Tavish Classic

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Baker, Dec 13, 2018.

  1. Steve Baker

    Steve Baker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Columbia, Maryland
    Not much anywhere on the web about this particular phono preamp so I will give my impressions. It has been 4 months since I received my Tavish Classic phono stage, this is the result.

    My past history of phono pre amps before I got the Tavish in my line up I was using the Pro Ject Tubebox SE II which impressed me with it’s ability on most of the music I listen to. Before the Pro Ject I was using the Little Bear T10, which worked pretty nicely with the exception of some motor boarding and occasional hum. I liked the Little Bear even with the noise issues. When it was quiet it sounded really sweet.
    I purchased the Pro Ject in 2015, because it had the ability to handle MM and MC plus it had a rumble filter, and the price was affordable. The sound from the Pro Ject was very nice, much quieter than the Little Bear and it gave me a much better soundstage, deeper blacks, less brightness. I thought I was all set. Then I went and purchased a DENON 301 MK II cartridge. Ready to make my first steps into MC waters. Unfortunately some family problems curtailed my progress. I had to relocate some of my system to another less ideal room, and made concessions sound wise by doing so. So the DENON stayed in the box , unopened, untried.
    When I moved my system I utilized my old SS B&K Pro 10 and B&K ST 202 amplifier. Even the turntable was my second rig, ( Technics SLQ 303 ). Not my best line up but it will play music.
    Around this time I was seeking some information about the Pro Ject and found that it wasn’t a perfect match for my Thorens TD 150 / SME 3009 / DENON set up, and I was looking to get a tubed phono stage that would handle my needs and still be under $1000.
    After much searching and reading I discovered the Tavish website. The reviews were excellent for the Adagio. The Vintage also was getting applause from the people who owned it. Not much on the Classic, but the price point was within reach and I decided to move on the Classic. 6 to 8 weeks until I would get it gave me enough time to really listen to the B&K. I was having some trouble with this pairing, the music sounded grainy and blurred, highs became shrill, detail was not as clean. Instrument placement was not identifiable on the soundstage. Overall listening was becoming a chore instead of an escape.
    In late August I got the Tavish Classic , by passed the phono stage on the B&K and used the B&K ST 202 amplifier. Music sounded MUCH better. Like someone scoured the peanut butter out of my ears. I was getting really decent sound, thought I couldn’t be happier. I listened to this set up for about 3 months. I wanted to give the Classic time to break in.
    About 2 months ago I had a free weekend and decided to hell with it I would bring in my tube amp and my Schiit Saga , removing the B&K components altogether. I could not believe how much better everything sounded. Everything was more realistic than ever before. I was loving my listening sessions like before. Everything sounded right. Good strong bass, the snap of percussion, the twang of guitar strings, all clearly audible to my old ears. I kept this going until last weekend the I picked up a 1950 NOS GE 6SNF tube for my Saga.
    Within seconds of installing my new tube I was made very aware of the benefits of tube rolling. My new secondary system sounded better than my previous number one system. This line up creates an escape for me that I have not had for over a year. The soundstage went from nice to 3D, holographic. Eva Cassidy was playing guitar and singing in my living room. I put on Micheal Hedges "Aerial Boundries "and tears welled up in my eyes. YES! this is what I have been seeking. Just to be sure I swapped the Pro Ject back in and it was like turning down the color on an old television, all the glorious 3D sound fields were flat music lost most of it's reality. Nothing really sounded “correct”, all in all kind of lifeless.
    So I re-installed the Tavish and am back to looking forward to music time. I want to see how long I can go before I try tube rolling on the Classic. For now I am very very happy. I cannot recommend this high enough.Last night I was playing Led Zep 1 , "Dazed and Confused" it was transformative. I think I am finished for a while now. I will just enjoy what I have assembled.
    For anyone looking for an affordable ( under $1000 ) phono stage that is a remarkable value, this is one to consider. Scott Reynolds who builds these really knows what he is about. Nice solid build, easy to install and much nicer looking than the Little Bear LOL. In fact so far my only complaint would be the piercing blue light on the front. It is very bright, I had to cover it with some tape to block it.

    Carry on.

    Steve Baker
     
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  2. Otlset

    Otlset under western skies

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    I know what you are experiencing now with the upgrade, and I'm just thrilled for you! THIS is what it's all about! And despite the sonic revelations you're hearing now, you still have surprises to look forward to if you ever try rolling tubes in the Classic.
     
    juno6000 likes this.
  3. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I was all set to buy the Tavish Vintage, but an opportunity to buy a Decware ZP3 came along, so I went that way (very pleased).

    Glad the Classic meets your expectations. I bet that the Classic and the Vintage are the best tube phono stages that are available in this price range.

