• Do you have a dealer network where I can listen to your products?
    Do you have a dealer network where I can listen to your products?

    We sell factory direct to you at essentially dealer cost. Using a high end dealer network would double your prices.

    In addition, we are not completely comfortable with the "high end" industry as it now exists. We think there is far too much effort to sell you "foo-foo dust" (magic wires, overpriced cables, mystic dots and spikes, and other overpriced accessories) that have nothing to do with the actual engineering of high fidelity reproducing equipment, and there is far too little interest in a real understanding of audio design.

    We think the signal to noise ratio between good advice for your audio enjoyment and simple greed to pitch you more worthless gimmicks is poor and getting worse, detracting from your chances of getting good value and worthwhile high fidelity enjoyment.

    We can do better direct, without this distraction and, too often, misinformation.

    We do offer a satisfaction guarantee on factory-wired AVA components so you can audition them yourself without significant financial risk. The chances are very good you will be more than satisfied with our equipment.

  • Why don't you publish specifications?
    Why don't you publish specifications?

    Are we hiding something? No. Our steady-state specs are excellent. It is just that standard IHF specifications don't tell the whole story. It is like evaluating meat only with a butcher scale in which 40 pounds of hamburgers would be identical to 40 pounds of prime ribs.

    Unfortunately there is no predictability between good IHF static specifications and good music. It takes a much more serious in depth mathematical and bench analysis to find links between good design and good sound, and there are no standards for providing this information to you. The best we can do is incorporate good design principals into our equipment and be confident that outstanding and thorough design will yield obviously musical audio reproduction.

    We are suspicious too that simple IHF specifications are a means to make bad equipment look good. For example, in testing CD players, the standard calls for first attaching a 22 kHz low pass filter to the output - removing all out of band garbage before testing. Then the tests can report that the CD player has no out of band garbage! This is much like taking a sample of water from the river Ganges, filtering it, boiling it, and adding chlorine, and then sending it to the chemist to see if it is fit to drink. Sure, have some.

    Read our Audio Basics editorial "Tire Testing Without A Pressure Gauge" for an in depth evaluation of our thinking about this process.

    Remember, any $79 off-shore receiver you buy will have good specs, as will that injected molded seven speaker surround sound system.

    If however, there is some specification you really need to know for equipment compatibility reasons, simply ask us, we can provide the numbers if you need them.

  • How do I know if I can build an electronic kit myself?
    How do I know if I can build an electronic kit myself?

    Thousands of our customers have successfully built our do-it-yourself rebuild kit projects with no problems at all. All our kit projects have thoroughly de-bugged instructions. There are no mistakes, addendum, or blind corners. All kits have easy to follow complete step by step instructions, along with all support data (wiring pictorial diagrams - most color coded, board layouts, and troubleshooting advice).

    You need not know electronics or circuit design, just how to carefully follow directions and be willing to do tidy assembly and solder work (we even supply the solder).

    You can purchase just the kit plans first. The cost of the plans will then apply to the cost of the kit itself as long as the plans are current - so you have nothing to loose. Study the plans to determine yourself if you are confident to try the project. Call or e-mail us with your questions regarding the plans. We are here to help you.

    We offer a free checkout of your completed kit project and will guarantee it will work well as long as you followed the instructions. All you pay is round trip shipping. We want to see the unit for its free checkout before you ever plug it in. We run the equipment up slowly on a variable AC power supply, testing that all circuit parameters are correct. We catch problems before they can cause component damage. This insures that mistakes don't necessitate expensive repairs. Minor assembly problems will be fixed free of charge. Major calamities can be fixed too, at the worst case the maximum cost would be the difference between the kit and factory wired price (assuming the unit had never been plugged in).

    AVA do it yourself rebuild kits are available for your Dyna ST-70 power amplifier.

    Choose a kit over a factory wired unit because it can be an enjoyable and satisfying project, not just to save money. We designed kit versions of these products to provide you with the chance to built it yourself and be proud of the results. You have few other opportunities to do this with electronics these days. Enjoy!

  • Why don't you offer do-it-yourself power amplifier kits?
    Why don't you offer do-it-yourself power amplifier kits?

    We do offer a highly regarded do-it-yourself rebuild kit for the original Dyna St-70: the AVA Ultimate 70 vacuum tube amplifier.

    An ultra wide band solid state amplifier is much less tolerant of assembly mistakes and layout errors, and takes more sophisticated test equipment for final setup than we can expect an amateur kit builder to have access to.

  • Should I rebuild my old Dyna or Hafler equipment or buy new?
    Should I rebuild my old Dyna or Hafler equipment or buy new?

    It is simply a matter of economics (unless you are emotionally attached to that old chassis).

    In general, in comparing the cost of one of our new amplifiers or preamplifiers to that of rebuilding your existing Hafler or Dyna unit, you are saving the cost of the chassis because we reuse yours. If the musical performance is the important thing for you, then by all means have us recycle your old chassis and save the money (typically about $200).

