The only upgrade I have tried is the Siemens Gold Pin 7308, which
sounds superb to me. It's what Emmanuel Go of First Sound
recommended to me and is definitely one to try if you can find it. But
they are hard to find and expensive, so I'd be very curious to know of
Try the Siemens CCa Gold Pin 7308 (as mentioned above) along with the Sovtek 0A2 as the other tube. Have them both Cryo'd, or purchase them already cryo'd.
The sound and dynamics will be improved.
I've very much enjoyed the Russian 6H23s I've tried from the Cable Company in my Audio Research SP9 Mk III preamp. They stomp the stock Sovteks into the ground. Worth a try.
I have some cryoed Telefunkens in my First Sound. The are fantastic - dead quiet and dynamic. Beautiful sounding tubes. I bought them from TubeWorld.com. They are costly but I really wanted the return policy if I did not find the performance justifying the price.
I concur with the Siemens 7308 suggestion, and would also add Amperex 7308 PQ made in the USA. Ever-so-slightly softer mids than the Siemens, and a good choice when running a SS amp with the First Sound.
Amperex 7308s (USN-CEP, or JANs, or PQs).
thanks for the suggestions. I have tried both the Russian NOS 6H23s and the Siemens gold pin 7308s since starting this post. The 6H23s are a nice improvement on the stock tubes. They are smoother and have a bigger soundstage, and I think they are a good value, but the Siemens took me to a new level! They are unbelieveably fast and transparent, much more low level detail, better width, depth, better placement from front to back, more natural voices----you get the idea. Unfortunately, they were obscenely expensive, but worth every penny to me. Now I understand why Emmanuel Go recommends them for his preamps.
AMPEREX PQ A-FRAMES, HOLLAND MADE MULLARDS & TUNGSRAM WERE THE BEST I'VE USED. THE SIEMENS WERE TOO MUCH LIKE SOLID STATE.
THE AMPEREX & MULLARDS LET SECTIONS OF THE ORCHESTRA LIFT OUT OF THE ACOUSTIC ON CRESCENDOES JUST AS IN LIVE PERFORMANCES.
THE ABSOLUTELY BEST MIDRANGE WAS FROM EARLY PRODUCTION (50'S) BUGLE BOYS, BUT THERE LIMITED DYNAMICS/EXTENSION WAS APPARENT ON ORCHESTRAL RECORDINGS, BUT ON SMALL SCALE RECORDINGS, THEY ARE THE BEST.
FOR NON-CRITICAL LISTENING, THE ROCKET LABEL 6H23'S FROM UPSCALE AUDIO WERE A GOOD CHOICE FOR ME.
an old thread that i would like to add to:
Stock: no sluch, but a bit cold to my ear, not as transparent as others.
Siemens 7308 Gold Pins (Emmanuel's favorite - i got from stewart at santuary of sound)): awesome imaging and soundstage - very quiet and refined. Maybe a bit analytical if im listening to female vocals. My brain loved these the most, my heart the least
Phillips Miniwatt pearl cryo's 6DJ8 (from www.tubeworld.com) 1959 german made: the opposite of the Siemens: warm and smooth as can be. Smaller soundstage, just a bot rplled off and less transparent than the Siemens, but the smoothness and roundness of the notes, it's emotional impact (esp at night with a merlot listening to vocals) is really unbelievable; handily eats the other tubes for dinner on the right matl.... These are what i keep coming back to, though clearly not as "hi-fi sounding" and not as good at rock or complex jazz. My heart loved these the most, my brain the least.
Finally Amperex PQ 6922 white lattereing D getter from early 1960's (got here on AG from Sam): a cross bwetwen the Simens 7308 and the 6DJ8's. These are my all-around winners, though my heart still falls hard for the 6DJ8's warmth, and depending on maoood and material, I'd prefer the reference quiet and refined sound of the Siemens.
If anything, im learning that tube rolling is like everything else in life - there are no absolutes, just trade-offs.
