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Amp Upgrade

 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1115
Registered: Jul-07
I've decided to get Vinnie to do a couple of upgrades on my 30.2 amp. First I'm going to have him install the LPF-V upgrade. Details here http://www.redwineaudio.com/products/lfpv-edition

Besides the greatly improved power source (lithium iron phosphate batteries have 1/2 the internal resistance of SLA batteries) it adds a tube stage. Powering a tube stage in a battery powered amp is a neat trick. From emailing other owners who have had the mod done, they've been incredibly happy with the outcome. I was thinking about adding a pre-amp, but Vinnie said he could swing a second input source so that will avoid that requirement, for now anyway.

I'm waitlisted right now, as Vinnie doesn't get you to ship your amp until he's ready to work on it......so I should only be without it about 3 weeks....depending on the length of time it takes to clear Customs.....both directions. Should be shipping it out in mid-late December.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13496
Registered: Feb-05
Should be interesting to see how it works out. At least there won't be much downtime involved.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4127
Registered: May-05
Vinnie seems like a great guy. I have to make a trip to his place one of these days. He's about and hour and a half away from me, but there's plenty to do along the way. I'm sure I could make up an excuse to go over in his direction.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1119
Registered: Jul-07
Definately seems like a top flight guy Stu.

I was thinking might call Andy at Vintage Tube Services and see if I can score a couple of pair of 7308's.....one for the Minimax, and one for the 30.2. That tube is supposedly the be-all-end-all for many in those products.....although I've greatly enjoyed the Amperex 6922's I have in the Minimax now. The price of 7308's might be a bit more than I'm willing to blow on tubes though. We'll see.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4471
Registered: Feb-07
How much was it for the pair Chris? thetubestore.com has a few 7308 options available:

http://search.store.yahoo.net/thetubestore/cgi-bin/nsearch?catalog=thetubestore& query=7308&.autodone=http%3A%2F%2Fthetubestore.com%2F
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1127
Registered: Jul-07
Haven't made the call yet David. Too frickin' busy at work, xmas prep, and family issues (sister-in-law diagnosed with cancer....given 3 mths). I'll give Andy a call when I get a chance. I don't trust anyone else with vintage tubes. Those tubestore prices (on the Sylvannia's) look REALLY low for what I've seen NOS 7308's for. I'm looking specifically for the Amperex "Bugle Boy" series. They are usually around $250-$450....and I've seen them higher. I'd be happy to pay $50 instead, but it makes me suspicious as to what I'm buying.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4472
Registered: Feb-07
Sorry to hear about your sister-in-law Chris.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13576
Registered: Feb-05
Same here, Chris.
 

Silver Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 488
Registered: Oct-10
Sorry to hear Chris, she's in my prayers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1129
Registered: Jul-07
Thanks guys.
 

Silver Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 501
Registered: Oct-10
You're welcome
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1152
Registered: Jul-07
The first review of the modded 30.2 that I've seen.....

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net.au/index.php/audio-reviews/amplifier-reviews/i tem/165-red-wine-audio-signature-302-lfp-v-edition

I still haven't heard from Vinnie. If he's on schedule he should be ready for it in another couple of weeks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1124
Registered: Oct-10
How's your sister-in-law Chris?
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1154
Registered: Jul-07
She passed away just before Christmas.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4573
Registered: Feb-07
Damn. Really sorry to hear that my friend.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1185
Registered: May-05
Chris,

I lost my brother last year on 12/27. My prayers to your brother and your family. Hang in there.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15655
Registered: Dec-04
It sucks Chris. SUCKS.

Be well.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1131
Registered: Oct-10
Sorry to hear Chris. Pass my condolences on to you fam. I'd imagine everyone else here would say the same.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 890
Registered: Dec-06
Hopefully she lived a good long life, but as is usually the case that disease takes people before their time. My condolences to you and your family, Chris.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13756
Registered: Feb-05
Damn, Chris, that was quick. Very sorry for your loss. Our prayers are with your family.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4276
Registered: May-05
Very sorry for your and your family's loss, Chris. It's never an easy thing, especially around the holidays. My prayers are with you and your family.
 

