ARC SP-8, Stanton 881, Sansui tube-amps
& S-C tube-amps out).]
from Part 2. And, again, beginning with a repeat of a line from a
previous segment of the thread, and continuing from there:
listened to them for a
while. They sounded great. Regarding
realism; I completely
understand the definition of the term in describing speakers.
Let me tell
you what my impression of these Altecs are: When I listened
Armstrong on these speakers - it felt like he was actually singing to
me - not
like I was listening to a good recording of him singing."
There's a pair of Ampex
(6973-tubed, hopefully) mono-blocs at e-bay today with the 'Buy-now'
price of $1395.
Hold your horses tho. Of the
two tube-amps I've touted, the 22w Ampex and the 50w S-C AP-55, I've
leaned more toward the latter. This is because, while both offer
high-quality sound, there may be rare occassions when the Ampex may not
be able to fully supply your power-requirements (depending on your
listening habits). With the tubed 50w AP-55 (effectively/subjectively
equivalent to 100 'solid-state watts' per channel) however, in
conjunction with the Valencia's high efficiency, you're never ever
likely to experience a shortage of power (even at disco levels -
however rare this may be).
If you feel the Ampex's lesser
power will be adequate for your needs at ALL times then, by all means,
go for it. But if you feel you'd be better-served by the AP-55's
power-reserve (my preference, also) then perhaps it'd be better to
continue to wait for the availability of a pair of AP-55s - they will
emerge, eventually. I'm only making you aware of this option which now
exists at e-bay, the choice is yours, as usual. There is another why
I'd encourage restraint, though - and we'll get to that, eventually.
Regarding the 'cheap-trick'
I'd proposed to elaborate on, two days ago, in relation to addressing
response at the very extremes of the treble-region, I'd prefer to
hold-off on that, for the moment. This is because, with your proposal
to 'try' the Lenco as is, you'll be putting the whole system at a
disadvantage, with the very likely result that you may not like what
you hear and be discouraged from any further improvement. In which
case, a long and detailed description of a 'treble-tweek' for the
Valencia would be a waste of time and effort, on my part, not to
mention the time and effort that has already gone into this venture. As
I've always said, I really don't mind the time I've put into this, I do
mind tho if the effort is doomed to faliure by an un-necessary and
unwise deviation from the charted course. (This'd be especially irksome
if the counsel of others had anything to do with an illadvised
deviation from the course ensuring failure and virtually gauranteeing
that my time will have been wasted).
You previously expressed this
issue is would Quad be significantly holding back Dude or Coincident?"
I'd missed the opportunity to
answer at the time, but I'll address it now. The answer is NO. While
the Quad would not be able to unleash all the benefits of the world's
best pre-amps, it is sufficiently adequate to provide absolutely
credible performance in the context of such a system, for years, until
such time that one feels the need to upgrade. In the current system,
the Quad is the very least of your worries. In truth, though I've
provided the info, you do not need to reach
for the Ampex or S-C, at this time. In fact, even some of those extra
funds would be better spent on the Lenco. This is ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT.
But we'll get back to that. (I don't mind spending time on this in an
effort to avert a monumental mistake).
But first, let me say this;
The amount of money you spend on this system is of no consequence to
me, really. I'm not here to encourage you to spend more than what you
want to. One of the first questions you'll be asked whenever you
approach any competent individual with a proposal like this is; "What
is your budget?" (I'd asked you the same question). This is to
establish how best to allocate those funds,
between the various components, persuant to achieving the best
system/performance within the constraints of that budget.
You'll recall that you first
approached me with an idea of building a system similar to the
least-expensive of those outlined in my article, 'High-End Audio on a
Budget...'. This system included the $700 Thorens 125/SME tt/arm combo.
But then, you'll also recall that you expressed an idea of
incorporating the Garrard 401(whether immediately or, more likely, some
time in the near future) which is in a completely different league from
that of some of the gear in the 'low-budget' system. This
consideration, however, necessitated a change of strategy - and this is
why discussions regarding the Coincident and Dude pre-amps came about.
And this is also why I
suggested a switch to the Lenco which, in
standard form, arguably provides the Thorens' level of performance but,
most importantly, also posesses the potential to be modified to the
level of a mod'ed 401 - the Thorens 125 does not. My major initial
concen, tho, was with the arm on the Lenco. Recent consultation with an
expert gives one the impression that the arm is OK, but further
investigations have indicated that this arm really does not meet the
minimum requirement, in this context - i.e. equivalency to the Thorens'
SME 3009, among other issues (A minor issue, in the overall scheme,
since mods to the Lenco was the original intent, considering its
cost). This arm actually falls way-short (perhaps more akin to Thorens
own TP16 arm, which lesser 125s are equipped with) but we'll get back
Perhaps I may have erred in
asuming you'd have understood my intent in advocating the Lenco. But it
was never ever my intent to settle for a standard Lenco. You'll
certainly recall that all my references to it included the word,
'modified' - this is for good reason. Even tho I'm sure I'd also said
the standard Lenco is arguably equivalent to the Thorens and could even
be used as standard, the idea of
the Lenco was conceived with mods in mind, never without. The only
question was; to what extent. Considering that the Lenco was obtained
half the price of the Thorens then, at least, the balance of that sum
could have been used for said mods. And this is what I'd now encourage,
with a view to ensuring optimum performance of the whole system within
the prevailing budget-constraints. Here's why:
Both the basic Thorens and
Lenco could, arguably, be considered equal, overall.
However, there are differences between them. The Lenco, for instance,
would be expected to supply much superior bass-performance, dynamism,
and transient-response. But the Thorens, compared to the standard
Lenco, would be expected to be more refined, quieter, more detailed,
and 'sweeter' in the trebles - when equipped with the SME arm, which is
better than any of Thorens' own. (This 'test' you propose would make
better sense with a Thorens/SME - it really makes no sense
with a standard Lenco and arm, not in the context of the performance
is truly capable of).
So while their pros and cons,
as standard, may balance-out to justify a
claim of equality, the Thorens/SME's strengths would be the more
overall, compared to a standard Lenco and arm. This is completely
however, when the Lenco is even slightly modified with a better plinth
(not the best, or most expensive) and a better arm (ditto).
This could be done for about
the difference in cost between the Thorens, which was originally
budgeted (we saw several for 795) and that of the Lenco. For instance,
there's a used Linn Basik arm at e-bay today with the asking-price of
200-bucks (there's also a Linn Ittok there that'd be even better). And
there's also a 35 lb 'heavy' plinth for the Lenco (built with several
of the proper principles - unlike others) for the price of 275.
Assuming the Lenco is properly lubricated and in good working-order so
far as the motor, idler-wheel, bearings, etc. are concerned, then just
the proper implementation of these 2 items would GAURANTEE absolutely
superior performance to that of the Thorens 125/SME 3009, and even
superior to that of a Linn Sondek/Ittok. In fact, no new tt below the
price of 10-grand should be able to touch that Lenco, which would only
have cost you that much less than a grand (slightly more than what the
Thorens would have cost). You certainly will not feel a pressing need
to pursue further, and much more expensive, mods. I'm absolutely sure
of that - especially so if you opt to go for the Ittok (which is even
better than the outstanding Basik).
Consider this, also, that with
the fact that the Linn Basik (or Ittok) arm is 'used', the price will
exactly the same, or more, if you opt to later re-sell it - you cannot
lose. Pretty-much the same could also apply to the new plinth. The fact
that it is not yet polished/painted could be in your favor in the sense
that, provided it's not soiled (keep it in plastic) you could test the
tt with it, and re-sell it as new, at or about the same price, if you
opt to do so.
