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Thread: anyone used sparkos...

  1. #1
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: penzance,cornwall uk

    Posts: 358
    I'm paul.

    Default anyone used sparkos...

    well i have
    loving the avi lab series integrated amplifier,cant fault its presentation and all round ability with playing my tunes,in my system and to these jaded ears.
    however,as is the case with everything....nothing is perfect,and non-perfection for me regarding this amplifer is in the shape of lacking some macro/micro detail that tends to make the music become more "real/believable".
    as pointed out,im more then happy with this amplifier,ill rate it up there with some of the best at what it does,so for me its a keeper,so the question for me was how to keep the amps magic and appeal yet still add a bit of the magical fairy dust without screwing the whole thing up
    a quick look at the circuit diagram shows us that we have a fairly straight forward basic op amp preamp section.
    now i could of got my op amp swapping head on and played around with that side of things....but concluded that life's to short,more so at this time in my life.
    from a quick bit of research and read up it seemed that a discrete op amp replacement was generally accepted as a better improvement then any of the latest or greatest op amp ics available,through that information my "upgrade/tweak/mod" was formed
    now like most things in hifi...your not stuck for choice when it comes to certain things,and this seemed to be one of those things...bugger,it can do your head in at times by having to much choice,so a bit more reading up on reviews of said devices and a conclusion was formed....everyone had there favorites,everyone has there own take on sound quality and what they like,everyone states the one they have chosen or brought is the best,i was getting nowhere quickly
    so i went with a more general approach to it all,and that boiled down to what would actually fit inside the avi amp,due to its construction the amp board sits upside down and above the preamp section,this really limits height of substitute components i can put in and use...so that narrowed down the choice a little,ive always loved the class A magic so i started looking around at the ones that were biased more into class A operation.....and that brought me a winner,or at least one choice.
    enter sparkos labs inc,and there Sparkos SS3602 modules .
    i promptly got in touch with andrew whos company and product it is,a top guy that never got tired of answering all my silly questions or plans i had,he even went above the call of duty and helped me out on another aspect of my amp that had nothing to do with any of his products or stood to gain anything from it,like ive said...top guy!!
    so two ss3602s where ordered and promptly arrived within a week,well boxed and safe....these things are a work of art build wise no matter what they sound like
    needless to say i didn't hang around regarding fitting them,after the joys of stripping down the avi amp again which can be quite a chore due to its excellent build quality,plus the fun and games of removing the original op amps from the preamp section i put them in .
    soooooo,how do they sound?what improvements have been gained,if any?....well that's another story
    ill tell it later as i have to go out in a moment.
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    Last edited by smithie; 26-01-2018 at 00:19.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: penzance,cornwall uk

    Posts: 358
    I'm paul.


    im back....
    so now we move on to the most important aspect...the sound quality
    i think the best technical term that can best sum up this product and mod is..."WOW"
    as i pointed out,i was more then happy with the sound quality of the standard avi amplifier,and if you read the old reviews of this amp back in the day a lot of reviewers were to.
    so i guess i wasn't expecting such a massive step up in sound quality,i was only after a little more micro/macro detail after all to consider the mod a success to these ears.
    what i've ended up with due to these sparkos discrete op amps is what seems to me(and this is just my opinion and view of course) a amplifier that is now in a totally different league compared to the original regarding musicality,detail,soundstaging,air and presence,without upsetting the original amps charm or abilities.
    it sounds leaner and brighter after this mod but you soon realise that this is due to the smear and waffle being taken out of the bass,you now pick out hidden details in a bass line that you never noticed before,bass lines stop and start instantly and if anyone is familiar with this avi amp sound then you know how great these amps do bass to start with.
    and at last we have tones and textures thrown in there to,this is what i was hoping for as i felt this was one of the biggest failings with the sound of this amplifier in standard form.
    the treble is so extended ,smooth and detailed with plenty of air,i really cant believe the amount of extra detail that is coming through,its exactly the same story for the midrange to,its all unforced and natural sounding and i think thats is the best way of describing what these discrete op amps have done for this amp,its just made this amp so much more musical while offering up more realism and detail but in a natural unforced way,the speakers seem to have disappeared all together as the soundstaging is well and truly massive,constraints and boundaries seemed to have disappeared,the avi in its standard form had a bit of a upfront nature to its presentation,i really liked that,this mod has changed that presentation slightly,it now has a deeper soundstage depth and the original forwardness isn't as aggressive,but its not so laid back as to become boring or soft,a nice balance has been struck ,well it certainly suits me and my system,and that's all that counts at the end of the day
    now i realise i must sound like a little school boy that's been locked in a sweet shop overnight by mistake and cant believe his luck regarding my buzz over these discrete op amps,but im not,i've been into this game for over 35 years,modding,tweaking and building and listening,and don't get impressed easily these days,well these have impressed me so i thought i would share my findings and experience,simple as that,and of course your mileage may very
    of course all this is subjective and just my findings/ramblings on the improvements i feel ive gained in sound quality to my ears and in my system with this mod and this product.
    i have no connection or vested interest in andrew or his company and products,and going back less then a month i never even knew of their existence,im just sharing my experience as i have been genuinely impressed with the company and the product,its been a real long time since ive heard a real night and day tweak/mod without any downsides...other then it cost me some money
    heres there web site
    ill be trying his regulators next after such positive results with the discrete op amps...stay tuned
    Last edited by smithie; 26-01-2018 at 00:27.

  3. #3
    Join Date: May 2017

    Location: Glasgow

    Posts: 231
    I'm Rohan.

    Default Well done!

    That's a very interesting post mate and to be honest I'm surprised that no-one has said anything yet!

    These are the same Sparkos op-amps as found in the Nord amps I think?

    I didn't actually know that this kind of thing was possible, I suppose it must vary depending on circuit board layout and connectivity but as I said I have no idea really...so presumably there is scope to do this with other amps too?

    You must have quite an amp on your hands these as that AVI lab series always had a good reputation in the first place!
    Last edited by VanDerGraaf; 31-01-2018 at 16:00. Reason: accuracy :p

  4. #4
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: penzance,cornwall uk

    Posts: 358
    I'm paul.


    hi rohan
    you are correct about the nords and using the sparkos.
    i came across that fact when doing my research, as the nords have a good reputation it also gave a lot more confidence in giving the sparkos a go
    im also alittle suprised i never got any come back regarding my posts,but hey ho at least i shared my take on them,and im still over the moon with them and what they have brought to the avi amp soundwise.
    im that impressed that i shall be giving his regulators a bash very soon,they will also being going into the avi amp and powering the two sparkos.
    ill report back here with my findings when ive done the mod....even if i am just posting to myself
    i really love the avi lab series amps,and can recommend them if you like a very neutral forward sounding amplifier with guts and punch,but partner with caution and good quality components as it will show "the not so good" up.
    the sparkos i guess can be used wherever there's a op amp circuit involved,just need to make sure there's enough grunt in the circuits power supply for them,i ran it by andrew (mr sparko) and he checked it out for me to confirm that i would be ok with them...as mentioned top guy.
    they may seem expensive to some,i don't think so when i think of some of the caps and resistors and other hifi voodoo parts i've brought in the past in the name of a upgrade,but unlike those other upgrades i can safely say to these ears that this upgrade is a night and day experience,and certainly for the better for me,my amp and my system,but as always that's just my view and opinion
    Last edited by smithie; 31-01-2018 at 20:55.

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