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db Systems, New Hampshire


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Just scored a DB-1A preamp.

"What's that?" you may ask. Too bad. db Systems is little-known New England manufacturer of high quality gear.

The DB-1 came out in the mid 70s. I remember visiting "The Sounding Board", a high-end audio salon in Ridgewood NJ in the early eighties. Bought some affordable gear there, auditioned audiophile vinyl pressings, and drooled over the high end stuff. One component that I always went back to was the db preamp. It was like a little jewel: Very high quality, minimalist design (no tone controls), small, with a nice solid oak cabinet. It was said to be the most neutral preamp available--the elusive straight wire with gain. Think it cost about $500 in the early eighties, which was reasonable for audiophile stuff but still beyond my budget.

So when I found one on ebay I grabbed it. It wasn't cheap but it looked to be in good shape. The cabinet was not the oak I like--it's walnut. Biggest problem: The external power supply was missing.

No problem! DB Systems is still in business. The owner and designer is David Hadaway. David was president of the B.A.S. 1999-2009. He's still selling the DB-1 (now 1A) but now it's $1,200. The good news: He sells the external PS separately and even has a refurbished one available. He has personally responded to my several questions promptly via email.

btw--he also makes power amps, moving coil pre-preamps, switches, outboard tone controls and a few other handy items, so if you are looking for some American-made audiophile gear, check out db Systems. The website ain't much but the products are exceptional.

Will be refinishing the cabinet, cleaning everything up, replacing some worn/corroded RCA and DIN jacks and any electrolytics I come across. Maybe I'll spring for the Alps volume control. Stay tuned.




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  • 1 year later...

It's a disease: Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) :wacko:

I now have 3 of these: A DB-1, DB-1A and DB-1B,

The upgrade from 1 to 1A involves improved RIAA (.04 dB) and complete retest. Includes gold plated phono jacks (2) and diamond cut solid aluminum knobs.

The 1A to 1B involves new lower noise high level stage, Alps 80 dB volume control, 6 dB better channel separation, all gold plated jacks, solid oak cabinet with new front panel.

So I'm working on the original purchase, a 1A myself. Changed out all the electrolytic (tantalum) caps and installed new Elna Silmic caps. I bought the Alps volume control and a new balance pot but haven't installed them yet. Also replaced all of the RCA jacks with gold-plated (old ones were getting cruddy). All in all I spent too much on this one.

The 1B is in good shape. I "may" send it back to DB Systems for a check-up.

Latest acquisition was an original DB-1 with plastic knobs and no cabinet. I sent it to New Hampshire for the 1 to 1A upgrade and also purchased a walnut cabinet.

Not sure which one will be the "keeper". Thinking about retiring the MAC-4100 receiver and going back to separates.

Here are photos of the 3 versions.




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  • 7 months later...


I ended up with FOUR of these, and although I did the re-capping myself I sent them back to DB for the volume controls, some other refurb work and complete testing. Put a lot (maybe too much) of money into them but they are little gems. Ended up selling one on Audiogon and the other went to Taiwan by way of e-pay (photo of that one below). Lost some money on both but it was a lot of fun. I'm keeping one of the walnut-cab ones and the oak-cab version (for now).

Now I have a new project: The DB-9 headphone amp. http://www.dbsystemsaudio.com/DB9spec.jpg

I'll install the Alps volume pot that I'd bought for the preamp--it will be a much simpler installation--and eventually will replace the 7 electrolytic caps with "audiophile grade" Nichicons.




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