I cannot stress enough the
magnitude of the importance of these 2 simple mods; the arm and the
plinth. This is much much more important than the difference between
the Coincident and the Doge Clarity. This is also much much more
than the difference between the Quad and the Stromberg-Carlsons. In
fact I'd suggest, if the focus is to keep expenditure to a minimum,
that you forget about the S-C, for now or even completely, and focus on
putting some of those resources into the front-end of the system - the
Lenco. In that light, I'd suggest that, in addition to the plinth, you
go for the excellent Ittok at around 400, instead of the outstanding
Basik at 200 ('used'-prices). You'll be absolutely thankful that you
did (and thus, save youself the trouble of re-selling the Basik later,
after you've found-out how good it is, to go for the Ittok which is
Trust me, the Quad is
adequate. Your money is much better spent on the front-end of the
system. Forget about the S-C and modify the Lenco, as was my intentent
introducing it. Your proposal to test that system with a standard Lenco
is exactly the worst thing you could do (especially in light of the
real truth I've discovered about that arm, as I'd initially suspected,
and despite recent assurances to the contrary - it's really nowhere
near the Thorens' SME - no flippin' good, actually, which really
wouldn't matter if my original intent at mods was adhered to). None of
these excellent components will be able to display anything approaching
their best performance - neither the speakers, the amp, the pre-amp, or
the tt itself - NONE. Such a concept is doomed to failure, even before
So then we've established that
simple mods (Linn Basik and Plinth) can be effected to the Lenco within
the limits of the originally-projected cost of the Thorens/SME,
overall. And we've also established that an additional 200-bucks to
this figure, in procuring a Linn Ittok instead of the Basik, would put
the prospect of further mods beyond the realms of necessity. And we've
established that any extra funds could be secured from the 'S-C
account', which is effectively redundant in the context of a front-end
in need of attention, especially in light of the fact that the Quad is
adequate to the task. Additionally, and importantly, we've established
the low-risk of the investment in these 2 mods since this investment
may easily be recouped without the risk of much loss, if any at all.
All of this is absolutely achievable within 'shouting-distance' of the
$5k budget you now seem comfortable with.
OK. so now the question is;
would have caused me to think that the budget was more 'subtantial'.
Perhaps the following might shed light on a possible cause of such a
Upon realizing that you were
seeking more than the system you originally indicated, I asked you
[Please let me know the
dimensions of the room you propose to install this
system in. And please give me an idea, if you can, of the very maximum
you're comfortable with.]
Your answer was this;
"I would not say that I'm
trying to build a quality system on a budget. Money
the major focus. Of course
I'm aware that the
sky is the limit but through this exercise I'm also learning that
lot isn't the key to building a great performing system.
I'm not sure what the budget is. The direction in headed in seems to be
reasonable and in the end I'll probably spend 7-10k dollars."
Compared to where we started
('High-End on a Shoe-String') that budget is relatively large - it
would easily have accommodated a Nantais 'Classic' mod to the Lenco,
for instance, with funds to spare. (Whether this would've really been
necessary is another question). But it has since become apparent that
you're really more comfortable with a budget closer to $5k - no prob.
However, the way to accomplish this is not to willy-nilly chop
expenditure on the most critical component of a system - the front-end,
where the quality of the whole system is determined. I've said it
before; the key to the quality of any good system is; the front-end -
i.e. turntable (or CD-player) and pre, in that order. Any cost-cutting
should be carried-out elsewhere - the S-C amp is the likely candidate,
in this instance. Even 'testing' a system with a compromised front-end
is really a waste of time. Both the Lenco's standard plinth and its
standard arm are so bad that one marvels at the fact that the standard
tt can be as good as it is with such debilitating handicaps. Merely
fixing those two handicaps reveals the true capabilities of the Lenco.
Perhaps at some other
time I'll go into what I've discovered about the arm (a rubber
component of which deteriorates with time, and must be replaced)
despite the assurance of an expert on this tt. It is also
interesting that, as I've since discovered, both the Linn arms I've
mentioned and the Rega 250 and 300 are all virtually interchangable
with the Lenco's arm (the Linns much more so than the Regas, the latter
of which warrant some grinding/cutting to 'properly' accommodate them).
But the point is that all these may be, sometimes, cheaper than a Jelco
queried an expert about with a view to establishing whether
less-expensive alternative could be viable in this application. None of
these were mentioned, yet the same expert enthusiastically advocates
the (relatively cheap) Regas in other forums. One can't help but to
wonder why he might have done this.
I'll leave you with a link to
the thoughts of another expert who indicates the true worth of that
Lenco arm, and what arms are best, economical, and easily-fitted, in
replacing it. You'll notice that the Linns, including my own Ittok,
feature prominently, in all regards:
For your own sake, be advised:
Change the plinth and change the arm (even if you ensure that the
Lenco+arm+plinth remain within the limits of what
the originally-intended Thorens/SME would have cost) before you test
that system. This is what was always intended for the Lenco. Not doing
so will only compromise the quality-potential of the WHOLE system - to
a ridiculous and un-necessary degree. I really can't
make it any clearer than this (or easier, and less costly to
case you're interested:
.Linn Basik in the UK - don't
know if seller will ship to US
.Another Linn Basik - bid in
Older Linn Ittoks usually sell
for around 400, I've been informed - I'd let this one pass, perhaps:
This seems to be the best
Lenco plinth I've seen at e-bay (the design, density, and weight are
important in dissipating motor energy) this one weighs-in at 35lbs.
I have spent the past two days
on the tt. I have spoken to
almost all the top people modifying Lencos in the world. Rest
easy- I am not going to use the Lenco as is. That would not work at
all. Its not an option. However, after studying the
I decided Nantais isn't the option for me either. The plinth
aesthetically not an option. To make a very long story short
studied all the options, woods, slate, etc. I have examined dozens of
arms and cartridges. Ive decided to work with a well known guy in the
Y-State area who has done many Lenco tts. We had an interesting
discussion about materials, dampening, tone arms cartridges
I decided to work with him because I will have the opportunity to
listen to the different options - lighter woods vs denser
and different cartridge options. I will be going w a high
arm - not sure if its going to be new or used but I dont think I'm
w the sme 3009 on this go around. I also need to decide
Im going with the XYZ plate for the plinth. Im inclined to do
and I've been in touch with Z (of XYZ) personally about this and the
now making (very nice). I was also seriously considering O at OPQ
(had a long talk with him). [The
names have been changed - Ed]
No matter my route - I'm going to end up spending another $3k on the
tt. Whether it's Nantais, Z (XYZ) or O (OPQ) there are pros and
cons. What I've really found out is its not rocket science to
the Lenco sing. You just have to do pull off some basic
tasks. Building the proper plinth isn't a DIY for
me. I need
a pro. I like the idea of being able to test some of the
materials, arms and cartridges.
Re the amp - I canceled the order for the Doge 8 and am getting a ARC
SP-8. Im inclined at this point to stay with the used and
quanties. If I dont like it or want something better - I
losing money and Im more comfortable keeping the entire system 60s/70s
at this point (in fact I'm inclined to go with an older quality tone
Re the Ampex amps. I saw them this am. They are a total
project. I had B from ABC Tubes look at
and he's sure they dont run and will need significant work.
going to take my time with the mono blocks for now. Im
use my Quad 303 (any thoughts on the Quad 2 monoblocks - quite a few of
those around and not hard to get them in good condition)
So there you have it - back to the SP-8 ( I feel good about that
decision) and the tt will be well taken care of. The question
is not whether I will get the Lenco to sing but what do I want that
song to sound like. There is a lot of nuance and personal
decision to factor in and Id like to make those decisions with my ears.
As I previously mentioned I was
turning back to the SP-8 as a preamp
option. The unit I wanted I believe fell through. I
of on the fence between the Doge
8 clarity and a SP-8 preamp. I
have expressed my opinions on the two preamps before and I understand
the critical nature of the preamp in the system. On one hand
- I like the SP-8 because it's used and a good value, solid
performer. From what I can read - Doge preforms well and
a bit brighter and open then the SP-8. However, buying a
new piece of Chinese equipment doesn't excite me too much. Im not even
clear from Arthur S's reviews of the preamp if he's heard it himself of
just getting reports from "associates".
One of the things I'm affraid of in this process is buying into the
whole idea that something is good bc a group of people say it
In respect to the Doge 8 everything we hear about it could actually
come from a small group of communications savey people. At
with the older used equipment they have stood the test of time.
If you have a compelling case on the Doge 8 - bring it on.
still considering it. I do like D and the guys who sell the
Doge 8. good guys - very helpful. Maybe there is
great used tube preamp that is better than the sp-8? Conrad
Johnson's? The Sp-10 and Sp-11 are too expensive for me.
If I'd go new - Id do the Doge 8. If I stick with
system that is cohesive in its older look - I'm open to
My Gosh man - talk about
givin' a guy a scare. Somehow I'd gotten
the impression you were about to do something really, really....
'unwise'. Something that'd would've left me feeling guilty and ashamed
to have been involved with this project.