Artg are you referring to Amperex 6922 Pinch Waists? I've been using Amperex 6922 PQ White Label USA...but halo getter...not Pinch Waists. I love these tubes in the First Sound. If the Pinch Waists are 200% better ('cuz that's how much more they cost), then I'm eager to hear some.
tvad - mine are same as yours. PQ white lettering, nt pinched waist. I'd like to also get some pinch waists, but have yet to see any for sale.....
To calrify again - my PQ 6922's are the "D getter" version - early 1960's production.
ok - so two more simple tweak considerations for First Sound owners. Maybe this has been covered already, but it bears repeating, i think...
1) Aurios isolation/decoupling bearings - clean up and solidify the sound very nicely. Emmanuel recommended them, and as usual, he is right on the money....
2) straight into the wall. I found my Hydra robbed a bit of the inner sparkle and life.
Please excuse my ignorance, but where can the above mentioned tubes be purchased? What would I ask for? I'm just getting into tubes so this is a whole new world for me. :-)
oldpet try brendan at tubeworld, or andy at vintage tube services.
I concur with Artg's recommendation of Andy at Vintage Tube Services.
Paul, Did you end up with a First Sound preamp? I ended up with a Supratek instead of the H-Cat. Bob
First Sound it is! Don't have it yet. Should be acouple of weeks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. :-) It meets all of the technical issues I have regarding DC leakage and all. I've tried 2 other tube pre's as well. I've been climbing the ladder. This is the end for me, no matter what. I hope this is "the one". :-) How is your Supratek?
oldpet tell us more about your system. There are a bunch of highly satisfied FS oweners here - we want to know more about your rig.
Also, allow the thing to break in at east 3 weks before coming to any conclusions - AND REMEMBER IT INVERTS PHASE, so you need to account for that.
Yes, it inverts absolute phase. This is different than the out-of-phase
most of us are familiar with in which the imaging out of whack. I
pesonally can't hear the difference with a unit out of absolute phase and
in absolute phase, but I don't really know what to listen for either. Artg,
can you hear the difference?
I can't hear the difference either, and there's the POV that half of all recordings are inverted anyway. But I have my speakeer leads reversed at the amp just the same as Emmannuel Go is quite insistent about this.
And Paul, as many have mentioned, plug it straight into the wall. After a while, you will want to play with aftermarket power cords.
Id be lying if I said I could always hear the difference, but on some, the bass is off. On other recordings, i cant tell. Mostly i bring it to your attention because emmanuel really really feels strongly about it....
No question that FS owners should swap speaker leads according to Emmanuel's suggestion. There is no argument from me on that issue. I'm just really interested to know what to listen for regarding absolute phase. Alex Peychev has an absolute phase switch on his APL Denon3910 that is remote switchable, too. I've switched that thing back and forth a dozen or more times. Sometimes I think I hear a slightly more expansive soundstage. Other times I'm not sure. It's more of a brain teaser for me at this juncture.
I like my Supratek very much. It is a very musical preamp. I was lucky because a friend had a nearly new Chenin(less than two months old) that I was able to buy immediately when I found out that the H-Cat wasn't my cup of tea. I must say that another preamp on my short list was the First Sound. Best of luck on your audio adventures. Bob
FIM Model 88 Outlet. Emmanuel recommended it over the more expensive wattgate I had, and he nailed it. This thin gis a must-have for this preamp. Quiet as I'll get out, smooth as silk, yest highly resolving/transparent. This one doesn't rob dunamicsd or over-smooth things - it's very neutral. At $60, you can NOT go wrong. Trust me, this was pretty impressive, not subtle....
next up: early 1960's US-made pinched waist Amperex 6922's. I returend the "Siemens 7308 gold pins" when i discovered (while trying to resell them here) that they were manufactured in 1980. Yeouch! they really didnt hold a candle to the Amperex D-getter 6922's or Phillips Miniwatt 1959/1960 (aka Bugle Boy)tubes I had on hand, no matter how much I tried to like their "transparent" sound - they sucked - and now I know why. Boys and Girls: it's a jungle out there. make sure you know a priori what year your tubes were made before you buy....
