9designs

EWA Q20, Inca Tech Claymore and Colin the genius.

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Those of suitable years will most likely know of Colin Wonfor for his various amplifier models and cables over the past few decades. For me that started with the Inca Tech Claymore amp I bought in my early days of Hi-Fi, it replaced the also legendary NAD 3020A. At the time I was using Celestion SL6s and Linn Axis TT later an LP12.

Back then I demo’d the Naim NAIT, Linn Intek plus something from Exposure.  The Claymore blew them all away, it simply was more musical, engaging, powerful and controlled.

Later is was used with EPOS ES14 before being retired in favour of an original Linn Kairn + LK280 Spark. An upgrade that only really worked once the later improved “Brilliant” SMPS came out for the Kairn. Maybe partly because I had done a few tweaks inside the Claymore replacing the crimp connections with solder joints that improved the refinement, smoothness and musicality to giant killing proportions.

The Claymore was later passed to my Dad to use, (Axis and Keilidh’s) who enjoyed it for many years. After he passed away I kept it as it always was a favourite bit of kit and a “classic”. 

Skip to the present, a few weeks ago I dug it out the cupboard as I needed to try out an LP12 I had just assembled with a MM cart. To my dismay the amp crackled from one channel and wasn’t usable.  With the lid off all looked okay, so nothing damaged or leaked….yet!  

I remember seeing post from Colin and others and having the Claymore serviced. Thankfully Colin quickly replied back to my email and after a couple phone calls my amp was on its way back to its designer for repair and upgrades, it seemed to good an opportunity to miss.

In went new bigger capacitors, pot, various diodes and resistors then by chance Colin had a some new bigger FETs to hand, not the one that are normally used but some “special” ones. As long as they could be made to fit and tune in they would be great.  Wasn’t long before I had another call, all in and adjusted and working….”oh it’s pushing out a constant 80 watts” !!! 

Over this time, I got to have several discussions with Colin, who is the most charming and sincere of gentlemen who could wish to chat with. The diverse and amazing projects his career has seen him involved in is mind blowing. He is a genius and has invented some amazing stuff, I’ll not divulge the details, a great biography or book is there to be written.

Part of our discussion lead to his current amplifiers, as seen on the EWA website.  Colin offered to build up the little Q20 for me and a friend to try out.

 The Q20 arrived first, so I hooked it up to run in, by a coincidence I had recently bought up a pair of Celestion SL6si, so this was trip down memory lane. Immediately it was apparent this amp was beyond its diminutive size and conservatively rated 20 watts.  It had no issues taking hold of the SL6 and driving it to some serious volumes and with grip and control.  That probably is what grabs you first and amazes you.  How does such a little box have such big balls!! The bass is as tight and extended as pretty much anything I’ve heard under several grand.   Let’s put that in perspective this amp is around £750.  My “normal” amps are Linn 5125, 2250 Dynamik and Klimax Solo Dynamik.  Okay the Solo are a bit special so I didn’t try or expect to compete with them.

 Next I moved the amp to my Lounge where I hooked it up to an Akurate DSM (Katalyst) and PMC Fact 8. Again it had great grip and bass control and extension. Sound was open and very detailed and revealing.

Friend of mine came over for a listen, he uses a Majik DSM and a 5125, but only 2 channels of it. So I set mine up on the Fact 8 in 2 channel mode as reference. Then set about comparing the Q20 to the 5125 first.

It revealed a very interesting situation. One I will say is system matching.  The Q20 sounds superb, amazing for its size, power and price. That we both had no doubt. Only in comparison to the Linn did the presentation of the two become apparent.  The Q20 has I guess you would say an incisive mid band, which with a very clean and some might say lean Fact 8 it perhaps was a little too much of a good thing. The 5125 had a “warmth” or softness to it that initially sounds more pleasing. For me over a longer listen I heard that more as a coloration.  There is the dilemma, the Q20 for me is the better more correct amp. Revealing more of the detail in the music, the Linn did what Linn often does and gives you complete rounded performance that had a comfort to it and was also easy to listen too.

Potential a few cable changes may have balanced it out, or of coarse different speakers. The Fact are a little unique in their presentation, stunning when well matched. That said I believe from listening from various speakers over the years the Q20 will easily match other less “specialist” speakers.

Comparing to the 2250/D which was an £1800 amp plus a £400 power supply upgrade, it sat between the presentation style of the Q20 and 5125, balancing the incisive detail and warmth. The Q20 was in no way out place in this company, we could easily live with the Q20 amp. Using the Q20 on the Celestion or my Dynaudio Gemini the match is better and more neutral.