X, my friend, I really
cannot begin to tell you how relieved I
am to hear you say this; "Rest easy- I am not going to use the Lenco as
is. That would not work at all. Its not an option."
also elated to hear you say this, " Ive decided to work with a well
known guy in the Y-State area who has done many lenco tts." This is the
thing a newbee could do in so far as the modifying of any tt is
concerned - find a competent pro, with a good track-record, and let the
expert do it. For the kind of money you mentioned, Jean Nantais
would've have been my own personal choice (he's the first, with these
Lencos, and still the very best, evidently, as far as I'm concerned)
but that is not to say others can't do a reasonable job. You may also
want to incorporate some of Nantais'over-the-counter innovations into
this mod - his replacement for the idler-wheel's spring-tensioner
reputedly works wonders, for example, and new bearing/fixtures
& idler-wheel/arm, though 'minor' considerations, could also
serve to improve performance.
And here you had me rackin' my
little brain seeking a low-budget
solution to improving the standard Lenco while (all along?) you were
there contemplating the 'full-treatment' - shame on you, man. Oh, and
by the way, the SME 3009 was only being considered in that low-budget
context, and for the fact that it could be later be converted to a
semblance of the SME 3012, as I'd mentioned. The much better option is
just to buy a genuine 3012, or one of the better 12"ers, or one of the
premium 'modern' arms; Ittok/Ekos, Graham, etc. (I believe the best
12"ers do a better job at tracking, for instance, and are more fitting
for tts of this vintage, tho). By the way, you could have that tt
set-up to use two arms/cartridges - for example, one that easily fits
the Lenco's top-plate cut-out (Linn, for instance) and one
mounting-board for a 12"er on the new plinth.
And speaking of cartridges,
many will tell you that moving-coils
are the 'best', I will not argue the point, here (my arguments are
elsewhere). I did mention the popular Denon 103, and there are more
expensive m-c options from the likes of Shelter, Zyx, Koetsu, etc. But
bear in mind that the use of a low-output M-C also requires
use of a likely-expensive step-up device, for optimum operation. And
since you seem to be considering the purchase of several cartridges, I
urge you to include one of the wood-bodied units from Grado. Except for
a challenge from Koetsu, absolutely no other cartridge on the planet is
as natural and realistic in the region where 90% of the music resides;
the midrange. In this context of experimenting, and with other
excellent options available for use, the 'inexpensive' Platinum could
certainly be bought to sample the Grado-sonics, with the knowledge that
even better performance may later be had from the premium models in
this line. Without a Grado (or Koetsu) you'll not be fully exposed to
the true potential embedded in the concept which governed the choice of
these particular equipment, especially the Altecs, they'll be
under-utilized. Trust me on that.
You mentioned that you've been
talking to many experts, and this is
great. But you must also bear in mind that very large egos are also
involved, here, and money is also a great motivator. Some will opt to
discredit the advice of another, if only to give the impression that
they know everything about everything, and even that what they don't
know one iota about is not worth considering. Be careful there. Utilize
their expertise, in their area of expertise, but perhaps their advice
would be best confined to that particular area - a transmission
specialist is not usually the best person to consult on fuel-injection
issues, tho many will offer no shortage of 'advice' orchestrated to
impress. Too many cooks do spoil the broth, as the saying goes, and two
is usually way too many.
You mentioned this; "Re the
amp - I canceled the order for the Doge
8 and am getting a ARC SP-8. Im inclined at this point to
with the used and known quanties. If I dont like it or want
something better - I won't be losing money and Im more comfortable
keeping the entire system 60s/70s at this point"
Under any other circumstance
I'd be celebrating your choice of the
SP8. (That pre has been one of my absolute favorites since I was little
more than a boy - still is). In this scenario, however, a step away
from the Doge Clarity to the SP8 is, indeed, a significant step DOWN,
in performance. To save time I'll just use the AudioCritique's ratings
of these pre-amps (not line-stages) to illustrate the point: The Doge,
there, is rated in 'Class B'. The SP8, along with the SP10 and SP11
(which are both better than the SP8, by a significant margin) are all
in 'Class C' - ratings with which I thoroughly agree.
To put it another way, I said
before that the Doge Clarity operates
next-door to the best pre-amps/line-stages; Coincident, Dude, etc. A
step down to the SP8 now ensures that system-performance will be
twice-removed from the 'Coincident-level', instead of just one arguably
insignificant step away with the Clarity. I do understand your concern
about aesthetics but, in system-building, one needs to make a choice as
to which is the prime-directive; aesthetics or performance - they often
don't go hand-in-hand (the same applies to a Nantais-style plinth;
uglyyy, but evidently the very best).
You indicated, " ...Im
inclined at this point to stay with the used
and known quanties...." I'll address the latter first - 'known
quantities' - in relation to the Doge vs the ARC. Since you are not
versed in this field, I'm sure you'd not be the originator of the
notion that the Doge is an unknown-quantity. So then, this notion may
well have been instigated by an 'adviser'. If this is so, then it only
strengthens the points I made previously (about the
transmission-specialist advising on fuel-injection, for instance, and
also on the impressionist-aspect, among others). A thing is unknown
only to the man who doesn't know. It is also said that a man is a fool
to what he doesn't know. Another popular saying is even more harsh; He
who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool - shun him. I
wouldn't go so far as to advocate that, but the truth is that bad
advice can be detrimental - as would be the case, if that is the case,
in this case - if you catch my drift - LOL.
The Doge Clarity does
and its significant advantage over the SP8 is real - and as serious
as a heart-attack. The fact that one 'expert' or several may not know
about it doesn't make it any less real, or any less superior. The onus
is on those who seek to give advice outside the scope of their area of
expertise to, at least, educate themselves on the subject they seek to
'advise' on. I've already alluded to the significant down-grade in
performance a step down from the Doge Clarity to SP8 ensures. (I really
doubt that the Clarity's phono-stage is any better than the SP8's, but
the neutrality, clarity, and overall superioity of the Chinaman's
indisputable). I'd go for the Clarity - its name depicts its advantage,
and there's nothing typically 'Chinese' about its build-quality,
substance, or performance, they're all first-rate (only the price is
'Chinese'). Buy it with the confidence of knowing that there's
absolutly nothing (with a phono-stage) south of the Coincident that can
touch it, new or
vintage, especially at anything near its price, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
On the subject of 'used'
components, I'm a staunch advocate,
generally. But in this case, the performance-gap is too significant,
and the prices too close for me not to recognize the prudence of
advocating the new unit, in this instance. I've pointed this out
before, in this thread. I'll briefly reiterate, with a slightly
different tact; Where an old amp or pre-amp is concerned, unless it can
be verified that the unit has been meticulously maintained and,
importantly, the resistors and capacitors, or any other item that
deteriorates with time, have been replaced/upgraded, then the cost of
effecting this must be factored into the purchase-price (this also
applies to the Ampex you alluded to). And these tasks
must be accomplished before one can rest assured that they own a
reliable unit operating at its peak. Also if, for instance, tubes need
to be replaced within a short time of the purchase of this unit, then
any 'savings' at the time of purchase will likely be obliterated in the
of replacing those tubes. In relation to the Doge vs the SP8, the
latter could turn-out to be the more expensive, despite the initial
costs. Considering the Clarity's performance advantage, and the fact
that it's so close to the cost of an SP8 , then the former could be the
better option, in this unique case.
You also asked about the 15w
(I believe) Quad II mono-blocs. I'd pass, on those. They are revered in
certain quarters. But the truth is that they're 'colored' (part of
their appeal, ironically). They posses a 'sweet' beguiling sound which
enhances reality to make everything sound 'pretty'. In my opinion,
they're 'sweet' and bewitching, but they lack accuracy. Still on the
subject of Quad amps; I take the word of my own 'informants' very
seriously. It's impossible for any one individual to hear every single
component out there. But, based on ones own experiences with similar or
similar-performing equipment, one can gauge the efficacy of an argument
from another regarding a piece of gear one has never actually heard.
This strategy is remarkably useful and accurate; many audiophiles and
virtually all reviewers employ it to some degree, from time to time,
and the AudioCritique relies on it heavily - this takes nothing away
from his, or any other reviewer's, credibility.
