Van Alstine Fet Valve 550Ex Amplifiers

5/5 (2 Reviews) MSRP : $2099.00

Product Description

250 watts per channel 20 to 20 kHz at less than 0.01% THD. 17" wide, 13" deep, 7" high. Shipping weight 38 pounds. All new AVA designed black chassis with black anodized faceplate and high efficiency black anodized extruded rear mounted heat sinks with 12 high current TO-3 case power MOSFET output devices. For 2 ohm loads and up.

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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by ellisaudio a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: November 28, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I auditioned the latest version of Frank's 550EX and Trancendence 7 preamp at Kevin Becker's home a few days ago. I suppose there are several possible ways to describe what I heard. The quick summary is my speakers, the 1801s, have never sounded so good. I was profoundly impressed.

While there are many fancy ways to describe a good amplifier/preamp I believe the easiest way to describe one is using the terms noise, dynamics, and coloration.

The setup had zero noise, but maintainted extremely crisp sound. Some grain-free amplifier set-ups fail in this realm. Frank's setup was extremely clean. This was most apparent on the Nativity Carol, Reference Recordings.

The dynamics were the most amazing part. The bass was incredibly tight and controlled. The midrange and high frequency dynamics maintained tremendous presence throughout the response range. There were obviously no limits in any part of the response. The term "extended" easily applies.

The electronics were free of coloration. This is another area where tube amplifiers fail somewhat.

I am not exactly sure what Frank did with his electronics. It appears that his 30-40 years of German inginuity are fully manifested in this product. He manages to integrate tubes where they are most advantageous while maintaining a strong solid state sound. The sound is extremely clear and true.

If somemeone doesn't like this source equipment it is simply because he/ she doesn't like the sound of live unamplified music. These electronics might be the best stuff I have heard, and are easily better than anything at 2x$.

The newer stuff from Nelson Pass surely looks better, but the AVA stuff sound's better. If you wan't to impress your friends, buy the stuff from Nelson Pass. If you wan't to impress your ears, buy the FET/Trancendence setup. Wow!

Dave Ellis

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2003

Purchased At:   n/a

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mike a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: March 20, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I purchased my original Audio by Van Alstine FetValve 550HC in January of 1997. At the time I compared it to the then offered Omega III series as well as amplifiers from other manufacturers. The FetValve was the best .

Fast forward to 2001 and the new FetValve Ex power amps. In October, I received a mailing that the FetValve amps have been upgraded to the "Ex" status. I dropped off my amp and auditioned the new Omega Star system. Next Frank put my FetValve 550HC in line. I was surprised that the OmegaStar sounded BETTER than my FetValve. Frank then replaced my amp with a new FetValve Ex amp and we again listened. The sound was again all of the OmegaStar and MORE! Time to upgrade.

After the upgrade was done I picked up the new "toy" and rushed home. I set up the amp and began to listen. I listened to one CD, another CD, then another. Something was VERY different -- the sound was phenomenal -- what a difference! Here I was listening to sounds I have never heard from my system before. I had to call Frank (even though his shop was closed) and to my surprise he answered the phone. My first word to Frank was "WOW." I had to tell him how pleased I was with the new amp!!

Now two months later, I finally have more time to listen to music. A friend also owns the FetValve series of equipment. I'd been telling him he should hear the new Ex. He agreed to bring his FetValve 550HC power amp over so that we could compare. Even though I knew I liked the Ex's sound better, I wanted to make sure I was not simply hearing what I wanted to hear. After all when you spend money on equipment it "has" to sound better.

We started by listening to a variety of CDs on his 550HC amp. We sampled some good recording and some not so good. The sound was what we have experienced in the last five years. Next I replaced the 550HC amp with my new 550Ex amp. We started by listening to Van Morison. I sat and watched the expression on his face, which was pretty stone looking. He played a few tunes from the CD and he listened intently. I made the comment, not much difference is there? I was trying to see what kind of reaction I would get. After a few minutes he told me that there is a WORLD of a difference between the two amps.

We continued to listen to other CDs and each one sounded better on the 550Ex amp. The 550Ex has much tighter low ends. The mids are still the silky smooth sounds I like from the FetValve series. The upper mids and highs are where the Ex really shines. The sound is so much more revealing, accurate and properly blended.

Frank says in his advertising that even poor CDs can sound good on the FetValve Ex. When we listened to the Van Morison CD on the FetValve HC amp I was surprised that there was a lack of defined highs, as if something was missing. When we listened to the CD on the FetValve Ex the CD came to life. The highs were there in proper proportion, the mids blended properly into the highs, and the bass was tight. My friend told me that he has listened to this CD (and album) for hundreds of hours and he has never heard the music like he was hearing it now. While the hundreds of hours may be a slight stretch, I have no doubt that he had spent considerable time listening to the tracks as he likes to analyze the music.

We next listened to Janis Ian' "Breaking Silence" CD from Analogue Productions. With the 550HC the sound was nice and smooth with deep lows and accurate highs, but I always noticed her voice was more forward, almost out of place in the soundstage. On the 550Ex her voice is properly placed with all of the other sounds. This is what I mean by blending properly. No one range of sounds on the 550Ex sound out of place.

I purchased my original FetValve components in January of 1997 because of the accuracy in the sound compared to other components at twice the price. Now that Audio by Van Alstine has SIGNIFICANTLY improved the FetValve 550HC power amp I have a whole new listening experience!

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $2099.00

Purchased At:   Audio by Van Alstine

Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

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