Van Alstine update [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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10-03-2008, 07:19 PM
Frank Van Alstine emailed me and said I could take home his 550 hybrid power amp which is 250wpc at 8ohms and 500wpc at 4ohms, along with his T-8 all tube preamp to audition with my system which now includes the Parasound Halo A21 and the Van Alstine Ultra Hybrid DAC. I went to his house and picked up the equipment and hooked it up in different combinations. I listened to the preamp with out his DAC and just the 840c and then compared it to his DAC running through my adcom preamp. The T-8 tube preamp had a slightly smoother, more transparent sound with a larger sound stage. Treble was maybe rolled off ever so slightly but is was very pleasing. (it was not as rolled off compared to the all tube DAC I auditioned the other day and returned for the hybrid DAC) The sound was less fatiguing in general but still not what I was looking for.

Next I hooked up his preamp and DAC and it was pure magic. Sweet music to my ears. The sound had this tremendous sound stage, was very transparent with no digital edge what so ever. It sounded like a 10K turntable but with no rolled off treble. Bass was deeper, smooth and tight. Even my 17yo son said it was the best sound he had heard. We even played one of his favorite AC/DC Cd's which is way too bright for my ears, but with this combo it sounded great.

Next I hooked it all up to Franks amp. The sound was smoother and warmer with very deep bass. In fact the bass was too much for my room which has wood floors and several large glass windows. Its really too bad because his amp really did sound better than the Parasound.

So now I'm going to sell my 840c and buy both the T-8 all tube preamp and the Ultra Hybrid DAC.

10-04-2008, 04:37 AM
I'm not astonished that you prefer AVA's preamp to your Adcom. Frankly, (no pun intended), dah! However I'm curious why you chose to listen to the Trancendance Eight ( instead of the his Ultra preamp (

I wish I could scope your 840C but it can't happen. I do feel my present DAC, a modified Assemblage DAC 1.5 is the weakest link in my system. Perhaps somewhere down the line I'll find the bucks for a DacMagic ( or maybe an Mhdt Constantine(+) ( NOS DAC.

10-04-2008, 08:41 AM
I choose the T-8 preamp because of price and because I wanted to get rid of any fatigue in my system. I thought that a tube pre would do it and give me a warmer sound. I had already tried the all tube DAC which rolled the treble off too much for my liking. (I tend to like crisp clear treble which the 840c has). So I thought that I would give the T-8 pre a chance. It didnt roll off the treble as much. And besides, I already had tried the Ultra DAC which is a SS/Tube hybrid and it was minimally better than the 840c so I didnt think that the Ultra pre would make much of a difference. I still may ask frank to let me try an ultra Pre.

Whats nice about his gear is that they all are interchangeable to get the sound your looking for. The overall sound and tone of all of his equipment is very similar with subtle differences because he uses much of the same hardware in each. Even his solid state gear sounds analog.

I think if I were starting from the ground up, I would buy an all VA system.

12-08-2008, 09:55 PM
The AVA gear is designed to accurately reproduce the source. If your room had too much bass with the AVA amp, I wonder if the problem is room acoustics. Perhaps the speakers are too close to the front or side walls and/or the listening position is too close to the rear wall. I don't know if you have bass traps, which are essential in preventing boomy and muddy bass.

AVA is great gear. I don't have a reason to buy anything else. Congratulations on your preamp and DAC.

12-09-2008, 06:42 AM
Its my room acoustics. 17'x17'x10', with wood floors and and 2 walls of huge glass windows and another with glass french doors. My speakers are spaced away from the side walls and 2.5' from the front walls. The bass is not muddy but I could use bass traps. AVA gear seems synergistic with each other and does produce deep full bass when using his preamps, DAC's and amps together.

12-09-2008, 12:45 PM
Hey BR, does the Van Alstine gear have balanced inputs? Specifically the amp... I will be in the market (eventually) for either 1) a power/integrated amp and speakers or 2) a pair of active speakers... I'd prefer balanced connections though..

audio amateur
12-09-2008, 01:27 PM
Hey BR, does the Van Alstine gear have balanced inputs? Specifically the amp... I will be in the market (eventually) for either 1) a power/integrated amp and speakers or 2) a pair of active speakers... I'd prefer balanced connections though..
Why active speakers?

12-09-2008, 01:53 PM
Why active speakers?

I always liked the concept, so it would be nice to try out a pair... I find it intriguing that active speakers (sometimes with equalizers and even DACs) are so common in pro use, but are so rear in the consumer market...

I guess it goes back to the old audiophile belief that you have to isolate every part of the audio chain to get quality music... I'm not sure how much I buy into that philosophy though...