    Our rebuilds are the most value for those who already own a good old Hafler or Dyna unit that we rebuild. It is already paid for and you know its condition. Obviously you shouldn't go out and buy an old used Dyna or Hafler unit to send to us to rebuild because then the cost of the chassis will be subtracted from your savings and you might buy one too badly shot to be economically recyclable.

    One advantage to our rebuilds is that in general there are no repair charges for fixing circuit problems as all the old circuits and their problems end up in the trash can without need for troubleshooting and repair. (We do need good power transformers, chassis integrity and some of the basic controls). When your old original Dyna or Hafler amp blows up (and they will because they are so old) the cost for a hit-or-miss local repair may even be more that what we charge for a complete new amplifier in your box and the new Audio by Van Alstine amplifier will be state of the art for a lot less money than any other choice you could make. 

  • What is the 4 ohm power rating for your amplifiers?
    What is the 4 ohm power rating for your amplifiers?

    All AVA amplifiers essentially produce double their eight ohm ratings up to the limits of the maximum recommended ratings of their built in speaker fuses. If the speaker fuse values are too large, a fault might blow the speakers instead of the fuses.

    The speaker fuses must be 3AG series quick blow fuses. Slow blow fuses must not be used because they provide no speaker protection at all.

    The Ultravalve vacuum tube amplifier has the same thirty five watt per channel rating for its four, eight, and sixteen ohm speaker taps.

  • What size fuse should I use on my equipment?
    What size fuse should I use on my equipment?
    Audio by Van Alstine Fuse Chart
      Mains AC Fuse Speaker Fuse (s) Internal Fuse(s)
    Preamplifiers      
    Solid State 0.5 Amp slow blow N/A N/A
    Hybrid 1 Amp slow blow N/A N/A
    Tube 1 Amp slow blow N/A N/A
           
    Amplifiers      
    Synergy 200 6 Amp slow blow 3 Amp quick blow 5 Amp quick blow (4)
    Synergy 240 6 Amp slow blow 4 Amp quick blow 6 Amp quick blow (4)
    Synergy 300 6 Amp slow blow 4 Amp quick blow 6 Amp quick blow (4)
    Synergy 450 10 Amp slow blow 5 Amp quick blow 8 Amp quick blow (4)
    Fet Valve 400R 10 Amp slow blow 5 Amp quick blow

    8 Amp quick blow (2)

    0.25 Amp quick blow (2)

    Fet Valve 600R 10 Amp slow blow 5 Amp quick blow

    8 Amp quick blow (2)

    0.25 Amp quick blow (2)

    DVA 850 12 Amp slow blow 6 Amp quick blow

    10 Amp quick blow (2)

    0.25 Amp quick blow (2)

    0.25 Amp slow blow (1)

    Ultravalve 3 Amp slow blow N/A N/A
    Ultimate 70 3 Amp slow blow N/A N/A
           
    Vision Phono Preamp 0.25 Amp slow blow N/A N/A
           
    Humdinger 10 Amp slow blow N/A N/A
  • What fuses are used in AVA products?
    What fuses are used in AVA products?

    All AVA products are protected by one or more fuses. Preamplifiers generally have one protection fuse, but big amplifiers, such as our DVA 850, have up to six protection fuses.

    AVA uses two physical sizes of fuses. Almost all are standard 0.25” diameter by 1.25” long. We do, however, use some much smaller 5mm by 15mm glass fuses in a few applications.

    The fuses come in two types:

    The first are quick blow fuses with a glass body and metal end caps. Quick blow fuses have a single small wire visible in the glass body. The wire may be straight or jagged or wiggly.

    We use quick blow fuses for the internal power supplies, and as speaker fuses because they are designed to fail immediately at the first instant of overload. It’s important to note that quick blow speaker fuses protect your speakers and amplifier from excessive volume levels. They also protect your speakers from connection mistakes and protect against accidents such as a dropped tone arm, or disconnecting an interconnect cable or speaker cable when the system is on.

    Quick blow fuses come in a variety of values, and the value is printed on the metal end caps, such as 1A, 3A, 5A. These numbers show the maximum current the fuse will pass before blowing in amperes. They are typically rated at 250 volts maximum.

    Usually you can tell if one of these fuses has failed by observing that the fine internal wire is parted or even missing; however, double check with an ohmmeter or continuity meter to make sure.

    The second kind of fuse is a slow blow fuse. These are identified by a much heavier spiral wound wire often connected to an internal heavier slug. Slow blow fuses are designed to pass a much heavier current peak for a short time before blowing. We use slow blow fuses where it is important to handle momentary current peaks, such as when electrical equipment is turned on.

    Low amperage slow blow fuses are glass. The high amperage slow blow fuses have ceramic rather than glass bodies as they contain substances to prevent sustained internal arcing if the fuse blows.

    You will need an ohm meter or continuity meter to test ceramic fuses as you cannot tell if it has failed just by looking at it. AVA only uses ceramic fuses for the main AC line fuse, and are only used in the large (400 Watts or larger) amplifiers.

