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Thread: New Van Alstine

  1. #1
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    New Van Alstine

    I just got back from Frank Van Alstines house to have my Ultra DAC upgraded. I had the op amps upgraded to the OPA627AP Burr Browns which gave it some more air and made it just a tad smoother in the higher frequencies with some added bass and detail. The sound also seems a little more aggressive or forward. That could just be the improved bass that I'm hearing. Frank did the $75 upgrade while I waited.

    While I was there Frank showed me many of his new upgraded and redesigned preamps and DAC's. His Tube and Hybrid preamps get all new boards and tubes for improved warmth, bass, treble and air. I got to listen to my the new hybrid preamp, it sounded great but I could not compare it to mine because he was playing it on an $8k pair for Salk speakers which still amaze me.

    His new DAC's are 24 bit with multiple optical and digital inputs as well as new tubes. It sounded great. It had a little more air, detail and smoothness.

    His tube amps get double die Mosfets for added high current and for driving more difficult loads.

    I also got to listen too his new 35wpc tube amp driving the Salk Veracity HTR-3's which have a sensitivity or 84dB. I was amazed at how loud it played and the sound was awesome. Tremendous bass detail, very smooth. Its a cool looking open tube design. Its not on his web site yet but can be found on his audiocircles forum.

    By the way Atomic Adam, I got to listen to the Salk Song Towers while I was there. They have a nice sound but I think that they could use a little more bass. I only got to hear them for about 5 min though and I may have been thinking that they needed more bass because I had just listened to the HTR-3's which have a 10" woofer that made my insides vibrate.
    Last edited by blackraven; 01-27-2010 at 11:12 AM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  2. #2
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    I just got back from Frank Van Alstines house to have my Ultra DAC upgraded. I had the op amps upgraded to the OPA627AP Burr Browns which gave it some more air and made it just a tad smoother in the higher frequencies with some added bass and detail. The sound also seems a little more aggressive or forward. That could just be the improved bass that I'm hearing. Frank did the $75 upgrade while I waited.

    ....
    Interesting. So what do the Opamps do in Franks Ultra DAC circuit? Obviously tubes are also used. Does the tube stage buffer or amplify after the opamps do current-to-voltage conversion? Or is it the other way around, or something else?

    No expert, me, but if we're talking tubes, I guess I'd ideally like to see all analog processing done by tubes rather than opamps.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Bill, I'm not sure if this answers your questions but as his web site states that the tubes are used in the output stages instead of solid state circuits. The DAC is a hybrid design that gives some of the slam or benefits of SS but at the same time the warmth, transparency and air of tubes. He makes the DAC's, a fully SS, full tube called the T-8 and the hybrid ultra which I have. The SS leans to the warm side with the best bass but less transparency and air. The T-8 is the warmest sounding but I found it had less bass and the treble seemed slightly rolled off (his new design fixes these problems). The Ultra hybrid is the best of both worlds. Great bass, treble and air with a little less warmth than the full tube DAC. The same can be said for all three of his preamps.

    If you have questions, Frank would be more than happy to talk shop with your or converse via email.

    By the way, I think I'm going to sell my VA preamp and DAC to that I can upgrade to the newer units.

    Here's a photo of Franks new 35wpc tube amp-

    http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=76442.0
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  4. #4
    Ajani
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    BR, any idea what that sucker is going to cost??? It sure looks puuurty...

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  6. #6
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    I just got back from Frank Van Alstines house to have my Ultra DAC upgraded. I had the op amps upgraded to the OPA627AP Burr Browns which gave it some more air and made it just a tad smoother in the higher frequencies with some added bass and detail.
    He has always provided great value. I owned one of his FET-5 preamps in the late 70s. I like the idea of a one box DAC/line stage. I use an older Manley DAC with a single stage tube analog output in the vintage system. While it doesn't offer other inputs, it has analog gain controls and can drive the Threshold almost fully.

    rw

  7. #7
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    BR, any idea what that sucker is going to cost??? It sure looks puuurty...
    Its $1699. The thing thats nice about buying VA gear besides the great value in his tube gear (where else can you get tube equipment at these prices and performance) is that you can always get a hold of Frank via phone and email and that he offers upgrades as they come along at very reasonable prices. He also does trade in's for newer equipment.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  8. #8
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven

    By the way, I think I'm going to sell my VA preamp and DAC to that I can upgrade to the newer units.

    Here's a photo of Franks new 35wpc tube amp-

    http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=76442.0
    The hobbey really is addictive, isn't it, lol...that is, however a damn nice looking tube amp...

    I'm getting the itch myself...thinking of selling it all and starting from scratch. From your glowing testimonials (and those of others) I might just have to check out some VanAlstine stuff...thanks for the report.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  9. #9
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Here's a great deal on a used Van Alstine Tube DAC, the T-8 with the upgraded Burr Brown Op Amps for $650, the T-8 sold for close to $1500 1 year ago.

    http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=76727.0
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  10. #10
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    BR...Congrats on the upgrade!!

    V.A. is one of those rare names in audio that always escapes my memory. Thanks for the info on his products specifically on the tube DAC.

