Thursday, August 27, 2009
Yearning for a Yarland
Yarland FV34B integrated valve amp
It had been quite a while since I last used a valve amp and when I turned on the Yarland FV34B integrated, the glow of the tubes which got brighter as they got warmer was most seductive.
My kids had never seen such an amp before and I had to explain to them that they were commonly used many, many years ago before everything became transistorised.
In this day and age when Class D amps are widely available, the valve amp seems like a fossil from the dinosaur days.
But when I pressed the 'play' button on the CEC3300 CD player, the sound from the ATC SCM40 speakers were pretty magical.
There is that something extra in valve sound, some kind of warmth or pleasant distortion. Though there was some valve magic, the Yarland FV34B did not sound overly warm and soft.
For a 50-watter, it sounded pretty powerful considering that the ATCs are rated at 85dB.
The FV34B looks quite good with a wooden panel in front and it uses four EL34B, two 6N3 and one 12AX7 tubes, all Chinese-made, of course.
Its limitation is that it has only two inputs.
Soundwise, its midrange is nice and warmish and the highs are reasonably extended though I have gotten used to the resident Bryston 3B SST's seemingly limitless highs and anything less is noticeable.
The bass could be tighter though which suggests the FV34B may have problems controlling the cone movements of large bass drivers.
I used lots of silver cabling with the Yarland as I feel silver and valves make a great couple. The Alphacore Micropurl Silver worked well as did my homebrewed 0.2mm 99.99 silver with Eichmann copper plugs.
However, when I used a DH Labs Air Matrix, the bass suddenly became loose and flabby. So you will have to choose your interconnects with care - my advice would be to use a silver interconnect, preferably solid core.
As for speaker cables, I found that high-capacitance ones like the Goertz MI2 worked well. Others I had in my collection performed well too and the amp did not seem too fussy about speaker cables.
When I was reviewing the amp, I was reading some online comments on the Yarlands and many forumers said they were an affordable way to enjoy the magic of valves.
I totally agree with them and a Yarland would be a great entry-level component for someone who has just graduated from iPods and computer speakers. With the Yarland FV34B, you won't be likely to get the itch to upgrade for some time.