Monumental Achievements of 2020 and what is to come in 2021
Over the last four years, Kang Su Park has made some monumental strides in circuit design that really have advanced the Allnic product line to an entirely new level of performance. By my assessment, the H-1202 phono preamplifier is a remarkable performer when compared to the discontinued H-3000. The H-1205 reboot with aesthetically pleasing chassis and some circuit revisions will be a welcome addition. Less than a handful of H-1202 in silver left. They are otherwise sold out. H-1205 should be shipping later next month.
The improved performance with the 61-Step constant impedance bridge type attenuator commanded standardization for all line stages currently imported into North America! With fixed impedance at no (± 0 dB) channel unbalance, these linestages eliminated the noted sweet spot for listening and instead preserves dynamics and imaging at any volume, an achievement rarely met in the industry.
An impressive solid state preamp with no moving parts also demonstrates this preservation. The Sutherland Director! Only 50 were made and we have one on trade in immaculate condition. Being offered at $2800, they rarely come up on the market. The very giften engineer Ron Sutherland now is focused on producing phono preamplifiers with the anticipated release of the BIG LOCO this year.
2020 introduced the stepchildren of the flagship output transformerless designed line stage - the L-10,000 OTL/OCL. The L-9000 OTL/OCL and L-8500 OTL/OCL have left quite the impression on customers with system improvements beyond expectations! This reinforced my perception that the preamp historically has been a bottleneck in the signal path. While some discovered improvements bypassing a preamp for digital applications with such a hot signal from their DAC, more often an impedance issue arises necessitating a no gain passive preamp. Both TotalDac and Empirical Audio have excellent and well established solutions which I have experienced. A better solution however is using a dac that reduces the output voltage coupled with a quality
These OTL/OCL have achieved the quietest circuit, with no apparent coloration and the lowest distortion possible, allowing for extremely detailed expression, natural harmonics, intricate inner layering, and subtle music decay. In essence, they offer only complete transparency and are gaining recognition for this achievement.
To read more about this, look for L-9000 OCL/OTL by Howard Kneller of Soundstage publication next month.
2021 will also introduce the entry level line stage preamplifier replacing the discontinued L-1500. The new yet to be named introductory line stage preamplifier and the H-1205 phono stage will ship in February.
Kang Su's foresight and need to support his products has led him to take initiative to manufacture tubes in-house! This week is the anticipated arrival of the classic A5000 DHT 300B monoblock sporting KS's first manufactured in-house tube, the Telefunken RS242 replica. This tube is used as one of the drivers for this direct heated class A design. The tube is also used in the second and third gain stage of Allnic's flagship H-8000 DHT phono preamp. The increasingly rare 3A109b telephone repeater tube used in the L-5000 DHT and L-8000 DHT has an anticipated production date late 2021. Their sonic characteristics, along with the PX25, make these my favorite tubes, especially in a system that uses high efficient speakers.
The star sisters of 2020, Amber and Rose, continue to sing with welcoming praise and interesting trades: Airtight Supreme, Lyra Titan, Dynavector XV1S, and Ikeda, to name a few. The price to greater than expected performance makes these twins a pleasant surprise. Simply stated, "the Amber just made everything better."
The new M-2500 amp design has hit the sweet spot between SET and typical push-pull amplifiers by maintaining the micro detailing, texture, and overall finesse across the midrange that SET designs are known for, and improving the dynamics, slam factor, and extended and focused bass. To emphasize, this change was not subtle, and I anticipate these amplifiers being a tube rolling delight while adhering to the manufacturer's specifications. The SET characteristics can be attributed to the direct-heated vacuum tube rectification. The 5U4G full-wave rectifier tube replaces the semiconductor diode in the rectification circuit of the M-3000 mkii and other traditional push-pull amplifiers.
Even as an Allnic dealer, I remained skeptical while simultaneously aware of my own anti-silver bias based on experience. Only two other companies were able to crack the silver code and manufacture silver-based cables that didn't annoy me -- Antipodes and Zen Wave. Both companies command my respect. Allnic’s ZL cable line emphasized my goal in audio -- attaining the best value, that sweet spot of price to performance. The build quality and attention to detail are among the best in the market today. Aside from solving specific issues in a system, such as electromagnetic or radio-frequency pollution, the ZL-5000 power cord and ZL-5000/ZL-8000 speaker cables have proven universally impactful:
"Vast expanse, a seamless vibrating presentation, and human articulation. I am very much enjoying these new speaker cables."
"I think they are an audiophile gift from a very gifted engineer that made them."
"Holyshit, they are amazing. The whole experience is more coherent. I only get the art from the music. No HiFi."
"Like a light switch, I'm kind of shocked at what I am hearing. The soundstage is more open, lower noise floor, more obvious layering, getting more texture from the instruments."
"Zero warmth missing, and so much more! You have destroyed me with these mere 3' of cable. Holy smokes, I'm Freaking."
Like with any magic trick, there exists a balance between our desire as the consumer to attain that fundamental understanding of the how and why these or any other cables present with certain desirable, unique qualities while also respecting their proprietary nature that becomes the aura of the magician. Being well versed in the Allnic ZL product line, I have always tried to wrap my head around their differences in construction, and while I have in many regards been accurate, admittedly occasional inaccuracies were discovered. Based on an internet search, the ZL-8000s differ from the ZL-5000s by being a thicker gauge, non-plated, oxygen-free crystalline silver cable with a copper conductor for dampening and additional insulation added to the inside of the PVC sheath.
For low wattage valve based systems with high efficiency speakers - consider the ZL-8000s.
For more traditional solid state high current amplifiers - consider the best value (price/performance) ZL-5000 speaker cable.
As always, special deals on trade-in, demo items, and multi-item purchases. Please call or email to find the best Allnic upgrade solution for you.
2021 also is the year for innovation in digital audio. Waversa Systems has some impressive new releases. The third revision of the Smarthub ethernet switch is an impressive peformer and offered at a competitive price. The new Bridge incorporages Waversa's latest generation Waversa Audio Processor chip which actively processes and converts any digital signal to any other digital signal standard. This is a first in the industry. A 3-way digital crossover is offered as an option in their Bridge and included their new active speaker line. Read about Waversa Systems and their unique approach to digital processing.