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CEE_TEE
3475
Nov 16, 2017
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At his heart, Craig Uthus is a music lover and an amplifier designer. The former before the latter. Craig Uthus is the owner and chief amplifier designer of the small boutique called Eddie Current. He also used to be a partner and the engineer of Moth Audio. He’s a favorite of the audiophile community. I was already an owner of Eddie Current and Moth Audio amps when I started at Massdrop. (I owned the Super 7 and Balancing Act. Still have a Zana Deux, Black Widow, and a Moth Audio 2a3). Craig tunes his amplifiers to be neutral (but never sterile) and slightly “lush” (but never muddy). Eddie Current amps also create a larger “headstage” or what some describe as a holographic presentation of the music. So naturally, we wanted to work with Craig on a project to offer his sound through Massdrop. When we approached Craig to work on an amp that could be made in higher volumes and at a lower pricepoint, Craig explained that he isn’t set up as that kind of operation but that he already had a manufacturing partner in place and a design in mind… Years ago, Craig found a partner in Russia to make a less expensive line of amps for Eddie Current to sell. For a while, Eddie Current offered a small amp called the Lunchbox. These were low cost and had a very warm sound, perfect for the headphones from a few years ago (many were bright to the point of shrill or had spikes in the upper frequency range). Some buyers tried putting incompatible or bad, untested tubes in the amps because they fit into the sockets, which burned out parts in some of the amps. When customers started returning the amps, it became difficult to continue selling them. Since then, Craig has experimented with producing some of his own designs in a smaller form factor made at Laconic Lab and Craig has also been interested in some of the amps designed by Laconic. One such amp that Craig liked and passed around in the community was the Night Blues Mini, which made a big splash three years ago but lots of details such as importing/exporting from Russia, product testing and certification, packaging, cosmetic changes, amp support, and the small size of Eddie Current has prohibited Craig from selling them in the United States. This project has been a labor of love from everyone involved. It’s taken a year and a half to get amp samples back and forth between Russia and the US, find the beefy power switch & just the right volume knob that Craig likes to improve the aesthetics, add a Staron faceplate, make changes to fitment of the panels and screws, develop the packaging, test the amp for certification, set up exporting/importing/shipping/finances with Russia, and change the artwork on the product. We’ve had some different prototypes of the amp floating around for a while in the background during development plus there were two original amps that Craig Uthus sold three years ago, so you can definitely see some impressions today with some new ones over the next couple of days. All of the responses to this amp have been incredibly positive and I have no doubt that this amp will have a very loyal following. That’s the backstory. :) What is this big deal and obsession with tube amps in the audiophile community??? The short answer is that some headphones have issues that tube amps uniquely remedy. At the same time, great tube amps can improve great headphones to reach an addictive and immersive listening experience. Even if your headphone has the right levels of bass/mids/treble, detail & resolution, there are still other aspects of musical presentation such as attack/decay, and headstage/imaging that can be improved by a great tube amp. Some headphones sound great but the presentation through an amplifier is too “fast” sounding, sometimes described as “sterile” or unnatural sounding. Some headphones sound great but the sound seems to come from the drivers on either side of the head with a “blob” in the middle of the head between the ears. Imaging of the instruments and singer does not place them with depth, a sense of space or “openness”. These can be subtle cues or pretty obvious, depending upon what you are used to listening to. While it is hard to make the jump to an amp that costs over $2,000 if you have not been able to hear one, with Craig’s help we have an amplifier that gives so much of what the top amplifiers can do in an affordable (by audiophile standards) package. The Massdrop x Eddie Current ZDT Jr. uses transformers from Germany, a circuit design that Craig describes as “clever” and “unique”, new old stock Russian tubes from the 1960’s, manufacturing by hand in Russia, and aesthetic touches approved by Craig. Getting this amp up and running took longer than expected. If you make it into this first run, you will probably have the only amps from us for a while. Producing the first batch (we really wanted to get things started) will take longer due to a Russian slowdown in December/January due to customs backlog that occurs, plus the Chinese New Year will slow production since some parts are manufactured there. We will set a shipping date that is safe and hope that we can produce them faster for you. Here’s to good listening!
