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Miniwatt n3/ALO

 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16918
Registered: May-04
.

For some strange reason (?), I don't seem to be able to place this in the consumer review section of this forum. When I try, I receive this message; Your username/password combination was invalid, or you do not have permission to post to this topic. You may revise your username and password using the form at the bottom of this page.

Obviously, my username and password work in this section of the forum so I'm a bit confused as to why this cannot be placed in the reviews section of the forum.

None the less ...




The Miniwatt and CM's amp both arrived on Wednesday. I tried the tubed amp first. Geeez, this amp sucks! Not because of power limitations but it just plain sucks at everything. What I am hearing from this amplifier cannot be what the reviewers have gushed over. At present I have no amplifier in the house - including a few 1970's receivers - that have sound as utterly rotten as what this amp is producing. I can't seem to directly contact anyone at the seller (http://aloaudio.com/) by phone, all I get are answering systems. I've sent an email and I'm waiting for a response.


OK, not only is the Miniwatt a piece of crap, the retailer, ALO Audio out of Portland, OR is also crap.


After two nights of disappointing performance from the amplifier, on 11/05 I sent an email (as per their website) to "Ken" at ALO. I never received a reply so, on 11/08 I re-sent the message with a note stating I had not received a response. I also found a spot for direct communication on their website so I sent the same message from there.

Here's the communication so far ...

Originally sent by me on 11/05;
I recently puchased a Miniwatt N3 amplifier (order #4831) which was shipped and arrived here on Wednesday. Over the last two nights I've tried to listen to music through the amp but I find it terribly difficult to spend time with. The amplifier I hear would not seem to have any relationship to the Miniwatt N3 I have seen reviewed as a wonderful, "recommended" product in many ways comparable to and even bettering - according to Sam Tellig - expensive and exotic SETs. Put quite plainly, this amplifier sucks!

The sound of the amp I have is extremely flat and uninvolving. Dynamics and a sense of musical flow and forward movement are all but non-existent. Images are flat and have no definition in space whatsoever. The sound is not necessarily muted but it certainly is "thick". While there is some degree of left to right "staging" and some depth to the presentation, I have 1970's receivers which are more definitive in this regard than is the Miniwatt. I have no amplifier in my house which has sound I would consider to be as poor as what I am getting from the Miniwatt. Nor in twennty five years of selling high end audio and forty plus years of being involved in the hobby can I remember an amplifier which has so utterly disappointed me as does the Miniwatt.

I have recenetly been auditioning a few amplifiers as I am attempting to find a suitable alternative to my large tube amplifiers. My speakers are 93dB sensitive and my room is fairly small - 15X22X9.5 feet. I don't listen at anything above conversational levels. I do not feel this is a matter of the N3's wattage limitations. After two nights of being disappointed by the Miniwatt I replaced it with a five watt T amp. Within the first two measures of music I had my toes tapping and I could easily hear the qualities I find of value in an amplifier but which are totally absent from the Miniwatt. I am not stressing the Miniwatt in anyway and at any volume the sound quality is substandard.

I have checked my connections and the system is wired as it should be. The system sounds fine with every other amplifier I have at my disposal. I had more than a few 12AX7's so I sub'd one for the stock tube with no better results. Both EL84's would seem to be functional. But this amp continues to sound absolutely rotten.

Do you have any suggestions I might try before I give up on the Miniwatt? I can't believe what I have heard over the last two nights is suddenly going to evolve into a gorgeous sounding amplifier with further run in. There are simpy too many things wrong with the current sound from this amplifier. I'd prefer to keep tubes in my system as I have been accustomed to tubed amplifiers for the last thirty years and find solid state and even many of the better T amps to lack in comparison. But, as is, the Miniwatt is unacceptable while a $39 T amp shines in comparison.

Suggestions please.


Thanks,
Jan Vigne



On the 8th I re-sent the message with the note; I had originally sent this email to Ken on the 5th of November. So far I've not received a response.


That day I received this email from "Ken";
Jan,


You can send it back to us and we can test for defect.


ALO
1810 SE 10th Ave
Unit B
Portland Oregon, 97214


Or simply return for refund as per out RMA policy.


http://aloaudio.com/returns.html


Thanks


ALO



I replied to "Ken's" email with;
Are you able to say this is not representative performance from this amplifier? Can I expect better than this from this amp? If so, I would like to hear a properly functioning amplifier.

I understand you are not able to predict how the amp will perform with every system but there are no other amps I have used in this system which display the same problems I hear from the Miniwatt.

If this is what the N3 is like, then I have no interest in dithering with you checking out the amp. Please advise.

Assuming the amp is defective, I would then assume this would be a warranty claim and shipping costs would be picked up by the manufacturer. My experience would be that this is a normal warranty issue for any other manufacturer. Can you verify this? Can you also arrange for shipping to be pre-paid back to you for a check out? I have no interest in turning this purchase into a $500+, weeks long affair of back and forth shipping simply because the amp doesn't perform as advertised. As the final price climbs, I have other amplifiers I could consider.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Jan Vigne



Today I received an email from "Caleb" who did not make any reference to my reply to "Ken" regarding warranty issues;
From: info ALO audio <info@aloaudio.com>
Subject: Re: Miniwatt problems
To: soufiej@sbcglobal.net
Date: Thursday, November 10, 2011, 12:20 PM


Hi Jan,

Looks like the Miniwatt might not be a great fit for you. Because you ordered within the past 30 day you are welcome to send the amplifier back to us once you request an RMA on the website. Once we get the amp and check it to be sure everything is proper working order we can issue a refund, minus a 15% restocking fee. Sorry the Miniwatt didn't work out for you, let me know if you have any other questions or I can help you further.
Thanks,
-Caleb




I am sending this email in response to "Caleb's" message;
There would appear to be some problem with your email contacts. After I received the first message from Ken, I sent this email as a "reply" to his information;

Are you able to say this is not representative performance from this amplifier? Can I expect better than this from this amp? If so, I would like to hear a properly functioning amplifier.

I understand you are not able to predict how the amp will perform with every system but there are no other amps I have used in this system which display the same problems I hear from the Miniwatt.

If this is what the N3 is like, then I have no interest in dithering with you checking out the amp. Please advise.

Assuming the amp is defective, I would then assume this would be a warranty claim and shipping costs would be picked up by the manufacturer. My experience would be that this is a normal warranty issue for any other manufacturer. Can you verify this? Can you also arrange for shipping to be pre-paid back to you for a check out? I have no interest in turning this purchase into a $500+, weeks long affair of back and forth shipping simply because the amp doesn't perform as advertised. As the final price climbs, I have other amplifiers I could consider.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Jan Vigne




I don't know whether you received that email or not. But in response to your latest email message regarding a return with a restocking fee ...

That's your answer? Sir, that is, IMO, extremely poor customer service. Rather than suggest this amplifier might have problems which would be covered by a warranty claim, or suggest an agreeable way to rectify my issues, you prefer to walk away from a customer? And with a 15% re-stocking fee when I had the unit in my possession for two days before I tried to contact you?! At 15% of the original $378 purchase price, you just made $56.70 for selling a defective amplifier under the false promise you are representing a high fidelity component!

Quite honestly, that's crap!

You make almost $60 on each returned item that can be sold again?! C'mon! If you don't want to work with me, at least don't take advantage of me. This amp has been reviewed as a giant killer. If it is, then I would expect you to stand by your merchandise. If it is not, then you are running a racket where you make almost $60 off every amplifier when it gets returned. And, I might add, an amplifier which can only be purchased on line without a proper audition until someone gives you the chance to keep $60 of their money just for the opportunity to listen to an amplifier. Every other amplifier I have tried in this system performs far and away to a higher level of fidelity than does the N3. That is "every amplifier", without exception. This suggests to me either this amp is defective or you are working a scam over the internet.

If I sound less than happy, it is because I am. In a situation like this I would at least expect you to wave the re-stocking fee. The amp is in perfect condition as is the packaging. It will be returned in as new condition.

I am trying to have good feelings toward an audio retailer but IMO you are making this very difficult to see you as nothing more than internet hucksters. Please prove me wrong by doing the right thing in this situation; return the amp with a no cost to me exchange for another to try or, knowing this amp to be less than the giant killer it has been portrayed to be, wave the re-stocking fee for an amplifier that should not have left your store with the promise of any sort of performance beyond less than mediocre.

Thank you for your assistance,

Jan Vigne




From: info ALO audio <info@aloaudio.com>
Subject: Re: Miniwatt problems
To: "jan vigne" <soufiej@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Friday, November 11, 2011, 12:40 PM


Hi Jan,

Sorry for the apparent confusion in our communication. If the miniwatt is defective, we will gladly replace the unit with a properly functioning unit. If you are simply unsatisfied with the sonic quality of the miniwatt, you are welcome to return the unit, subject to a 15% restocking fee, as per our returns policy: http://aloaudio.com/returns.html
Without the Miniwatt here in our shop to test, we can not properly make a determination as to condition of the Miniwatt or its performance.
Please follow the RMA procedure if you wish to return the item.

