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Carver Raven 350 Review (Tube Amp)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 260 82.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 29 9.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 15 4.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 10 3.2%

  • Total voters
    314

Mulder

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Bad measurements but nice for rock and roll. Here is an alternative for just a quarter of the price asked by Carver :D
proxy-image
:cool:
 

JSmith

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Ok... the product page is quite misleading based on these test measurements;
Crimson and Raven invigorate your music with extended dynamic range and abundant power reserves that can ignite explosive excitement. Yet they can also paint subtle shades of naturally warm, timbral color that are completely free from tube glare.
Well the DR is completely shot...
The Raven/Crimson transformer design is derived from a combination of Bob’s famous Silver Seven transformer and Stu Hegeman’s classic Citation II, but with thicker wire and larger core. It contributes significantly to the amp’s hefty 44-pound weight. And dramatically to overall performance.
Our lengthy text has mostly stayed on the objective, tangible aspects of the Crimson/Raven design.
Continuously coherent and capable of stunning dynamic range, the Crimson and Raven sound wonderfully warm, yet not at the expense of resolution of detail.
... I see. :facepalm:


JSmith
 

Blumlein 88

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Back in the 80's, reviewer/guru Martin Colloms raved about similar US 'high end' valve amps from ARC, Quicksilver, VTL, C-J and so on and made all manner of excuses about measurements not correlating with what he and the listening panel heard. Indeed, it became a thing that all the best measuring amps tested in 1980's 'Choice' books more often than not, did badly in the listening tests, as the lack of added character usually made the sound leaner and with less 'depth' perspective (added compression in the favoured ones?) and most recommended or best buy amps were somewhere in the upper 60's 70's for estimated sinad. In the UK, this reviewer became 'important' as he had interests all over as consultant, designer and so on and people took notice of his reviews.

I'd suggest this Carver box is exactly how it's supposed to be, giving a wonderful sonic character.

Did you 'listen to it' Amir ('cos 'we' don't listen to test tones, do we?). Sorry for that, but that's going to be the audiophile response to this review... Would be great if this distortion 'grass' can definitely be heard as against a pile of cheaper alternatives that don't have it... ;)
Hey, I owned every brand you listed except ARC, and had two friends that had ARC. You mean they didn't sound good? Of course they sounded good. Not accurate, but good.
 

Blumlein 88

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Mistake in the specs. They list a 16 ohm tap for speaker output. Probably should have just labeled 8 ohms, as 8-16 ohms like they did 1-2 ohms. And how do they make it with two taps that are actually the same? Is it possible there was an unintentional short between those two taps?

EDIT: Nope, seeing restorer john's post, it is an INTENTIONAL short between the 4 and 8 ohm tap.
 

Jimster480

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Genuinely don't understand this. Obviously it measures terribly ... is it meant to be like this, is it a design decision? Surely for $5k there is some competence and intent in the design and build ... baffled.

Is this analogous to cars that look cool and have massive engines that make an amazing noise but handle like sh#t (and no-one cares because they want the look and noise)?
Which cars are those?
there are plenty of cars with big engines that also have straight line performance. That isn't the same thing as not being good cars.
 

Blumlein 88

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I don't think the 'handle' is for lifting- it's there as a finger guard to not get burnt by the tubes. :)

I uncovered the fake output taps (strapped together) previously.

Here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...75-review-tube-amp.29971/page-32#post-1053604

I really feel sorry for the poor member who paid USD$4750 for this thing. It isn't high fidelity equipment. And I figure, he must have bought two!
I missed that in the other thread. So no defense of an accident. Just intentionally lying about things. Why do this? I don't even get it.
 

Sokel

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The rig must be Mic>mic pre>pre>this thing.

(for every time my wife is not happy with me,at least the shouts will have a pleasing tone)
 

Matias

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Almost 10k usd for a pair of monos to get this... I don't understand.
 

JSmith

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500W peak output is not dynamic enough for you?
I should have added a caveat then I suppose suggesting at relatively low wattage... like the 5W in the testing, which many wouldn't exceed for casual listening, especially with fairly sensitive speakers. It 'aint going to improve that much at 10, 20 or 50 watts either... in that situation, it's not very "Hi-Fi" IMO, especially that FR, YMMV.

Don't get me wrong, I like tube amps as a bit of fun and the aesthetics of the glowing tubes, but they don't need to be this terrible. At the very least the power supply noise could have been dealt with to an extent.


JSmith
 

AudioSceptic

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Genuinely don't understand this. Obviously it measures terribly ... is it meant to be like this, is it a design decision? Surely for $5k there is some competence and intent in the design and build ... baffled.

Is this analogous to cars that look cool and have massive engines that make an amazing noise but handle like sh#t (and no-one cares because they want the look and noise)?
I think of these things in the same way I think of Harley-Davidsons. What's that joke? Something like "The most efficient way yet devised of converting gasoline to noise without the side effect of producing any useful horsepower".
 

Blumlein 88

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Bob Carver once made his inexpensive SS amp sound like an expensive tube C-J amp. Now Bob Carver makes an expensive Tube amp that has too poor a performance to be made to sound like the expensive C-J amp. He just discovered the reverse price to performance ratio is more distinctive and pays better.
 

