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Wavebourne Edelweiss-3 Prototype Power Amp review


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Ok, now that I've had my Wavebourn Edelweiss-3 for a few months and it's nicely burned in it's time for me to prepare writing my review of it which I'll post here over the coming month. I'll post my impressions and experience purchasing this wonderful amp from Anatoliy Lisovskiy, who will be releasing the production series of the Edelweiss-3 power amp, an integrated amp and separate preamp over the course of this year.

 

IMG_20190910_223714.thumb.jpg.17e55ac8ee93d5a45e245c7d620cbc49.jpg

 

As I understand it the current production version of the power amp and integrated will all be EL34 though allow and pin compatible tube to be used right through to KT120, possibly even KT150. My own amp on the other hand uses WW2 vintage CV1127 radar sweep tubes.

 

The reason I initially started looking into a lower powered amp was that 6 months ago I built my first pair of DIY speakers. A pair of shallow cabinet open back speakers which share the performance characteristics of U frame open baffles. Unfortunately the copy darTZeel NHB-108B power amp I was running at the time was far too powerful making my 101db sensitive speakers too loud for regular use so I started investigating lower powered tube amps.

 

While looking into various solutions someone on AudioKarma pointed me in the direction of Anatoliy's Wavebourn amps and I got in touch via the Wavebourn facebook group. Over the next month or so I had an interesting discussion with Anatoliy about his amps, and their suitabillity to drive my DIY speakers (Lii Audio FAST-10S full range, Aurum Cantus G3Si ribbon, Skar Audio VX1ST bullet & Lii Audio W-15 woofer) and this led to discussions of his amps variable damping factors allowing suitabillity with a wide range of speakers. A feature which I believe may well be unique to the Wavebourn amps.

 

Overall details of the amp are as follows:

 

Input: 0 dB (0.775V) RCA, 50K stereo.
Outputs: low ohm for 4-6 Ohm and high ohm, for 8-12 Ohm load.
Power: at least 6W for <1% total harmonic distortions.
Soft asymmetric saturation (inaudible clipping), negative output resistance for damping of woofers (servo-control of speakers).
Bandwidth: 10 Hz-90 KHz -3 dB, from 20 Hz full power.

 

 

Tubes:

 

Raytheon VT127 (CV1127) radar sweep power tubes.

8CB11 driver/preamp tube (twin video pentode – filament powered from rectified DC for zero audible hum.

VR150 / Russian SG4S voltage regulator (purple glow).

VR tube and solid state MOSFET voltage regulation.  The “Edelweiss” series derives it’s name from this. A beautiful flower which grows amongst hard mountain rocks.

Selectable speaker damping

 

In order to support different speaker design types such as open baffles, horns, closed and ported boxes, there’s a damping factor switch that controls output resistance of the amplifier.

 Position 1 is the first on the left.

1.       High output resistance (like pentode output with no feedback), sometimes referred to as "Current driving mode".

2.       Similar to SET with no feedback.

3.       SET with some feedback.

4.       Negative output resistance for active servo-damping of woofers.

 

with a little experimentation I soon found that I prefer the negative output resistance setting, which is actually Anatoliy's own preference. Probably the least tube like sounding setting giving tight, accurate bass where other modes seem a bit looser. This is what I've continued to use since the first week I received the amp.

Edited by MattyW
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I've used this amp to power the full range drivers and two super tweeters in my DIY speakers with a Behringer KM750 powering the 15" woofers. So far my experience has been that the amp is like a chameleon with very noticeable sound changes in sound signature with every change of component in front of it. Even changes of interconnects make a night and day difference with differences easily audible between them.

 

Essentially this is an incredibly transparent amplifier. Imaging, detail and tonal characteristics are wholly reliant on the quality of the rest of the signal chain. It is slightly rich tonally though overall I find it takes on the characteristics of my Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 3 preamp making this perhaps the most transparent amplifier I have ever run.

 

I believe the founder of Quad defined the ideal amp as being a straight wire with gain..... That said wire has it's own subtle tonal characteristics. The Wavebourn if it has a sound of it's own, is far more subtle.