On that note, Andy at Vintage Tube Services is 100% bone fide honest and waaaay more knowledgable than most out there.
Artg, have you been enjoying a cocktail this evening? Some of your words are kinda like code... :)
Enjoy the new tubes!
Grant - you are indeed astute!
Artg...only 'cuz I've been there, done that!
My system is pretty simple. you know - simple is as simple does - :-) I currently have a McCormack UDP1 - very outstanding on redbook /SACD/ DVDA. DVD-V is fun too. Although I'm not THAT much of a videophile. The UDP1 runs into a Lexicon MC8 - great for HT. Not really too bad for 2 chanel either. My amp is the Krell FPB 400cx - what can i say - outstanding, to me anyway.
Speakers are Tyler Accoustic Linbrook Signature system. (single piece speaker) - These, I love more and more all the time! :-)
BUT I've always wanted to try tubes. Since I do mostly 2 channel listening I thought a dedicated 2 channel tubed pre would be a good idea.
So, I started checking into the in's and out's of tube pre's. I ran into the whole DC leakage thing as it relates to Krell amps - not good. Then started to hear of preamps which did not leak DC, by design. So I tried 2 different tube preamps along the way, but they didn't do all i wanted. Then i began to learn about the 'real deal' preamps - I read the soundstage review of the First Sound presence Deluxe II - (advice from Tvad) and here i am.
I hope that the FS does what i want. From the reviews i've read. i'm pretty sure it will. As I type this little synopsis of my 'rig' :-) I realize that there are ALOT of good folks who offer sound advice, and encouraging words here on Agon. I say Thank YOU to to each and every one. (you know who you are) :-)
thanks for everything
BTW just got some Amperex 6922 USN white lable's for after breakin - what do you think?
Hi Paul - I agree that's a very nice, highly resolving system you've put together, and i also agree that some tube magic would do you good. The FS is a perfect match, IMHO, mostly becuase it's very neutral and honest - does all those audiophile things (soundstage, imaging, dynamics, etc) very well - but more important, it gives an emotional connection to music that's I've never heard with any SS preamp. There are plenty of "musical" tubed preamps, and plenty that exceed in transparency, soundstage etc - but the FS exceeds in BOTH.
I received the US made 1959 Amperex 'Pinched Waist' 6922's today, and Im still letting them settle in, but right off the bat, they're truly amazing! Exceptionally quiet and neutral. Notes are very fleshed out. its pretty amazing. More on that later, as they settle in. Suffice it to say they are my new (final) reference, though im keeping the cryo'd 1959 6DJ8 Miniwatts (aka Bugle Boys). I sold the white letter d-getter 6922's no another FS owner, btw.
Anyway, Paul, we're all glad to chip in our persectives (no matter how biased) - so let us know how your journey develops!
Thanks for the kind words. I'm really getting excited about putting the FS in my system. I haven't been this excited about a single piece of gear in a long time. :-)
Where did you get your pinched waists?
Emmanuel has just released a "supplement" for operating recommendations. I have pasted these here, for your reference:
Achieving Optimum Sonic Performance with a First Sound:
This guide has been compiled through various listening tests, experiences from the field and feedback from customers. We strongly urge you to read this guide thoroughly and apply the guidelines presented in a thorough manner. It is our intent for you to experience the maximum benefit a First Sound Linestage can offer to your system.
Use the original factory tubes for a period of two weeks. This is very important to follow and cannot be stressed strongly enough. After this period, you may change the triode tubes if you wish. This procedure allows you to experience your First Sound the way we have designed it. The triode tubes play a very important role in the overall performance of your unit. Changing the triode tubes to NOS may not always result in improved performance and can actually have an adverse effect. Using the stock
tubes for a period of two weeks provides a form of guarantee against NOS tubes that may actually degrade the performance of your unit.
