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.
For the tubes I tried, I would say RCA and Shuguang are warm, Melz as neutral and Sylvania as cool.

I purchased mine from a Russian seller on eBay. They are 1980 production with 2 lines of 5 holes in each plates with OTH stamp (OTH was told to mean OK for the Russian military use). I know some discussion of reliability of this tube in other discussion forum, but mines are trouble free so far with ~100h on them.
Celebration this week I received a Mke Maloney Supratek Cortese LCR Preamp. I brought out the best from the Rogue Audio M180 amps, abd the B&W 803 D speakers.The LCR Phono opened many horizons for the VPI SSM 10D tonearm with the Black Quentit Ortofon Cartridge.
Ultra Transparent Preamp with Authority. Very Quite. The LCR Phono section is a stroke of a Genius designer. What a Preamp !

Celebration Day. In this week I received a Mike Maloney Supratek Cortese LCR Preamp.

It brought out the best from the Rogue Audio M180 amps, and the B&W 803 D2 speakers.

The LCR Phono opened many horizons for the VPI SSM 10D tonearm with the Black Quintet Ortofon Cartridge.

Ultra Transparent Preamp with Authority.

Very Quiet. The LCR Phono section is a stroke of a Genius designer. What a Preamp !


Supratek – Cortese LCR by Mick Maloney – June 2020

I’m writing this here in appreciation of my brand new “Supratek Cortese LCR” Preamp by Mick Maloney.

I have had - over the years - a few other famous preamps in my Home Audio System, nevertheless I took note of the extraordinary reviews that were submitted by every Supratek preamp owner.

Add to this listening to the preamp at a respected Audio reviewer’s own system.

I contacted Mr Mick Maloney. I learnt substantial information before placing my order for the preamp with the LCR phono section.

Now, my listening experience is completely upgraded to a level, I thought - in the past – that I will never reach. That level that I marvel about inside Audio shows rooms and with very expensive equipment.

When compared with my previous preamps; This Cortese LCR -by Mick- has lifted a very thick veil from the music I listen to and presented each music instrument as I’d love to hear.

This is because the newly created Sound Stage is multi-dimensional. The separation and transparency are of high level that I can listen to deep instrumental harmonies that I was not aware of.

Now I can follow the Bass line clearly. It is fully articulate, impactful and with precision.

The Mid-range is full bodied and with emotional effect, we get absorbed in the new music experience.

With my wife we were astonished to listen again to “Patricia Barber’s You & The Night& The Music”. The Bass line chords, Piano and her Voice are Top Notch. Just Can’t be better.

Mick handpicked a blend of different vacuum tubes to ensure producing the above described sound together with the sweetest treble delivered from my B&W Diamond tweeters.

The LCR Phono section is a wonder to describe it, but it is very and very quiet.

Also, the separate Power Supply is very quiet. Nothing but an elegant piece with glowing tubes

The LCR Phono section of this Cortese Preamp creates an Elegant atmosphere in the room and presents the music from the record in a way that is drawing our full attention realizing the unique pleasure and experience now at hand.

I’m not exaggerating to describe the feeling but to say: it is like watching in awe – from a middle seat in Row 4 - a well-produced musical act. This is it!

These were comments, and our opinion after listening to Side three of the Beautiful Double Record “Progy & Bess” by "Ray Charles & Cleo Laine".

It is something in this life to listen to the Cortese LCR presentation of: "Crab Man", "Here Comes The Honey Man", and "Strawberry Woman".  Fantastic and very melodic Bass line. Charming little percussion instruments. Electric Piano delivering Hypnotic Jazz Notes.

But the vocals of both icons are delivered to thrill the Souls. Period!

I’d like to thank Mick Maloney for a Masterpiece of an Audio Preamp.

Well hand crafted. A joy to look at. A stroke of a Genius.

Period !


Sydney - Australia

Great report. What do you mean by Mick handpicked the tubes to get a sound? Did you provide the desired goal or was this his normal process of choosing that you like?
  • @highstream 
  • Perfectly said. My interaction with Mick was like this:
  • Initial Contact of expression of interest in LEARNING his views on Preamp selection Vs my Amps Vs my speakers.
  • The Sound i would enjoy at 70 dB SPL in the late quite hours of the evening + a Humble description of the type of Music i typically listen to. In this case it is Jazz.
  • The outcome product is very successful for the Ears & Eyes for both of my wife - i allways involve her in my passion - and myself.
i must also to acknowledge you all here. You have educated me. You have opened my eyes towards a Huge Joy. And this to happen in this now famous 2020.