Thanks,
-Caleb




My reply;
Really? $60 for two days of listening to an amplifier? An amplifier where you are the only US retailer and you only sell through internet purchases without an audition? $60?!!!

If you were in my position what would you think of that deal?

As I suggested in my previous email, a defective amp shouldn't cost me money to return after two days use. I've sold high end audio and I understand some components do not match with others even though the customer wants to try the gear. But I will say again, not one amplifier I have in the house or have heard with my equipment has sounded as bad as the Miniwatt does. The Glow amp sounded far better and has the same tube compliment and no more real wattage. Several five watt T amps are doing fine and playing without stress through my speakers. There is no technical reason for the Miniwatt to not be doing well with my equipment unless what I am hearing is the sound of the Miniwatt and what I've read in numerous reviews is a complete lie. I don't tend to think a half dozen independent reviewers all care to mislead their readers.

I would expect you should be able to predict with a fair amount of accuracy whether the amp should sound as I have described in a previous message. Is the Miniwatt dynamically flat? Is there no sense of musical flow and momentum? Can the amp not produce a credible soundstage to save its life? Is music played through the Miniwatt thick and facile? Does music played through the Miniwatt sound as I have described it or as the reviewers have claimed?

Or, is there some trick to getting the Miniwatt to perform as the reviewers have described? I ask because you seem far too willing to just take a $57.60 return fee and move on rather than assisting a customer. You have the market cornered on an amplifier people might want to audition after reading the numerous glowing reviews which describe this amp as a being quite the opposite of what I am experiencing. From my perspective I've had more than one alternative that has cleaned the Miniwatt's clock, sometimes for no more than $39. If I just didn't care for the Miniwatt's sonics, as you put it, this would be a different issue IMO. But I used this amp for two nights during which time it did not perform as advertised in any manner other than it made sound.

However, for the opportunity to audition a product which can only be purchased from your shop without a prior audition, you want $57.60 for two nights and what would appear to be no customer support beyond "you pay the shipping to return the amp and then we'll decide whether you owe us $57.60"?

If you were in my position what would you think of that deal?

Sorry, Caleb, this is coming across as a very unpleasant internet scam.

Will you agree to wave the 15% re-stocking fee or pick up shipping charges both ways for a replacement under warranty? Or, are you telling me this is the best I can expect from Miniwatt and from ALO?

Thank you for your consideration,

Jan Vigne







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Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2440
Registered: May-06
JV, you might want to send this post to the Hong Kong online distributor, maybe they can be of better assistance.

http://www.miniwatt.com.hk/contacts/

I did enjoy rolling amps between my MACs then CM's Muse Amp then the Miniwatt N3 and back to my tubes. Love my tubes although for the price the Muse holds its own nicely. The Miniwatt N3 was my least favorite.

The Muse did a nice job of providing the detail within the music and vocals were sharp and centered. It was not as warm as I liked and the soundstage collapses the further back it gets. Female vocals were strident and it could not match the cohesiveness of the MACs but it does get your attention. I could not listen to it at length in my system but this is a go to piece for nearfield listening, a small office where you can keep the volume down would be an ideal setting for this amp. For the price it is certainly a winner.

The only good thing I could say about the Miniwatt N3 is that it is a tube amp and I preferred its tonal quality to that of the Muse. Unfortunately it was so 2 dimensional in sound stage that it was almost 1 dimensional. The finger snapping in Elvis Presley's Fever sounded like he was the one snapping his fingers instead of being accompanied mid-left and mid-left of the sound stage. The was no sense of cohesiveness whatsoever in its presentation. Each musician may as well been standing in separate cubes in a call center playing their instruments. That is how disconnected it sounded. The roll off at the higher registers was also quite disappointing.

As to the reviewers for this amp the only thing I can think of is when I went to one of my favorite restaurants and the chef had made a soup special for the day, chilled avocado with peppers. It was probably the best soup I ever tasted and I was quite pleased to see that it had become a menu item about a month later. I ordered it again and yuck! it was watery, lost all its texture, the flavor was flat. Never went back to it again. It would be nice if AOL Audio would swap you one of the amps that was used for the reviews. Then everybody might be happy. Ah, not really, but you might be happy.
 

Gold Member
Username: Exerciseguy

Fort Hamilton, NY United States

Post Number: 3514
Registered: Oct-04
I'm sorry you have to suffer through this BS with the MiniWatt, and I appriciate your thoughts on the Muse. I have used that amp exactly as you prescribe; nearfeild, low volume, and with my Tekon 4.5 (as well as my old Beta 20 & current Evo2-10), it was extremely good. I also have a cute pair of Infinity TSS-SAT750 I picked up for $30, that I think would work well in a desktop setup. Now all I need is a desk...
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1759
Registered: Oct-10
As for posting, some times, I have to delete and re-enter my password.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16921
Registered: May-04
.

"JV, you might want to send this post to the Hong Kong online distributor, maybe they can be of better assistance."


We'll see what happens with ALO, Mike. I would hope they might adopt a customer service attitude which says they are trying to resolve a client's problems with their product rather than what I see now as, "You believed the reviews? Tough luck! Send the unit back, we'll 'determine' whether you have a defective unit but we'll probably just keep your $60."

IMO that's all I've received from ALO in response to my emails. No offer of further assistance to solve the problem, just put more expense on my part to pay for return shipping and then, in all likelyhood, loose my $60 - which they already have and they control.

I'm amazed someone at ALO can't or won't simply say whether what you and I experienced with this amplifier in our systems is how the Miniwatt actually performs. There's been no offer of trying to make the amplifier work as suggested in the reviews, just send it back and ALO gets my $60. From the sole US distributor of a high end audio product which must be ordered for any sort of audition, that is just BS! It just seems bizarre to me that a high end retailer would be so cavalier about their products and their clients.


I noticed last night the Miniwatt has no serial number. I find that extremely odd. I've never had a piece of audio gear above a MP3 player level that lacked a serial number. Should this amp prove to be defective, how would Miniwatt trace the production batch this amplifier came from in order to determine whether there are more defective amps which might become a warranty issue? More than a few high end audio companies have dispappeared under the weight of warranty repairs consuming far too many resources rather than producing new equipment. I have to say this looks more and more like customer service is not in Miniwatt's or ALO's handbook. No serial number is simply a gobsmacking notion to me. Even if I sent the amp back to ALO for "evaluation", they could send the same amp back to me and, how would I know? This just reeks of a non-professional attitude from both ALO and Miniwatt.



I sent the last communication to Caleb on the 11th. I'll give him the weekend and Monday to respond to my questions. I'll also forward your comments regarding the Minwatt's performance in a second system. I sincerely hope this can be resolved without further disappointment. IMO ALO should simply step up to the plate and take care of a customer. Say yes or no, this is how the Miniwatt performs or take care of a warranty repair claim. Even if the amp ends up showing no measureable signs of defect other than poor "sonic performance", a high quality manufacturer who cares about customer relations would accept the charges for return shipping for the check out during the warranty period which would, I believe, be more than two days.

I don't see ALO doing any of this. I don't want to call ALO a huckster just yet - but given more time and no further assistance on their part ...


.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16922
Registered: May-04
.

I'm sending this to ALO this AM;

Caleb, over the weekend I had the opportunity to take the Miniwatt to a friend's house for a comparison in a second system. His speakers are slightly lower sensitivity than are my own but, lacking a crossover and with an external subwoofer amp included in the system, still a very easy to drive load for any amplifier. I asked him to listen first to the $39 five watt T amp I have been loaned by another friend. His comments on that amplifier are included below and are to be used as a base line for the performance of a low wattage amplifier within the confines of his system. We then inserted the Miniwatt into the system and listened again. To this point he had been completely unfamiliar with Miniwatt and its "reputation". He tends not to read review magazines but rather trust his instincts with audio gear. I would say he has put together a system which would be impressive to most any listener so he is not unfamilair with the sound of live music or the performance of better quality audio gear. After listening to several selections of various music forms, he made a few comments. With his remarks being broadly similar to my own, I asked him to read a few of the published reviews of the Miniwatt.


He agreed that the performance he perceived from the N3 amp I have in my possession does not match the suggested performance of the Miniwatt N3 as it appears in the reviews. Later last night he sent this to the online group watching this particular comparison:


I did enjoy rolling amps between my MACs then CM's Muse Amp then the Miniwatt N3 and back to my tubes. Love my tubes although for the price the Muse holds its own nicely. The Miniwatt N3 was my least favorite.

The Muse did a nice job of providing the detail within the music and vocals were sharp and centered. It was not as warm as I liked and the soundstage collapses the further back it gets. Female vocals were strident and it could not match the cohesiveness of the MACs but it does get your attention. I could not listen to it at length in my system but this is a go to piece for nearfield listening, a small office where you can keep the volume down would be an ideal setting for this amp. For the price it is certainly a winner.

