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  1. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    A heavenly sounding all in one amplifier The AudioValve Luminare with the AudioValve DAC is a heavenly all-in-one solution to drive your headphones to new levels. I bought a used 2016 Luminare and asked Helmut Becker to put a DAC in it. Mr Becker told me that he could also upgrade my 2016 model to the latest 2020 specs for a small amount of money. Of course I said “Yes, please!”

    The AudioValve DAC might be an overlooked solution. Of course, you can still use an external DAC once the AudioValve DAC is built in. I think after some time you won’t bother to power it on anymore. This AudioValve combination is made in heaven. I use both planar as well as dynamic headphones, some of the top of the line models. The Luminare really makes them sing. It drives all kinds with ease. With the new gain switch you can find the best possible setting for each one of them. Classical music or the latest rock album, they sound natural, full and realistic.

    Another aspect I really like about AudioValve and their products is that you buy something which is not obsolete after a year. Quality products don’t need to be replaced yearly. AudioValve has proven this to me. The quality of service and the speed of communication is also very good.

    If I need something else for my audio setup in the future I will look at AudioValve first. Highly recommended, Maarten …

    LuminareLuminare

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  2. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    Dear Nancy and Mr. Helmut,

    Last monday (a week ago) I received my Solaris.

    I have connected it with all my care to a new DAC (Hegel HD30) with some high-end cables (Synergistic Research Element Tungsten XLR) in a suitable stand (SolidSteel). The result is that The Solaris is absolutely fascinating and wonderful. I have never listened to music like this, and I am a musician and I have gone to first class concerts, in the best auditoriums (both classical and jazz).

    I have only tested it yet with my Sennheiser HD600s (with a Cardas Clear Light XLR cable), as well as my Sennheiser HD800s. The sensations that I perceive are unique. I have to test it with my HIFIMAN HE-1000 SE (which I purposely bought for the Solaris) and with my Final Audio The Sonorous X, as well as my Grado PS500e and PS1000e.

    I can only thank you deeply for your attention and congratulations on making a piece of audio art. After some time, I will send you a small “review” with my impressions to encourage the rest of the audiophiles to try your amplifier. Thank you very much again and a very warm greeting,

    I’ll keep in touch!!

    Renato P.

    SOLARISSOLARIS

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  3. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    Hallo Herr Becker,

    ihr Luminare 2015 hat sich für mich zum Best Buy 2020 entwickelt.
    Er ist Dreh- und Angelpunkt meiner “Nachttischanlage” geworden.
    Anstatt Lesen … lieber ein Stündchen Kopfhören. Ohrenschmauss pur.

    Ich wünsche ihnen und ihren Lieben besinnliche Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins Jahr 2021.
    Ihr Horst H.

    LuminareLuminare

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  4. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    Grüß Sie, Herr Becker,

    36 Jahre sind eine lange Zeit. Zumal für ein Röhrengerät.
    36 Jahre habe ich nunmehr mit dem RKV der ersten Baureihe
    (damals noch als Bausatz erhältlich) sehr zufrieden Musik per Kopfhörer gehört.

    Dann kam der Luminare. Hier und da konnte ich ihn sehen und hören, er hatte es mir wirklich angetan…
    aber ich hatte doch schon etwas Gutes. Dann stand die Frage nach einem elektrostatischen Kopfhörer im Raum,
    der “Stax” gefiel mir wirklich gut. Doch womit wollte ich ihn wirklich ausreichend gut antreiben?
    Also schaffte ich mir den Luminare an, verkabelte alles sorgfältig. Und hörte als Erstes: nichts. Kein Rauschen,
    nicht im Entferntesten den Hauch eines Brummens oder Summens. Der Lautstärkeregler wird vorsichtig höher gedreht.
    Bis auf 230 Grad. Weiterhin: kein Rauchen oder Brummen. Verkabelung überprüft: alles in Ordnung. Also Lautstärkeregler wieder
    auf Null zurück gestellt, eine CD eingelegt und langsam lauter gestellt.
    In der Tat, dann konnte man wirklich etwas hören: so authentisch, so mitreißend,
    dass es schwerfiel, den Kopfhörer abzusetzen und Zeigefinger zum Ausschalter auszustrecken.

