Design "Ultra GT"
User Review #1KJ-Part 1 (copied with
Summary of thoughts
Where to start? Making the decision to go with the Ultra over the Silver
Statement was a tough call to make. Although I could surmise there would be an
improvement given the extreme quality and design of parts added, I still mulled
over the law of diminishing returns for this purchase quite a bit. The Ultra is
no small step up in price, but if you start to add up the parts costs alone you
begin to wonder if it's a less profitable product than the SS. Nonetheless, I
took the plunge and I'm happy to say I haven't thought twice about the extra
cost since turning it on.
Fit and finish of everything is superb from the solid remote down to the on
button on the power section. The smoked acrylic is absolutely stunning to look
at (or through it with good light), although when man handling the unit into
place I was as paranoid as ever for fear of scratching it's beautiful finish.
The adjustable gain is perfect for dialing in late night low listening levels to
your tastes. There is an audible click when changing the volume levels due to
the attenuator. However, after some conversations with Bill I understand this
is the minor price you pay for perfection of sound. Once you've set your
preferred level, you'll forget about it entirely. Another flexible option is
the ability to change phase. If you ever find yourself bored some day, you can
enjoy replacing the main singer's location from center to left to right and back
Given the insane quantity of silver residing inside this unit, I'm told it will
take at least 600+ hours to burn in. The good news is that straight out of the
crate it sounds simply fantastic. No hot sizzle in the high frequencies or
overt brightness that some tend to think of when silver is in play, and no
edginess or listener fatigue. Just phenomenal silky texture and dimensionality
of sound with incredible speed and articulation. The attack when strings are
plucked is immediate. The last pulse of air breathing through a trumpet or
saxophone doesn't escape you while the background remains true to the locale of
the event being played at. Everything has such an incredible sound stage that I
find myself waiting for a new instrument to unfold in a song so that I can gauge
it's placement relative to others. Having the ability to discern what type of
venue each piece is recorded in is just downright entertaining. I find myself
laughing as I'll look upwards at a stage from row 5 in one song, and then
looking down at an orchestra from row 12 in another. In a word, it's engaging.
Probably the best strength imparted on me is the sense that no sound or micro
dynamic is lost while traversing the Ultra. If it's in the recording, the Ultra
will bring it to life whether it's an echo off the venue's floor, a pursed mouth
parting way or the rubbing of an instrumentalist's clothing as they reach across
their instrument. All the while, everything remains completely and utterly
musical. No one instrument inadvertently takes away from another or provides a
false sense of imbalance. There's just a completeness of realism and truth when
the Ultra is engaged. It's no wonder the boys used Purity in their company
The quickest way to instill confidence that such luxuries aren't being taken for
granted is to switch the Ultra to passive mode. Although the quality of tones
provided by the rest of your system are still present, you find yourself
listening to what I'll call a very polite sound. It's all there, but it's
suddenly a bit more dull and flat as if the energy of the music was removed.
The three dimensionality and grit of texture just disappears. I began to wonder
how I made it without a pre-amp all this time, let alone one as revealing as the
Ultra GT's. It didn't take many cuts before I finally caved and switched back
to active mode.
All this makes me question what more I can expect as I accumulate more time on
the unit. As much as it pains me to be patient, I'm refraining from tube
swapping until I have more hours run through in order to form some sense of a
solid baseline. If I've learned anything from having the pre-production Silver
Statement in my system (and what I believe to be a very revealing system), it's
that tube changes in these units have a profound impact on the overall sound. I
have some Mullards in the cabinet, and I'm also eager to see what a pair of
Psvanes will do. However, I'll save that fun for another day.
I have enough sensory overload taking place that it's difficult to remain
objective. However, I'm simply having a hard time finding much fault in this
wonderful piece. Suffice it to say, I'll be spending a lot of time enjoying
each CD I own again with renewed enthusiasm. Furthermore, I'm eager to see just
what the Ultra reveals as I continue to hone my system with different tubes and
my forthcoming Rebox. If anything, I expect it to be honest to a fault and
reveal where I'm lacking any synergies as I move forward. I guess you could say
I expect it to be pure as Bill and Joe intended.
All that said, I'll continue to burn things in and post more thoughts as time
goes by. I expect I'll eventually cave and have some fun tube rolling. In the
meantime, if you ever find yourself in the Milwaukee/Chicago area, the door is
open for you to listen and form an opinion. Bring your favorite cuts (or tubes)
and grab a chair. You'll have to pry me out of it first though.