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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:21 pm 
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Hello,

Does anyone have any experience with the Carver Lightstar reference amp. How do you think it would compare to the Bryston SST series of amps.

Regards,

Greg


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:28 pm 
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Hopefully our resident Carver expert OBI will pipe in but personally I would go with the Bryston if durability and serviceability are important. Carver's various products have been interesting but not always consistent quality wise. Why is it down to these choices? Lots of very good products out there.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:07 pm 
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If I was in the market for an amp, an you chose the Bryston, I would ask you to give me a lead on the lightstar. As it is, I am not, but would still be interested in it. Nostalgia has power too.....

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:22 pm 
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banerjba wrote:
Hopefully our resident Carver expert OBI will pipe in but personally I would go with the Bryston if durability and serviceability are important. Carver's various products have been interesting but not always consistent quality wise. Why is it down to these choices? Lots of very good products out there.


Hello,

I already use a Bryston pre\power in my main system. I really enjoy the sound that they provide, so I am not looking at replacing the poweramp.

I am interested in purchasing the Carver Starlight Reference poweramp, that is for sale on CAM. I haven't heard one before and I am looking for opinions on it's sound.

Regards,

Greg


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:35 pm 
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I would like to own the Carver Lightstar, but it would more of a Trophy for me. I love Bob Carver gear. My understanding is the Lightstar's design and sound is similar to the Sunfire Amps he made later, but unlike the Sunfire Amps it's very heavy, and produces allot of heat. Anything that is old and makes allot of heat scares me. That is why I would want it as a trophy and would not personally use it daily. If I wanted a practical Bob Carver amp to use daily I would look for a Sunfire.

IMO The CAM sellers asking price is more than reasonable, I think it will be a long time before we see another one on CAM. I am very tempted to buy it myself.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:42 pm 
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RobbieR wrote:
I would like to own the Carver Lightstar, but it would more of a Trophy for me. I love Bob Carver gear. My understanding is the Lightstar's design and sound is similar to the Sunfire Amps he made later, but unlike the Sunfire Amps it's very heavy, and produces allot of heat. Anything that is old and makes allot of heat scares me. That is why I would want it as a trophy and would not personally use it daily. If I wanted a practical Bob Carver amp to use daily I would look for a Sunfire.

IMO The CAM sellers asking price is more than reasonable, I think it will be a long time before we see another one on CAM. I am very tempted to buy it myself.


Thank you for your information.

Regards,

Greg


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:56 pm 
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RobbieR wrote:
IMO The CAM sellers asking price is more than reasonable, I think it will be a long time before we see another one on CAM. I am very tempted to buy it myself.


Same here. You so rarely see these come up.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:19 pm 
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James_W wrote:
RobbieR wrote:
IMO The CAM sellers asking price is more than reasonable, I think it will be a long time before we see another one on CAM. I am very tempted to buy it myself.


Same here. You so rarely see these come up.


Well, I snoozed and missed out. looks like nice piece.

Thanks everyone,

Greg


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:44 pm 
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As a Carver fan and Sunfire owner, I was tempted when I saw it come up for sale yesterday. Those amps are very rare and usually sell for a lot more than the Seller's asking price. I agree with RobbieR that it would be more of a trophy than a daily driver. Also I don't think the schematic for that amp is available, so you could be SOL if it ever required repair. Bob's more advanced amplifier designs tend to be very unconventional so not just any Technician will be able work on them.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:47 pm 
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Having owned both, I would prefer the Lightstar amp together with it's matching preamp. It did not produce a lot of heat. I owned 2 of them. Build wise, they were top shelf. It was not your average Carver amp. Bob Carver had little to do with the Lightstar. He had left the co. and was starting to develop Sunfire. His Sunfire amp was to compete against the Lightstar. I did not feel they sounded similar. A few reviews comparing them agreed with that assessment. They felt the Lightstar was a better sounding amp. The build quality of the Sunfire is far from what the Lightstar had.

Jim Croft designed the equipment and Carver Corp spared no expense on these products. I kick myself for not being around the computer or I would have asked to purchase. Regret to this day selling them. They were excellent together. You could alter the gain to match active preamp or switch it to match a passive preamp which is what the matching preamp was.

I had a few techs look under the hood and they were impressed with the build. If you ever required repairs, Anatech was/ is the chief repair person for these products. You would have no fear of having it repaired.

I really enjoyed the sonics. I owned Bryston BP26 MM/MC and 7B SST2. Little or no difference in sonics (Carver a little warmer) and a large difference in $. The preamp is a joy as well.

