not - playing together. These tiny details (an in-drawn breath, an extra bit of force between a flatpick and a guitar string, a more heavily plucked bass guitar string, the atmosphere of the venue within which the recording took place) are delightful. The downside is that, if a producer has been careless in a production choice (like heavily boosted bass on a hip-hop track) I also hear that.
2. Tone; instrumental timbres are weightier and richer. More fully fleshed out, more "rounded".
3. The music is not fatiguing. In fact, this extends to the Cortese overall - this preamp has transformed my soundsystem and I want to spend much more time with it. Listening sessions have become much more treasured and engaging.
As I noted above, I don't really enjoy shopping for hi-fi equipment. I find it stressful and wearing. I don't want to take a handful of albums around to all the hi-fi stores and listen to various phono stages, over unfamiliar speakers, cartridges, preamps and so forth. I want the journey to be over, so I can get back to listening to music. And relaxing, and exploring new musical horizons. I feel blessed that that is where I've ended up.
One other comment; almost anyone shopping for a new component is going to have to gather information from the written word on the internet. I say this because there are simply too many excellent options out there these days. It is logistically difficult and time consuming to go around and hear everything in person. We need information to be able to narrow it down to a manageable number of options, a short-list.
I love the fact that the Supratek has point to point wiring and a lifetime guarantee. And that the standard tube-set can be expected to last 10,000 to 20,000 hours.
Hope this helps.
I ordered the new Supratek Pinot Phono Stage in black on black. I sold my Sutherland 20/20 to make room for it. This will be my second Supratek, the first was the Syrah pre amp. I loved the Syrah but had to sell my gear and downsize around ten years ago. But I still have some of my tube collection and they will work in the Pinot, such as the Sylvania metal base 6SN7A, Western Electric 350B, and Bendix 6106. Its going to be a month long wait though as Mick went on vacation right after I ordered.
Greetings to all who wanna keep score on These two (Don Sachs version of the SP 14 Pre and my Supratek Chardonnay GEN 3 )
...thats right two of the BEST under $3k preamps out there (That can shame 10k to 15k Pre’s) Well if you look at my few earlier post ...i decided after much thought to go with Mick’s drop dead gorgeous...fully loaded GEN 3 Cradonnay PRE( remote....balanced in and outs ) with the brand new Shuguang WE6SN7 Vacuum Tubes that Replicate the Sweet sounding Western Electric 6SN7!....I got almost 500hrs on this Pre with these GREAT sounding 6SN7 tubes....and i will get a little more specific with this KRAZY sounding and and Killer looking Pre in the next few months (my Baby Girl is getting married)..But from my perspective at this point....you wouldn"t have a chance to change my mind and Pry it from my Hands ( After owning sum Pres that ran well over 5K ) ..First is its tonality is spot on.( my opinion).TRUTH...It has a wider and deeper soundstage (Compared to my BAT-33SE which is a great pre in its own right) and nice Height to Boot....soo stay tuned as i continue to burn in and use this GREAT PRE with my Maxed out Audio Mirror Tubadour 3 DAC,( Which is another Giant slayer) ,,with Martin Logan’s (GREAT) Montis Speakers....with Dual Vandersteen Latest subs while Driven by The Great American Rogue Tubed M 180 (latest DARK Revision) Monoblocks.....should be and will be F-ing FUN!!
Markus....i had the stock military russian 6sn7 and sum other nos 6sn7...After to talking to Don Sachs he was telling me about the New Shuguang WE6SN7 that in his opinion wipes all other nos 6sn7’s out there....they can be expensive but a got a great deal on a brand new matched pair for $120 shipped from the Shu Guang factory in china and it took 10 days to get here.!!..They are a Replica WE6SN7...WE stand for Western Electric...not made anymore and a lot of tube Heads feel they were the Holy Grail of the glowing gizmo we call the 6SN7...Go on PSvane website and you will see this newer tube...Im in love with it and it is a KEEPER!!....to JTCF congrats on your tubadour DAC3...it made me sell my Schitt yggy anolog 2 dac and not look back...Great dac....BUT to much in my face and couldn’t stand to listen to it for more than a hour b 4 i hit the KILL switch...not a good match for my system...The AM 3 dac is so close to my 5k anolog rig that i quit listening to it and im all digital!!...Now JTCF you may want to send you dac back to Vlad and get the mini maxed out version like i did...Once again Don Sachs raves about a New Polish Miflex KPCU cap which is a clone of the 3x expensive Duelund cast cap...(Go On his website and read about the polish cap that he is now using) with the z foil resistors and have Vlad by pass your fuse....this will set back $400 vs the $660 if you went with Duelund cap...and you will BE AMAZED at the difference it makes over the Great Stock Version...TRUTH!...If i can drop or shed any more info....Please by all means...Hit me up....Love...Peace and Audio Grease!..HA!
