LETTERS to:

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

Home

.

Help Me Build; THE SYSTEM U DESCRIBED - Part 5:

.Introducing R2R - Simple Pre-Amp Mod - Summary/Critique

.

.

.Continued from part 4, beginning with a repeat from a previous segment, and moving on from there;  "I'm blown away by the realism of the system. I never had an expectation for this level. Exceeds expectations....."

.

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

Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1:58:15 PM
Subject: Re: System u described

Is everything O.K.?

.

.

Yes - just busy with work

.

.

I'm looking at these two DACs.  From my research - sounds like I can't go wrong with Audio Note although this one is bare bones.  The Altmann DAC looks great too.

Py  is suggesting I get an Audio Note, but the one he wants to sell me is $2800.  Im not that interested in spending that kind of money on a DAC

Any thoughts?


http://app.audiogon.com/listings/altmann-attraction-dac

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HI-FI-audio-DAC-Audio-Note-Zero-0-1x?item=251081627556&cmd=ViewItem&_trksid=p5197.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D4%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D9110670472203241308
--

.

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

.OK - no prob - same here. Still anxious to hear more of your opinions tho.

On the DACs, I liked the Signature at the 'Gon - hopefully it will re-appear. Failing that I'd seriously consider the M-Box I indicated - it's low-risk, inexpensive (@ around 250 (used) and reported to outperform mega-buck DACs and CD-players, including Krells - it's as serious as a heart-attack. Other than that, tubed DACs appeal more to me - not necessarily the entry-level A-N, tho - the Sig seems a better prospect. YMMV!

I wasn't going to mention this 'til after you were done mod'ing the tt (and enjoying its major benefits) as that source is THE most important, considering the sound-quality, and also the availability of LPs. But, tho tapes are limited, if you'd occassionally want to experience the most realistic reproduction possible, then nothing is as good as reel to reel master-tape, as I'd mentioned in that original article that started you on this venture. (I use it to - tho, not enough - nothing can touch its realism). It's decently do-able for perhaps less than 2-grand, tho one could go higher if one opts to do so. Machines are at the 'bay, starting at around 1-grand. Perhaps the M-Box at 250, for close to the best in digital, and a reel to reel machine, for the very best in sound possible, might be a better combination to consider. Check out this site for more info:    http://www.tapeproject.com/

.

X----------

Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 3:28 PM
Subject: Re: System u described

I cant even think about R/R right now.  Py has a ton of them.  I think the Signature was a fluke -  the listing was pulled.  Py told me just now that he has a A-N kit DAC that he has hot rodded  for $1300.  I think that's it.

.

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

A hot-rodded A-N from Py! Yeah, that sounds like an interesting prospect. (Perhaps the Manley Neo/Sansui comparo could even be done during that DAC audition. Get him to compare the hod-rod to one of the better A-N DACs too, tho, for a base-line reference of the performance you're getting). ***And the r to r thing is really best after you get used to the performance of the tt - that's why I was holding-off in introducing it - it;s a whole 'nother level, tho, trust me on that. *** OK, now I'll just kick-back and await that report - at your convenience, of course..

.

Ok - here goes. Match up is TCC TC 754 against SP-8.  On first listen to SP-8 tonight I was unphased. Wasn't hearing noticeable difference. Hooked up the T preamp and I got a little worried. The T pre amp was clearer and punchier at the highs and lows. It sounded clearer and cleaner. The ARC had better control of the middle range but the highs and lows seemed to be a bit muddy compared to the passive pre amp. Went back to the SP-8 and let it warm up. Maybe my mind was getting wrapped around important and real middle range. The entire mid range was much more dynamic and alive on the SP-8 during the second round. Although I think the 754 is cleaner - the SP-8 is giving me what I want to hear.  This is an interesting comparison and I don't think I'm done yet. However I think I'm going with the direction of "bring on the tubes". 

The Sansuis w/o interference are great. The SP-8 is definitely getting in the way. The question is - whether it's getting in the way in a good way or not. 

Honestly, I don't think I'm in a position to judge yet. The source still sucks. Jury is out until tt gets here and that's not going to be for a while. So I'll enjoy what I have which is pretty darn good already. I'll probably have a tube DAC next week.

I'm not even messing w the Quad right now. I have to install a plug on the power cord (Py). What's the point of swapping out the Sansuis for a solid state amp right now?  I just want to listen to music. That's why I did this in the first place.

Thanks

X


PS - the TC754 is better than I originally thought.  I've had it so long I forgot what it is. Impressive little cheapo input extender. Curious to check out phono stage

.