@highstream @hicham 
Here's what I think Joseph means regarding the "handpicked tubes" - the Supratek sounds incredible with the stock tubes. And Mick has carefully auditioned all the usual suspects to identify high-value, solid-performing, reliable tubes that he can purchase in quantity. That's the way I've felt about my Cortese, though I have done some tube rolling.

I was very intrigued to read the comments on tube-rolling earlier in this thread and, based on that input I'll probably track down some Melz 1578s and a pair of the Shuguang WE6SN7 plus tubes, just for fun. At present I'm listening to a gorgeous pair of CBS 5962s. They sound wonderful.

All the best,
Markus -- Thanks. Never heard of the CBS 5962. At least at Upscale Audio they don’t come cheap, but I just noticed what look like a good matched pair on eBay for a reasonable price. I've been using the Shuguang replica and it's a nice tube. There are some other possibly good choices at Grant Fidelity.
The CBS/Hytron 5692 is a pretty good reasonably neutral tube. I roll a pair through the Chardonnay periodically.
A 6SN7 search today turned up a few resources I had forgotten or hadn't come across before (links can't be posted on Agon). Some good info.

- head-fi: " The Reference 6SN7 Thread"
- What's Best Forum: " Shootout of Nos 6sn7 tubes"
- 6SN7 page (under NOS > 6SN7)

What these lists don't include are the more recent Chinese tubes.
As i posted earlier i ordered a Chardonnay. I have been listening to my music lately and thinking how good it presently sounds and i`m starting to question ordering the Chardonnay. I do not want to waste my time and money making a side ways move or even worse a step backwards.

Has anyone had experience with both the LTA pre and the Chardonnay? I do not want to lose the magic that my system presently has.
First off, any change, gear or even a tube change on the same piece, makes for a different sound. No matter what you do, your "magic" will have to be recreated, whether with the tubes provided or after rolling, and even then is always somewhat different than the last time (shades of magic, so to speak).

About the LTA pre, I haven't heard it but in the process of deciding what to go for I asked its developer (Mark) and those on an LTA thread, I think on head-fi, about where it stood on the warm to cool continuum. The unanimous answer was decidedly "neutral." Since I favor some warmth and don't get along big time with what passes for neutral -- it sounds cool to cold to me, -- the owners and those familiar with the LTA explicitly steered me away. For Supratek, what caught my attention on the site was that Mick prefers and designs for some degree warmth. An email exchange confirmed that. 
I made wholesale changes to my system in the last year and the last was addition of the Chardonnay. I basically asked Mick to make me the best preamp he could and parts upgrade where they would matter. I'm all tube and basically vinyl. But the Chardonnay didn't really add warmth so much as added dynamics. 
System will now sustain bass without a hint of running out of steam. It's there, it's solid, well defined  and carries the music with a great foundation. And being that the Chardonnay came last in the purchase sequence confirmed that my previous purchases were well selected. 
I could go on like a fanboy but enough. Wouldn't change a thing.

