Van Alstine Fet-Valve Preamplifiers

5/5 (9 Reviews)


Product Description

Hybrid vacuum tube-solid state preamp


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Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Frank N a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: November 4, 2002

Bottom Line:   
I've been using my Fet-Valve EC for almost 3 years now-- it's the kind of product that, once you hear it, you just know it is absolutely right. I've been through a few preamps, and some very good ones at that, but this one just says it all-- a complete lack of any artifact or "signature effect" that tells you you're listening to someone elses idea of what hi-fi should sound like. The smooth musical presentation of this preamp is, in my view,without peer.
For the past year, I have been using the Fet Valve to drive a pair of Paradigm Active 40's direct. As an aside, I have been using van den Hul the First Ultimate (carbon fibre) to connect a Creek CD player to the Fet-Valve. Frank probably wouldn't approve-- but hey, it works for me! (Or maybe it's something about guys whose name begins with "van"?)
Anyway, the sound of the system in toto is pretty much above reproach, and I suspect that the Fet-Valve is really the steady beating heart of it all.
I would urge anyone who is in the market for a quality preamp to skip the frantic high end hype, and call Van Alstine-- simplify your life!

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $1400.00

Purchased At:   Van Alstine Direct



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

Date Reviewed: January 4, 2002

Bottom Line:   
I will say right up front that I am not an audiophile equipment junkie. However, I used to be a recording engineer and record producer, so I know how the sounds get there and what things ought to sound like. It's been a while, but I can still hear the difference between plate and chamber reverb and know what good miking sounds like. In the old days I would take recordings that I really wanted to hear down to the studio and put them up on the monitors (usually 3-4 different sets) to check it out. I was not optimistic about being able to recreate this experience at home for less than the price of a studio installation, so I let my equipment languish. Recently, I decided to have a go at putting a real system together. I was shocked by how much BS is out there in the market place. However, I kept seeing this name, Van Alstine. After a couple of conversations with him that convinced me that he knew exactly what he was doing, I finally decided to take a chance on his equipment. BINGO. The Fet Valve Preamp does exactly what it is supposed to do, and does it beautifully. If you want a lot of "warmth" you probably want a CJ. If you want a lot of "bass slam" you probably want a Krell. What I think that Van Alstine really offers is something much harder to define, and much harder to recognize unless you have done a lot of listening. That quality is good taste. The Fet Valve sounds good with all types of music. It exposes the truth about all of your recordings in the most charming way possible. Yes, you will hear gates opening and closing, yes, you will hear compressors squeezing vocals and yes, you will hear that air conditioning unit turn on occasionally. It's that good. But you will also hear every part of a violin tone, from rosin to body tone, in perfect proportion. Imaging is beautiful, multi-dimensional and effortless. Best of all, it has that ineffable quality of equipment that is operating happily within its limits, that is not fussy, is not unstable, will not slowly degrade on you or one morning just be DOA. It's just one man's opinion, but I think that Van Alstine generally, and the Fet Valve Preamp specifically, is exactly the kind of audio equipment that provides satisfaction and lasting value. I really couldn't be happier.

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Purchased At:   AVA



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Scott Davis a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: December 30, 2001

Bottom Line:   
If I had it to do all over again, I’d buy everything this guy makes or recommends. It is inconceivable that there is a sonically superior pre-amp at any price. Top to bottom, transients, texture, timbre, cannot be faulted. Inner detail comes through the most complex passages. If you don’t hear it, something is lacking ELSEWHERE in your system. If you hear something you shouldn’t, change the source or listen through good headphones, and you will find out what’s wrong, and it won’t be the pre-amp.

Once you graduate to this level, and have components to match this preamp, and (very important) your room has no glaring problems, the only thing left are the recordings themselves. There is almost no recording that you cannot fault when you have gear at this level. So, be prepared to be disgusted with the state of recording these days. Especially anything popular. Bass overemphasis, intentional grain to produce “presence”, synth drums, synth everything,…things you would be better off not knowing, but this component will reveal to you…it makes you want to scream.