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

.OK, that sounds entirely familiar. Here's why: The advantage of a passive pre-amp system, over active pre-amps, had always been high-frequency clarity (i.e. before the advent of the Coincident). The major disadvantage that I've found (and so have others) is a thin lower-midrange which diminishes realism. Active pre-amps (like the SP8) have always been more realistic in this region, and tho somewhat less transparent at upper frequencies relative to passives, they are generally prefered because of their more realistic performance, overall.

The Coincident is now the first and only active pre-amp with upper-frequency performance that is virtually identical to that of a passive (thus negating the passive's only advantage) while retaining the advantages of an active pre. The Doge 8 Clarity is also slightly more transparent than the SP8 (one of the reasons I touted it) tho the SP8 remains one of the better active pre-amps in existence. The fact is that, without a direct comparison to a passive, this minor shortcoming is not really noticed with the SP8 (as illustrated in your own experience) or with most other such active pre-amps; Lamm, Conrad-Johnson, Audio-Note, BAT, etc.

The advantages of the active pre far outweigh that of the passive (it's why people spend big bucks for them). And, in your case, the later addition of super-tweeters will further relegate this minor issue to the realms of distant-memory.

Btw, be advised that almost any electronic component requires 'warm-up' time (some require more than 30 minutes) and tubes generally require even more, before they perform at their best.

Oh, and it's funny you mentioned printing. I seem to have accidentally deleted one of your e-mails which contained a classic spontaneous remark (I think) about trembling at the sound of the system. This e-mail must have been sent between 9am and 2pm yesterday. Would it be too much trouble for you to re-send it?

And thanx for the comparison.

.

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

FYI - 1st part of article published - barring any issues, no need to respond:      http://wajonaudio.webs.com/Help%20Me%20Build;%20THE%20SYSTEM%20U%20DESCRIBED.%20Part%201.html.

.

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

.

