|The Colorful Music Space Time Focus-836 Single-Ended Tube Amplifier
Though I haven¡¯t played tube Amp many, I¡¯m afraid it would be at least 8 or 10 ones I have used that are mostly EL34, KT88, and EL84 pull-push Amps except two single-ended ones of 300B and 2a3 tubes. Talking about the fun of playing tubes Amps, it is the colorful sound of different kinds and models of the tubes. Even one model of tubes that made in different areas and times wound be sounded differently. Through changing tubes, I could experence the different kinds of tasts. It was really the most interest fun of playing the tube Amps.
THE LOVELY SMALL DE
Before seeing the Focus-836, I had never imagined it would be so lovely and small. The width is only about 20cm. The structure is made by thick aluminium. The black boards accompany silver top cover is very harmonious. A large silver volume switch is in the middle of the face board. A pair of handle are on the each side of the top cover. The design is not only for easily moving, but also for protecting the electronic tubes. All the design is very simple and elegant. Inputs select and power switch are on the each side of the two side boards. On the back board, there is a resistance choice switch which is signed 4¦¸and 8¦¸ and a set of speaker outputs.
It is a single-ended tube amplifier. There are only two tubes used in each channel. One is a small 9 feet tri-pentode1252 which is used as the preamplifier part. The other is the power tube. The Amp uses a technology called MLF to solve the trouble that circle negative feed couldn¡¯t be too deep. This kind of design can make it working steady and has higher specification. The disadvantage of this kind of design is it may cause more noise if you don¡¯t design better. The local class negative feed is led to the output class, it makes the resistance data at 12. Special wheeling output transformers provide the quality of all. Power part is used optimized design that provides steady voltage to the preamplifier. Another special technology in circuit makes different kinds and models of tubes can work normality. It is said that all of 36 kinds of tubes can be used in this Amp including KT100, KT88, 6550, EL34, 6CA7, 6L6, 6V6, etc. It is only the push power is different. The max power can get 18w ( KT100).
The owner of Music Space Time Tube Amp Corporation, Mr. Lee, loved radio technology even in his childhhod. After setting up the corporation, he put his all all in making higher quality but lower price products. He knows clearly that the Hi-Fi lovers especially the majority of wage-earning audiophiles choose amps like choosing wives. So he insists controling costs to make good amps. You will find there are amazing so many high class components in his lower price products. Like this time, apart from a pair of Shuguang KT100, there are another two pairs of Shuguang EL34, 6L6 and two pairs of Nanjing 6P6P/6V6 as the attatchments. How generous it is.
Considering the maximum output power is only 18w and the minium is only 4w (6p6p/6v6), I choosed the high sensitive miniboxes to test. They were EPOS M5, ProAc TR8s. The testing softwares I choosed sonatas, voices and light jazzes. It was for testing the tone colors and lingering charms of the different models of tubes. Of course when heard excitedly, I also took out ¡°Pictures at an exhibition¡± and ¡° Beethoven Symphony No.5¡± to check how the Focus-836¡¯s control of maganificent sound fields and large dynamics it was.
First I used the black shield 6P6P/6V6 to work. The body and the output power both were the smallest in testing tubes. It was like the shorter EL34 or 6SN7. The working power was about 4w.
The high and medium frequencies were very clear, beautiful, and sweet. The medium frequency was not very thick, but smooth and attractive to listen to the voices. Especially listening to the Teresa Teng¡¯s and the Huang Hongying¡¯s songs, it had a special glamour. It looked had a power to capture your heart. It was like feeling the breath of light spring wind. The violin tone was clear but not thin, elegant but not sharp. Though its localization, air, and dynamic coould not be compared to the Hi-End Amplifiers, the special smooth and fine tone color might not be found in such higher class products if you adjusted carefully and had a pair of high sensitive speakers.
I changed the power tubes to the bigger 6L6G, the output power of the Focus-836 was about 6w then. The 6L6G was like a smaller 2A3. Now the tone style was totally different from 6P6P/6V6. The high frequency less a little grace, but the medium frequency was more thicker than using 6P6P/6V6. The Teng and Huang¡¯s voices was more maturer, richer, and stronger. Listening string music I felt the layers of the orchestra were more clearer, naturaler, and sharper. The 6L6G was belong to the no special characteristics tubes. The largest specialization of the tube was its thick medium frequency and the control power of the lower frequency. The dynamic was better than 6P6P/6V6 but the high frequency less a little vivid characteristics. When the Amp pushed some mellow tone speakers like EPOS M5, changing tubes to 6L6G showed a traditional tube amplifier¡¯s style.
The tube is very familiar to us. When changing to this tube, the output power was 9w then. The contrl power was obviously than using 6P6P/6V6 or 6L6G. So I took out a drum music CD to listen. It was ¡°Marriage¡± ( Guo Yazhi, MA Recoder). The drum showed more stronger, airer, and booming. Listening female voices gave me a very high fidelity feeling in medium frequency. Though Teng and Huang¡¯s tone were very like, the emotion and the singing skill were obviously different. When listening to the sonatas, EL34 could provided more richer power of the music. The symphony orchestra sounded more real than ever. Even in the large dynamic parts, it performed ideally balanced. The EL34 could give people a very comfotable feeling in listening to the music.
At last I changed the power tubes to the KT100. The body and the output power were both the biggest in testing tubes. It¡¯s very like the KT88 but the pushing power could get 18w. Listening to the music then, no matter big drum music or other large dynamic symphony performing, the dense of the sounds was unforgetable. The music was more opening. The lower frequency was feeling more deeper and clearer than ever. Even the sound field was like more larger. Compare to the EL34, using KT100 felt a little tight. Compare to the 6L6G, using KT100 was less a little mellow. Compare to the 6P6P/6V6, it was less a little smooth and sweet. In fact, the KT100 was totally no personal characteristics tube but better full frequencies balance, speed, and details. We could compare the KT100 to a bottle of pure water. Though it could not give you the taste like mellow coffee or fruit juice, it gave you a special feeling taste of clean and pure which others couldn¡¯t provide.
When I finished testing all the tubes in this amplifier, I suddenly realized the most purest was not the tube but the amp itself. It provided a terrace for all the tubes to perfom themselves. It would not hide their characteristics. It¡¯s really a good terrace for playing tubes. No matter you are a freshman or an audiophile has many experience, the Focus-836 is an ideal choice when you want to buy a tube amplifier.
Digested From¡¶AV Front Line¡·2007.12 Writer: Sam