    Warum ich dies so ausführlich beschreibe?
    Ich denke, darin liegt ein Teil des Geheimnisses vom Klangzauber dieses Instruments.
    Den “Luminare” ein Gerät zu nennen wird ihm nicht wirklich gerecht.

    Aus der Stille heraus entwickelt er die Musikwidergabe.
    Daraus entsteht die Tiefe des Raumes, die Prägnanz der Stimmen,
    der Reichtum der Klangfarben von den tiefsten bis zu den höchsten Tönen.

    Man wird beim Hören tief in die Musik hineingezogen,
    sitzt dabei mitten im rauchigen Jazzkeller oder im Konzertsaal oder im Freien bei einem Live-Konzert.

    Es ist eben dieser Unterschied:
    Ob man ein Gerät vor sich hat, das Musik exakt und extrem klirrfrei wiedergibt,
    oder ob man ein Gerät vor sich hat, das Musik neu im Raum erklingen lässt.

    Letzteres vermag der Luminare auf faszinierende Weise.

    Ganz herzlichen Dank Herr Becker: für dieses Instrument, für all Ihre Fachkompetenz, Ihre Fantasie, Ihre Geduld, Ihre Beharrlichkeit und für Ihre Zeit,
    die darin stecken…

    Es ist eben der bessere Weg: an einem guten Konzept über all die Jahre beharrlich und intensiv zu arbeiten, es Stück für Stück nachzujustieren, an den entsprechenden Stellen
    Bauteile allererster Güte zu verwenden, am Platinenlayout zu feilen, auch hier auf bestes Material zu achten, usw….

    Man kann es auch anders machen: alle fünf Jahre eine neue Schaltung, ein neues Gerätekonzept oder gar nur einen neuen Look mit lautem Getöse auf den Markt bringen…
    Eines steht dabei auf jeden Fall fest: länger als fünf Jahre währt das nicht…

    Der “RKV” und der “Luminare” können darüber an guten Tagen bestenfalls schmunzeln….

    Mit besten Grüßen

    Ernst-August Pohl

    LuminareLuminare

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  5. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    Zu meiner Review. Ganz ehrlich…ich bin wahrscheinlich nicht so audiophil drauf wie all ihre anderen Kunden. Ich habe klanglich nie etwas kraftvolleres und dynamischeres
    gehört als vom luminare. Haptisch und optisch ein absolutes Stück Luxus für mich. Betreibe damit ein leistungshungriges Headphone absolut problemlos. Für mich persönlich die Traumkombination. Natürlich auch mit meinem 9200er Denon. Ich werde mich nicht mehr vom luminare trennen. Nochmals vielen Dank für so ein wahnsinns Produkt.
    Ich hätte Ihnen gerne mehr von Ihrem Produkt vorgeschwärmt. Aber wie gesagt. Ich bin da nicht so wortgewandt wie andere audiophile Kunden von Ihnen. Aber für mich wird dieser Luminare das Ende der Fahnenstange darstellen. Besser geht für mich nicht. Stefan K

    LuminareLuminare

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  6. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    Hallo Herr Becker,
    inzwischen bin auch ich Besitzer eines Solaris! Ich streame über einen Auralic Aries G1 meist mit Qobuz. Meine Kopfhörer sind ein Abyss Diana V2 und ein Abyss 1266 Phi cc. Bisher hatte ich die über einen Lehmann linear, einen Questyle CMA Twelve und einen RME ADI-2 DAC betrieben. Ich höre verschiedene Musikrichtungen Jazz, Rock, Pop und auch mal Genre Klassik. Ich war schon bisher mit dem Hörerlebnis äußerst zufrieden und habe lange überlegt, ob ich mir wirklich einen Soloris zulegen soll. Jetzt hab ich es erlebt. Der Amp ist einfach der Hammer. Alles wirkt lebendiger, die Bässe sind tief und gleichzeitig klar, die Höhen filigran aber nie zu scharf, der Raum ist weit und gleichzeitig definiert. Alles spielt einfach nochmal auf einem ganz anderen Niveau – eine echter Genuss für Musikliebhaber. Die Kombi mit dem RME ADI-2 als DAC ist ausgezeichnet. Ich habe mir aber inzwischen noch einen Röhren DAC von Mfe bestellt. Damit dürfte der Solaris dann endgültig zur Höchstleistung aufspielen. Ich werde dann in Kürze auch davon kurz berichten.
    Ich kann den Solaris absolut jedem HiFi Gourmet empfehlen. Ein Referenz Amp der mit viel Sachverstand und Erfahrung gebaut wurde und keine Wünsche offen lässt.