The only good thing I could say about the Miniwatt N3 is that it is a tube amp and I preferred its tonal quality to that of the Muse. Unfortunately it was so 2 dimensional in sound stage that it was almost 1 dimensional. The finger snapping in Elvis Presley's Fever sounded like he was the one snapping his fingers instead of being accompanied mid-left and mid-left of the sound stage. The was no sense of cohesiveness whatsoever in its presentation. Each musician may as well been standing in separate cubes in a call center playing their instruments. That is how disconnected it sounded. The roll off at the higher registers was also quite disappointing.

As to the reviewers for this amp the only thing I can think of is when I went to one of my favorite restaurants and the chef had made a soup special for the day, chilled avocado with peppers. It was probably the best soup I ever tasted and I was quite pleased to see that it had become a menu item about a month later. I ordered it again and yuck! it was watery, lost all its texture, the flavor was flat. Never went back to it again. It would be nice if AOL Audio would swap you one of the amps that was used for the reviews. Then everybody might be happy. Ah, not really, but you might be happy.



All I can conclude from this comparison would be the Miniwatt amplifier I have been sent would not appear to perform as suggested by any of the reviews. In addition to the sonic differences between the two low wattage amplifiers, the Miniwatt could play at a level without distortion which was, in my estimation, approximately half as loud (10dB rather than the more likely 3dB suggested by their stated power ratings) as did the five watt T amp before clipping set in. If you'd like, I can try to get a third opinion of this amp's performance but I sincerely doubt it will deviate from the first two. Either the amp I have in my possession is defective or the performance of the Miniwatt is not as it has been suggested in the reviews.

You get to decide which that is, sir, but should you decide this is likely a defect covered by warranty, then I would also expect you to cover the shipping charges for a return and exchange. I understand you will have the opportunity, once the amp is in your possession, to check the amp's performance and to make further comments but I feel you should now have a more clearly defined concept of what I am hearing through the MIniwatt.


I would hope a reputable high end audio retailer would be sufficently concerned about their product''s reputation and their own reputation for assisting a good faith paying customer that you would step up and take the reigns here by providing the service I would expect from a company selling toasters.


Finally, for this message, could you explain why the Miniwatt I have in my possession lacks a serial number? How does Miniwatt trace manufacturing defects or even manufacturing batches if there are no serial numbers? Is this a common practice for Miniwatt to supply the end user a product lacking any sort of identifying marks or numbers? I've never in my forty+ years of involvement with audio, seen a product above the level of a $20 portable radio which lacked a serial number.

Thank you for your continued attention to this matter. I am in hopes this issue can be quickly and easily resolved to everyone's satisfaction and continued goodwill.

Jan Vigne



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2611
Registered: Oct-07
Jan,
If you paid with a CC, will they go to bat for you?

The no serial number issue is disturbing, and for the reasons you cite.

Hope this works out....please keep updated.....
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1429
Registered: Jul-07
It would almost seem like they made a few decent units for review, and then something quite different for sale en masse. The lack of a serial # would seem highly unusual for any company that cares about quality standards. Hopefully they make this right JV, but I'm not hopeful.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16925
Registered: May-04
.

"if you paid with a CC, will they go to bat for you?"


I don't know yet, leo. First, I don't know what their policies might be on such a dispute. The call of a defective amp is somewhat subjective and pretty much at ALO's discretion I would guess. There are no published specs on this amplifier that I am aware of, just subjective reviews and comments on its performance That would make it relatively easy to claim the amp in question "meets spec", wouldn't it?

ALO has my cash as of now and they get to decide just how decent they want to be about this issue. I'm not exactly sure how I go about proving to a cc compnay that what Mike and I hear as the performance of this amplifier does not match the performance suggested in the reviews. But going to the cc company, along with Amazon where ALO also sells this amp, are my next options I suppose - if ALO doesn't do right here.

Second, the cc company is Bank of America. They might assist me in reclaiming my money but their fee for doing so would probably be twice what I'd get back from ALO!




Caleb can have today and tomorrow AM to respond to my last two communications and then, if he offers nothing more than return the amp at my expense and he keeps my $60, I'll proceed to the next level of pleading my case. As MW suggests, I'll try sending this information to Miniwatt - is there such a company, really? - and hope they will step in and step up.


This is one of those matters that could so easily be resolved by a simple act on ALO's part. Maybe they eat a little profit - is that the right word for not selling a product but taking someone's money? - but they gain in reputation. IMO that's what a good business model suggests on occasion. For today I'll wait to see if they view this in a similar fashion.


I checked the potential effect of this thread yesterday by placing "Miniwatt/ALO" in my search engine. This thread came up on the second page of results. That should make it fairly visible to anyone considering a Miniwatt purchase through ALO. For now, guys, if you would, when you get to ecoustics, hit on this thread just to keep it up in the search engine results. IMO anyone thinking aout a Miniwatt should be aware of the potential downsides which are not displayed in the published reviews.

The lack of a serial number is disturbing but possibly there's a good answer for that - though I can't possibly come up with one right now. If I sent this amp back to ALO and they said they were sending me a different Miniwatt amp for comparison, how would I know they weren't just repacking this same amp and sending it back to me? Maybe they only have three amps they keep recycling through $60 each returns, I don't know. The lack of communication coming from ALO is disturbing.




"It would almost seem like they made a few decent units for review, and then something quite different for sale en masse.


This has been an all too common scam in high end audio for decades. Unless a reviewer buys the component with their own cash and off the shelf of a reputable retailer, most companies know exactly which amps are being sent to which reviewers. Even without serial numbers to track which amp goes where, the manufacturer/distributor knows which amp goes where when it comes to review items.

In years past it was claimed, by the manufacturer, to have been a "prototype" they sent for review - good magazines no longer do full reviews of "prototypes" for that very reason - or the model was "upgraded" between the time the reviewer received their version and the model went on sale in stores. I understand that on rare occasions, parts used in an early version of a component become unavailable. A part change under such conditions, however, is; first, untraceable if there are no serial numbers. I know a few service techs who just might refuse to work on a unit without such clear distinctions in models. Secondly, any good manufacturer then looks for a real parts equivalent and at times selects a "better" component and looses a small percentage of their profits for the goodwill of the company. Thirdly, other than defective parts or parts which bear no resemblance to those in the review amplifiers, I can think of no economically feasible parts exchange which could account for the quite dramatic differences experienced with the amp I have in my possession vs, what would have been used in the review amps.

None the less, this sort of bait and switch behavior has sunk more than one manufacturer. A few reviewers will list the serial number of the component under review should alterations to the component occur after the review process has gone to press. I suppose lacking a serial number would preclude that information being included in a review. But, wouldn't you also find it strange that no reviewer has noticed the lack of a serial number on a component they were sent to review? He11, most of them comment on the feet which come with a component!

Chinese manuacturing has brought many changes to the high end audio business, for sure. Not all of them for the betterment of the industry. The sort of problems I'm currently experiencing are not uncommon tales when it comes to Chinese products. However, I had thought and hoped that adding the dimension of a US distributor might have rectified many of the woes I've heard and read about from others who have struggled with problematic or defective Chinese built components.

I feel my toes - and my $60 - being sucked into the vortex.




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Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1430
Registered: Jul-07
With the right North American distribution and support organization, the Chinese model can work well. A good example is Bill O'Connell at Morningstar Audio Imports (Eastern Electric). Bill goes out of his way to make sure his Customers are happy, and he believes in the products he is selling. He also communicates feedback from Customers back to the designer, which get incorporated into the product line.

Best of luck Jan. Hopefully they'll do the right thing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2613
Registered: Oct-07
Jan, if you send the amp back for 'exchange', put YOUR mark in some invisible place. A very tiny scratch or 'nick' would do, as would a dot from a Sharpie. Take a picture....find someone with a Macro lens to help. Better yet would be an ink dot with UV fluorescent ink, but that's being paranoid!
American Express is and has been very helpful in issues like this.
BofA? Don't they have agreements with MasterCard or Visa whichbinds them to certain behaviors and dispute resolution procedures?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16933
Registered: May-04
.

Some "invisible" place, eh?


So, like, I should sand down that big "JV" I scratched in each one of the transformer caps with a screwdriver?




I suppose I might be finding out just what rules BoA has in regards to credit card disputes.



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Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1431
Registered: Jul-07
Are they a seller on A-gon ?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16935
Registered: May-04
.

Haven't looked yet. I keep hoping ALO makes this easy.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1432
Registered: Jul-07
Just checked, they're there. Setup as a commercial user in Aug/2011, but no feedback or transactions. Looks like the account has never been used.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16937
Registered: May-04
.

Thanks, I'll add it to the list of places I might need to go.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16939
Registered: May-04
.

