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Supratek Preamp Owner Opinions/Discussion


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So,

 

I trialled an older Supratek preamp in my system a little while ago and while I wasn't completely overwhelmed with awe, being a 20odd year old design obviously theres been improvements over this time.

 

I'm pretty sure I've decided to make one of these my next preamp after I sell the Bel Canto Pre2p. While the Bel Canto is very versatile with basically any feature you could want and is the absolute quietest preamp i've ever heard, now that I've moved away from a tube power amp i'm beginning to miss it in some respects.

 

What I want is to ask opinions of those who have Supratek pre's in their system or have had, and ideally someone who has upgraded through a couple of the models over the years to help with what circuit/tube configuration I should be looking for, for the best sound. I did have a 101D DHT Consonance for a little while prior to the Bel Canto and it was awesome but sadly had no phono and I couldn't find an external one that I really liked.

 

I understand the new Cortese is available with either the iDHT 6SN7 as standard (which Mick believes to be his best ever circuit for transparency) or 4P1L as the Standard DHT, but can opt for basically any tube of choice..

I've always lusted after the 300B's but i've only heard them in a power amp, and not sure how they behave in a preamp circuit. 

I'm really not sure if I want his ultimate attempt at transparency as I might still end up missing that tube distortion that so many us love, however the flip side is I don't want to lose out on dynamic bass performance in order to get that beautiful midrange.

 

One other aspect to all this is that I have a limited understanding on how output/input impedance, and gain, of pre/power amp interact with each other along with how the input sensitivity of an amp relates to how much of its power becomes usable. I can't seem to find any exact specs on any Supratek model in relation to these measurements, and can only say my Magnus MA300 http://www.magnusaudio.com/MA-300.html is 22db gain with a 50k input (or 100k with Balanced, but unless I can confirm both devices are fully balanced designs i'm not sure this gains anything). I've read you ideally want 1:1000 ratio between pre/power output/input impedance which I'm assuming the Supratek will be above (perhaps 1: 250-500 at a guess?) The concern here above bass performance is that while I had the Syrah in the system, I basically had to have the volume at absolute maximum to get to a "moderate" level, where with the Bel Canto in place, the 0DB offset level on CD playback is too loud to listen to. It's rated at 16db gain & 10v RMS maximum output.

 

Anyway thats me rambled out for now, thank you in advance to any of my fellow audiophools who've dredged through it all and provide helpful opinions and advice :)

 

 

I should also mention i'm not in the least bit opposed to buying a second hand model if its suitable for the criteria :)

 

cheers,

Dan

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Dan, 

 

I have basically had all of the Supratek valve preamp models over a span of 20 yrs from the Syrah to Grange, I guess you could call me a believer. There is a certain liquidity and correctness of tone that has got me hooked.

 

I am currently using a Cortese with a superp MC phono stage and latest 6SN7 linestage circuit. My preamp uses Lundahl and Magnaquest transformers, and can also be switched to be transformer coupled or to run in OTL mode. Yes, I think it is the best preamp circuit he has created. It just sounds so explicit and clean, but still maintains that nice bloom (openness) that we expect from top-notch audio. 

 

The older Syrah unit that you borrowed might have had worn out valves or was in need of a tune up? All Supratek preamps have high gain (too much for some amplifier match ups, to be honest), you mentioned yours had to be turned up to get moderate volume levels - this should not be the case for a properly tuned one. Also,  I have heard the DHT TJ-101D tubes in both the Supratek Dual Cabernet and the Coincident CLS preamps and, while clarity and transparency is first rate they do sound a little lean. It is my opinion that the 101D valve lacks warmth and deep bass. I prefer the sound of the 4P1L and 300B preamps from Supratek over the 101D types.

 

I hear from Mick Maloney that he is ramping up Supratek production again, so now is the time to get one while he is keen to build them. I can't recommend the new Supratek Cortese with the latest 6SN7 circuit highly enough - it is a beauty. It just sounds 'right' and I cannot see any hi-end buyer being unhappy with it.

 

Cheers,

 

Steve.

PS: I have no affiliation with Supratek, just a happy user.

Edited by Steve M
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1 minute ago, Gremrock said:

I understand you also have one of the crazy expensive grange model, are you saying the cortèse is better?

 

The gold Supratek Grange preamp I owned was pretty special and I enjoyed listening to it every time it was switched on. Out of respect for it I will just say the two are 'different' sounding. 

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4 hours ago, Gremrock said:

.......while I had the Syrah in the system, I basically had to have the volume at absolute maximum to get to a "moderate" level......