New member
Username: Klang

Greystones, County Wicklow Ireland

Post Number: 7
Registered: Dec-10
Jeez Chris,
My condolences on the passing of your sister in law.
Personally thats what i am scared of more than anything, watched my grandad fade away also and the painful thing is knowing that there is nothing you do for them .so i started taking ganoderma in coffee makes me feel great. check it out for anybody interested www.beneficial.organogold.com
The chinese have been using it for 4,000 yrs and we in the west are only getting to hear about it now. another site that will educate people on what to steer clear of is www.storyofstuff.com
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1209
Registered: Jul-07
Just shipped the amp off to Vinnie. Now, I wait. I haven't had the Vista Audio EL84 amp fired up for a couple of months, so it'll be fun giving it a listen again.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4648
Registered: Feb-07
Be curious to see what think going from the Red Wine to a tube amp for awhile Chris. What EL84s are running in that thing? I've become an 84 since buying my Stingray.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1210
Registered: Jul-07
NOS Sylvania's Dave. They were a nice improvement from the Harma's I had in there previously. I don't think I've actually had that amp hooked up to the Ling's. So, it'll be interesting to try it out.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1211
Registered: Jul-07
When the RWA amp comes back it'll be a tube amp too.....well, sort of.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4649
Registered: Feb-07
LOL. True.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1213
Registered: Jul-07
Had forgotten how ridiculously good the VA amp is for the price. No problem driving the Lings to my listening levels. It won't compete with the RWA amp in a lot of ways, but I haven't heard anything in its price range that makes music better. I've seen them on Audiogon in the $400-600 range, which is just tremendous value for what you get.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4654
Registered: Feb-07
Maybe we have a tube convert here? ;-)
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1214
Registered: Jul-07
Not so sure I'm a convert as such. I've heard some tube equipment that I liked a lot, and some not so much. Same for solid state. It's the end product I'm after, however it's acheived.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1235
Registered: Jul-07
Vinnie has completed the upgrade and is shipping tomorrow. He's also added a second input, so I no longer need to swap cables to switch from the phono to cdp. If things go well (what's the likelihood of that) I should have it prior to next weekend. I won't hold my breath though.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1243
Registered: Jul-07
Got my amp back yesterday. I can't believe it got to me in only 5 days. That's a first. Vinnie shipped it back in completely new packaging, just like I had bought a new amp. I hooked it up and had a quick listen but I'll need to get some time on it before it sounds its best and I can judge the changes properly. A few things I can tell already. The basic signature of the amp has been preserved, the new battery power has significantly more kick than the SLA version, and what was already an increadibly black background is even blacker...which I didn't think was possible.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4351
Registered: May-05
Black can always be blacker. Or almost blacker. Ever see This Is Spinal Tap?

If not, there's some stuff on YouTube...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqX3B6rlu0Q
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1261
Registered: Jul-07
I've had my amp back for almost 2 weeks now, so I'm pretty comfortable commenting on it. I was very impressed with the 30.2 Signature when I first got it (used) almost a year ago now. Vinnie's approach to building components just makes so much sense to me. Everything in the design is about getting the best possible sound. Nothing extra, no compromises in the name of looks or convenience. It ain't flashy, but that isn't what it's about. It's about protecting the music, and ensuring that none of the magic of the performance is lost. Mind you, I like the look of the amp.....simple, clean lines. But it won't win any beauty competitions. Nothing much changes for the LPF-V upgrade, other than the new sticker on the lower left corner of the faceplate.