I have listened for the better part of two years, and was playing around with DIY speaker cables when I fried something. Frank helped me with a process of elimination to get to an IC chip. I’m sure he would have taken the whole unit back, but I saved us both the hassle. The guy who complained about too many screws is a total wuss! It takes 5 minutes to get the case off, and shows great workmanship, plated-through holes, neat layout. Within a week I had my chip. He sent two just to be nice. So I can attest the units are well-backed. No charge even though I said it was probably my fault. Now DON’T take advantage of Frank’s good nature just because I told you. I verified cable integrity and isolation before I powered up this time, and it’s fine.

I also have the phono preamp section, which leaves nothing to be desired. At least, it is better than any of my recordings hope to be, including the audiophile pressings. I use the London-Decca Super Gold. If you use anything less (and I’ll debate you as to whether there was anything ever made that was even equal, outside early low output MC Ortophons or The Black Beauty), don’t blame the pre-amp. See www.warrengregiore.com.

I also use the Toshiba DVD-9200 for its HDCD and 24/96 DAC. Not totally satisfied, treble a little glissy due to ears used to Japanese music doing the octave to octave balance and mylar caps, am building a www.curcioaudio.com DAC. Probably should have gotten Frank’s but I’m in too far with my soldering iron. NEAR 50s Mk II round out the system. Pity they aren’t made any more. You’ll have to go Martin-Logan if you want that midrange now. I’d also want to try the speakers Frank resells, just based on his pre-amp.

Cables, as Frank and I both know, are total BS. The internal wiring of components are ordinary, so how could $$$ cables make up for a weak link in the transmission line? I should repackage my Cat 6 computer wire I use for speaker wire (does fine by the way, at 25cents a foot) as ELIPSIS TUNNEL HOLOGRAPHIC NUMINOUS CONNECTS for $4100 a pair. Some yahoo would swear they have slightly better transients than $3995 Kimbers, I'm sure. But, I'm too ethical.

Scott

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1393.00

Purchased At:   Direct from www.avahifi.com



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

Date Reviewed: October 12, 2000

Bottom Line:   
You'll hear it once, you'll hear it again. Audio by Van Alstine products are among the best audio products available at any price. Take price into consideration and they ARE the best. I have owned AVA products for 10 years. The AVA Fet Valve pre-amp is as important as any part of my system and has provided flawless highest end performance for many years. The service (keep in mind that this pre-amp has never needed service...) provided by AVA is prompt & honest. In a world of hi-fi flavor of the day confusion I have yet to hear another system out there that could cause me to obsess. Take the challenge!

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   Pre 1995

Price Paid:    $1195.00

Purchased At:   Audio by Van Alstine



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jim a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: September 12, 2000

Bottom Line:   
After a 15 year complacent attitude toward high end audio I experienced a renewed interest and began selling old equipment and acquiring an updated system. I bought an ARC D-76A on ebay and updated it with a Parts Connection upgrade kit. Relying on sonic memory it is close to the D-79 I once owned (really outstanding)! I purchased a Sony XA20-ES and an ARC LS-1. Very satisfying but I began wondering about external DAC's. Purchased an Omega IV DAC from Van Alstine and at first, didn't hear much difference. After calling Frank, he suggested running the DAC direct, bypassing the preamp. WOW!!! Fantastic improvement but without any preamp control. The ARC destroyed the sonics and imaging. I then tried a McCormack Line Drive Preamp and was again left dissapointed.
Van Alstine advertised a used FET VALVE preamp with "satisfaction guaranteed" so I tried it and it gives me absolutely stunning results. This unit lets all the information pass from the DAC only improved. All the frequency extention is present also the air but the imaging is more precise. This is especially apparent with more complex classical recordings. All my cd's are new again.
I have spent a small fortune on audio over the years but I have never had the level of satisfaction that AVA equipment is providing. This may come across as mushy to some but I embellish honestly! Very highly recommended.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $895.00

Purchased At:   Audio by Van Alstine direct




Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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