 

I must fess up that I changed the coupling caps in my amp from the stock Bennic caps to Miflex KPCU-1. Anatoliy is adamant that tube and cap choice make very little difference in his circuit, and after the change I'd have to agree. The change if any is in the realm of "is it all in my head, or is there actually a difference". I do think it was slightly smoother and more detailed, though really can't be sure. Due to this, if anyone sources one of his amps, I don't believe changing any components is really worthwhile.

 

Presently the best I've heard it is either with vinyl (never used now the baby has come along) and with my modified Muji Studio DAC II. With the Muji in place everything sounds incredibly real, revealing detail in music never before heard and with this incredible surrounding  sound stage. Instruments have weight and are rich sounding, each within their own space. With movies it feels like this betters my 5.1 system downstairs, and with music it's just such an emotionally involving experience that it's brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.

 

Recently I've had some issues with the Muji (one of the legs of the TDA1541 S1 is shorter than the others causing issues) so I've an inexpensive Lamp Audio TDA1541A based DAC filling in. Sound stage has collapsed and while the TDA1541 tonal characteristics are evident, it is what I'd classify as typical stereo sound. The richness of the sound is gone and sound stage is altogether flatter. Less overall detail is revealed from the mix. The chip used doesn't make the DAC, though rather the implementation and materials used in conjunction with it. Nothing will ever change that.

 

Likewise, changing RCA leads between my LTA MZ3 preamp and the Wavebourn showed huge differences. All cables tried were sourced from Geoff at Aurealis Audio.

 

Neotech UPOCC, Amphenol connectors - Smooth and rich sounding with a pronounced mid-bass hump making it richer and fuller sounding. Very refined

Litz copper, unshielded with Amphenol connectors - Large sound stage, detailed and layered witha good weight to the sound top to bottom. Very even handed.

Litz silver and copper hybrid - Huge enveloping sound stage with incredible detail. Very transparent though less weight and body to the sound.

 

While I do not mean this to be a review of different cables or components I do think that sharing this information is valuable in showing just how transparent this little amplifier is. It must be noted that it is paired with the Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 3 which is itself know to be an incredibly resolving and transparent component. That said I've always felt that the said transparency of the MZ3 is itself a colouration. The Wavebourn goes beyond this and simply takes on the characteristics of the source, interconnects and preamp before it.  I really can make no higher recommendation than that.

 

Having said that, I think my system a little too transparent just now..... It really does show up the deficiencies of my temporary Lamp Audio DAC. The Muji Studio will be getting looked at by my friend @muon* in the coming months and restored to active duty, though likely in my second system downstairs as I've a new DAC and phono stage being hand made for me by Abbas Audio in the Ukraine. Abbas Audio share their circuits with SW1X Audio in the UK and are indeed affiliated, though each take a very different approach to component and build choices. Abbas comonent choices are more in line with the vintage parts used in Killer DAC's whereas SW1X are more in line with Audio Note. I very much look forward to using them in this system as I know that the Wavebourne amp will let every nuance through in its full glory.  :)

 

Here is a link to a video I made when my Muji was working correctly. I must apologise in advance as recording quality with my Pocofone F1 is substandard, and volume is set quite low as that I how I tend to listen to most music. I don't feel I'm left wanting for tone, detail or nuance at this volume though it seems my phone simply wasn't up to it:

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/9N8YgER1kCJTFrkc8 

 

Another benefit I've noticed with this amp may not actually pertain specifically to this amp though rather all low wattage class A amps vs their higher powered brethren, and it doesn't pertain to sound quality as such. I've found with higher powered class AB push/pull tube amps that listening can be something of an unpleasant experience during summer. Brisbane being quite hot and humid during summer, the added heat of a 45WPC push/pull tube integrated can leave you sitting on the couch in your boxer shorts, shirtless and sweating like a pig. Even more unpleasant when you need to get up and find yourself stuck to the leather couch.

