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WAJ on AUDIO - for truth in hifi / stereo / high-end audio

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Help Me Build; THE SYSTEM U DESCRIBED - Part 4:

"SP-8 is here.  Sounds great .  Really could not be more pleased.  Speakers sound so real."  

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Continuing from Part 3. And, again, beginning with a repeat of a line from a previous segment of the thread, and continuing from there:

I can't get over this tho; You listened to those awesome Western-Electrics, which demonstrate a ridiculous level of superiority over some of the most expensive modern speakers in existence, and then you said this;  "When I got home and hooked them up to the Valencias - I was impressed with the sound of my amps and speakers to same level that I experienced at his studio.  That's a good sign." Ha! "That's a good sign". What an understatement. I agree tho, that's definitely a good sign.

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I agree with you. My point about comparing what I heard at Py's and what I heard in my apt were attributed to the speakers. I do not hold out that these Sansuis r reference amps.  At this point all I can say is that I like them and I'm glad I bought them.  Are they the last amps I'll buy? Doubt it but for a guy who set out to build a single system for my apt a few weeks ago, I'm already sitting here w two sets of monblocks and a ss amp.  

I'm telling you Py's place is more like a museum than a store. After reading a lot about this stuff for weeks and then finding his place from a friend of mine- it was like a dream. Mostly vintage and a few new things. Yes, Western-Electric, and a lot of it.

The hook on the Valencias are the 15 inch woofers. Love those. 

The guy who I got the Valencia's and the Sansuis picked up the following today:

Got a beautiful Audio Research SP6A Tube Preamp.
Audio Research D115 amp with 8 x 6550 tubes.
Marantz 8
Conrad Johnson MV50

Cho is an interesting guy and it turns out that Py has bought a lot of stuff from him.

This guy is a pro eBay seller and scours shows and estate sales all over the area.  Sells stuff out of his garage.  Knows a ton about tube amps.  Although I know he wants to sell me everything, I do trust him. He and Py use the same tech - who I know deal directly w. Cho knows his stuff but gets everything checked out w the tech first.

While he likes to sell, he's only offering me his really good stuff and I have first dibs bc I show up w cash.  I like that he talked me out of buying a real nice Mac 1500 he was selling a few weeks ago. What did I need that solid state thing for? He was right.

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.WAJ----------

.Yeah, this Cho guy sounds like an honest fella - a stand-up kinda guy. Not many in his position would talk himself out of a sale by telling you the absolute truth about the Mac - and he's right. Sounds stupid, like something I would do. I cherish honesty like that whenever I find it. People like Cho are so few, and far between. His practice of checking his gear with a good techie is also outstanding. The term; 'Buy with confidence', really applies to people like him, and the things they sell.

However, as to whether you need any of the items he's selling now, I really don't think so. For instance, Py's ARC SP-3a is a great pre-amp, Cho's SP6 is significantly better, but your SP8 is better than the SP6, and by a fair margin. The ARC D115 is an awesome power amp - high-quality power of about 100watts per channel. But with the Altecs you don't need that much - perhaps 50wpc, max. And I'm absolutely sure the Manley Neo delivers better quality sound, which is bettered by the Ampex, which I believe your Sansui may be close to. In other words, as good as it is, you don't need its power, and you likely have better quality sound already.

Similar arguments apply to the Marantz and CJ - good in their own right, but.... Anyway, it's your choice.

Oh, as far as aesthetics are concerned, the D115 does match the SP8. But then again, they draw around 400 watts of electricity from the wall AT IDLE - not at full power - and they're veeery expensive to maintain. Just thought I'd add that - I love them tho, when all is said and done.

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WAJ----------

Oh shuks, I forgot about your plans for a second system. Oh yeah, that SP6 would be great for a secondary system, absolutely. It's ideal in such a scenario. Not sure I'd go much above 700-bucks for it tho!


Oh - I dont need any of the stuff he got but that's a nice haul for him for the day.  He knows I have a SP-8 but he was trying to convince me that the SP-6A is much better.  I can't find anything to confirm that.  People have very different opinions on the SP-8.  its interesting.