This message is being sent to Caleb at ALO this AM;

Caleb, I have sent several messages since this last communication from you. I would prefer to think you are busy doing great business due to your terrific customer service and your high quality product lines. I would prefer not to think you are just another online retailer who doesn't really bother themself with a paying customer's concerns. At this point I have more than a few concerns, not the least of which would be a lack of communication from ALO regarding my problems with your merchandise.



A few answers to my questions would be appreciated, Caleb. I feel I have a problem which should cause some response and a resolution beyond simply "return the amp" from any serious retailer.



In addition to my previous questions, could you also comment on the clipping action of the "ideal" Miniwatt amplifier? "Ideal" being, say, those units which have been reviewed by the magazines and online sources. Should I expect a nice soft, fairly non-offensive, "tube-like" clipping? Or, does the average Miniwatt tend to clip very hard and possibly even shut down momentarily like many T amps or an amp with insufficient power supply reserves? I ask because I feel what I have experienced with the Miniwatt amp in my possession might more easily suggest to both of us whether this amp is defective or operating as planned.



Also, can you explain just how you will go about making your determination once this amp has been returned to your shop? Will you contact me to let me know that the amp has arrived at your shop? After its arrival, about how long should it take for you to decide the amp's condition? How will you go about making that decision?


Since there are no published specifications for this amp other than "3.5 watts", how do you go about deciding whether this amp is defective or operating as expected? We both know that "3.5 watts" is very nebulous as a spec and has no reference to the quality of performance? I feel it is important that you and I are on the same page when it comes to how you will make this decision - a decision which, as I see it, means you possibly get to keep $60 of my money for doing very little. What will you be looking/listening for when the amp is returned to you? Surely you've dealt with warranty issues and merchandise returns before. Am I the first to have such problems with the Miniwatt? I assume you have a set procedure for making your determination. Please explain what that entails. I doubt you would subjectively hear all the problems I have listed if the amp is "tested" on a typical bench system. Will you try to duplicate my issues such as a lack of soundstage width and depth along with paper thin images? If the check out is purely subjective - with no published specs, what else could it be? - how will you assess the musical momentum and flow heard through this amp? Quite honestly, I don't even know that you listen for such qualities, Caleb. So, please explain just how you will decide the condition of this amp.



Since you would appear to be refusing to step up and accept the responsibility of return shipping charges under a warranty claim, what happens to my cost should the amp prove to be defective? Will you adjust my account to pay for return shipping at that time? Or, will I just be out of luck because I received a defective product from ALO? Who makes that call on your end? ALO? Or, Miniwatt?



Should I be in contact with Miniwatt in order to resolve this problem under warranty? Or, as the sole US distributor, is ALO capable of making the decision without being influenced by the potential $60 you might get to keep for doing very little indeed?



I ask because, "Just return the amp", isn't really cutting it from my end.


If the amp proves to be defective, will I also be charged additional shipping costs for another amp to be sent out for audition? As I've already indicated I have no interest in turning the Miniwatt into a $500 purchase which takes several weeks to accomplish.


Should I decide after all this that the Miniwatt does not suit my system requirements, how long do you have to make an adjustment to my credit card account? Weeks? Months? I ask because, at this point, your seeming inattention to a client's messages has me more than a bit concerned. What are your policies for returning a client's monies? I'd appreciate a bit of clarification on that matter also. To this point all I have seen in your messages is that you get to keep $60 of my money but I have no idea how long I can expect to wait for the balance to be returned to my account.

Should I disagree with your assessemnt of the amplifier's operational suitability, to whom would I take my complaints? Miniwatt? You've not made clear just what happens should you and I not be in agreement about a decision which might result in you pocketing $60 of my money. How does Miniwatt typically handle such issues? Can you provide a direct email address to the person at Miniwatt with whom I would discuss this matter? How would Miniwatt know which amp I had been sent since there are no serial numbers on the amp in my possession?



Caleb, please don't assume I view you as a less than reputable, honest, hardworking retailer who has all of his client's best interests and complete satisfaction at the forefront of his business model. I tend to reserve opinion until someone has proven I should either trust them or not. However, unless I recieve some clarification to the multiple issues I've asked about, you will make that decision for me.


Thank you for your prompt and insightful repsonse to this email. I look forward to hearing from you soon with further information regarding my continuing issues with Miniwatt and ALO.



Jan Vigne





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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16940
Registered: May-04
.

I received this response from ALO today;

From: info ALO audio <info@aloaudio.com>
Subject: Re: Miniwatt problems
To: "jan vigne" <soufiej@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 12:16 PM


Hi Jan,

It appears the Miniwatt is not a great match for you. Without hearing the amplifier, as I've mentioned before, I am unable to tell you if it performing properly. However, at one time or another in this hobby everyone encounters products that just don't fit with their expectations or taste or simply don't have a great synergy with their existing audio system. This is just the nature of this pursuit, making it all the more sweet when we find that perfect musical match. But the products that don't fit aren't worth spending more time on then is necessary.

I would suggest that you return the amplifier and we credit your account when receive the amp. The funds availability are dependent on your financial institution.

We are a small company (4 people) and take the time to answer questions if we can. Of course prompt responses to every email is not always possible in every case and I do apologize for the delay in my response.

Just some back ground if you are interested; Miniwatt is no longer making the MiniWatt N3 due to a dispute with the manufacturer in China. Currently we have a limited but quickly diminishing supply of the Miniwatt N3. Let me know if you would prefer to exchange the unit instead of returning it, but I suspect you may be well served by charting a new path towards audio nirvana as the N3 has been less then an ideal match.

Thanks,
-Caleb




To which I replied;


Caleb, thanks for your timely response. I understand your points regarding audio quality and I totally agree. Had the N3 not received such glowing reviews from essentially everyone involved in the review process, I wouldn't have bothered with it at all. Had the amp I have in my possession not sounded very much the same in both my system and that of my friend, I wouldn't have been so convinced the amp I have does not meet the Miniwatt specifications for sound quality as described in those reviews.


Just to clarify; you wrote, "I would suggest that you return the amplifier and we credit your account when receive the amp." Am I to understand that will be a full refund of the purchase price of the amplifier less the initial shipping costs? Or, are you reserving the right to retain your 15%?


Thanks again,

Jan Vigne






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Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2443
Registered: May-06
I'll wager $60 as to what the lack of an answer on the restocking fee in his last reply means...
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2616
Registered: Oct-07
From Caleb:
'Miniwatt is no longer making the MiniWatt N3 due to a dispute with the manufacturer in China.'

I wonder if this is code for 'The builders of our amp cut so many corners it just about ruined our business' ???
 

Gold Member
Username: Exerciseguy

Fort Hamilton, NY United States

Post Number: 3529
Registered: Oct-04
Ya think?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16941
Registered: May-04
.

From: info ALO audio <info@aloaudio.com>
Subject: Re: Miniwatt problems
To: "jan vigne" <soufiej@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 2:04 PM


Jan,

We will refund the cost of the miniwatt N3, minus the initial shipping cost. I think this is the best way to proceed on this matter.
Thanks,
-Caleb




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16942
Registered: May-04
.

"I wonder if this is code for 'The builders of our amp cut so many corners it just about ruined our business' ???"



MiniWatt meanwhile had made a very brief and belated announcement on their main page which finally admitted to the ongoing APPJ/MiniWatt connection as partnering companies. Derek wrote that "I fully understand it's difficult for you to decide what is true as it was also completely unexpected for us but we will keep working on our products and provide the best service to our customers. We modified the circuit of the EL84 amplifier and started making an acrylic cover for what will be called the MiniWatt N3 [above]."; http://sixmoons.com/audioreviews/synergy2/amp.html




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16944
Registered: May-04
.

Caleb, thanks for your assistance with this issue. I'll get the amp boxed up and sent off ASAP.

Jan Vigne



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2626
Registered: Oct-07
Jan,
Here are some low-powered tube amps which may fill the bill.

http://www.tubedepot.com/kitshifi.html?gclid=CIGB4vy91awCFeldtgodXw4SqA

They even have a tube tone control board as an add-on. It takes its B+ from the main amp easing power supply issues. The board layout looks fairly open, so you won't need micro-tools for the build. If I had some Very High sensitivity speakers, these would be tempting.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16955
Registered: May-04
.

Thanks, leo. I have a few diy amps bookmarked but I just don't thnk I'm in the mood for a DIY project right now. If I were, however, there are several US designed amps with some history behind the products that I would probably look at first.




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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2631
Registered: Oct-07
'ya know, Jan, you could always jump into the DEEP end of the pool with one of the Dynaco Stereo 70 kits out there. More options, or rather ENOUGH options to keep even a motivated hobbyist jumping. Like I need another money sink hobby!

Tube choice? Transformers? SS or Tube rectification? And don't even get started on capacitor choice. It's a whole cottage industry.