Periodically check the OA2 tubes to ensure they are working. The First Sound unit will function even if one or both OA2 tubes are not working, though with diminished performance.
Tube Dampers. If you have tube dampers, we would recommend to use the First Sound without the tube dampers for a period of a week or so. After which put on your favorite tube dampers. This will allow you to determine if the tube dampers benefit your system or not.
Polarity of the speaker leads
Reverse the polarity of speaker lead. Discussed on page 3 of the manual under the heading Set up. The issue of reversing the polarity of the speaker cables is very very important. So important that we would disown a First Sound unit if we heard it with the incorrect polarity. Having the polarity correct allows the music to flow with ease and harmony. There is a connection between you and the music, a bond. If the polarity is not right, there is a disconnect, a separation, a veil. The music seems to be lethargic. Like
a track and field runner who has lead weights at their ankles. No bounce, no spring, no life. Attending a symphony and feeling the atmosphere of the venue; the excitement of the audience as the music unfolds with its drama, tension and flow; vs watching on a very good plasma HDTV. Quite a difference. Manually changing the phase by reversing the polarity of the speaker cables is the ideal and most effective method to use. In listening tests, it is easier to see the difference if one would play a couple of songs in one polarity and then a couple of songs in another polarity and then switch back again. Using different cds from various labels is advised. If the phase is changed via the cd player or a D/A converter, we have a very hard time noting a difference. We do not have an explanation for this. This is the reason we advise to change the phase manually.
Inputs and Outputs
Use the CD input for your main source component. The CD input has a different wire than the rest of the other inputs. This results in an enhanced performance through this input.
Use the Output 1 for your outputs to your main amplifier. This is the most direct output and provides the maximum performance.
Plug the unit directly to the a.c. wall outlet. Do not use any a.c. line conditioners or devices. If you have such a.c. devices in your system, try using the First Sound unit without the a.c. devices for a period of two weeks. Then proceed with the use of the a.c. device along with the First Sound unit. This procedure will allow you to determine if the addition of an a.c. device is beneficial to the overall sonic performance of the system.
Use the stock power cords. If you have aftermarket power cord, use the stock power cords for a period of two weeks. Then proceed to use your aftermarket power cords. This procedure will allow you to determine if the substitution of an after market power cord is beneficial to the overall sonic performance of the system.
Hi End a.c. receptacles. We have found that hi-end a.c. receptacles actually enhance or degrade the overall performance of the system. We advise you to take careful consideration about these products.
Shorting plugs. Do not use any shorting rca plugs or rca caps (used as shield for EMI and RFI) on the back of the unit. These degrade the sound when used with the First Sound.
External Power Supply Placement. If you are placing the external power supply directly on the carpet, we have noticed an improvement if a wooden chopping/cutting board was placed underneath the external power supply.
Attention to shelves. We have found out that certain materials used for shelves does not work well with First Sound. In particular, acrylic shelves.
Isolation Devices. Do not use any of these devices under the main unit or the external power supply. If you do have these devices, listen to your First Sound without any of these devices for the first two weeks. Then proceed to use them first under the main unit, then under the power supply. This procedure will allow you to determine if the addition of an isolation device is beneficial to the overall sonic
performance of the system.
Do not use any CD Break-in Disc or Break-in Device. Use natural music only. We have found that certain break in cds can actually have a detrimental effect on the performance of the unit.
The break in period is about two weeks of 24 hour constant use with music going through the unit.
Break in is aided by discharging the capacitors two or three times a day during this period. Discharging the capacitors is discussed on page two of the operating manual.
Note: Remember to unplug the a.c. power cord from the a.c. wall socket and from the external power supply before depressing the Discharge Button !
