I bought the Bob Carver Crimson 75 at an estate sale along with several other pieces of audio equipment from a seller in Maryland. I wasn’t able to test the amp as the fuses had been pulled and the screw cap fuse holders were missing. One generally doesn’t pull fuses from an amp unless there’s a functional problem with the unit, so obviously my presumption was of a technical issue with the amp, and it was priced and paid for accordingly.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts, I thought a little history lesson might be appropriate and help set the scene. Firstly, I’ve been a fan of Bob Carver for many years. The bloke’s a genius, clearly, and a character to boot, in the vein of Nelson Pass and the late great James Bongiorno. I was an active member on both of the popular Carver forums for years and came close to being an attendee at the annual ‘CarverFest’ event, though missed the one opportunity due to a schedule clash.

I haven’t owned a ton of Carver gear. Around two decades ago I picked up a Carver CT7 preamp with Sonic Holography, and I own that to this day though it rarely gets used. A decade later I bought a pair of Bob’s Carver Amazing Platinum speakers [reviewed here], and had a long love-hate relationship with those power-hungry beggars. A couple of years later an audiophile friend loaned me his Carver Amazing Originals along with a Krell FPB-700cx amp, and that was a fun time until a trigger-happy friend blew one of the honeycomb bass drivers by playing the speakers way beyond their volume capacity. (you know you did it).

Here’s a blurry pic or two starting with the most recent system comprising the Carver Amazing originals:

Carver Amazing Original with Krell FPB 700 cx amps

Carver Amazing Original with Krell FPB 700 cx amp.

 

Carver Amazing Original with Krell FPB 700 cx amps

 

 

 

Carver Amazing Original with SST Amps

Carver Amazing Original with the James Bongiorno SST Ampzilla 2000 Amps

Those were fun speakers. I’d probably own the Platinums to this day had I been able to find a replacement 60″ ribbon driver.

There’s been quite a bit of controversy over the past few years surrounding Bob, his companies past and present, and some of his product design choices and statements. I won’t get into all of it here as most of it is old hat, but I will provide a couple of links and a very brief summary, in case you want to read up more.

NOTE! I can’t guarantee the accuracy of any of the linked content or my own presentation of timelines and summaries below. I can say with some degree of certainty that ownership of the Bob Carver brand appears to have moved around quite a bit over the years, including licensing agreements for some of his technology and his name.

  • 2011 – Bob Carver partnered with home automation pioneer Bob Farinelli to form Bob Carver LLC [link to article]
  • 2013 – Emotiva Audio’s parent company ‘Jade Designs’ acquired Bob Carver, LLC [link to article] [link to article on Jade Designs]
  • 2013 – Bob Carver’s ‘association’ with Emotiva comes to an abrupt end [link to the article – scroll down a bit to read the statement]
  • 2015 – December 25, 2015, Bob Carver and Frank Malitz, started a new company called “The Bob Carver Company”, a sole proprietorship owned by Carver/Malitz with Jordon Gerber, a junior partner. [link to article/announcement]
  • 01/30/2020 – Wyred 4 Sound Announces Exclusive Licensing Agreement with The Bob Carver Corporation and the formation of Glass Audio America, LLC [link to article] From Frank Malitz: “So I recruited EJ Sarmento of Wyred 4 Sound and we bought the rights to the brand keeping Bob as our chief designer– effective January 2020 So I recruited EJ Sarmento of Wyred 4 Sound and we bought the rights to the brand keeping Bob as our chief designer– effective January 2020”
  • Early 2021 – Extracts from a post on Audiogon summarize the current status of Bob’s company. The complete thread is linked to here. I’ve also copied the full statement from Jim Clark at the end of this article, as it’s my understanding that at the time of writing this (11/3/2023) the statement represents the latest in the Bob Carver company saga. “My name is Jim Clark. Bob Carver started a company of his own early this year and ask (sic) me to run it for him.”

So that, I believe, covers the timespan from 2011 right up to the current date of November 2023. As for Jim Clark, he says: I can be reached at 815-985-3557 jim@bobcarvercorp.com The new store is open at bobcarvercorp.com

I haven’t checked on the legal status of the company ‘Bob Carver Corp.’ and whether or not Jim Clark is listed as a director. That’s easy to do, it’s just not really what I’m interested in at the moment, I’m interested in getting an amp repaired.

Scratching around on the Bob Carver Corp website, there are a few things worthy of note that I’ll drop here just to flesh out the history a little. I found this interesting, from the Bob Carver website’s ‘Support’ page:

“Who owns Bob Carver Company today?

Bob Carver and his family own Bob Carver today. Bob started this company in Feb 2021 after a company that had been building Bob designs under license, closed during the COVID pandemic late in 2021.”

And also…

“Bob Carver has established only four real audio companies — Phase Linear, Carver, Sunfire and now, the Bob Carver Company. In the case of the former three, the corporate “suits” and Bob regularly disagreed on the direction of the brand and he left each reluctantly. The final iteration of the Bob Carver Company is more consistent with his vision.”