 

 

 

I have a Chenin and never had that issue with mine. With a pair of Cary CAD-300 SE (or Bakoon SCA-7511) and Audio Physic Virgos, very rarely went past half way on the dial.

 

Cheers

Dave

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@SteveM, do you have any idea on what the gain figures and output impedance are on any of the models?

 

It seemed really strange the volume issue considering the 300watt/73kg spec of the amp and the thunderous power it can unleash with the Bel Canto driving it. The volume knob also didn't want to go past about 3 o'clock or quite back down to minimum so i'm wondering if its been forced below minimum and simply the knob is not directing the pot correctly? I guess if its been pushed a quarter of a turn and stiffening at 3/4 on the dial, its possibly only getting to 12o'clock..  Its just a concern as I'd say it played to a similar volume i'd expect from a 10watt SET amp.

 

But does a high output impedance lower drive in terms of volume or just reduce damping ability for firm bass?

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57 minutes ago, AudioGeek said:

No issue with volume, also preferred the 300B to 101D. Have not heard the latest circuit.

Surprisingly the Consonance had quite good bass, but I was thinking 300b if going DHT, i'm just not sure if the new 6SN7 is the way to go.. I kind of think I want that tube colouration to an extent...

 

Are any of the DHT amps tube interchangeable? IE: Start with a 300b in the circuit and substitute for 101D's or 2A3's etc? Or are they too different in current requirements and pin configuration for this to work?

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On the note of old tubes reducing output, which tubes would be suspect? I don't think the owner of the amp has the same issue driving his Altec horns with a big Aragon amp.. In that system its probably a blessing if its operating at half output haha 

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18 minutes ago, Gremrock said:

Surprisingly the Consonance had quite good bass, but I was thinking 300b if going DHT, i'm just not sure if the new 6SN7 is the way to go.. I kind of think I want that tube colouration to an extent...

 

Are any of the DHT amps tube interchangeable? IE: Start with a 300b in the circuit and substitute for 101D's or 2A3's etc? Or are they too different in current requirements and pin configuration for this to work?

My Cabernet is set up like that.It has a toggle switch by which you can select it to run with a 300B,PX4 or another. DHT which I have forgotten [45 or 2A3 maybe].The TJ meshplate 300bs sounded the best however so that is what I stuck with.

I tend to agree that if you want a more obvious valve flavour the 300Bs are the way to go.Never liked the 101Ds that much although with valve power amps they would perhaps be a good choice.Never tried a 4PL1 but perhaps that could be used as switchable option perhaps half way between a 300B and 6SN7 in sound terms.

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3 minutes ago, Gremrock said:

Have you heard the new 6sn7 @THOMO?

Only briefly and not in my system so a bit hard to compare.

I know the 6SN7 based Suprateks can sound extremely good however.Even when I was deciding years ago between the 300B Cabernet and a 6SN7 based Sauvignon I agonised over which I preferred.Both were very good but just a bit different.

I have also used a Mystere 6SN7 preamp which is very decent but nowhere near the Suprateks.

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If you appreciate beautiful construction and excellent sound quality, then this is also a very good option:

 

Earle builds his products to last for generations, not years. They are beautifully and carefully constructed, using high grade materials and hand built transformers. 

Edited by Zaphod Beeblebrox
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10 minutes ago, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

If you appreciate beautiful construction and excellent sound quality, then this is also a very good option:

 

Earle builds his products to last for generations, not years. They beautifully and carefully constructed, using high grade materials and hand built transformers. 

 

I won't comment on your previous post in fear that it will be edited by the mods.  But I have to agree with you there. Earle has pride in what he does and what he uses.   

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22 minutes ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

 

yes

 

Good,

 

the thread does say "owners opinion/discussion...  "

 

So  IMO @Zaphod Beeblebrox has every right to his technical expertise, discussed unless the OP thinks that's not necessary.  No matter how many times it's been discussed, if I was the OP I would like to know all the good and the bad points, then at least you can stand back and form a total objective opinion on the product.

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57 minutes ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

here we go again......

The wiring Nazis!

I guess some people can't handle the thought of what they perceive to be an unorthodox approach-despite the logic /rationale/experience behind it.

Same sort of narrow and mean mindedness that lies behind opponents of same sex marriage.

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Before we go too far debating the bowl of spaghetti, i've read all about that in almost every thread titled "Supratek" I also have an Audile power amp with similar point to point wiring and have no objections to what the wiring looks like if it works.

 

Mick offers to service them for next to nothing other than postage anyway so I couldn't care if other techs don't like working on them for the mess. (Although I understand why some might not want to work on them)

 

Im really looking more into the sound between the various circuit options within the Supratek range and if people have helpful opinions about other similar amps.

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