VALVET Amps & Pre: any feedback from Audiogoners?


Does anyone have personal experience with VALVET top of the line Amps (50 W) & Soulshine pre-amp? I have been able to lay hands on some positive reviews but trust fellow Audiogoners' personal experience more than reviewers and so-called audio pundits who often seem to exagerate.
Thanks for your input.
lall
I am also looking for a first hand comment about this brand..
I was able to hear the Top of the line Valvet combo at a reviewers place. I dont want to give out too much info. Compared to some big buck gear(tube and s/s) the Valvets were not embarrassed. They held their own pretty good. In fact, in some ways they were better. The main thing is, the cost of the Valvets compared to some more expensive gear. Really scary.
You can find a few customer feedback emails on the manufacturers website: http://www.valvet.de/en/feedback/

Mainly about the "bricks" series and they are all in German language of course.

I'm using them since May in my private setup and in the reference system for the business (L1/E1 and soushine/A3.5). But I guess you may not want to hear my opinion since I'm the US importer of VALVET.
Hi,

I had the opportunity to listen to Valvet system on HiFi show in Vienna, several weeks ago. The system was:

- CD player Oracle
- Valvet preamp
- Valvet Monos A1r
- Consensus Audio speakers

Well it was HiFi show and I was listening to this system maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Certainly not enough to give a definitive opinion or to go into any kind of details about sound reproduction. Therefore, only a brief comment: it was ok with couple of exciting moments, but nothing to write home about ...

Certainly worth consideration ...
I was at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, Colorado this year (2009) and listened to the VALVET combo you asked about.

In my opinion it was one of the best demos there with a very natural sound, an extremely realistic soundstage and perfect voices too.

There were no effects, no artificially sound, only pure music.

The demo was done with a big model of Consensus Audio Speakers, the Conspiracy.

I think this combo is a real bargain and it will be hard to find a better one at this price.

I´m sure, there are a lot of other guys, who have listen to this system and could give you a similar information.

Reinhard
Check out the review on Postive Feedback Online, Issue 48, 03/2010 by Robert Learner:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue48/valvet.htm

Under review is the soulshine/A3.5 combo.

BR,
Alfred Kainz
Check out the latest review (June 2010) for the Valvet A3.5/soulshine combo on StereoTimes by Key Kim.

http://www.stereotimes.com/amp061510.shtml

BR,
Alfred Kainz
I'm seriously considering buying a pair of these, but am wondering just how much current these can possibly deliver when they're so physically small and only 20 pounds? It is a class-A amp, so how can it be 'powerful' when it obviously has a smallish transformer at it's core?
300VA torodial transformer and about 100,000 µF filtering per mono-block is not exactelly what I call "smallish".

BR,
Alfred
Yes, I have the 3.5 MK II class A monoblocks and the L2 tube hybrid pre-amp. This is some of the best stuff I've ever heard. Delicate, accurate, and it really shines on live performances. My audiophile friends agree.

They are connected to a pair of Wilson Duette speakers. Source is a VPI Traveler turntable (using a Pro-Ject phono amp) and/or an Oppo BD 95 universal cd/DVD player connected via a Cambridge DAC to the L2. HD music is sourced to the Oppo over a LAN providing 24/96 and 24/192 source material.

The Duetts are very fast and the 3.5 MK IIs provide the super fast response they require. The L2 is very simple: no tone controls, only input selector (6 inputs) and volume control. The sound is very neutral, that is, it is very natural. The soundstage is huge and accurate (a singer and his guitar come from same direction). A piano sounds like a piano and you can hear the hammers pound the strings and then the decay that the real instrument portrays. You can hear the imperfections in horns as the musician breathes life into it (eg. Miles Davis) and his finger work on the valves. Frequency response is spot-on and the whole Valvet system is so quiet that the tiniest bit of noise coming from the turntable and phono amp frustrates me.

I have a McIntosh HT with Thiel 3.2s and these sound brutish compared to the delicate, nimble sound of the Wilsons and the Valvets.

The bad part? You can really tell the difference between good and bad production work. Many HD digital and Mobile Fidelity Labs stuff show the poor production work as compared to the good stuff.

The good stuff: Joni Mitchell's "Miles of Aisles" (Tom Scott and the LAExpress shine and you would think you're in the eighth or ninth row center); Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd "Jazz Sambas" is brilliant. Dave Brubeck's "Concord on a Summer Night" makes you want to close your eyes and envision the ensemble on the stage. Many old records (Hotel California) display new sound; the instruments sound different and you can pick out each individually as well as individual voices in the Eagles' harmonies. Anything by Steely Dan is magnificent, but their HD recordings (Gaucho and Two Against the World) are sonically amazing and the Valvets make them shine.

I was at Lisner Auditorium when Little Feat recorded "Waiting for Columbus" and until I heard the MFL recording through the Valvets, nothing approached that performance. Now, I can close my yes and I'm back in DC (and 20 years old again) watching and listening to Lowell George and Bill Payne and the superb Tower of Power Horn Section.

Oh, and contrary to popular belief, the amps get warm, but not hot. The construction is rock solid and it's pretty, too.
Yes, I have the 3.5 MK II class A monoblocks and the L2 tube hybrid pre-amp. This is some of the best stuff I've ever heard. Delicate, accurate, and it really shines on live performances. My audiophile friends agree.

They are connected to a pair of Wilson Duette speakers. Source is a VPI Traveler turntable (using a Pro-Ject phono amp) and/or an Oppo BD 95 universal cd/DVD player connected via a Cambridge DAC to the L2. HD music is sourced to the Oppo over a LAN providing 24/96 and 24/192 source material.