@markusthenaimnut the only other dac I've tried was a Parasound.It actually didn't sound too bad,but it became congested with complicated music.My Vincent CDP died(which I loved!) so I am going with separates again after a ten year hiatus.The Tubadour(upgraded caps)is a keeper for sure,really euphonic out of the box and becoming more open and organic as it breaks in.Don't want to hijack the thread,sorry audio123!
The 6SN7 tubes I really like are Sofia Electric,lush but detailed.I've heard good things about the Shuguangs but haven't tried them yet.
Greeting to all the Supratek owners...Just a little info...but these new to the market Shuguang WE6SN7 are SPECIAL!...got about 200hrs on them and they are a end game for me...will be giving a little more info when i get another 200hrs on them...but so far....LUV THEM!... Micks latest Chardonnay GEN 3 pre is a beauty to the Ears and Eyes...and without a doubt one if not the BEST audio decisions i ever made....if your on the fence about buying on of Micks masterpieces...well jump off it and BUY ONE....you'll be glad you waited and got the latest Model (GEN 3)...TRUTH!
Marcus, sorry I did not see your question until just now. I haven't received the Pinot yet, Mick is still tinkering on it. But, with the Syrah pre amp I did quite a bit of tube rolling. As far as the rectifier goes I tried the Mullard GZ34 and GZ37, Bendix 6106, RCA 5V4GA, Cossor 53KU. I could not tell a significant difference in swapping regulators. That is until I rolled in a pair or W.E. 350B's as regulators, then the Bendix 6106 was daddy'o! I put all the others away and stayed with the Bendix. On the 6SN7 I tried too many to list. All of the WWII Sylvania's are just great in the Supratek, as well as the 1949-1951's. You cant go wrong with any of them. But, the 6SN7A, 6SN7W, 6SN7 GT metal base version are easily superior to all other Sylvania's. The Ken-Rad black glass are excellent as well, but not as excellent as the Sylvanias. The very best 6SN7 that I used was easily the Tung-Sol black glass with the round or the oval micas. Just completely gorgeous organic sound when paired with the 350B as regulators, and the Bendix rectifier. I was also using Western Electric 417A in the phono section.
Tube rolling is an obsessive, compulsive madness that can drive you to �the brink of insanity...or am I (you) already there? well the new Shuguang WE6SN7 are SPECIAL...i stand by what my ears hear...you can roll all you want but they are a end game for me...and that is what its all about....your system and your ears!
Hi Mark...i have a built a Healthy stash of all kinds of tubes....Pre...Power and everything in between and that's what what my previous Post was about...Believe or not the stock soviet Military grade 6SN7"s that Mick ships with his new Gen 3 pre are pretty damn good...but like most i could not leave "good" enough alone...so i broke into my stash and went thru about a half dozen or so of sum NOS combos...Thats when i got e-mail from Don Sachs about the Newest Shuguang WE6SN7 and that he was high on them and said give them a try...so i got a great deal on a matched pair...burned them in for a good 200+hrs and sat down and my jaw dropped...i knew coming from him that they would be good if not very good...but man they blew me away...great extension...soundstage that blew up in every direction and a hell of a lot of meat on there bones(Beautiful rich midrange)...and put the rest of my 6SN7"s back im my audio tube toy box...and thats it...they are a keeper and its game over! (like evertyhing in audio YMMV) ..like i posted b 4...tube rolling can and WILL drive you nuts...it fun if you never "rolled your own before"...but after 40yrs in this great hobby of our’s you get to the point of no return and i am sitting back and digging the Shit out of these Shuguang WE6SN7’s...and as you Know quite well, Mick’s Latest gen 3 Pre’s are a BEST BUY and that my friend is the understatement of the Audio Year...and for those looking for a new Pre...well RUN not walk to his website...give him a call and get one!...You will be grinning for years and years to come.....and as i always I love to end with "Love ..Peace and sum good old audio Grease"..HA but TRUTH!
Have had my Supratek Gen 3 Chardonnay in the system for about two weeks. Went with some Psvane 6SN7 TII tubes. Last night things blossomed. Full, rich with amazing detail. Seems there's somewhat of a cult regarding these. Well, sign me up.
Could have taken a more expensive path, almost did for sure. I just don't know how anything could sound any better.
Guys - couple questions about the Chinese tubes.I see Grant Fidelity is offering (at a very high price) the Psvane CV-181 TII tubes. Also, for a much lower price, what they are calling the WE6SN7s.
On ebay I see the CV-181 tubes & various versions of the WE6SN7 tubes. Some look quite different from the ones offered by GF, but at lower prices.Also, GF wants $$ to offer warranty.So, which way to go? CV-181TII or WE6SN7? Through GF or one of the ebay sellers? Which of the ebay sellers have you used that is trustworthy?
