300b lovers

I have been an owner of Don Sachs gear since he began, and he modified all my HK Citation gear before he came out with his own creations.  I bought a Willsenton 300b integrated amp and was smitten with the sound of it, inexpensive as it is.  Don told me that he was designing a 300b amp with the legendary Lynn Olson and lo and behold, I got one of his early pair of pre-production mono-blocks recently, driving Spatial Audio M5 Triode Masters.  

Now with a week on the amp, I am eager to say that these 300b amps are simply sensational, creating a sound that brings the musicians right into my listening room with a palpable presence.  They create the most open vidid presentation to the music -- they are neither warm nor cool, just uncannily true to the source of the music.  They replace his excellent Kootai KT88 which I was dubious about being bettered by anything, but these amps are just outstanding.  Don is nearing production of a successor to his highly regard DS2 preamp, which also will have a  unique circuitry to mate with his 300b monos via XLR connections.  Don explained the sonic benefits of this design and it went over my head, but clearly these designs are well though out.. my ears confirm it. 

I have been an audiophile for nearly 50 years having had a boatload of electronics during that time, but I personally have never heard such a realistic presentation to my music as I am hearing with these 300b monos in my system.  300b tubes lend themselves to realistic music reproduction as my Willsenton 300b integrated amps informed me, but Don's 300b amps are in a entirely different realm.  Of course, 300b amps favor efficient speakers so carefully component matching is paramount.

Don is working out a business arrangement to have his electronics built by an American audio firm so they will soon be more widely available to the public.  Don will be attending the Seattle Audio Show in June in the Spatial Audio room where the speakers will be driven by his 300b monos and his preamp, with digital conversion with the outstanding Lampizator Pacific tube DAC.  I will be there to hear what I expect to be an outstanding sonic presentation.  

To allay any questions about the cost of Don's 300b mono, I do not have an answer. 




There was a reviewer from Stereophile who came twice.  I let him play what he wanted, but I certainly did not chase anyone out of the room, so maybe that was someone else in the rear.  I assure you that Stereophile will not be getting the amps for review.  There is no free advertising as the product is not even in production yet.  Sorry you were not treated well, but it wasn't me....

Also, as Lynn said, the plan is to have Spatial Audio Lab build the preamp and matching 300b amps, which we all are currently calling the Raven pre and Blackbird amps.  They may get a final name change before launch, or they may sing together with their current monikers.  Reviews are way down the line.  Direct sales to customers is the way this will go, just as with the Spatial speakers.  There is absolutely no relationship with any publication.  We are aiming for availability late this year or first thing next.  It is our hope that a few people will have them playing in their homes for the holidays!

First things first.   I share Lynn's sorrow for Edisoncarter's perceptions of how he was treated in the room and honor his impressions, with the exception of this thread being a shrill for their gear.  But personally being camped out in the room on Saturday, there were waves of folks coming and going which always can be confusing.  Sorry for the bummer experience, Edisoncarter.

The sound in the room with the new Spatials and Don and Lynn's front end with the phenomenal Lampi DAC all combined for a stunning sound. (I don't recall that they had a TT in the room.)   Don played an unusual song with all bamboo instruments and the articulation of each note was brilliantly clear and suspended in air.  Then Don played "Kind of Blue", the finest jazz recording in history, and the music simply bloomed in front and behind the speakers, with amazing imagining.  I have had this recording for nearly 50 years and know it intimately.  It was easy to pick out where the players were located in the sound field with lofty air around them all.  

Clayton was there and I am very happy to see that he has regained his robust health, and his new X4 Ultras brought to life the excellence of the the front end electronics, pure and simple.  Don was not completely happy with the room dimensions, but I have always thought that Spatial speakers are the least room sensitive of any speakers I have owned.  And so my ears told me in my extended listening of music in the room.  Let me state the obvious:  Don has much better ears than I have and is a hyper-critical objective listener or how else could he tune his gear to nth degree trying various caps, etc?  

A word or two about Lynn Olson.  Very rarely have I met such an erudite person in the audio realm... he knows tube gear in a way that I suspect few people do.  I think he has to be one of the unheralded geniuses in the hifi world and can expound with  the same knowledge on economics, history, philosophy, religion, anthropology, climate change, psychology (his initial training), politics, and on and on.  He is a true polymath and is among the most gentle men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  I learned much of this at dinner after the show with him and Don, where I got an understanding of the full dimension of the collaborative effort that created these stellar electronics.  The two of them are cut from a different bolts of cloth, so to speak, but they put their fertile ideas together to create this gear.

Moving on, the Whammerdyne room with the Songer speakers was excellent as Lynn noted.  The Von Schwiekert room with a panoply of VAC tube amps was outstanding.   Jeff Wells' room with his electronics and the $13K TAD speakers was  exceptional.  The new Mofi 10's were a joy, kind of an old school sound, updated, and a real bargain.  The new iteration of the JBL L100's did not move me at all.  The Chapman speakers in the Kuzmo room sounded really fine.  

I got to visit with Gary Gill, a very affable guy, who put this show on as a region event, with no pretensions of it being an Axpona. The vibe was very relaxed, I sensed, with about 40 or so rooms that attendees didn't feel like they had to rush around to hear everything.  The after-show musical entertainment was way beyond anything I have heard at Axpona or RMAF... hats off to Gary for that, a real swell guy who I pleasantly visited with about analogue vs digital music and it was delightful to share different opinions in a very pleasant and humorous matter.  He is a great guy, very easy going.  

I had a wonderful time hearing Don and Lynn's new electronics and Clayton's new speakers and finally, after 15 years of having Don upgrade all my vintage Harmon Kardon gear and then getting his preamps and Kootenai amp... and now his 300b monos, to finally meet him in person was a purely joyous experience.  He is a bundle of focused energy and as affable as you can imagine.   Oh, I got to meet Miller Carbon, too, who was playing Tekton Moabs, probably 7' tall and they sounded quite good.  

It was a great show with many really fine exhibitors.  It was a great event, no question about it.   Cheers, Whitestix

The day before, Don told me about Whitestix, his oldest customer, and said he was trained as an economist. (!) So as we sat down to a delicious dinner at the Thai restaurant across the street, I was curious and couldn’t help asking: "Chicago School or Keynesian? How do you feel about MMT? Freshwater or saltwater (terms of art to economists)?"

Economists famously disagree with each other, even more than audio designers, and the stakes are far higher, since their assessments steer entire economies. Worse, there is a general consensus in the economic community that economists have probably wrecked more economies than they have helped. When economists get it really wrong, people starve, are sent to gulags, or revolutions start. By contrast, all that bad audio design does is make people a little unhappy.

And things kind of went on from there. Not downhill, fortunately!


Thanks for providing an in depth assessment of your experience at this show. I would have loved to listen to the Raven and Blackbird pairing.