Now this story takes a worthwhile detour. I learned of an American customer Sasa was collaborating with on a project involving extreme high-power SETs. The gentleman in question was one Jack Rock. He proved game to share his involvement with Sasa as a custom client. "Yes, I will send you some thoughts about my projects with Sasa, pictures and tests. With him I am doing a series of very high-end high-power DHT single-ended amps using 250TL and parallel single-ended 450TL tubes. I expect the PSE 450TL amps to be the most powerful SE amps done yet. Great fun to celebrate these wonderful old vintage radar pulse modulator tubes in a setting—high-end audio at voltages upwards of 4 kilovolt—not contemplated by EIMAC.

"Anyhow, what led me to Sasa was his general reputation for zealous pursuit of the edge of the envelope for transformer design and implementation. More so though, it was his enthusiastic response to an early exploratory email about my big-bottle amps. His prompt and thoughtful encouraging reply was quite different from US transformer makers who expressed abject fright and horror. 

"From what I had learned, Sasa had long experience not only with making great complex SE trafos but also very high- voltage and high-current transformers. Expertise at those high voltages was not at hand with the usual US suspects of Magnequest, Electraprint, Slagle, Purvine et. al. So Sasa was the uniquely qualified person in my opinion to work with on these tours des forces in amp design.

"Now that the project is well under way—e.g. Sasa has made the splendid 300-watt 4KV trafos [above] and to explore best operating regions, I have done all the tube curves for the big bottles using an apparatus of my design and construction— we are having a great time together emailing tube curves and trafo data back and forth on a daily basis. I expect the trafos he has made for me will be just stunning in my wild monster SE amps.

"So when the trafos get here from Serbia, I will do up the prototypes in short order and will be enjoying what arguably might become some of the best-sounding and—from a power and exotic operating domain—noteworthy single-ended direct-heated triode amps in existence. I'll keep you posted."

By way of CV, Jack appended this postscript: "Jon Ver Halen (Lowther America president) and I won best sound of show per this EnjoyTheMusic report  at VSAC 2008 with his cunning open-back speakers playing my 24/192 uncompressed titles which I remastered for 24/192 off the 1/2" ATR100 30ips masters from my Viewpoint Records label. If you are interested, I can send you data DVDs of the 24/192 titles along with the production RedBook 16/44.1 CDs for comparison. By the way, there is no comparison, ha. We played them at VSAC via a $450 EMU 1616M DAC from a cheap $500 laptop. Talk about bang for the buck.You might take a quick look at the attached studio gear list here at my TexasTreefort studios. We used all that great vintage analog gear on the recording, mixing and mastering of those titles."

The description of the Austin-based facilities read mouthwatering enough: "Breathtaking Austin city views, secluded high-end residential 7-acre resort with 24-hr. monitored security and 8 infra-red night-vision cameras. There's overnight lodging for artists in a separate 3-story guest building with kitchen, pool, decks, patios and parking for 15+ cars. And zero advertising to protect clients and facility. There's a full production/mix/mastering complex, a full pro Pilates studio with certified in-house coach and on-call Russian ballerina coach, big line-of-sight rooms with outstanding acoustics and an unmatched creative vibe. Full surround mix to second 2” analog tape or to dedicated mixdown DAW (drop, pull-down sync etc) for film with HD video monitoring on 120-inch projection. Both A and B rooms have premier analog vintage with large-format automated consoles, three 2-inch analog machines, EMT 140 and EMT 240 plates plus the usual latest digital gear to handle any production plan."

The list of resident keyboards was next: Yamaha 7’ 6" grand (Disklavier), Hammond B-3 and Leslie, vintage Ludwig house kits, 88-note Rhodes, Farfisa Compact Duo and Sabre Reverb 1, ‘53 Tube Wurli, Bass Rhodes, Hohner D-6 clav, MiniMoog, Yamaha CS-15, CS-40M analog synths. The guitars include 20 vintage instruments with 15 vintage tube amps from Gibson, Fender Blackface, Marshall, ‘59 Magnatone Buddy Holly, B-15 head/cab and 1953 Les Paul amp.

For microphones there a 3 x RCA KU-3a, 2 x KU-2a , M-50, U-47, M-49, C-12, C-37a, 2 x M-221b, SM-69, SM-2, 2 x UM-57, Km-56, Km-53, 3 x Km-54, Sony C-800G, C-37 and more. For prime direct-to-tape gear, Jack listed 4 x Neve 1073, V-72/76/376,  RCA,  Gates and Ampex tube preamps, 20+ tube channels, Daking, 6 x Twin Servo, Audix/BBC, 9 x API 312, Manley VoxBoxes and many more.  For killer dynamics, EMT 240 gold foil and 140 plate, Fairchild 670, PYE, 2 x Neve 2254e, Manley Variable-Mu, 3 x UREI 1176, 1178,  2 x LA-2a, 2 x LA-3a, Daking, Langevin, 2 x Telefunken U-73, 2 x DAP 610, 12 x Collins and RNC, Lex PCM-90, tc M-5000, Quantec QRS, AKG BX-20 and BX-10 spring to get started.

The list continued in style including fully balanced 50-amp regulators with eight Topaz ultra-isolation transformers, four 5KW APC Matrix uninterruptible power supplies and an Onan diesel generator for 12KW backup. With all that gear, what type of work environment would Jack run? His main tracking room is 30' x 20' x 12' with complex shapes, "no standing waves, a splendid space with line-of-sight or video to all iso rooms". The control room is 26' x 18' x 10' and the three iso spaces are all different but around. 12 x 16 x 8 each. There's a separate 20’ x 16’ x 16’ iso building with two open stories, video and 24 channels of tie-line links to the control room.

In short, even folks who've never set foot in a recording studio would appreciate that Jack is deeply into quality, favors vintage and doesn't believe in half-assed. Not that tube amps with 4,000 volts on the rails apply for just one cheek.