A caveat to my readers may be presented at the end of this series. This is to warn against certain choices which may not have been the most cost-effective and sonically-superior options, as played-out in the current scenario you've opted to self-orchestrate. In fairness to you, this is being completed before the due time and forwarded to you, as a courtesy. It could be deemed unfair and hypocritical of me to sit quietly by while certain 'mistakes' are being made, only to point them out to others later. Whether you opt to heed any of these 'caveats' is up to you. (Nevertheless, it could be a good idea to do so. For example; 2 solutions to the minor 'problem' you now encounter with the SP-8 were, previously, energetically advocated - Doge Clarity & Coincident. In opting for the SP-8, you ruled-out the Doge because of aesthetics and for the fact that your new-found advisers didn't know of it. Also, one can understand your point that the Coincident is expensive, relative to the others here, but then let's also look at the actions since then, and at what's now being contemplated).
.
.The following is addressed to my readers, and is written as if I were in your position, seeking the best for the money:
.
.a.  I would not buy the Ortofon tonearm being contemplated. If this is the Ortofon AS 309, it is made by Jelco (as are all current Ortofon arms). Jelco offers virtually the exact same 12" arm (the 750L, which I'd previously suggested) for around $600, which is a fraction of the cost of the one badged Ortofon, at between $1700 and $2400, depending on the spec (i.e. S or D - re;  http://octaveaudio-usa.com/products/ortofonArms/ ). The Ortofon is reputedly a good arm, but the Jelco is the very same, by all accounts and (consequently, logically, reportedly, and reputedly) just as good. Therefore I'd buy the Jelco and save $1100 to $1800 towards a more beneficial purpose.
.
Comments from users of  both these arms are linked here:       http://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?t=21503         And here:            http://www.pinkfishmedia.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-67107.html  
.
.b.   I would not consider buying expensive interconnects and cables, at this point. Even if we estimate, conservatively, that these would cost 'only' $1000. I would put that money towards a more beneficial purpose
.
.c.   I would not buy a DAC for $1300 - not when I can buy a used M-Box for less than $300, especially since an M-Box reportedly outperforms a Krell CD-player (and, more likely than not, the DAC I'm about to buy) and especially since this M-Box is the tool used in producing many of the CDs I'll be playing. (The use of a tube-buffer would also make it the equivalent of a tubed DAC, if that's my aim). Its quality is beyond doubt. I'd then put the $1000 saved towards a more beneficial purpose.
.
.d    I would sell one set of my newly-acquired Sansui amps (my Quad can be used for a second system, after I discover that my esteem for the Sansuis is somewhat over-warranted, compared to the Quad, or any other good amp). But this sacrifice is also for a good reason. Considering that these Sansuis are sold for around $2000 (more in Japan) I'd put that towards a more beneficial purpose.   
.
.So then, all these savings would net me a total of between $5100 and $5800. What, then, would I do with this money? What is this more 'beneficial purpose'?
.
.I WOULD BUY A COINCIDENT STATEMENT line-stage pre-amp - quite likely; the world's best - for $5500. That's what I'd do. And why?
.
.It's THE most sensible thing to do, under the circumstances. It offers more sonic-benefits than all of the above 'mistakes', combined. (The high cost of these 'mistakes' now removes the only reason my insistence on it was tempered, in the first instance). It's a prudent investment (the price, new, WILL go up - so by the time I'm ready to sell, if ever, I'm likely to recoup very close to what I paid for it). Compared to this option, all the others above, combined, amount to a monumental WASTE of money - literally.
.
.So wouldn't I need, now, to buy a phono-stage? NO! The SP-8, already in hand, costs about the same as the 'used' price of my own EAR 834P phono-stage. The phono-stage in the SP-8 is, arguably, BETTER than the outstanding standard 834P - it's still one of the better phono-stages in existence. The phono-stage of the SP-8 CAN be used with the Coincident line-stage. The inputs/switching of the SP-8 may also be used with the Coincident.
.
.Why bother with the Coincident when I already have the SP-8, and there are so many other great pre-amps around? As demonstrated in the comparison with the passive pre-amp, virtually every other active pre is compromised in the same way, more or less. (This is exactly why I'd advocated the 'clarity' of the Doge, which is slightly better here than the SP-8, but still not as good as the Coincident). As I'd told you; the SP-8 is good, the Doge Clarity is better, and the Coincident is the best. It outperforms pre-amps that cost more than ten-times as much - it's a bargain. It is unwise to 'save' money on a lesser pre-amp with less-stellar performance than the Coincident, while the near-equivalent of its cost is un-necessarily wasted on other items which cannot offer anywhere near the same benefits - this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. At this level, and with the components already in hand, THE PRE-AMP DEFINES THE LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE (not the amp - this only needs to be adequate - nor wires, or anything else). All else being equal, SP-8 = class 'C', Coincident = class 'A' - it's as simple as that. (Doge Clarity would've been class 'B'). Why spend class 'A' money for class 'C' performance?
.
The Coincident is arguably the ONLY active pre-amp which combines the H-F clarity/transparency of the passive pre with the lifelike lower-midrange tonality of the active pre - it's the best of both worlds. (There is a little-known alternative to this, involving both passive and active pre-amps and 'bi'-amplification, but it's complicated - sometimes used in my own system. Oh, and there's still another slightly less effective alternative, involving the volume-pot, which I'd have recommended under other circumstances).
.
.So why not just go, exclusively, with a cheaper passive pre-amp for the clarity?. Big mistake; because ALL passive pre-amps are compromised at the lower-midrange. They CANNOT reproduce the lifelike realism, in this region, that all good active pre-amps reproduce, as a matter of course. (Many will argue this point, but this is a FACT even some of the most avid passive-lovers will admit to, while they try to pass it off as a 'coloration' - all addressed in my articles). The use of a passive pre with speakers like the Valencia would be a waste of one of the Altec's greatest assets - realistic lower-mids tonality. (This would negate the benefits of one of the main assets designed into the original concept of this particular system).
.
.I repeat; the Coincident is the only pre-amp that combines the lower-mids prowess of the active with the H-F clarity/transparency of the passive. At this satge, and considering the above futile alternatives, it is THE MOST BENEFICIAL EXPENDITURE OF AVAILABLE RESOURCES, under these particular circumstances. (The Doge Clarity, which I'd also expended so much energy in advovating over the SP-8, would have been the 2nd most beneficial alternative, in standard form). I cannot make it any clearer than that.
.
Readers who find themselves in a similar situation may want to consider some of these points. And readers who need help in system-building should seek a competent and HONEST individual and heed that advice, so long as one's needs are respected in the design. Additionally; a properly-designed audio-system features synergistic compatibility amongst components. Indiscriminate changes in certain aspects only serves to compromise this synergy, and the level of performance - regardless of how 'nice' the result may sound - synergy ensures a much better result. All major input into this system must be co-ordinated by that one competent individual. Independently acting on one's own initiative, and/or on the advice of other experts (who are ignorant of the concept) literally guarantees compromised performance, and un-necessary expense, especially when such experts also have an agenda (something to sell, for instance). Indeed, why buy an arm for 2-grand when the same arm can be had for 600-bucks? Wire, DAC, amps, at un-necessary expense, yet the ONE component which would truly make a difference, at the same cost, is ignored - I'll never understand such actions. Hopefully these examples and these points will be helpful to others in similar situations.
.
[Btw, confirmation of receipt of this e-mail would be appreciated, as would updates on developments and consequent results. Considering the effort put into the venture, such a request is far from unreasonable Do you agree?]

