A Resource For Purchasing
Triode/Finale, Coherent Audio,
Dangerous Music, Neumann,
Grace, Apogee, & Others
Frank Lloyd Wright
I’m a dealer for Triode/Finale tube amps, Coherent Audio speakers, Isotek power conditioners, Dangerous Music Audio Components, Grace Design Microphone Preamps, and a number of other very select components. A Neumann U87i microphone, a Grace m201mk2 microphone preamplifier combined with a Dangerous Music Convert AD+ ADC unit is a recording combination made in heaven. A Triode/Finale 300B tube amplifier, a Kitsune KTE Halo May DAC, a Tortuga LDR volume control system, playing into a Coherent Audio speaker system and a few other superb listening items make up one of the finest listening systems that you’ll ever put together.
I’m an OEM and have designed and build a very unique single tube buffer for audiophile listening and it was never meant for pro audio recording since its single ended and doesn’t have balanced outputs. However, it provides the cleanest 2nd order harmonics that you can create and I add this sound quality to my signal to expand the width and depth of the soundstage and to gain a 3 dimensional sound quality that is warm and inviting.
Now that I’m also working in the retail pro audio field, I’ve been looking for ways to get that blacker background while still providing an extremely human oriented and desirable 3 dimensional sound quality, but one that is pure and untouched by circuit, transformer, or tube distortion. I’m now able to get that desired sound quality using the Grace m201mk2 preamp and the Neumann U87i studio microphone along with my Dangerous Music AD+ converter. This combination is not harsh or sterile in any way and provides a beautiful sound quality.
All 3 (Dangerous Music, Grace Design and Neumann) have the best build quality you can buy along with excellent company support and incredibly beautiful sound quality.
If you’re a VoiceOver artist, you simply cannot find a better preamp and microphone combination than the U87. If you’re a vocalist, the same. And if you’re an acoustic instrument musician, this recording sound quality is perfect for your use and extremely flexible for many different situations. Enunciation is excellent and smooth and warm with plenty of detail but never harsh.
Yes, this combination of gear is expensive but not overly so and is worth every penny of its cost. Spend some time on this website and I’ll share more about the merits provided by these items and why they make up my preferred recording system. Also, consider the following sentence when choosing your recording approach:
You can always “color” a really good “clean” recorded track but you cannot take away “color” that has been added by components during the recording process.
Do your coloring AFTER recording it “clean”. Then you’ll be able to take the basic recorded file you created and mold it to your liking. Adding EQ, compression and a multitude of other processing from either hardware or plugins further expands a well done recording after its made and doesn’t collapse and degrade from all of the distortion that you’ve added and can’t get away from (if you recorded with heavy colorization).
Even Rap, Hip Hop, R&B and other more upbeat electronic genres that you might not initially consider recording “clean” do better with this approach. Try this approach for recording voice and various instruments and see if you can create the final sound you desire using your other studio processing gear and plugins after the tracking has been done. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well this approach works.
The Dangerous Music components provide a really high level of sound quality and there’s a large number of component options available that provide the flexibility for you to slowly build a great recording and listening system using their equipment. Whether you begin with their least expensive component or are looking for a more expensive component choice alternative, solutions exist while sound quality remains the same (really superb). Its my responsibility and pleasure to help answer your questions and to help you define a path for acquiring this fine gear even if its one component at a time. Taking your time (if necessary) is worth it.
If you already have an Apogee or Universal Audio interface, consider adding external processing and excellent monitoring features to your gear by purchasing the Dangerous Music D-Box+. No, it’s not quite as good as the Convert-2 DAC for playback and the 2-Bus+ for external processing, but it does allow you to more easily afford a similar operation and provides a great solution beyond Apogee or Universal Audio. It truly is the next step up. Begin acquiring external gear to go along with your “in the box” plugins and improve your sound quality.
If you’re also trying to put together the absolute finest listening system and have less than ideal space, I can help you optimize what you have through treatment of your listening environment and careful selection of your playback components.
I can also obtain and sell Grace Design preamps and these preamps are what I use and recommend to accompany the Dangerous Music equipment. Either the Grace Design M201mk2 (2 channel) or the Grace Design M501mk2 (8 channel) microphone preamps provide the best quality, and these preamps come with a 20 year warranty! The ideal studio micophone to choose for these components is the Neumann U87. If you can’t afford that, either the Neumann TLM103 or the TLM102 are excellent 2nd and 3rd choices.
These 2 Grace preamps are my favorites and are extremely flexible. The resulting sound quality is wonderful and definitely would satisfy your needs and the desires of many of your recording clients. And . . . this microphone preamplifier has an excellent synergy with the Dangerous Music mixing and mastering systems.
I sell the entire line of Neumann products. The most useable, however, are their classic studio microphones, the U87, TLM103 and the TLM102. One of these, their headphones, and their active monitor systems and you’re on your way to a world class sound quality when also using the Dangerous Music and Grace Design components.
