Your Experience with Audio by Van Alstine

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Helom, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Please share your experience(s) with Audio by Van Alstine.

    I'm considering one of his preamps to pair with my A-S1100, which I might eventually replace with one of his hybrid amps.

    My main concern is whether he is easy to deal with post-sale, and whether he honors his satisfaction guarantee without any strife, unlike Odyssey.

    Also, does his gear have a "house sound," or is it all over the map?

    Thanks!
     
  2. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    This link "may" contain information that will help/provide information also.


    M~
     
  3. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Thanks but the issue I have with Audio Circle is the manufacturer moderates the page and of course has the ability to delete any critical posts.
     
  4. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA

    Okay

    M~
     
  5. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I owned an AVA Fet Valve 400R power amp for a few years. The reasons I traded it were mostly subjective, including my wish to use balanced cables without an adapter at the amp end. (It's now available with balanced inputs.)

    I found AVA easy to deal with in every respect. When you call, you probably will talk to Frank himself. The product was shipped exactly when and how we discussed. The amp worked well and I got a great deal of pleasure out of it. It never needed warranty service. I remember having a question or two, and those were answered promptly and well by email.

    I also own three AVA HumBusters -- they filter the power of components to kill mechanical hum made by some transformers in some circumstance. I'm quite happy with them. Two are quieting my JL Audio F112 subs, the other the Marsh power amp in my second system.

    My impression is, AVA is a no-BS outfit. He has been in business forever, and has hasn't stayed a going concern by selling smoke.

    Hope that helps.
     
    John Murray, hi_watt, NOS300B and 2 others like this.
  6. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    never bought any products but had a listen and chat with Frank at AXPONA. although the speakers he brought were not my cup of tea, the AVA products had a look and sound of a very high quality, the appearance was so much better than in pictures. mr va is a true gentleman and nice guy who was giving out discount codes for his products. im sure you would not face any hassles if you needed to return. he would sell it to so someone else.
    i would love to hear a tube pre as the front end of a modern yammie amp. if they made a 150 to 200 wpc power amp it would make my short list. good luck!
     
    trd, Mike-48, hi_watt and 1 other person like this.
  7. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Spoke to Frank yesterday, he is indeed a gentleman and was very patient with my questions. I placed an order for the Fet Valve CFR preamp. The two week build time is quite reasonable.
     
  8. G E

    G E Forum Resident

    Frank van Alstine is the real deal. I bought several products from him between 1980 and 2005. I still have his Omega 3 power amp that was an upgrade from his Omega 2.

    Straight shooter who aims to deliver a very fair value. He even has some “all tube” preamps and power amps.
     
  9. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Congratulations -- I think you will love it! I am impressed by some of the thoughtful items provided: high filter, low filter, tape loop, headphone amp. I shouldn't have to say it, but balance control, too.

    If you ordered the phono stage, please let us know how it compares to your JC3.
     
    JackG likes this.
  10. JackG

    JackG Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    Looks like a sweet unit. Appears the FET VALVE CF RB is basically the same without all those features?

    Edit - after a bit of perusing the Audiocircle forum it seems RB = real basic. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  11. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Didn't order the phono stage but I'm hoping its high-pass filter is good enough that I can forego use of my KAB.
     
  12. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    Received my Fet Valve CFR preamp on Friday, a couple days earlier than promised.

    I was a bit concerned it wouldn't be an upgrade over my Pre-Box S2 feeding the Yamaha's amp-direct inputs, but it has managed to improve the whole presentation, despite adding a lot more in the signal path. It's also dead-quiet, regardless of the ground-lift position. There isn't the slightest bit of hiss through the speakers.
    No hum or buzz from the transformer either. If a transformer is quiet when connected to the dirty mains of my home, you can be sure it's of high-quality.

    I performed a few A/B comparisons -- switching back to using the Yamaha as an integrated reveals an obvious regression.

    Now I must decide whether to spring for a Van Alstine amplifier but I'm very content with the sound for now.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. lonelysea

    lonelysea Ban Leaf Blowers

    Location:
    The Cascades
    I’m not familiar with the brand mentioned, but I bet it will sound nice.
    My advice, as you might guess, would be to upgrade to a A-S2100! :D
     
  14. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    I'm not sure that'd be much if any of an upgrade.

    I bet you'd hear an improvement from your 2100 with even a cheap outboard preamp connected to the main-ins. I'm pretty well sold on separates at this point.

    If you have Amazon Prime, consider trying the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital as a preamp/DAC with your Yammie. It's a risk-free proposition with the free return shipping. You might be surprised.
     
    Phil Thien likes this.
  15. lonelysea

    lonelysea Ban Leaf Blowers

    Location:
    The Cascades
    I have the A-S3000 now and I doubt any outboard pre-amp could improve upon it. I’m of the opposite mind; no more separates. Gave them up years ago. I’m sure if you’re playing vinyl you’ll be pleased with the tube separates you’re considering. Will be looking forward to your impressions, especially in comparison to the Yamaha sound.
     
    John Murray, Helom and Eigenvector like this.
  16. hi_watt

    hi_watt The Road Warrior

    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Your amp is one I am considering for use with my Odyssey mono amplifiers. Interesting to hear about the strife. It was an experience for me on getting them. Aside from that, I look forward to hearing more about your experience with your Van Alstine.
     