    Glad that you are enjoying your music! :wave:
     
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  4. Steve Baker

    Steve Baker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Columbia, Maryland
    Thanks, tube rolling is a bit far off. I still need recommendations for Tavish tube rolling. So far I have read about someones success with GE 5751, Telefunken 12ax7 and Brimar 12au7. I would be very surprised if I can get more out of this than the stock tubes Scott supplied with it. I am sure it is doable but I wouldn't spend $400 on tubes right now.
    FWIW I took over a year to get the tube for the Saga, but I got a good deal on the tubes I bought.
     
    juno6000 likes this.
  5. waterclocker

    waterclocker Forum Resident

    Location:
    NW Indiana
    I've got the Vintage and it's fantastic. It was a nice upgrade from the Lounge. I noticed an upgrade
    in clarity, resolution, and detail. It matches my other octal base tube amps nicely, but I would almost
    want to try the classic if I did it again. I feel like finding nice quiet 6SL7 are harder than the miniature
    tubes. I bought my vintage used and it came with a nice set of NOS Sylvania that were carefully screened
    for low noise. The standard Sovtek sound good, but the Sylvania bring out more beautiful harmonic
    textures. The Vintage also doesn't like being near the open tranformers of my other tube amps, so it I
    had to move things around to get the hum down. I recently finished building the Audio Note Kits L3
    phono and it's another step up, but the Tavish isn't far behind.
     
  6. souladdikt

    souladdikt Forum Resident

    Another happy Tavish Vintage owner here. I'm using the supplied Tung-sol tubes and, to my ears and in my system, it is very quiet. I'm coming from the internal stage of the Rega Brio-R and also a Schiit Mani. The Vintage is in another class and sounds the most neutral in comparison and has much more clarity and extension from top to bottom. I wonder if the Classic has a little more warmth or mid-range bloom?
     
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  7. Steve Baker

    Steve Baker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Columbia, Maryland
    souladdikt,

    I don't have any midrange bloom. Warmth I do have but my system is mostly tube/hybrid. Everything sounds right to my old ears. As you said the clarity is there. I haven't been this happy since I got my Thorens plinth finished.
     
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  8. Trius

    Trius Active Member

    I have a Classic on order, and it should arrive Tuesday - I'm pretty excited! Mind you, my Thorens is COMPLETELY disassembled as part of a total restoration/resurrection. This includes rewiring the TP-16 tonearm; the Cardas tonearm wire should arrive the same day, so I'll be scrambling to get everything put back together. I ordered a new top trim plate but I don't know when it will arrive, as it's coming from Germany. Removing the old one (it was scratched up and looking pretty sad) trashed it, so there's no going back!

    FWIW, Scott is very nice and easy to deal with. He answered all my questions. Between the Classic and the 6SL7 he said it's a matter of taste, but there are more tube rolling options with the Classic, so I went with that.
     
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  9. souladdikt

    souladdikt Forum Resident

    Cool. Let us know how it goes. Also, did Scott say anything about the difference in sound between the Classic and Vintage? It might help others decide between them if we can get some info as there is very little about these preamps out there.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  10. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident

    Location:
    LKN west, NC
    Another happy Tavish Vintage owner with the TungSols as well. Been loving the sound. Totally agree with your assessment. Has me wondering how far I can go with another cartridge. But, that's another thread in the making........
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  11. jaybird396

    jaybird396 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Yet another happy Tavish classic owner here! I also agree with everybodies impressions. I was previously using a DIY solid state preamp that I thought sounded pretty good. But the Tavish was in another league, way more clarity and just overall more refined. The tube Tavish Classic was actually noticeably quieter than the SS pre I was using.

    I bought the Premium version with a screened 5751 for lowest noise and best RIAA accuracy. This thing is real quiet. The premium version comes with a printout of your actual units performance as tested. I think the measured signal to noise ratio on MM of my pre was 84db. which is real good for a tube pre.

    I actually have no desire to roll the stock JJ tubes. I have plenty of vintage tubes, but I have a feeling none of them will be as quiet as the stock tubes. Maybe someday I will but for now I'm just gonna enjoy the music and not worry about it.
     
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  12. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    People seem to be more acceptable, from a manufacturer's standpoint too, to there approval and acceptance of JJ's as small signal tubes, than their larger power tubes.

    If I decided tomorrow, that I was going to manufacture a tube preamp, I would not design it around half century NOS tubes, that my customer is not going to go out and redilly find replacements for.

    People today also are expecting modern gear to sound different from vintage gear and it does. Overall modern sound form tubes involves brighter sounding high frequencies and extended bass and a tighter overall sound signature.

    If someone were to build a modern tube phono preamp with those thoughts in mind and the outcome is a superbly sounding phono-pre, than the replacement of modern tubes with NOS replacements, may not yield the best results overall.

    Just become something is NOS does not necessarily make it superior for use in every application.
     