The Duetts are very fast and the 3.5 MK IIs provide the super fast response they require. The L2 is very simple: no tone controls, only input selector (6 inputs) and volume control. The sound is very neutral, that is, it is very natural. The soundstage is huge and accurate (a singer and his guitar come from same direction). A piano sounds like a piano and you can hear the hammers pound the strings and then the decay that the real instrument portrays. You can hear the imperfections in horns as the musician breathes life into it (eg. Miles Davis) and his finger work on the valves. Frequency response is spot-on and the whole Valvet system is so quiet that the tiniest bit of noise coming from the turntable and phono amp frustrates me.

I have a McIntosh HT with Thiel 3.2s and these sound brutish compared to the delicate, nimble sound of the Wilsons and the Valvets.

The bad part? You can really tell the difference between good and bad production work. Many HD digital and Mobile Fidelity Labs stuff show the poor production work as compared to the good stuff.

The good stuff: Joni Mitchell's "Miles of Aisles" (Tom Scott and the LAExpress shine and you would think you're in the eighth or ninth row center); Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd "Jazz Sambas" is brilliant. Dave Brubeck's "Concord on a Summer Night" makes you want to close your eyes and envision the ensemble on the stage. Many old records (Hotel California) display new sound; the instruments sound different and you can pick out each individually as well as individual voices in the Eagles' harmonies. Anything by Steely Dan is magnificent, but their HD recordings (Gaucho and Two Against the World) are sonically amazing and the Valvets make them shine.

I was at Lisner Auditorium when Little Feat recorded "Waiting for Columbus" and until I heard the MFL recording through the Valvets, nothing approached that performance. Now, I can close my yes and I'm back in DC (and 20 years old again) watching and listening to Lowell George and Bill Payne and the superb Tower of Power Horn Section.

Oh, and contrary to popular belief, the amps get warm, but not hot. The construction is rock solid and it's pretty, too.
I will have the Soulshine/3.5MKII setup shortly and will post my comments after break-in.
I love these very under-rated amps.

Keithr, please report back when you have them. Will be looking forward to your comments.
I am very familiar with the Valvet L2 preamp and have had some time with the Soulshine 6sn7 version, both in my own systems.

The L2 preamp is toneful and has a big, rambunctious sound. The Soulshine is comparatively more disciplined and restrained while being very smooth, resolving and civil. Ironically, there's more violence in the simpler L2. Both are very good preamps for driving SET amplifiers, especially the L2 in light of its assertive event transients, sonic projection and bass discipline. The latest Soulshine is a bit different as being able to leaven the brighter and grungier aspects of push pull tube amps and to inject more tone in solid state amplification. With SET it is finally and dynamically mellow and lovely, though tubes can shade that one way or another.

Using the great 6sn7 tube, the Valvets can be bent to sonic reference via substitution of the many brands, eras and constructions of 6sn7 octal twin triodes. Lots of options to dial them in.

I expect to hear the Class A solid state mono amps soon.

Phil
I am very familiar with the Valvet L2 preamp and have had some time with the Soulshine 6sn7 version, both in my own systems.

The L2 preamp is toneful and has a big, rambunctious sound. The Soulshine is comparatively more disciplined and restrained while being very smooth, resolving and civil. Ironically, there's more violence in the simpler L2. Both are very good preamps for driving SET amplifiers, especially the L2 in light of its assertive event transients, sonic projection and bass discipline. The latest Soulshine is a bit different as being able to leaven the brighter and grungier aspects of push pull tube amps and to inject more tone in solid state amplification. With SET it is finally and dynamically mellow and lovely, though tubes can shade that one way or another.

Using the great 6sn7 tube, the Valvets can be bent to sonic reference via substitution of the many brands, eras and constructions of 6sn7 octal twin triodes. Lots of options to dial them in.

I expect to hear the Class A solid state mono amps soon.

Phil
Has anyone heard either the Valvet bricks ER1 or bricks AR1? Unfortunately, the A.35 MKIII are out of my price range. I'm seriously considering this brand, but there aren't a lot of reviews from consumers.
I had the L1 pre (with 6SN7 tubes on top) plus the Er1 power amps.

The pre is very fast and the power amps are warmer and darker than the AR1s (that I also had for a month).

The bass is very well defined and controlled.

The mids and highs are good.

What I could not get with that combo (compared to my Leben CS-300) is:

1.- Bass does not go as deep as the Leben

2.- The body and timbre I get, in the mids, with the Leben;

3.- The air and 3D presentation I get with the Leben;

As usual, try to listen to them with your own gear, especially with your loudspeakers. I used them with Zu Druid Mk IV.

Hope this helps.

Daniel
Jesusa0,
Thanks for the feedback, it's very helpful. The problem is that I can't audition the amps or listen to them with my own gear because there aren't any dealers. Don't you buy the amps directly from the U.S. distributor?
Daldridge76,

I bought directly from Valvet as they don´t have distributor in Spain, where I live. Knut -Valvet´s owner- is a great person to deal with.

Why don´t you ask the U.S distributor to get a "trial period" pre and power amps to try them. I mean you pay for the gear and you get a 30 days trial period. And, if you don´t like them you send them back.

Regards,

Daniel
Daldridge76- I have the Soulshine/A3.5MKII combo at home for the past 6 months. Feel free to email me offline and I might be able to answer your questions...I've had 15 amps in the past 4 years of all topologies.

KeithR