September 17, 2014 2 min read
I would just like to post a thanks and a little feedback on a recent acquisition from Justin Weber and Ampsandsound. Not too long ago Justin made up a set of Cornscallas for me utilizing Fastlane Audio and ALK components that were absolute showstoppers, and after seeing the attention to detail and level of quality that Justin commits himself to I began thinking about moving into one of his hand made tube amps. Justin set up a demo with three that he had in hand and we settled on what is a slightly modified Big Ben model (he tagged it “Bigger Ben”) and I’ve been running it for a few weeks now. This particular “Bigger Ben” Justin tells me employs some custom wound transformers that he had done by Transcendar and were said by Justin (according to my notes) to consist of 4.2 primaries with 4 and 8 ohm secondaries. This particular one also employs a tube rectifier in lieu of solid state. And, man is it HEAVY. Gotta be the weight of the transformers adding to that. I should also clarify that I am 99.99% vinyl in terms of my listening. Impressions were made a bit more complicated by virtue of my changing the tubes back and forth a bit (part of the fun of a tube amp in my opinion) and changing the cart on my tonearm at the same time. That said . . . .what I have now, after tube break in and evaluation time is an amp that is amazing. Soundstage is deep and sources are placed in a wonderful black empty space. The sound is warm and yet detail is still excellent (not lost at the expense of warmth). This amp seems to be very well balanced, driving the base with muscle, definition and punch and still capturing all of the mids and highs with sparkle, detail and space. Another interesting aspect of this amp is how absolutely stone dead silent it is. And my speakers are fairly efficient (98db). Black, empty space – crank in up and still a black . . .dead . . . empty vacuum of a background. Very nice. Now, I’m partial to the sound of the human voice, particularly on vinyl, and am of the opinion that it represents the best and most demanding test of an audio system and its ability to perform. Tonality and register with instruments seem to me a little more flexible, but vocals have to be spot on or you know it. Vocals with this amp. . .are nothing short of sublime. Turn down the lights and listen to a well engineered vocal recording on good vinyl and it will bring tears to your eyes it is so captivating, breathy and absolutely PRESENT. To my ears this modified “Bigger Ben” is muscular, warm, detailed, and versatile in its capture of the full range of audio presentation. A beautiful piece of audio equipment crafted with pride and attention to performance and detail.
Thanks again to Justin.