  13. Steve Baker

    Steve Baker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Columbia, Maryland
    Updating an old thread on this phono pre. I listened to the stock tubes ( JJ's ) for a full year without complaint. About a month ago I had some $$ and decided to try the tube rolling I mentioned previously. I snagged the GE 5751, Telefunken 12ax7 and Brimar 12au7 on the "bay" from 100% feedback sellers, installed them last Saturday. All I can say is "WHY?". Why did I wait so long? The tubes opened up a really great soundstage even more, plenty of air around the instruments. Voices are clearer, even those sounds I didn't pick up on before are there. I personally have problem with some descriptions following an upgrade, so I won't go into it myself. I will say for the money I spent this part of my sound system is un-equalled by ANY previous phono pre I have had or heard. This Classic unit is really "the bee's knees".
    From here on I will be saving my coins for either LP's or a new turntable,( I was thinking Schitt Sol ), the table I have now is not the best one I own. I will someday put the Thorens into the line-up, for now I am using a Technics. After I swap to the Thorens I will post my findings. Right now I am just gonna listen to some records.
    I will urge all the owners of the Tavish Classic to try tube rolling when funds allow. I am so overwhelmed by the upgrade that I want to listen to ALL my records over again. Very happy and content. I know the word "content" doesn't get much use when talking about upgrades but I truly am. The only reason I mention the Thorens is I already have it and just need the time and space to put it together.
     
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  14. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Location:
    Belgium
    @Steve Baker in your OP you mentioned changing the tube in your Saga, could you elaborate more on this ? What difference it made to your ears vs. the standard Saga tube ? Thanks!
     
  15. Steve Baker

    Steve Baker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Columbia, Maryland
    Yes,

    I put in a GE Black base 5692. Much better dynamics, drums snap, and crisp guitar wider soundstage. Not expensive but worth it. I have read the GE Red Base sounds even better but those are pretty steep.

    Here is a well written expose from the Head Fi forum. ( Hope I am not breaking any rules, if so please delete it).

    The Reference 6SN7 Thread
     
    bever70 likes this.
  16. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Location:
    Belgium
    Thanks, I will look into these when I feel the need to swap out my Saga tube!
     
  17. berlinerpunk

    berlinerpunk Record Collector

    Location:
    Berlin/Brooklyn
    I purchased the Tavish Vintage with Tung Sol tubes just shy of 2 years ago and I will shout to the sky “NO REGRETS!!!” One of the best decisions I made for upgrading my system.
     
  18. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident

    Location:
    LKN west, NC
    A little over 2 years for me, and I agree, no regrets. I know one day I may want to upgrade, but a new cartridge will likely be first. Probably a MC vs the MI I have currently. Then I'll see if a new phono is needed. The Tavish plays very well with what I have now.
     
  19. souladdikt

    souladdikt Forum Resident

    Just over a year for me and no regrets or desire to upgrade. It fits right in with the rest of my system and it will likely stay even as I upgrade my cartridge and speakers. It sounds great with the Tung Sols, so I haven't even thought about tube rolling.
     
  20. berlinerpunk

    berlinerpunk Record Collector

    Location:
    Berlin/Brooklyn
    I have the Hana SL in the MC input and an Ortofon 2M mono SE in the MM input. I use the built-in phono input in my preamp for a 3rd deck that plays my junkier LPs (the ones that aren’t nice enough to play with my good needles.).

    I know tube rolling is a fun but I can’t see much room for improvement with the Tavish (aside from a cart upgrade.) It’s nice to be satisfied with my system and not chase the gear dragon.
     
    CowFish likes this.
  21. CowFish

    CowFish Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Carolina
    Thanks to this forum (and especially user @souladdikt 's wonderful thread about his system) I found out about Tavish phono stages and now have a Classic on order. It's been 4 weeks since ordering, so maybe another few weeks and it'll arrive. Oh the suspense...
     
  22. rednedtugent

    rednedtugent Forum Resident

    Location:
    Funk, Ohio
    please post back your experiences! Yes 5-6 weeks according to the site...
     
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  23. souladdikt

    souladdikt Forum Resident

    Cool. I'm glad my write-ups were useful. Please report back when it comes in.
     
    CowFish likes this.
  24. t4t3r

    t4t3r Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
    Sorry to bump an old thread but recently found the Classic and am considering it for a pre upgrade. Any recent owners with impressions or feedback to share?
     
  25. Ontheone

    Ontheone Poorly Understood Member

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I just picked up a used Tavish Classic and I'm quite impressed. Coupled with a Rothwell MCX SUT that I bought used from a forum member I can happily state that I'm getting wonderful sound that punches way beyond the $700 price point (used) of the combined components. The sound of my Hana SL is fantastic through the SUT and on through the all-tube signal path of the Tavish's MM stage - much better than its FET-based MC gain stage. I sold a Herron VTPH2A and bought this little Tavish/Rothwell combo for less than 1/3 of the proceeds from my Herron stage and I honestly feel like I'm missing nothing in terms of SQ. The Herron uses a FET-based MC gain stage as well. In fact the Tavish is quieter than the Herron, most likely due to Tavish's use of the 5751 tube at the end. I found a nice 1956 GE 5671 triple mica tube that I'm going to roll into the Tavish and see what if any incremental improvements are made.

    Big Tavish fan here so far - great value, especially off the used market. Nice synergy with the rest of the setup in a my 2nd system (Leben CS-300xs, Forte III, VN TD-160 Super, Hana SL, Tavish, Rothwell)

    [​IMG]
     
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