Supratek Owners Thread

Greetings All - 
It appears that the 26-million-plus view, multi-decade "Preamp Deal of the Century" Supratek thread has been removed. I'm not sure why, but suppose there must be a reasonable explanation.
In any case, on that thread I recently asked whether there might be interest in a "Supratek owners thread" and received some interest. 
The purpose of this thread is for Supratek owners to share the details of their system, ask questions, share information about any tube-rolling they have done, and so forth.
I'll kick us off here with a few details about my system -
ancient Linn LP12 with Ittok arm, Dynavector 17D3 cartridge into Cortese LCR phono stage
Power amp is a fully serviced Innersound Electrostatic amplifier
Quad ESL63 speakers (not USA monitors) or JBL 4430 studio monitors
Digital sources are immature and evolving - ancient Fostex CR300 cd player/burner
DacMagic 100 DAC
Nordost Blue Heaven 75ohm interconnect
Due to the fairly long lengths of speaker wire required in the new listening room, speaker wire is Belden 12 gauge wire designed for low-voltage outdoor lighting systems. 
Next steps - dedicated circuit, new power cords, new interconnects, new wires.

The balance knob on Supratek pre’s only changes the balance in very small increments, according to Mick that is intentional.

I was just questioning the exact same issue this week with my Chardonnay.  My balance knob has minimal effect of any kind on the sound between  speakers.  I considered texting Mick but now I understand it's a normal function from the designer.

The balance shift is slight.  The control is not implemented in the traditional style where it is another shunt to grd. in addition to the Vol. pot.   Mick does this purposely because there is less degradation to the signal but the caveat is that there is less total shift to either side.  There is also the thought that if you need to shift the balance more than 6db or so left or right (for whatever reason) then something in the setup or associated gear is wrong and needs to be reevaluated.   Alot of pre’s completely omit a balance control these days. I think that is a mistake as there can easily be situations where a slight shift is needed, especially with tube gear.   As tubes age and get hours on them there gain can shift slightly (or more) over time and some balance shift may be required to recenter the image.  Hope this explanation helps clear any confusion.  

This is the reply I got from Mick today about my balance inquiry:



Theres nothing wrong with the balance, as I said previously, its not a conventional balance control, it only has a very small amount of “shift” compared to a full cut balance control, which has a negative effect on sound quality.

I have a MC cartridge with uneven L R output and the balance control is all the way to one side to compensate , but it could still do with a little more. 

I’m cursed (?) with very precise imaging ears, I can hear the slightest amount off centre sound staging , which is why i built the balance that way, it gives me very fine control for getting an exact central image.


Michael Maloney


I am not talking about a >6dB shift: that would indeed indicate something is wrong with my setup. But my left ear is slowly deteriorating: I described this to Mick when I ordered the additional volume control for my Grange a year ago. What I got, does not work, as I cannot detect ANY balance shift at all, even with my ears directly at the speaker cones. I would probably show Mick some oscilloscope traces to get his sympathy. I have to conclude that either the balance knob is disconnected or that there is a faulty pot involved. On digital feeds I can use the DSP on my Mac w/o any sound degradation (the sound being not great to begin with), but with other sources, especially LPs I am stuck; and I don't want to put another box into the signal path.

Lastly: I had a functioning balance control on my previous preamp, and I could not detect any "negative effect on sound quality".

Any suggestions how to address my predicament? I was so looking forward to the Grange, but this really puts a dampener on my joy, as EVERY tune I play comes out with its center at 2 pm, no matter where the balance knob is pointing.