.

.

X----------

Got it. Fair but I'm not really considering major expenditure in cables. I mentioned it once. Not a big deal but just clarifying from my side.

I  think its a challenge to critique the experience because it started off as an exercise to make a reality of the article you wrote about building quality systems at a reasonable price. Truth is that your ideas got me started but there have been other influences too.  If I've learned anything in this experience it is; for any opinion on a piece of equipment, a very different opinion most likely exists. If this were an orthodox experience where I only followed your advice then the criticisms of some of my choices being mistakes would be fair. However, I'm not sure this is such an objective situation where there are such definitive rights and wrongs. There is also the important aspect of building useful relationships with local experts.  I know I'm not an expert in this area, so I'm trusting other experts like yourself.  It becomes very helpful to have at least one of these resources local. I'll admit - sometimes you have to buy something to make that transaction and get on their attention radar.   

I don't mind the inclusion  of our communication in the blog if it's helpful to ur readers.

.

.

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

.

.X, parts 2 & 3 of the thread are up. Changes were made - example; XXX-Audio is now Py Acoustics, and references to XX and the XXXX area have been omitted. Let me know if there is anything there that you're uncomfortable with, so I can make further changes. By the way, how's the system sounding this week? And are u interested in the 'easy-trick' to improving the SP-8's transpanency?

.

.X----------

.Yes  - interested in the easy trick for the SP-8.  Considering the Jelco over the Ortofon.  System sounds great.  I think it's done for now.  I get the tt back in about a month.  Then I'm re-doing my apt. So everything is going to be put away and probably not reassembled until Sept.  I will check out blog - thanks for making those changes

.

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

"yes  - interested in the easy trick for the sp-8.."  OK, but you didn't indicate which option you'd prefer. To make it easier, perhaps you could limit your choice among; (a) The Warpspeed LDR volume-control kit, perhaps around 300 bucks, at today's prices (the very best sonics, of the 3 options- the closest to the passive's clarity). You may have to call the techie to find out if he's familiar with such an installation. Failing that, you may need to consider sending the SP-8 to Greenvale Audio who've done this mod many times for ecstatic customers - refer to the link to the Transendent G-G pre-amp forum at the end of the relevant article. (b) TKD's best stepped-attenuator may cost around the same as the LDR - reportedly the best-sounding att (but the LDR is significantly better ). (c) TKD's best potentiometer costs around 70-bucks and is much better than the one (Blue-Alps) in the SP-8, but very significantly less outstanding than the two previous options.

Let me know which one you favor ("a" would be great) then I'll make some further checks. And don't worry about my time, and compensation, I'm still glad to help, even if you opt not to do so - that's entirely left to your discretion, especially since we had no such agreement at the outset - don't sweat it. Unlike those mundane projects I mentioned, I'm still motivated to assist on this one, regardless!

"Considering the Jelco over the Ortofon.."   There y'go, that's over $1000 saved right there - for the very same quality of sound - outstanding!

"System sounds great."  Aw come-on, X - you can do better than that. Oh, and how about that DAC - did you get it - how does that sound? Details, X, details - pleeez!

.

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

.

.'Easy-trick for SP-8': Further checks reveal the following to be the best option, under prevailing circumstances. This WILL improve the SP-8's h-f performance, etc., to levels surpassing; the lesser-accomplished among passives pre-amps, the Doge, and perhaps closely-approaching The Dude (which is better than the ARC Ref 3 & the $12k Ref 5, according to a former owner of the latter - second only to the Coincident). This option requires less involvement from me than would LDR which, tho significantly better, is only better by a slight degree. Though way-better than the popular potentiometers, stepped-attenuators, TVCs, and LDRs are basically at the same level, with a very slight advantage apparent with each, in the said order.

.

The SP-8 is normally supplied with a 100k pot. Simply replace this with a Goldpoint Mini-V 100k two-channel stepped-attenuator, at a cost of $149 + shipping. At the Goldring site linked, order one; MV-2-100k. That's it:  http://goldpt.com/prices.html 


.[The unusually high efficiency of the Valencia may require a reduction of gain, relative to the att. Two cheap resistors address this issue: Ask the tech to visit this page for simple instructions for achieving a (-20db) reduction of gain - he should even have his own technique for addressing this issue;   http://www.goldpt.com/mods.html    Any resistors of the required values may be used. I'd suggest the use of  resistors of no less quality than those in the control itself for this, though - Vishay, from partsconnexion.com, would have been my choice. Perhaps you could purchase resistors closest to the following values before-hand: 88.7k and  11.0k. If you'd want to use the control without the addition of these resistors, (or with more common versions - the tech would have those on-hand) then that's also viable . Installation of this control is a 15 minitue job - tops.]       

