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Suddenly, it was all over. Gone was the company, the intensity, and the adventure. Unplugged gear, music still playing to a deaf DAC, a pile of dishes, and the odd can to recycle. A wet tractor seat, and futile attempts to focus on feeding a bunch of swarming hungry beasts up the hill silently yelling 'hey what happened to this global warming thing'. (Icy wind and rain). Back to earth.

 

I'd been chatting to Anthony for quite a while, so when he mentioned he had one of his Five-Zero-Zero amps ready to send to a client overseas, and would I like to hear it first, what could I say? It was still engaged in its 'soak-in' period, so it could only enhance the amp's performance by coming down and showing its first footsteps to an equally innocent speaker nut in the southern wilderness?

 

So it turned into a GTG, sadly limited mainly to the 5 people that the 'message' service would allow. I hope not too many others missed the grapevine (sorry).

 

Anthony turned up with his very classy chauffeur 😉 on Saturday evening; we survived a bit of my cooking, and got into some fairly serious chat before crashing.

 

This morning we slowly recovered from my overt lack of ostentation, and carefully man-ouvered the this mighty declaration of human achievement into my salubrious listening space.

 

I admit total exhaustion, after having spent the last few days bulldozing and re-ordering 25 years of junk and treasures to gain a stunning further 22". We had space, in The Barn.

 

So there it was - my Idealish Server running Snakeoil OS, controlled by my 2nd mITX (Win 10) computer, both on Uptone JS-2 LPSUs, feeding via Curious Cable to the Gieseler Konverter DAC/preamp. Balanced cables then took the goodies to the Holton 500 power amp, and on to my SBAcoustics/Audio Technology/ScanSpeakBe 4-way speakers. Also some input from an Oppo disc player, and some 16/44.1 stuff via optical from the control computer.

 

The rest is history. Maybe others could join in with impressions of the experience. @soundbyte, @deblur, @henning, @jasonphilip, @Aussieamps

 

I'm all a bit overwhelmed. And not just by Anthony's very kind words about my speakers.

 

Feeble thoughts flashed by...     "oh, but you could just leave it here, and I'll post it on", etc.   All a bit like having your child arrested in a foreign country...

 

Dreadful feelings of loss, seeing it lovingly wrapped up and driven off into the stormy night. And the company too. It's been a very rich few years, connecting with you SNA guys,  following all the joys and tragedies of life.

 

My ears are forever addicted. That's my amp review for you (for now).

 

Thanks to you all, and an especially huge one for Anthony. A beautiful crystallization of decades of achievement there!

 

Sorry you couldn't make it, @Upfront and @davewantsmoore.

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Thanks Brian @BioBrian for having us along today, even though the weather did not cooperate all afternoon, unfortunately having the roller door down meant the lovely system paddock / forest backdrop was lost.

 

Having an opportunity to hear one of the latest Anthony Holton amplifier models, I jumped at the chance.

 

It was great to catch up with old and new faces of  SNA members today at "A Holton experience".

 

I have heard other Holton amplifiers before and have been impressed with both the sound and construction of these amplifiers made by Anthony, here in Tasmania.

This one to me looked the best of them all, stylish black and the use of a touch switch a nice change, as well as no bright blue LED's anywhere, only one small discreet green one on the touch switch fascia.

 

After having a listen to various different types of music before, during and after lunch, we as always spent a lot of time just chatting, not listening!

 

Towards the end of the day a shootout was organised between the Holton and the Parasound.

 

Not too much more to say other than the choice of what I would like to take home was very simple, the Holton, easily.

 

Anthony's amplifier just did everything better, most noticeably for me, at higher sound levels in the upper frequencies it was clear and clean whereas the Parasound was quite muddled in comparison when a lot was going on in the music (it was an orchestral piece).

I am not sure what the track was that was used for the shoot out but it had a good range of frequencies and lots of dynamics, just right for a listening test.

As far as I could see all the equipment stayed the same, only the amplifiers were swapped.

 

I heard a comment from one very eager listener that it sounded like "'just like being there" with the Holton amp in comparison to the Parasound..

Lookout Brian I can see a Holton in the future, perhaps just not in your listening space?

 

If anyone gets a chance to have a listen to one of Anthony's amplifiers then grab it, Melbourne Audio Show?

 

Another very enjoyable GTG, well done everyone involved.

 

Thanks Brian,

 

Russell.

 

PS the brakes worked fine on the way home.

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1 hour ago, soundbyte said:

 

PS the brakes worked fine on the way home

That's good news. Cooked on the trip in. The front wheels were that hot you couldn't keep a finger on em and mmmm, smelly.

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Brian, Thanks for your hospitality and doing the dishes.

And thanks  @jasonphilip for great BBQ skills.

 

It was a pleasure to meet Anthony and hear his opinions on amplifier design and his emergence onto the world stage as a boutique HI End manufacturer .

