D Sachs Model 1 Customer Reviews

These are unsolicited!  Thanks guys!

From David B in Wallace, Idaho Review of Don Sachs’ SP-14 The tube preamplifiers and power amps available from Tubes4hifi and VTA, and their various iterations by Tube Nirvana, are nonpareil at even the most basic entry level. The spectrum is North American-built and incorporates the best of components, some of them foreign. (Who knew the Polish made the finest attenuators?) I have piddled around with this stuff for several years, starting with building Bob Latino's M-125 and Roy Mottram's SP-14 kits, and now have Holger Schaarschmidt's (Tube Nirvana) M-125 mods for the power amps, and his top-end phono preamplifier, the Janis, which is a sweetly souped-up PH-16. But when Mottram alerted me to Don Sachs' re-do of the SP-14, the antennae went up. Skipping a couple of mortgage payments, I purchased a Don's Sachs Model 1. It arrived the other day. There are incremental improvements to be found in our audio toy collections. But the Sachs Model 1 is a step-level improvement. Bells ring. Brushers whisper. Bass tautly deepens. You hear a ding instead of a tink. And you learn the viola player might be a bit drunk. Sachs’ preamplifier is almost too good. If you've got a bum tube or a bad mix, it will tell you straightaway. But if you've got a good input and your tubes are squared away, it will take full advantage of it.  At present I am using Sylvania chrome-domes out front, RCAs in the back. I am not a hi-fi reviewer and can't use all those esoteric verbs and adjectives. All I can truly tell you is that the Sachs SP-14 will fill your room with sound the likes of which you've never heard before. All that's left is that you need to develop a food budget for the musicians who have just invaded your living room. Thanks, Don. Fine work. From Mark W., Sacramento, California I had a Harmon Kardon Citation I and II for years in my closet that I had been trying to get Jim McShane to upgrade.  Jim was too busy so he suggested I contact Don Sachs to have the upgrades performed.  Don has a long history of doing upgrades on tube electronic and Jim's go-to guy for such work.  Don upgraded both the HK amp and preamp and they were absolutely stunning, dead quite in operation.  Don has now taken the great tube SP14 tube preamp design from Roy Mottram at "tubesf4hifi" and is selling these preamps with several upgrades and optionality for buyers.  In contrast to Roy's original design, Don puts the basic SP14 circuitry in a custom-made wood cabinet with the tubes side exposed on top for better cooling and access for those of us who like to roll tubes (brilliant).   Don has spend countless hours listening to the preamp with a wide variety of upgrades caps, as well as the very fine 48-step Khozmo volume pot.  I got the preamp a few months ago, with XLR connectors and upgraded Mundorf Silver Oil caps which Don prefers.  I use it with a Emovita UPA-200 to drive Linkwitz LXmini speakers, quite amazing DIY speakers if you are not familiar with them.  I had been using a Dared SL200a tube preamp and loved the sound of the system with the modestly-priced preamp.  Well, it was a moment of magic when I swapped the Dared out and hooked up Don's preamp.  OMG, the clarity of the sound was instantly far more vivid and the increase in the frequency extension on both ends was profoundly different than with the Dared.  I could have sworn that a subwoofer has been added with the increased presence of the LF response!  The music literally hung in a 3-D soundstage in front of my eyes, with enormous air around each instrument.  Each instrument had a weight, vididness, and presence that was totally lacking with the Dared preamp.  Don's preamp is, to my ears, a much more detail preamp even than the venerable HK C-I, no question about it. Now if we compare Don's preamp topology to that of the C-I, there is a noticeable difference and therein lies the magic of Don's preamp.  The C-I used a total of nine tubes, including 12AX7's and 12AU7's if I recall correctly, but Don's new preamp uses four 6SN7's and one rectifier tube.  Don has long believed the 6SN7's are perfect for tube preamps and inherently have the ability to create the immense soundstage and clarity in presentation of music that the 12XX7 variants are unable to.  Don's preamp is the quite simply the greatest improvement I have ever experienced in my 45 years of listening to my system.  I have rolled some fantastic, and not very expensive, NOS GE and Sylvania 6SN7's tubes into the preamp and I enhanced the sound my system to a degree over the already very good NOS Russian tubes that Don uses in his preamp.  I got a cache of these NOS 6SN7's, so by my estimation, I have enough stock to run the preamp the rest of my life.  I think Don's preamp will compare very favorably with a lot of mega-buck tube preamps on the market today, but in fact sells his preamp in the range of about $1700 depending on what upgrades the buyer might choose.  