 Trying the Q20 on my friend’s system which has some 30-40 year old large 3 way stand mount speakers, built from a design published in magazine back then. Sort of a BBC/Rogers/Harbarth/Celestion type classic design.  Again the Q20 was superb, how does some a little box sound so good, so loud, doesn’t get hot and cost what it does?   The difference in presentation between the 5125 was still there, but now it was just a difference not an issue, for me was preferable.   

 It left two questions, what the heck does the EWA M50 sound like, which Colin seems very pleased with, then what would the rebuilt Claymore do?

So back to my room with Fact 8, hooked the Claymore in and used it like a power amp by pre-setting the volume pot to 75% and using the CD in.  OMG !!!    F’n hell….    It’s got monster gonads !!  seriously loud and powerful. Bass power and control that surpassed the Q20, but with a body and tone/warmth found slightly missing from the Q20. (With the Fact8)  I found myself leaving tracks playing longer with the Claymore connected, its musical prowess still there after 30+ years, but now with added authority and grunt.  As before this is an integrated amp that goes hunting in Pre-Power territories and wins.  Plug the best source in you can and hook up any speakers and its going to deliver way above its vintage and price.

 Leaves me to say many thanks to Colin Wonfor, for his insight to many things, restoring an “Ultimate Claymore” and loaning some of his later work.  He is a genius and such a genuine gentleman…. The Q20 is superb and a bargain.

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Thank you for posting - and due to recognizing these components, feel i am of a similar age....and would loved to have tried the Claymore.

I hated the first Naim Nait...and went for an A&R A60. I bought and still own some original SL6s. I also owned, up to recently, a Linn Kairn/LK100 and LP12 (with Naim 42/110/Snaps)

I am familiar with the current range of Linn Amps....and the Colin Wonfer designed Telurium Q cables...where the company then apparently pushed him out.

Nostalgic post, which brought me back.

Edited by CnoEvil

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11 minutes ago, 9designs said:

Those of suitable years will most likely know of Colin Wonfor for his various amplifier models and cables over the past few decades. For me that started with the Inca Tech Claymore amp I bought in my early days of Hi-Fi, it replaced the also legendary NAD 3020A. At the time I was using Celestion SL6s and Linn Axis TT later an LP12.

Back then I demo’d the Naim NAIT, Linn Intek plus something from Exposure.  The Claymore blew them all away, it simply was more musical, engaging, powerful and controlled.

Later is was used with EPOS ES14 before being retired in favour of an original Linn Kairn + LK280 Spark. An upgrade that only really worked once the later improved “Brilliant” SMPS came out for the Kairn. Maybe partly because I had done a few tweaks inside the Claymore replacing the crimp connections with solder joints that improved the refinement, smoothness and musicality to giant killing proportions.

The Claymore was later passed to my Dad to use, (Axis and Keilidh’s) who enjoyed it for many years. After he passed away I kept it as it always was a favourite bit of kit and a “classic”. 

Skip to the present, a few weeks ago I dug it out the cupboard as I needed to try out an LP12 I had just assembled with a MM cart. To my dismay the amp crackled from one channel and wasn’t usable.  With the lid off all looked okay, so nothing damaged or leaked….yet!  

I remember seeing post from Colin and others and having the Claymore serviced. Thankfully Colin quickly replied back to my email and after a couple phone calls my amp was on its way back to its designer for repair and upgrades, it seemed to good an opportunity to miss.

In went new bigger capacitors, pot, various diodes and resistors then by chance Colin had a some new bigger FETs to hand, not the one that are normally used but some “special” ones. As long as they could be made to fit and tune in they would be great.  Wasn’t long before I had another call, all in and adjusted and working….”oh it’s pushing out a constant 80 watts” !!! 

Over this time, I got to have several discussions with Colin, who is the most charming and sincere of gentlemen who could wish to chat with. The diverse and amazing projects his career has seen him involved in is mind blowing. He is a genius and has invented some amazing stuff, I’ll not divulge the details, a great biography or book is there to be written.

Part of our discussion lead to his current amplifiers, as seen on the EWA website.  Colin offered to build up the little Q20 for me and a friend to try out.