The LTA is definitely on the cool side compared to a Supratek! I tried the first one that came out and didn’t like it at all. Maybe the newer ones are better.
I think the coolness is baked in by design, based on exchanges with the LTA developer. Over the last several years the audio market has gravitated in good part to “neutral” as the standard, something that appeals to customers who listen more to the hardware (“sonic effects”) than those who primarily listen to the music. Mick has stuck to his guns.
Decided i`m going to hang in there and wait for my Chardonnay. Thanks everyone for your input.
@highstream, i read again your July 14th comment. Yes you are spot on. This explains my current enjoyment. Mick said to me the following: " The Preamp - Not a particular brand - is the premiere component in the system alongside the Speakers", this is for the sound you get. Now in my situation i did not know the potential of my system different source components until after all being controlled by this Cortese. This is when speaking about just the Preamp, for the LCR Phono section, that is another aspect that i'm yet to come to terms with its Superiority. Back to your bold statement, like many of us, i also have for many times - over the years - tried different preamps. It was allways, and allways the case of retraining my ears to the new sound, and also play with interconnects and cables to bring the sound of music to what my ears would favour! This time, the Cortese delivered it all with - like they say - with Amazing Grace. The Ears Love The Music it hear.
Wow, what a difference in forums! I’ve been on a JansZen Valentina A8 actives thread at AudioCircle recently. Those speakers are hybrid electrostatic actives, a meter tall, that include everything except the source. From a practical standpoint, that’s awfully appealing (I have ATC actives). Even better is that the developer claims that because of his design better power cords and ICs for the speakers (as opposed to the source) don’t matter and a regenerator is unnecessary as well. So I ask, "Tell me about their tone on a cool-neutral-warm continuum." I make clear that I’m looking for emotional involvement, not to be listening to the hardware (the latter in my experience is typical of gear that emphasizes clarity, transparency and neutrality, which JansZen does).

Now, these are $12K plus speakers that weigh ~65 lbs each and an audition would mean shipping across the country and moving my speakers out of their good location, so I figure let’s find out first if it’s worth it. The odd, yet revealing thing so far is not one person has been willing to answer my question (including in effect the writer in Part-Time Audiophile whose review got me looking at the Valentina's, which I’d never heard of, in the first place). In fact, this afternoon one guy, who has the passive version, which is not really comparable, wrote that " If someone wants to hear what is on each recording, reproduced with even frequency response, great dynamics, and low distortion, the Valentinas will do it. If the listener wants all recordings to sound similar -- say, warm and comfortable -- the Valentinas probably are not for them." How does one have a productive discussion with that?

So, coming back to this more sympatico thread, thanks for your comment, and good news to hear that the Cortese is coming through for you. Lately, I’ve been focused more on the Lampi Atlantic TRP dac. The Tesla EL51 pair turn it into a whole different ball game, and match really well with the USAF 596 rectifier (also good in a Supratek, if you can find one). For the Chardonnay, recently I’ve been using a 1940s Italian Fivre 5U4G rectifier, which is lovely, and tried a pair of 1950’s CBS/Hytron 6SN7GT in the main unit. While they turned out to be a touch better than the very good Shuguang WE6SN7’s, two of the three tubes I was sent had problems and had to go back. I read that even better are the Melz 1578 and Tung-Sol NOS 6SN7 and 6F8G (+ adapter) versions. Have to see if a pair for a good price (and genuine product) comes along. But no hurry, the dac + preamp are so gorgeous right now.
I brought a 2nd hand Cabernet DHT a few months ago ... what an amazing preamp, I also have a range of valve amps to compare, Ayon Auris, AR LS15 and a 2nd system using McIntosh C22/MC75's, the DHT just nails it ..

I have a range of valve and SS power amps and after much trialing settled on it fronting a Accuphase A70 driving a pair of Dynaudio Platinum C2's.  My main sources is DAC Accuphase DC37, but also a Marantz SACD/CD player.  I am yet to be happy with the quality of sound from my phono, have a Linn Lp12 and Rega RP8 so this is a project for the future to sort them out ...

The awesome guy who sold me the Supratek also supplied me a great set of valves which so far sound the best against what i have rolled.  He did a lot of work tube rolling and really knows his valves.

Output tubes - Emmission Lab 45 Mesh Plates (these are just amazing) and a set of PSvane 300B

Input Stage Inner - Sylvania Metal base 6sn7 - unfortunately 1 went microphonic so I have some vintage Sylvania's in now .. though absolutely luv' the metal base sound, lush and open but $$$

Input Stage Outer - Sylvania Vintage (1950s) 6sN7 (nice clean open sound)

Power Regulator Pair - Valvo EL34 1960

Rectifier - GEC U52, again an incredible valve

I also purchased a set of vintage Mullard GZ37 rectifiers to try, but there is a audio difference with the GEC U52.

I am tube rolling 6SN7's, have and tried EH, Shuguang - Grant Fidelity, RCA, and the Sylvannia sound best for my ears.  I have just acquired some Ken Rad black and clear which will ship today.