After pressing the Discharge Button for 3-5 minutes, release the button and let the unit settle for about 5 minutes. Then reconnect the power cord and turn the unit on.
During the break in period, while the unit is being played, set the attenuator at the different volume settings if possible.
Discharge button? Is that new?
ok. I'm finally done messin with NOS tubes. Man was that tiring. I must have tried 5 different tube sets before settling down on 2 - each time losing some $$.
Final all around winner: 1959 Amperex PQ "Pinched Waist" D-getter 6922 (US made). Smooth as silk, highly accurtae, with just a smidgeon of bloom. Notes have more defined and controlled beginning, middle and end. Delicate and forceful depending on material. a true champion. Example, the inner harmonics of Kind of Blue, at the opnening of track 2 "Freddy Freeloader" - where the trumpet and sax are playing similar notes - I've never before appreciated the lovely separation between them, yet it wasnt an artificial highligh, no - the tones and resonance of each individual instrument was nicely laid out, side by side, as they were intended to, as they would sound if you were there.... I wont even mention how much I paid for these.
Second Place: 1959 pearl cryo'd Phillips Miniwatt german made 6DJ8 (aka bugle boy). Creamy smooth and lustful presence. On some recordings (e.g., Lucinda Williams) the midrange presence and rock solid images are simply jaw-dropping. Music just flows. Not as clean, nt as refined, not as all around a winner, but on some material, it beats the PW 6922's.
Art, are you talking about "D" getter, steel pin Bugle Boys?
well, they dont say bugle noy on them. they say Phillips Miniwatt, but as i understand it, they are the same as the "bugle boy." I think they are steel pin d-getters...
This thread is an absolute fountain of priceless info!!! Oldpet, could you tell us what are the two tube preamps you examined then discarded on your way to audio Nirvana with the First Sound. And where did these preamps fall short?
Before I answer you, I just wanted to thank you for asking Emmanuel about the Hot Rod First Sound units. :-)
I decided to work my way up the price ladder. Keeping in mind the caveat of DC leakage.
The first stop along the way was the Tube Audio Designs "TAD-150" By Paul Gzrybek at Bizzy Bee. Paul is a gem to work with. We shipped the preamp back and forth 3 times for various tweaking. The first TAD-150 was completely stock. After the first go round the unit then became one of Paul's "signature" preamps. The 'stock' pre simply didn't have enough weight or depth for my taste. Especially in the bass dept. When the preamp was tweaked into the 'signature' series, the bass was greatly improved but, still just not enough weight for me. Keep in mind this preamp only costs $700! I would say that for many people this preamp could stop their search, right then and there. Needles to say. I ended up sending it back to Paul for my refund.
Next up was the SAS 10A by Steve Sammet. ($1995) A really outstanding Preamp. Dual mono in its construction etc. But, it was noisy in my system. The bass was just a small bit light from what I am accustomed to. I think if it had been quiet however, I could have stayed with it. But i thought - why compromise at this point? Back it went for the refund.
Both the TAD-150 and the SAS 10A did a beautiful job with vocals and staging.
Both Steve and Paul were easy to work with. They were fast with getting my refund back to me. Their business model is one I wish more Agon dealers would adopt - REFUND if you are not happy with their product.
So here I am, awaiting the arrival of hopefuly my last preamp - EVER! :-) This "trial" is MUCH more risky though, as I am NOT able to return it for a refund. :-( On the positive side - I think I've read only one, mildly negative comment, from someone who auditioned a F.S. and didn't find it to be his cup of tea. I basically purchased this pre based on reviews (professional) and threads I've read.
If this isn't the one - then a very new F.S. Presence Deluxe II will be on the 'GoN for a true tube lover.
Wish me luck. sorry for the long winded answer. :-)
Sorry to get off topic, but I am considering a FS pre to go with my Exemplar 3910-Joule VSN-80- Merlin VSM-MM rig. right now I am using a Supratek Syrah. any comments from yuse guys ?
