Misconceptions

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It’s easy enough to have a misconception. It is a notion of one thing that turns out to be quite something else.

Misconceptions happen because we go into a situation with a set of expectations that aren’t met. Then, we label the whole thing a misconception.

When engineer Darren Myers took me upstairs and into Music Room 2 to hear his first cut at a new power amplifier, the M1200, I had a very clear idea of what that would sound like. And, I was wrong.

The new Stellar M1200 is a massively powerful amplifier as its model name implies. 1200 watts is big! Big enough to dump unfettered bass energy into even the most demanding of speakers without batting an eye. I dare say, nothing is likely to faze the M1200. Whatever one would hook it up to will enjoy tons of headroom and never suffer dynamic compression.

But what took me by surprise was not what it did, but what it didn’t.

The M1200 has a vacuum tube front end. And, it is this input stage that I assumed would give the amp a “tube sound”: lush, fat, warm. What I heard was not that, but rather a tonal accuracy that belied the nature of its input stage.

I should have known better. The first time I experienced vacuum tubes sounding like music (as opposed to adding stereotype characteristics) was in the BHK series. Bascom King demonstrated to me that tubes didn’t have to match their reputation of coloring the sound. In fact, properly designed, they would cut through the expectations of lush, fat, and warm to offer instead, musical truth.

The M1200 won’t be available until close to Christmas, but when it launches, it’s certain to change one’s expectations of tube sound.

Misconceptions are erased when what we expect is met.

Expect great things to come in time for Christmas.