I'm sure you know about them, though, so have fun with whatever is currently floating the boat.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16957
Registered: May-04
.

Been there done that on the ST70's - several times. There's a whole world of information about the beginnings of high end audio to be heard in one 35 watt tube amp. Everyone should own a Stereo 70 at one time in their life - but not three or four times in their life. The last two pairs of ST70's, PAS 3X's and an FM5 I sold to a member of this forum for a really cheap price. Nowdays you would pay what I sold all of that for just to buy one ST70.

He's decided to be a tube DIY'er extreme. He's shown his stuff at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and I wouldn't recognize my old amps if he hadn't told me they were the ones I'd sold him. But his stuff is alot like many DIY'ers. He finds a stash of old tubes in a TV repair shop that's closing down and he decides to make an amp out of some tubes that were originally meant for some other sort of gear. I don't think Kegger and I ever truly saw eye to eye on equipment, he's way more of a headbanger as far as I can tell. Or he'll pick up some speakers that I consider junk and mess around with them to keep himself busy.

He's a good guy who never knew anything about tubes until I sold him the Dynas. He helped me find a set of filter caps for my Mac's last year.

But more ST70's? No, not the direction I'm headed in at all. Plus, I've not heard a Dyna that I think is as good as my Macs no matter the mods and revisions. Different, but not better. So I don't really need another 50 year old amp to take my money. And after all that, if I wanted to redo a different vintage amp, I always thought I'd either pick up an original Quad 22 or a Citation amp. The Dynas are almost like owning a Golden Retriever; everybody's either got one, had one or wants one.




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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2632
Registered: Oct-07
Got it. But wouldn't you just kill to find a New-In-Box unassembled original Stereo-70? It'd be like opening a time capsule.

Speaking of old amps, I've see a guy doing a 110% restore / renovation / rebuild of the Phase Linear 400, claiming to not only have fixed the 'flame' part but improve the sound.....dramatically. TBD. Some company sells the mainboard w/all new parts. New caps? easy. And I suspect better output devices can be had for a song. The picture I saw.....before and after.....show dramatically improved cosmetics which if it translates into better sound........

I've also seen some discussion about the Citation. Great stuff with a bulletproof rep.

As for me, I'm in a corner with my panels. Even though they are an 'easy' load from the reactance point, they are still low sensitivity. I've recently had an exchange of ideas with some of the Maggie DIY community where I advocated stronger magnets at time of manufacture. All it would take was a 3db stronger motor. BUT, watts are inexpensive, if not quite cheap. The top W4S integrated of over a kilowatt (@8) runs around $2.20/ watt. The big Pass INT-150 will go around $27.00 / watt. quite a range.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17008
Registered: May-04
.

Caleb, yesterday I received my monthly billing statement for the credit card I used to purchase the defective Miniwatt N3. I was surprised to see, after what you had led me to believe would happen, the ALO refund to my account was only $321.13. Would you kindly make the additional adjustment to this refund to bring the total up to the $375 I paid for the unit?



Thanks,

Jan Vigne



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2655
Registered: Oct-07
Sounds like they hope you'll just 'blow off' the 50$. maybe.

OR

Caleb's communication didn't reach the folks handling the return. They handled it the 'regular way'.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17025
Registered: May-04
.

I can certainly understand how Caleb's message could have been lost in a four person business. Can't you, leo?

If that's the case, it doesn't speak well for ALO's operation any more than the Miniwatts problems did or Caleb's avoidance of describing just what I should have expected from the amp's performance did. I would say this is still just another indictment of ALO's business model.


And, at this point, I'm guessing Caleb is thinking more along he lines of "maybe". "Maybe" I'll not get my money back as promised.

I did receive this automatic response from ALO the same day I sent the above email;

Hello,

Thank you for your email. We respond to most emails with in 48 hours
of receipt and many times even faster. Occasionally it does take us
longer to reply then this, but be assured your email is important to
us and we will be doing our best to respond in a timely manner.

Thanks again!



I'm thinking they now have the amp and they feel I now have no recourse. What a lousy f'ing way to run a business. I'll resend my message today and see what results I get.







.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17026
Registered: May-04
.

Caleb, I originally sent this to you on the 21st. I've had no response from ALO other than your automated message which indicated your attention to the matter within 48 hours. I appreciate the fact we had a holiday in between then and now but is this such a difficult task to complete?



Caleb, yesterday I received my monthly billing statement for the credit card I used to purchase the defective Miniwatt N3. I was surprised to see, after what you had led me to believe would happen, the ALO refund to my account was only $321.13. Would you kindly make the additional adjustment to this refund to bring the total up to the $375 I paid for the unit?



Thanks,

Jan Vigne






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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17027
Registered: May-04
.

Just received:
Hello,

Thank you for your email. We respond to most emails with in 48 hours
of receipt and many times even faster. Occasionally it does take us
longer to reply then this, but be assured your email is important to
us and we will be doing our best to respond in a timely manner.

Thanks again!


--
*ALO audio*





We'll see. No audio company I know of takes off the week before or the week after Xmas.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17041
Registered: May-04
.

The sound of crickets and breezes blowing through empty space are all I've heard from ALO.

I suppose Caleb expects to have a good New Years on my $50.





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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2658
Registered: Oct-07
Caleb is out checking out the construction on the ALO building, to be used to house their gigantic operation. Business Week says they've got the top 3 floors of the new building. Maybe 8000 sq feet total.

Heck, Jan, you can't even get 1/3 a bottle of a vintage champagne for your 50$
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1783
Registered: Oct-10
None of us likes to lose money, but you'll easily give yourself more than $50 worth of stress and aggravation trying to get it back. May as well cut your losses. It's obvious by Caleb's blatant attempt at avoiding the issue that he has no intention of returning that money.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17054
Registered: May-04
.

I called ALO today, Caleb was unavailable but I was told I would be refunded the balance of my purchase price. I'll hope this concludes my business with ALO.




This thread was never about my money, james.





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Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1788
Registered: Oct-10
Ah yes! As always Jan, it's been a pleasure talking to you.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17056
Registered: May-04
.

Vhat?! we were haaaving a con-ver-saaation?


I didn't realize!



LOL!



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Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1173
Registered: Dec-06
Hi Jan,

Not sure if this might interest you, but a few people on CAM have very nice things to say about the Musical Paradise MP-301 Mk2. Just thought I'd mention it. I've never used one so I can't vouch for it, and not sure what one can truly expect for $260, but it does seem to have a bit of a following.

http://www.musicalparadise.ca/mp/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&produc ts_id=75
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17067
Registered: May-04
.

Thanks for the link, Dan.

I've ordered the small Decware amp. The current waiting time for delivery is still about 4-5 weeks out. After this last run around with ALO I've rather soured on inexpensive Chinese built amps which can only be auditioned over the internet. Previously, I had also tried the Glow amp and I have to admit it allowed some aspects of performance to come through which had yet to be revealed by any other amp I've had in my system or that I would care to spend money on. It performed equally well in both my system, replacing my Mac tubes, and MW's with his Gallos, replacing what I remember at the time to be his 300 watt McIntosh solid state amps. While I can't really believe I was the first person to ever return the Glow amp, as a company they were the antithesis of ALO in every way. They were responsive, easy to deal with and at the time had no restocking fee for an audition. They returned my money promptly and with no questions asked other than was there a specific reason I was returning the amp. Their customer service plan I would rate as a 10. Their amp only a 6 overall. However, the Miniwatt doesn't even score that high in either category. ALO gets a big "0" for their efforts - is that even the right word for what they didn't even attempt to do? - and this thread exists to be a cautionary tale for others who might go down the same path due simply to what I now consider to be very misleading reviews and a "who cares about the customer" attitude on the part of the retailer.


What I think I'm looking for is a relatively low cost amp that can act as a day to day stand in for the Mac tubes. That might just be asking too much of a sub $2k amp. I've heard the Macs in several systems other than my own and, IMO, they are quite capable amps which will do all I need to ask of an amp. But my amps are now 50 years old and even the components and parts I had replaced when I first bought the amps are going on 30 years of age. I had one amp loose a set of filter caps last year which tells me more repairs are on the way simply due to age. When I first bought the amps I had two techs who could do any work required. One has moved to Witchita Falls and subsequently passed away - coincidentally or consequently is hard to guess as Witchita Falls is often viewed as a glimpse of He11 on Earth - while the other has reached an age where he likely isn't going to continue working on vintage gear for many more years. The next closest Mac dealer is (was?) in Fort Worth but I have no idea whether they still service vintage McIntosh. Parts are at times unavailable for weeks to months as certain components are made in small batches only when a sufficient number of orders have been placed. Should a coupling or interstage cap go out, the decisions are possibly costly. I had installed SideReal caps in the signal path and they don't actually exist at this time. So it could mean replacing more than just the bad cap to keep two stereo amps in equal territory. It's really like living with a vintage car you want to use as a daily driver. There comes a time when it's probably best to turn it into a (dry and sunny) Sunday driver only.

