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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:37 am 
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SSM DSB wrote:
-Again, the business model is fairly simple: if a projected 2% or 3% of the units are gonna fail, why waste precious time trying to locate those units? As long as the failure rates are under 5%, who cares? Well... boutique hi-end audio dealers and well-heeled audiophiles care. But... you know... it's always easier to NOT do something. It was this kind of leading-edge thinking which, in part, led the original SF into insolvency. By the late '90s... well... I'd better not get into all of the amazing things that were happening at SFI in the late '90s.

-Sorry if your DAC-1 sounded "terrible." Back in the day, there were some phenomenally talented design engineers and bench techs at SFI. The good ones, of course, left and moved on to bigger and brighter things. Some of them are still working within the high-end audio industry to this day. Sadly, there were also a few less than stellar "modders" working at SF. If the unit had been hot-rodded, I can readily think of numerous "geniuses" who might've done the modding.

Cheers... and enjoy the music.


Its pretty clear why all the talented people left SF and company went under.

As soon as I told the vintage retailer - who is in the GTA - there was something wrong with the "modded" SF DAC I
he took the ad down and introduced an exchange policy.
He said the service tech said the DAC checked fine before shipping.
After much "negotiation" the unit was exchanged + cash for a Xindak DAC-5.
Won't be buying anything from that store or individual again.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:30 am 
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Well to update...

Been rotating this into system few days at a time getting a feel for it.
Not rolled any tubes or any mods done.

I would have to say it does impart some tube sound in the mids , maybe too much when add on my tubed phono stage , but taste of sound pretty good.
I would not want any more lush tube sound for sure, this imparts about the right amount to me as line stage.
Warm up time is very fast stable in 15 minutes.
I will continue the listening tests for quite awhile , as alot of trouble to use dual preamps in my system & not giving up on surround sound...

As far as build quality , it really is second to none , this one was the last version to be made so has a few mods from first design.
When apart nothing runs smoking hot , it seems well done.
As far as tube eating I do not know as only a few of these in the area , but reports back at least 10-15 years of tube life.
Tubes are not easy to predect , I have had new ones fail in other gear in couple months.
Also keep in mind these are not mainstream preamps , really the numbers made are small.

Anyways having some fun with the unit.....

Brian

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:33 am 
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ecclectique wrote:
Re: Multicap capacitors. It's rather difficult to ascertain from your photos which type Multicaps where used for the coupling positions.
However, if they are the ppmfx versions....yeeeech, a wretched sounding film cap thats about as dry and two dimensional as they come.


Ecclectique,

Is there a coupling cap you would recommend with a reasonable price tag ?
The price of some of the Mundorf caps goes beyond belief.

Or would you suggest using something like a 2.2uF polyprop cap,
with a high end silver/oil 100nF cap in parallel ?

Here is an interesting list, where a person has tested numerous types/makes of caps, in a speaker crossover network.
http://www.humblehomemadehifi.com/Cap.html

http://wduk.worldomain.net/pdf/ClarityC ... Report.pdf

http://www.hificritic.com/downloads/APassiveRole.pdf

I bought a Yaqin CD3 tube buffer - which may be an Aikido cathode follower (???).
Whatever the topology is, its very transparent.
Its clear that after trying a few input and output coupling caps,
I'd say the caps have as much sonic influence as the 6sn7 sellected.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:50 pm 
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Location: Welland, ON, CA
I've mentioned this before, Iused to have the SFL1 pre and SFL phono stage, and commented that the sound was not my particular cup of tea, I bought them new, but, perhaps all the money that Sonic was spending on Stereophile ads should have been spent on beefing up the design and ridding it of problems.I believe there were also issues in the far east markets. Their failure to embrace the products was also an issue, this inspite of the nice golden faceplates.

I also found the sound to be too much on the tubey side or coloured too warmish,rolled off highs,but this did compliment the Bryston 4 B I used at the time and my Mirage M3si speakers.

This was a dark sounding system,and I also used Cardas golden 5c interconnects and speaker wires.
Ohh so syrupy sweet.
I revelled in it at first, then it grew bothersome.

Perhaps something was amiss with my units , I used no power conditioning and only wall plugged with stock cheap cords from the box, so maybe that was part of the problem.


My friend had the big mono blocks, the SFL3 pre and the phono stage and ran the top of the line speakers from the other partner to Mirage, which I can't remember the name of, but a nice well designed speaker, Energy , the v -4 or whatever the top dog was at the time.


His system was also very much on the dark side of neutral, and he was never satisfied with the way the amps drove the Energy's, perhaps it was an impedence mismatch.

The point of this is that, if the unit works and you like it, then why bother with it until it needs some work.
And then just replace what is needed, and not fuss too much with expensive aftermarket components that just may burn out faster than they normally would in other designs.

Besides, some internal components won't benefit from any expensive upgraded parts because those components in the design have nothing to do with altering the sound.
Finding which parts make a difference in the design is the key.

