Friday, March 23, 2012

Onix OA-21s Amplifier and OA-22 SOAP power supply



Wow. Wow. Wow. Yes there are three there and there should be more. At 60WPC coupled with it's SOAP power supply it just sounds amazing. From it's minimalism design, to it's stunning blue circuit board, quality components and it's absolutely spectacular sound. All this unit would need is some incandescant ambient lighting and a cameo in a Ridley Scott 80's sci-fi movie and it would have it all!





This particular unit belongs to a customer who had brought it to me for a service and repair. Prior to being with the current owner these two units had actually been review units for HiFi Choice or What HiFI magazine in the UK (I can't remember which one!).



This unit is beautifully built, I cannot stress it enough, Solid anodized knobs, ALPS pot for volume and nice and heavy toroidal power supplies. The pre-amplifier for the phono stage could be removed and replaced with either a moving magnet or moving coil pre-amplifier. This unit was fitted with a moving magnet preamp.

Pre-amplifier board:


The idea of the two units is that you could use the amplifier as a stand alone unit. Using it's toroidal power supply and on-board capacitor bank (originally consisting of 4x 4700uF capacitors a total of 18,800uF) to power the unit. If you added the SOAP or Special Onix Audio Power and connected it through it's umbilical cord to the OA-21 it would provide a dedicated power supply for the power amplifier stage as well as providing an additional 44,000uF worth of capacitors in the form of 2x 22,000uF capacitors. In simple terms you could drive the amp harder, louder and and not have distortion due to the capacitor bank being unable to supply clean DC power instead of 'dirty' power through the bridge rectifier directly. Very very cool!

OA-21 Amplifier unit:


SOAP unit:


It had two faults with it, the first being intermittent sound out of the phono stage, and the second being a lose input selector knob. The owner also wanted my opinion on giving it a full restoration, in the end we opted to also replace all the electrolytic capacitors in the OA-21s unit, however left the ones in the SOAP power supply alone as they were still in exceptional condition.

The phono sound issue was from the input switch selector having some dirty contacts. In order to do a proper job at cleaning them the switch selector was disassembled and all contacts cleaned individually. The switch selector moving freely was due to a worn collet on the shaft of the input switch selector. A new collet was machined and fitted in, now it switches between all inputs with no 'play'.

Replacing the capacitors was pretty straight forward. The unit could fit my star performers the Panasonic TS-HA filter capacitors rated at 6800uF were fitted in place of the original 4700uF capacitors.



Electrolytic capacitors were replaced with Panasonic AM series, some tantalum and film capacitors were also replaced with Panasonic film capacitors.

Rebuilt phono board:

I also ran into a small issue with the power connector on the OA-21 unit. It was producing some small amounts of arcing when powering on. The surface area of the plug going into the main board wasn't enough to supply the power across without arcing, so I opted to remove the plug completely and solder the power connector from the toroid directly to the board.



Overall the repair and restoration process was pretty straight forward, all solder joints were painfully redone as there were signs of cracked or partially cracked joints, the mica film and thermal paste were also replaced on the main output pairs. A couple of resistors were replaced that had shown signs of heat fatigue with resistors that could handle a bit more power.

The sound is phenomenal. Very clear with just the right amounts of bass and treble applied. My testing speakers were a pair of JBL 240Ti and Marantz HD880s. This is when the SOAP power supply really could show it's stuff. Without the SOAP, the sound is pretty damn fine, turn it up a bit too much though and you can hear a slight drop off in the deeper and more complex pieces. Plug the SOAP in and fire her up, wow! It doesn't even break a sweat! As always though, sound is subjective :) Results may vary from person to person but I certainly was extremely impressed at what this unit could deliver.

Modeling pictures as always, comments and questions always welcome!









34 comments:

  1. Fired up my OA21 for the first time in 10 years the other day. Built like a nuclear trigger. Love it. Would kill for a SOAP.

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    Replies
    1. sir: I have an SOAP in great condition. I lost the connecting cable when I moved. I'm asking $250.00. it was barely used an hour. send any message to mel1ramco@aol.com

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  2. I must admit I love this unit! Was sad to see it go but it definitely was something special. The SOAP makes a huge difference. However if you can't get your hands on one, there are plenty of guides on how to make your own DIY SOAP unit. aesthetics aside it's worth a look!

