Overall appearance is quite attractive and the chassis sturdy enough to resist unwanted vibrations. That said, I discovered that placing the Orchid on the excellent Krolo Design isolation footers created a slight reduction in the noise floor compared to its own feet. Internally, the board layout, quality of parts (particularly the transformer) and overall craftsmanship were superlative. The tube could be a 396A or one of its many variants such as the 5670, 2C51, 6385, 6CC42, 2493 or CK5670. The deck ships stock with a mica NOS GE5670. Most of these tubes are not only very accessible on today's market but under $50 in most cases except for the very rare Bendix 6385. The great majority of NOS Western Electric, Tesla, Tung-Sol, RCA, GE and Raytheon are found for far less money. I had a great time trying many of these and heard the differences each had to offer. I finally settled on a WE396A (D getter, JW military version) which gave me the best combination of spatial and tonal qualities for my system. The Orchid sounded quite good right out of the box but did reach its optimum performance right around 30 hours.
The first sonic characteristic to strike me were its abilities with scale and size of the soundstage. On Albert King's The Ultimate Collection, one of the giants of the Texas Blues guitar, there is a live version of his "Blues Power" hit recorded in a large stadium. The Orchid created the widest soundstage I ever experienced, extending in panoramic fashion to transcend even the very distant side walls of my very large acoustic space. The height of the soundstage mimicked what you would hear in a stadium. Another spatial quality very apparent was the space between players and how their locations accurately portrayed how the band was placed during that concert.
One of my all-time favorite jazz recordings is tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec's Blue Note album Bossa Nova Soul Samba. It's very special for three reasons. First off, the musicians are legendary – Ike Quebec, Kenny Burrell, Wendell Marshall, Willie Bobo and Garvin Masseaux. Second, the music is some of the most sensuous and romantic recordings by any jazz players in the Blue Note catalogue. Lastly, famous sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder recorded this with some of the richest tonality and colors along with meat-on-the-bones palpability on individual images that I have ever heard in a recording. I have listened to this album for over thirty years now and on scores of different systems. With the Orchid, I was rather taken aback because the beauty of timbres and tonal colors was at an even higher level than familiar. Regarding the imaging of individual musicians, the Orchid rendered full-bodied, three-dimensional life-like players in my listening space. To say that the Orchid presented the beauty of this music in superlative fashion would be somewhat of an understatement.