The Macs have been basically trouble free for the 30 years I've had them. Once again I might be asking too much of a lower priced amp but I would prefer to buy a component with a reputation for the same reliability and longevity. Decware doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon and their reputation has - as far as I can tell - been established over the last few decades. They offer a "lifetime" warranty which suggests they believe in and will stand behind their product and they claim an excellent and extremely low track record when it comes to needed repairs. I can't get comfortable with the idea any of the Chinese amp purveyors are going to be around next week or next month. I'm even less comfortable with the idea I might have to go through a dealer such as ALO to actually accomplish a needed repair on a Chinese amp. Another issue I'm finding with the Chinese amps is they are all being "blown away" by the next version of their own amp which to me says I'm buying a certain amount of obsolescence if I choose one of their products. I'd like an amp that wasn't produced on someone's learning curve and the Decware amp seems to fit that bill. It's been around for years with virtually no real circuit changes.

I still remain convinced - particularly after auditioning the Glow amp and the Miniwatt - that a tube amp remains highly dependent upon the quality of its output transformers. My Mac's use 6L6 output tubes and they - the amps not the tubes - weigh in at 63 Lbs. each. The transformers are all potted and shielded from each other to make for a very quiet amplifier, tube or solid state. I'm having more and more doubts about any tubed and transformer coupled amp being up to my expectations when they can hide those OT's inside such a small chassis.

Right now my Italian T amp is back in the system and it is the closest contender to the Mac's for everyday use that I can find and not spend what my Mac's are currently selling for. I had to buy a new Sealed Lead Acid battery for $15 last month to replace the original I had put in the T amp so I can easily live with that cost per hour ratio. Though I know the T amp can go South at any time and I probably wouldn't bother having it repaired unless it was a very simple fix. If the chip itself should somehow be damaged, I'm very, very likely SOL. The Decware amp will cost as much or as little as I care to spend to retube it on occasion but still far less than the Mac's will set me back for dual quartets of 6L6's of better than average quality. So, all together, my current thinking is either the Decware performs at a level sufficient to step up and step in for the Macs 80% of the time while also surpassing the T amp or I just say the Mac's are still my best amp for what I'm willing to spend.

But, thanks for the link. Who knows? I might change my mind in the future.





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Gold Member
Username: Exerciseguy

Fort Hamilton, NY United States

Post Number: 3535
Registered: Oct-04
This was an interesting exercise, thanks for the updates.

So in the end, the Italian T-Amp prevailed over the Trends T-Amp; not really a surprise, but for about $40, I think it does alot right.

But McIntosh is McIntosh.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1480
Registered: Jul-07
Is this the one Jan ?

http://www.decware.com/newsite/SE84CDIY.htm
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17068
Registered: May-04
.

"So in the end, the Italian T-Amp prevailed over the Trends T-Amp; not really a surprise, but for about $40, I think it does alot right."



Yep on both counts and I'll return your Muse amp in the next few days, Chris. Thanks for the try out.

You're right, the Muse was the better amp IMO when compared to the Topping - though I can see a few listeners preferring the Topping for its tonality which is sharper and more forward than either the Auotcostruire or the Muse. The Muse has more musical feeling to it and a greater sense of momentum to each line of music. It swings exceptionally well and it puts some meat on the performer's bones that the Topping just lacked. What it doesn't do that the Italian amp gets everytime is it doesn't make me want to keep on listening and pulling out another album. In the end it was yet another learning/validation experience for me. I've generally considered most amps with good musical momentum to be amps which can connect me to the music, some more so than others but if it makes my toe tap invountarily with the first few measures, I've thought most such amps had the potential to please me.

The Italian amp though has the same qualities I saw Art describe in his Brio comments. The moment to moment communication between performers is there with the Autocostruire and the sense that each player is reacting to and leading the others as well as the audience is simply more easily established with the Italian kit amp. Possibly it's because the kit amp was put together with some stripped out parts Autocostruire called non-essential parts for the "audiophile". A Zobel network is likely included in the Muse and that has been removed from the kit amp. Though, I simply remember the Italian kit to have been exceptionally good when I first put it together and before I started removing parts.

That sense of communicaton has long been a priority for me as that is an instantaneous and a primary quality I preceive in live music and something missing in most modern studio recordings and many modern components which aim too much for audiophile buzzwords. Call it drive or what have you but the Italian amp gets the microdynamic shadings of the very edges of the notes' start and stop virtually as well as the Mac tubes without slopping over into melodrama. I've used the word "nuance" before to mean exactly that but not hyper detail retrieval. The Italian amp isn't about counting ice in drink glasses around the bar. It's mellow and deep in the way I hear live music. As soon as I put the Italian amp back in for comparison I could tell it wasn't going to be replaced again by the Muse.

But you're very right in what the Muse accomplishes for the money. For $30 that's one heck of an amp.




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17069
Registered: May-04
.



Not exactly, Chris. I'm not going the kit route this time. I'm going to audition the SE84C+ factory build. It has the lifetime warranty where the kit doesn't. Most important IMO it has tube rectification which I think is important in a single ended amp. Then, the kit is apparently no longer available as an item from Decware. Just recently they've discontinued the kit as sold by them and replaced it with schematics and instructions for sourcing parts from other sellers. That means no custom wound transformers - if I am to believe the SE84C+ has custom wound transformers as Decware claims. And, finally, if I decide to not keep the amp after awhile, the resale on the kit is pretty close to nothing I would guess. Rather than spend less and get less, I think I'll try the real thing.


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Gold Member
Username: Exerciseguy

Fort Hamilton, NY United States

Post Number: 3536
Registered: Oct-04
I'm glad you finally got a chance to audition it, I've wanted to get your read on it from day one. It is what it is, maybe not perfect, but "F"-ing amazing, all things considered...particularly the price ;-)

Take your time Jan, no rush shipping it back.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1481
Registered: Jul-07
I've wanted to try out a Decware amp for a while. I'm keen to hear your impressions. I did hear one of the original SE84 amps quite some time ago, but it was mated to one of the worst sounding speakers I've ever heard, so I couldn't develop much of an opinion.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1174
Registered: Dec-06
Hi Jan,

No worries, thought you might want a heads up on what looks to be a similar amp to the one you had purchased. I don't blame you for your skepticism with respect to Chinese gear. I agree with all your points against buying Chinese. Well, those points go for all small amp makers (not just in China) who have not established some sort of track record, but I guess China is a big source for that group. Among Chinese amps, Audio Space looks to me like a fine alternative. They've been around for some time and are sold through reputable dealers (well, at least one that I know of) in my area. I read a review that stated they have gained traction in Japan as well, which is probably no small feat.

I'm also interested in hearing your impressions of the Decware amp. As you know, I am considering buying a tube amp somewhere down the line. While I will likely require a more powerful design than Decware makes (if I use the amp with my Castles - perhaps I won't), I'd still like to hear how their products stack up.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17071
Registered: May-04
.

Through the years there have existed manufacturers who obviously, at one time, were start ups. At one point McIntosh didn't exist and then it did - the Big Bang theory of audio companies. The future of the company was dependent upon its offerings and frequenctly their offerings were their downfall. The best example I remember would be the Superphon pre amp. The Superphon Revelation Basic was created by Stan Warren who had the rights to be the "S" portion of the original PS Audio company. Unlike the PS gear of the time, the Superphon was a bare bones, tubed pre amp. It lacked the appropriately 1/2" thick faceplate which had already made its appearance in high end audio and its chassis was downright flimsy. Push on a cable and the connector bent the rear panel of the pre amp. Turn the unit on and adjust volume and you thought you were using a plastic poratble radio. Every penny of the product was in its performance and perfom is what it did quite well. Even the packing box gave the buyer doubts about how any tubed pre amp could survive the trip from the dealer's stock room out to their car.

Very unlike the PS gear of the time, it was as musical as pre amps could be at the time. Selling for somewhere around $349 in the mid '80's it could hold its own with the best gear at any price falling short only in its features and tactile feel. Audio reviewers raved about its performance and the Revelation was soon the reference pre amp in many reviewer's system. Independent dealers rushed to have the Superphon on their shelves and were suddenly faced with one of the most unreliable products ever put on the high end audio market. Every Superphon pre amp sold by the store I was working at ended up - within days of the sale - back in our service department. Superphon was slow getting information to the dealers and even slower getting parts to the techs. Two and three weeks were common wait time periods for a new client to actually have their pre amp back in their system and then many would fail a second time. Loaner units would fail before the owner's unit was repaired. Superphon couldn't produce enough pre amps for the dealers to even have enough loaners as they were busy sending out parts for repairs. Most clients simply gave up on the Superphon and many dealers ate their profits on the hot new pre amp from Stan Warren of PS Audio fame. I came within five pre amps stacked in the service department of owning a Superphon.