The pre has lasted this long and you like it,so it enjoy it for as long as you can as it is.
All the parts have aged togehter, so until something goes wonky, why mess with fate?

If you do decide to mod it,I would start with the power supply and beef it up, and make sure it's stiff and stable.
Everything after that is icing on the cake.
Then spend extra money on upscale tubes.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:50 am 
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Chuck Lee wrote:
I've mentioned this before, Iused to have the SFL1 pre and SFL phono stage, and commented that the sound was not my particular cup of tea, I bought them new, but, perhaps all the money that Sonic was spending on Stereophile ads should have been spent on beefing up the design and ridding it of problems.I believe there were also issues in the far east markets. Their failure to embrace the products was also an issue, this inspite of the nice golden faceplates.

Chuck, Brian (crazyclocks) has a SFL-2 and not a SFL-1. They are two VERY different units.

The SFL-2' power supply is separate, very well designed and uses excellent parts. The PSU is a true dual mono with nothing shared between channels, not even the trannies! I counted 15 regulators in the PS. Most designs have 2-5. All Hovland throughout. Even the tube heaters is regulated DC. All Kimber cable and sockets. Vishay and Caddocks, Ladder attentuators. Not much added beefing up doable on this thing!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:09 am 
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I've had both the SFL-1 and an SFL-2, and it's true you can't really compare them directly. The SFL-1 is a single chassis hybrid tube model with one 12ax7 (it could be configured for one 6922 as well), while the SLF-2 was a two chassis full tube unit with 8 6922's. I believe the SFL-2 was rated Class A by Stereophile.

Because of the performance & price gap of the two SFL models Sonic Frontiers replaced them with three models in the "Line X" series: the Line 1 was akin to the SLF-1, the Line 3 replaced the SLF-2, and the Line 2 fell in the middle.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:12 am 
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Well switched to this unit again this weekend.

I too can not really see much for improvements , The PS is first rate .
Yes they had problems in version one but they came out with a fix , nobody is perfect .
I may add the tube filiments are above ground potential , very good design , plate voltage 145V well within tube specs.
I now have service manual ...just very hard to read copy.

You may tweak the unit but overall a very well done piece.

Like everything in stereo , every tube device sounds a bit differant , this one is close to wire with gain , but a bit of tube flair in the mids that gives it soundstage , some people may want more of a tube sound others would believe this is one of the best products ever to come out of Canada !
It is a shame that company politics had so much to play with buisness.

But to listening , Canned heat , Buddy Guy , Steve Martin with SCR (differant) , Imelda May , Jeff Beck , even some Sly & Family Stone , & couple bits from Shpongle to name some.
It really shows off good recordings , but even the older stuff pulls something good from them.
No vinyl this week end , maybe next time....

Brian

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:06 am 
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krazyclocks wrote:
Like everything in stereo , every tube device sounds a bit differant , this one is close to wire with gain , but a bit of tube flair in the mids that gives it soundstage , some people may want more of a tube sound others would believe this is one of the best products ever to come out of Canada !

I too find the SFL-2 to be very neutral and uncoloured sounding, at least compared to the plethora of tube pre's I have owned the last 30+ years. And, it is for this exact reason why I love the way it works in my system.
krazyclocks wrote:
It is a shame that company politics had so much to play with buisness.

Unfortunately this is common in small businesses when you get a bunch of partners together who don't have the business acumen to match their engineering and technical wisdom. I'm in the R&D field and see it all too often!

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 2:37 pm 
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Well a year later......

Been using this preamp like an audio treat , when want to really feel the music it gets switched in.
No tube rolling ...nothin changed can see no need to try other tube flavours.

Finally other half came around & says sounds so much better why not use more ??

Some scare though , lost one side after tree fell on power lines , not sure if related but one side gone.
Thanks to CAM member had schematic , FYI lost 6 Volts to 2 tubes , the referance voltage to regulator was dragged down by leaky electrolitic ( one of few used) , replaced all 4 in 6V regulators , quite a bit of time spent , more time just to get at problem !
At any rate back to normal again with bit better parts.
It sure was nice to work on good piece , everything fits well ...lots of screws.
Even the cover is damped on P/S , Although not sure if stock that way.

A sharp contrast to many of these new units where half the screws are stripped right from the factory...

Still very happy with the unit even after a year 8) .

Brian

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 2:22 pm 
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krazyclocks wrote:
Well a year later......

Been using this preamp like an audio treat , when want to really feel the music it gets switched in.
No tube rolling ...nothin changed can see no need to try other tube flavours.

Finally other half came around & says sounds so much better why not use more ??

Some scare though , lost one side after tree fell on power lines , not sure if related but one side gone.
Thanks to CAM member had schematic , FYI lost 6 Volts to 2 tubes , the referance voltage to regulator was dragged down by leaky electrolitic ( one of few used) , replaced all 4 in 6V regulators , quite a bit of time spent , more time just to get at problem !
At any rate back to normal again with bit better parts.
It sure was nice to work on good piece , everything fits well ...lots of screws.
Even the cover is damped on P/S , Although not sure if stock that way.