A Couple Of Studio Monitor Solutions
The above combination makes a superb studio monitor or audiophile rig. The monitor isn’t powered so you can use a high quality separate power amp to gain really superb sound quality. The monitor is 94db efficient and perfect for lower power applications (i.e. a Neochrome Modulus 286 power amp would be ideal), That’s what I use and this can be your first DIY project using either a stereo build or 2 mono blocks. I can help you with this project and highly recommend going this direction to bridge both the pro audio and audiophile markets. For mixing and mastering solutions, you won’t be able to do better for anywhere near this total cost.
Here’s another option. If you’re willing to build your own monitors, I highly recommend the GR-Research NXstudio monitors for both sound quality and lowest price. The MDF flatpack is available from for $379 plus $65 shipping cost and the kit to build the monitor is available directly from GR-Research for around $700. Finish these using DuraTex paint and you have a professional looking monitor that is one of the best at any price.
These open baffle monitors (tweeter only open baffle with woofer in a proper sealed box size) have been designed to be close to walls or corners so placement in a small studio is excellent. They have been designed for excellent near field use but also play well in a good sized room (even pulled out but then with open baffle subs). Really excellent sealed subwoofers, like the ones made by M&K are some of the best you can buy. They work great for both audio and video use. Typically open baffle speakers need to be pulled out 3 to 5 feet into the room to sound good and I only recommend this direction if you indeed have a large enough room. These monitors don’t need to be pulled out into the room since only the tweeter is open baffle and the crossover point is around 1K. I’m using the smaller M&K X8 subwoofer with these monitors since this is a near field implementation and doesn’t require the X10 or X12 larger subwoofers. Yes, that would be nice but its not required. These monitors, their sealed woofer, their open baffle tweeter, and a pair of X8 or X10 M&K subwoofers makes one of the finest sounding systems you’ll find anywhere near their price point.
The open baffle presentation that the tweeter in the NXstudio monitor is superb and breathtaking. This IS an incredible combination (sealed woofer with open baffle tweeter) but will require more of your work to implement since this is an entirely DIY, build it yourself project. The cabinet flatpack is available as is the component kit so really, its not a difficult build. And . . . of course the cost is much less than something already built. Sound quality is way above your total investment – way above! I also recommend building your own Neochrome Modulus 286 stereo amp for these monitors. So now you have 2 excellent DIY projects and I will be glad to help get you going if you decide to move in this direction.
Read this M&K White Paper For Why These Subwoofers Sound Better Than Other Options: M&K X Series Subwoofer White Paper
WHY PURCHASE FROM ME?
I’ve spent decades building audio gear (power amplifiers, preamplifiers, power supplies, speakers, cables, etc) and have worked with high end audiophiles (including myself) for a very long time. I’m a former professional jazz piano player and I know what real live music sounds like. I used to own, a Bechstein Concert C234. I purchased it new and built a special highly tuned acoustic room for it. Working with room acoustics is an integral part of putting together a great sounding audio system for mixing or mastering and shouldn’t be avoided. I can help you with that too.
There are a few other manufacturers products I can provide but Dangerous Audio is my primary choice. I highly advocate that you consider building some of your own gear (DIY) and if interested, I can provide some really good suggestions for doing that. Building equipment provides you with the knowledge and direct experience that you can’t gain from just using it. Do both and you might then have the potential to really do well with this as a profession.
PUT TOGETHER A CORE AUDIO SYSTEM USING DANGEROUS AUDIO COMPONENTS (their Convert-2 DAC and Convert-AD+) AND THEN ADD EXTERNAL GEAR USING LOW COST DIY KITS (if you can’t afford to keep going at the higher level.)
What few audiophiles realize is that the Dangerous Music Convert-2 is a world class DAC (digital to analog converter) and will compete with audiophile equipment that costs much more. I’ve owned over 30 DACs in the last 5 years and can say from personal experience that the Convert-2 should be considered for music playback if you’re an audiophile and not interested in creating your own music. If you are, however, you simply cannot do better. The Convert-2 is where I would start and the first component I would purchase if desiring to create a world class sound quality for music listening or for listening to music that you mix and master. For a music creator, this is an absolute must purchase component.
I’M ALSO AN ELECTRONIC COMPONENT MANUFACTURER AND CAN HELP YOU IDENTIFY AND ACQUIRE REALLY EXCELLENT EXTERNAL GEAR ONE STEP AT A TIME. EVENTUALLY, YOU CAN REPLACE LESSER ITEMS WITH MORE EXPENSIVE DANGEROUS AUDIO ETERNAL COMPONENTS (compressor, eq, recording out of the box, etc) AS YOU CAN AFFORD IT. INITIALLY, HOWEVER, YOU NEED A STARTING PLACE AND I’M HERE TO HELP YOU. The Dangerous Audio DAC and ADC units make a superb starting point and I recommend using them to build your system. From there, we can gradually grow (together).