That’s interesting, since the timeline I created above starts after Phase Linear, Carver, and Sunfire, but commences with “Bob Carver LLC”, which isn’t one of the ‘four real audio companies’ mentioned on the present website. 

And with specific reference to the problem I have with my old Crimson 75 amp:

Legacy Carver product is repaired by select services that you can find via Google.

New Carver product found in this web site are faithfully supported by us at Bob Carver Corporation.

BEWARE of imitations and false promises. Counterfeit and unlicensed Carver products still pop up on the web.

 

I hadn’t read that last paragraph when I contacted Jim Clark via the website to inquire about having my little Crimson 75 amp repaired. I sent along photos of the amp, including these:

Bob Carver Crimson 275 review

Bob Carver Crimson 75 amp.

Bob Carver Crimson amp mods and repairs

Bob Carver Cherry amp repairs and mods

Bob Carver Cherry amp mods

It’s clear from the above that the amp is in great cosmetic condition but that the fuses have been pulled, probably due to the pair of burned resistors on the power tube socket.

Though he didn’t expressly state this, I got the impression after a couple of email exchanges that he didn’t want to provide service on the amp. Now that I’ve found the paragraph on his website stating their policy on repairing equipment built during past iterations of the ‘Bob Carver Corp’, I can understand why, and I’m fine with it. Well, almost fine. Of course, I’d be a lot happier if I could send it back to the current Carver service center and have it fixed, rather than having to resort to Google and search for non-affiliated repairers who may or may not know what they’re doing.

I could also work on it myself. Replacing the burned resistors is easy enough, as is checking the output transformer function. But ideally, I’d like to know why those resistors burned up, rather than just replacing them, and people with access to the original circuits and more comprehensive test equipment are better placed to do that than I am with my old Fluke. From Jim Clark’s statement about the new Carver business – “Its Bob Carver, myself and a team of aerospace engineers”. If only one of those aerospace engineers could take a break from rocket design and fix my amp….ahh well.

Today, 11/3/23 I wrote to Nelion Audio, an approved Carver repair center, to see if they might be able to help in bringing this amp back to life, and I rejoined the Carver Audio forum where I plan to make a small nuisance of myself. Hopefully, I’ll be able to hear this little amp sometime soon and to complete a more formal review of how it sounds in my system.

Meanwhile, if anyone can help, please shoot me a comment below.

CAH – Nov 2023

Statement from Jim Clark posted at AudioGon’s Forum, complete thread is linked to here.

Hello,

My name is Jim Clark. Bob Carver started a company of his own early this year and ask me to run it for him. I accepted and went to work. We turned the place upside down and started over fresh.

There is no-one remaining here, that is associated with a past. Its Bob Carver, myself and a team of aerospace engineers, building some great products.

Bob is enjoying his time designing circuits and spending time with his wonderful wife.

Bob’s recent tube amps have came under scrutiny for being too lightweight and having smaller output transformers relative to the power rating. This is nothing new. You older fellows remember the controversy surrounding the 9 lb. 200WPC M-400 back 35-40 years ago. Much is the same as today.

Bob designs for music, running the widely varying impedance curve of actual loudspeakers, with high voltage tube amplifiers that raise voltage in response to the actual loudspeaker load impedance. Near resonant frequencies, a speaker impedance can rise to 30 ohms or more. The load is dynamic. Bob measurers the interactions between the amplifiers and various types of speaker loads, while making music.

Designing amplifiers to reproduce sine waves into a static resistive load as commonly tested (aka drainage) is not the same application. This adds cost and weight. Many heavy, expensive amplifiers that reproduce sine waves well, while running static resistive loads, suffer terribly when reproducing music and dynamic loads.

Bob, being a physicist, designs for the actual application of designing a musical amplifier. These high voltage, high headroom designs are some of the most musical you will find. The average tube amp uses 450v of B+ voltage, while Bobs designs run at 685v B+, more than 50% higher.

In Bobs words, “they make a nice wide voltage swing with lots of headroom.”

“The high voltage supply cost less to produce and sounds better driving speakers.”

“The smaller transformers sound great with this high voltage design.”

Don’t take our word for it, have a 30 day risk -free trial in your system with no re-stocking fee. Hearing is believing.

Bobs lightweight, high voltage, high headroom designs, outsold other brands in more than 500 dealers across the USA for many years, during actual listening test, head to head with other more expensive, heavier amplifiers. Today, you can have the demo in your home for 30 days and you be the judge. That’s the real test of a musical audio products value to the customer.

Bob is back and we are doing well. Customers are taking the Carver Amplifier Challenge and enjoying the musical performance. We continue to earn our place in customers systems. No hype. Head to head competition.

The customers aways win in these challenges . They are the priority.

I apologize for any lack of communication during this transition.

I can be reached at 815-985-3557

jim@bobcarvercorp.com

The new store is open at bobcarvercorp.com

Thank you,

Jim