A sharp contrast to many of these new units where half the screws are stripped right from the factory...

Still very happy with the unit even after a year 8) .

Brian

Awesome and thanks for the update, Brian.

I am so happy with my SFL2 that I bought a 2nd one .......... 8)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:49 pm 
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I am looking at buying a SFL-2 preamp for my system. Must have the gold face plate. Looking at trying to get one around August this year. Typically what kind of price is fair for one of these units? I've seen pricing from $1200, $1500, $1600, and then higher up to $2000 and $2300. Makes me wonder why such a variance in price for the same preamp. And is it really worth $2000 or more? I am planning on using this pre with a YBA 2HC amp, and possibly B&W 805D speakers. How much is the SE+ mod that Parts Connextion does on these units? I hear this pre is hard on tubes, so any comments there?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:07 am 
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tmarx wrote:
I've had both the SFL-1 and an SFL-2, and it's true you can't really compare them directly. The SFL-1 is a single chassis hybrid tube model with one 12ax7 (it could be configured for one 6922 as well), while the SLF-2 was a two chassis full tube unit with 8 6922's. I believe the SFL-2 was rated Class A by Stereophile.

Because of the performance & price gap of the two SFL models Sonic Frontiers replaced them with three models in the "Line X" series: the Line 1 was akin to the SLF-1, the Line 3 replaced the SLF-2, and the Line 2 fell in the middle.


I have the SFl-1 Signature series pre, but pretty sure in either case it is like mine: a 12at7, not ax....fwiw...
(because it's the "signature" series, mine is actually a CV4024...reputed to be a higher quality at7 equivalent)
the 6922 is, i think, a 6dj8 equivalent, used in the SFS-80 amp (and perhaps other SF amps?)... but not in the SFL-1 pre--although maybe you're right about re-configuring...(don't know about that)

would love to hear more about the SFL-1 if anyone wants to comment and/or start a new thread. Don't worry, I can take it! :lol:
(feel free to pm me if it's 'sensitive' lawyer type stuff!!)

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:17 am 
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Shagarello wrote:
tmarx wrote:
I've had both the SFL-1 and an SFL-2, and it's true you can't really compare them directly. The SFL-1 is a single chassis hybrid tube model with one 12ax7 (it could be configured for one 6922 as well), while the SLF-2 was a two chassis full tube unit with 8 6922's. I believe the SFL-2 was rated Class A by Stereophile.

Because of the performance & price gap of the two SFL models Sonic Frontiers replaced them with three models in the "Line X" series: the Line 1 was akin to the SLF-1, the Line 3 replaced the SLF-2, and the Line 2 fell in the middle.


I have the SFl-1 Signature series pre, but pretty sure in either case it is like mine: a 12at7, not ax....fwiw...
(because it's the "signature" series, mine is actually a CV4024...reputed to be a higher quality at7 equivalent)
the 6922 is, i think, a 6dj8 equivalent, used in the SFS-80 amp (and perhaps other SF amps?)... but not in the SFL-1 pre--although maybe you're right about re-configuring...(don't know about that)

would love to hear more about the SFL-1 if anyone wants to comment and/or start a new thread. Don't worry, I can take it! :lol:
(feel free to pm me if it's 'sensitive' lawyer type stuff!!)


Yes, there was a jumper to run either 12at7 or 6922.
No, no real difference in the sig series.
The sfl1 was considered a budget pre....the sfl2 was considered by many the best of the lot.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:06 am 
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I've owned both the SLF-1 and SFL-2, you really can't compare the two. The SFL-1 is a hybrid design in a single chassis, and it works best with a single 12AT7. The SFL-2 is a two chassis no holds barred design, fully balanced all tube monster with 8 6922's. The SFL-2 was rated Class A by Stereophile back in the day. I wouldn't pay more than about $1400 Canadian tops for a stock SFL-2 unless the tubes are known to be good quality with low hours. The good news is the gold face is far more common.

I wouldn't say the SFL-2 is really hard on tubes, but unlike most designs it does require you to bias the circuits each time you change the tubes; sadly I think most people just changes the tubes without making the proper adjustments afterwards. IIRC the rear four tubes are not critical for fidelity, so you don't have to spend at much on those tubes as the four front ones.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:57 am 
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tmarx wrote:
I wouldn't say the SFL-2 is really hard on tubes, but unlike most designs it does require you to bias the circuits each time you change the tubes; sadly I think most people just changes the tubes without making the proper adjustments afterwards. IIRC the rear four tubes are not critical for fidelity, so you don't have to spend at much on those tubes as the four front ones.

I make constant use of the standby switch which helps.

LV1/2 and V1/2 (the 4 tubes at the back .... furthest away from front faceplate) are the signal path tubes most critical to SQ. You only need to bias new tubes if running balanced.

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