Positive Feedback Online, Issue 2 :
A return voyage to 845's
by David W. Robinson, Editor
The deHavilland 845 Aries Monoblock Amplifier
& Buggtussel Amygdala Loudspeaker
"You know, Georgie K. and Kara C. make a very righteous amplifier...and Dr.Kevin B.
has a speaker that compliments it right well. But I am getting ahead of myself.
" Having moved back and forth between the world of high current (Linn Klimax at 500WPC) and flea-powered (the SET/SACD project of a couple of years ago), I was interested in listening to something that would be in-between...more than 4 watts and less than 80-100. Keeping my eyes/ears open while at CES 2001, I dropped in on my audio friends George Kielczynski ("the K!") and Kara Chaffee ("KC!"), whose 572-based amplifier had made such an impression on me the prior year.
" One of the truly musical rooms that my SACD's and I visited, was the deHavilland/Buggtussel suite. In the aftermath of that terrific experience, I asked Georgie K. and KC to send a pair of the Aries 845's to Portland to replace their SV572/KT-88-based amp.
" The deHavilland Aries 845 is a pure class A component, featuring zero negative feedback. The input is a 6SN7, with a 6AV5 driver, feeding a Chinese 845 directly heated triode (DHT) output tube. The transformers are a set of hefty Electra-Prints; as was clear when I began to listen, Jack Elliano and company have not lost their touch. The finish is a kind of modern retro look-glass, metal, wood side plates, large switches and aluminum faceplate, with that startling cursive red logo-combining utility with a unique style. I have to say that I like the look of the deHavilland.
" I have listened to other 845 amplifiers in my listening room, though of a radically different character. The Bel Canto SET-80's were a dual 845 setup producing up to about 80 WPC. We had them here in River City for quite a while, and found them to be extraordinary amplifiers at first listen. I paired them with my reference Nova Rendition II loudspeakers, and at first was drawn right in. The sound was big, musical, golden, and very seductive, truly a fine experience.
" Over time, though, I found that the "goldenness" of the sound became perhaps a bit predictable, as though this implementation of the 845's was oriented toward the stereotypically euphonic. Not tubby; not rolled off; just "golden" all the time...what I knew was that the 845 tube hadn't quite succeeded in their first pass in my listening room. Would the deHavilland Aries 845/Buggtussel Amygdala do any better?
"When I first fired up the amplifiers, I was pleased with the relatively low noise floor. Like the earlier 572 model, it is a quiet creature; a very gentle buzz at the speaker, a little white noise, inaudible at normal listening distances is all that's there. Another good feature of the 845 is its "soft start" power-up, giving the tubes a few seconds to get on track before going live.
" Unlike my earlier 845 experience, this combination delivered what I remembered from CES: a clear, clean sound...articulate and nicely detailed...without the overdose of "golden" that happened (to my dismay) in my room before. It was a relief to sit back and enjoy what I was hearing.
" Those who know the magic of DHT's and the 845 know where the utter magic of this tube is: the midrange of the Aries 845 is glorious! Right now I am listening to the exceptional new SACD from Sony/Columbia, James Taylor's JT...Taylor's voice is smashing... I keep wandering away from the keyboard...just to hear this recording sound better than I've ever heard it. Ditto on the new Lauryn Hill Unplugged SACD (magic!!); ditto again on Winston Ma's utter reference SACD River OF Sorrow-acoustical instruments and the human voice are rendered with an ease and naturalness that rests and heals your spirit.
" The Aries 845/ Amygdala do this without rolling off the upper frequencies, though; extension and the sense of air and space, which is what LPs and SACDs deliver so superbly, is present in proper proportions. Percussives are natural and quick; the metal domes that Buggtussel uses in its 1" dome don't "spit", or become harsh/aggressive. State-of -the-art SACDs/LP playback make this a particularly important consideration; this combination does not disappoint. The presentation is quick, spacious, and lithe-very appealing indeed.
" Are there any drawbacks? Since nothing's perfect, the answer is "of course." The Aries 845/Amygdala will do a better job on jazz or chamber orchestras or human voice/acoustic instruments than with the Rolling Stones on SACD (oh YEAH!), though the presentation of driving rock and roll will probably not suffice for those who prefer high current/lower efficiency designs. ( Make sure that you don't live in an apartment building, though!)
" Then again...I'm listening to the brand new ABKCO SACD reissue of the Rolling Stones Flowers over the Aries 845/Amygdala..."Lady Jane" is sounding so bloody fine, that I can't sit still in my chair and write about it, without jumping up from time to time to sit in the listening room-just down the hall-to take it all in. These SACD's are sine qua non for anyone with the good sense to have an SACD player and who loves great music. I guess that I'd have to say that rockers/rollers should not be frightened off...that last octave can only be delivered by a handful of systems on the planet, anyway. The Aries 845/Amygdala deliver an awful lot of pure musical joy!
"Over a number of months, I've put quite a few SACDs, LPs and CDs through this combination, and I have to say that the Aries 845/Amygdala is an absolutely delightful tandem. Always musical, but never sentimental, this tandem pleased me at all times. If you are looking for the magic of DHT's with some additional horsepower, and a speaker that compliments the sound very nicely, you should definitely put this pair on your audition list.
" The deHavilland Aries 845/ Buggtussel Amygdala combination therefore rates a Ye Olde Editor's " very highly recommended".
Complete Review can be found at
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