    Viele Grüße, Thomas

    SOLARISSOLARIS

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  7. DC

    Ich habe im September einen Solaris gebraucht erworben. Nachdem es damit ein kleines technisches Problem gab, kontaktierte ich Audiovalve telefonisch. Zu meiner Überraschung war direkt Herr Becker am Apparat, der sich viel Zeit nahm und überhaupt kein Problem damit hatte, dass ich nicht Erstkäufer bin. Wir beschlossen, dass ich das Gerät zur Reparatur persönlich vorbeibringe (Kassel ist für mich nicht so weit entfernt). Für den Transport wurde mir ohne Aufhebens gratis ein Original-Karton geschickt. Vor Ort wurde ich sehr freundlich empfangen, es gab einen Kaffee und ein nettes Gespräch mit Herrn Becker. Das Problem wurde behoben, dazu gab es eine Durchsicht, einen Wechsel der Röhren, die serienmäßige Fernbedienung und eine Bedienungsanleitung, und das alles für einen Spottpreis von 100 EUR. Mein Fazit: ein vorbildlicher, sehr persönlicher Service zu einem mehr als kundenfreundlichen Kurs. Diese Erfahrung widerspricht vielen mäßigen bis schlechten Erfahrungen mit anderen Herstellern und Vertrieben. Ein dickes Lob!

    SOLARISSOLARIS

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  8. Freddie Martin

    Hello Herr Becker,

    It is now three months since I have your wonderful Solaris-DAC. Here are my impressions with the equipment I use.

    The system comprises: iMac Pro running Roon connected to the Solaris-DAC by an Audioquest Carbon USB cable. Running off the Solaris’s pre-amp outputs are a pair of Acoustic Energy AE1 Active speakers. The headphones I use are Meze Empyrean with SIN Audio balanced XLR-4 cable, and the Abyss AB 1266 Phi TC with the standard cable.

    Let’s start with the Solaris-DAC. MY shortlist for a DAC/Headphone amp came down to a choice of two: the Chord HugoTT2 or the Solaris-DAC. THE Hugo TT2 is more of a DAC with a headphone amp added, and the Solaris is more of a Headphone Amp with a DAC added. After extensive listening at Headphone Auditions Amsterdam I preferred the sound of the Solaris-DAC. Although it was less analytical and detailed than the Chord, the overall sound was more “musical” and more pleasurable overall. I found the Solaris-DAC a better match for my choice of headphones too, bringing out the strengths of both the Meze’s and the Abyss’s.

    The sound with the Acoustic Energy speakers lives up to the name. They are quite enthusiastic little speakers that love to just pick up a rhythm and run with it. I use these speakers mostly for dance music or for when I am tired of wearing headphones. With the Solaris the sound is snappy, rhythmic and danceable and for such tiny little speakers there is actually enough bass, and the bass quality from the Solaris is very good. A lot of fun for a €1000 pair of speakers.

    Most of the time I use the Solaris with the Meze Empyreans. This is partly because this combination is so “musica” and partly because the Meze’s are incredibly comfortable, even for long listening sessions (something the Abyss’s are not). With the Meze’s on the Solaris the music flows naturally into your ears, with vocals having real body, and also trumpets and saxophones in jazz recordings sounding magical. There is a deep rounded bass, a full-bodied midrange and a slightly soft treble with this combination. It never gets sharp or tiring. You don’t get the detail or the “you are there” feeling of the Abyss’s but you get a sound that draws you deep into the music. This combination is also forgiving or a poor quality source, and I can listen to Internet radio without it sounding terrible. Generally, I can listen to the combination of Solaris and Meze’s for hours.

    For critical listening when I really want to get into the detail of a recording, or when I need that “you are there” feeling that comes with certain good recordings, I have the Abyss AB 1266’s. These are notoriously difficult headphones to drive, but present no problem for the Solaris. This is also a very satisfying combination. There is a sense of space and air in the music, with every instrument or vocal given its proper place. The background is silent. The tiniest of details are revealed but this combination is less relaxing to listen to than the Meze’s. I find I can listen to this combination for a maximum of around two hours before I need a break, although those two hours are very pleasurable indeed! This is partly because the Abyss’s are not the most comfortable headphones on the planet.

