Monumental Achievements of 2020 and what is to come in 2021
April is unprecedented for Allnic - FOUR of KS Park’s Allnic designs will be reviewed online this month!
First, my personal favorite, the L-8000 DHT line-stage preamp, won a Part-Time Audiophile Reviewers Choice award! Grover Neville’s just published description summarizes well why this exceptionally quiet, Direct Heated Triode, point-to-point wired circuit makes every recording sound more like real music.
This month also features reviews of two of Allnic’s three OTL/OCL (Output Transformer-Less and Capacitor-Less) line-stage preamps, the L-9000 and the L-8500.
In his recently released review of the L-9000, L-9000 OTL/OCL review by Howard Kneller of Soundstage!, Mr. Kneller writes, “...regardless of circuit design, most preamps can’t provide the experience of unveiled immediacy that the L-9000 did.” High praise in a nutshell! In my experience, the L-9000 has also proven to be a chameleon, its sound profoundly affected by tube rolling. However, and happily, after trying all the samples I could get, I found the best overall presentation from the NOS tubes supplied with the unit - not surprising now that I’ve become a bit more familiar with KS Park’s abilities.
On April 23rd, Anthony Kershaw of Audiophilia, who has reviewed the L-7000 and L-8000 DHT, will publish his thoughts on the L-8500 OTL/OCL. Won the Audiophilia Star Component Award! Because he’s maintaining the L-7000 as a reference in his system, I’m sure his review will give valuable insight into how Allnic’s current introductory preamplifier compares to the popular, transformer coupled L-7000.
The fourth review, again from Part-Time Audiophile, should appear on April 16th. This one will evaluate the A-2000 25th Anniversary, KT150 stereo power amplifier.
Finally, worth noting is that unlike many manufacturers’, Allnic’s model numbers do not reflect comparisons in overall performance. Allnic consistently produces high-quality designs, each with its own specific strengths. Reach out to an Allnic representative or a long-time Allnic owner for their insight and the best solution for your system. John Ketcham at Kevalin Audio, Oregon. Don Corby of Corby’s Audio, Ontario, Canada. And, of course, David Beetles of Hammertone Audio, British Columbia, Canada.
Allnic Monoblock Amplifiers - What does the "A" vs. "M" signify?
In May 2020, Anthony Kershaw of Audiophilia posted a review of the Allnic M-2500. Thoroughly impressed by its remarkable ability to combine power with single-ended triode (SET)-like purity and transparency, he gave it an Audiophilia Star Component award. A little less than a year later, we see the newly released A-2500 monoblock amplifiers. What do the “A” vs. “M” designations signify? First, let’s look at the “2500”, which refers to the chassis design only. Allnic designed the 2500 chassis to be the base for a new series of monoblock amplifiers where the chassis would accomplish several goals to improve performance and meet the challenges of an increasingly high production cost environment - requiring some innovative engineering: 1) help keep materials costs and, therefore, prices down; 2) do that while at the same time improving vibration control and chassis strength and stability; 3) reduce weight, which helps both with reduction of shipping costs and risks to back muscles; 4) create a sleeker, more modern aesthetic; and 5) allow for flexibility in the range of power tubes it can accommodate. Now to the “A” and “M”. Allnic uses the “M” to designate “push-pull” circuit designs, while “A” has been the designation for SET amps. In short, then, the M-2500 and the A-2500 share the same chassis, but the M-2500 is a push-pull amplifier while the A-2500 is a SET amplifier.
I have owned many tube amplifier designs over the years, and historically the push-pull type has never been my favorite. Each design approach has its strengths and weaknesses. The “power-tube flexible” M-2500, though, has hit the sweet spot between SET and typical push-pull amplifiers: it maintains the micro detailing, textural and overall finesse across the midrange that SET designs are known for while providing the dynamics, slam factor and extended and focused bass of a push-pull amp. Bass control with a pentode push-pull presents with optimal accuracy. I suspect the SET characteristics can be attributed to the direct-heated vacuum tube rectification. In the M-2500, the 5U4G full-wave rectifier tube replaces the semiconductor diode in the rectification circuit used in the M-3000 MKII and Allnic’s other traditional push-pull amplifiers.
