The New Mark 3 Avian Series Amplifiers are Just So AWESOME~!
Times are pretty exciting these days. I have about 20 brand new Avian Series amplifiers in the shop right now, fresh off the assembly line - and I'm going through them now, burning them in, picking out preamp tubes and getting them ready for their new homes! All I can say is WOW... these new amps are just amazing. The long delay has melted away and the music is flooding my room with a detail and authentic finish that will make your heart glow. Knowing that the new PC boards are so thick, and the copper tracing is so pure - I know that is what I am hearing now.
Yeah, the prototypes were fabulous, but these production amps are flat out better. They seem to be very silent overall compared to other tube amps and that's not the usual situation with most, if not all tube amps believe me. When selling amps with great old historic tubes in them, sometimes there's a trade-off and you can hear a gentle rush in the background when you put your ear up next to the speaker drivers or tweeters. But right now I am not hearing much of anything, and these tubes are pretty old.
The detail has always been excellent on all the previous Raven Audio Avian Series integrated amplifiers, but this new level of micro-detail, most likely achieved by the new aerospace manufacturing process and the new thicker composite board is just so ballsy and beautiful now, and the sustain is just awe inspiring. The bass is so punchy and powerful, it really doesn't matter how low I turn the volume, it's still there. And this midrange is a thing of pure beauty, so real and in the room with you.
Right now I am listening to one of the new Nighthawk MK3's and its just mesmerizing. The female vocals, Ella Fitzgerald, a track recorded in the late 50's has that old time finish to it, but still... it just touches the soul in such a way that you cannot deny the emotional connection - and though they will undoubtedly be more accurate and open, few new tracks can match the emotion on some of these old tracks. There was just something to the way they recorded back then. And believe me they did NOT know how much information was being left on those old recordings. When they were mixed and mastered they had no idea just how well they were doing. This is because they did not have matching playback technology and in fact, we to this very day still do not have instruments good enough to retrieve everything.
Live with the instruments bleeding through all the microphones during the recording, noise transmitted through the mic stands, drum kit, or acoustic bass as it was standing on the studio floor and even though the stand-up (acoustic) bass wasn't directly miked a lot of times, it's nice, full, and just beautiful on some of these tracks. All of this adds to the realism of the musical event. This is what music should be all about.
This older music that has authentic soul and emotion so thick you can easily, sometimes, get very emotional as a listener, connecting to the musical event by noticing all these little micro-details that aren't readily apparent on most other amplifiers. Knowing the history behind the story, those days when artists didn't really get pay like they deserved, and then knowing that in the end over 80% of their masters were allowed to deteriorate or burn in the California Universal Studio lot fire is just so incredibly insulting to the lives dedicated to this art. And maybe I shouldn't touch on that right now... it s a very difficult story for me especially as a musician and music lover.
But hey... I'm trying to tell a good story here, not one about extreme loss.
As I am writing this I have a pair of Tungsram branded Seimens ECC81's from the 60's in row 1, Philips blue print charcoal plate 12AT7WC from the early 80's in row 2 and a pair of Raytheon 12AU7 shiny black plates in row 3 and the balance is perfect. I could live with this forever I'm telling you. Knowing that the Blackhawk MK3 and Osprey MK3 are even more refined is really a difficult thing to think about right now because of what I am hearing is pure bliss. I know the Nighthawk has always been good... but this new one is just so musical and effortless. I don't hear anything that shouldn't be there. It is doing its job so admirably overall.
The hair is standing up on the back of my neck and arms as I am listening to her sing these timeless songs. I am thinking, this is exactly what this hobby is all about... andbetter yet, I know that if I change the preamp section tubes to a pair of my newly acquired Tektonic matched Telefunkens, and then the phase inverter row I stick a pair of 50's era Brimar 6060 “Yellow T’s” the musical finish and overall soundstage will get huge, dynamic and more delineated/separated and it will widen to beyond the speaker placement.
All of this gets down to the point of owning tube amplification as your main component. From that decision on, you will know that you are never stuck with a single sound scene. It will yield an endless amount of fun and experience for the future of your listening room. OH YEAH~!
You should never get bored if you have a tube amp. From that decision on the variety of different musical finishes you can achieve will be endless, and so if you decide to change speakers and/or move to a different room, you can achieve endless micro-changes to make the system match with the room and new speakers by trying out new tubes along with them. To me that is where all the new fun begins all over!
It can be so much fun to experiment with all the old historic tubes still out there. In fact, you are so lucky to live in a time when the latest tech in tube amps brings new resolution, speed and accuracy, and the top designers that take advantage of all of this can make the amplifier very impactful of tube changes, especially in the preamplifier section of an integrated or preamplifier. In fact, this is where all the fun begins… Raven tube amps are incredibly fun to play with.
I cannot now for the life of me ever even think about owning anything as boring as solid state or digital where you are completely stuck with what you bring home unless you sell it and get another. How boring and expensive. Tubes can be expensive, sure. But a few hundred is completely different than a few thousand… or more for that matter, because that’s what you would be talking about if you went to purchase another amp if you got bored with the current one. Screw that~!
How odd that seems to me… how boring and easy to walk away from too. Why would I ever want to do such a thing? But that's just me...