    SLOW BLOW FUSES SHOULD NOT BE USED AS speaker fuses because the speakers will blow on an overload before the slow blow fuses opens.

    Please refer to the AVA fuse chart for our recommended fuses.

  • What cables do you recommend?
    What cables do you recommend?

    AVA products are designed to use any modern interconnect cable or power cord. We don't recommend using boutique cables or cords as you are not likely to hear any improvement in sound. We do, however, recommend that you use well built cables, and we recommend Blue Jeans Cable products because they are rationally priced and solidly built.

  • What type of speaker jacks do you recommend?
    What type of speaker jacks do you recommend?

    AVA amplifiers have gold plated five-way speaker jacks that support multiple connection types. We recommend speaker wires terminated with banana plugs because they are easy to use, and provide better connections than spade lugs or wires. For those wanting additional security we recommend Blue Jeans Cable speaker wire with locking banana plugs.

  • How long should I wait to listen after turning on my system?
    How long should I wait to listen after turning on my system?

    All AVA systems are designed so that they don’t need extended warm up time. For solid state products you will obtain the best sound within a minute or two after turning the system on. For tube and hybrid (tube and solid state) you will obtain the best sound in approximately 5 minutes, but there is no harm in listening sooner. Note that all AVA preamps have a time delay built into them to allow the preamp to reach operating mode.

  • Should I leave my AVA system on all the time?
    Should I leave my AVA system on all the time?

    The simple answer is NO. Leaving your AVA system on all the time will not improve the sound of the system. All it will do is prematurely age the system, especially tube and hybrid equipment. When you are not listening to your AVA system, turn it off to save power.

  • How do I turn on and turn off my system?
    How do I turn on and turn off my system?

    For turn on we recommend that you turn on the preamp and DAC first, then turn on the amp. When turning off the system we recommend turning off the amplifier first, and once there is no sound coming from the speakers turn off the preamp and DAC.

  • Should I use a power strip or surge protector?
    Should I use a power strip or surge protector?

    It is okay to use a power strip with an AVA preamp or DAC. Do not, however, use a power strip with an AVA amplifier! All amplifiers should be plugged directly into your wall AC jack. Also note that amplifiers should not be plugged into "switched" AC jacks.

  • I'm hearing a hum or buzz from the amplifier chassis, what can I do?
    I'm hearing a hum or buzz from the amplifier chassis, what can I do?

    First make sure that the hum is coming from the amplifier by turning the volume all the way down. Next, listen close to the AVA amp to make sure the hum is coming from the amp. If you hear a hum or buzz it’s likely the transformer. The modern transformers we use are very efficient, but are also less tolerant to DC (direct current) on the AC (alternating current) power line than older transformers. AVA sells a “Humdinger” that filters out DC from the AC power line so that the power transformer sees pure AC. Feel free to call us at 651.330.9871 for additional information.

  • I'm interested in the Ultravalve amplifier, but I'm not sure about what is involved for maintenance?
    I'm interested in the Ultravalve amplifier, but I'm not sure about what is involved for maintenance?

    The Ultravalve amplifier does require more care and maintenance than our hybrid Fet Valve amplifiers or our solid state Synergy amplifiers, but it’s actually pretty simple. The Ultravalve includes detailed instructions, but basically the maintenance involves occasionally setting the tube bias using a multimeter, and periodically replacing the tubes. Multimeters are available as most big box home improvement stores, hardware stores, and electronic stores.

  • What is the best way to ship my AVA product back to the factory?
    What is the best way to ship my AVA product back to the factory?

    The best method is to use the original packing material and box. If the original packaging is not available then we recommend the following:

    For small items like preamps, DACs and phono preamps we recommend first wrapping the product in plastic kitchen film to keep out shipping dust, and to protect the surface. Another alternative is to use an appropriately sized plastic bag. The product should then be wrapped with three or more layers of big bubble wrap. The shipping box should be sized so that the product fits snugly. If needed, use additional bubble wrap to take up space.

    For amplifiers we recommend first wrapping the product in plastic kitchen film to keep out shipping dust, and to protect the surface. Another alternative is to use an appropriately sized plastic bag. The product should then be wrapped in four or more layers of big bubble wrap. A shipping box should then be prepared with internal layer of insulating foam. Install the foam insulation so that it creates a cocoon for the bubble wrapped amplifier. Note that small amplifiers like the Synergy 300 require 2+ inches of foam insulation padding in addition to the bubble wrap, and heavy amps like the Synergy 450, the Fet Valve amps, and DVA 850 require 4+ inches of foam insulation padding in addition to the bubble wrap. Most big box home improvement stores sell sheets of foam insulation in a variety of thickness. Remember to pack the amp so that it can survive a drop down a flight of stairs. We DO NOT recommend shipping peanuts for heavy products because they don’t adequately protect the contents due to product shifting in the box.

    If you use a “pack and ship” store make sure they are aware of our shipping recommendations. Also make sure they guarantee their packing against damaging your AVA product.

    Finally, remember to purchase shipping insurance for the value of the product(s).