Cho is an interesting guy.  He's like a vintage audio wholesaler... 

...I'm done buying for now.  The only thing I want to do is rebuild the speakers from the Flamenco cabinets I bought.  I'd like to use some of the higher-end Altec parts and put together a stepped up version of the Valencias - maybe with 604s.


The idea is to use them in X-State and maybe sell them at some point and try a different speaker.  I like the idea of possibly having two different systems.  One in Y-State and one in Y-State.  I dont think I will go with  a tt now for X-State.  I have the amps - I'll use one of the exta amps (either the Sansuis or the Quad) and hook up a CD-player.  It's for my office while I'm doing work so I don't want to get it complicated. 

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Sounds like they are very hard to maintain.  The aesthetics of the SP-8 aren't great to begin with so carrying that through to the amps is not a contribution to me.

The D115 sound like they coud be fantastic if you are willing to take the time to keep them well maintained, which they need

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WAJ----------

.ARC D115:   Oh no, sorry if I gave the wrong impression. They're built like  tanks, and very reliable. It's just that if and when anything goes wrong they're expensive to fix (that's what I should have said) extremely expensive if you send it to ARC, which is what they recommend (the cost of a set of the output tubes alone, from ARC, could buy another good amp). They also have a tendency to need 'regular' re-biasing'. And, at this late stage of their lives, reliability may no longer be a strong-suit for them, unless all the relevant parts have been replaced/updated.

ARC SP8/SP:. My Gosh - it just goes to show you never stop 'learning'. I've been a big fan of the SP-8 ever since it came out - when it was barely legal to call me an 'adult'. This is the first time I'm hearing that the 6 is better. The SP-8 is the unit that REALLY put ARC on the map, world-wide (D150 too). At the time, the SP8 was recognized as the worlds best pre-amp, by several magz - nothing else could touch it, NOTHING, from any other manufacturer, let alone a previous ARC pre. It single-handedly raised the standard against which pre-amps were judged (the Coincident does the same today, 30yrs later). Later, the SP10 was slightly better, and later still, the SP11 was also slightly better than both (more neutral - though many prefered the previous 8 and 10 - the 11 was hybrid, and 'cold', some complained). Until the recent introduction of the Coincident, nothing was really significantly better than these three - not even ARC's touted 'References' 1, 2, 3, and 5. The Ref 3 and 5 may have had an edge (and this is debatable) but one would be a fool to go to a great deal of trouble to swap a SP11, for instance, for a Ref 5, despite what those like JV of TAS would have wanted you to believe. Those who question the quality of the SP-8 should really dedicate some effort to getting their facts straight (I really can't understand the rationale which drives some 'experts' arguments - makes you wonder about their agenda). But this thing about the SP-6 being 'better' than the SP8 is a new one on me - totally.

Altec 604: Can't go wrong with it. Some prefer it to Altec's separate mid/horns and woofers. The 604 is really a 416 woofer, like yours, with a tweeter in the center. The 515, tho, is really the very best Altec woofer (meaning arguably the best such woofer available in the world today - from GPA). The 416 is better than most (I'd say all, except one) mid/woofers in the lower-mids. And the 515 is slightly better than the 416 in this region and with less, but somewhat more acurate, bass, depending on the enclosure (414 too, but that's a 12"er). I really don't blame you for loving the 416/604 - it's awesome - 515 too.

Next topic: 'Cheap-trick'

Cheers!

WAJ----------

.'Cheap-trick': I know you're now at the stage where you feel the mission is accomplished, pending loose-ends. Perhaps the performance so far has contributed to a feeling that it can't get much better than this. I'd suggest that it can. My proposal involves addressing both the bass and high-treble  (as I'd mentioned early in our dialogue). Let's just concentrate on the treble at this juncture tho. Yet, tho this can be costly, my proposal is extremely inexpensive, geared to giving you much more than a mere glimpse of how much better the system can really be - from merely very good, to really outstanding. Later you may opt to address the issues 'properly', or you may be so happy with it that you may decide to keep it as it is, 'cheap-tricks' and all.