I tried the PSvane 300B, but much prefer the EML 45M.  Also picking up today a pair of RCA JAN 2A3 and just acquired a quad of RCA Cunningham Radiotron 45 valves.  See where I end up ...

Thanks for the info. How would you describe your early ‘50s Sylvania on the neutral to warm continuum? I’ve read a lot about those tubes, but everyone’s description is a little different.

I have a GEC U52 in very good electrical and sonic shape that I’d like to sell, if anyone is interested. I bought it a few months ago barely used and with very good measurements in an eBay auction, ran it for about ten days, and then for an hour or less since then a few times as I mixed and matched to find what worked best for my set up. So it’s got a whole lot of good life ahead of it. Send a PM if interested.
there is some warmth, I also have some NOS RCA's, the Sylvania ( GT - 1951 and VT-231  1944) sounded nicer and smoother. 

Been running the RCA JAN 2A3's this afternoon ... very nice, more detail and separation than the EML 45M's, beautiful vocals .. bass is a little better on the EML 45M's, and they seem a little more tolerant of poor recordings and better for driving music eg., Funk ..  Overall very happy, will leave them in for a while.
I spoke to Mick this week and placed a deposit for a Cortese LCR. I've really enjoyed a couple of custom headphone amps that have been made for me the last few years, so now it's time for a custom preamp. The phono stage really drew me to the LCR. This will be my setup:
- VPI Prime Signature, Benz LP-S turntable/cart
- Lampizator Golden Atlantic DAC
- McIntosh MC75 (new edition) amps
- Dynaudio C1 Platinum speakers

The LCR will be replacing a McIntosh C500T which I've really liked over the years, and it looks fabulous, but like I said I have the custom bug at the moment. I'm going for the chrome/black wood as it's a close match to the VPI.

I already have plenty of 6SN7, 5U4G, KT66 and 6L6 vintage tubes I can use. Mick says I can use my favorite "6SN7" - the ECC32 - so I'll probably just stick with those.
Thanks to all those who have posted on Audiogon regarding Supratek. You helped me make my decision.
Ordered my Supratek Cabernet DHT/6SN7 pre earlier this week, hopefully I will get it before Christmas.
My system is Primare Dac 30 dac, Belles SA30 class A power amp and Graham Audio LS 5/9 speakers, having been in correspondence with Mick for some time, he assured me that the SA30 and the Cabernet would be a great combination, so I am really looking forward to getting the pre, I choose the Chrome and Black Wood.
Can I ask how satisfied you all were with the packaging and shipping, am a bit worried that something should break, I live in Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, so a long way from any repair shop 🤔 did you get updates on the build from Mick or just when it was ready for shipping?
Also when changing tubes, are the tubes sockets sturdy ? Or does one have to be very careful ?


I was satisfied with the packaging of my Cortese. Mick ships it with the tubes in the sockets and one tube was tilted by the styrofoam packaging insert but the pins straightened right out when I reinserted it. Mick thought it might have been opened by customs and the tipped tube the result of their looking in the box.
The tube sockets are very solid and are somewhat grippy when swapping tubes. However, Mick says in the owners manual that constant tube rolling can gradually cause tube sockets to wear. I use socket savers in my preamp.
I am not worried about custom as I know that the package will nearly 100% be open by the Faroese custom, it is more the padding around the amp and tubes, it worries me to hear that the tubes are not taken off and packed separately in the box !

Will ask Mick when the time comes how best to do it.
Well took the plunge and ordered Cabernet 6SN7 in Powdercoat/Wood. I was told the turnaround time will take 12 weeks. Once I receive it I will see what the  hullabaloo is about. I hope it lives upto its hype. Right now I am using Eastern Electric Avant preamp and it is a superb preamp if tubes are changed. I am hoping Cabernet surpasses it. Crossing my fingers. 
I ordered a Chardonnay at the beginning of September.   Mick has told me that he will ship this week.   For US owners, how long did your shipment take to arrive once Mick shipped?
Thanks for the response.  I agree - everything has changed.  Unlikely to be 4-5 days now. 
Chardonnay shipped yesterday via DHL - delivery to San Diego scheduled for 11/2
Mine took weeks.  Make sure you track online.  When gets to US and is in customs clearance stage, call DHL and ensure they have all the info they need.  They didn't have my social security number (No idea why they needed it) and my Supratek got shipped all the way back to AUS! 
I have it now and it is a beautiful addition to my system
^^^^  Thanks for the heads up!   

