contact Ray lombardi @ [email protected] he can tell you all you ever want to know about these amazing amps. they are the absolute best amps to drive Soundlabs A1s as well as other demanding loads. Dick Olsher just had a pair in his house for review. good luck, Rob
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I heard an earlier version of the Wolcott at a dealer in southern Cailfornia who was auditioning them as a possible addition to his line. Though quite good, the "breakthrough" Wolcotts were no match for 3 top tier "conventional" tube amps, one close in price. I understand that the amp has been, and in fact, is still, being revised. The dealer chose not to take the work-in-progress on. They are certainly promising. Time will tell.
These are Wolcot not Woolcot amps. Yes, I used to own a pair of these amps. They are very liner and neutral. They mate very well with Sound Lab speakers or Quad speakers. They didn't work well with the Wisdom Audio speakers(which are what I'm currently using). Jbm - [email protected]
Khrys, the revision you spoke of would lead one to believe this is a product going through some evolution. The Wolcott's design is essentially unchanged, the revision is a selector switch on the rear that will allow these amps to be used with a larger variety of speakers. This feature is minor, and can be added to older amps, often by the owner. The only other revision is the OPTION of a new wide band transformer. This was developed specifically for the Soundlab speakers, as their impedance in the extreme top (@ 22K HZ) is 2.6 ohms. This is NOT a revision, the amps are still available with the original transformer, and the new wide band is an option, for an additional cost of $500.00. I might add, unless you and/or you dealer have listened to the Wolcott for at least 250 hours, you have not really heard it at it's best. The changes mine have gone through are amazing, and they are still breaking in. Tubes are absolutely critical to the performance of this amp, and I am still surprised at the changes that are occurring as I test with various tube combinations. One last thing, you did not say what other amps you and your dealer are comparing these to. I have compared my Wolcotts to many other amps, and there are not many that are even in this price range. The Wolcott is only $8495.00 retail. The Atmasphere MA2 MK11, the VTL 700, the Viva Aurora, Tube Research GT400, and others are all below, equal, or slightly better in performance to the Wolcott's, depending on your speaker and your opinion. All these I mention are from $20,000 to $32,500.00. From two and a half times, to nearly quadruple the price, certainly something to consider when making comparisons.
Albert, how could I know that a new rear-mounted speaker-variety selector switch and new wide-band transformer would be considered "options" and not evolutions? My apologies. I did not listen to the Wolcotts for 250 hours as you suggest and that could explain everything. It often does. Nevertheless, I found the Jadis JA200, JA100(especially), JA80 and Audio Valve Baldur mono blocs to sound significantly better than the Wolcotts on Wilson Watt/Puppy 6s or Vandersteen 5s. Their superior sound was completely comensurate with their superior cost. I found that the ARC VT200(used)and the Audio Valve Challenger 140 equaled the Wolcott in sound and cost. I can easily understand how you would prefer the Wolcott to the Atmasphere, VTL or Viva amps. I haven't heard the GT400 but I trust your judgement here implicitly. Please don't misunderstand - I LIKE the Wolcotts. However, I am wary of any product that bills itself as "breakthrough". And, I feel there are several "conventional" amps similarly priced that just might sound better even without any options, revisions, design changes or evolution.
My suggestion for listening for 250 hours simply implies that dealers often get a product line for listening, and give it a week or two and make a judgement. This would be wrong if placed in the company of demo units that have had sufficient time to reach full maturity. Even more the case if compared to used gear as you suggest. Often used gear sounds better than new for this very reason. My comment about evolution is a direct response to your comment that these were a "work in progress" this implies that they are an unfinished piece, undergoing some continuous changing of design or parts, as the term applies to music or other projects. My point is that the design is not revolutionary, it uses EL34 tubes as an output, and 6922's as an input, and those two tube types are about as common in high end audio as it gets. The only revolutionary item is the bias control circuit that sets the tubes at start up so there is less tendency for the user to run the tubes out of bias. I personally find this a terrific feature, as meddling with meters and a screwdriver cuts into my listening time. Finally, one of the guys in my group plans to put my pair of Wolcotts on his Vandy 5's this coming week. He will have them for 16 days, and we will be getting a report as to how they fair with his system. I cannot compare with Wilson's as there is no one in my circle of listeners who owns them. I will accept your comments that the Wolcott does not work well on them. By the way, the rear panel switch is not an option, it is simply an addition that provides a way for the user to have more control over a wider range of speakers. The wide band transformer IS an option, and no stranger offering than the toroidal transformers in the Soundlab speaker line. They are an option in that case as well. Both of these products remain available either way. The customer decides if it is important to spend the extra dollars. That option is not evolutionary or new either, simply an attempt to be more responsive to the needs of all the customers that are considering the purchase.
Albert, thanks for your post. I've been preoccupied with non audio elements lately. I would be very interested in your appraisal of the Wolcotts with the Vandersteen 5s. Despite what you might think I am seriously interested in these amps. Truth be told, the Wolcotts I heard had NEW tubes in them, not even burned in. Indeed that is not a fair comparison with well burned-in and seasoned gear. Your point is well taken. Nonetheless, my experience with the Wolcotts and point source speakers was not transcendent. I am told that they are indeed magic with the Soundlabs, which are probably my favorite speaker of all time(if only they would work in my room!). Which EL34 tubes are you using in the amps? Can you use other octal-based tubes since the amp auto biases?
I already asked Hank about other octal based tubes, such as the 6L6 and KT88, and he said that he was uncertain that the auto bias circuit would accommodate these tubes. I have a friend who is an amp designer, who said that there was an old military Bendix tube that would work in this circuit, near identical bias and drive character, and would match the output transformer as well. He is uncertain as to if it would work without a slight circuit mod, and requires me to ship the Wolcotts for inspection before this test. This engineer also said that the circuit with the Bendix tubes could be capable of 400 watts per channel with this mod, provided the power supply will handle it. I like the amps a lot even as they are, but the 6922 driver tube that comes in them is TERRIBLE! Not just poor, or undesirable, but just plain awful. The Siemens CCA 6922 was a major improvement, and I am still going to try the Mullard 6922 as well. I have Telefunken AEG EL-34 tubes in there right now, and they are much better than the Sovtec tubes supplied from the factory. I have a complete set of Mullard Dual Getter EL-34 tubes from the 1960's coming from a tube dealer, and will try the test with them next. I hope my friend with the Vandersteen 5's will run these amps to death for the next two weeks, it will be nice to try them (more) broken in as the next test, then with the Mullard tubes in the outputs. I am supposed to get Telefunken and Amperex 6GW8 drivers for the Wolcott, to replace the nice (but not ultimate) Tungsram that came with this unit. I hope in the end, that they will perform to a level that I will not concern myself with anything except listening to the music they make. Until then, lots of homework to do.
I am not so sure how these Amps match up to all speakers. With Dunlavy V's they seem to lack power to drive the bass.I replaced them with Aloia 1301 inductive amps to get the awesome control. I've talked to another person who had the same problems with Wisdom speakers. I was wondering if the person trying them on the Vandersteen's had the same problems