 

My current the little Wavebourn + MZ3 generate very little heat and do not make the experience any worse than when the sound system is powered off. On the sound front, while less punchy the a push-pull KT120 amp it's also far more natural sounding, a characteristic which is shared by other single ended amps I've tried. An amp should not sound punchy (no matter how enjoyable that can be) unless that is what is recorded in the music. The little Wavebourn gets that just right  :)

 

Edited by MattyW
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@Ian McP The speakers have the full range wired in parallel with the two super tweeters, which are wired in series with each other. The Skar Audio VX1ST bullet is firing up at the ceiling and the Aurum Cantus G3Si forward facing. There is a 1uf Duelund Rs-Cu with 0.47uf Arizona Blue Cactus cap wired in parallel with it for a total of 1.47uf on on the super tweeters. Internal wiring uses Duelund stranded tin plated copper cotton covered oil impregnated wire which is great once burned in. Like most tinned copper wire it can be a little harsh prior to burn in.

 

A very very simple speaker with minimal crossover components..... I'm really only limiting the super tweeters with full range and woofer run full range. The woofer is run off the Behringer KM750 with left and right volume knobs set to 50%. I know this probably wouldn't suit most purists however the sound signature of both drivers is identical as they both Lii Audio drivers and as such they blend seamlessly without need to limit either of them in any way. Lii Audio developed the W-15 woofer specifically to supplement the bass of their full range drivers in open baffle configurations and I believe it does rather well.

 

I've used Karri FJL panels from Bunnings and affixed everything using little L brackets..... Liquid nails and wood putty used to seal everything. This a first (and likely last) DIY efford for me so it is a little rough though overall I'm very very happy with the appearance and even more importantly the sound. So far the best I've experienced.  :)

 

IMG_20191126_182753.thumb.jpg.36c9dc3fc620991ca0fea94c56246ee5.jpg

 

IMG_20191126_182758.thumb.jpg.d489e8fb3e6cfa32ee8f5027c112086c.jpg

 

IMG_20191126_182808.thumb.jpg.df4309971231b0905f1f697bdb9663da.jpg

 

IMG_20191126_182817.thumb.jpg.b6f840ea855c5bede0432d039e9ef557.jpg

 

The caps installed have changed since this photo.  I went through a few different cap combinations before finding the one that sounded best to me.

 

Edited by MattyW
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  • 8 months later...

I have pre-production preamps, if somebody is interested. Power amps will be available later.
Preamp+
4 switchable stereo inputs, RCA outputs, 2xTRS outputs for headphones.
12 dB maximal gain.
Stellar quiet, tremendous headroom from RCA outputs.
$980 for a pre-production assembly.
Either 120V transformer for Americas, or 240V international.
The next version will have additional gain control for RCA outputs, from -6 to +12 dB
It is still a preamp, so please do not expect it to drive on full loudness planar magnetic headphones that demand power amplifiers! It is a pristine clean preamp that can easily drive dynamic headphones.
Lead time - 2 weeks

 

20201025_182438.jpg

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IMG_7649.JPG

img.jpeg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Gorgeous..... Your new amps and preamps are just lovely to look at Anatoliy. Still, I love how my prototype amps sounds. I turn down the level of the Behringer KM750 driving my woofers recently and have been blown away by the improved nuance, detail and tonality of the Wavebourn. Enough so that I'm considering changing the Behringer for a Samson SXD5000 so I can control the crossover point for the woofers. I daresay it would be an even greater improvement again.

 

My system has evolved from what I had in the original review to running all Abbas Audio sources (DAC2.2SE TDA1541A R1 and EL84 tube output RIAA pre), and a DACGEAR LDR Pre Mk2 passive pre. The Wavebourn allowed all the changes to shine through. I have as previously found RCA cable choice critical in voicing the system and now run Aurealis mixed strands Duelund tinned copper/Neotech UPOCC  cables between the Abbas and the DACGEAR, with Robertson Audio Cables silver RCA's from the DACGEAR to each power amp. Aurealis silver Litz from turntable to Aksa Paris head amp, and Aurealis mixed strands silver & copper Litz from head amp to phono stage.

Edited by MattyW
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On 20/02/2020 at 5:40 PM, MattyW said:

 

Overall details of the amp are as follows:

 

Input: 0 dB (0.775V) RCA, 50K stereo.
Outputs: low ohm for 4-6 Ohm and high ohm, for 8-12 Ohm load.
Power: at least 6W for <1% total harmonic distortions.
Soft asymmetric saturation (inaudible clipping), negative output resistance for damping of woofers (servo-control of speakers).
Bandwidth: 10 Hz-90 KHz -3 dB, from 20 Hz full power.