Dentdog, where did you pick up your Psvane tubes? GF? or on ebay?
Are you saying you talked to Mick about the Psvane T11s? Please understand I'm not trying to be obtuse, I just want to understand. Whenever I've traded emails about tube-rolling with Mick he basically advised me to spend my money elsewhere. Like a new DAC. If he's said that the Psvane T11s are the best, I'd like to know it.I've been trying to get a handle on the Shuguang & Psvane tubes. Many folks rave about them sounding better than virtually all the famous NOS tubes. However, I've also run across quite a few posts where people state that they failed much earlier than expected.It also appears that the Chinese tube manufacturers have gone crazy, creating multiple flavors of 6SN7 tubes. My recent searches have turned up:the above mentioned Psvane C-181-T11 Mk IIs - grey internal coating.
harder to find are the previous C-181Zs which some found better than the first gen C-181 T11s, but they are out there. Black internal coating.
The so-called Western Electric "421" repro WE6SN7 (and these can be found in various sizes on ebay)Grant Fidelity special limited edition globe version of 6SN7SECossor version of globular 6SN7, with black internal coating.Also a new "British" version of 6SN7I could continue, but it would be tedious.I'm very interested to hear from those who have used any of these tubes for an extended period and how they are holding up.
Also, there are posts dating from 2014 that indicated that "Grant" of Grant Fidelity was seriously ill. If he's out of the picture, who's running the show at GF and Psvane?I know I'm rambling a bit, but also, which ebay dealers are trustworthy? I read tonight a post where someone paid a lot for (I think it was) a Psvane 845. It failed very quickly. When he informed the dealer, the chinese dealer stopped responding to his emails.If GF is sorting out all the highest spec tubes, what's happening to all those that don't make the grade? My guess is that they go on ebay...
I think it’s a bit early for me to give the wide range evals that you are looking for but will try to shed some light as far as possible. Bear in mind that I’m just a listener, not a golden eared evaluator.
So far I’ve tried Sylvania 1952 Bad Boys-nice even response, musical but maybe could have better bass. Then the Psvane C181T 11, very nice smooth with good bass. Newly acquired Ken Rad 6SN7, a nice surprise here, very clear vocals, great bass, good horns. Two nights listening. Going to go back and forth for a couple of months and settle on my go to.
Have also some GE 6SN7s and Sylvania chrome domes, as yet untested. Given a few months I could probably do better. Heck my Gen 3 is just now passing the 40 hour mark but it certainly is a great improvement on previous pre.
Most definitive impression is the Ken Rad bass. My speakers have built in active subs, plus I have a pair of REL 212s so when bass it there I know it for sure. Side two, DSOTM at the end I heard bass I had no idea existed.
And when I mentioned output tubes to Mick I think he brought up the Psvane tubes. Not necessarily a definitive recommendation but alluded to them being good.
One comment is that it appears that the marketing department of various Chinese tube manufacturers have become very good at developing variations that reference well-regarded 6SN7 varieties of the past. There are so many out there now!
I'm interested in learning about the relative longevity of the new production tubes. Anybody having problems with the Psvanes, or Black Treasure tubes or...any of them?
Hi there Supratek owners and interested parties!
I received my Cortese LCR gen 3 back in the fall. So far it's still running the stock tubes that Mick installed - probably around 150 hours on it. I thought I'd just let it run a few hundred hours before I started swapping tubes. If I was going to use one word to describe it "stunning" seems appropriate.
I've had a few other changes with the latest being a new Grado Aeon 3 MI cartridge installed over the weekend. I was running the Grado Statement v2 which was really wonderful - the Aeon 3 is noticeably better. In a word glorious! Huge sound stage across the front wall with depth, air and a seemingly "rightness" and "weight" to it.
The change in my system with the addition of the Cortese and Aeon weren't cheap and while I try not to think about - it is easily the very best audio I've heard - anywhere. Of course YMMV....
In a way if that's the goal then maybe the additions were a good value. At least I like to think of it that way.... :-o
I put together some pics of my virtual system for those interested.
Have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
Yah, I think we all get the same feeling of satisfaction with our gear from Mick. For me, simply speaking, it's virtually life changing. Music just sounds so GOOD. Addicting. It draws me in so deep. And with Spotify broadening my horizons and exposing me to artists I haven't heard before I keep falling in love with the music all over again. And again.
You used the words Glorious, Huge sound stage, across the front wall depth, Rightness and Weight.
Yeah. Yeah! It has raised the bar for me. My new standard for how a system should sound is simply that it should sound IN-CRED-IBLE. If the music doesn't blow your mind (speaking to the notional beginner) then your system isn't at the *right* level yet. Although I DO realize that for all of us, it's a journey.
