Considering Signature Pre and Monoblocks, a few concerns


#1

I’m considering what would be the most expensive audio purchase I’ve made, and that would be the Signature Pre-Amp and a pair of BHK 300’s.

This would cost me more than my speakers, which I’m not sure makes sense as I do believe the speakers matter the most, but the BHK’s and the reviews and several shops have talked about how great they sound.

I’ve been doing my research and I do have a few concerns. With spending this much, I suppose I’m a believer that reliability should be a given and I have read more than a few posts on the following:

  1. The Pre-Amp having various issues with shutting down and the display having issues. Some reports of a “burning” smell?

  2. Heat - I realize they run warm, but there are a lot of reports of the 250 in particular running really hot. How are the 300’s in this regard? Will my room get really hot with them?

  3. 4 ohm speaker loads? My speakers are a 4ohm load and 88 db’s efficient. Any issues? They perform best with a lot of current and a fast slew rate. Reviews are all over on the bass response from outstanding, to a little lean. I do want an amp to take control of my woofers (they put out plenty of bass, but I want it to stay punchy and tight)

Please don’t take this as a list of what’s wrong with the BHK’s. I could list the superlatives that have been heaped upon them also. But, while sound quality matters, reliability also does. I know the customer service is great (and that is huge), but time wise we all know it’s a pain and bummer to send things back and forth.

A few years back I had a big Classe Amp and their SSP800. (Bought used). The amp was bullet-proof it seemed (ran really warm though) but the pre-pro had a few issues (I sent it in when I bought it for a full tune-up, and Classe was great). But even after that it had issues now and then.

Again, I really want to pull the trigger, but any thoughts on the above would be outstanding. Thanks so much.


#2

Hi @dep

I run the S300 mono blocks and the Pre. You don’t mention your speakers but say they are 4Ohm. My speakers are Quad2905 which run to slightly below 4Ohm and I don’t find the S300’s have any difficulties. Do they run warm - however no warmer than other valve mono-block amplifiers I’ve had. Certainly no issues with excessive heat from my POV. - I do hear a low level hum (I suspect transformer related, not ground loop but until I get the lid off I cannot confirm). Also I’ve never had a problem with heat/smell with the Pre either, or the DS Snr or the DMP. There are idiosyncrasies with the operating system of the PWT and the DMP but overall they work well and sound great.


#3

I have never heard of a BHK preamp having burning smells or problems as you describe. Might be something one off if so. It’s been an incredibly reliable product and I would not hesitate to recommend its use - especially after you hear it.

The BHK Monos (and stereo) love 4Ω speakers. It’s what they were designed for and you’ll be fine.

Let us know what you think once you get them (if you do).


#4

@DEP,

""1. The Pre-Amp having various issues with shutting down and the display having issues. Some reports of a “burning” smell?

  1. Heat – I realize they run warm, but there are a lot of reports of the 250 in particular running really hot. How are the 300’s in this regard? Will my room get really hot with them?

  2. 4 ohm speaker loads? My speakers are a 4ohm load and 88 db’s efficient. Any issues? They perform best with a lot of current and a fast slew rate. Reviews are all over on the bass response from outstanding, to a little lean. I do want an amp to take control of my woofers (they put out plenty of bass, but I want it to stay punchy and tight) “”

I had an issue with a faulty display. After contacting P S Audio they sent out a new display which arrived within a few days and after installing same it has worked faultlessly …

No “burning” smell…

Apart from the hiccup with the display the BHK preamp has sung its heart out…incredibly musical !

I have a 250 and a pair of 300 mono-blocks… No issues with the 250 and my amplifier never gets unduly hot… Slight hum with single-ended interconnects but I run fully balanced and even burying my head inside the speaker drivers I hear no humming noise…

A few months in with the 300s one ( left ) channel dropped down in level but after some investigating I traced it down to one Tube… P S Audio sent out 1 Pair - I thought they would send out 2 pairs as a quad set - so I bought a quad set and kept the 1Pair as a spare set for my 250…