I have been tracking mine since he shipped.  Mick only asked for my phone number but I would not have given him my social anyway.  I will call DHL once I see it is in customs.   

Glad to hear you are enjoying the preamp.  I am hoping for the same in my system.

Chardonnay delivered this morning.  Ordered on September 1st.   

I just had shoulder surgery so need to wait until my son gets home to install!

This preamp is sublime.  Much more meat on the bones.

I replaced a Benchmark DAC 3 HGC that I was using for both preamp and DAC duties with a Chardonnay and a Denafrips ARES II.  Did not realize how clinical the Benchmark sounded before installing the Chardonnay.

Sounds fantastic with the stock tubes Mick provided.  The 6SN7s are Electro-Harmonix tubes.  
I know, right?

Mick’s preamps just sound like music. Everything else, all the other distractions of "what about this" or "maybe a little more of this" or... whatever. They just let the beauty of the music flow through. So all you’re left with is beauty.

I love my Cortese and can't imagine my system without it.
Goldilocks preamp to me. I have a lot invested in my system. The Chardonnay brought it all together. Rich timbre, meat on the bones, great bass. 
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Congrats @tvad, looking forward to hearing the reports.

I just ordered a custom dht linestage from Radu Torta (shiny eyes/simplepleasuretubeamps) based on the eml 20a mesh tube and this circuit...

Excited to try a dht after reading about their beautiful tonality for many years. Hope you love yours...

You are in for a treat! I have owned many small signal tube pre-amps but the DHT version is quite special... I chose a 2A3 DHT Pre from Purity Audio, Harmonia MKII V2 and selected this one as it has no cathode follower circuit that will diminish the beauty of the DHT.

Unbelievable transparency, realism and musicality...

@wig Good to hear yet another pro-dht comment from a pair of trusted ears. Everything I've read has been very positive. My amplifiers (first watt f4s) are a simple circuit and only provide current gain and are therefore more influenced by the preamp sound than other designs. Fingers-crossed...
I've made several recent changes to my system:
1 - picked up a used Audio Electronic Supply (AES) (Cary) SE-1 300b power amp. Hooked up to my 93dB sensitive JBL 4430s it sounds awesome. I've always been curious about the 300b bandwagon / sound and now I understand what all the fuss is about.
2 - picked up a new interconnect between my preamp and Quad 909 power amp. It is made using Gotham GAC 4/1 or 1/4 shielded wire or whatever (I hate these complicated names and don't want to take time to research back to Amazon, where I bought them). It is nicely burned in now and sounding very balanced. 
3 - the new interconnect has allowed me to insert my Morrow Audio SP4 speaker wires. Nice change.
4 - Cambridge Audio CXC transport feeding my MHDT Orchid DAC. 
5 - With the Garrard 401 I put together this summer I incorporated a VTAF (see Pete Riggle audio engineering for more on this). I'm now convinced that most people who review cartridges or criticize cartridges are... Well, let me say that correct VTA etc makes all the difference in the world. And unless that's dialed in - which takes a lot of time - then you're just not really hearing whatever cartridge accurately.
In Sept.  i had to cancel my order with Mick. My daughters car quit on her and with the holidays quickly approaching the wife said that the pre was going to have to wait and grudgingly i had to agree.

This weekend the wife gave me the green light to place another  order. I`am now looking at the DHT so looking back maybe everything has worked out for the best.
@rh67 I'll just note that I heard from one user that they preferred the 6SN7 stage of their Supratek to the DHT one... they had the following to say:  " will get the DHT lush sound, such sound although amazing is not my cup of tea for every day listening, I rather have a pre with 6SN7s, but that is just my preference."

The thread is over here:

I seem to remember hearing the Supratek also recommends the 6SN7 as the preferred option in their preamps.
@cal3713 yeah I am that user, need to add that the DHT sound is very pleasant and I could listen and enjoy it very much as it is very special, just not on a daily basis.
I`ll have to see if Mick is still building the DHT/6SN7 for the special price he was offering earlier this year. That way i`ll have both options.