Oldpet, your answer was exactly what I was looking for. Will you be getting a hotrodded FS or a standard configuration? If I order one I will more than likely source a hotrod version which will maximize the audible benefits of its minimalist design.
I'll be getting the standard configuration. Hoping it's here this week! When Emmanuel first emailed me he seemed genuinely excited that I would be pairing the FS with my Krell. The first review I read, (Sounstage) was based on the standard, Presence Deluxe MkII, also. If this preamp sounds like the things I've read...that'll be 'Hot' enough for me. :-) Please let us all know what the hotrodded model is like.
swamp walker. From what i have read, the Supratek is a very very fine preamp. I am sure that once talking about items in this caliber (i.e., all very high performing), its probably more a matter of preference, as there is no such thing as "better," IMHO.
One thing to consider is the many tube rolling options available with the FS, as well as very acessible and helpful designer in Emmanuel Go (who lives in the US)!
I see you have OTL amps; I love my First Sound with my Berning!
I purchased a used First Sound Presence Deluxe Mk II 4.0 about 2 years ago. I had it upgraded in December 2004. In the 2 years that I have had it, I didn't do much fooling around with NOS tubes. I listened to the stock tubes and after a short time, I replaced them with Telefunken 7308's. In retrospect, I can say this is NOT a good tube to use with this linestage. As much as you could tell prior to the upgrade and prior to trying other tubes that the First Sound was a very good unit, I couldn't duplicate the sound which others seemed to be raving about. Dynamics were only average and although female vocals were extremely well presented, midrange transparence and clarity was exceptional, there was a stark, unemotional quality to the midrange which was not as musically beguiling as other preamps which I have heard or owned. Some of these problems, such as dynamics and also a lack of very deep bass extension, I had attributed to preamp/amplifier impedance mismatch between the high impedance First Sound and the low impedance Pass Aleph 4. One feature of the First Sound with the Telefunken 7308 was its just about pin-point imaging. One could easily differentiate the various instruments within the soundstage and their boundaries were extremely well-defined. The soundstage was very wide.
After upgrading the unit, bass and dynamics were definitely improved significantly, but not to such a huge degree that the unit now merited the raves it received in the audio press. Having both posted to and followed threads on Audiogon about the First Sound, I decided to try a pair of Siemens NOS 6922's which I had lying around. Having no 7308's which is what are often recommended, I decided to try these 6922's. The difference was huge. Suddenly, the First Sound became the most dynamic preamp which I had ever heard. The soundstage which already had been wide became wider and taller. Midrange, which had been stark and unemotional, while not overly sweet and lush was full and musical. Vocals retained their immediacy and "in-the room" quality. Details, whether in audiophile recordings, well-recorded, current, commercial recordings or even in recordings which are 40 years old were revealed. In the right recordings these details are painted across such a wide and high soundstage stage, the dynamics are so startling in their effortlessness and explosiveness that old recordings, one's with which you are very familiar, can be like experiencing them for the first time.
I could say more about the First Sound, but since my tube rolling experience with it is limited, I'll just say that if it is not sounding right to you, keep trying and don't give up. Above all, look to the tubes as I have found that the tubes seem more capable of making a huge difference in sonic signature here than in most other preamps.
I would also have to thank Emmanuel Go. I cannot tell you the number of emails which we have exchanged in the time that I have owned the First Sound. When I would either become discouraged or otherwise occupied, he would inquire occasionally to see if anything that he had suggested or which I had tried on my own had yielded an improvement. He contacted me originally when I had bought it and had described the sound of the unit as I had heard it at that time. This is a man who is completely committed to your satisfaction as a customer, not in the sense of a slogan or corporate mantra, but really. He is truly interested to see that you get the most out of his product.
As the capabilities of his linestage continue to reveal themselves to me through tube-rolling, I can say that even though he is humble and committed to the customer's satisfaction, his design is on the cutting edge of what
is out there and I finally understand what others have been raving about.