 

 

Very impressive bandwidth for a tube amp, Matt.  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

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5 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

Very impressive bandwidth for a tube amp, Matt.  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

 

Yes, an incredible amp. A shame my phone just can't capture what I hear in person. Such is life though

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3 hours ago, MattyW said:

 

Yes, an incredible amp. A shame my phone just can't capture what I hear in person. Such is life though

 

 

Well, Matt ... a phone is just a digital facsimile, right!  xD

 

Andy

 

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26 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

Well, Matt ... a phone is just a digital facsimile, right!  xD

 

Andy

 

It's a pretty poor recording device overall.

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  • 2 weeks later...

By the way, I am building pre-production Preamp Plus.

It is a preamp, according to my philosophy, the preamp have to be as clean as possible, and as fast as possible. It should have enormous headroom, to assure never ever distorting. But, thanks to such headroom, it also can be used to drive magnetic headphones.Sp, it ontins TDS sockets on top.

I already impregnating Basler transformers that already were impregnated in factory, to silence them maximally. I o not know yet if I add there DC shiift elimnator, modt probbly, do. SOme audiophiles ask for such features.  They digested a good idea, to add second pair of output sockets, and a gin control pot on the rear panel, no set level on RCA outs in respect to the level omf headphone outs.

 

Do not try it to drive planar magneti hedphones, they need helluva power, and some other conditions. For them I have Power Amp  Plus that is switchable between diving speakers and palanar headph20201113_181111.thumb.jpg.5749259fa986fd9bcc5ec8e009475971.jpg20201210_184731.thumb.jpg.0af85eea6f354c3765c8ef0e8d23e928.jpg20201210_184320.thumb.jpg.11faf983d5309654d2f9ba2add2c533c.jpg20201210_184731.thumb.jpg.0af85eea6f354c3765c8ef0e8d23e928.jpg20201210_184731.thumb.jpg.0af85eea6f354c3765c8ef0e8d23e928.jpg20201210_184731.thumb.jpg.0af85eea6f354c3765c8ef0e8d23e928.jpg20201210_184320.thumb.jpg.11faf983d5309654d2f9ba2add2c533c.jpg20201210_184731.thumb.jpg.0af85eea6f354c3765c8ef0e8d23e928.jpgones.

 

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Well,  changing the Behringer KM750 for a Crown XLS1002 gave a big improvement in terms of imaging,  detail,  transparency and deep  expressive bass. I've the low pass filter on the Crown set to 300Hz. Kind of wish I'd moved to an amp with DSP earlier. 

 

Another thing I didn't expect is the absolute authority the Crown has with bass notes. Really impressive.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Since we are selling our house in California, I have to empty my barn ASAP.
So, I am selling some stuff on ebay, if you are interested.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/184589944385

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I may need to get those,  though I just took delivery of 5 more so I probably have enough to last the rest of my life.... 

Edited by MattyW
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Well,  I nearly perfected my system recently after changing some RCA leads and speaker cables.  In almost every recording the speakers disappeared and I was transported to the performance.  Spectacular resolution with the best fine detail I've ever experienced.

 

The only problem is that my jaw would slowly clench as the treble was slightly bright. So last night I removed the 0.1uf Cornell Dubillier dipped silver mica caps I was bypassing the 0.22uf Miflex KPCU-1 coupling caps with. Yes, the brightness has gone away but so has the incredible fine detail that could transport me into the recording.

 

Looks like I'll be cap rolling until I can get the balance right. I've been told some of the Russian silver mica have the same detail minus the brightness.  I may have to try those. First I'll try replacing the Miflex KPCU-1 with U-Cap copper foil hybrid teflon caps and see how that goes. I've had good success using those as output caps in the past and they've a nice blend of richness (similar to Audyn True Copper Max), detail, transparency and a smooth liquidity which makes them non fatiguing. Hopefully they work out in this instance.

