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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio Model 5000 MkIII DAC; Accustic Arts Drive-1; Audio Aero Prima [on review]; Einstein CDP [on review]
Preamp/Integrated: Bel Canto PRe2; Wyetech Labs Pearl [on loan]; Einstein integrated [on review]; Audiopax Model 5 [on review]
Amp: AUDIOPAX Model 88, Bel Canto eVo 4 Gen.II, Eastern Electric MiniMax
Speakers: Avantgarde Duo; Gallo Acoustics Reference 3; Green Mountain Audio Continuum 3 [on review]
Cables: Stealth Audio Varidig S/PDIF, Stealth Audio Indra (x2), Crystal Cable Reference speaker cable and power cords; ZCable Hurricane power cords on both conditioners
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier
Powerline conditioning: BPT BP-3.5 Signature for source components; Walker Audio Velocitor
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand and speakers; Walker Audio SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; WorldPower cryo'd Hubbell wall sockets; Musse Audio resonance dampers on DUO subs; Mapleshade 4" solid maple platform under BPT conditioner
Room size: 30' w x 18' d x 10' h [sloping ceiling] in long-wall setup in one half, with open adjoining living room for a total of ca.1000 squ.ft floor plan
Review Component Retail: $5,300

From my prior review exposure of his entry-level Coral linestage and our Blue Moon awarded Sapphire 300B monos, Canadian designer Roger Hebert of Wyetech Labs has proven himself as one of the rare valve engineers who is equally comfortable with low and high-level signals. If you thought this to be standard MO in the field, it's not. The requirements for ultra low-noise, highly dynamic preamp stages are very different from speaker-based drive & control challenges for amplifiers. Most designers will -- at least secretly -- admit that they're truly adept at only one and either need help in the other department by way of subcontracting or inordinate time to master something that isn't their native talent turf. Once you're talking tubes with what -- at least in general parlance and view -- are considered higher intrinsic noise issues, valve amp designers are often out of their depths when market realities force them to expand their amplifier lineup not with just any preamplifier but a high-performance valved champ whose basic specs will invariably get compared against the best of the solid-state contenders.

Highly unusual then, Roger Hebert consumes tube-related noise and bandwidth issues of amps and preamps for breakfast well before following Alice down the rabbit hole into the lab. On his currently second-from-the-top non-inverting Pearl preamp, this translates into an ungodly +0/-3dB bandwidth of 3Hz to 950kHz (the ruler-flat spec is 15 - 200,000Hz) achieved with a grounded grid circuit bracketed by cathode followers fore and aft and three 6SN7WGTA NOS Phillips double triodes. While we're at specology, add input impedance of 50Kohm, output impedance of 600 ohms, output voltage of 3.5 Vrms (max 8.5) and slew rate of > 25 Volts/microsecond.

Single-ended connectivity provisions include 4 inputs, one tape loop and two pre-outs, with an international voltage switch, power IEC, fuse holder and power mains toggle completing the rear estate. The large gold-plated frontal brass controls, from left to right, select inputs, balance offset (+/- 5dB in 1dB stepped increments) and volume (24 click-stops from -60dB to 0dB). One toggle selects between tape/source, another between mute/on, this latter connected to two LEDs (one red for mute, one green for ready which lights up once a relay completes the initial 45-second thermal stabilization process).

Anything from the house of Wyetech is a mixture of only slightly gussied-up yeoman build and -- at their models' respective price points -- the finest parts that money can buy. The Shallco switches and ELMA volume control of the Pearl redefine the term "positive action" and the point-to-point wiring of the zero NFB linestage utilizes advanced two-sided Vector boards with contact turrets for the shortest possible signal path. The separate 200V/DC power supply board borrows from the top-line Opal with a double-pye choke filter, a large 30uF final polypropylene capacitive filter, a 2000uF electrolytic capacitor to passively shunt-regulate the 200 volts DC and a solid-state regulator on the filaments.

The chassis in the trademark lavender automotive paint bolts 1/8" to 1/4" thick aluminum plates to square corner posts via non-magnetic stainless steel screws for no-nonsense solidity. A 10-year warranty reflects on the maker's confidence in the trouble-free longevity of his product. The stock NOS valves are expected to last for 10,000 hours or more.

The box measures 17" W x 14.25" D x 4.25" H and weighs 18.7 lbs.

Talking to the two statewide retailers which carry Wyetech on either coast, I found out why there aren't more: Wyetech deliberately keeps the profit margins far smaller than usual for our capitalist country. This maintains final consumer prices at aggressively competitive levels that are by design below what other domestically producing firms have to charge to secure wider distribution. Part of the Wyetech appeal thus is a certain amount of high-value exclusivity backed by one-on-one support from the maker.