.

.Part 4 of the series is up, with part 5 shortly to follow. My summary/critique of this exercise will be forwarded to you (perhaps) before publishing. I reiterate; let me know of any aspect with which you may be uncomfortable, if any - it will be removed (subject only to its importance relative to the context).

.

Confirmation of receipt of this e-mail would be appreciated.

.

.X----------

.WAJ - thanks for the help.  im currently consumed with trying to wrap up a deal.  if it goes well this week - that would be great. I'll get back with you when i get a chance to come up for air

.

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

OK. Sounds fascinating. Good-luck!

.

.X----------

.Sent: Monday, July 9, 2012 6:36 PM
Subject: Re: System u described

I did get the jelco tone arm. Hooking it up this week.


I'm already eying r2r deck. I know u like revox. Ive been looking at technics rs1500. There are some great tech guys who do a great job reworking these decks in va http://www.musictechnology.com/


Looks like getting r2r serviced properly is half the battle .


Honestly - I'm more interested in tape at this point than vinyl .


Looks like revox maybe more challenging to service and get parts in the us.


Any thoughts on the r2r dilemma ?


Py sells serviced and tricked out rs 1500 decks for 2k. Ready to go.


Looks like it takes about $600 to $700 to get a deck on good condition and about $300 or so in basic service. This would be wo modifying tape output amp

.

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

.The ReVox may well be my own favourite, but in this instance I'd disregard it. 

.

.This is because The Tape Project offers modification parts for two pro-sumer machines; the Technics RS 1500 and the Otari MX-5050 (with possibly more mods to come). The Otari is also currently being manufactured, if I'm not mistaken.

.

My advice would be for you to get one of these machines and follow the Tape-Project's suggestions regarding upgrades. I'd also suggest the acquisition of one of their (Bottlehead's) tube playback amps.

.

.I also like option #2; If Py's RS-1500 includes a tubed playback-amp, I'd go with that. Considering their own reputation for quality, and the fact that Bottlehead's cheapest playback-amp option costs nearly a grand, I think a similarly-equipped RS-1500 from Py for $2k is a virtual bargain. (The internal solid-state playback electronics in these machines are crap, compared to the tubed option. Alternatively, you could seek something like an Ampex tubed rec/payback amp @ e-bay, for use with your machine - I haven't checked the potential cost of those tho). 

.

.That's my 2-cents on that. I hope it helps!

.

.By the way, I'd completed my summary/critique of this whole project weeks ago. I'd held-off publishing, hoping for some indication that aspects of it would be un-necessary. I'll now send you a copy of the draft in an e-mail immediately following this one. Oh, and I must warn you; it may not be very flattering from your perspective - yet, as I always try to ensure, it reflects the absolute reality. Let the 'chips' fall where they may - as the saying goes.

.

.Cheers!

.

X----------

Yes - I agree w ur assessment of the rs 1500 w the mods and output amp
.

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

.Summary/Critique:   X, the following summary of this excercise is addressed to my readers, mainly. Nevertheless, it's being forwarded to you before publication, as a courtesy. I must caution you about the fact that parts of it may not seem very flattering. However, this is an inevitable consequence of the reality. Let's begin with a direct quote from you:

.

"...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." 

.

From those comments, and from several others like those scattered thru-out our correspondence at various stages of the system's development, one could conclude that this excercise is a resounding success. For the most part, I'd agree with such a conclusion but, in truth and from my own perspective, I'm not so sure. 

.

.From my perspective, the attraction to this project, as proposed, was the opportunity to prove the points that have been made in my articles. With these points proven by an unbiased and independent source who is seeking the exact attribute I advocate over all - realism - the root of the original concept of 'High-Fidelity'.  

.

.This is what I committed to; "Your article on buying used gear tripped me into a this world of vintage and used high end audio equipment, which I'm now totally fascinated with.....  ... I am going to build the system you outlined." This I'd gladly assist in for free, and for the fore-mentioned reasons having to do with the points made at my site, WAJ on AUDIO, which is also mainly a 'non-profit' endeavor, to this moment. Any other project, bereft of the fore-mentioned incentive would have incurred my usual consultancy-fees.

.

.But this is what this project has turned out to - a project bereft of the fore-mentioned incentives, to a large degree.

.

