Most bang for the buck?

Paul, thanks. I think I am going to pull the trigger on a 250.

You won’t regret it and, I predict, will rejoice in it! We expect a full review once you’re settled in.4_gif

tabascocat1994 said I think I am going to pull the trigger on a 250.
Excellent thinking. :)

Do not hesitate to leave it fully powered up a lot if you would like. Small signal tubes last thousands of hours. You will not need to change them very often regardless of how much you listen. We forget that when tubes were the norm people did not worry about tube life and changed them only on an as-needed basis.

I should have the amp next week, so I will give my impresssions shortly thereafter. Thanks everyone for the advice and comments.

I think you’ll be very happy you went for it. Look forward to your report.

It arrived. First impresssion: wow the amp is heavy. I thought the FedEx girl was being dramatic. Then I nearly threw out my back. Seriously.

As for the sound, the first song out of the box sounded excellent. I will give my full thoughts after living with it for a week or so but unless it takes a nose dive, it sounds like it will be the best amp that has ever been in my system.

It will only get better. Enjoy and keep us posted.

Literally my first comment was on the first song immediately after I turned it on. With cold tubes, it sounded excellent.

Now it’s been playing for a couple hours and holy shit it’s good. Amazing.

tabascocat1994 said

It arrived. First impresssion: wow the amp is heavy. I thought the FedEx girl was being dramatic. Then I nearly threw out my back. Seriously.

As for the sound, the first song out of the box sounded excellent. I will give my full thoughts after living with it for a week or so but unless it takes a nose dive, it sounds like it will be the best amp that has ever been in my system.


Thanks for posting!

music-078_gifhappy-048_gifdancing-009_gif

After living with the amp for a week or so, my impressions are simple. It’s by and far the best amp that has ever been in my system, and I have owned 10 or so amps. My most accurate description would be that the BHK 250 makes standard CDs sound like SACDs. It’s an amazing amp.

The BHK 250 outperforms my last amp and every other in nearly every way. I qualify that only due to the noise floor. I assume it’s because of the tubes, but there is a very faint hiss that is mostly apparent when the amp is powered up but nothing is playing. Not a huge complaint, but nevertheless it is worth a mention. My Class D W4S ST1000 mkii is absolutely dead quiet in the exact same system. The black background of the W4S is one of its strongest suits; that and its unwavering power.

This “complaint” has been given way too much attention in this narrative, but it’s easier to describe a negative when it’s in a sea of positives. That should not be lost.

Overall, I would strongly recommend the BHK250 to anyone looking for finesse and power with a completely neutral presentation. Its musical, open, airy with a great soundstage and separation of instruments. The amp does not get stressed, never losing its composure. It’s crisp base beats that which is produced by the 460 watts of the W4S. Highs are detailed and never harsh or fatiguing. In sum, it’s an incredible amp in every way.

Now I will set my sights on a BHK Preamp. It will likely be a couple years but I am sure it will happen.

Thanks for the update!

Thanks. Hard to go wrong with designs this good. We’ll be here when you’re ready for the BHK Signature.

There’s only one way to know what is the most bang for the buck. Try them in your system. In my case, I already have Pass Lab xa100.5s and I didn’t have a preamp. So, the most bang for the buck for me was the BHK preamp. And a mighty fine bang it is!

Joseph

Your timing is good. A couple weeks ago, I demo’d the BHK Preamp in my system. Long story short, I increased my budget and pulled the trigger on it last weekend.

With the Pre, 250 and DS Jr, my system has never sounded so good. I have the habit of circulating gear in and out, but I think I will have these 3 pieces for a long time.

Thanks

The beauty of good tube gear like the BHK is they can last a very long time, assuming you replace the tubes when needed. Additionally, you can research and try different tubes that can take your system to an even higher level. Case in point, I have a BAT VK-60 tube amplifier that I bought in 1998 and it is still going strong. After a lot of research I got the courage to (myself) replace the stock capacitors with Duelund CAST-PLO-Cu caps and after trying dozens of different signal tubes settled on NOS 1952 Sylvania “Bad Boys”. Talk about “jaw dropping” …with these simple upgrades the amp now sounds as good or better than any modern amp I’ve heard.

After your 250 and Pre break in, you can try different tubes in the tube families referenced in the owner manuals, such as the Tungsram PCC88/7Dj8 tube that BHK likes. A lot of folks say the Tungsram takes the preamp to another level. Others with deeper pockets say the rare Siemens CCa tube takes it to the highest level in their systems. And then there are many highly rated tubes in between. If this interests you there’s another thread called “BHK Preamp tube rolling” in which others have reported what they have heard with different tubes. I plan to do some tube rolling of my own in the near future to check what others are saying. I have a collection of NOS tubes that I can’t wait to try in my BHK preamp once it’s broken in. On the other hand, if you feel you’ve already reached Nirvana with the stock tubes,as most folks have, just enjoy and be happy! It’s all good!