    Helom likes this.
  17. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    The Van Alstine preamps are versatile with their high and low gain setting. The input sensitivity on my Yamaha is quite low apparently, so I'm glad to have the low gain option. One review of the Fet Valve preamp claims it sounds lean compared to some higher-priced units. I don't find that to be the case at all, if anything, I wouldn't mind if it had less "body." It's bass was a bit overpowering at first but it completely subsided with a few hours of break-in.
     
    hi_watt likes this.
  18. davidb1

    davidb1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Glad to hear your AVA experience has been so good.

    2 years ago I purchased a solid state preamp-Van Alstine Vision SL- and amp-Van Alstine Insight 440 HC Double Die- from Frank and have been very happy.
     
    NOS300B and hi_watt like this.
  19. ZenMango

    ZenMango Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    I own the FET Valve 400 for about a year now and I love it. Similar design approach to what PS Audio does with their BHK amps (I think Frank was doing it before)- tubes control input and mosfets output.
    It drives my Apogee Stages without breaking a sweat (3 ohms nominal impedance) and improves the bass control dramatically. I’m a tube guy and feel I’m getting best of both worlds. Maybe not the ultimate in treble extension, but the midrange is superb.
    Similar experience with posts above- Frank answers the phone, takes time to answer questions, and it’s a no BS guy. Can upgrade the 400 to a 600 anytime for only the difference in price.
     
    Helom and Balthazar like this.
  20. Balthazar

    Balthazar Forum Resident

    He definitely was. The Bascom King designed BHK amps only came out 3 years ago, while I'm pretty sure the AVA ones have been around at least 10 years.
     
    NOS300B likes this.
  21. ggergm

    ggergm Flibbertijibbet

    Location:
    Minnesota
    I bought a modified Dynaco PAS-3 from Frank maybe 35 years ago. He responded well (and cheaply) when I wanted the circuitry updated again 20 years later. I've also listened over the years to pieces of his own design and always thought them at a minimum very interesting.

    As said above, Frank has been doing business the right way for 40 years, taking care of his customers and providing better than average gear. Can you ask for anything more?
     
    NOS300B likes this.
  22. simon-wagstaff

    simon-wagstaff Forum Resident

    Frank is super easy to deal with. I have a friend who has been dealing with him for years, always an easy thing.

    I bought a U70 several years ago, loved it. Messed with it, some rewiring, upgraded tube sockets etc., I forget now what happened but there was some dissatisfaction on my end. AVA had just come out with the SET 120 and Frank assure me it had better soundstage and transparency than the U70, which it did. I use it to drive the neo panels and ribbon tweeters of my VMPS RM2, crossed over at 250, so no heavy lifting. Sounds amazing. Replaced my Odyssey Kismet. Frank was very gracious, gave me a nice trade in, I was surprised.

    The SET 120 is a very nice amp. Frank is an audio treasure, with infinite patience.

    I loved the U70 until I got the SET 120. I did a lot of long term comparisons between the SET 120 and Odyssey. I never felt like putting the Odyssey back in the system. Keep in mind my high crossover point. SET 120 does the trick with my planar and ribbon drivers.
     
  23. ZenMango

    ZenMango Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    Frank definitely has his opinions - during a conversation prior to purchase of my Fet Valve 400, I told him I was considering adding balanced inputs. His reply at an easy up-charge: “nah, I wouldn’t”. Then after I got the piece I called to express my satisfaction. I had put Herbies tube dampers on the tubes. “You know that don’t do nothing, don’t you?” You gotta love the guy!!!
     
    Gordon Crisp and NOS300B like this.
  24. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Location:
    U.S.
    He seems to take a very pragmatic approach to audio, which I respect.
     
    JackG likes this.
  25. automojo

    automojo Well-Known Member

    I agree about Van Alstine's approach to audio. But it's the progression of honest improvements that's the reward for consumers.
    I purchased a Transcendence 10RB for the original owner-and for a entry level preamp-this hit's way, way above it's price tag.
    It has a huge, powerful sound, that's deep and wide.
    Balanced, full and detailed, but no lack of bass.
    Excellent transient response, sound staging and detail.
    Very musical and engaging. Never harsh
    One of those rare component's that makes the best of everything coming through it.
    IMHO that's what high end audio is about.
    This is a daily used system-played a average of 8-10 hours a day.
    Lot's of XM radio, broadcast, streaming, and CD's
    Powering a H/K PA2400 amplifier.
    Driving a pair of highly modified ESS AMT3's (Mundorf Oils, custom woofers).
    You can substitute the JJ ECC88's for a set of Russian 61NP, if your looking for a more classic tube sound.
    Just my opinion (I also run a Proton AP1000, dual mono in my second system-another preamp that hits way beyond it's price-driving SIG 1.5 amplifier, and and another pair of highly modified ESS AMT3's-Janzen Superior Z caps, custom coils,and completely hard wired, custom woofers)-I can't really imagine needing a 'better' preamp then the 10RB. Perhaps more inputs-but not sound wise.
    How the 10RB has integrated itself and improved these well established systems of mine-pretty much says it all! :)
     
    beowulf and timind like this.

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