I'll cite a classic example, to
which you had been privy; I'd made you
aware of another reader of mine who touted a relatively unknown Quad
amp. Though I'd never heard that one, I do have extensive experience
with the Quad 303 and the Urei 6150 (both of which outperform mega-buck
units) both of which the reader cited in his comparisons. Based on
this, I have a very strong sense of what that Quad 510 is really like
and, therefore, I have absolutely no doubt as to the superiority of
this amp over almost any other solid-state amp I can think of, and most
that are tubed . By the way, were it not for your concern for
aesthetics, and a retro theme, this amp or its derivatives and siblings
in Quad's pro field (i.e. 520, 240, 50e, etc.) would've been highly
recommended for your application (though, in your case, it would
perhaps be better
to hide it from view). Perhaps this could be a consideration - let me
know if you'd like me to ask him to keep an eye-out for you, in this
regard, perhaps he may find another example of this rare gem (the Urei
is also quite formidable - as is any amp superior to the 303). [And, by
the way, you'll have noticed that he claimed to have known absolutely
nothing about the Urei, or even the fact of its existence. You'll also
have noticed that he claimed to have bought it based soley on my
description of its assets, as expressed in the relevant article. Yet,
he bought this amp and found everything I said about it to be true - a
very satisfied 'customer'. Keep in mind that this is a very experienced
audiophile who's not attracted to crap. But this is just another
illustration of the-above principle in operation. Personally, it's
never failed me yet.]
Below I'll link a few items
which may or may not be of interest to you, for one reason or another:
Here's a Lenco-plinth set-up,
compatible with the use of two arms. Personally, I'd install a Linn
Ittok on the Lenco's top-plate, since the Linn is the the only direct
hassle-free swap for the Lenco arm and easily installed, offering
top-quality sound. The arm-board on the plinth is for a vintage-style
12" arm - arguably more potent, dynamic, and better-tracking than any
of the shorter modern units. By the way, and still personally speaking,
I'd seek to get my builder to base his offering as closely as possible
to Nantais' original 'Classic' design, which is in the public-domain,
similar to the one shown. Unlike this one tho, I'd pay more attention
to Nantais' CLD-principle (i.e. constrained layer damping - see his
site). I'd also target a weight above 70 lbs:
For the next link, I'll also
provide a review which partially explains my bias toward the very best
m-m cartridges. If interested, I'd offer no more than 300 for this
'spare' unit, keeping in mind the Grado-imperative:
Well, that's my two-cents
worth, X. As usual, I hope something of what I've said turns out to
The above was written
yesterday - only awaiting the links provided. It also seems to address
the some of the concerns you expressed in your latest post.
In my opinion, the only
vintage pre-amps (with phono) significantly better than the ARC SP8
are; the SP10
and SP11. Others which are arguably better are line-stages (no phono)
like my own
And no, evidently the
AudioCritique has never heard the Doge himself, nor have I, for that
matter - though we're both familiar with your favorite and mine; the
SP8. But, as I illustrated above, this takes nothing away from his
endorsement of the Doge since his assesment and rating of it is based
on sound principles incorporating his own vast experience with other
similar units, and on the experience of his 'associates' (I've already
expressed my confidence in this process, based on my own experiences).
Rest completely assured that the AudioCritique does not endorse crap -
neither, for that matter, does WAJ on AUDIO. The Doge 8 Clarity is
every bit as good as it's said to be - I'd stake my 'good-name' on it -
I cannot offer you more assurance than that.
If performance next-door to the
Coincident is what you seek, then there
is no other phono-equipped pre-amp on the planet that's as good as that
Clarity. But if aesthetics and a vintage decor takes priority over
performance, in your view, then there are several others with less
performance-capability than even the SP8, let alone the Doge, that I
could mention, including Conrad-Johnson and Counter-Point among
others, let me know if you'd like for me to elaborate on these.
.By the way, X, this
system-building saga could be very helpful
to many others. Would you mind
I OMITTED your name and
published this thread on my site, for the benefit of others?
know what you think.
it. Take my name off and use
it if u wish. Definitely
valuable info. Feel free to
edit my comments in its use.
I got the previous email.
I'm holding off making any decisions re the tt until I meet w
the guy in Y-State on Tues. This guy is considered the best guy
the Y-State area for this work.
haven't made a decision on the Clarity vs SP-8 yet. I may get
both and audition them against each other . I can
get what I paid for for the ARC and return the Clarity w/i 30 days. The
SP-8 was serviced a few years ago and has new capacitors etc.
I won't get the full effect of break in w Clarity but
audition might be best way to get peace of mind.
I did bid on the cartridge
I love the plinth. My
favorite so far is this birch plywood. I was looking for someone who
could do that . It's expensive but that's what im looking for. Could be
a keeper. Thanks. I had not seen that on eBay .
"...Take my name off and use it
if u wish. Definitely valuable info. Feel free to edit my comments in
its use..." Valuable info indeed. Thanx. And, oh yeah, your name will
be changed to protect the guilty.
"..The SP-8 was serviced a few
years ago and has new capacitors etc...." Well, well, well,
this now casts the SP8 in a whole new light. This means it's actually
plug 'n play - it's the epitome of that meticulously cared-for unit I
once alluded to. At
anywhere around $1.2k this'd be a real bargain - with no risk of a
loss. I wonder about the hrs on the tubes, tho. That idea 'bout getting
and comparing is a great one. It's really not inconcievable that you
may actually prefer the slight colorations of the SP8 - others have
been known to prefer it to better and more neutral units like the
idea - absolutely.
"I did bid on he cartridge as a
backup" Good-luck, the Stanton 881 is
one of the very best M-Ms.
"I love the plinth.
favorite so far is this birch plywood. I was looking for someone who
could do that . It's expensive but that's what im looking for. Could be
a keeper. Thanks. I had not seen that on eBay ".. Yeah, I think this is
e-bay UK, actually. It's what I was lookin' for too, from day-one. I'd
still use your Y-State guy, tho, since he can set-up arm and
cartridge-swaps, and address other issues for you - he's a valuable
resource, don't ignore him. Since you like this plinth , then perhaps
he could do something similar. I'm sure it's based on the
original Nantais 'Classic'.
I must say this is quite an
interesting and exciting project. And, contrary to prior fears, I'm
actually proud to be such an integral part of it. Your expressed love
for the SP8 and for this plinth, I've just presented (my favorites too
- sentimentally, in the case of the SP8) is an indication
of exquisite tastes in audio, as far as I'm concerned - it's obvious
fast learner. The initiative you've demonstrated is encouraging. It
continues to be an unmitigated pleasure for me to assist you in any way
This is the plinth
I like. I do believe in the XYZ, but I can be persuaded to think
otherwise. I think the the main problem w the Lenco is the thin top
plate. Many other mods exist but I think in what I have
learned that a good plinth and heavier top plate are the most important
Check out this video on YouTube:
[Video omited - Ed]
.I dunno, X, really. This is
different and, no, I will not try to
persuade you to think otherwise - sorry. Why?
My strong persuasive arguments
are usually reserved for those times
when I get the idea you may be thinking of going down the wrong road.
Times like when I felt you may have been contemplating a potentially
knackered SP8 money-pit in need of much attention and potentially more
expensive than the alternative, ultimately. As it turns-out, this was
not the case, and my strong persuasive argument was really wasted since
the SP8 being contemplated is apparently pristine and in peak condition
- a truly worthy alternative to the alternative, so to speak. My strong
persuasive arguments are reserved for times like when I felt you were
contemplating using the Lenco & arm as is, or just buying one
those light, hollow, poor imitations of plinths from e-bay. As it
turns-out this was not the case either, so my strong persuasive
arguments were wasted there too.
This case is different. In
this case, I don't see a problem (real
or imagined). In this case, both the XYZ/heavy-plinth option, which you
lean toward, and my own alternative preference, are viable. At this
level, the differences are mainly in the nuances; sonically,
physically, and aesthetically. Similar to the case with a pristine SP8
and a Doge Clarity there's no such thing as a really 'bad' choice. Oh
yes, one may actually be slightly 'better' overall, but the fact of one
being slightly 'better' doesn't make the other 'bad', especially if one
is particularly drawn to ones choice despite any slight advantage the
other may have. The very same applies in this plate/plinth scenario; I
do think my preference is perhaps the slightly 'better' option, but I
also recognize the quality of the XYZ/heavy-plinth alternative, and
that a choice of one or the other is not encumbered with any
implications of catostrophic detriment to overall system-performance.