I recently got a new dac, and now I find myself listening more and more and more and more and streaming and playing cd's and vinyl and, and...
Sorry. Got carried away a bit. Just 'cause I'm sittin' here listening and it's sounding SO GOOD.
Was walking around fortune town mall in BKK when I stepped into a non assuming shop and was shocked to see a full Supratek setup, owner said it was a ten anniversary models, pre with two mono blocks playing on some cabasse speakers, what a sound, was invited to listen for over an hour before I had to go to other appointment, some of the best sound I have ever heard, the owner offered me the setup for a very reasonable price, if I had a house in Thailand, I would have bought the amps on the spot.
the owner was unbelievable friendly and knowledgeable, he put on a lot of great music, from jazz to classical and everything sounded sublime, very realistic and also very impressive bass, the speakers he said was about 89db, not a brand I know much about but they sounded bigger than they looked, 2 x 6 inch drivers, seamed to go very low when necessary.
i never thought I would have the opportunity to listen to Supratek amps, without and before buying them unseen/heard, but now I hope some day to own the brand, also I think they look better in real than on websites.
all in all, an unexpected and wonderful experience. A big thanks to the owner for the good conversation and listening session, a pleasure indeed.
@dentdog et al How has your tube rolling gone? Which of the Sylvania chrome domes did you try? Came across a head-fi thread that says you have to be careful with the GTA and GTB models - https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-6sn7-identification-guide.209782/. Not sure what to make of it re the Chardonnay, which I have on order. Also note in one post he says the term chrome dome is incorrectly used for some models now. There are also some 6SN7 reviews/shoot-outs posted (see below). Looking around the Grant Fidelity/Psvane site, they found the Shuguang WE version and the Psvane one’s to be very close. One pays more for the better versions partly because of the warranty but also because they are found to be the best of the best, upper 10%. Same type of thing that Upscale Audio does. The ones costing less at eBay or Chinese store sites are made out to be part of the rest. Don’t know if the latter is true, as it may be a matter of luck of the draw, or maybe the stores are just not getting the cream of the crop. But then there’s the WE Plus version with the carbon fiber coating that’s been lauded. Lots of choices, and some not necessarily dear.
- http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/shuguang_treasures_cv181_pt2_e.html (follow up) -- the CV-181 is a misnamed 6SN7
Hello to everyone in this thread! Just my 2 cents about tube rolling. I am a proud owner of a Chardonnay/Sauvignon (upgraded Chardonnay to Sauvignon with custom headphone output) pre and a pair of Malbec mono-blocks for about 14 years. I have been through various 6SN7 tubes, from rare NOS (round hole) 1578 to Sylvania NOS, Tung - Sol, anything, you name it, I have always come back to the original EH 6sn7 that came with my pre (not the golden pin ones). Each tube had its own positive traits but there was always something special that I was getting with the stock ones. For example I had the best transparency and bass from the 1578 but they didn’t have the mid range magic that I was getting from the standard EH. I have been using the preamp connected to a Weiss MEDEA+ using Kimber Kable 1036 interconnects. I use EL34 for my amps (again the stock ones) and my speakers are the original Tidal Piano. By the way, I am still using the stock rectifier tubes. Everything works just fine after thousands of hours of enjoyment.
I have been using this system for many years without any need to upgrade to something more expensive. I also have got over my tube rolling compulsion, partly due to how good the system sounds with stock tubes and partly due to the gain/feedback combinations of the system. My Malbecs have variable negative/positive feedbacks. If I want different sound signature I can achieve it by changing the feedback levels of the Malbecs and the gain on my preamplifier. This way you can have a relaxing sound (two scales of negative feedback, no positive and low gain on the pre) that extends from the rear walls to the front of the speakers, or a more in-your-face, punchy sound (one scale or no negative feedback, a bit of positive feedback and higher gain from the pre) that sounds as if it is coming in front of the speakers. Or increase both positive and negative to the point that the amps sound almost like solid state. I am using EL34 for the amplifiers. I am using the system in a huge room, but still the bass I get is good: deep, punchy and refined.
This coming year I will also start experimenting with LP playback as I have bought a couple of thousand LPs through the years and still I haven’t got a record player to enjoy them! Of course, the phono will be from Supratek. I wish to everyone here a happy new year full of music enjoyment!
@ironsienna How old was your version of the Chardonnay and what differences did you hear going to the Sauvignon, with speakers that is, as I don't use headphones? When I asked, Mick described them as different, depending on one's tastes, without being specific. I would imagine the Sauvignon improves on some things, such as soundstage and refinement, but the "different" is what I'm curious about. Thanks,