 The Q20 arrived first, so I hooked it up to run in, by a coincidence I had recently bought up a pair of Celestion SL6si, so this was trip down memory lane. Immediately it was apparent this amp was beyond its diminutive size and conservatively rated 20 watts.  It had no issues taking hold of the SL6 and driving it to some serious volumes and with grip and control.  That probably is what grabs you first and amazes you.  How does such a little box have such big balls!! The bass is as tight and extended as pretty much anything I’ve heard under several grand.   Let’s put that in perspective this amp is around £750.  My “normal” amps are Linn 5125, 2250 Dynamik and Klimax Solo Dynamik.  Okay the Solo are a bit special so I didn’t try or expect to compete with them.

 Next I moved the amp to my Lounge where I hooked it up to an Akurate DSM (Katalyst) and PMC Fact 8. Again it had great grip and bass control and extension. Sound was open and very detailed and revealing.

Friend of mine came over for a listen, he uses a Majik DSM and a 5125, but only 2 channels of it. So I set mine up on the Fact 8 in 2 channel mode as reference. Then set about comparing the Q20 to the 5125 first.

It revealed a very interesting situation. One I will say is system matching.  The Q20 sounds superb, amazing for its size, power and price. That we both had no doubt. Only in comparison to the Linn did the presentation of the two become apparent.  The Q20 has I guess you would say an incisive mid band, which with a very clean and some might say lean Fact 8 it perhaps was a little too much of a good thing. The 5125 had a “warmth” or softness to it that initially sounds more pleasing. For me over a longer listen I heard that more as a coloration.  There is the dilemma, the Q20 for me is the better more correct amp. Revealing more of the detail in the music, the Linn did what Linn often does and gives you complete rounded performance that had a comfort to it and was also easy to listen too.

Potential a few cable changes may have balanced it out, or of coarse different speakers. The Fact are a little unique in their presentation, stunning when well matched. That said I believe from listening from various speakers over the years the Q20 will easily match other less “specialist” speakers.

Comparing to the 2250/D which was an £1800 amp plus a £400 power supply upgrade, it sat between the presentation style of the Q20 and 5125, balancing the incisive detail and warmth. The Q20 was in no way out place in this company, we could easily live with the Q20 amp. Using the Q20 on the Celestion or my Dynaudio Gemini the match is better and more neutral.

 Trying the Q20 on my friend’s system which has some 30-40 year old large 3 way stand mount speakers, built from a design published in magazine back then. Sort of a BBC/Rogers/Harbarth/Celestion type classic design.  Again the Q20 was superb, how does some a little box sound so good, so loud, doesn’t get hot and cost what it does?   The difference in presentation between the 5125 was still there, but now it was just a difference not an issue, for me was preferable.   

 It left two questions, what the heck does the EWA M50 sound like, which Colin seems very pleased with, then what would the rebuilt Claymore do?

So back to my room with Fact 8, hooked the Claymore in and used it like a power amp by pre-setting the volume pot to 75% and using the CD in.  OMG !!!    F’n hell….    It’s got monster gonads !!  seriously loud and powerful. Bass power and control that surpassed the Q20, but with a body and tone/warmth found slightly missing from the Q20. (With the Fact8)  I found myself leaving tracks playing longer with the Claymore connected, its musical prowess still there after 30+ years, but now with added authority and grunt.  As before this is an integrated amp that goes hunting in Pre-Power territories and wins.  Plug the best source in you can and hook up any speakers and its going to deliver way above its vintage and price.

 Leaves me to say many thanks to Colin Wonfor, for his insight to many things, restoring an “Ultimate Claymore” and loaning some of his later work.  He is a genius and such a genuine gentleman…. The Q20 is superb and a bargain.

Do you want me to have that claymore,im worried it could make you so happy,that other things in your life might get unattended too.But for me,im willing to take the risk right now.Just something to do with me and my Croft not seeing eye to eye as much as i would like.My mate has some Magnum mono blocks that are stunning.Colin i believe was the man behind these.Told Colin about my mate having these.He said he is very lucky.Nice guy. 

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Super Wammer

You might like to have a look at this thread too 

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Bit of an update, tried the Q20 on another combination of kit.  (Sorry I have three rooms each with a Linn DS :) LOL  )   Majik DSM driving Linn Kan mk2 Bi-wire.  Nice little combo for our day room.  The Q20 and Kan's are a great match, wakes them up a treat, detail, grip and bass, more musical and tuneful, impressive.   
Then I switched the internal volume control off as well on the DSM and hooked it up to the Claymore....  Wowww two vintage classics, stunning.   The Kan's always need and had people putting a big system in front of them, nothing has changed, the Q20 and Claymore does that, for those of us lucky enough to have kept a Claymore and have it reworked by Colin.
Tempted to dig out my Linn Karik CD player or hook an LP12 for a true retro set-up
 
I can see a nice idea and combo for next years suitcase challenge, as I think I can get a Claymore and Kan's in,  source could be iPhone and an iFI Dac or perhaps squeeze a sneaky DS in and then run room correction with Space Optimisation for a killer system.  