So no, X Skywalker, I'll
not try to persuade you to come over to
my side of 'The Force' (Star-Wars jargon - LOL). All I'll do
to illustrate why my choice is the 'Nantais-alternative', or a very
close derivative there-of. But first, if we look at the plinths you've
demonstrated an inclination toward, we really don't differ on that.
Both the plinths you like are actually clones of Nantais' 'Classic', my
own favorite option. So the only real difference between us would be
the top-plate; you favor the XYZ, I don't.
Why don't I favor the XYZ?
Economics, mainly. The XYZ is relatively
expensive. And perhaps un-necessarily so. Why? Well that's because, in
the Nantais-alternative, the thin top-plate issue is also addressed -
at obviously less expense. (I believe a layer of acoustic-damping
material is affixed to the underside of the top-plate, in this case -
I'd have to research to be more specific). And the proof that the
strategy works is evident in the stunning performance of Nantais'
'Reference Lenco'. So no, with all due respect to those others, I'd
have to say that, for me, the XYZ and any other option is irrelevant
and pretty-much redundant, whether for the top-plate or for virtually
any other aspect of a Lenco-build. (I could say more, but I'll leave it
at that. Nice plinth in the vid, btw). I have this rather annoying
penchant for advocating the best for less, and this points me toward
the Nantais-way - for the plate and virtually anything-else having to
do with Lenco.
But then, if you prefer XYZ
then, so be it - 's all good!
May 'The Force' be with you!
This is the pre-amp I bought for $1100. I spoke to the owner
it's been cared for very well. Since it's been
reworked - he hasn't used it much. We did discuss
whether he would remove the tubes and package them
separately. I decided to leave them in and pack the preamp
very carefully - double box with a lot of bubble wrap. I dont
want to risk removing the tubes if they get a little tough to
get out. Since they are small tubes - I wasnt as
At some point - I will check out the Doge 8 claity
.Congrats! It's ABSOLUTELY
beautiful. Brings back memories of years-ago when I actually WISHED for
one. That isn't the one I pointed-out at the 'Gon, is it?
Oh, and I
assume you received my response to the XYZ issue.
And HAVE U SEEN THIS?
Prices have a way of
decreasing after long periods. I wonder if anywhere closer to 3 would
now be amenable to this seller? This example is purportedly better than
the one reviewed by the 'Critique. A new Reference from Nantais is
something like 6 or 6.9k, I believe THIS CAN BE RE-SOLD FOR
PURCHASE-PRICE, or there-about - hard to lose. And a genuine Nantais tt
(or Shindo, OMA, LoriCraf,t etc) is a safer option to building one -
much less costly - with much less risk. (The no-name posers
on e-bay are a just that - posers - I'm sure you know. Theez are tha
Here is also a bargain at the
lower end, priced @ 2k for 'quick sale' - perhaps already gone. Sellers
are identified in both cases and may still be contacted tho:
blown rebuild by Jean Nantais. Currently mounted with Rega incognito
RB300 with CCM weight. The price has been reduced for quick sale."
Lemme know what u think. And
lemme know if I should re-send that XYZ
Luv that SP8 (not too keen on
shipping with tubes, tho). Oh, and I'd play ostrich, if I were you, I
wouldn't care to hear no Doge - I'd just be content with my beautiful
SP8 - the thing is an absolute CLASSIC!
.Knock, knock! Are u there?
Can't bear the suspense. Could u confirm receipt of my
responses to the PTP& SP8 issues, and also receipt of the links
to those tts for sale?
Got it. thanks. Both turntables look
nice. I dont
trust the deal for $2000. Doesn't smell right.
could be sucked in if I was dead set on a Nantais, which I am
not. You and I differ on this. I'm sure it is a
to build a tt and maximize the Lenco potential but I dont think its the
only way. I dont like the plinths and I dont agree that his
the best way to damp movement. The tt is going to be featured
my living room. I want to enjoy looking at it. I
birch plywood and I like the XYZ. As long as I use a great
and cartridge - I'm not going to screw it up.
Let's see what this guy in Y-State has to say about building plinths
tomorrow and I'll get back to you. After tomorrow I have to
I'm high bidder on the Stanton cartridge right now.
.OK, I can see where you're
coming from - you'll be the one who has
to look at it all the time. And, yeah, I agree those 'tables are really
uglyyyy. And tho I disagree that Nantais' Reference may not be the best
Lenco (I think it is, absolutely) I also agree that others can do a
decent job - no argument there. And if you have in mind something like
the 2nd birch-ply unit I refered to at e-bay, or the one you
pointed-out on YouTube, with the XYZ, then I don't see where you can go
I really do hope u get that
you get the 881 Stanton, it's right up
there with the P77 - one of the very best M-Ms, az I sed. [Pl. don't
forget that wood Grado tho (any one - even the Platinum) they are the
best in demonstrating the 'drop-dead gorgeous' and realistic midrange
that system was conceptualized to exemplify - in addition to great
performance everywhere else. With the Altecs & SP8 already in
bag we're well on the way to achieving that (oh yeah, the 303 will hold
its own, for now)]
Keep me posted!
the guy who is going to deal with the TT
Amazing. He is strictly vintage audio and been in the
business for many years. Py Acoustics [Name
changed - WAJ].
talked about the plinth and mods to the tt.
I'm still uncertain about the arm. At this point Im thinking
want to go with a new arm instead of a used that I have to fix
etc. (Py sells Ortofon so that's what he suggests.
I'd like to stay in the
$1k range. Im not going to go with the SME 3009 this time
around. Ive heard too many negative reports even if they are
BTW - I listened to different tts, some with heavy plinths
some with 30-40 lbs and not too many mods. My impression was
the ones that try to dampen the tt significantly do a good job of
damping the sound . It sounds like a CD - bright but
dull. The ones that modified major faults with the tt and set
it in good plinth with good arm and cartridge sounded alive.
Im going to go with birch plywood plinth and not do the XYZ at this
point. I can add it if I'm not happy with the
sound. I need to choose good arm and matching cartridge and
Heard one - it was great
If you have anything to
add to these ideas - let me know. It looks like if
I want to go new and good its going to be more like $1,200 as the
.I have no further comment to
offer on tt or XYZ issues - you've demonstrated a determination to go
it alone on the tt, so I'll leave that at that.
For the tonearm, I've
repeatedly mentioned the Linn Ittok (which is the most easily mountable
to the Lenco's top-plate - a straight swap). Horror-stories generated
those with an agenda should be recoginzed as such. As long as due
deligence is exercised, this is not much different from buying any
I'd also mentioned that it may
be to your advantage to have two tone-arm mounts (i.e. the original
mount on the top-plate - covered, if not in use - and another,
positioned for a 12" arm, on the
plinth). Even if only one arm is presently in prospect (or ever) this
the prudent strategy, in readiness for any eventuallity the future may
hold - including re-sale.
Considering the increase in
the arm-budget, I'd now include the original VPI JMW 12 in my
considerations (new).[The JMW 10 is also well reputed.] I believe 12"
arms have certain advantages over
shorter arms. This one can later be upgraded, with the available parts,
to the 12.5 model, and perhaps even the 12.7. This is better than the
Ittok, which costs less than half the price and is, itself, better than
several that cost more. The only arms which are signifnificantly better
than the VPI cost somewhere near 5k, to more than 10.
If the Ortofon your builder
sells is the 12"er (the309, I believe) then it's reputedly a good arm -
though certainly not as good as the 12.7 VPI
The Clearaudio Satisfy (9"er)
is also deserving of consideration, tho there are issues which cause me
to put it at the bottom of this list.
Btw, do not take the
AudioCritique's rating system (and opinions) lightly, they're the most
credible and accurate I know of in the audioplile world (not including
my own opinions, of course) everything you're told to the contrary
(about audio-gear) could
literally be thrown thru the window. Make your task easy by heeding his
recommendations, if not mine. If you confine your choices to those in
Class B or C, according to your budget, then you can't go wrong. I
can't make the likelyhood of a good choice, on your part, any easier
Let me know if you get this.
Got it . Thanks
On Jun 5, 2012, at 10:57 PM
I'm confused - why buy just the arm if I can buy the entire turntable
including the tonearm ? What am I missing?
Arm and cartridge offered on 'gon
two entire tts w arm and one has cartridge on ebay
The Linn seems like a reasonable way to go.
