Raven Audio is perhaps best known for its all-tube pre and power amplifiers. It is not, however, well known for those amplifier products being considered 'highly affordable' (Raven's cheapest preamp might cost $5,995, but the full Shaman Reference Mono amps leave little change from $35,000). The new Nighthawk integrated amplifier (at $1,595) is the exception. It's relatively low-powered at just 20W per channel, but sacrifices little in terms of build. Only time will tell whether it sacrifices anything in performance terms.
We are seeing an increasing number of products filling in both the top and bottom ends of the audio price spectrum. At the top-end, increasing layers of hyper-high-end devices are being produced for the cost-no-object market, while those of us who spend our hard-earned on luxuries like bread and shoes, there are products that can be owned by real people. It's all good.
The Nighthawk itself uses a quartet of 12AT7 tubes (a pair in the preamp stage and a pair in the power amp input stage) and a pair of 12AU7 acting as phase inverter and line-driver. A pair of self-biasing 6L6 per side complete the tube line-up. The six-input line amplifier appears not to use a remote control (and possibly no tube cover, making sales in Europe 'difficult'), but does have seperate speaker 'taps' for four and eight ohm loudspeakers.
From the Raven Audio press release:
Raven Audio, manufacturer of tube preamplifiers, integrated, stereo and monoblock amplifiers, features its Nighthawk Integrated Amplifier.
Tubes Do It Better
Raven Audio’s Dave Thomson, like many enthusiasts, is convinced that tubes do things better, especially when combining the best of classic tube design with contemporary technology, materials and composites to achieve a wideband, engaging, extremely musical sound that gets beyond the mechanics of playback.
Perhaps you’re a tube aficionado and need a second system for a smaller room. Or you love music and you just experienced a tubed audio system for the first time… and now you have to have one too! Many audiophiles are captivated by the sound of tubed components. But how do you buy into the tubular lifestyle without breaking the bank? You just need a pair of efficient speakers (87 to 96dB) plus your favorite source components and… a Nighthawk!
The advantage of integrated amplifiers is that the preamp and amplifier sections are built into one chassis resulting in shorter signal paths. It also takes less space and eliminates the need for another set of cables. Plus all Raven Audio integrates and amplifiers are self-biasing so you never have to adjust tubes for a perfect match.
The chassis is manufactured of sturdy 14-gauge carbon steel with an aircraft-grade aluminum faceplate and a handsome small-signal tube plate on top. Even at $1,595 Raven Audio doesn't skimp on quality; the handles are made of schedule-20 carbon steel with knobs machined from aircraft-grade aluminum.
The folded carbon steel plate gets a high-quality primer and several coats of high-grade automotive enamel that's baked and clear-coated several times with aircraft-grade sealant. The result is a deep, lustrous finish that looks great and sounds awesome.
The 20wpc Nighthawk Integrated delivers a wideband, smooth, detailed and very present, very palpable sound with a polished look and feel. You’ll hear with your ears with the added dimensions of emotion and excitement, a nearness to the music that makes everything breathtakingly real.
Raven Audio preamplifiers, integrated, stereo and monoblock amplifiers range from the Nighthawk's $1,595 to $34,950/pair.