The newest amplifier to the Allnic family is the A-2500, a pure SET design. It has a completely different circuit design from the former A-311M, featuring a new interstage transformer and larger power transformers on the stronger 2500 chassis platform. At 20W SET, these will be the go-to amplifier for any speaker of 90 dB or greater efficiency. The A-2500 is very spacious and outstandingly musical and emotionally engaging. And - the bass presentation in no way left me wanting. The 845’s low-frequency robustness is on par with my favorite power tube’s, the PX25.
Here’s a quick summary of the differences between the M-2500 and A-2500, and of the range of tube type/output power available for each.
M-2500 Monoblock Amplifier (Configuration at the factory only):
PX25 - 1st Stage 5654, 2nd Stage 12A4, 5U4G Rectifier and PX25 x 2. 20W Continuous. Triodes in push-pull configuration.
300b - 1st Stage 6485, 2nd Stage 12A4, 5U4G Rectifier and 300b x 2. 30W Continuous. Triodes in push-pull configuration.
KT150 - 1st Stage 5654, 2nd Stage 6S4, 5U4G Rectifier and KT150 x 2. 100W Continuous. Pentodes in push-pull configuration.
A-2500 Monoblock Amplifier (Configuration at the factory only):
211 - 1st Stage 6CM7, 5R4WGA Rectifier and 211 x 1. 20W Continuous
Pure SET design.
845 - 1st Stage 6DR7, 5R4WGA Rectifier and 845 x 1. 20W Continuous
Pure SET design.
With the individual tube biasing, pairing is not necessary. Allnic circuit designs do not overdrive their tubes, and they tend to last a very long time. The M-2500 and A-2500 amps appear to retain this benefit.
To give you at least a rough idea of which of the “2500” monoblock amps might suit your requirements, you can find a handy calculator for amplifier power requirements for various speaker sensitivities and SPL at:
Whatever choice you make, I am convinced you won’t be disappointed. Both monoblock amplifiers are available with approximately a two-week lead time to delivery. Introductory Price: $18,000 USD.
If you have any questions about the M-2500, A-2500, or any Allnic product, please contact me at or 503-292-5592.
Two alternative Allnic dealers are Don Corby of Corby's Audio and David Beetles of Hammertone Audio. Both knowledgeable consultants that focus on the appropriate solution for any system need.
Allnic's new introductory phono preamplifier - The H-5500.
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-5500 reboot, with an aesthetically pleasing chassis and circuit revisions will be a welcome addition. Less than a handful of H-1202 in silver left. They are otherwise sold out. The H-5500 should be shipping later next month, featuring a new power transformer, dual RCA inputs for both moving coil and moving magnet cartridges, and a heavier all-aluminum chassis for an overall quieter circuit. The H-5500 also has the same MC step-up transformers as Allnic’s H-7000 and the flagship H-8000 phonostages! Introductory Price: $4500 USD.
AUT-8000 STEP-UP TRANSFORMER. This beauty, a stand-alone SUT like the AUT-2000, is a total redesign and includes transformers wound with silver wire! The AUT-8000 is a response to requests from the high-end community and will be one of the very few, and we think one of the very, if not the very best of those. Introductory Price: $4500.00 USD.
The H-1500 phono preamp and the L-1500 preamp, both discontinued some time ago, will be replaced in late 2021 with the H-6500 PHONO-PREAMP and the L-6500 LINESTAGE-PREAMP featuring new chassis and circuit redesign. (The image above is a prototype and like the other achievements already establised in 2021, inclusive of an improved circuit design.) More to follow in the coming months. Introductory Price: $9,000.00 USD per unit.
The improved performance with the 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 linestages help to eliminat the noted sweet spot for listening and preserve dynamics and imaging at any volume, an achievement rarely met in the industry. This CIA is now FEATURED on the new T-2000 - 30th Anniversary integrated amplifier!!! An entirely revised circuit with newly designed transformers to accommodate the new KT-170 power tubes at 300W continuous. New chassis design. $12,500 USD. This spectacular integrated brings much of the top of the line Allnic separates together and will drive ANY speaker with unshakeable grip and outstanding clarity, balance and delicacy – from top to bottom.
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. This is only one example of a few tube types being developed inhouse this year!
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. M-2500 PX25 was taken in trade and being offered with new Kron tubes!
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.