I might swap every other piece of gear on my system at some point, but I concluded that I will never look to upgrade Don' preamp, because I am a devotee of the "cheap and cheerful" way of thinking.  Don is an analogue guy through and through and will tell you that he prefers tube amps as well (in fact, he is designing one at the moment to go along with this fantastic tube phone preamp), but to my ears, a fine tube preamp with a SS amp is the best of both worlds (and I need a 4-channel amp for my Linkwitz speakers).  I encourage all the C&C folks here to check out the website below if this review has piqued your interest.  I have spent a boatload of money of the past 10 year on different amplification (the latest was the top-of-the line Modwright gear), and Don's preamp is the stellar performer in my system.  Literally, I had no idea what I was missing the performance of my system until on got Don's preamp and other audiophile who have heard my system before and after have come to the same conclusion.  And, on top of it, Don is one of the nicest guys you will meet in the business and has a profoundly great ear for music. Highly recommended, to say the least.  From Mike in Michigan.  He received his line stage and wrote this the same day Don,   The preamp arrived today.  My first impression is visually it looks great.  I really like the wood stain.  It's a nice case and the faceplates are top notch.  The controls are all smooth, very nice RCA jacks, and I love the feel of the remote.  That's a big honkin AC cord!   I hooked it up and plugged it as quick as I could.  There is some ground loop hum, but I haven't tried the ground lift trick yet.  I have the gain controls about mid way and the volume at 50 is pretty loud.  Very good range to work with using the gain controls.  The remote volume is quiet when changing up and down, very smooth, and responsive.  I'm pretty happy with the brightness of the display as is.     I've had it on for about two hours as I write this.  The first thing I noticed is that the imaging of my system is much improved, and I thought it was pretty darn good to begin with.  That's something I didn't expect. Bass is stronger, and the overall tone is just delicious.  It's dynamic but not overly bright at all.  I'm enjoying every minute right now.   I'll pick up more subtleties is the next few days.  Can't imagine the CV181 tubes being an improvement.  Dying to find out.   Wow, just wow.   Thanks Don ________________________________________ From Chris A. in Vermont (note he has owned some pretty expensive gear including Audio Resarch preamps): Hi Don, Just wanted to follow up on the pre that now has about 300 hours on it.  I have heard minimal change over the last 50 hours so I think it is run in enough to justify my comments. Of course you know the pre has a full compliment of CV181s and they are truly outstanding. This pre with these tubes hands down sounds better to me than any other pre I have owned in 55 years of stereo immersion. I guess you could say I have been a hobbyist most of that time but I also worked for, managed, and owned a stereo store for 20 years. I think the best I can say is this pre remains essentially neutral while allowing me to hear character of each disc that I play and each piece of equipment that I install in my system. My discs that are full of tone, rich and dynamic, sound that way. Bass is tight and clean. Discs that are thin and strident, sound that way. But, many of those thin, strident discs are listenable because this pre plays them without adding to the thinness. Even though it is a detail monster, it is smooth and clean. Sibilance that used to be unbearable is now listenable. This is probably the most for my money purchase I have made. Thanks for all the help and for such a great piece of gear. Chris From Howard S. in Arkansas (note he has both my preamp and matching Kootenay 120 KT88 power amp) Got the sub hooked up using a speaker out line level converter, it is crossed over at 200 hz, you really don’t know what you are missing.   Still amazed at the accuracy from the preamp and amp, we have never had such a wide soundstage, we now hear instruments not only left and right but extreme left and right. We now hear background instruments we had never heard before, and I we had some pretty high end stuff. I mean double the cost of your equipment.   True hi end audio can only be accomplished with tubes, and only tubes done right!   In a word glorious and amazing.   Really can’t thank you enough for you patience and diligence. The hard work has really paid off. You are a true artist and brilliant sound engineer, and dedicated to your customers and the charge of getting it right!   You are really a well kept secret!!   We could not be happier.   Thanks again Don.   HOWARD
© Don Sachs, 2015
Vintage Tube Audio  Restoration and Repair