Awsmone

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Carver Raven 350 tube monoblock amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member and (I think) costs US $4,750.
View attachment 225095

The 350 is not a bad looking amp. It has the same "orange peel" paint job of the previous Carver 275 amplifier I reviewed. At 42 pounds, the unit is pretty heavy. With all the weight in the back, the front handle is kind of useless when it comes to lifting it.
View attachment 225100
There is an XLR input but I believe it is for convenience and performs the same as RCA. I measured the DC resistance of the 4 and 8 ohm terminals (after the measurements) and realized they are both the same! Here I was switching back and forth between them. :( Anyway, measured DC resistance is 0.47 ohm. The 1-2 ohm tap has a lower DC resistance of about 0.3 ohm.

Unlike the 275 amplifier, the fuses did not blow and the amp survived my sweep tests. Bias is to be set at "80" on the front dial and that was the case when I powered on the unit.

There is a gain control but you are advised to set it to max which is what I did for testing.

There is a flip switch in the front which changes the amount of feedback. I tested the amp in both settings.

Here are the specs:
View attachment 225121

Carver 350 Measurements
Let's start with high-feedback performance using XLR input:
View attachment 225102
There is copious amount of distortion causing SINAD to be dominated by it. At 44.1, it ranks as the second worst amplifier ever tested:
View attachment 225104
It even performed worse than the Carver 275 which had a SINAD of 46. Switching to lower feedback doesn't make things that much worse:
View attachment 225106

Note that gain is reduced and therefore, volume will be different. This makes AB testing tricky. Here is a more detailed FFT showing the small difference between low and high feedback:
View attachment 225115
Notice how distortion is made up of both 2nd and 3rd harmonics so you can't make the argument that it is "2nd harmonic goodness."

As noted, RCA performance is the same as XLR:
View attachment 225107

Power supply 60 Hz noise in both cases causes severe intermodulation higher up in frequency. No amount of grounding impacted that so it is endemic tot he design.

Noise performance is decent for type of amp it is:

View attachment 225108

Intermodulation distortion rears its ugly head again in multitone test:
View attachment 225109

I don't know how anyone could hear more "detail" with such an amp where so much of the music signal will get lost in the distortion "grass."

Frequency response should be flat but it is not:
View attachment 225110
It naturally will have load dependency due to output impedance.

Let's see the power situation as we had serious shortfall in the 275 amp:
View attachment 225111

We don't meet the spec there but come closer with 8 ohm:
View attachment 225112

Back to 4 ohm, here is our 1% THD (double the company spec) max and burst power:
View attachment 225113
We seem to get the same shortfall. There is momentary reservoir though allowing the peak output to shoot way up. This was not always consistent though.

I also tested 2 ohm capability:
View attachment 225114

You are still current limited so no more power.

Changing the test frequency gives us the following power curves:
View attachment 225116

There is some instability at 20 Hz and fairly significant power drop. This points to power supply not having enough capacity as the lower frequency taxes it for longer period. Some drop occurs in every amplifier by the way so it is a matter of how much.

Finally, the amplifier warms up quickly and is pretty stable:
View attachment 225117
Testing occurred after this warm up.

Conclusions
What an upside down the world of audio is. Folks want to pay so much more to get dirtier sound. You want dirty? The Carver 350 gives it to you. Even at 5 watts there is copious amount of harmonic distortion. Power supply mixes with that at such high level that it creates its own spread of distortion. A video must come with these amps that hypnotizes you into thinking you are getting great sound....

I can't recommend the Carver 350 monoblock amplifier.
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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Hey the test protocol is faulty, no special dirt, grounding box, expensive pc, and ic’s , and room ioniser, and outside grounding rod and voltage regenerator with Ethernet Reclocking reconditioner, and dedicated audiophile server
this is just totally amateur , I watch Jay and that’s what u have to get first to hear what these amps are capable of ….
Come on when are you going to get serious so you can have ‘Amir’s Sound lab‘ on YouTube ;)
 

AudioSceptic

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I don't think the 'handle' is for lifting- it's there as a finger guard to not get burnt by the tubes. :)

I uncovered the fake output taps (strapped together) previously.

Here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...75-review-tube-amp.29971/page-32#post-1053604

I really feel sorry for the poor member who paid USD$4750 for this thing. It isn't high fidelity equipment. And I figure, he must have bought two!
I agree. It doesn't look like a lifting handle, which you would expect to be centred, and where's the matching one at the back? It also looks as if it might be attached only to the top plate, so could it even take the weight?
 

AudioSceptic

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Bob Carver once made his inexpensive SS amp sound like an expensive tube C-J amp. Now Bob Carver makes an expensive Tube amp that has too poor a performance to be made to sound like the expensive C-J amp. He just discovered the reverse price to performance ratio is more distinctive and pays better.
Indeed. Carver knows exactly what he's doing. He makes the Silver Seven <https://www.bobcarvercorp.com/silver-seven>. It would be hard not to be impressed by that forest of valves (tubes).
 
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