Superphon eventually overcame their problems but the brand had been seriously damaged by that time. Today Superphon is more likely to be remembered as, "Yeah, I had one of those once, for about a week", than any product ever created by McIntosh or Audio Research. There are the audio pioneers out there that still to this day will be the first to try a hot new product. I can't remember who said it about the company but the line on Pioneer(s) was, "They're the ones who get the arrows shot in their @ss."

Companies fail for many reasons, often in audio it's because the engineer who created a product was never a very good business person. Then there are stories such as that of Dayton Wright which produced fantastic products, had an excellent business plan and through no fault of their own literally had the company stolen out from under them after loosing a small fortune and all of their assets in multiple court battles. High end audio is a fickle line of work and it takes more than just skill to succeed at it. That's really what p!ssed me off so much about ALO. Your chances of success are far greater when you simply do your best to take care of the clients who want your product.


I'm well over the pioneer stage of my audio life and I have no interest any longer in supporting companies who seem to have no interest in their clients. If what they designed last year was good, is it really in their best interest to supplant it with a MkII"b" version or a Miniwatt "N3" soon to be replaced by a Miniwatt "N4"? Obsolescence is a part of audio and I have a closet full of components no one wants to prove it. I just don't need to add more junk to that closet.

Here's hoping the Decware lives up to its reputation.




.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1798
Registered: Oct-10
What's the advantage of tube rectification on a single ended amp?...Or any amp for that matter?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17075
Registered: May-04
.

It depends on what you want from the amp. Solid state rectification is considered by many to have tighter bass - to sound more "solid state". Tube rectification is considered by others to be the essence of the highly vaunted "tube magic". Since the rectifier is at the heart of the power supply and any gain stage is simply a modulated power supply, the rectifier will influence everything that occurs in the amp.



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Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1799
Registered: Oct-10
So if you use tube rectification with a ss amp, you might possibly get more tube like sound from it?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17077
Registered: May-04
.

I don't know of anyone who has used tube rectification with solid state. I would first assume most designers who want "solid state sound" aren't interested in having their amp sound "tubey". If they are, they are more likely to use a tubed front end/pre amp stage in the amplifier's input stages. In that case, they'll very likely use solid state rectification for the power output section of the amp. It wouldn't make sense to have two different power supplies; one for the pre amp section of the amp and then a totally different power supply for the output stages.


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Bronze Member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 11
Registered: Jan-12
Hi Jan - Thanks for sending this and it makes very interesting reading. OMG! you had gone through this situation before but at least you know what you were looking for. Now I have learned my lesson and advice from you as not to purchase electronic stuff over the internet...as you and your friends mentioned "BS" - LOL
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17129
Registered: May-04
.

There are honest dealers on the internet just as there are dishonest dealers in brick and mortar stores. The internet simply makes is much simpler for the dishonest and the disreputable to close shop under one name and reappear somewhere else under a new name.

In the end ALO did as they said they would. What it took to get them to that point was, IMO, ridiculous.





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Bronze Member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 13
Registered: Jan-12
Jan, I have just only discovered that my amplifier does not have serial number!!! My wildest guess is that most amplifiers manufactured in China do not include S/Nos. Was your Miniwatts made in China?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17131
Registered: May-04
.

Yes. Lots of gear has been coming out of China for the last decade. Too many of those products have been straight forward rip offs of other designs. As you might have seen, the N3 Miniwatt is no longer available. This is probably due to a conflict between two competing companies in China who both claim to have the rights to the design; http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/synergy2/amp.html

China has been dangerous territory for Western manufacturers who have found shoddy production and terrible human rights abuses to be commonplace in a rising economy where profit is the only reason for their existence as a manufacturing center. Some few companies such as B&W have found what they believe to be honorable work arounds while others have found profit and market share their central goal. I'm sure you're aware of the conflicting views of Apple's production in China.

To be sure, this is nothing new. Sony first began "re-designing" Western products back in the late 1950's and were the first to bring cheaply manufactured electronics to the American market where they could be said to have kicked more than a few well known names out of the competition. I sold audio during a time where the American market went from great distain towards "Manufactured in Japan" to the point where the same label was actually regarded as a sign of higher integrity compared to the off shoring of "Made in Taiwan". This was back in the 1970's. The market tends to seek a low water mark all too often. But the Western market sucks it up and asks for more. I suspect "Made in India" is not too far away in the future. Let's see, who owns Jaguar Motors now?



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17143
Registered: May-04
.

Well, knock me over with a toggle switch! I received an email from ALO today with a prompt to download their Spring catalog. I wasn't too surprised to find I had trouble with their download and the "transaction" couldn't successfully be completed - but, then, I am working with Vista 64 bit so fault must be apportioned in appropriate amounts here.

However, here's a bit of something I found too ... uh, good(?) to let pass without comment; http://aloaudio.com/alo-audio-reference-8-silver-copper-mini-to-mini.html

Now, I am a firm believer in quality cables and I'll generally defend most prices for most reasonable designs while admitting there are, at the least, far too many "cable companies" which are producing nothing of their own original design or ingenuity. They are making money by using other people's efforts and setting up shop in their garage. Still, even with that knowledge, I am a bit gobsmacked by a $280 mini to mini connector cable, length two inches. Y'all can make up your own mind as to how valuable such a cable might be in a portable system. I've already made up my mind.

ALO's catalog description for their Reference 16 Silver/Copper for Sennheiser HD-800 reads, "Close your eyes and (the) heapdhones disappear, the music is all around you". Now I can understand the (still rather imcomprehensible) comment about not seeing two large speaker cabinets standing in your room a few feet from your chair. But, really, any of you out there capable of seeing their headphones when they're on your head?


If so, may we now call you Froggy?







.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1517
Registered: Jul-07
When are you expecting your Decware amp Jan ?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17144
Registered: May-04
.

Don't know, I haven't received any communication from them beyond an initial confirmation of my order back on the twelfth of December.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2687
Registered: Oct-07
Jan,
The reason some people simply buy good quality cables is they don't want to get wrapped around the axle spending big bucks in a futile chase for better when you may or may not get mostly 'different'. That the cable in question is a 2nd source made by somebody else, far, far away is a given.

At least companies like BlueJeans are completely transparent as to the source of the cable and connectors used. Can my BJC be bested? Probably. Can my BJC be bested for less money? probably not. Am I going to start the big search, even assuming a moderately deep pocket? not today.

For the 280$s ask for this miniscule adaptor cable, I could not only get a first class dinner for me and spouse, but Tickets to some LIVE music, as well.

I'd like to finish with a 'ribbit' joke, but nothing springs to mind.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17149
Registered: May-04
.

I fully expect most audio cables to come from a subcontracted source. Setting up a plant which processes the raw materials and extrudes them into various guages and purities of conductor is extremely expensive and risk imperative. To convert that extruded conductor into a finished cable of parrallel legs, twisted pairs or braided sets with varying numbers of conductors legs and numerous dielectric compositions is also a substantial investment. I don't expect any audio cable retailer to be a complete "from out of the earth to in your home" company. I don't even expect most audio cabling companies to not have several subcontractors involved in their products.

What I am stating when I write, " ... there are, at the least, far too many 'cable companies' which are producing nothing of their own original design or ingenuity. They are making money by using other people's efforts and setting up shop in their garage", is in regards to the explosion of small cable companies which do nothing more than package someone else's ingenuity and efforts and pass it off as their own. Your BJ cables are not their own and I don't think they are trying to fool anyone into thinking they are. But their approach to marketting their product is not one which indicates they have broken new, hither to fore unseen and unthought of riches in the design and implementation of audio conductors. They are promoting a decent product at a reasonable price, not ... how shall I say this? ... "voodoo" hokus pocus in what they are selling at an unreasonable price. What claims are ALO making about their cables other than, "We are selling cables and we think they're good"? If I buy bulk cables from, say, Beldin and repackage it as my own product, do I not have the right to say the exact same thing? Wouldn't I have the right to say the same even if I purchased the bulk wire from one of Beldin's lower cost, lower quality competitors? In other words, leo, what effort and what ingenuity have I expended in doing just that?

My gripe is with companies which do nothing other than buy bulk cabling with their name printed on the dielectric and then turn around and sell this as their "design". "Their design" implies, to my way of thinking at least, that what they are promoting is a product which is somehow unlike and dissimilar to the hundreds of other cable designs out there, that it is original to them in some way other than their product is just more expensive than the rest because they have to pay the costs of one more subcontractor to get the bulk cable to their doorstep. "Their design" implies to me there are "designers" on board and not just repackagers. When I see words in their promotional literature which imply or clearly state some aspect of their product has been "modified", I may think, "Oh! Wow!, They have dome the hard work of trying numerous options which work to a greater fidelity. They have spend the time and money involved in trying to make a better product which is uniquely their own though it began life as something else. And they should be rewarded for the risks they have taken." Or I might think, "Oh! Wow! Another company who has a 'modified' product someone else created and they want me to think they improved upon the design to provide better, higher quality results?" No, my curmudgeon side kicks in and I generally think, "'Modified', huh? So they had the OEM manufacturer move the termination from the right side to the left side and now they can call it 'modified'? And they want to charge me more for what they didn't create, they just 'modified'?"

