I have had my BH Mainline up for sale for a few weeks, I have three tube amps and thought of thinning the heard to finance a new set of cans!
So today I brought out the Mainline and fired it up and listened with the Focal Clears with the balanced XLR output.
Gee, Why am I selling this amp? Its really good, better than the Crack for sure, bass is tighter and the presentation is more transparent or clear to me…more of a real accurate tube amp vs the euphonic signature that the Crack has…and its really a neat amp especially for Senn’s and other high impedance cans.
The Mainline is “Dead” quiet at the full on stepped attenuator position…you do get some very slight noise when you first plug in your headphones as the amp settles down to match the load…about 1-3 seconds and you only notice this when you immediatey plug in your headphones. Its a built in design thing…so you wait for a few seconds before listening…not an issue and I am picking at straws here.
The amp doesnt have any turn on or of relay’s…so with typical tube gear, you turn it on, wait for a few minutes before you start pluggin cans in it…also it has two sets of RCA inputs that make it nice to compare 2 different sources or dacs…at the flick of a switch…
Also another nice thing about this amp, is the 6C45pi tubes are it…no real NOS replacements out there with one very expensive alternative, that IMO is not any worse or better that the stock tubes.
Paul Birkland told me they picked the 6C45pi because of its very good linearity range…the tubes that are out there are mostly Sovteks, but EH makes normal and gold pin versions…the Gold Pin versions are hard to find (at WooAudio in their FireFlies) for about $150 a pair!! the Sovteks are about $50-$60 a pair.
I have tried the Sovteks and the EH non gold pins and I do prefer the EH’s…seems like the soundstage is wider and just suits my taste in tonality.
The only other tube amp that bests the Mainline is the T4 I recently reviewed and had in house from Tom Blanchard…its a $2000 amp and the Mainline is now $1299 and yes you have to put it together, but thats half the fun…
If you have never done a DIY, the anticipation of that first voltage check, setting the tube bias etc…makes you really appreciate this stuff much more than just buying an appliance.
Ok enough rambling…just really re-enjoying this amp and its wonderful…now to decide to keep it or sell it!