EDIT (11/21/17): The faceplate is actually made out of Staron, a synthetic stone or marble.
Nov 16, 2017
Jackula
1724
Nov 16, 2017
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Wanna sell your Black Widow?
Nov 16, 2017
CEE_TEE
3475
Nov 16, 2017
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Ha! Erm, sorry...but not at the moment. :)
Nov 16, 2017
tg12
21
Nov 16, 2017
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Do you plan on offering a solid state version of a Eddie Current amp like the Black Widow or Copperhead?
Nov 16, 2017
Jackula
1724
Nov 16, 2017
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Well I am certainly hoping, when I spoke to Craig he was working on redesigning the Black Widow PCB so it's easier to mass manufacture and cheaper to build. The Heron 5 (on MD) will be my stepping stone while waiting for the BW to come back out, hoping it will reach $599 in the next 24 hours, otherwise it will be a very lonely Christmas! My only gripe about the BW is the lack of pre-outs, must be some kind of design limitation.
Nov 16, 2017
HollowState
198
Nov 16, 2017
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Hi, CEE_TEE. Just a couple questions:
1.. You mention the tubes are 1950's NOS Russian. Have tubes been matched and to what standard?
2. This may be the wrong place to ask, but here goes: You say " I was already an owner of Eddie Current and Moth Audio amps when I started at Massdrop. (I owned the Super 7 and Balancing Act. Still have a Zana Deux, Black Widow, and a Moth Audio 2a3)." This piqued my interest Not exactly a common lot. Can you describe your collection of equipment and explain what led you in this direction? Not looking to tie you up in a lot of work. Maybe you have posted something similar on another audiophile site?
And one further comment: Massdrop has really step up their game with cooperative design proprietary equipment lately. I'm guessing that you have a lot to do with that. I really appreciate the good work
Nov 16, 2017
HollowState
198
Nov 16, 2017
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TYPO! 1960's, not 1950's.
Nov 16, 2017
NotABot
393
Nov 18, 2017
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Hi CEE_TEE, are the dimensions right in the product description? They're quite different from the NBM dimensions, and they don't look like they match the proportions of the amp in the photos. Or am I just missing something?
Nov 18, 2017
Varholiaglimp
938
Nov 18, 2017
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Also, there's no reason to add a possessive to a year. The only time it's correct to use an apostrophe with a year is when you abbreviate it (e.g., shortening the 1960s to the '60s).
I'm not here to be a member of the grammar police, BTW. I'm here to offer my experience as an editor when people actively search for the correct way to refer to a given thing.
Nov 18, 2017
HollowState
198
Nov 18, 2017
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Thank you.
Nov 18, 2017
Varholiaglimp
938
Nov 18, 2017
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Any time, HS.
Nov 18, 2017
CEE_TEE
3475
Nov 18, 2017
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Hi NotABot, Let me take a look at the Dims again...thank you!
Nov 18, 2017
CEE_TEE
3475
Nov 18, 2017
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Hi HollowState, I’ll reply soon, thanks for your questions!
Nov 18, 2017
NotABot
393
Nov 21, 2017
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Hi, so are these correct?
W x D x H: 6.3 x 4.3 x 8.7 in
Nov 21, 2017
CEE_TEE
3475
Nov 21, 2017
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Thanks for the catch! Should be... W x H x D: 6.3 x 4.3 x 8.7 in
Nov 21, 2017
CEE_TEE
3475
Nov 21, 2017
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Corrected!
Nov 21, 2017
TheOmegaCarrot
115
Nov 21, 2017
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In regards to the low and high separate outputs, is this in place of a gain switch? Does the high output go through beefier circuitry? Is there any difference in output impedance between the two? What is the output impedance of each output? Thank you very much.
Nov 21, 2017
jxliu
1021
Engineer
Nov 22, 2017
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Gain is pretty similar between the two outputs, so the low/high outputs don't serve the same purpose as a gain switch would.
Nov 22, 2017
trybeingarun
137
Apr 11, 2018
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I know this is a long shot, but given the delivery estimates were pretty pessimistic, any chance these would ship early?
Apr 11, 2018
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