I this bought the amp in November of 2017.
It is my understanding that this amp was hand wired in the US in collaboration of the founder from VAS Audio, using a case supplied in China. It is modeled after the acclaimed Scott 299D amplifier from the 60’s.
The stock electro Harmonix tubes are included. But I have recently rolled the signal tubes to Gold Lion ($232) power tubes to Gold Lion kt88 ($272) and the rectifier tube to a NOS (1960’s) Phillips (approx $200). All the new tubes are platinum grade (if applicable), cryo treated and matched from Upscale Audio. The power tubes are a month old with about 20 hours on them. The Phillips tube made a magnificent difference and can no longer be purchased from upscale. Rectifier tubes are rated for about 20,000-30,000 hours, so this one has a long life ahead of it. It’s fairly uncommon for a modern amp to use a rectifier tube instead of solid state.
The amp sounds resolving and transparent while still being sweet when the music calls for it, with plenty of defined bass (rated to 9 hz at -3db). The soundstage is deep and spacious with great scale. I was concerned how this would sound since there isn’t much press about this unit due to its limited production run. I took the risk with this modern take on a classic and was very pleased that it presented a full body sound with the air and detail I’ve never heard in my solid state amps. This amp sounds great at lower or higher volumes. I’d describe the sound as great flow and very natural. Vocals have emotion behind them that I’ve never heard before.
The original electro harmonix tubes present a prominent high end more and vocals more forward. I wouldn’t describe the sound as hard or glaring, but would wake up lazy speakers. The gold lions on the other hand somehow have more midrange detail with a more neutral presentation with vocals. That’s the beauty of tubes, you can tailor the sound to your system and tastes.
The build quality is top notch and it’s built like a tank at a hernia inducing 68 lbs! There are three transformers (toroidal power, one EI output for each channel), and not many solid state amps give you an output transformer per channel. All functions on the amp and metal remote work as new. The volume control is smooth and has an illuminated indicator. The face plate is solid 1/4 in aluminum.
I’ve only briefly tried the phono preamp, and don’t have any headphones to give that amp a whirl.
There were 100 of these built, and from the serial number this appears to be number 41.
I’m going to ship it in the factory packaging with the stock tubes and cage in place. The new tubes will be shipped out separately at my expense. BTW the cage does not fit over the Phillips tube. The pic is of the power rectifier tube at start up. It has a warm glow once going.
A really nice feature is being able to switch from ultra linear to triode mode from the remote. I prefer ultra linear on all types of music except for small acoustic.
PayPal fees are on me. Thanks for your time if you’ve made it this far.
I’m also willing to sell the amp with the stock electro harmonix tubes for $2000 if you prefer to roll your own. Or if you want some but not all, just shoot me an offer.