    Those of us that are fortunate enough to personally know an audio pro and get the upgrades and listen to the latest creation are very lucky indeed. I do consider myself to be one of those fortunate people as my local audio pro/friend gets in Belles prototypes that I get to listen to.

    V.A.. tube DAC is something I have to check out.

    LeRoy

  11. #11
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    LeRoy, thats a real bargain of that T-8 DAC and with the upgraded Burr Brown Op Amps the sound will be even better. I got to audition it in home last year along with his other DAC's and preamps. I almost bought it but opted for the hybrid.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  12. #12
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    LeyRoy, how do you like the Belles? My good friend has a Belle's Hot Rod amp thats a few years old and it has a great sound and good build quality.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  13. #13
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Ok, I've been doing about 3hrs of listening to the modded DAC. Here's the scoop so far. The music plays louder at the same volume setting. The sound is more dynamic, aggressive and forward. Its also smoother, more liquid, more detailed with greater resolution and more pronounced bass. It makes my maggies sound better at lower volume levels.

    Now for the cons- the sound stage is a smidgen smaller and there is a little less air and transparency. The sound was lighter before and now it seems a little heavier. The DAC still produces a lot of air and transparency despite the mod.

    All in all, I have mixed feelings about the sound. I like it but its different. The Burr Brown OPA627 op amps also had the same effect to my Music Hall 25.2 CDP which I ended up not liking the sound after the mod.

    I'm going to ask Frank if I can have the old op amps back to keep on hand if I ever want to place them back in the DAC.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  14. #14
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    For any one interested, that used Van Alstine T-8 tube DAC for sale on the audiocircles forum just had its price lowered.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  15. #15
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    So let me get this right. You live 20 minutes from Magnepan and presumably close to Frank VanAlstine? Damn Raven, I suppose Roy Hall is your neighbour?

    Minnesota, the audio state.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Who the heck is Roy Hall? lol

  17. #17
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Who the heck is Roy Hall? lol
    He owns a little company called Music Hall.

  18. #18
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    He owns a little company called Music Hall.
    Ah right sould have guessed :-)

  19. #19
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    I think Prince lives in Minnesota, perhaps it's more realistic to think that he would be Raven's neighbour.

  20. #20
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Pops, Anticables is located here in Woodbury a few minutes from my house. Other audio companies here are Bel Canto in Minneapolis about 30min, Audio Research about 30 minutes from me and Atma-Sphere Music systems about 15min in St. Paul

    http://www.atma-sphere.com/products/index.html

    And I'll take a pair of these baby's- http://www.atma-sphere.com/products/ma3.html
    Last edited by blackraven; 01-29-2010 at 03:53 PM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  21. #21
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Perhaps you should start hanging out by their garbage dumpsters. Eventually something good will come out...

  22. #22
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    By the way Atomic Adam, I got to listen to the Salk Song Towers while I was there. They have a nice sound but I think that they could use a little more bass. I only got to hear them for about 5 min though and I may have been thinking that they needed more bass because I had just listened to the HTR-3's which have a 10" woofer that made my insides vibrate.
    Interesting - I've been reading them have great bass extension. Probably just cause you had just heard the HTr-3 speakers. I'd love to be on that list but I'm getting the feeling along with the RS6 that they are too big for my room. A fantastic two way is starting to look interesting.

    Wonder what the ribbon vs. standard sounds like.

  23. #23
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    For Sale
    Monitor Audio RS6
    I would really recommend, if you really plan to change, not to sell the RS6 before you have the other speakers in. Two reasons for this: you won't be speakerless, which is just about the worst thing an audiophile would have to suffer (although you do have the headphones), and two you can make a direct comparison.
    Seems like you're kind of rushing the process though, you bought the RS6 quite recently no?

  24. #24
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    I would really recommend, if you really plan to change, not to sell the RS6 before you have the other speakers in. Two reasons for this: you won't be speakerless, which is just about the worst thing an audiophile would have to suffer (although you do have the headphones), and two you can make a direct comparison.
    Seems like you're kind of rushing the process though, you bought the RS6 quite recently no?

    That is a good idea aa - but I'm not sure wifie will let me get away with getting one before selling the other. Though if I can I certainly will.

    I've had the RS6 for about a year at this point. They are great speakers I'll admit, especially for the price range. The sound out them can be full and powerful, or light and airy. Bass can get pretty dang low with the right set up and amps, and tweeter certainly isn't too high as I've read in some reviews, when paired with right back end.

    The problem is that with the GoldenTriangle set up I've got in the room now, which seems to be working very well, I sit too close to the speakers and there for, even though the sound has a good image, I can still hear the highs from the tweeter and the lows coming from below it. I'm just too close for a 3-way design and I can hear the highs, lows, mids coming from their perspective speakers at times.

    I have a feeling that the 2-way design, but in a full tower, of the Songtower could help to solve this problem.

    Plus, I'm ready to hear something new. The RS6 are the 1st good towers I've ever had, but, I'd like to try more. And the only way to do so is in my home, in my time, with my equipment and music. So....

  25. #25
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    AA, I dont think that the Song towers are too big at all. In fact they would do well in a small room. I think the Woofers are 5 1/4"'s and they sounded great in Franks room which is not that big. They are tall and narrow.

    You might want to try and find a used pair of 2 series Thiels. Great sounding speaker.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

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