I also had Vinnie add a second set of inputs, so I no longer had to switch cables when I wanted to listen to an LP. That's been nice, and I've found I now switch back and forth from LP to CD frequently in a listening session, where previously I wouldn't have bothered and it would have been all of one or the other, but not both. A simple switch in the back lets me choose between the two inputs.

The only hesitance I had when I originally contemplated the upgrade was the thought of losing that overall character of the amp that I liked so much. I was hoping for some level of improvement obviously, but only in the context of what I already had. I wasn't looking for a different sound or presentation. When I popped the first disk on and hit play, within 30 seconds I knew my worries were unfounded. Things continued to improve for a number of listening sessions, but the last few days it has stayed pretty consistent......so I think whatever burn-in was required has taken place.

Improvements are really across the board although probably transparency and dynamics standout as the single biggest improvement areas. The amp seems to have a little more pop so I've been listening at a tick or two lower level on the volume control. It still does all the things that I loved about it before, it's just been taken to another level. I listened to my Wynton Marsalis Stardust LP the other night and it sounded amazing. This is one of my favorite albums, and my modest vinyl rig never sounded better. Wynton's horn was so tonally right it was eerie....there was more oomph in the kick drum, more articulation in the bass line, and the saxophone was a tad more reedy, with greater sense of flow as he played. The snare drum sounded more immediate, and crisp than it was previously. Having enjoyed that album so much, I put on my newest cd of Wynton (He and She) which is terrific if you don't have it. The experience was similar, although with the cd the presentation is a little more front and center, where the vinyl was a bit more mid hall. It might have more to do with the recording venue/process than the change in formats. But in both cases lots of width and depth to the soundstage and the same ease was present. Any music with acoustic guitar sounded very real and lifelike before the upgrade, now it is so good you feel like you're holding the guitar. The leading edges of plucks, the release of the strings, the bending of notes, the subtle differences in the strumming technique...all easily distinguished but not in an "oh, I can hear that" kind of way. It's just there, and part of the music. The 30.2 does a wonderful job at presenting you the music, without thrusting details at you. It just doesn't obscure them from you in the first place. It's all right there for you, just sit back and enjoy.

My speakers seem like furniture most of the time now, as they don't seem to have anything to do with the music that's playing. Nothing that I hear sounds like it is emanating from those little boxes (and more recently from those baffles). The musicians just take up space somewhere in the room and do their thing, like they walked in the front door instead of being reproduced by the electronics. I know this is a dance not just performed by the amp, but by all components in the chain, and I'm fortunate enough to have components that dance pretty well together. There can always be better, but my 30.2 will be the heart of my system for many years to come. It might look like a plain black box, but there is magic inside. Well done Vinnie.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14111
Registered: Feb-05
Nice write up, Chris. Glad you are enjoying your music.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1218
Registered: May-05
Chris,

Sounds like you're really suffering my friend. I'm surprised you ever leave the house. Are you getting any work done? Are we going to have to start sending you money so you can continue to keep the electricity on? I really feel for you. LOL

I'm glad you're enjoying the music.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4676
Registered: Feb-07
Wow, nice write up Chris. So happy you're happy with your system. Mine is kinda fuct right now so I'm kinda jealous.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 992
Registered: Dec-06
Enjoyed the review, Chris. I like how you summarized how the detail is all there but it's not thrown at you. Maybe I missed it, but were you driving your Lings or the Sierra-1? From some of your comments earlier in the thread it sounds like you are using the Lings.

And it sounds like the Vista amp is a good way to try out tubes.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1265
Registered: Jul-07
Dan, it was the Lings mostly, except for the last couple of evenings when I've swapped in the Tekton's. The Vista Audio amp is definately a great way to try the tube gig. Very nice amp for not a lot of money. Mine is spending most of its time sitting on the shelf unused, so I'm thinking of selling it. I hate having unused gear laying around. My NAD cdp has been sitting there for a couple of years without being used more than a couple of times.

Dave, sorry things are getting a little torqued with your system. That would be very frustrating.
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