To Doug Schneider,
Good afternoon -- a very well written review of the Heaven 11 Billie.
A couple of questions for you sir: I am totally blind, so ease of use and not having to ask my sighted wife [to help] are important considerations. You mention it is a tube amp. Is replacement an issue? Would you buy a component from a brand-new company?
Thanks, and I find your reviews very helpful.
Great questions! The Billie is a minimalist design and, partly because of that, very easy to use. Day to day, you’re only going to have to concern yourself with the volume and input-selector controls. As for the volume control, I think it having a flat top will help you -- you’ll be able to feel where it is in the range. The input selector is not flat on top, but since you just have to turn it clockwise or counterclockwise, I believe that you’ll easily get the feel for it as well.
The Billie uses two ECC99 tubes in its preamplifier stage. These tubes should last a long time, but even when they wear out, replacement won’t be a problem since they’re commonly available. Furthermore, they’re not enclosed within the Billie’s case -- they’re directly accessible on top -- so popping a new pair in can be done in seconds.
Your final question about purchasing from a new company is trickier. As I alluded to in the article, many new companies go out of business. Obviously, Heaven 11 isn’t immune to that, but I think there are a few things working in the company’s favor that’ll help them stick around. One thing is that the Billie looks like a well-conceived product, which I can’t always say about products from other new companies. Another is that it’s priced at a very reasonable $1450 USD, so if the whole company goes kaput, the risk of buying is lower. I can’t say the same about new companies that bring out products priced north of $10,000 or even $100,000, which happens often. Finally, founder Itai Azerad already has ideas for more products, which indicates he has plans to be in this for the long haul. As a result, I feel confident recommending the Billie. . . . Doug Schneider