Considering a Raven Audio Blackhawk Integrated for Tannoy Sterlings

I recently purchased a pair of Tannoy Sterling speakers. Rated 91dB sensitive which do not drop below 5 ohms impedance. My room I about 12' x 15' x 8.5'. It is treated with absorption panels to my liking. 

I am currently driving the Sterlings with a BEL 1001 MK5 SS amp (50wpc), itself driven by an Aric Audio Special all tube preamp. System is digital based with an Audio Mirror Tubadour III DAC fed by Mac Mini or CD transport. 

The system sounds wonderful, however I am looking to simplify, and have not experienced tubes in the power amplifier stage. The Blackhawk is 20wpc. I auditioned the Sterlings with a Luxman 20wpc class A SS amplifier. That amp drove them very well in a room volume greater than my room. I am aware that Raven Audio allows a 45 day trial period with loss of shipping only if one wished to return the integrated. 

 I find the Tannoys to have a certain warmth that I enjoy. Not thinking that I need any more provided by an amplifier. Love the 'bloom' and 'air' around notes, soundstaging, and imaging provided by tubes.

Obviously, given the trial period I could audition the pairing in my own room. I am just looking for thoughts from members herein, some that own Raven or Tannoy. Thanks in advance. 

@jetter I will provide my thoughts after spending some time with the 25. I sold the BEL prior to getting the 25 so a direct comparison is not possible. I was playing around with a Line Magnetic 211(EL34 PP) in the interim. 
@mesch Thank you mesch, I will look forward to your listening impressions of the XA25, which I don't doubt will be stellar.  

Here’s my 2 cents on Raven:

I had previously had a Primaluna Prologue preamp and a Hegel H20 power amp and was looking to go with an integrated tube solution that gave the magic of tubes. I gave Raven a try but it fell short in driving my Dynaudio Contour 20i’s (86db; 4 ohms) to their full potential. It lack a bit of oomph and didn’t play that loudly without saturating (~77 DB).

I was disappointed in the instruments value/quality for the price which isn’t any real value!

The first thing I noticed is how light it was compared to my old Primaluna preamp. Granted weight isn’t everything but it’s directly related to the size of the transformers which mean a lot with tube designs. I noticed when inserting the AC power cord into the IEC connector that it was very flimsy and the entire connector wobbled loosely in the chassis. So it appears to be a cheap press-in style fitting.

The AC power cord that they provide didn’t perform as well as a basic Pangea AC14 cord, it was dull and lifeless in comparison.

The high pass cross-over switch seems to be too high at 80hz, it didn’t seem to blend well with my system I felt it should have been made to go to about 50 hz which would allow it to blend with a larger variety of speakers. When I used it, it made it obvious that I was only using one subwoofer and that it was located in the left side corner.

Overall the amp sounded like a nice tube amp, but Made In America should mean Quality...

For the money their are a lot of better offerings IE: Primaluna, Line Magnetic, Doge 10 MKIII, Willsenton R8 & R800i that are of much better quality and out perform the Raven Black Hawk, and at a significantly lower price point!

Don’t let their 45 day Risk Free business model fool you! It will cost you over >$450.00! just to demo the amp, in which I was told it would drive my speakers just fine. Raven charges you 7% plus for the initial shipping plus you pay to ship it back to them, so that’s shipping both ways.

All I can say is to think twice before plopping down a huge sum of money for a Raven amp. Made in America doesn't always mean quality....


Seeing my post has resurfaced I feel I should update. I purchased the XA25 last May however really haven't given it it's due regarding playing time. Been building a second house and  not spent much time with the XA25. In November I purchased an almost new Aric Audio Transcend amplifier. Over the 2 months  of ownership of the Transcend I have  put more hours on it than I have during the previous 6 months with the XA25. Not because I feel it is better than the XA25 but due to the Transcend arriving and getting placed into my system when I have more time for listening sessions.  I am very happy with both amplifiers and once moved into the audio room in the new home will be spending more time with both. The Sterlings are easily driven by both amplifiers. I really need to spend more time prior to commenting regarding either amplifiers virtues. I also have a pair of Esoteric MG10s which due to being of lower impedance I feel would be better driven by the XA25.   


you have got a couple of terrific amps there, and i would think their sonic flavors are nicely different from each other

hope your house construction concludes successfully and you have even more time to listen and enjoy!

@jjss49 True about sonic flavors. The Pass seemed to have a more dynamic attack while the Aric has a more fleshed out finish, note for note. Both provide great sound staging when available on the recording. The Aric seems somewhat warmer. Honestly, I need more time with both amps. I am thinking the PASS is not yet fully broken in.  I am expecting my new room to provide a better perspective than the one I am in now. My near field approach to speakers won't change much but there will be a greater difference in the distance of the speakers from the front wall than from he side walls. Should improve soundstage. 

I am in the process of finishing the butcher block shelves I am using for my built into the wall audio rack. Will be moving my stereo into the room soon. May not have a bathroom for a couple months but will have a dedicated room. Priorities one must understand :).