Apart from that slight glitch - I haven’t had any other issues… Best amplifiers I have ever owned … I also own Constellation amplifiers, don’t believe a word if somebody says the BHK amplifiers are excellent at their price range - but if you go further up the ladder to “better” amplifiers like Constellation, etc…! Yes, Constellation are wonderful amplifiers - but not worth the added expense, especially when you hear the BHK 300 mono blocks up against the Constellation… Only paying a premium for the casework…

I haven’t encountered any problems with speaker loads and I’ve used them with Shahinian Diapasons which is a cruel load…

The only (very slight) negative is that 3 BHK power amplifiers and the BHK preamp can heat up the room so on hot days and evenings it is like I have the winter heating on… It isn’t unbearable - like listening in death valley but, at times, it can spoil the listening experience… But apart from a few minor gripes they are incredible musical instruments and a gift at their price compared to the other amplifiers in my collection…


#5

Thanks.

I apologize on the burning smell. I read that thread incorrectly, I thought I did read one about it smelling hot, but that could just be break-in.

Thanks for the insights.

Suppose I wonder about the humming with single ended, though I could run balanced without an issue also.

Thanks again.


#6

You are welcome… They are wonderful amplifiers.


#7

I have a BHK ( Signature ) preamp and a BHK 250 amp. I love them. The amp does not run hot at all. I also have a Emotiva XPR-2 which runs very very warm. I use a component cooler on it due to heat.

All the recent PSA stuff is so smooth and musical!! I stopped searching, I have found my mountain peak!


#8

I have a couple of different amplifiers in my home - I have the bad habit of buying new gear and never selling them :stuck_out_tongue:

I have Bel Canto REF500Ms, REF1000Ms Class D amps, Class A Plinius SA-Reference, Class A-bias-ish amps like Electrocompaniet Nemos and now the BHK Signature 300s.

The 300s do not run any warmer than my Nemos. The REF500Ms and REF1000Ms also run warm - they aren’t completely cold to the touch but maybe not as warm as the 300 or Nemos.

You want hot - try the Plinius :slight_smile: I can’t even run those in summer without any air conditioner! But they do come in handy in winter.

My Thiel CS3.7s are rated for 4ohm speakers and the BHK controls them so well - without breaking its stride.

As for the preamp, it runs cooler than my Audio Research Ref 5SE - I suspect the quad 6H30s and 6550 tube power rectifier pumps out way more heat.

I did have one “fault” reported when I powered it off from cold. It hasn’t happened since then. What I found was that I would flick the switch at the back on first - go round to power my other gear, and then go back to turn it on from Standby with the switch in front.


#9

How does the BHK preamp compare to your 5SE in terms of SQ?


#10

There’s something to be said about keeping everything in house - so my current set up is ALL PS Audio - from the DS Memory Transport to the Bridge 2 equipped DirectStream (Sr) - to BHK Signature Preamp and Signature 300 Monos.

I did initially prefer the ARC 5SE because the soundstage was so much more open than the BHK Signature Pre - but that changed as I began clocking up more hours on the BHK Pre.

Even from the start, the BHK Pre was so much more transparent - like it wasn’t masking any detail from the source. The instruments and vocals were much more precisely placed with incredible imaging.

But the biggest improvement was in low level listening. The way the BHK Pre handles volume is nothing short of spectacular. When I was shopping for a preamp, it came down to the ARC Ref 5SE or the Ayre KX-R (pre R20). And the KX-R’s volume had a unique architecture that was amazing for low level listening - but I ended up with the ARC because of the way the midrange and soundstage was reproduced. With the ARC though, I needed the volume levels to be at least 33 on the display before the dynamics and detail would come alive. With the BHK, it has a similar but not identical way of volume control like Ayres that made it the best of both worlds.

Is the BHK Pre perfect? No - it still has a problem with switching out of HT Bypass (adding a “Mute” automatically when changing inputs from an HT input would fix that) which annoys and frightens me, and it has that audible click when changing volume levels (due to the unique volume control architecture) which doesn’t annoy me.


#11

Thank you so much since I can’t find any reviews that compare the BHK preamp and ARC preamp.


#12
DoggieHowser said

There’s something to be said about keeping everything in house. . .

Did you update the firmware with new chip from PSA? I did and it fixes this issue.