Al Milbert started Milbert Amplifiers in 1986 after a few years of suffering: At that time he was regularly commuting over an hour or so into downtown Washington, DC... Sharing rides in coworkers' cars... All having transistorized radios... The sound quality, or lack thereof, eventually got to him.
I was a teenager at the time. After auditioning many amplifiers at Meyer Emco and finally hearing one of David Berning's amazing tube amplifiers, Al contacted David and the quest for great tube sound in the automobile began. Our first amplifier was named BaM-230 which stands for "Berning and Milbert, 2 channels, each 30 watts". David Berning was for many years a physicist at NBS (National Bureau of Standards), now NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), and his revolutionary audio products have long astounded listeners and reviewers. I once told David, "you are the State of the Art in high-end audio". I doubt a knowing person would argue otherwise.
At least one of Al's carpooling, audiophile co-workers (Linda T.) promptly bought a BaM-230 amplifier, and I believe she still owns it. We had it in for basic check/tune-up service once, maybe 15 years ago. We've seen posts on internet forums marveling 17-year+ "still going strong" operation under harsh, bumpy/off-road conditions. I think that says a lot about our design and build qualities.
Our goal was to make the most-musical sounding and most reliable tube amplifier in our first attempt; we haven't changed much. Evolving caringly and minorly over decades from the original BaM-230, the BaM-235 offered some slight internal improvements; the BaM-235ab later added autobias and more internal improvements. This abides a suggestion from our Thailand distributor, Suchart: Improve inside, unchange outside.
In 1992 we created a few models of two-way tube-amplified preamp/crossovers for subwoofers, since demand for powerful bass-frequency amplification was rising and because tube amplifiers are usually bested at least for power in the lowest octaves; this freed up the BaM (or other amplifiers) to excel at mid- and high-frequency reproduction. Many of these various models are used for their intended purpose (crossover), but some are used (via internal switch) as "tube-sound" preamps / line-drivers. Tubes are said by many to generally "warm" the quality of sound traversing a signal path that may also comprise transistorized amplification. There is much more on this, from basic physics to esoteric musings, in our Sound Quality article and also in our extensive Articles section.
In marked contrast to the oft-changing "product lines" of most manufacturers, we have been making what is basically the same amplifier (BaM-230/235/235ab) since 1986. The BaM-235 was described in print as being "the Holy Grail of autosound" and it has garnered numerous other glowing reviews. We are among America's oldest family-owned small-business audio manufacturers. Our products have always been 100% made in the USA and assembled almost entirely by-hand. From our News section, posted Feb 2011: "Observers have noted that we are "the last American company making all [of our] car audio products in America", and that "everyone else has...gone overseas for production." If true that's amazing and spooky..."
Intending to make a really great-sounding and featureful tube amplifier for musicians, we again collaborated with David Berning to create GAGA, the "Guitar Artists' Guitar Amplifier". Then in prototype form, its 90-watt, world-power-ready "pinky-weight" (3 pounds) variant debuted at summer / Nashville NAMM in 2009; a sturdy, modular chassis was added for production. GAGA still offers the highest power-per-pound density, by far the most advanced (multi-patented) design, and arguably otherworldly sound quality. Its sibling offerings from The David Berning Company command tens of thousands of dollars each (monaural) and are well-regarded and reviewed in the high-end audio press. In a welcome twist, interest in GAGA has also come from recording studio owners and professional musicians including opera and orchestral performers, steel guitar afficionados, and harmonica maestros.
We were asked for many years to produce a physically smaller mobile tube amplifier; therefore, in 2012, we introduced the Liquid tube amplifier. The Liquid is basically a physically scaled-down version of the BaM-230 but with David Berning's original 12AT7 input stage.
The phenomena of Earl Zausmer's cars (http://milbert.com/ez) happened during the 1990's (and into the 2000's), and many people still reflect online about how what they experienced therein changed them, set them on their grail-quest for Sound Quality, etc. In August 2020, 25 years after it splashed mass media, Mike Michne purchased Earl's car (red BMW 540) from us; the rebuild is beginning and is being documented at http://milbert.com/miza.
Interest in Sound Quality has been rising over the past few years as another generation discovers that sound matters in many ways and top-quality equipment delivers top value via smart design, solid-build, longevity, performance and delight in ownership and enjoyment.
Don't overlook our articles and regular blog entries, which explore much broader and deeper than merely our product offerings but delve into science, biology, audiology, musicology, and arcana galore. The most revolutionary scientists of the past were also occultists, interested in the borders, the unknowns, the "damned" (Fortean) data that theory does not fit and thereby forces advancement. Our news section has highlights going back many years and gives a good overview of goings-on. Our overall intent remains to share exploration and advancement of all the many goodnesses creation offers, most especially the shimmer of musical enjoyment.
Michael Milbert, Sep 2020