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SET Asylum: REVIEW: WAVAC Audio Lab MD-572 Amplifier (Tube) by rhyno

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REVIEW: WAVAC Audio Lab MD-572 Amplifier (Tube)

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Model: MD-572
Category: Amplifier (Tube)
Suggested Retail Price: $7500
Description: 50w/ch Single-Ended Triode amplifier
Manufacturer URL: WAVAC Audio Lab
Model Picture: View

Review by rhyno ( D ) on November 15, 2004 at 20:05:09
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for the MD-572

oh, the humanity!

that's the first thing that comes to mind w/ this amp. humanity. ---its a good thing.

some quick background: the 572 is a 50wpc stereo SET amp using the now-out-of-production Svetlana 572-160 as the triode; it also has passive attenuators for input direct to amp, thereby precluding all those lousy preamps we fight with. no coupling caps in the signal path (amazing!), using the IITS circuit found in all the larger $ wavacs, w/ both 8 & 4 ohm output taps. aesthetically, the amp is quite lovely, but also throwing off quite a bit of heat (but not as much as some SS bruisers i've had).

see my system info if interested, but a quick word: i find it absolutely amazing that this amp drives a 2.x impedance in the mid-low bass of my Wilson WP6s while missing nary a beat. no, it does not have the ultimate attack / decay in this region of a SS bruiser, but its not a big drop-off either. i think that's a tradeoff w/ SETs: you never have full freqency extension (as the amp also rolls the highs, but w/ the WP6s, its a wonderful match), but you make up for it elsewhere.

where the amp sets itself apart is the humanity of it. the amp does a remarkable job of capturing tonality & presence, verve if you will, better than any amp i've heard. voices sound like real voices, pianos sound like real pianos, etc. its a revelation.

PRAT is wonderful, leaving one ready to tap toes and sing along; bass rolls along a bit slower, but not enough to affect the envelope of the music (no doubt, it'd be more in synch if i wasn't using speakers w/ such a drastic impedance drop). staging is quite good as well, with images having well defined space within an apparent stage, extending well beyond the width of the speakers.

noise floor is remarkably low; in fact, my SS preamp going into the amp (with its passive attenuators fully open) results in a higher noise floor than source-direct to amp.

biggest drawbacks with the amp is the tubes. the 572-160 is out of production. i understand there are some vendors w/ an outstanding stock, but this is a concern of mine.

(also, its a tweakers' dream; even though the amp sound wonderful, a review of the parts inside begs for a few substitutions, which will materially improve the sound; however, these changes are by no means required to get wonderful sound from the wavac).

i personally find it a shame that so few people know of this amp, and moreso, that so few people have had the opportunity to hear a Wavac. this capacitor-free-signal-path SET is truly a special circuit design, as is the audible results.

i'm a convert. SETs are a way of life.

Product Weakness: tube availability
Product Strengths: tonality, presence, PRAT, staging, noise floor

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: WAVAC 572 SET, modified parasound 2200 mk2
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None, G&D Custom
Sources (CDP/Turntable): G&D UTP1> Entec 3.0 Dac w/ TG Mods; Kenwood KT8300 tuner w/ mega-mods.
Speakers: Wilson WP 6s
Cables/Interconnects: TG 6-9 high purity ICs; TG HSR speaker cable
Music Used (Genre/Selections): all
Room Size (LxWxH): 15 x 11 x 8
Room Comments/Treatments: JRisch bass panels
Time Period/Length of Audition: 2 months
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): TG Bybee based power conditioner; TG SLVR power cords
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: WAVAC Audio Lab MD-572 Amplifier (Tube) - rhyno 20:05:09 11/15/04 ( 5)