At first it was easy, with no problems; I'd suggest what speakers to buy, and this was done, I suggested that a Quad amp be bought as an interim measure 'til Ampex or Stomberg-Carlson amps were found, and this was also done. But, increasingly, I found resistance to my suggestions, as advice was now being taken from other new-found sources - I really didn't sign-up for this. Since before mid-way this project, I found that I had to act as a salesman writing long explanations as to why a certain course should be maintained or why a new proposal may not be a good idea, in the context of this system. 

.

.For instance, after repeated searches, a set of Ampex mono-blocs were eventually found. The original idea was always to find one and have it refurbished with updated parts; caps, resistors, tubes, etc. Yet, this was now refused since a new-found expert (oblivious to the intent, or to the overall concept of the system) opined that it would need refurbishing (as was the original intent). Sansuis wre bought instead.

.

As to why the Ampex  was so important in the context of this system; it has proven to be better than $7k Manley Neos, by an experienced audiophile and his 5-man listening-panel - that's good enough for me (it's also the reason it's now in demand, and why the price has been hiked to current levels). A bench-mark has been established. The Manley is known to be better than many good amps including virtually all of the highly-rated ARC amps, C-J, VTL, etc., and is surpassed only by a few such as Coincident's Frankenstein. Yet the Ampex betters the Manley, which bests all those others, and can be had for around $1k, refurbished, and still cost under $1.5k - total - a giant-killing bargain, if ever there was one.

.

.But even more important in the context of this system is that I'm familiar with the sound of the Manley (and its neutral characteristics). And by extension, though I've never heard it, I'm familiar with the sound of the Ampex to the degree that it's better than the Manley, in its characteristics. This system was designed based on the neutrality of amps like the Ampex (Manley, Quad, Stromberg-Carlson, etc.). This neutrality is essential to take advantage of the unique and outstandingly realistic midrange attributes of the Grado cartridge, for which the system was also designed. With the switch now from Ampex to Sansui, this strategy has had to be abandoned - the Grado is no longer advocated. The Sansui may well be as neutral as the others, but I don't really know. Moreover, the description of its sound as 'full', while being temporarily driven by a characteristically 'thin'-sounding passive pre-amp, leads one to suspect that combining this with the Grado's characteristics may be a recipe for disaster (too much of a 'good' thing). The Stanton cartridge, which I'd also recommended as a backup, is more conducive to a 'full'-sounding amp and, therefore, it must now become the primary cartridge. The Stanton is, indeed, outstanding in its own right, but neither it nor any other cartridge (perhaps only a Koetsu) can even approach the Grado's lifelike realism in the all-important midrange. Therefore, the simple change of the amplifier has relegated the system's performance from the prospect of the extremely lifelike and outstanding, to merely outstanding - if you catch my drift.

.

.Who knows? The Sansui may well be neutral, after all. But the reality is that this has not been established, up to now, though it's not difficult to accomplish - a mere comparison with the Quad 303 would suffice, but we'll get back to that. The fact that the Sansui enjoys 'cult-status' in certain quarters is no recommendation, really. The Quad II tube mono-blocs also enjoy a similar status, yet they are, in fact, colored with a sur-realistic 'sweetness'. The evidence, so far, points to an inaccurate 'fullness' with the Sansuis, which may or may not be so, but no system can be properly built on 'maybe so'. What I'm more sure of is the fact that the Sansuis may be good, but not as good as the Manley (or the Ampex, which is better) since this would have been more widely publicized, at least regarding those in the know, as is the case with the Ampex. So, once again, the system has been relegated to a level below what it could/should have been, and below the level at which it was designed to perform. In which case, I repeat; the resulting sound may be 'good', but certainly not as good as it could/should have been.

.

.One could argue that if the owner is satisfied (as he obviously is, to this point) then all is well. Touche. But it's really not as simple as that - this has always been a two-way street, as far as I'm concerned. My agreement to assist in this venture for free was always based on the fact, implicit in the arrangement, that WAJ on AUDIO would also benefit, in the proving of the points expressed at the site. No official agreement would be needed for this since it's a natural human tendency that; when one is assisted, the natural inclination is to reciprocate with similar benevolence - i.e. with relevant feedback-info, in this case. (Oh, and since the site is virtually non-profit, to this point, it's really the readers who'd really stand to benefit - readers like this very reader who embarked on this project based on one of the articles there).

.

