I think I’m in love. First of all the amp looks incredible – the transformers are something of a miracle in the amp – they are bigger than in MC 275 and the largest I’ve seen in KT88 amp. Just look at the picture and compare them with the size of KT88 and you will understand everything. When I got it, I had to replace all caps. Didn’t go all the way on the couple capacitors, I settled with fairly cheap Solen fast caps and was not expecting an incredible performance from the amp, but the moment I turned it on and started to listen to music, I just couldn’t stop – it puts MC 275 to shame in a few areas.
Bass, definitely not as tight and controlled as the best amps out there, but it holds its own. The size of the transformers allow the amp to dig really dip, so the extension is not a problem; however, the tightness is definitely not on par with the best.
Middle range/Vocals – it’s smoooooooth, incredibly so, I can listen to the amp for hours without getting tired. Pairing with great speakers that are warm – like Vienna Acoustics that I use will emphasize this. Another great pairing option is Macallan of the same vintage – forget about interconnects and caps – you just need a cup and it would make this the best-sounding amp in the world :), 12 or 18 years old single molt would do the trick as well.
Top range – this is where the amp truly shines – RCA 7199 black plates turn this beast of a machine into the sweetest sounding device known to humanity. The cymbals are not just great, they are magical. The first time I’ve heard the amp, I couldn’t get the sound out of my mind. Treble sounded like gold raindrops and pixie dust mixed together – I can fly… (see Disney cartoons for more information on the topic)
Soundstage – not as good with RCAs when compared to Telefunken tubes, but nothing to complain about. Speakerstrulydisappear and the sound just completely envelops you – very wide and deep.
Transparency – this is definitely the weakest point of the amp. It could be due to the capacitors that are used (I have some Russian Teflon caps that I will try to use in the amp), or could be due to the nature of the circuit, but it’s not nearly as transparent as other amps, which is OK with me.
In conclusion, this is not an amp for analytic listening, but I can’t name another amp that would produce as much joy of experiencing music. I was very surprised but I liked the overall sound of the amp as much as my single-ended 45 tube amp. True, it’s not as reviling of the nuances of music, but it’s velvety mids and the incredible top just make up for the rest of the shortcomings. Not an amp for everybody, but if you are into vocal jazz, hunt it down, restore it – ENJOY!