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    My take on Don Sach's SP-14 line preamp

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    deepee99

    Posts : 1333
    Join date : 2012-05-23
    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    My take on Don Sach's SP-14 line preamp

    Post by deepee99 on Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:59 pm

    Review of Don Sach's 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 when he farts.

    Sach's 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.

    wildiowa

    Posts : 126
    Join date : 2012-03-19

    Re: My take on Don Sach's SP-14 line preamp

    Post by wildiowa on Sat Oct 31, 2015 9:28 am

    A few years ago Jim McShane suggested contacting Don for tech work and I have shipped him several repair/rebuild projects with great results and glad to see him doing well in this new venture. Highly recommended. Although he technically lives in Canada or something he drives down to pick stuff up in WA so there are no customs hassles or fees getting items across the border. A really helpful guy the only real issue is the cost and logistics of sending tube stuff that weighs 70 or 75 lbs via USPS or UPS but that's true no matter where you ship it. He specializes in total rebuilds and updates/mods on the Citation II but really knows all the tube stuff. Shameless endorsement.

    Jim McShane

    Posts : 154
    Join date : 2011-10-19
    Location : South Suburban Chicago

    Re: My take on Don Sach's SP-14 line preamp

    Post by Jim McShane on Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:44 pm

    Thank you all for the kind words regarding my comrade and friend Don Sachs! I totally agree, he's a great guy and a great tech.

    A little history in case you are interested - I ran into Don about (IIRC) 8 or 9 years ago - he was a customer of mine for some Citation kits and some tubes. At the time I had a 5 YEAR waiting list for me to work on people's gear, mostly Citation I and II stuff but others as well. That's pretty lousy customer service, don't you think? Once I was sure of Don's ability we reached an agreement that he would be my authorized bench tech, and that as much as possible he would use parts and kits sourced from me. He then put together our US mail drop so shipping amps to him was no more difficult than sending them to me, and he's got things worked put with Canadian customs so he can bring other people's gear into Canada without having to pay duty as long as the gear leaves the country in a specified time. That makes it painless for our customers - and WAYYY better than waiting 5 years for me!

    We talk almost every day, and I act as the "parts guy" and to a certain extent the "technical advisor". This combination really works well, so we've both been able to branch out some in what we do. Don had the good fortune to get to know Roy Mottram and one thing led to another with the preamp. I'm so glad it's being so well received!! It'll help keep Don busy and out of trouble!  Razz

    Believe me, I know I speak/write for both of us when I say how honored we are to know Bob and Roy. And thank you all for all your kind words as well. On many a tough day those kind words are what keeps us going!

    dsachs

    Posts : 1
    Join date : 2015-09-18

    Re: My take on Don Sach's SP-14 line preamp

    Post by dsachs on Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:20 am

    Aw shucks... As Jim said, we first crossed paths maybe 8 or 9 years ago. I had a problem with a Citation II that I rebuilt for myself. He helped me diagnose the problem and I learned quite a bit about trouble shooting. I can now usually find a problem in tube gear very quickly due to lots of experience. From Jim I have learned to only use really good parts that are always run very conservatively. He and I are very chicken and only run things nowhere near their max ratings! Also not to waste money on boutique parts where they don't count, but to use the right part in the right spot. The SP14 is sort of the culmination of everything I have learned from rebuilding hundreds of vintage amps and listening to different parts choices in different spots in the circuit. I listen to everything in my system and I know what works well to my ear. Apparently others agree. Good luck to all with their Dynaco gear!

    Don

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: My take on Don Sach's SP-14 line preamp

    Post by Tube Nube on Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:39 pm

    Dave,

    Thanks for your giving us a review of your hopped up SP14. Now you've got me wondering about the update myself.

    As I commented on that "whoah is me" thread about my broken ST70, Don fixed up my amp and updated it with the octal driver board and a few other bits and pieces he recommended since he was under the hood already with the job.

    I'd just like to add my voice to saying it was great dealing with Don, as well as getting to know him just a bit through talking about equipment, the hobby, etc.


    deepee99

    Posts : 1333
    Join date : 2012-05-23
    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Re: My take on Don Sach's SP-14 line preamp

    Post by deepee99 on Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:28 pm

    Tube Nube wrote:Dave,

    Thanks for your giving us a review of your hopped up SP14. Now you've got me wondering about the update myself.

    As I commented on that "whoah is me" thread about my broken ST70, Don fixed up my amp and updated it with the octal driver board and a few other bits and pieces he recommended since he was under the hood already with the job.

    I'd just like to add my voice to saying it was great dealing with Don, as well as getting to know him just a bit through talking about equipment, the hobby, etc.


    Don's a super guy after the purchase as well. There was a mechanical issue with the Khozmo 48-step volume pot which he replaced pronto at his expense. (They've since fixed this intermittent problem at the factory). I've had this puppy about a month now and rolled a few tubes through it, haven't found a bad combination yet. It even breathed new life into my Bedini sand amp. By all means, get the Mundorf silver/oil Supreme caps and, if you're contemplating a DAC, the balanced input options. Only option I didn't go for was the remote volume control; sometimes the only exercise I get in a day is hiking twixt the chair and the stereo.
    Don has taken the world's mostest perfect preamp (the SP-14) and made it perfecter.
    Dave, get that tail-dragger down here; the WX is fine through Wednesday Smile


    Last edited by deepee99 on Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : diction)

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