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Common Questions

Q.  Why should I buy a quality vacuum tube amplifier?

A.  Serious listeners know ownership of vacuum tube equipment has nothing to do with 'nostalgia' or 'what's in style.' 

But just because a component is designed using tubes, does not make it by definition a superior product.  Much tube equipment sounds rather 'soft' and 'bland' or simply does not justify its cost, in our opinion.

The primary reason to invest in our vacuum tube amplification is superior sound quality resulting in a more emotional involvement with the music you love.  Sonic qualities such as purity and soundstaging are characteristics primarily associated with our vacuum tube electronics.  These qualities can sometimes be found in solid-state equipment as well, but only at much higher cost. 

Q.  Why are tube amplifiers expensive?

A.  First, large, complex power transformers supplying multiple low and high voltages at fairly high currents are required for the power consumption requirements of the tubes.  The transformer must also have a low electrical radiation field and low current leakage for both low mechanical and electrical noise.   We have spent a lot of time and effort in design of our power transformers which have extremely low electrical radiation and current leakage. 
They are therefore more difficult and costly to build.

Second, the output transformers which provide electrical impedance and power matching between the output tube(s) and the speaker is a complex device requiring hand winding and assembly if flat, extended frequency response and maximum power transfer is to be achieved.  Our transformers are a small work of art in their execution.

Third, the chassis must be rigid and strong to support  25+ pounds of transformers and to provide minimal mechanical vibration transfer from the power transformer to the tubes.  Our chassis are made of thick aluminum for low electrical and magnetic noise transfer, maximum heat dissipation, optimal finishing characteristics, and lighter weight for lower shipping cost. 

Other manufacturers use much thinner plated or painted steel, a far cheaper solution.  Making a chassis from thick, solid aluminum and finishing it beautifully is far more expensive, but provides the best overall results.

Fourth, our construction technique is such that any part of the amplifier or preamplifier may be removed and replaced in the event of failure or damage.  That means our amplifiers will be maintainable decades from now.  This requires hand assembly, a necessarily slower, but higher quality technique.

Our amplifiers are actually less expensive than the equivalent-quality solid-state units and the Mini Amplifier is more compact than nearly all of them!

Q.  How often must the tubes be replaced?

A.  They have a sonic life of about 2500 to 8000 hours, depending on type and implementation.  The end of the tube's useful sonic life is determined when there is a loss of dynamics or rhythmic 'drive' and an overall 'softness' of the sound. This happens very gradually and a quick change of tubes will restore the original sound.   In an average installation, it will be found advantageous to change a couple of the tubes, usually the larger output tubes, about every three years.

By the way, nearly all the components in our amplifiers are significantly over-specified.   Our amplifier owners can feel free to operate our amplifiers all day every day.

Since 1989, we have supplied suitable, screened replacement tubes for all of our tube components at reasonable cost, and our Warranty covers them for 90 days from the date of purchase.


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