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  3. Adam(Malaysia)
    My OA36 pre amp and OA1200 power amp still producing wonderful sound.My OA21+Soap after 15 years,is still kicking and put new branded amps to shame ....TQ Tony Brady,May God Bless You.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adam Worsfold?

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    2. Yes, how did you know?

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    3. I`ve been reading about your Company, OnixDNA, saw your name there.

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  4. A few yrs ago was in a music shop in Singapore which had a Onix as well as a Naim 5i driving a pair of Magneplanar 16's each.

    Thought the Onix sounded much better than the Naim then.

    Went back there to listen to the Maggies a few months later and discovered the Naim's had to be service as they turn the volume past noon for the Maggies. The Onix was still going strong!

    Have a OA20/2 myself. Kept it and sold my Nait1 a while back.

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  5. Beautiful sound, so open with a perfect range and balance, Oh how I miss my OA21, never should of sold it all those years ago. Great Amp they just don't make then like that anymore.

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  6. Nigel Thornton, Devon, England
    Tony and Craig at Onix were a great design team, they made some really fine-sounding products with great looks , especially the OA20 and OA21. Such a shame it all went downhill when Adam took over the business. I`d love to find a pristine OA21 and soap, bet they would be a match for anything similar today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nigel Thorton... please be brave enough and call me yourself, My name in Adam Worsfold my numbers are on our site to discuss your misinformed and clearly misguided ideas of history. I await your call, of course if you would prefer visit me at our new plant in Singapore to see for yourself some facts you have no idea of.

      I have both the soap and the OA21 in our new facility and you can buy them if you like but be warned I personally built each one of these alongside most others that ever existed on the planet whilst I owned the company .

      Delete
  7. I am looking for a SOAP FOR A Brand New OA21 I just bought...still in original carton. If you have one with cables please email me at:

    ralfoto@aol.com

    many thanks

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  8. Hey guys I have an original narrow-bodied OA20 amplifier serial no 1036 (used, but still in its original Onix box), that I bought from a HiFi shop in Reading back in the 1980s. I loved it for its clear sound and its minimalist looks, but now it's time to part company. It's not mint condition, but it's still beautiful. Could anyone tell me what it's worth today or if they'd be interested in purchasing it from me. Thanks...

    si@trailbikemag.com

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    Replies
    1. I am purchasing a NOS OA-21. It looks like there is a seller in FL, USA that had a few of these for sale. With these units being ~30 years old now is it recommended to replace all the electrolytic capacitors? Should I do this before even using the unit or is this only necessary if there is a problem?

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  9. Great review, loved the photos and walk through of the repair. They simply don't make em like they used too.

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  10. Finally obtained and fired-up an OA-21 and SOAP that my wife's business had lying around unused (and that I had my eye on) for years.

    Sounds fantastic, even compared to the NAD 350 that used to be in it's place.

    Any idea what these are worth?

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  11. Hi. Sent you an email as well. I have a DA21 with a weak right speaker output. Thing has worked great for many years (bought it used in 87) then, last year, the fuse blew for the right speaker output. Fixed the fuse, worked great. Moved cross country, now is weak again and the fuse is fine. Left is and has always been fine. Any ideas on where to start to look? (cleaned everything I could see)

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  12. I would love to find an OA21s and SOAP, if there is a set out there.

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    Replies
    1. Hello there from Athens Greece.
      I have set of Onix OA21s with SOAP power supply that I use it as my transistor amplifier in my set up. I also use tubes most of the time. They drive big Tannoys 15' dual concentric GRF Memmory TW. If you like I am willing to sell the two ONIX units send me an email if you like chriskantarelis@gmail.com

      Delete
    2. Hello Chris.
      Do you still have the set? I'm searching for a Soap 2 since i have a OA21s but i could be interested in both if the price is right.
      Johan/Sweden

      Delete
  13. Hi, I have a Onix OA21S and SOAP. The interconnecting cable has red sleeving on one end which I believe indicates whether to connect to OA21S or SOAP. Can anybody tell me which end? Would hate to get it wrong and don't have the instructions.