Build quality, fit and finish are as good as it gets. 

Brian's amazing speakers are always a joy to hear but swapping out his regular highly regarded amp for the Holton 500 Supreme I was taken aback by the increase in clarity, freedom from harshness  on dynamic peaks and far better bass detail and control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you everyone for tuning up at the GTG at Brian's wonderful home.

It was an absolute pleasure to be there and Brian was a perfect host, I felt very well looked after.

Also it was wonderful meeting some old and new faces and enjoying some food and drinks and of course listening to Brians wonderful loudspeakers

and seeing some of his other impressive loudspeaker creations.

A special thanks also to Jason Philips from Sisters Creek who gracously picked me up and transported me to and from Brians home.

All in all a great GTG in Hobart with the Guys and Girl, hope to do it again sometime.

 

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Thanks Brian for organising this event. It was great to meet some new faces and I'm glad I have now heard a Holton amplifier! I hope to hear more of Anthony's creations in the future. The sound and build quality both excellent. I'd be very happy to own a Holton. It is wonderful that we are blessed with a number of talented designers in Australia.

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Posted (edited)

There are much better pics around than this, but a look at the back is quite helpful for me, so I'll share this one:

 

455173855_Holton5-0-0rear.jpg.797631a952d6cbdfe5b944385efaf412.jpg

 

It shows the simplicity - no stickers, rock solid, modest, and fine proportions. I certainly have no issue with the placement of the feet - spot on. And the whole thing - it was quite humbling just to be in its presence! The aesthetics are just perfect, obviously well thought-out, and whether intentional or not, a work of art. From above, side, below with the polished steel transformer 'pot', and of course the front, it is quietly neat and confident. The 14 kg 2 kVA (edited) transformer is less than half of its weight; the 10 mm front and rear panels are a special grade of aluminium that allows the stunning CNC lettering; this and the anodising are done in South Australia (edited).

 

From past photos and Anthony's descriptions, it's obvious that this meticulous care is exhibited throughout the interior as well. There is virtually no wiring inside. The power supply is a major part of the centre, and the transformer is encased below the isolating mezzanine floor. We heard that Anthony has quite a history of "making cars go faster", so it would seem natural to have such a low centre of gravity, with the transformer showing its lovely bottom below the casework.

 

Some of the conversation re technical aspects of the design was over my head (implications of voltage feedback, etc), but it gave me complete confidence that this man has been studying and implementing amplifier design for decades, and that this amplifier is a pinnacle of his success.

 

As mentioned in above posts, we compared the '500' with my Parasound A 21 amp, which is rated at 250 W into 8 Ohms, still a solid piece of work of similar weight, and similar claimed 'A' biased 'A-B' type. The Parasound transformer is only 1 kVA, compared with the Holton's 2 kVA. And it's not silent, like the Toroidy Supreme.

 

The test track was a portion of Mahler's 4th Symphony, played by Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic. Near the end of the achingly-beautiful slow movement there's a huge outburst from the orchestra - strings going crazy, full woodwind and brass, triangle, and tympany using both sticks at extreme levels.

 

Previously, I had been very pleased with how the Parasound made all this feel reasonably effortless. I never had the feeling I needed to protect against cones hitting me at high velocity, or seeing blue smoke arising - my speakers are quite efficient, and the AT drivers can handle huge dynamic contrasts, etc etc.

 

But the Holton made it so much easier! Everything stayed in control, and there was much more detail, even in the terrifyingly loud parts. It made the A 21 sound like everything had soft edges, a coloration in the upper midrange, and quite a bloom in the bottom notes, even though I had the illusion of the A 21 being slightly louder down there.

 

We played many types of music through the Holton, including one of Martin's own recordings of a local jazz group, a hi-def remix (?) of Hotel California, some provocative Stravinsky, a Steinway grand piano, Bach played on the 'Barrere' Stradivarius, and some demo test tracks.

 

One track prompted the question - "Brian, are you sure you want supplimenting subs?" Everything was so clean, 3D, and virile. I heard many comments about the depth of sound stage. It made my speakers sound better to me - some aspects which had been of concern around that midrange were showing a new transparency. I'd wondered if it had something to do with the polyprop driver cones, but now I don't need to doubt.

 

I have to admit that I haven't experienced any amplifiers of this calibre before, so this might explain my rather emotional reaction. The whole time was a very thrilling experience - right from the first moments of sensing it sinking into my dining table (that felt like a mild blood transfusion), to the big orchestral climaxes in the Barn the next day, as well as being in the presence of its designer/builder - that quietly potent man. It was wonderful to hear Anthony open up and let forth some views about design aspects, better use of the room, speakers in general, and the state of hifi around the world.

 

I'm so glad we could all share this, and thanks to you all for your contributions.

 

 

Edited by BioBrian
corrections

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