WAJ on AUDIO's credibility would also, naturally, be enhanced - call it 'bragging-rights' - 'bragging-rights' was the incentive for WAJ on AUDIO. But these bragging-rights are devalued if the system deviates from the charted course, and also if the performance of the system is less than originally intended, as the preceeding indicates. And since this site's goal is based on 'Getting the very best for the very least' the bragging-rights are also devalued when one opts to buy, for instance, a lesser amp at the same or even slightly less price of the better, or to buy a tonearm at 3-times the price of the same arm bearing a different brand-name. Such actions defeat WAJ on AUDIO's purpose - no 'bragging-rights' there. Neither does the effort and resources expended - in trying to discourage these, and other, retrogressive actions - coincide with the scenario in which a 'free-service' is being utilized. Nor does it coincide with my understanding of the original arrangement.

.

.Let's examine the original arrangement: The impression conveyed is that the reader is not yet a bone-fide audiophile, with the knowledge inherent in such a state of being. Previously this reader, after establishing his needs and presumably his budget, had given carte-blanche to another audio-consultant for the design and implementation of a high-quality system in one of his residences. Naturally, one would have expected one with such a limited knowledge of such things, and with a history of accepting one expert's choices, to also accept my own choices in the current scenario brought about by his own proposal. And this is exactly how things began. That is; until he became acquainted with new experts whose advice now caused him to resist my own. Having been caught-up and already committed to this venture, my only recourse was to go to great lenghts to maintain a semblance of the charted course, as significant chunks of my time and effort were already invested - and at personal loss, at that. [Note also that no new WAJ on AUDIO article was published during this project - my spare-time was totally consumed by said project. And now, due to the sour 'after-taste' of said project, I no longer feel motivated to write more articles, at the moment - a sad consequence.]

.

So basically, and obviously, after having enlisted my time, effort and commitment, WAJ on AUDIO was essentially being used as a stepping-stone in order to move on to others (because of proximity, or whatever reason) even though those others may have had motives contrary to the success of the project (the selling of an arm at 3-times the possible cost, for instance).  Having recognized this, my focus now is just really to salvage whatever benefit that can still be elicited from this scenario, for the benefit if my own readers - 'bragging-rights'.

.

.But even this seems unlikely. Why? Well, our party in question has repeatedly demonstrated a reluctance to facilitate such 'trivialities'. 

.

.a.  For instance, a simple short test of the Quad 303 would have given an indication as to how good the Sansuis really are and, more importantly, whether they're in fact neutral, or not - as I'd suggested, long-ago. This would be helpful to my readers - not to mention; enlightening for the owner. (It would not, however, indicate whether the Sansuis are as good as the Manley or Ampex). A proposed comparison of the Sansuis to the Manleys is not enthusiastically anticipated, based on past practices and a demonstrated reluctance to articulate on issues, in general - perusal of the thread will reveal that many relevant questions, implicit and explicit, remain unanswered. And bare-boned brevity is a feature of those that are. (One would have expected much better from one whose vocation is based on the written word). 

.

.b.  As previously mentioned, and as the thread bears-out (for the level of performance sought) the Coincident and, especially, the Doge Clarity were advocated over the SP-8, which was ultimately opted for, partly because of aesthetics, and partly because the Doge was deemed to be an 'unknown-quantity' (by those experts who don't know of it). The minor issues now being experienced with the SP-8 are exactly the issues both my prefered options better address. Nevertheless, a definite solution to this problem was also offered (the stepped-attenuator upgrade - as advocated in one of my articles). The outcome of this would also be of significant interest to my readers (as would the 'cheap-trick' for the tweeters). However, as in the case of the tweeters, I'm not very optimistic that the solution for the SP-8's issues (and those of most other pre-amps) will even be addressed, let alone reported on. Again; my loss or, more accurately (since I already know the outcome of these) a loss to my readers.

.

.c.   The Genelec system designed by the previous audio-consultant is the epitome of a high-quality modern system, to which most audiophiles aspire. My argument is that such systems cannot be as realistic as those which WAJ on AUDIO advocates. A request for a subjective comparison of that against this new system was literally ignored. This would have been very helpful to my readers. Vague indications that this system I've designed 'exceeds expectations', though appreciated, are just that - vague, really.

.

.So then, was this project a success, from WAJ on AUDIO's point of view? No - not really - certainly not at this point!

.

.The answers to the above questions, and a general overview as to the overall quality (or not) of the system, to this point, would be necessary before any such assessment could be made. [Tweeters would also be necessary (whether the 'cheap-trick' or the 'usual-suspects' - it doesn't matter) if this system is not to be placed at a disadvantage in comparison with another - this is because, even if it is adjudged superior, the extent of this superiority will not be truly apparent.]

.