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  14. I had an Onix OA21, bought new in the mid 80s as I recall, when Craig was involved with the company. Craig also had a hi fi shop and I bought the amp from Brighton Hi Fi and Cassette Centre, run by Craig and his father Arthur. (There was also a Reading Hi Fi and Cassette Centre in those days).

    I loved the amp of course and had many long hi fi chats with Craig and Arthur.

    Does anyone know what Craig is doing these days?

    Tony

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  15. Since OA20 was my fisrt "Hi End" ampli as young men, I started to look after used ones in order to "re-build" my first stereo chain again. Currently I am owning a OA22 fully serviced, a SOAP 2, a OA21s and a BWD1 Tuner.

    The only part missing is a inteconnect (power) cable from Soap2 to my OA21s.

    Any one who could help me (sell) such a cable/interconnect, or does have ideas of how to get one?

    Thanks from Switzerland
    Dani

    dani.weidmann@bluewin.ch

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  16. Hi guys I have been very curious about the Onix 21 with soap that has been raving about and very much would like to get one if anyone has one to let go. Currently I am using Nytech CA252 and had use Naim 72/180/Hicap before this. Am totally blown off when Adam mentioned you have a plant in Singapore?

    My email grephen_gan@hotmail.com

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  17. Hello everybody. I have an Onix OA-21s Amplifier since the time I was a student. Then around 10 years ago, I moved fro Germany to Bangkok and step by step I also brought my things here, which meant something to me. So I have my amplifier and boxes here now and in the start everything worked fine. But in the last months I noticed increasing disturbances in the right channel, up to the point that there came nothing out of the right speaker any more. I do not know any company in BKK, who could do a necessary service and repair on my amp, but I come to Singapore sometimes for work. So is there somebody in SG who could take care of my amp, giving him a good maintenance? Or, even better of course: does anybody here knows an address in BKK, where somebody competent can have a look at my beloved amp? Thx very much in advance for incoming tips...Steven

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your Amp is almost certainly in need of a new slide switch or a good clean . We as the original manufactuer will be happy to service it for you but we are in the UK .

      If you would like to visit our site its www.onixdna.com and we are the original ONIX ( not the Chinese Cheats ) we can renovate the amp to its former glory but realistacly only at our facility .

      If we can help contact us

      ONIX GB

      Delete
    2. That sounds interesting. I come to Germany every year for visiting trade shows and sending my amp to an address in Great Britain would be possible. Anyhow my trip will bring me to the northwest of Germany as well. Can you say me roughly how much a maintenance can cost and how long it takes? This, because I traveled as a young man almost every country in Europe but never England. I could think of visiting you and just wait for the repair of my amp. Through the times in Asia I have some contacts in England, Scotland and Ireland and probably can connect fun with the chance to get my good old ONIX back quick. Then I can still take him hopefully as cabin luggage back to BKK. Best Regards from Uwe.

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    3. By the way: my real name is Uwe, but people in other countries always have problems to pronounce my name correctly - so I choose my private nick name "Steven", which almost everybody uses (aside my business contacts of course).

      Delete
  18. I'd like to bring my amplifier to your company for maintenance around 20th of July. Please let me know your company address and opening times. Mail to uk@k-trade-international.com Thank you.

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  19. I am an Onix OA21 with SOAP I am parting with if anyone is interested in purchasing it. The SOAP is 240 but I have a big step down transformer and it works great. I haven't used them for about 10 years, but I have recently fired them up and they sounded great. I can be reached at dlee@darinlee.net

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  20. I am trying for a while now to contact you. I have to plan my trip to England in July, so that I can give you my amp for repair, maintenance. Would you please send me a mail with your location and opening times. Mail to uk@ktrade-international.com please.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi there, I just wondered if anyone could help me out with some information on the Onix Audio
    T-soap power supply, namely if this supply is multi voltage compatible, and could be used with a 120v mains supply found in th US without modification? There's no mention of voltage on the supplied operating instruction or the casing itself, however I have noted that on some of the later Onix Audio equipment there was sometimes info on the back pannels indicating 120-240v voltage range compatibility, this is somewhat haphazardly done as it does not appear on all equipment back panels, and sometimes took the form of a paper sticker ( like their serial numbers ) and somtimes screen printed like the rest of the information.

    ReplyDelete