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Circuit design innovations by KS Park have been monumental, especially these last few years. While Allnic as a company has grown significantly during its evolution, both the L-10,000 OTL/OCL and the L-8000 DHT preamplifiers are each hand-built only by KS PARK himself!
The improved performance with Allnic’s unique 61-Step constant impedance bridge-type attenuator (CIA) commanded standardization for all line-stages currently imported into North America! With fixed impedance at no (± 0 dB) channel unbalance, these line-stages help to eliminate the noted sweet spot for listening and preserve dynamics and imaging at any volume; an achievement rarely met in the industry. Both the L-8000 DHT and L-10,000 OTL/OCL benefit from this feature.
OTL/OCL – the direct connection
OTL/OCL means “Output Transformer-Less” and “Output Capacitor Less.” In an OTL/OCL preamplifier, there is no coupling device between the preamplifier and the power amplifier, that is, the preamplifier’s final output tubes are directly connected to the power amplifier. Typically, an output capacitor or output transformer separates the AC music signal from the DC operating potential; if this is not done, the latter will destroy the power amplifier or loudspeakers. KS Park’s approach eliminated this risk while maintaining signal purity.
Coupling devices are effectively obstacles to signal transmission that add their own character (color), increase distortion, and consume small signals according to physical efficiency theory. In addition, they limit signal dynamics. Because of these adverse effects, OTL/OCL has been considered the best solution for amplifiers to maintain signal purity, demonstrating no coloration by achieving the lowest distortion possible due to the absence of coupling parts. The signal path reliably presents the information as it was intended with extremely detailed expression through the widest musical dynamics while preserving natural harmonics and subtle musical decay.
The L-10,000 OTL/OCL has outperformed all I have compared to in the industry. It also has been the top seller Allnic preamplifier in Europe and proven the ENDGAME trade-up piece here in North America.
Line output transformer coupling
In tube amp circuitry, there are two coupling methods; one is capacitor coupling and the other is transformer coupling. Capacitor coupling is the traditional, low-cost method. It is somewhat stable but transfers only voltage, not wattage (i.e., not real energy). With transformer coupling, about 90% of real wattage is transferred (there is still a transformer loss of about 10% of wattage – voltage is not affected). Transformer coupling is superior to capacitor coupling. However, all the advantages of transformer coupling depend on the quality of the transformer and on the choice of tubes.
Allnic Audio manufactures its own transformers and uses what it views to be the best core material: permalloy. Allnic Audio’s unprecedented, wide (16Hz ~ 75kHz, -3db), low distortion, and ultra-flexible (up to 20kHz square wave response) output transformer helps Allnic realize the ideal transformer coupled amplifier. Of course, gain tubes are also carefully selected for three critical factors for function with the permalloy output transformers: high gm, low internal resistance, and high mu. The crown jewel of Allnic’s transformer coupled preamplifiers, the L-8000 DHT (Direct Heated Triode), uses gain tubes that would be problematic for other manufacturers to incorporate in their devices because they are very susceptible to vibration. KS Park has completely overcome this issue, and while transformer coupled, the L-8000 is able to take advantage of the thermionic valve type that best preserves signal accuracy, making the L-8000 a real competitor to Allnic’s OTL/OCL preamps.
You can get satisfaction!
In my listening tests, the L-10,000 bested both the OTL/OCL L-9000 and L-8000 DHT in dynamics, with a deeper and bigger soundstage. However, all three were immersive. The L-8000 with its DHT driving tubes is exceptionally emotionally engaging with delicate layering and finer detailing, presenting stunning realism in timbre and decay, especially in the higher frequencies. The L-8000 DHT tends to make even poor recordings sound sublime; its “colourations” enhance many of the elements of live music that give us the greatest pleasure. The L-10,000 is so dynamic and accurate in presentation and clarity it can be unforgiving - a poor-quality recording can become quite annoying. Fortunately, we exist in an era of easy access to large music catalogs!
I remain smitten with both the L-8000 DHT and L10,000 OTL/OCL and would undoubtedly be content with either, forever. Either model will reveal new detail and a new life-like quality in familiar recordings.