Oh well. It's gone anyway. I doubt there have been many sold on CAM since I sold mine a number of years ago. It's a trophy but could be used daily. I would have no qualms using it to this day. The build was second to none. 85+ lbs. The Lightstar 2.0 was 1/2 the weight. Gone were the dual power cords, dual meters etc. The Lightstar had 2 complete power supplies in it. Completely dual mono. I used one breaker at home for each channel. It's power reserves were unbelievable. It's power doubled each time to 0.5 ohms. It was 300 wpc @ 8 ohms, 600 wpc @ 4 ohms, 1200 wpc @ 2 ohms, 2400 wpc @ 1 ohm and 4800 wpc @ 0.5 ohm. I had it drive some Apogee Duetta's at the time. What a combo!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:16 pm 
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I always thought the Carver Lightstar Amps were some of the last things Bob designed for Carver before he left (or was ousted) Carver. Earlier I was reading up on the lightstar (Yes I was VERY Tempted :lol: ) and one owner referred to his as a Great Space Heater, and said his ran very hot. I thought this was unusual because if it has a similar design to the Sunfire amps, it shouldn't run hot. Does anyone actually know if the Lightstar design is similar to Sunfire amps, or is that just internet hearsay? I can see it being heavier because it case is an extrusion, as apposed to the Sunfire's stamped sheet metal case.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:06 am 
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From the Stereophile review of the Lightstar Reference:

"According to Carver Research, Bob Carver was the person who came up with the original idea for the Lightstar, but the final product is the result of extensive development by a team headed by VP of Research and Development Jim Croft, an engineer with a long list of credits in audio and Compact Disc design. Bob Carver has a new company, which has introduced its own amplifier, the Sunfire. The Sunfire is conceptually similar to the Lightstar, but has followed a different path of development."

The Stereophile review, along with several others, can be found here: http://thecarversite.com/yetanotherforu ... #post15109

Posts on the Carver audio sites confirm the schematic and service manuals for the Lightstar are not available. Perhaps Chris (Anatech) has a copy, but I understood from his previous posts here and on DIY Audio that he sold all his service manuals with his business years ago.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:29 am 
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I just found an article written by Bob himself. http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_2_3/v2n3f.html


This tidbit explains the Lightstars beggining:

Quote:
The Sunfire Amplifier: A Power Supply Story

The Sunfire amplifier had its genesis over fifteen years ago. After I sold Phase Linear, which I founded in the early 70's, and decided to start Carver Corporation, I wanted to come out with a new amplifier that would be light years ahead of anything currently available. I began work on a signal tracking power supply. Successfully implemented, an amplifier that incorporated such a power supply would he able to deliver lots of power, would run stone cold, would be incredibly efficient; essentially all of the input power would become output power, would be able to deliver massive amounts of current, and would drive almost any impedance down to one ohm and below. It would have the potential of ultra-high reliability because it would be running cold, would not require heat sinks, and because it would be so efficient, the power supply could be much smaller for the equivalent output power (in a conventional amplifier, only 20% to 30% of the input power actually appears at the output of the amplifier as usable audio power). I toiled for over a year trying to make this into a reality but couldn't get it to work. And so, after a year of working until two in the morning, I finally gave up and instead developed a different power supply called the Magnetic Field power supply. That power supply and its power amplifier became the original Carver "Cube". I used that to start Carver Corporation.

Fast Forward 13 Years

A little over two years ago, while still at Carver Corporation, I decided to have another go at it. I pulled out my notes from years past, including the old patent. This time I succeeded and did so in spades. The resulting amplifier was able to deliver both massive power as well as current. It could operate down to one ohm, and it didn't get hot! In short, it fulfilled the original dreams I had years ago. I called that amplifier the Lightstar, and on December 17, 1992, I turned over the design to my engineering department for packaging (having completed about 95% of the work) and went on a sabbatical with the intention of final tweaking and voicing when I got back. Upon my return, I had a falling out with Carver Corporation and early last year left Carver to form the Sunfire Corporation. At first it was Zeus Audio, named after my puppy, but I received a letter from an attorney who said, "No, you can't name it Zeus because we represent an amplifier company, and we have names for our products like Hercules, Aphrodite, Apollo, and Zeus." Enter Sunfire.



