Let me introduce you to the new amp


#1

We’re getting closer to releasing the new power amplifier and soon a preamplifier as well. I thought it time to give this topic its own forum. I’ll try and see if I can move some of the chatter about this amp from the other forums over, but not so sure how that all works.

Here’s a bit of background.

We’ve built a number of power amps and integrateds over the years, many classics loved by thousands: HCA-2, 200C, C250, GSeries, Delta series, and even the tiny Trio series. And then there are the preamps, a product we built our company on, all the models there too many to even list but here’s a few of the classics: IV and IVH, 4.5 and 5, the GSeries.

After installing the Infinity IRSV in Music Room One, and even before with the Maggie system, it became painfully obvious the aging C250 in the room wasn’t up to the task of making music without compromise on those speakers, certainly not after hearing a few examples of the best tube and solid state products on the market, so I endeavored to design a new, state of the art power amp. The preamp was not an issue as I went direct to the amp through the (then) PWD DAC. Later I became convinced to buy the first tube preamp I have ever owned, the fabulous Aesthetix Calypso, which still drives the system to this day.

The original design concept for the new power amplifier would be based on the wonderful Hypex Class D modules, which sound about the best of any class D out there. Three attempts later and several years of hard work, I made the decision to pull the plug on class D for the reference power amp. It sounded fabulous, most visiting Music Room One were stunned at how good it sounded; and yet. It wasn’t meeting my goal of a world class amplifier. No, let me put that another way: the goal of our new power amplifier was to build one better than any power amplifier ever built, by anyone, at any price. To, at a minimum, reach into the lofty stratosphere of amplification to join the top few in the world: those costing $100,000, those with many tubes bristling out of their tops, those with but a single pair of tubes, or massive MOSFET arrays, or single ended bipolars. In short, at my age, given how long I’ve been in this industry, I want to build something that stands for many years as a classic power amplifier that anyone lucky enough to own it would be in heaven when music played; a heaven without compromise of any type.

To do that I finally took two big gulps: I abandoned my own design and I agreed to a tube in the input. These were big moves.

We’ve never suffered under the NIH )Not Invented Here) syndrome, as many companies are, but in fact it’s been rare that someone outside the PS fold was responsible for a design. Then, along came Ted Smith and DirectStream. Ted paved the way, his design chops so far above ours that having him design our new DSAC was a simple no brainer: and look at the results. Perhaps the best DAC in the world.

Bolstered by the success of Ted’s efforts and relaxing my grip on the design wheel, in favor of building something of a level I have never been able to achieve, we engaged famed analog designer Bascom H. King. Bascom’s design credits are long and glorious and, over time, I’ll list those out but among the projects he’s either worked on or been responsible for include: Marantz, Infinity and recently Constellation Audio. Bascom’s one demand: the design would have to include a tube in the front end of the amplifier. 114_gif In over 40 years of building audio products we have never embraced a vacuum tube in our designs. We’ve loved their sound, but never had the balls to put one in. The only reason I was able to secure Bascom as our lead designer was his equal desire to build and amp/preamp to the level we wished: the best there is. And so, we agreed.

The design we are working on is an all MOSFET output stage, vacuum tube front end, 200 watts per channel into 8, doubling into 4, housed in the beautiful P10 chassis. This amp will also be the single most expensive product we have ever released: $7,000. I have struggled over this price for the very reason it is more than we have ever asked for a product. To some, it is an outrageous bargain: $7K for a power amp besting anything else at any price? To others, unattainable, they must sit on the sidelines wishing they too could own this.

But enough of the background. I have heard the prototype, it is beyond my wildest expectations. More to come. respect-010_gif


#2

Congrats, if it sound better than my ASR Emitter I exclusive I will buy it…


#3
I've been waiting for this for over 5 years since before the PWD came out to replace the Streets 950.

A few years (1 1/2?) ago I went to Boulder while Paul was in the throes of building the front end for the Hypex system, before he bought the Calypso. I brought the schematic for my $6k tube preamp to show him how simple the circuit was, with no feedback. That begat the FET version of the input stage, to where it was basically a solid-state tube circuit.

Then Paul tossed the Hypex and got Bascom.

It’s been a long road.

I’m ready.

I’ll have to change my screen name, though. Of course, I can always use the Streets for the rear channels in my home theater setup . . .

–SSW


#4

Wonderful story, and a lofty goal.


#5

My Classic 250 is also well past its retirement age. $7k is a big nut to swallow but more than reasonable IF the amp lives up to expectations. The DS has been a huge success. Let’s hope the new amp exceeds even that. But that’s a very tall order. blush_gif


#6

Earliest possible availability date might be?


