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. 




Japan has a very good used audio stuff market with Tango, Tamura transformer; Kondo, Acrolink cables; used amplifiers and CD player,... Japanese people sell all this stuff on the internal market. A very few used stuff from Japan is sold internationally , for example, on eBay. And because Japanese people don’t use eBay, all used Japanese audio equipment sold by hucksters - prices on eBay are at least twice higher than in the local market.

Yeah, RoHS-approved solder might be a stumbling block, since it requires higher temperatures and a little different technique. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Our first goal is getting production under way in Salt Lake City, home of Spatial Audio.

Fortunately, both Salt Lake and Denver have a number of aerospace vendors that make various subassemblies for rockets and satellites.

I have a thorough dislike of working with lead-free solder.  Nothing flows in a point to point build like a good 2% silver solder.  Lately I have been using Wonder Solder for the past year or two and it is just wonderful to work with.  Of course, one could use lead-free solder, and pass all the hurdles and build things for shipping in large numbers to the EU.  First you get the product off the ground in N. America.  We have pretty much free-trade between Canada and the USA, and it is quite easy to make things in either country and ship to the other, duty and tariff-free.  My main point above was that it is very expensive to deal with customer support across the pond.  If you ship 100 things to 100 people, about 1% of the time something happens.   For example, UPS will admit that they have a 4% claims rate.  Things happen.   No matter how robust you make something, and how thoroughly you test it and the tube set before you ship it, things happen a very small percentage of the time.  Or a customer plugs a tube you didn't sell them in there and it grid shorts.  This gear is quite robust against serious damage when that happens because in all these years of building things, I have seen all sorts of failures.  When a bad tube kills something, I improve designs so that will only blow a fuse instead next time.   So these things are quite stable, but still, every now and then things happen.  When they happen in N. America it is far cheaper to sort out.  You always take care of the customer.  It is much more expensive to do so overseas.....

Which is why medium to large scale companies have regional service centers, which combine repair, refurbishing, and overall product support in one center. It’s equivalent to a low-yield manufacturing center with a marketing wing (in the local language) attached.

They support local retailers, or have direct customer support, and offer the kind of services manufacturers do, just on a smaller scale. Somebody to answer the phone. A parts warehouse. Several techs to repair or upgrade the product. Somebody to manage the facility and make sure things actually get done, along with inventory and personnel management. In short, at least three to ten people working full-time, along with leased space in an industrial park. It’s equivalent to a small factory, with equivalent monthly overhead costs, too.

Once your company passes the threshold of about five to fifty million dollars a year in sales, yes, opening overseas centers in regional markets makes economic sense. You can afford to hire three to ten new workers on another continent, and train them and point them in the right direction. Opening a regional service center requires a pretty steep investment in time and money.

Otherwise, you are supporting the overseas customers by remote control, with very expensive shipments back and forth, and a certain percentage of those returned products severely damaged in shipment because the customer threw away the original packaging and improvised their own packaging.

I'm not sure what to tell potential overseas customers to do. Sure, after you hear all the market buzz and read the first reviews, you might be tempted to get on a plane, fly right to Salt Lake City in the state of Utah and buy yourself three good-sized boxes ... a matching Raven, and a pair of brand-new, state-of-the-art Blackbirds. Be the first person in London or Berlin to own the full set. How cool is that?

But ... if anything goes wrong, or you just want some hand-holding, or want to ask what our favorites cables are ... you're kind of on your own. You're not in the same time zone as we are. We don't know anything about the ins and outs of UK and European power supplies, nor what favorite NOS tubes are in your area. Sure, with time, we'll find European affiliates that are a good match. With time, in Asia as well.