Great insightful post. I spent $$$$ getting the famed Siemens 7308's, but was ultimately was very unimpressed. well, it turned out they were late 1970's vintage, which makes a big difference. I think that a subpoint within your thoughts are that a name brand (Amperex, Siemens, Mullard) and design label (6922, 7308 6DJ8) arent enough to predict performance - the VINTAGE of the tube is KEY! As other know, the older the better....I currently have those pinched waist 1959 US-made 69ss's, and FINALLY have found audio heaven.....
Rayhall, what upgrades did you apply to your First Sound pre?
Emmanuel offered an upgrade in '03 for owners of record at that time. He was a little vague on what he did, but I think there were some grounding changes, some internal wire changes and, in my case at least, some replacement of capacitors. There is a professional review which reviews the unit after this upgrade. Here is a link to that review here:
http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue11/firstsound.htm Emmanuel said what the upgrade would do was further lower the noise floor, thus improving dynamics. I would say this upgrade was an improvement in just about every way that I could perceive except one: The unit doesn't have that pin-point imaging anymore. Instruments and voices are painted as much larger within the stage and their boundaries are more diffuse and indistinct. Otherwise, dynamics, bass extension and upper midrange smoothness were all improved and the noise floor was lowered. This was all determined before the tube change. Of course, after the tube change the F.S. made music for me like it had not done before.
Thanks, Artg, for your kind words. Now that I am sure that the F.S. is a keeper at my house even though it and the Pass amp may not be the best match, I am contemplating my options in developing a second system. As I almost certainly will keep the Pass amp, one option is to look for a second amp for such a bedroom system. One thought was to try to bring in a Berning ZH-270 for the bedroom. Any thoughts you wish to share about the sonic qualities of the Berning or its match with the First Sound beyond your other posts? Understanding that the Berning is very transparent, how does it stack up on top of the F.S.'s transparence? Down the road, I'll be looking at that option as well as bringing in another smooth solid state amp for the main system, like perhaps a Claytom M-100 or maybe trying a French amp named Lavardin. I will be listening to as much as I can and soliciting info from people who have experience with all the above and other equipment as well.
Rayhall- they do mate very very well together. In fact, I received an email from Emmanuel last week letting me know he had heard his preamp with a Berning amp, and to his ears, it was "fabulous." To be more specific, they're both very accurate, very neutral, soundstage and image well - yet perhaps most important to me is that they are pure of timbre and really allow an emotional conection to the music. I can't say enough about the Berning. I found about about it when I discivered that Sonus Faber use it in their factory test room, where they developed their $40K Stratavari. If you read my (longwinded) virtual system info intro, you'll see the rather extensive road i travelled before falling hard for OTL's, and the Berning in particular.
I am sure that the Berning mates well with many good preamps, and have heard great things from people using it with Supratek, Joule Electra and CAT preamps. I wouldnt be able to comment on comparisons amongst them, but it's a very versatile amp. Similarly, I am positive people have mated the FS with many amps, and have corresponded with people who love theirs with Jeff Rowland, MLevinson and Clayton M100's.
Bottom line - as biased as I obviously am, i cant recommend either component more highly, and together (esp w/ NOS tubes) they are magical!
I could just scream! I was expecting delivery of the Frist Sound, yesterday 3/18. I looked up on the UPS tracking site, and lo and behold.....the "RESCHEDULED" delivery date is now 3/24! How does that happen? The unit was obviously shipped - then UPS decides to delay delivery by 6 days? Any ideas?
Sorry for sidetracking this otherwise very enjoyable thread :-)
Paul, it could be that Emmanuel created the shipment at his facility by entering the billing info (weight, address, etc), and didn't actually give the preamp to UPS until 6 days later. This would cause the shipment to be rescheduled and thus delayed six days. I am personally familiar with this scenario though not specifically with Emmanuel.