In retrospect, instead of doing this just to help, and for the feedback (both of which constitute an inherent vested interest in the outcome) perhaps I should have just charged a fee for the service, named the components, and left it at that (without giving a damn). Or perhaps I should have just refered the gentleman to several of the experts he later found, for him to be pulled in opposite directions, as he apparently prefers - with the inevitabe result reflected in the quality of the system. Either of those options would have precluded any reliance on his co-operation in providing decent levels of feedback. Right now, I feel cheated - a victim of a smash 'n' grab.( Perhaps my forthrightness is offensive to those who warrant it, but I've always found it preferable to hypocricy. I call it as I see it).

.

.As to whether WAJ on AUDIO or its readers will be privy to the quality of the system when the modded Lenco is added, this is absolutely doubtful, based on the current scenario. If all indications to this late stage are taken into account, then this can only be declared a lost cause, so far as WAJ on AUDIO and its readers are concerned - a raid of our freely rendered resources, efforts, and expertise, with very little in return.

.

.Such is life. Let's wish the beneficiary of this raid 'all the best' just the same!

.

X----------

If the communications we had are valuable to your readers - use it.  just keep my name off of it.  When I reached out to you originally...........

.............I'd request that this email not be used in your blog.

.

.[Note; In acordance with that request, the main points of that e-mail have been omitted.]

.

.

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

.Allow me to address your points as they were made:

[I've now gone further; deleting my response to the main points of the above-mentioned e-mail, in accord with the reader's obvious wishes - though it's difficult to see where any of the topics previously addressed here could have been of any real detrimental consequence to anyone. What remains is the tail-end of this e-mail ] 

.

.....As to; if, when, and how we move on from here; this is entirely up to you.

.

Nevertheless, I'm absolutely elated by the fact that you're happy with the system, so far. This is, without doubt, the most important criterion, my own concerns notwithstanding. I sincerely wish you years of musical satisfaction, and I'm truly happy to have been a contributor to this prospect.

Enjoy the music!.

.

X-----------

ok - now that we've aired our concerns  - let's move on. 
I will keep you updated on the comparison of the quad and the sansuis and the difference between this system and the other one with genelecs and my impressions between digital and analog sources.

Please keep in mind that the system we have been discussing is in an apt i only use part time so Im not there a lot.  In addition it's currently being redone so everything is going to be packed away pretty soon and then put back together early sep - with the tt.

I understand your anxious to get reports on my impressions but this is all being put together in a place that is not my permanent residence so the whole process is moving very slow.

To my disapointment  - I only got to listen to it for about 30 min this week.

regards

X

.

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

.Fair enough. I'll omit the 'delicate' parts of your e-mail in that recent segment. (Omitted above - Ed)

.

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

That system; with a well modded Lenco AND a modded RS1500 (with tubed output) WILL be totally AWESOME (only the tweets and the lack of the upgraded volume-control for the SP-8 will diminish its quality, slightly - for now). Congrats, ...especially on your choice of R2R - a wise decision.

.But since you haven't yet mentioned your first-impressions of the sound of the much-anticipated Lenco, I can't help wondering whether you're underwhelmed by the the effects of the mods - 30 minutes listening-time notwithstanding. You never mentioned the sound of that DAC either. Oh well, I suppose you'll tackle these issues in your own sweet time.

.Cheers!

.

X----------

I don't have the Lenco built yet. U think I would hold that back?

I will have it built and 

.

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

Forgive me. Guess I wuz thrown-off by this,  "I did get the jelco tone arm. Hooking it up this week."  

Don't know if you saw this (asking 1300) but if Vu's option is tubed it'd be way more attractive, in my opinion:   http://www.ebay.com/itm/technics-RS1500-US-reel-to-reel-tape-recorder-/190701010958?pt=Vintage_Electronics_R2&hash=item2c66aa800e 

Cheers!

.

X----------

Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 9:07 PM
Subject: Re: System u described

sorry - i got cut off mid email.  i should have the tt back in aug and the apt will be put back together in sep so it will be a while until I have notes.

.

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

Message understood!.

.By the way, will you be going-along with the Goldpoint attenuator solution to the SP-8 issue? (Purchase and installation of the Goldpoint should cost less than 250-bucks, total. Perhaps a small price to pay for raising the level of performance close to that of the very best today). Or would you prefer for me to suggest an alternative?

Cheers!.

.

X----------

Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 10:15 PM
Subject: Re: System u described

I think I will be modifying the attenuator. I just need to speak w the tube amp tech specialist in silver spring md and he hasn't been answering his phone for a week

.

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

Oh yeah! Great to know you've got plans to address it. It'd be a real shame if such a minor issue were to compromise the performance, or your enjoyment of it..

.Oh - small correction; the SP-8 is already close to the best - I should have used the word 'closer', in that last post.

.

.

Continue to Part 6

 Home 

Copyright 2012

.