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I completely agree. I've used his rebuilds and new stuff for years and never been less than happy.
I lived in the Minneapolis area and was actively involved in audio from the 1970s through the 1990s. During that period I kept up on the various AVA products starting with the Dynaco mods through the Hafler platform products and into the era of AVA's own chassis products. I did lose touch with AVA products in the late 90s so my experience is not fully current. My feelings towards AVA products are lukewarm at best. The gear tended to be sonically bland and not terribly transparent, guilty of sins of omission rather more than those of commission. They were decent for the money but there were other comparably priced products I found much more to my taste (YMMV). My larger gripe about AVA was that they attempted to hook their customers into a near continuous upgrade treadmill (sometimes several in a single year). People I knew who went down this path found that the modest initial cost had ballooned and that they ended up with a product that was not remotely sonically competitive given their total investment and had little resale recapture. I know that AVA has ardent fans and as noted I have not heard their recent products but I wanted to offer an alternative view.
Everyone's tastes vary, and as to the "upgrades" audio research, Linn,
and most all of the major retailers are guilty of upgrades. I have owned two of the super pas 111 rebuilds, and have listened to the solid state when it was called omega, in the 90's. i found them to be very transparent, as most every review I have seen, and at their price point, please tell us which are better,I noticed you named none. My super pas iii kit was first bought in the late 80's the second in the mid 90's and they were both exactly the same as they are now. the only upgrade, which I couldn't and didn'twant to do was some solid state buffers. They, and everyother maker of stereo gear wants to "sell you up" Its called retail marketing. Please tell us what is a superior preamp for 400.00 and an old pas or pat4-5. they are far from the top of high end, but after 30 years and more stereos than I care to think about, I would suspect your associated equipment. They do push upgrades, but they like others keep coming out with new units. I think it is admirable that they make it so you can upgrade your old stuff if you choose to. So does conrad johnson and a few other high end retailers. They also will bench test for free your unit before initial fireup if you want. They will also sell and market for you anything you want to sell, including going through it and giving a warranty to the new buyer. Funny thing, rarely does anyone sell it, and when they do it disappears instantly. I never listened to the hafler upgrades, and only limited
solid state dyna. Their tube stuff is way better than you indicate, at least to myself and every review I've ever read. This includes all the "big time" mags absolute sound, stereophile, sensible sound, so on and so on for over 20 years. Seems like they all disagree. but, YMMV. I have and do own other preamps, but the super pas111 is tough to beat for the money. Again, what is your reccomendation on something better for the same money?
I have to get to work but very quickly the Precision Fidelity C-7a (circa early 80s) was superior to the AVA preamps of the day by a huge margin. The PSE Studio IV SS amps were also vastly better than the Van Alstine equivalents circa late 80s/early 90s. I have listened to other comparisons using Counterpoints products (80s) and various PAS-3x mods (1970s) not favorable to the AVA gear. If I gave it more thought I could probably find other examples. Speakers used in the comparisons included varous Maneplanars, Roger LS3/5as & LS7s, Spendor SP-1s, modified Klipsch La Scalas, Sequerras, and Stax headphones (probably others I can't recall).
I also compared a set of Rogers LS-7s with the B&Ws Frank was selling in his basement in the mid-80s. Frank and his helper both insisted that the B&Ws were much better. When we left one of my friends turned to me and said, "Is he deaf?" - all three of us in the listening group found the Rogers much more transparent.
You are welcome to your taste but AVA is not universally admired.
More better than AVA SS amps circa late 70s/early 80s: GAS Son and Grandson, Amber 70, Audionics CC-2. There are more, and more recent, examples I could come up with (I'm not quite awake) but you get the idea.
I agree with you on the B&Ws, Frank is kind of "sold" on his products,
and doesn't have time to dicuss "disagreements" with his products. As to the GAS stuff, I can't agree, I thought they were comparable with most solid state power amps of the day, basically horrible sounding.
What are the prices on the pres you suggest? My basic point is that if you want to/like to use vintage units, but don't like the unreliability/sound of the old units, you could do a lot worse for 399.oo for the kit. My other diagreement ( not with you but another poster) who didn't like AVA because they just removed everything and replaced it with their stuff" which is the best way if you spent anytime fooling with a stock pat 4 or 5...never heard one new, but they stunk in the 80s stock. At least franks mods improved it mightily, and no one here has yet to put forward a better idea for a pat 5 than AVA for one who wants the "vintage" look, or wants to dive into amp building with little or no experience. As to the pres you suggest, what was their price? I'm not saying the AVA is the best, but the initial poster wanted to know what to do with his pat 5. Franks an unusal guy and still answers the phone if you call. I once made a mistake of mentioning the latest speaker a had built, when he laid a 20 min diatribe on me about how all, no matter what or who built them, homemade speakers suck, then another 20 mins on the only exception, one that he had built years ago! He is sold on his products " and there's no reason to try anything else" point of view. I think you will at least admit that his kit is an improvement over the stock pat 5, not much better out there for 400.00, and they are reliable, quiet, and work. Improvements over the original in every way.
of pre amp of the month club syndrome. At one time I thought even the reasonable priced counterpoint sa 1000 out did it ( with the right tube anyway) but its cost was around 1200.00 or so. Others definately better it, for the price of a good used car, and many had no phono. Many "improvements" I thought I heard
in retrospect were more lateral differences rather than vertical improvements. BTW, I would never have installed the buffers he wanted me to, I did not like the solid state change that occurred. good on paper, didn't care for the sound of them.
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