#7

Three to 4 months, I’d guess, as they finalize the details and then get everything scheduled for production. Remember they have to buy parts, schedule the first batches, test those, design the case, and define exactly how everything fits together.

But that’s just my guess.

–SSW


#8

I would be surprised if this estimate holds water, based on the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a design feeeze yet.

My guess is Q1-15, the earliest. Nothing would make me more happy than if proven wrong.


#9
Streets Still Works said

I’ve been waiting for this for over 5 years since before the PWD came out to replace the Streets 950.

A few years (1 1/2?) ago I went to Boulder while Paul was in the throes of building the front end for the Hypex system, before he bought the Calypso. I brought the schematic for my $6k tube preamp to show him how simple the circuit was, with no feedback. That begat the FET version of the input stage, to where it was basically a solid-state tube circuit.

Then Paul tossed the Hypex and got Bascom.

It’s been a long road.

I’m ready.

I’ll have to change my screen name, though. Of course, I can always use the Streets for the rear channels in my home theater setup . . .

–SSW


Indeed, this is a true story and SSW was instrumental in its development.

#10

We’re shooting for December but, as Frode points out - as does my director of engineering - until the design of the hardware is frozen, there’s no guarantees. We should be on version two of the prototype right now, we haven’t completed all the changes to version one yet. It may be later, I would not take any bets.

I’ll keep you informed as to our progress when I can.


#11

This is the first I’ve heard of a new PS Audio Preamp. Any hints as to features or anything?

Since I have Reel to Reel, my Oppo, and now the DirectStream; I’m starting to seriously consider the need for a preamp. I’ve been going direct to amp from my sources for 16+ years now. The DS just doesn’t drive my tube amps input as hard as I’d like - I think a preamp might just push it to get that last 2-3% that I feel was left on the table.


#12
Paul McGowan said We're shooting for December but, as Frode points out - as does my director of engineering - until the design of the hardware is frozen, there's no guarantees. We should be on version two of the prototype right now, we haven't completed all the changes to version one yet. It may be later, I would not take any bets.

I’ll keep you informed as to our progress when I can.


At least there shouldn 't be too many culprits on the software side of it, which we all know constitutes a tedious process.

#13
Lonely Raven said The DS just doesn't drive my tube amps input as hard as I'd like - I think a preamp might just push it to get that last 2-3% that I feel was left on the table.
What do you mean not "as hard?" Are you running the DS at full volume into the amp?

#14
stevem2 said My Classic 250 is also well past its retirement age. $7k is a big nut to swallow but more than reasonable IF the amp lives up to expectations. The DS has been a huge success. Let's hope the new amp exceeds even that. But that's a very tall order. blush_gif
A tall order, indeed, but if we can't hit it, it's not worth doing. I have every confidence we can and will.

Anything gets in my way … 2guns_gif


#15

Good attitude. Take no prisoners.


#16

Paul, given your resolute high standards and willingness to abandon anything that does not measure up/sound up, I expect you to succeed.


#17

$7000 is a lot of money for most of us and even a fair chunk in Audiophile terms. Still, it is dirt cheap compared to some Audiophile equipment. One thing that I really like is that Paul will be really screwing with the outrageously priced equipment with an amp that will at least compete in sound quality while costing less than most everything else in the class and a fraction of many of the offerings in the reference quality performance class.

I’ll get one just as soon as I win the Lottery. :smiley: Maybe two along with two DS DACs and a digital crossover to bi-amp the speakers that I will also be able to afford at that time.

J.P.


#18

Thanks Elk, thanks JP


#19
Elk said
Lonely Raven said The DS just doesn't drive my tube amps input as hard as I'd like - I think a preamp might just push it to get that last 2-3% that I feel was left on the table.

What do you mean not “as hard?” Are you running the DS at full volume into the amp?

I don’t know if it’s the type of output the DS uses, or the voltage, but my Oppo and my Reel to Reel, which are both differential XLR with more voltage, have more “density” and “liveness” than the DS straight into my amp does. It’s honestly my one and only disappointment with the DS, that I just don’t get that density that I do with my two other sources. If the DS had that density and liveness, I would honestly say that well recorded DSD (like Blue Coast) would be so close to my 1/4" half-track master tapes, that it would render my tape collection obsolete. It’s close, but not close enough for me to abandon tape completely.

If it’s just a voltage issue, then that can easily be solved with a very resolving XLR booster or preamp. If it’s a synergy between the differential output and my amp, then I just need to make sure the preamp has that differential out like my other two sources.

Everything else the DS does makes me quite happy. I was hoping not to have the added expense of a new preamp, but I would consider one for that last, missing 5%.


#20

LR, did you have a PWD Mk.II previous to this? If so, how would you describe these same areas of “density” and “liveness” from the PWD?