These are absolute BARGAINS,
as far as I can see , all else being
equal. An Ittok I was watching went north of 600 (I stopped watching,
then). A pristine Linn w Ittok usually sells for 1500 to 2000. If I
were you, at this point, I'd take one of these Linns and RUN. Why?
These are literally
prices. A Linn +Ittok is significantly better than a Thorens 125/SME.
a well mod'ed Lenco will be better than a Linn. But a porperly set-up
Linn will also
run rings around a Lenco which was not well modified. (This is why I
strongly advocated the 'known-quantity' in the Lenco-mods scenario).
When you mentioned this;
" I listened to different
tts. some with heavy plinths and
some with 30-40 lbs and not too many mods. My impression was
the ones that try to dampen the tt significantly do a good job of
damping the sound . It sounds like a CD - bright but
dull. The ones that modified major faults with the tt and set
it in good plinth with good arm and cartridge sounded alive." It filled
me with trepidation. This is an obvious indication that the work, here
performed, is not consistent. It's a virtual 'crap-shoot' as to whether
you'll get a well-performing Lenco, or a nice-looking dud - a poser
no real substance. If so be the case, then a Linn + Ittok is much, much
the better option, especially at these prices. I'd go for the Linn.
.With the Linn in the bag,
you can take your time with the Lenco (or
not) examine better options. As I said, there are a few that outperform
it (including a properly mod'ed Lenco) but a well set-up Linn+Ittok,
though not at the top, is still among the best (I'm still happy with
mine, though I also have a better source).
.Of those you presented, the
one with the Lingo seems to be the
biggest bargain, on the face of it. (The Lingo power-supply alone could
conceivably be sold for the asking-price of the whole shebang).
However, looking at its history, I'm not sure whether this Linn is as
well cared-for as the others.
.Pick your choice, I'd say -
go for it - it's a much safer road than the one you've chosen to go
down, with the Lenco!
me know what you decide (I'm on pins and needles, here, as I
was very uncomfortable until I received your last e-mail - I'm feelin'
much better now, thank-u). Can't believe you said this, "The
Linn seems like a reasonable way to go." Ha! What
I just looked them over, once again. Those e-bay figures are for
the starting-bids (missed that in all the initial excitement). And at
the 'Gon, in addition to the one you showed, the same seller
another Linn for nearly twice the price (more in keeping with the
normal going-rate). I'd find out from that seller why this is so. But,
even at 1400, a good Linn + Ittok is a better proposition than a less
than properly mod'ed Lenco risk. (Not as good a bargain as
that ugly 2k Nantais
mod'ed Lenco we saw days ago tho, I'm very sure - especially
considering that the outer facade of that, or any such plinth, can be
removed for the rest to be embellished displaying the same birch-ply
effect since it's similarly constructed under that surface. Such a
Lenco-prospect is a 'known-quantity' - known to be better than the
Linn, absolutely. From your description, some of the options from that
other source certainly are not. In fairness to you, I had to say all
this, even if it displeases you, I cannot be hypocritical in
with-holding the truth for the sake of pleasantry). There, my friend,
I've said it - my conscience is clear - really couldn't bear that
weight any longer. If my concern for your own interests upsets you
then, so be it. Cheers!
.Here's a Linn with Ittok , Lingo,
and a Karma cartridge being sold by a
dealer, apparently. Expired, but perhaps they still have it, and may be
willing to drop the price even further. With the Lingo, anything
significantly less than the asking-price of 1799 seems to be an OK
prospect, especially since they're willing to do a deal on your choice
of a new cartridge, in lieu of the Karma. *** Let
me know if u get
this, and if I should continue looking for Linns. ***
Nice. I've inquired.
No need to look at anymore. I'm liking the idea of getting
this and being done w the tt saga. Btw - I won the auction
for the Stanton cartridge. Mine
for offering to look for tts. I feel like I'm taking up too
much time. You've gone above and beyond. I can wrap it up.
any advice or direction to articles about what to look for in buying
vinyl? In terms of quality/sonics?
On Jun 6, 2012, at 7:44 PM,
out on Linn)
Begin forwarded message:
June 6, 2012 8:21:37 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Linn turntable
Sorry that was sold months
Wed, Jun 6, 2012
at 6:58 PM
Is the Linn tt u had on audiogon still available? Thanks
Glad u got the Stanton. Sorry
about the Linn - that one was 'sweet'.
Nevertheless, it's great that
you've definitely decided on the Linn+Ittok, it's the safer bet, all
things considered. (Oh, and I'm really sorry if I came down a little
hard, but honesty and a tendency to care have long been
'faults' of mine - forgive me). As it stands, the Stanton is definitely
your primary cartridge, and the Linn/Ittok will likely be your primary
tt/arm combo (very worthy candidates too). But I'd suggest you make use
of the Lenco too, just before re-selling it: By all means, get the
cheapest wood Grado, a working Platimum at around 2 or 300 bucks, and
test it in the Lenco, as is. This is an inexpensive way to find out if
you like the uniquely natural sound of these Grados enough to re-sell
the Platinum and get one of the better, more expensive models for your
main tt. (This experiment would also give a hint as to how a Lenco
might have sounded in your own rig - you may even like it enough to put
the Ittok on it, as is, an easy swap for a techie. Then decide what to
do with either of the two tts at your leisure - just a thought).
As to the links to the tts you
sent me, this one in X-State, though
old, seems to be the best maintained, by a bona-fide audiophile and
incorrigible 'Linnie' who knows what he's doing - it seems to be
virtually plug 'n play (tho no Linn ever really is, even new).
Of the 3 (4?) I'd focus my
bidding more on this, with the hope of
getting it at not much more than 1200. The others may, or may not, need
some of the work that's already gone into this one. In the mean time,
I'd also focus on finding a dealer/individual in the Y-State area who
verifiable, competent, and experienced at setting-up LINNS - an easy
operation, for those who know. (This is important, many tt techies
don't know the first thing about setting-up a Linn - it must be a Linn
specialist, or you'll never be sure the Linn is operating at peak). All
spring-suspended tts are fussy, the Linn especially. Arrange, if
possible, for the specialist to set it up in your home, as Linns don't
like to be transported much, after this process - there-after, it'll
keep its tune for many years, if not abused.
On the recordings' side of
things; an article of mine, 'Recordings
& Recording Engineers...', focuses more on CDs, but also gives
hint as to some of the reasons for the arguable decline in the quality
of MAINSTREAM recordings (including LPs). Arguably, some of the best
quality recordings in the mainstream are from the 1960s to the 40s, or
there-about (though most could have been better - but at least they
avoid the vagaries of modern mainstream techniques). Find the little
stores in you area that carry these LPs in-good-condition. Unlike the
mainstream though, several of the 'premium' lables have alway
ensured quality recordings, to this day. Off the top of my head, some
of them are; Chesky, Water Lily, www.acousticsounds.com, Mobile
Fidelity (if it hasn't gone belly-up again) and Classic Records. I'll
think-up some more, and even surf the 'net (oh, Sheffield Records,
Decca, and - oops, that one slipped me - but these are others that just
came to mind, not sure if they still operate tho. (Some modern artistes
are also tending to favor analogue recording, and LP-realeases, btw).
The Audio-Critique's 'Reference Recordings' feature;
http://www.high-endaudio.com/supreme.html , is also an
source for finding (mostly Classical) gems of outstanding quality. And
the mainstream magz, like The Absolute Sound, regularly feature such
. The Stanton cart I won was located 30 min from my home.
This tt is 20 min from my home in X-State I've been
buying stuff from all over the world and two pieces r literally in my
I'm keeping the Lenco. I will
probably build it later.
On Jun 7, 2012,
However, I could not keep myself from being distracted by the Sansui
amps. To me they were very cool and the more I learned about
them the more I found myself drawn to them. I want to be
clear that my interest in them was segregated from the project you and
I have been working on. If I got them - it was a purely
speculative thing and I had no intention of using them for the system
we've been working on. I spoke to a small handful or people
very familiar with tube amps - most of them were the top guys in the US
and one guy in Japan who work on vintage tube electronics exclusively
and have excellent reputations. After speaking with
them - I felt like I might be on to something good and
decided to go for it. I bought both pairs. So that
it doesn't sound so nuts, I did ascertain that I could turn around
immediately and sell them for more than twice what I was getting them
for (if they were in the shape I thought they were). Turns
out they were in much better shape than I thought and they were worked
through by the the top tube guy in the area.