When I see a braided cable I think, they are simply copying the ingenuity of another designer. If they are using a higher purity of conductor material, are they the first to think this through and have they done the hard and expensive work of understanding how raw cable is produced and why there are impurities in the final product? Have they spent any amount of money and time investigating the auditory results of higher purity conductors, to stick their neck out with their own money in order to somehow change how I should think about audio cables? What have these garage based companies done which constitutes anything for which I should give them my money as opposed to rewarding those companies and thinkers who did the actual work and risked their own fortunes in the actual creation of these improvements in cabling?

Ok, I don't drive a Ford and we all know Ford was, in the US, the "originator" of the auto assembly line . So I suppose a few folks might think me a hypocrit in that regard. But I do drive a vehicle with a very long lineage of innovation and the awards to prove they are highly respected in their field. I tend not to be so easily impressed by audio magazine awards given to cable companies, especially cable companies which spend more on advertising and promotion than on R&D and hiring the best and the brightest to turn out those products which make me go, "Well, duh! Of course that's a better way to do it!"

So everyone gets to spend their own cash as they care to, leo. If higher priced cables are what you feel will satisfy your desires, then go for it just as spending the week in Florence is suitable for others. If you can afford it and it doesn't take advantage of someone else, then you have my "permission" to do as you please with the rewards of your effforts. I'm of the 99% without great disdain for most of the rest. But I have qualms about other 99 percenters who want to represent themself and their products as something they are not.


.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17150
Registered: May-04
.

leo, home audio is - at times and to be as generous as possible - a very, uh ... "duplicitous" industry. Audio Research began as a company which produced a "modified" version of an old Dyna tube pre amp. They were quite upfront about that fact as the original design had many followers. They even offered to modify existing product from the original designers. "Modified" here meaning the AR designers truly did expend some effort and some cash to produce a product which, while loosely based upon someone else's design, improved upon the results of that design by including circuit design changes and new replacement passive components (made by third party manufacturers who had also invested their own ingenuity into their offerings). The final product was, with very little squabbling, a product of the AR designers' ingenuity. Open any high end audio component today and you are very likely to find component parts which are not the sole product of that component manufacturer. Yet no one really argues the idea the final product is that of the component manufacturer and not the product of WBT and MIT who supplied specific parts to the design effort.

However, if I were to buy a Conrad Johnson amplifier and fill it with a handful of "modified" parts - which would simply mean parts not purchased from the exact subcontractors CJ uses, would I then have the right to proclaim I have "designed" a completely new product of my own effort and ingenuity? Legal issues aside, would that not be a morally fraudulent claim on my part?

I'm not seeing any realworld distinction between that concept and what the vast majority of the small cable companies are doing. Should a company such as BJ be up front and honest about their product not being wholey their own, that they are merely presenting what they feel is a good product at a reasonable price, I don't have too much of a problem with their approach to retailing. I buy certain generic products which are very likely to have been manufactured in the same plant as the name brand merchandise. I don't have a problem with that as long as no trademark or copywrite infringements have taken place. The shop where I purchase my pets' food has a line of products which have been manufactured by a name brand company but packaged to represent the local shop's name. The owner is upfront about her retailing habits. She never once claimed the product was the result of anything other than her paying for her name to be placed on the larger company's packaging.

That doesn't appear to be, as I see most of the cable companies, how they are going about their product representation.




.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2689
Registered: Oct-07
Jan,
I'll get to your second post tomorrow after WW. I'm at -15 and dropping.
Can't argue with anything you've written since I'm in fundamental agreement. And speaking of fundamentals, isnt' that what many entry level good cables are all about? Get the basics of cable right and you are about 90% 'there'.
The wire which fascinates me is the Single Crystal Copper. I'd love to construct some ICs and maybe some speaker cables.

Actually, the BJC approach....'We use xxx cable and yyy connectors' is what attracted me in the first place. No 'weird science'. No quantum tunneling insulation. No unobtanium in the wire composition. The BS Monster lawsuit was later, a plus.
Straight OFC copper, expanded poly insulation and proper termination. I bought the LC-1 interconnects. I even bought one of their Asian made HDMI cables. Fine.

I'll go thru the 2nd post tomorrow.

In a quick scan I note ref' to CJ and the use of non-CJ parts. Well, stay tuned. You can buy modd'd darn near anything. Some modders have latched onto the OPPO players and the claims are nothing short of astronomical.
In my panel 'world' (a real...sub/sub culture!) the modders / DIY guys are having a field day. One day, were I wealthy, I'd sponser a Magnepan DIY convention. Have to rent some place that'd seat maybe 2000 people or more. Security would be a major concern. I don't understand the 'bad blood' between some of the sub sub sub groups.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 15516
Registered: Feb-05
I think there are very few companies whose cables are original engineering and design. I believe that Van den Hul is one of them and perhaps Cardas. Interesting that I just posted this same thing a couple of days ago on another forum.

As an aside, the Blue Jeans LC-1 is the worst sounding cable I've ever bought. I've owned them for a couple of years and tried them in every setup I've had and with every source and they are just dead, undetailed, muffled with tubby bass and geez I could go on, but why.

Leo, if you ever feel moved to try another entry level cable, give the Analysis Plus Oval One a try. I don't even like most A Plus cables but this one is pretty special and quite inexpensive.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2691
Registered: Oct-07
Sorry you had poor luck with the LC-1

Maybe I'll throw in some of the generic stuff I have which came free with various components over the years. That would be a way for me to determine my cable sensitivity.

I LIKE the Analysis folks use of compression fittings instead of soldier. They can press REAL hard and end up with a single piece of metal with zero chance of an oxidized joint.

How's that photography coming?
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2692
Registered: Oct-07
Just looked up some of the ohno cast wire. At 2.38/ft with disounts over 25', this is where I'd start for DIY.
If I have someone local with the die compression attachment, so much the better.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 15521
Registered: Feb-05
The photography is stalled while I immerse myself in another project but I'm definitely going to return to it. Thank you, Leo for being so generous with your time. It was truly appreciated.
 

New member
Username: Mjl_nz

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-13
Re APPJ (Miniwatt) N3. These little amplifiers are suffering from two design errors. The worst is that a Constant Current Sink has been used which halves the output and then starts clipping like solid state. Second is that the OPT is too small. I suspect (but don't know yet) that global negative feedback has been used from the secondary of the OPT.

Both are rectifiable and I am putting my actions where my words are. Have ordered one, will piece together the circuit diagram and then use a normal resistor in the cathode and next apply plate-to-plate feedback (a.k.a. "Schade" feedback). Then lets see what the little thing can do - I suspect it will be a different item altogether.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17809
Registered: May-04
.

Odd that this post and an email from Glow audio have shown up on the same day. The small Glow amp was one of the first tiny tube amps I auditioned in the system. It had a lot going for it but simply was not a sale for a few specific reasons which did not suit my ideas of fidelity.

I received an email today from the Glow company touting a newly designed amp and a give away of approx. $500 worth of speakers or headphones when the new amp is ordered. No price was given for the new Glow amp but that would be quite a giveaway if the amp remains anywhere close in price to its $500 introductory offer.

Certainly, given what I heard from the two amps in the same system, there's no doubt I would prefer the Glow over the Miniwatt in an instant. My dealings with Glow were easy and straightforward. When I asked to return the amp, they responded with an immediate refund as soon as the amp hit their doors. That IMO is how a small independent audio company should operate. The Miniwatt distributor, on the other hand, represents everything bad about how client service should be undertaken by the retailer. Almost two years after the fact, I still have a strong distaste for the entire AOL experience.

Do what you want MJL, but IMO you're making a mistake if you think voiding the warranty on the Miniwatt is a better idea than buying a better amp to begin with.

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/697727.html#POST1986118


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Gold Member
Username: Exerciseguy

Fort Hamilton, NY United States

Post Number: 3542
Registered: Oct-04
The revival of this thread was a surprise :-) Hope everyone is well. CM
 

New member
Username: Mjl_nz

Post Number: 2
Registered: Nov-13
I always push boundaries and this is just another intellectual challenge for me - fix something that others have written off.

I do not want to buy some other piece of equipment that will cost me more in shipping alone and what has a price tag several times this.

I am convinced that this amplifier can be fixed inside an hour to something respectable enough for my office and which will be outstanding for voice reproduction.

I know it will not shake the walls with low bass, in fact doubt if there will be much below 50 Hz but then 50 Hz to 16Khz was once the standard for HiFi.

Cheers for now
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