    I am indeed very happy with my Solaris-DAC and speakers/headphones. I do wonder whether in the future I’ll by an upgraded external DAC, but for now I’m loving what I’ve got. Thank you Herr Becker. Another satisfied customer.

    Regards

    Freddie

    SOLARISSOLARIS

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  9. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    Having had the Audio Valve Solaris Headphone amp in my home for some memorable late-night encounters proved quite informative. This headphone amplifier had so many tricks up its sleeve I almost mistook it for David Copperfield. The Solaris was a machine that kept saying, is that all you got? I threw every kind of headphone at it from dynamic to planner to electrostatics, and it performed like a world champion. It also comes as a preamp, amplifier, and phono, head-amp standard. Whether you are cramped for space or want a Class A component in your system, then consider the Audio Valve Solaris. That said, I was very interested in knowing what else Mr. Helmut Becker, chief designer of Audio Valve was doing.

    I’ve always wondered if German audio designers are as meticulous about their audio as much as they are about their automobiles? After all, they build the Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen, any of which I would gladly own.

    So I called Mr. Becker and asked him about his mono-blocks, of which Key Kim had already reviewed his Challengers 115/180 watts depending on the tube selection one used. They’ve been around for thirty-three years and have been refined electronically and cosmetically! Mr. Becker suggested I try his Baldur 300’s, which he is most proud of at this moment in time. Each component of each model he builds, Helmut considers being a large part of himself.

    I think that Helmut’s Automatic Bias Regulators (ABR) is absolutely genius, and considering he employed this almost 40 years ago tells me that he stands head and shoulders above other engineers of vacuum tube designers. The ABR is in constant use, measuring the output of each tube and that it is performing up to Mr. Becker’s standers. Should one tube veer off in performance. An LED will light up next to the tube in question and let you know you should change that tube. Because of the ABR system, only one and not a pair of tubes need a replacement! Matched pairs are unnecessary with all his amplifiers.

    I received the Baldur 300’s last week, and set up is straightforward! I was up and running in less than fifteen minutes. The Baldur’s are both new and old school in there looks only. The steel chassis and parallel steel rods that keep small children’s hands off the set of ten tubes out of their reach. It’s a cage-like structure and indeed a great idea. That’s where the old school ends. What’s new school is the power switch and ABR activation switch that, when powered up, shows the plexiglass signage of Baldur 300 etched into it glowing and not so subtle hue of red. That all changes when the Baldur auto-bias finishes its job of biasing the five pairs of AS7G’s. As soon as this is optimized, the red glowing signage turns to green, and you’re ready to blast off. Mr. Becker uses military-grade circuit boards in every design, and every amplifier that rolls off the assembly line is perfectly identical. Quality control is essential in the world that Helmut Becker’s family-owned business! The rear provides you with two five-way binding posts, (one 4 Ohm and one 8 Ohm).

    So how do they sound? In one word Glorious! They are dead silent, no hum or buzz can be discerned. They are not colored or overly sweet like some say tube amplifiers sound. Highs are clear and sparkle, low frequency is accurate and authoritative. The definition really surprised me because most tube amps, to me, always sounded weak to me when playing bass guitar or fiddle & sounded boomy and slushy, but not here!

    Vocals were spot on and, in some cases, right in the room. The soundstage was as full and extensive as the parking lot across the street from my house. Castanets were palatable, and the tapping of cymbals was like I never heard in the past! The resolving power of this amps are second to none. I could listen to the ringing of cymbals between the quick taping of Max Roach

    Everything I threw at the Baldur’s sounded more real and more luxurious than any solid state amp I had heard.

    I decided to listen to a few genres and started with James Taylor. His guitar rang out tried and true, his voice was smooth and velvety, his backup singers were more discerning than I remember even after playing the CD multiple time in the past. I listened intently to The River is Wide with the finesse of violins and steel string guitar, it was like it was the first time I ever heard this track.