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1 hour ago, 9designs said:
Tempted to dig out my Linn Karik CD....
 

I had an original Karik/Numerik as well.....nice bit of kit.

Edited by CnoEvil

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Interesting post . I have actually been looking at these EWA amps for a while as an alternative to my Linn 2250/D. Not sure why, just looking for a change I guess.

In fact I nearly bought one of the M-50 Silver prototype versions that they were selling off at a cheaper price but they had just been sold when I got round to enquiring!

I wonder how a EWA M-50 would sound compared to a 2250 Dynamik ??  Are you saying the Linn amps were warmer sounding than the EWA, I would have thought it was the other way around as the EWAs are class A as I understand it?

BTW I use a Linn Klimax Renew (0) as source 

Ray 

P.S.  Wonder if 2 x Q20 is better/worse than 1 x M50

Edited by Rayymondo
Afterthought

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Bi-Amping the Q20 is a great idea I have sold a few like that in the past, but the best I have ever heard was Bi-Amped 2 of M100's. It was amazing and the sheer power and performance even on B&W was just luxury magic. I am not keen a Bob Dylan but he sounded just real and in the room for a private performance. 

And if Marc and Lucy are reading this can we do it again please.

EWA NL 100-01.png

EWA NL 100w-01 (1).png

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Super Wammer
15 hours ago, Colin Wonfor said:

Bi-Amping the Q20 is a great idea I have sold a few like that in the past,

Hello Colin - good to see you in the ranks of Wammers.  There is a nice Magnum pre and mono block power amp set up on ebay at the moment if any of the wammers are interested .. a fine creation :) 

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@Rayymondo  M50 vs 2250/D is also my next step as I'd like to improve upon the 2250/D if possible but not convinced on Linn's Chakra based newer Akurate amps, always seemed a bit sterile to me.  Lejonklou Tundra would perhaps be the other option. A bit put off with the faff of setting up with meter and waiting for the thing to be warm to sound at it's best though. 

Yes the 5125 was warmer and softer than the Q20. 

The 2250/D was less so  but still the Q20 had a slight lean/cold/hardness in the mid. (that's either positive or a negative depending on speakers used)  The Linn was just a bit richer rounded and preferable. The 2250 also had a bit more body and power behind it.  Lets be honest that's not really a fair comparison for the Q20.  Pair of Q20 or a single M50?.  Unless your going to some form of active ( Exakt would be stunning) I would go with the one better amp.   (Let me know if you want to sell the 2250/D) 

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@Colin Wonfor

Yes Colin, they would be amazing I don't doubt, mighty beasts by the look of them. Don't think my rack (read solid oak chest with the prerequisite isolation platforms of course :D) or my wallet could stretch to those at the moment. Maybe one day (If I ever move to a bigger place)

@9designs

19 hours ago, 9designs said:

M50 vs 2250/D is also my next step as I'd like to improve upon the 2250/D if possible but not convinced on Linn's Chakra based newer Akurate amps, always seemed a bit sterile to me.  Lejonklou Tundra would perhaps be the other option

Would love to hear the results of these comparisons . Not the kind of products you can wander into a store to listen to.

Actually my system sounds fine (good even!). It's just the amp is the only thing I haven't upgraded in the last few years. Just wonder what difference other amps would make I guess. Adding an analogue pre made a great improvement to my ears, so did adding super tweeters. I should just enjoy it for a while really …… but you know what it's like...…..   

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Super Wammer

Colin I know that you are currently either semi or fully retired but will you still offer a service to look at some of your old amplifiers ? I have looked at the current magnum set for sale and they look to be in very good condition but as always with older electronics I would feel better if I could have them serviced and checked out .

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19 hours ago, bencat said:

Colin I know that you are currently either semi or fully retired but will you still offer a service to look at some of your old amplifiers ? I have looked at the current magnum set for sale and they look to be in very good condition but as always with older electronics I would feel better if I could have them serviced and checked out .

I do now and have done for many years since TR left all the customers stranded, but be warned the FET,s in the Power Amps are no longer easy to find, BUT the good news is that I have found a very amazing replacement and with a few other bits changed they sound better.

And my batteries are nearly flat so I will not be around much longer, (good news for the West Coast Cable Company   WCCC)   :notworthy:           

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