I'll spare you the details of how I arrived at this 'solution', except to say that the usual components (JBL, E-V, etc. - I'll have to experiment with them further) tend to sound forced and false, in my estimation, and extremely difficult in avoiding excessive sibilants. Of course, you know sibilants are those 'S' sssounds in ssspeach and sssong. This solution is more subtle, yet nothing is missing. Sound-quality is dependent on the quality of the dome tweeters used. Horns, despite their many advantages, tend to be less refined than domes at the highest-frequencies, in my experience. This solution combines the advantages of both.

I'll indicate the items at e-bay, but in order to rig this up before your next test, I'd suggest you get them at your nearest electroinc-parts store in X-State. The piezo-horn tweeters are a constant, which must not be deviated from, but the domes are entirely up to you as to which you want to go with. The only caveat is that the piezo should preferably be a minimum of 94db/w/m efficient (not critical tho) and the dome tweeters should be a minimum of 90db/w/m each, all 8 ohms.

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.Get 1 pair of piezo-electric horn tweeters @ around $5, the pr: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pair-3-25-3-1-4-Square-Motorola-Style-Tweeters-140-W-/300554564775?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45fa72b4a7  

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.Get  3 pairs of dome tweeters (preferably soft-dome - not metal) @ approx $10 to 25 per pr.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/VIFA-DX25TG09-04-Fabric-Dome-1-Tweeter-Nice-for-a-ProAc-Replacement-100WRMS-/300723502355?pt=Speakers_Subwoofers&hash=item4604847d13

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.Get around 10ft of ordinary speaker wire (red/black)

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.Get 4 capacitors 1.1 mfd, or the equivalent (the voltage doesn't really matter, just tell them they're for tweeters). [If 1.1 uf is unavailable, then get 8 of the 2.2s.]

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.That's it. OK. so when you get to Y-State, simply put 1 piezo and 3 of the domes, face-down, in a line and wire them in parallel (red to positive and black to negative) using a 5ft length of speaker-wire. Don't worry about soldering yet, just string the bared wire-ends thru the eyelets on the tweeters and twist the wire around a few times to ensure a firm connection. Make sure the piezo is at the end of the array.

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.Now for the capacitors. Just parallel 2 of them side by side, then twist their wire-ends tightly together. (Experiment with cap values here. You may prefer the effect with 1.1uf, for instance - arguably a better match for the 811's roll-off pattern). Then return to the tweeter  array and splice the red speaker-wire (just that one side, don't cut the black) to insert the paralled capacitors in-line. Twist the bared ends of the spliced speaker-wire to each end of the paralleled capacitors' twisted wires.

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.Then twist the very ends of that 5ft speaker-wire, with the tweeter-array, to the amp wire before you reconnect the amp-wire to the Valencia (red to red, black to black). Later I'll sugest series connections to raise the impedance, but let's keep it simple for the moment.

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.So, with that side being done, just repeat the same simple process for the other side, and you're good to go. Just line the tweeters on top of the speakers and tilt them toward your listening position. After your days of testing, if this arrangement suits you, just take the arrays to Py, or some other wood-worker, for them to make small enclosures for the arrays, to be placed on the vertical, with the piezos at the bottom.

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.The effect of this is subtle, yet it makes a very BIG difference, with a view to reproducing ALL of the music, and to one's enjoyment of it. Trust me on this - it's also important.

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.Let me know if you think you can manage this - it's easy, really.

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.Cheers!

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OK - I'll work on it this week.  Thanks


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This Linn is still hanging out at $710 w four hours to go.  Good deal for $750 - right?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/221042611710?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#shId

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WAJ----------

.OK, so the 'cheap-trick' tweeters are on - great decision - u r gonna luv it!