Joseph, I had a similar thought. I rotate equipment when I start noticing attributes of the sound which could be improved. Usually that awareness comes with time, because after a major improvement, everything sounds “all good” for a while. Tube rolling will allow me to make tweaks without swapping out entire pieces of equipment.

Right now everything is “all good” so I am leaving good enough alone.

Much good advice in this thread. It was actually a power amp change that made me into an audiophile in about 1981. Was auditioning some speakers at Franklin Lakes Stereo near where I grew up (not sure what the speakers were - DCM? Sequerra?) via a Hafler power amp. OK, very nice. Then just to torture me they switched out the Hafler for a Threshold. And 35+ years later I still remember that moment. :slight_smile:

An attempt to answer my own question: Most bang for the buck [BHK 250 or BHK Preamp]?

First, let me say, I love all three pieces of my PS Audio gear: DS Jr, BHK 250 and BHK preamp. I am happier with my system’s electronics now than I have ever been. In the past, I have really enjoyed Rogue Audio gear. I have owned a lot of that equipment with the best set-up being an Athena preamp and Medusa amp. It was a great combination, but the PS Audio BHK preamp and amp best it. To be fair, the PS Audio equipment is also more expensive. However, it is worth it. I really like the convenience of the hybrid design of the PS Audio preamp over the Athena. The Athena took awhile to warm up and its remote is pretty spartan, like most tube gear. As to sound, I would give the nod to the BHK preamp in every aspect except possibly separation of channels. With that said, it’s hard to say. I have not had the Athena in my system for a few years. Until I purchased the PS Audio gear, the Athena had made the biggest difference that any component had ever made. I highly recommend the Athena, but not over the BHK preamp.

In regards to the amps, the BHK 250 easily bests the Medusa. That is not to say the Medusa is not a great amp. Like the BHK 250, the Medusa is a hybrid, but a Class D / tube hybrid. The Medusa is the best Class D amp I have heard. It’s a great amp. I have also owned (and still have) a Wyred4Sound ST-1000 mkii, which is a great amp in its own right. If you want a ton of clean power but have a tight budget, you cannot beat the W4S. W4S is a great, customer-friendly company. Like PS Audio and Rogue, W4S offers a lot of bang for the buck and is made in the USA. What’s not to like.

Mark O’Brien, the owner at Rogue, is wonderful to work with. I am glad to see Rogue’s success in recent years. One afternoon about 10 years ago, Mark spent considerable time to walk me through a ground loop issue that had nothing to do with his equipment. Mark loves audio and it shows. Paul McGowan reminds me a lot of Mark. I appreciate the fact that Paul is on this forum everyday.

Okay, I have wasted a lot of time not answering my question. It’s not easy to say, because my PS Audio gear built one on top of each other. My system jumped with every step: DS Jr to replace an Exogal Comet (huge improvement), BHK 250 to replace the above mentioned W4S amp (another huge improvement), and recently adding the BHK preamp. The preamp is the icing on the cake. It does not change the character of the sound; it completes it.

While the preamp and amp are both great, I would give the nod to the BHK 250. It is the best component ever to be in my system, and I have had countless iterations. The BHK 250 is not the most expensive component. It is not even the most expensive amp. That would go to the Theta Enterprise monoblocks that I owned 10+ years ago. Regardless of price, however, there is no contest between the two. The BHK 250 is an awesome amp, and an incredible value.

I would have been completely content with the PS Audio BHK 250 / DS Jr combo if I had not demo’d the BHK Preamp. The dealer that sold me the BHK 250 offered that I borrow it for a couple weeks just to hear the difference. At first, I thought it was better but the point of diminishing returns had been reached. I was going to take the preamp back. However, I went out of town for work and let the preamp burn in for a week. When I came back, I was sold. As many people say, the preamp just brings the amp to another level. The soundstage is bigger and more holographic. Voices are richer. The sound is just more engaging and “real.” I feel in love with the music. Old, stale tracks sounded new again. The savings on not needing a “fix” of a new library of music will pay for the preamp itself. (BTW, I am always looking for suggestions. I listen to all types. As I say, “as long as it’s good, I do not care what’s genre.” From punk to classical, from outlaw country to gangster rap, I do not care.)

Last week, I was once again traveling for work. On a layover to Florida from Alaska (ugh), I was having lunch. Modest Mouse’s Float On was playing in the restaurant. I immediately got a punch in the gut feeling of I cannot wait to get home and play this thru my new system. I thought it will be all new again. It was.

Thanks Paul. Increasing my budget to buy both the BHK 250 and Preamp was truly money well spent.

I think “Bill” should be “Paul”, but don’t worry, Paul won’t be offended!

Sorry Paul. I work with a Bill McGowan, hence the confusion. (***typo corrected)