 

Then again,  I've some of the smaller Russian silver mica in oil caps. Might try those as bypasses. If the oil takes the edge off these might be perfect. Hmmm, not sure which to try first.

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11 minutes ago, MattyW said:

 

First I'll try replacing the Miflex KPCU-1 with U-Cap copper foil hybrid teflon caps and see how that goes. I've had good success using those as output caps in the past and they've a nice blend of richness (similar to Audyn True Copper Max), detail, transparency and a smooth liquidity which makes them non fatiguing. Hopefully they work out in this instance.

 

 

Hi Matt,

 

Looking up the U-Caps, I see they are only available in small values (0.1uF / 0.15uF / 0.22uF / 0.33uF / 0.47uF).

 

Since implementing an A2D converter after my Muse phono stage, I've realised that I need to up the output coupling cap - since Zin for the ADC is only 10K.

 

So I'm looking around for good 3.3uF caps which won't require me to sell a kidney.  Any suggestions?

 

Andy

 

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Hey @andyr I find the Miflex KPCU-1 to be the best value nice sounding cap out there; though to get that incredible fine detail up top and added transparency they're best bypassed with small value silver mica or Duelund silver bypass caps.

 

The one and only problem with the Miflex is they initially sound okay, then go through a rather extended period where it sounds like a wet blanket has been thrown over your speakers before they come good again. 100-150 hours or so. I found that time to be somewhat excruciating until they come good. Once they do they're incredibly natural sounding along the same lines as Jupiter copper foil and I'd say they're on par with Duelund RS-Cu.  They've a similar sound too. No comparison to Duelund Cast Cu-Sn though still excellent at their own price point.

 

The U-Cap CuTF can't be used as a bypass with other rich or dark sounding caps or they just sound muddy.

 

U-Cap also make a straight copper foil which might be good though I've no first hand experience with them. Those come in larger values.

 

If space is an issue,  Miflex KFPM-1 (copper foil poly caps) are nice and detailed though are dry sounding compared to the KPCU-1. I found they paired well with Duelund silver bypass caps.

 

Cheers 

 

Matt

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Installed Russian SSG1 silver mica in oil. Gives the detail of the Cornell Dubillier dipped silver mica caps though without the edge or brightness. Hopefully they don't change much with burn in.

 

I used Neotech UPOCC wires as leads.

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Well,  initially I thought thw SSG1 were slanting the performance towards treble though now with minimal burn in they've integrated with the Miflex KPCU-1 perfectly. Incredible reproduction of fine detail,  with greater transparency and insight into the music.  With these in place I really am transported to the original performance. Importantly these are in no way bright....  Rather a hint warm though without adding mud to warm recordings. Rather it gives greater insight  in the same manner a brighter sounding system can, just without the brightness. A fantastic result.

 

I'll have to redo the soldering now so I can add heatshrink.

 

Demo video to come  :)

Edited by MattyW
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi @Anatole do you have the Edelweiss-3 power amp in production yet? Curious about pricing  :)

 

Also the value for the tube coupling caps  ;)

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On 08/01/2021 at 9:35 PM, MattyW said:

Hi @Anatole do you have the Edelweiss-3 power amp in production yet? Curious about pricing  :)

 

Also the value for the tube coupling caps  ;)

Not yet. I am relocating from California to Texas, will resume working from March.

I expect it $1,800 with amorphous core output transformers.

 

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    • By xPLAYRZx
      Item Condition: Good Shipping Options: Pickup available but audition is not available.,Shipping is available at agreed cost. Suburb or Town: Traralgon State: Victoria Payment Method: Direct deposit, PayPal Reason for selling: No longer required Further information: Purchased 2nd hand approx 9 months ago from KlappAV and used in a HT setup to run two atmos channels.  I have since added an additional multichannel amplifier so this Rotel is now surplus to my needs.  There are a few scratches (show in pictures) on the top of the unit, otherwise looks and works perfectly.  Prefer pickup due to weight but am willing to post at buyers expense.
       
      The RB-1070 is rated at 130W x 2
       
      Detailed specs in the links below -
      Info sheet
      Dimensional drawings
       
      Photos:

       



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