Now, about the Linn:  Yeah, good deal @ $750, the arm alone is worth nearly that, BUT....  Having made a definite decision on the Lenco mods, I really can't see where the Linn is necessary. I think less than half that amount would be better spent on a sub-woofer, or nearly all for two, - not that such small subs would be ideal, but at least they'll give a glimpse of what FULL frequency-response is like. The system would be reproducing the WHOLE audio-spectrum - as it should do - and it would be able to demonstrate the Lenco's highly-reputed bass performance, to 'full'-effect.

As I see it, the only way the Linn makes sense, in this scenario, is if it's not acquired in lieu of the much more important sub(s). It could make sense also if the Lenco mods will take a long time. And it could make sense if my former idea of having two arms on the Lenco is contemplated (that way the Linn Ittok/cheap Grado could be on the Lenco top-plate, and the 12" Ortofon/Stanton on the new plinth). It could also make sense if the intent is to sell the armless Linn for around 600 when the Lenco is ready. 

Apart from those contingents, I can't see the necessity of the Linn, if the second system will be digtal-based, as you intend. But, as usual, it's your decision. Perhaps you just love to buy things - LOL.

Cheers!

.NB.

.By the way, I don't blame potential buyers for holding-off. I don't know if it's caused by the camera-flash, or what, but the thing really has a 'geriatric' look, as I'd mentioned previously, despite the owner's best efforts.

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WAJ----------

.You asked;  "If Py has a solution already in cabinets and its not expensive  - should I consider or just stick with the project?"

I'd say go with it, by all means, if it suits you.

But remember, the 'usual suspects" (they don't need cabs, btw) like E-V and JBL's slot and bullet tweeters, are relatively expensive. Here's one of the 'usual suspects' for this type of application; the JBL 075 Bullet, at e-bay for 4-bills. Py will sell you a pair of these, or similar: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-JBL-075-Bullet-Style-Matched-Pair-Alnico-2402-/110893152191?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19d1bf37bf 

Talk to him about crossing-in the super-tweeter high enough that it doesn't increase sibilants. Listen to it on a similar speaker to the Valencia, preferably Altecs with the same horns. Listen to his speaker with the super-tweets, and without. If the sibilants are not increased with the super-tweets in, then go for it.

Just remember; excessive sibilants destroy realism (as does 'boom'). Listen to the person talking next to you - you will not hear the incessant ssssss sounds some hifi systems produce when trying to replicate voice. Such reproduction is un-natural. For this, and other reasons, I could never get the 'usual suspects' to operate to my preference (some just go without these super-tweets) so I came up with the 'cheap-trick', which is not necessarily cheap since you can use very expensive high-quality domes in conjunction with the cheap piezos - it's the best solution I've come up with

However, if Py's demo suits you, then go with it - it's certainly less of a hassle.

Pity about the subs tho. But just so you know, having a sub doesn't necessarily mean boom-boom all the time, most of the time you will not know it's even there. And unless you're a bass-fanatic who loves high volume levels, you will not be disturbing the neighbors, speaking from experience. Oh, well! By the way, I seem to be more lucky than you, my own subs are 5 foot tall, each, and so are the mains - the lady doesn't mind these things - whoopee!

Cheers.

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The Quad arrived. Sp-8 still not here

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Sounds as if you may have to make the X-State system the main one. May have to consider taking the tt down to that location. Sorry to hear it - I, personally, couldn't operate within such constraints. Oh well, we all have our issues to contend with. Today I was without internet for the whole day because of problems the provider has been having for some time now - very little work done - felt like a fish out of water. 
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Btw, how does the Quad compare to the super-T and the Japs?
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Came across Py's site for the first time Monday night and got a bright idea: They stock the awesome Manley Neo-Classic ($7k, or more now) that was outperformed by the Ampex I was touting. Perhaps you could compare the Sansuis to the Manley Neo, one of these days. This would be a good way for you to gauge how good the Japs are - I'm very curious too (as in; whether I should continue to pursue Ampex locally, or whether the Japs would be better). I'm curious to hear your opinion, and Py's, as to how they compare. Do you think this is do-able?
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Oh, and how's the super-tweeter issue coming along, does Py have a solution?
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.By the way, it sounds as if you're really liking that system even as it is - good for you.
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.Enjoy the music!

