Here I am right now, listening to the Raven Audio Blackhawk LE . . . and the sound just floats around me . . . the vocals are as pure as pure can be, uber realistic and haunting. This sound is BEAUTIFUL and does indeed beat my $10,000 McIntosh MA-8000 when it comes to that sound. In fact, I would say that if you were looking for a great tube integrated, I have never heard any better up to $6500 and it sounds VERY similar to the Audio Research VSi75 that comes in at nearly $10k, but with more authority.
I’m one of those listeners who believe there exist, among amplifiers, many different paths to glory—yet who has a special place in his heart for low-power, push-pull tube amps, especially monoblocks. A number of such models have impressed me over the years, and the realistically bold-sounding Raven Spirit Mk2 Monoblock has earned its place among them. Given that the Spirit Mono, even at $13,990/pair, is among the very better values in this heady field, and that Dave Thomson, like Leonard Cohen, is a man still working for your smile, I believe that this Raven deserves more than a second look and listen.
The Cirrus, based on its beautiful rendering of both color and space, is a music lover’s type of preamplifier. When mated with either tube or solid-state amplifiers and a variety of musical genres, the Cirrus always just got out of the way of what the amplifier was doing. However, it provided what great tube-based preamplifiers provide–which is more “flesh on the bones,” giving individual players a lifelike palpability, along with a more realistic tonality and color than any solid-state-based preamplifiers can provide.
Comparing the new Nighthawk MK2 to the Blackhawk Limited Edition is a close task. The Blackhawk and Nighthawk are both excellent amplifiers, almost like two slightly different flavours cut from the same cake, one just ends up with a little more icing~! The Blackhawk features the same build with the addition of Tokyo Ko-on and antique NOS Allen Bradley resistors, and then there’s the RavenCap audio capacitors! So they have a little more of punch and delineation to the instruments and vocals. Not necessarily better, just different. Quite different!
All Raven gear shares something in common, and that is the ability to reproduce music in such a way that it never fails to put a smile on your face and let you relax as the music washes over you. There is something intrinsically “right” about the sound of Raven gear…