    I then went to a CD of Barbra Streisand’s, Higher Ground, and her orchestra, and she shined bright and distinctive beyond belief! Cellos and violins popped into my room stage right, and this songbird was performing for me alone by candle lights, and her voice soared and kept soaring. I’ve never been a person that listens a lot to her music & I only have this one CD of hers, but I might change my mind while hearing her through the Baldur 300’s. The music was detailed, dynamic, and so very very involving. Track four is a real treat Called “Tell Him” as it’s a duet with Celine Dion and Barbra, and the combo of voice and amplifiers didn’t disappoint, it was grand, dead center; it pulled me in like a heavy-duty winch.

    It was time to try another genre, and so I put on some Felix Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op 56 “Scottish” track 1 Andante Con Moro; Allegro Un Poco agitateo was stunning. Each instrument was well defined, and the rhythm and pace were like waves, coming and going and flowed effortlessly over my listening room. This amplifier was no ordinary amp.

    Strings were sweet and also forceful in this piece! French horns were authoritative as if sounding a warning. Crescendos were like tsunami’s Each instrument in its place and readied for everything Mendelssohn was about to give them, and he did. This piece runs 14 minutes and 3 seconds, but it drifted by at a remarkable speed. This set of amplifiers were able to reveal every layer of the complexity of music I gave it! So I decided to provide it with some jazz, going back to the nineteen sixty-four with none-other than John Coltrane!

    A CD entitled “A Love Supreme. ” And John writes to the listener, and ALL PRAISE BE TO GOD TO WHOM ALL PRAISE IS DUE.” Let us pursue Him in a righteous path. Yes, it’s true; seek, and ye shall find. Only through Him can we know the most beautiful bequeathal.” Coltrane goes on and tells us that in 1957 he have a spiritual awakening but strayed now and then, but God was merciful and further says to us,” His way is in Love, through which we all are. IT IS TRULY-A LOVE SUPREME.” And it supreme because Coltrane plays that saxophone like it was a gift from God. If there was such a thing as perfection then this recording is one example.

    The synergy of these four souls is as perfect as can be. The heart of each musician beats with the timing of a Swiss watch. One beat after another and another and stage right, we get some crosstalk from Elvin Jones doing a superb job on drums with McCoy Tyner’s piano sliding up and down the scales with beautiful riffs that sing almost poetic. Jimmy Garrison is skillful and convincing on bass, which is authoritative and articulate through the Baldur 300’s.

    The sound of these Baldur 300 mono blocks were transparent, revealing musical, with excellent detail up and down the entire frequency ranges. Bass was extraordinary and never lacking. On one occasion a great friend commented, “Where is the subwoofer”? There was none.

    Vocals are outstanding, smooth and forward, the high frequencies are delightfully detailed and I kept asking myself how extraordinary the design and engineering must be to be able to captivate the listener into listening for hour upon hour with not a hint of fatigue . The word special or awesome kept rolling off my tongue when describing these amplifiers. Orchestra’s showed their full color, texture and weight when played through the Baldur 300’s. Another surprise was the speed in which they could reproduce percussions especially the high-hats and symbols.

    So at $18,626.00 per pair I can not believe that these amplifiers are not double or triple the cost per performance . What still rocks my boat is the fact that I have only sixty hours of run in on these amplifiers and was told that they need a full one hundred hours to break-in. Needless to say at this price I decided to pull the trigger and keep the Baldur 300’s as my reference amplifiers in my listening room

    Sent from my iPhone, Marty …

    Baldur 300+ sovereignBaldur 300+ sovereign

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  10. Helmut Becker

    Helmut Becker (store manager)

    Здравствуйте, я вам обещал отзыв по предварительному усилителю.
    Eclipse мне очень понравился. У меня достаточно сложная система: два проигрывателя , пять 12 дюймовых тонармов , фонокорректор Manley Steelhead с пассивным предварительным усилением , моноблоки Baldur 300 , магнитофон . Все это красиво играло , но когда я подключил предварительный усилитель Eclipse я услышал огромную разницу в звуке . Звук стал гармоничным, собранным , высокие частоты прозрачны, хрустальны . Бас стал гораздо более плотным , акцентированным и очень красивая середина . Все это льётся из динамика единым потоком . Звук стал завораживающим . Мои гости часами слушают и не хотят уходить . Спасибо вам большое за ваши совершенные приборы . Высылаю вам фото и видио моей системы .

    ECLIPSE LineECLIPSE Line

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