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.WAJ----------

.Oops! In describing the 'cheap-trick' tweeter-connections, I'd given you the old 'daisy-chain' approach, from memory. But the fact is that I'd actually settled on another methodology. This is even simpler to describe as it entails just connecting 6" lengths of red/black speaker-wire to each tweeter, and twisting the bared ends of all these together (red to red, black to black). Then the paralleled capacitors are twisted onto the end of the combined red wires. And then the 5' length from the Valencia/amp-wire is connected to the other end of the paralleled caps (red) and the negative side to the black. 

I don't remember why I settled on this arrangement, but this also makes it easier to reconnect in series/parallel, later on (another possibility is that the whole tweeter-array could be connected in series with the Valencia at its input). All this is merely academic if you opt, instead, for one of the 'usual suspects' from Vy. Just thought I'd make the 'correction' tho.  Btw, did you get to check-out Py's tweeter options?

.[Oh, as to how this came about; I'd mentioned that I couldn't get the 'usual-suspects' to perform according to my preference (similar to others who've abandoned them - others, still, may have had better luck). I then tried a brace of fairly high-quality domes, but there was a 'disconnect' between the Altec mid/tweeter horn and the domes. (No extra x-over is placed on the Altec, btw, it rolls-off naturally). Eventually I connected an efficient cheap piezo-horn and found that, at the same x-over point, the piezo's response went lower - low enough to match the Altec horn. But the highest frequencies were nowhere near as good as with the 3 domes (i.e. the 'horn-effect' with the piezo, as with all horn tweeters). So I added the 3 domes to the piezo (at the same x-over point) and - voila - near perfection, in my opinion. (The domes supply the very highest frquencies, while the piezo bridges the gap to the Altec horn). This arrangement is subtle - it doesn't shout; "Hey, I'm the treble, look at me" - it's less forward, but every treble-nuance is evident, and to the highest reaches. No undesirable extra sibilants either. Truthfully, I'm in no great hurry to experiment with 'bullets' again, and etcetera, not for now anyway.] 

I didn't get a chance to go over there. Not sure I can make it over this week but I'm calling him this afternoon to discuss tt.  Thanks
I didn't get the Quad hooked up yet bc I'm waiting for the din cord and I need to buy a plug end for the power cord.  I will try to listen to the Manleys compared to the Sansuis.

I didn't start the tweeter project yet. I want to find out what the Py options are

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http://app.audiogon.com/listings/audio-note-dac-3-signature-tube-dac--2

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On Jun 12, 2012, at 8:17 PM,

WAJ----------
Never heard a 'bad'-sounding AudioNote anything. Never even heard of a 'bad'-sounding AndioNote anything. Never heard this one. But I've no reason to believe it's any less than the standard. Apart from that, I can't say much on it. Here's a guy who has a lot to say about one similar:     http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?rdgtl&1030174699&openfrom&3&4#3     Here's another (these are 3.1 tho):      http://www.audioasylum.com/reviews/DAC-Processors/Audio-Note/DAC-3.1-Signature/digital/18048.html

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Something was wrong w the listing. It was suspended

Sp 8 is here.  Sounds great .  Really could not be more pleased.  Speakers sound so real. I've decided tweeter is not necessary right now.  Im very happy w the sound right now.

Thanks

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.WAJ----------

The SP8 is here? Tell me more, tell me more. How could you do me like that? Details please, details! Remember I put my neck on the line by saying this:         [Why should we expect much better? Well, that's because any good tt will be significantly better than that, or any, digital-feed - no question. And, if you've read my review of the ARC LS3, you'll have an idea of how superior a good active pre-amp is, compared to the passive (tho some still swear by the latter). The LS3 is only slightly better than the SP8, they are very similar (according to those who've A/B'ed them - and subsequent to hearing the SP8, I too agree). This means that highly SIGNIFICANT gains in performance are still in the offing. In fact, just the mere insertion of the SP-8 into that system, as it is now, WILL indicate to you nearly all of what I spoke of in that review - I'm absolutely sure of that. You're in for another treat, not to mention amazement, when you do that... - trust me on that. The Lenco will be icing on the cake - albeit, a very substantial layer of icing.] Wuz I right, or what? Detailz X, DETAILZ - Pleeez.