Bob seems to think he designed the Lightstar, I like how he says it was 95% complete and He handed it over to the Engineering Department for packaging :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:49 am 
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RobbieR wrote:
I just found an article written by Bob himself. http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_2_3/v2n3f.html


This tidbit explains the Lightstars beggining:

Quote:
The Sunfire Amplifier: A Power Supply Story

The Sunfire amplifier had its genesis over fifteen years ago. After I sold Phase Linear, which I founded in the early 70's, and decided to start Carver Corporation, I wanted to come out with a new amplifier that would be light years ahead of anything currently available. I began work on a signal tracking power supply. Successfully implemented, an amplifier that incorporated such a power supply would he able to deliver lots of power, would run stone cold, would be incredibly efficient; essentially all of the input power would become output power, would be able to deliver massive amounts of current, and would drive almost any impedance down to one ohm and below. It would have the potential of ultra-high reliability because it would be running cold, would not require heat sinks, and because it would be so efficient, the power supply could be much smaller for the equivalent output power (in a conventional amplifier, only 20% to 30% of the input power actually appears at the output of the amplifier as usable audio power). I toiled for over a year trying to make this into a reality but couldn't get it to work. And so, after a year of working until two in the morning, I finally gave up and instead developed a different power supply called the Magnetic Field power supply. That power supply and its power amplifier became the original Carver "Cube". I used that to start Carver Corporation.

Fast Forward 13 Years

A little over two years ago, while still at Carver Corporation, I decided to have another go at it. I pulled out my notes from years past, including the old patent. This time I succeeded and did so in spades. The resulting amplifier was able to deliver both massive power as well as current. It could operate down to one ohm, and it didn't get hot! In short, it fulfilled the original dreams I had years ago. I called that amplifier the Lightstar, and on December 17, 1992, I turned over the design to my engineering department for packaging (having completed about 95% of the work) and went on a sabbatical with the intention of final tweaking and voicing when I got back. Upon my return, I had a falling out with Carver Corporation and early last year left Carver to form the Sunfire Corporation. At first it was Zeus Audio, named after my puppy, but I received a letter from an attorney who said, "No, you can't name it Zeus because we represent an amplifier company, and we have names for our products like Hercules, Aphrodite, Apollo, and Zeus." Enter Sunfire.



Bob seems to think he designed the Lightstar, I like how he says it was 95% complete and He handed it over to the Engineering Department for packaging :lol:


Thanks Robbie, I was thinking of that very interview but couldn't locate it. Elsewhere on the web I found the following statement:

"Sr. Engineer, Vic Richardson, a 15-year year employee at Carver, along with other engineers at Carver, produced the LightStar." (http://www.theabsolutesound.com/forums/threads/184/)

All things considered I'm inclined to believe the Bobfather had more to do with the Lightstar's existence than anyone else.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:10 am 
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tmarx wrote:
Thanks Robbie, I was thinking of that very interview but couldn't locate it. Elsewhere on the web I found the following statement:

"Sr. Engineer, Vic Richardson, a 15-year year employee at Carver, along with other engineers at Carver, produced the LightStar." (http://www.theabsolutesound.com/forums/threads/184/)

All things considered I'm inclined to believe the Bobfather had more to do with the Lightstar's existence than anyone else.


The devil is in the details, or in this case the wording.

The Lightstar was designed to be a cost-no-object, limited production, SS flagship product for Carver. In fact, of the 110 parts "kits" produced 100 amplifiers of the first series (full, dual mono design) and spares for 10 amps. Another 100 of the lesser cost Lightstar II amps were also produced (quoting numbers from memory here; need to pull out the original manuscripts to confirm). Of those 10 spares kits, 5 reside with a Carver collector (who also reputedly owns several production Lightstars) and the remaining 5 with Roland at Hi-Tech who, BTW, is the only service shop worldwide with original spares and service documents for all Carver and Sunfire products.

Bob designed the first 95% of both amps, then a team of almost a dozen engineers working for Carver took over and "produced" the amps. Exactly the same as with every single other product that Bob ever designed. The Lightstar II had more input from the production engineers than the original dual mono Lightstar in order to cut out much of the massive costs associated with the original.

Major problems arose with the first batch of production units and Bob having been ousted by the bean counters, was not there to fix the problems. That responsibility fell on Anatech's (Chris) shoulders and he is the one that personally rebuilt all of those units.

The Sunfire 300 is based on the same basic engineering principles as the Lightstar II but with more affordable parts to make it accessible to a much wider audience, and indeed it did, being produced in the tens of thousands of units. The Sunfire and Lightstar are voiced differently, so it is normal that they do not sound exactly the same.


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