I listened to them in the guys garage who sold them to me (I'm not
to go into the story on how he got them - yes it was legal).
them hooked up to crap speakers so all I could really tell is
that they turned on and made sound. I took them to my vintage
audio guy Py. His eyes lit up. He was familiar with
equipment but had only seen pictures of these
amps. We hooked both sets up and they were
incredible. One is 8w and the other is 12w. Py also
uses the same tube repair guy who checked them out so he called to get
the skinny on them and reported back that they were in great condition.
I got them home and hooked them up to the Valncias. Remember
that I had only heard the Valencias in my house on a Super T amp
- not that impressive. The 12w pair blew life into
the speakers. I was literally
trembling because the sound was
so full and encompassing ( in
haste - I only could hook it up to
a CD player through a crappy preamp box that I think is just a line
splitter). I couldn't believe
that I had made such a
difference in my experience of listening to music in such a short time
and I only had a few pieces so far.
I listened for two days
and then hooked up the 8w pair - which are great for the Valencias
(they barely need any power). The smaller unit was just as
great and Im not sure yet which I prefer. I will hook the
Tuesday and see what that sounds like but I'd be shocked if
they can get even close to the sound these beautiful bad ass Sansui
tubes can turn out.
I listened to a bunch of cds on Wed night that were like brand new
experiences for me. I was
hearing soundstaging and
instrumental parts I wasn't aware of. I listened to a few
things I'd been listening to hundreds of times and it was a brand new
experience. As far as I'm concerned - I've already
reached my goal, which was to put together a system without breaking
the bank which would give me an opportunity to listen to recorded music
in a way I've been missing for years. Tues and Wed night
we're incredible for me.
the best part is that there are
more goodies on the way that will only (hopefully) enhance the
sound. Like I said
- I went after the Sansui's as a
collectors item - if I have or get something else that does
the job better - they are going to the bench (I think it's
unlikely that happens), SP-8 will be there by Tues and Quad 303 is
That leaves turntable. I'm back
to rebuilding the
Lenco. I have
confidence in Py being able to a great
job. He is the go to guy for the area on these
projects. I'll probably go with Ortofon tone arm and I still
need to figure out final cartridge. I will listen to them on
the tt and will audition the Sonata (remember have the
Stanton and I have at least a month to make the decision).
I've decided against the Linn for now. I've concluded that
I'm confident that I can build a very good Lenco now and that Lenco
will outperform a non modified Linn. BTW the Lenco arrived
yesterday and the tech who inspected it said its in great
shape. Once I heard that - I ran back to the Lenco camp.
Yes - I probably need some tweeter modification to the speakers in the
future but I'm not going to deal with it for a while.
CD and DAC can wait for now also.
So why did I get the Sansui's? The more I learned about them
the more interesting they became. They only people who knew
anything about them were the old-school tube amp technicians.
My conversations with them were all pretty similar. They all
said - if you see those things grab them. They are great and
rare as sh... It was a low risk proposition. Unless
they were totally screwed up or replaced with crap parts - I
knew I could probably sell them for a lot more than I bought them for
so I was looking at this particular deal very differently than the rest
of the equipment you and I were discussing. Turns out the
amps are in a lot better condition than what was expected and these
items are even more valuable than I originally expected. I
have no interest in selling one pair. If these amps continue
to impress me - I want them around. I will bring a pair back
Keep in mind that I did get to listen to the amps in comparison to some
really high end new and old stuff Py had set up at his place.
Hope this isn't a disappointment to you. I did not intend to go way
outside our discussion to fill in the amp need. I just
happened to find an amp I thought was really cool and it happened to
preform at a level I did not expect. I dont intend to start
collecting or speculating on this stuff. Too much time and
mental energy. However, I do have the beginning of a really
cool 110v US 1950s Sansui tube amp museum going.
I really can't believe you
said this about the Sansuis; "Hope this isn't a disappointment to you."
How could I be disappointed
about such a result? I'm not disappointed - I'm tickled-pink (or
perhaps purple). How could I be disappointed at the joy you expressed
about the sound coming from those little Japs and the Valencias? Isn't
this what this whole quest is about; the joy which is induced by
realistic music-reproduction? Naw, man. I'm happy for you -
However, I'll admit to being
disappointed at hearing this; "I have no interest in selling one pair."
You see, until I saw that
crushing statement near the end, I'd gotten caught-up in the excitment
of your colorful description of their sound. As I read, I'd started to
get ideas that maybe you'd be interested in selling the extra pair.
Those hopes were dashed when I saw that statement. Never mind tho, I'll
In my brief
research, weeks ago, I'd seen where people liked them, for
sure. But, ironically, yours is the most complete and enlightening
account I've encountered about these gems, as compared to other
high-end amps (at Py). Oh yes, I'd seen where some Japanese are willing
to sell house and parcels of land in order to acquire these little
so-and-sos. But I hadn't found anything (still) to tell me that they
were actually better than a 7k Manley Neo, for instance (which
6973-tubed Ampex mono-blocs run rings around, according to the
AudioCritique reader - that mag rates the Manleys in class 'B', btw,
above some very imperssive and expensive gear). Sure, the Ampex and S-C
amps may still be better (who knows?) but from the satisfaction the
Sansuis obviously bring, I'd suggest that our search for amps is over -
at least for this initial phase of your high-end journey. Am I right?
Oh, and I guarantee they're better than the 303 (the only question is;
by how much - those Jap-audiophiles would revere nothing less, this I
know for sure. [Btw, on a personal note, I've been trying to find those
Ampexes or S-Cs (Lenco too) locally for a while now, on and off (tho
the system isn't sreaming for changes, really). When I do, I'm sure
I'll get them for a song (that's the attraction). Been close, a time or
two (wrong models) but I think I may get there. Still searchin'. FYI,
your system, and those in the article that attracted you, are based
pretty-much on my own - present and future. Perhaps you didn't notice,
but the aim is to get you (and others who read my articles) what I
have, or even better. Chalk it down to sharin' the joy.]
And the good news just keeps
on coming. You said; "I've decided against the Linn for
now. I've concluded that I'm confident that I can build a
very good Lenco now and that Lenco will outperform a non modified
FYI, a Linn is certainly good,
but a well modified Lenco
will outperform any Linn; from the brand-new fully accessorized Linn,
selling for considerably north of 10-grand, to the Linn modified by
disciples of the *almighty (i.e. *Ivor Tiefenbrun-'the
great'). [Most savy owners of even more ridiculo-buck tts also shudder
at the names; Lenco, Garrard, Thorens, etc.] And after the audio-acumen
you've demonstrated with the Sansuis, I doubt I'll ever doubt your
audio-judgement again. You've listened to his works, and if you feel
that your guy at Py can build you a great Lenco, then I'm now somewhat
confident he will. Knowing you, as I've come to, I'm also sure you will
have listened to his best work and indicated to him that this is
exactly what you'd want. So no, you will not find me fretting like a
mother-hen, again, as to whether this tt venture may compromise the
performance of the whole system. I'm sure you know, as much as I, how
important this is, and that stellar performance at the front-end is
This last post from you was/is
very very very encouraging. It means that the Valencias have met
expectations, and that preliminary amplification (i.e. prelim to Ampex,
etc - now redundant) has surpassed said expectations - the Sansuis have
effectively and prematurely done what was expected of the S-Cs or
Ampexes. It's even more encouraging that this level of performance was
achieved with a not-too-great digital-feed and, of all things,
effectively passive 'pre-amplification'. It means we can now rest easy,
even while we expect much better. 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 SP8 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 next week - trust me on that. The Lenco will be icing on
the cake - albeit, a very substantial layer of icing.
While I'm overjoyed at the
performance of the Sansuis, the impact, overall, is somewhat tempered
this is what would've been expected of the Ampexes anyway. I'm
particularly proud of the performance of the Valencia, not because this
would not have also been expected of a Valencia at its peak, but
because of the fact that these are old, and that capacitors and
resistors, in the cross-over network, deteriorate with time,
necessitating replacement, at some point. Alinco magnets also tend to
need re-magnetizing late in life (not sure if Alincos are in yours -
many feel they're more musical than ferrites, more expensive too). But
mostly because of the x-over issue, I was aprehensive that we may have
to address that issue, though relatively minor (another reason why I'd
asked you to judge the Valencias critically, previously). You were not
the only one quietly 'sneeking' around, my friend. Since I always like
to be a step ahead of the game, I embarked on an 'investigation', just
in case. Now, with the performance you've reported, this is also
redundant. But since it's always good to have relevant contacts, I'll
copy my 'investigative work' below - this (Iconic) is another source
for new Altec parts and service, in addition to GPA.
