Catch up time

Here is Mentor serial number 4, which just made a star appearance at the TAVES show in Toronto last weekend.  The initial reviews are coming in, and it appears that people were blown away by the sound of the new Mentor and the new EL84 SE amps.

It’s official! Audiobuilder is moving to France!

I’ve been planning and waiting, but the news is officially in:  I’m moving to France for a year.  I didn’t want to jinx anything by getting overconfident early on, but the visa is in my passport now so I can announce it with only minimal fear 😉

I look forward to meeting some French audiophiles, amateur radio guys, and techie nerds in general.  I also look forward to having nothing better to do than to ride my bike 2 hours a day and drop another 20 pounds to get back to my high school weight!  Pyrenees, I will master you, but probably 8 months from now. 🙂

This site may become less build-oriented and more discussion-oriented over the next several months, and I hope my core repeat viewers will engage themselves and help me turn this site into a great source of audiophile knowledge.  That’s going to require you admitting your OCD audiophile failings at the same time as me!

Thanks for using my site as a resource for Audio Note Kits, and please help me turn it into a great source of information for all kit builders.  I’m thinking of putting up a discussion forum for ANK kit builders.  Please send me your feedback if you think this might be a useful feature.

Keep building, and enjoy the music!


Taking the EL34 monoblocs to the edge!

Last week I did a fairly major upgrade for a special client.  So, what do you do when you want to take your already-great-sounding, C-cored, Audio-Note-copper-foil-capped, dual-GZ34-rectified EL34 monoblocs to the next level?  Well, first, he wanted to move heat away from the Elna SILMIC cathode caps, so we switched from the stock Ohmites to a pair (per bloc) of Mills non-inductive 50W wirewounds for the cathode resistors-  they now run cold to the touch, and frankly, they look pretty serious too.  Secondly, and most noticeably, he wanted to eliminate as many electrolytics in the B+ supply, so we substituted in some impossible-to-miss massive Mundorf EVO film caps, which necessitated some creative layout mods and some chassis drilling.  In the end, I was very pleased with the result.  They definitely catch the eye (and the ear-  more on that later!)  Finally, he wanted to use the balanced output on his preamp so I added an XLR socket – a first for the EL34 monoblocs.

So, how does it all sound?  The handful of people who have heard it so far have been really impressed.  The power supply mods definitely add clarity. In fact, because we were so taken with the sound, you just might be seeing these mods as an available upgrade to the kit in the not too distant future.  It just goes to show that there’s always room for a little tweaking!monster-el34-sidemonster-el34-side-angleel34-xlr

Welcome to a faster!

Fingers crossed, after a day of bashing at the command line, I have finally finished migrating from my home office to The Cloud.  Ok, I admit that I’m not a huge fan of that particular buzzword 🙂  Despite that, the site should be much, much faster now.  Even better, this extra speed should allow me to jazz up with more content, higher-resolution photos, and other goodies.

If you emailed me between Aug. 23 and Aug. 25 and you haven’t heard back, please re-send your message as it may have fallen through the cracks during the DNS propagation.

Enjoy the speed!

A confession…

I’m fast approaching my 3 year anniversary with ANK and I have built over 50 kits-  more than one of everything, in fact, with one glaring exception.  One of the first things I built in my first week at work at Audio Note Kits was a driver board for a Kit 1.  I have worked on Kit 1 prototypes, I have done full mechanical builds of the Kit 1, I have built power supplies for the Kit 1, I have photographed the Kit 1 for manuals, websites and marketing materials.  The one thing I have never done, however, is properly _hear_ a Kit 1, ANK’s original product.  Until now, that is!  Product development never ends at ANK, and the Kit 1 isn’t exempted from this process.  We are establishing a new baseline Kit 1 with all the latest upgrades-  Takman resistors, updated chassis, updated transformers, etc.  I just finished this new “prototype” build a couple days ago, and all I can say is “wow!”  I finally know where all the rave reviews come from.  This is a really special amp, a sort of unique topology in the ANK lineup, and the sound is really nuanced and sublime.  It’ll really suck you in!

The Kit 1 is kind of an “old school” kit, so I went with a slightly more organic old-school wiring layout.  There is a method to the apparent madness though!  In addition to taking special care as to where AC might interact with DC, and where signal might interact with sources of noise, I also try to think in 3D to make the most of the space inside to keep these elements separated.  I believe this is somewhat visible in the last photo.