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S-p8 is in. I could only listen for  a little while. I intend on auditioning them tomorrow. From what I heard - the sound is so real that I can only listen for no more than 2 minutes at a time and I have to give my ears a  chance to process. It's too good right now. I need to get used to it.

I'm blown away by the realism of the system. I never had an expectation for this level. Exceeds expectations which is becoming more difficult to do at this stage.

I can't believe that following advice sight unseen could produce something so excellent. A lot of advice out there and lots of opinion . Following yours has produced good results so far. 

Thanks

X

.WAJ----------

.OK, I got your last e-mail in the middle of writing this. Guess I'll just have to wait 'til Wedensday for that report. But I'll send this anyway since I'd already started. (Btw, the bracketed section of my previous post is a reprint of a part of a post to you last-week, hinting at the difference the SP-8 will make).

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I'm sitting on the edge of my seat here, waiting for details as to what difference the SP-8 makes in the system, compared to the passive 'pre-amplification' you were using.  Specifically, does it make the mids/lower-mids sound any different, and how so? (Many feel that passive 'pre-amplification' like yours is the most accurate and realistic - I completely disagree. Your account may, or may not, strengthen my argument, depending on the differences you perceive - my credidility is on the line here, but I really only want your honest opinions, so I won't give any further ideas as to what to listen for).

And what is it that you find so real about those types of speakers (like those Altecs I insisted on). You have an awesome system in X-State. with highly reputed Genelec speakers - installed by a pro, at significant cost. The better Genelecs are rated right up there with the best of popular speakers; B&W, Wilson WATT/Puppies, MAXX, etc - with a similar sound for all these overwhelmingly popular types of small-coned speakers (some recording-engineers swear by the almighty Genelecs). You also have some 'lesser' Infinitys, if I'm not mistaken. So tell me how does these old speakers (the Altecs) I insisted upon compare with some of the great modern speakers already in your possession? (Most swear that modern small-coned speakers are the very best things, ever - I disagree completely. I just wondered if, in your opinion, there's any real merit in the types of speakers I advocate as being much more realistic).

Regarding the Quad; I think you can just turn right around and sell it for a small profit. It was to have been an interim measure ('til the giant-killing Ampex or S-C amps were found) and at this stage, and from the excellent performance of your Sansuis, the Quad is un-necessary - surplus to requirement.

You mentioned that there's a lot of advice and opinions out there. But the trouble is that they're being given mostly by those who believe that what they think is 'good' sound can only come from the 'usual-suspects' which the disingenuous magz rave about. They sincerely believe you have to spend upwards of $50,000, buying the latest and the 'greatest', to get what they think is 'good' sound - and that's what they'll advise by touting Wilson MAXX, B&W, and even Genelec - it's a fallacy I've been trying to point-out to those who'll listen.

I patiently await your account of what you're hearing. I'm elated at what I've heard so far, hope you don't mind my repeating it. What you said here is music to my ears: 

"Sp8 is in. I could only listen for  a little while. I intend on auditioning them tomorrow. From what I heard - the sound is so real that I can only listen for no more than 2 minutes at a time and I have to give my ears a  chance to process. It's too good right now. I need to get used to it.

I'm blown away by the realism of the system. I never had an expectation for this level. Exceeds expectations which is becoming more difficult to do at this stage.

I can't believe that following advice sight unseen could produce something so excellent. A lot of advice out there and lots of opinion . Following yours has produced good results so far. 

Thanks"

You're welcome. But there's more to come!

Winston.

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Continue to Part 5 

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