Bound For Sound #144 ,
deHavilland 845 SE Amplifier
by Bob O'Neill
"During the last couple of months I've had an interesting amp to compare them to [Antique Sound Labs 845], and have been living the good life with the deHavilland 845's ($6000).
" So, as I played the deHavillands the question of value came to mind; do they sound twice as good as the ASL amps? That's a tall order, and defining "twice" isn't something that I want to get into. To the ears and mind, what is twice as good anyway? Instead I started my analysis of value in terms of how much one might expect to pay for the difference in performance between the two amps. The question then turns from " Are the deHavillands twice as good?", to "Are they almost $3000 better than the Asian amps?."
" That's a question which seems more answerable to me in the subjective terms that I find easiest to assess. I see it this way. The deHavillands are heavier, being much better constructed and finely finished, with a nice silver faceplate with the deHavilland logo etched in brazened red. The circuit of the more expensive amplifier appears to be much more sophisticated with no less than five power supplies but fewer tubes than the ASL. The extra weight referred to comes from a stronger and stiffer chassis (the ASL tends to flex a bit when lifted). Finally the deHavillands have the HUGE Electra-Print output transformers made in the Wild, Wild West... Las Vegas that is, by the transformer guru of the hi-end, Jack Elliano.
" And how do the California surfer dude amps from deHavilland sound? I like them, and if I could afford them, I'd buy them. ( My lifestyle has been seriously crimped by the stock market dump-out...I'm down to three polo ponies, and one Bentley.) The deHavillands are more extended on top than the ASL ( a given with the Electra-Print output tranny), and the middle frequencies are transparent, present and brimming with dynamic impact- amazing power and resolution from an SE, single output tube power amplifier.
" I did most of my listening with the legendary JBL S 3100 loudspeakers. These sonic icons have a horn loaded compression tweeter driver, and a 15" ported woofer. As you may have guessed, these are the speakers that French "audio-wizzard", Jean Hiraga raved about when he used them with the Bel Canto 845 amps...Sooooo, I figured that the S3100's would be just the thing for the deHavillands...and so they were. The JBL's are rated at 94dB efficiency, and the deHavilland's 25 watts sounded supremely happy in my 28' room. The amps worked amazingly well with the 90dB Spendor SP100s. It's obvious then that 25 watts per side-the right kind of 25 watts- can drive real world speakers."
BFS "True Audio Undergroud'
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deHavilland Aries-845 SET amplifier