Now it was time to get my truss on and bring in the enormous 80lbs EXS power supply. Actually, Gary brought it upstairs and we both installed it. I played "Big Nick" once more and there was a large improvement. The first thing I noticed was the bass which tightened up and became more lucid. Every note had a density to it that reminded me of going from a wooden representation to one made of cement. I jotted down the following descriptors: more control, solidity, mid-bass more filled in, imperturbable, better transparency in the mid bass and bass. Dizzy Gillespie’s Have Trumpet, Will Excite [Verve MGVS-68313] is another of my favorite jazz trumpet records. As the back liner notes state: "Dizzy, as Quincy Jones has noted, in the last three or four years has been playing better than ever before." The entire A side is a well-recorded display of Dizzy’s trumpet mastery. I have never heard Dizzy’s trumpet sound more tonally correct than through the Border Patrol EXD/EXS combination. If you have glare in the upper midrange with this amp, look elsewhere for the problem.


Back to the Duke Ellington & John Coltrane cut, the EXS power supply laid bare the incredible convolutions of Coltrane’s sax solo in a way that the standard power supply could not quite do. Also, replaying the The Ellington Suites cut "Northern Lights", the fortissimo at the beginning was markedly better with all of the instruments now better separated and blaring loudly with no sagging or blurring. As advertised and proclaimed by all who heard it, the EXD/EXS combination has plenty of balls! I pulled out a favorite album from college days, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express Tom Cat [A&M/Ode Records SP-77029] and played the funky hit "Rock Island Rocket". The EXS power supply injected the necessary weight and boogie factor that would put a big smile on any listener’s face. Toward the end of the review, I switched back and forth several times between my Tron and the EXD/EXS combination. This continued comparison with my reference amp showed that the BP amp was a little dark in the upper treble. The Tron has more light in the soundstage throughout but the difference was most noticeable in the highs, particularly in the shimmer and decay of cymbals. The Tron separates out all of the myriad vibrations and does so with a clarity and vibrancy that adds significantly to the excitement of the listening experience. Cymbal crashes through the Tron and the Bastanis Gemini tweeter can be breathtaking and in many ways rival the treble from the heralded Dukane Ionovac tweeters or the current ion  tweeters in the Lansche speakers.


The Border Patrol’s strengths of tonality and dynamic prowess play more to the strengths of the Living Voice and Volti Vittora speakers as I heard them demonstrated at RMAF. I suspect that this combination may be near the state of the art in this regard. My Bastanis speakers are more detailed and revealing than the Living Voice or Volti and most other speakers for that matter. They simply showcased the greater refinement of the much higher-priced Tron amp. As most well-heeled audiophiles know, matching the right amp with the right speaker can make all the difference. Different horses for different courses. Given this caveat, I would give the highest recommendation to the Border Patrol amps if used with the Living Voice, Volti or similarly voiced speakers. Since my review covered three versions of the Border Patrol 300B SET amps, the reader might fairly ask where I feel the sweet spot is. I would point to the EXD with standard power supply. The lower noise floor and overall cleaner sound are hard to do without once heard. The EXS power supply is certainly a major accomplishment and unique in the commercial 300B tube amp marketplace. Its sonic benefits are substantial and if you have the money, go for it. From a value perspective however, I think most people would be quite happy with the already very high performance of the standard power supply.


The top Border Patrol EXD/EXS with EML 300B is a very satisfying amp. Comparison with my more than twice-priced Tron 211 showed that it can be outperformed in some areas. This should not be surprising. No amp can do everything. Here I have to agree with the remarks of my fellow and like-minded Stereophile reviewer Art Dudley when he wrote in the recent review of the Rave Audio Spirit Mk. 2 monos (Vol. 38, N°5) that "there exist, among amplifiers, many different paths to glory". What the Border Patrol EXD/EXS combination does superbly well is to establish what may be an industry benchmark in reproducing the correct and fully developed tonal envelope for every instrument and voice played through it. It just gives music a sense of rightness in this critical aspect of realism that places it firmly in the playing field with the finest 300B SET amps of the day.
Reusability of packing: Smartly and economically designed custom foam supports and sturdy outer boxes.
Condition of components received: Flawless.
Quality of owner's manual: Manual can be downloaded from the website. It is very well written and easy to understand.
Website comments: Good mix of product information, review links and show commentary.
Human interactions: Professional and friendly.
Warranty: 2 years on amplifier and power supply, 3 months on tubes.


Border Patrol website