I’m always creating something to challenge myself. I enjoy that opportunity immensely. I’m a an innovator and I spend huge amounts of time and effort trying to perfect whatever I’m doing. Even though I’m a keyboard player, I love the guitar. I’ve owned numerous guitars to find the true style that “speaks to me”. After owning 4 Strandberg headless guitars (classic, made in Japan, Plini, and True Temperament), heres what I now own and play. This guitar provides the tonal quality that is truly me and it’s my “desert island” guitar:
It took quite a while for me to finally find the guitar that I love and the same goes for owning and using mixing and mastering equipment. Most of us need to try many directions before learning what’s truly good and the kind of tools that can provide “our tone” and improve our way of doing things. Excellent tools are required to work at the higher levels and these allow you to do that. Dangerous Music audio components automatically impress most anyone who tries them. They truly are superb and provide an “end game” solution for their owners. Allow me to help you discover this truth.
AND YES . . . I’M STILL BUILDING
ONE OF A KIND
WORLD CLASS COMPONENTS
This new and recently completed guitar amplifier is completely quiet and has one of the best sounding clean tones I’ve ever heard. As a result, it also is one of the best guitar pedal platforms available and at around 9 watts of power, it makes a perfect home practice or studio amplifier.
My favorite speaker for this amp is the 12″ Celestion Creamback 75 in a Quilter Toneblock HD 12″ sized custom stripped maple speaker cabinet. This speaker is an ideal compliment for this amp and one that most any guitar player would love. Bass is full and solid and you really don’t need a larger speaker cabinet. You’ll find a photo of my custom cab on the EF86 page. I had this cabinet made for me – custom – and its not readily available. Purchase or use the Quilter Toneblock 12″ speaker cabinet as an alternative and you’ll be extremely happy with your tone. Also purchase a 12″ Celestion Creamback 75 for this cabinet and you’ll have one of the best speaker solutions you can put together for this amp.
The best tube sound from this amp comes from using a new production Psvane EL84PH plus 3 additional NOS tubes that I’m using.
To accommodate a really beautiful jazz style hollow body sound, I’ve tweaked this amp for both a specific EL34 (the new production Pavane EL34PH) and there is no need to use an EQ pedal to accommodate an expensive arch top hollow body guitar. The tone stack on this amp works extremely well.
The best tube compliment for this amp is:
1 NOS Mullard GZ34 rectifier tube
1 New Production Pavane EL34PH
1 NOS Tesla/Telefunken EF86 preamp tube, and
1 NOS Phillips Miniwatt 12AX7 tone control tube.
If you play a hollow body arch top, 335 style, chambered, or solid body guitar, the EL34 will work extremely well if you’re interested in creating a beautiful clean tone with some warmth around it.
Really good NOS rare tubes (there are 3 in this amp) are really expensive and my goal was to build an amplifier that only uses one power tube (not a matched pair or quad) and also is an ideal and superb world class practice amp for use at home or in a studio. This amplifier easily accommodates those needs and beyond plus it reduces the cost and difficulty of finding and using matched, rare, and expensive NOS tubes. Locating matched pairs or quads of tubes is no longer an issue. Tubes wear out and great sounding NOS ones (particularly when matched and in multiples) are becoming really difficult to find and almost cost prohibitive.
The tube compliment that I recommend above is all that you need to achieve the ultimate sound quality from this amp. Having 9 watts of useable power going into a 100db sensitive 12″ guitar speaker is plenty loud for most players and this is what I recommend as an ideal combination. The best single speaker for this amp (in my opinion) is the Celestion Creamback 75 (8 ohm). Its 100db sensitive and produces an excellent sound quality for simple or complex playing styles. Your own preference might vary but the efficiency of this speaker is a serious benefit. Increasing the efficiency of your speaker by 3 db equals doubling the power of your guitar amp. At 100db, there is plenty of headroom and volume unless you’re in a really large room.
The old adage of it takes 10,000 hours to become a master of most any musical instrument is true. However, over 95% of those 10,000 hours is spent in practice mode and not ” live on stage”. That is why I created this amplifier – for those 9,500 practice hours. You can use much bigger amps for the additional 500 hours if you make it that far and get to do that. The most important time invested is when you’re playing for yourself – at home! And .. . this experience needs to be really really positive or your practice time isn’t as productive and you might lose interest in playing.
I’ve tried the rare and uber expensive NOS Genelec KT88 in this amp and can’t justify the $400+ cost for a single tube. Eventually I found that the EL34 provides the best beautiful clean tone I was searching for and the Pavane EL34PH is my favorite EL34 style tube even over the NOS Mullard EL34. The 3 NOS tubes that I use and highly recommend (EF86, 12AX7 and GZ34) are a must and if you use them, you really don’t need to do any tube rolling. Sound quality is superb!
If you purchase this amp from me, I won’t ship it with tubes. I’ll leave that purchase and adventure up to you. I am, however, sharing what I’ve used to make this amp sounds its best and hope that you do follow my recommendations and that you purchase these 4 recommended tubes.
Click on the link below to gather more information about this really beautiful EF86 guitar amplifier: