Simply agree with previuos reviews listed, these are stunningly musical amplifiers. Best i have heard compared to my BEL CANTO REF 1OOO, BRYSTON 4BSST, TRESHOLD T200 CLASS A and long list of audiotioned high end solid state amps from Musical Fidelity, Audio Research, Conrad Johnson etc.
These are my first Valve Amps and perform amazingly in all my 3 systems using Magnaplanars, Electrostats / Accustat 4+4 and large Acorn by Rob McKinlay, Ribbon Speakers / Ambience Grand Reference and Cone Dynaudio Contour speakers. Wonderful detail, musicality, real life sound is offered via the Wolcott Audio The Presence Monoblock 220W Tube Amplifiers.
Strenghth: Simply sound like real life music with amazing detail, midrange / vocals, bass definition. Adjustable dampening really useful to fine tune the sound suitable to speakers used. Are a rare technical tour de force achievement. Allow real listening enjoyment without fatigue. No solid state glare.
Weaknesses: Bryston 4BSST has little more low to midbass output. Yes are large, cannot hide in cabinets, need to wait for a minute or so for auto bias to finalise upon switch on. Not enough reviews.
Upon opening, I was impressed with the pre-formed high density foam used to surround the amps (very secure packing) After setting up I decided to 1st listen to George Winston "Plains".(If the piano sounds real, than an awful lot will fall into place 'think I read that here on the Asylum". Seldom do I move deeply within the music for an entire cd but I did so, because it was as if George was playing his Baby Grand in my living room. And so it has been for 5 months. On any type of music Jazz, vocalists, light classical, folk, new age, bluegrass; these amps provide a realistic 3d soundstage where the speakers and walls disappear on 90% of the music. The music always seems whole and natural.
Tone & Timbre: 100% / Rich and harmonic, oftentimes its so realistic, it's as if the artist’s are in the room.
Low-bass: 93% / Very realistic and the timing is almost perfect, can't imagine much better for a tube amp.
Mid-bass: 95% / Again very good.
Midrange: 100% / I have not heard better!
Top end frequencies: 97% / Harmonically crystal clear and extended.
Attack: 95% / realistic drive and extension, very inviting.
Decay: 100% / Again, I cannot imagine better, notes hanging in the air, allows the music to be so life like!
Spatial separation: 95% overall and 88% on complex rock & roll. Never hard etched, the notes from one player melding with those from his band mates.
Inner Resolution: 100% / Inviting, multi textured, truly makes the music joyful. The rasp from the throat, fingers plucking or sliding on strings, air reverberating within an acoustical body...captivating!
Soundfield width front: 98%
Soundfield width rear: 95%
Soundfield depth behind speakers: 100% / Speakers are 5' out into the room and the rear wall disappears.
Soundfield extension into the room: 100% / The overall sound is slightly laid back (which is what I prefer) and the extension into the room is not invasive.
Imaging: 100% / Spot on with all recordings
Fit and Finish: 100% for design and quality, but 85% for appearance.
Self Noise: 100% / Dead quite tube amps!! Black, black background.
Obviously I love the amps! They very much get out of the way and seem to allow this natural harmonic music to happen. Not perfect, but what a joy to listen to. They excell with Classical, jazz, vocalists, folk, & blugrass and with classic rock they are very good! I strongly recommend an audition to anyone in the market who loves music!
CDP / PRE / DAC :Audio Aero Capitole MkII SE
Tuner : Sony 550es
Speakers : Von Schweikert VR4JR
Cables : Virtual Dynamics Master/Stealth PGS/CRL Gold/Jena Labs Symphony
I first heard a Wolcott amplifier by accident. I was at Evolution Audio, in Agoura Hills, California, chatting with my friend Steve while the reference system warmed up. I had heard this system many times before and was not paying much attention. After awhile I noticed that the sound, which was always good, was significantly better than usual. I asked Steve, “Is this system sounding as good as I think it is?” and he immediately replied that he had noticed the same thing. The only change in this familiar setup was the inclusion of a Wolcott “The Presence” Stereoblock 120-watt Amplifier (Model# P 120-S). Musical instruments had more realistic weight and body, instrumental timbres seemed more accurate, and the bass was incredibly tight and deep.
In 25 years as an audiophile, I had never even heard of Wolcott Audio, and certainly didn’t expect a retro-looking EL-34 push-pull tube amp to be the best amplifier I had ever heard. How could an amplifier with world-class sound have gone unnoticed, not only by me, but also by the audio press, reviewers, dealers, discussion groups, and the audiophile public in general? I wondered if the Wolcott amp was really as good as it first seemed.
Searching the Net I found Dick Olsher’s Wolcott review from the July 2000 issue of Enjoy the Music. He had challenged the Wolcott “The Presence” Monoblock 220-watt Amplifier to drive the “load from hell” Sound Lab A-1 speakers. The Wolcott amp succeeded where other mega-watt amps had failed. Olsher sums up his experience with the Wolcott amp by writing, “…Wolcott Audio’s Presence amplifier is nothing short of stunning….. In hindsight it is easy to see that while a handful of amps came close to eliciting sonic greatness in one or more isolated respects, the Presence is the complete package.” Mr. Olsher concluded the review by making this recommendation: “My advice to you is simply this: quietly sell whatever other amp you now own and purchase the Presence for your audio future. Even if you don't own a Sound Lab, but are in need of high-power amplification, give the Presence a serious listen.” This is not faint praise! In the checklist at the end of the review Olsher gives the Wolcott amp a perfect 100 points on 13 out of 16 review criteria and 95 points on the rest. I have never seen another rating this high. Clearly, Dick Olsher thought the Wolcott Presence was truly exceptional.
Searching the Net further, all I found was a couple positive customer reviews on audioreview.com, and a few positive comments from Sound Lab/Wolcott owners in various discussion forums over the years. Beyond that there was a deafening silence. No follow up from the audio press, no magazine awards, and no animated consumer discussions. Had everyone overlooked the Olsher review or gone deaf? What happened?
Reading the Wolcott Audio website (www.wolcottaudio.com), you can see that Wolcott’s approach is the antithesis of high-end designers who charge inflated prices for archival electronics with upgraded cosmetics. Instead Henry Wolcott has developed sophisticated new circuit topologies that overcome the traditional shortcomings of vacuum tube amplification. Gone are high distortion, high noise levels, mushy base, rolled off highs, slow overload recovery, bias drift, erratic frequency responses into difficult loads, etc. The details of Wolcott’s technical innovations are available in the white paper on his website. The main thing is that these improvements are clearly audible. The Wolcott Presence is primarily a music lover’s amp, not just a technological tour de force with impressive laboratory measurements. In Wolcott’s own words you get “a design that will spec with the best of solid state and sings with the heart of a three-watt triode.” These are not your father’s EL-34 push-pull tube amps.
Since Wolcott Audio is located in Simi Valley, California, only a few miles from where I live, I had the opportunity to meet Henry Wolcott and speak with him. Mr. Wolcott is clearly an engineer’s engineer who cares more about good science and engineering than about self-promotion. Maybe this is why the audio press has largely overlooked his products. Perhaps in a market dominated by unabashed hyperbole, his modest claims went unnoticed, were mistaken for advertising hype, or were considered improbable and not taken seriously. In any case, overlooking the Wolcott amps is a big mistake for anyone trying to put together a satisfying sound system, or for those trying to advance the state of the art in audio design.
After a home trial, I bought a Wolcott “The Presence” stereo amp from Evolution Audio. The new Wolcott stereo amp is the most musically satisfying amp I have ever owned. It has all the sonic glory of tubes without the limitations and inconveniences I formerly considered unavoidable with tubes. It’s like getting the honey without the bees. Audition one before you settle for anything less. It’s a keeper.
This is the first really serious amplifier I've owned. I was totally unprepared for the difference they would make in my system! Currently using them with a pair of Mirage M-3si speakers while I'm waiting for the Sound Labs to arrive. I've owned these speakers for many years and had never heard what they were capable of until I hooked these amps up to them. The bass improved dramatically as did the detail and imaging specificity. Human voice especially has a realism that is quite remarkable. I'm also really impressed with the auto-bias feature. These things look a bit industrial, but you're paying for the design and the sound quality here, not for flashy chrome cabinets or billet aluminum custom machined heat-sinks, etc.
I have had the amps for a couple weeks now and they are nothing short of amazing.As they break in day to day they get scarily better.Having tried other amps in my system to drive my SoundLab Ultimate 1's I was getting frustrated because the SoundLabs to my ears were not doing it with the amps I was trying. I tried the Atmasphere Novacrons which were very good but not enough power.I have heard the high power OTL's are good but they are hot space heaters and living in Florida I could not live with them.The Wolcotts do not generate alot of heat for a high power tube amp. The bass is superb and the body of the music(Bass guitars,Cellos,drums)is awesome.The way they seperate and pinpoint different voices in groups of people is the best I've heard.I could go on and on but I am the happiest I have ever been with my audio system.It has taken a while to find what works for me but now I am really sitting back and enjoying the music.I feel the Wolcotts and the SoundLabs are a magical combination. Thanks Hank!