You'll also remember, from the
'early' days, that I'd pondered whether your tastes might call for
super-tweeter and sub-woofer augmentation of the Valencias. I was
checking those out too, just in case. I'm shocked at the cheap prices
for subwoofers, starting at less than 200, 'used'. I'd prefer more
which are much bigger, mostly, but I also have to recognize that this
system is in your living-room, so I guess the big-uns are out. The most
popular choices for super-tweeters for such speakers as the Valencia
would be from the likes of JBL, TAD, and E-V, none of which
I've been completely satisfied with in my own experiments. I also see
where you're not in a hurry to address this. That's a good sign, but
I'd also suggest that you try the 'cheap-trick' I'd mentioned, just for
the time being (you may never want for another solution). Say yes and
I'll give you the 'recipe' (you know me, I'll give it even if you're
not so inclined at the moment). Been checkin' around e-bay seeking to
limit the cost to 100, more or less - told you it's a 'cheap-trick'.
Considering my minor concerns
with the Valencia, and also considering the major role they played in
what you heard during your auditions, I can't tell you how
gratifying it is to hear you say this; "I was hearing
instrumental parts I wasn't aware of. I listened to a few
things I'd been listening to hundreds of times and it was a brand new
experience. As far as I'm concerned - I've already
reached my goal, which was to put together a system without breaking
the bank which would give me an opportunity to listen to recorded music
in a way I've been missing for years. Tues and Wed night
we're incredible for me.."
Forgive me, but I just had to repeat
This is my reward.
I'm glad that you're happy, so
far, my friend. Heartiest congrats on the Sansuis!
.By the way, do tell what
speakers were used at Py, how the Valencias compare, and what amps the
Japs were compared to
- curiousity is killin' this cat.
On 6/7/2012 7:55 PM, :
<waj; [email protected]
Friday, June 8,
2012 1:10 PM
Re: Pl; quote
price of DN 19-8U.
[Correspondence with Iconic Speaker Manufacturing omitted - agreement
for publishing was not solicited - WAJ]
Sent: Saturday, June 9, 2012
X, Did you see my last post? Especially this:
Subject: Re: status.
.By the way, do tell what speakers were used at Py, how the Valencias
compare, and what amps the Japs were compared to - curiosity is killin'
I did get it. I dont
notes with me so hear goes from memory We
listened to a number of
speakers; old Altec Lansings 604bs. Western
vintage - huge. Audio Note
- really liked
these a lot. Very sharp and full speaker.
their design. I would consider them if I were
looking at new speakers. He had a number of Quad speakers
that I will listen to next time.
Py had a great selection of horns dating back to the 1940s.
I'd like to listen to them in the future.
Amp;. crazy vintage Western Electric monblocks.
rebuilt custom tube amps that Py makes. There may have also
been an Audio Note amp I heard. All these amps were well set
up with pre amps etc so I wasn't comparing my amps apples to apples.
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.
I didnt want to
get that critical given that I didn't have the SP-8 hooked up yet and I
was playing cds - which is not why I built the whole thing.
I just bought another pair of Iconic Flamenco Cabinets in pristine
shape for $100. Not sure what Im going to do with them yet
given that I have at least one extra amp or set of monblocks - it
woudn't be a bad idea to have another system in my home in
The cabinets are really beautiful.
With all that said - the Audio Note speakers were impressive.
I liked them.
I'm not sure you realize it,
but amongst such equipment you're literally in the presence of royalty,
there at Py. These are some of the cream of the crop - no doubt. If
you'd mentioned such gear before then, perhaps, I never would've
doubted the fella. Anyone who's intimate with such gear has to know
what he's doing - no question. (Oh, if he has a folded-horn Tannoy in
there somewhere, try to get to hear it - something like a GRF or,
better still, aWestminster - Klangfilm too, or RCA with field-coils).
Audio-Note, Altec 604,
Western-Electric. Did you say; Western-Electric - the fore-runner and,
subsequent, integral part of Altec? I mean, did you say you got to
listen to a 'huge' Western-Electric speaker-system?
I wonder if it's the L-9; the
one I referred to in my article, 'The Ultimate Speakers Are Within
Reach', to demonstrate the ridiculous superiority such speakers as
this, and your Valencia (to a slightly lesser degree) have over even
the most expensive of modern small-coned mega-dollar monolithic poor
excuses for speaker-systems.
Is this the one you listened
If it is, then note what is
said about it, in that link, and this one, in comparison to the very
'best' of modern speakers:
And you're confirming that
your 1-grand Valencia is as impressive, and similar in its realism, in
your home (or even almost) as this near-priceless icon, or one of its
equally accomplished siblings? If this is so, my friend, then this
would be quite a feat - not to be taken lightly. Why?
I keep stressing in my
articles that, as long as the rest of the audio-chain is up to
standard, the SPEAKERS are the biggest determinant as to whether a
close approach to REALISM is achieved in a system, or just a 'nice'
sound. It doesn't matter how good or how expensive the rest of the
system is, that level of realism (as from the Valencia and W-E) will
never be achieved with most modern small-coned speaker-systems. Oh, and
not to downplay your astute acquisition of the Sansui amps but, with
small-coned speakers, they'll sound 'good' but never with the level of
acomplished with speakers such as your Altecs. The world's best tt,
pre-amp, amp, they're all dependent on the attributes of the speaker in
ensuring the level of realism they reproduce.
As audiophiles, it's important
that we realize what really makes the biggest difference in our
systems, or we run the risk of reverting to the same mistakes, later
on. The theory can be easily proven, as alluded to in the article.
'High-End Audio on a Budget': Just connect the best gear to any of the
popular small-coned speaker-systems. And, then, connect the same gear
to speakers like the Altec - then listen to the difference.
I'm not seeking to burst your
bubble, my friend, I'm just instituting a reality-check. I'm very
certain the Sansuis are good (my preliminary investigations told me so
- the only question was how good) and your own test confirms that
they're good. But more poignantly, your test really confirms how 'bad'
the Super T-amp really is. I fear that, because of the vast difference
between these two amp systems, you may be ascribing too much credit to
the Sansuis (and amplifiers, in general). For instance, the Quad was
merely a stop-gap measure to serve until Ampexes or other quality amps
were found (I think the Sansui now puts that search to an end,
admirably). And though I'm sure the Sansuis are better than the Quad,
no question, I'm also sure that the Quad too will demonstrate a vast
diference in quality between it and the Super-T. When this happens, you
will see my point that it's really the dire lack of quality of the
Super-T that was really demonstrated, much much more so than an
'extreme' level of quality in the Sansuis (or any other amplifier -
Ampex, S-C, and even 100-grand amps, included).
The truth is that the
differences between good amps are very subtle -
it's all in the nuances. There are no 'vast' differences between the
best amps. The vast differences exist between the best amps and the
'bad' ones, like the Super-T. I absolutely gaurantee that
when you test the Quad, the Sansuis will be better, but there'll be
nowhere near the vast difference as between the Sansuis and the
fact, you'll find that the Quad is so similar in its overall competence
that you'll see that the realism you now ascribe to the Sansuis is
mainly a product of the speakers, and not mainly of any particular amp
- this I also guarantee.
The point I'm struggling to
make is a very important one. If one erroneously believes than an amp
can almost single-handedly lift a system to realism (not saying that
you do - I'm really not sure) then one is mistaken (and this could lead
to bigger mistakes, later on). The
only component that can do that, in a 'good' system, is the
speaker-system. In reference to the systems in those links; if one were
to connect the great X-2 speakers of the most respected of popular
small-coned speaker-manufacturers, Wilson Audio, to the amps and
Western-Electric room, the resulting sound would not have been as
realistic as with the W-E speakers. (Oh, and I do respect the X-2, btw,
and the principles on which it operates - I think it's better than most
modern speakers, of the popular types). But if one were to connect the
speakers to the
components of the Wilson X-2's room then the realism of that system
have been lifted to unprecedented levels. [This is because speakers
like the W-Es and your Altecs possess assets the X2s (and even more so;
other modern small-coned speaker-systems) simply do not have - superior
A similar point was made in
that original article you read. What I'm saying here is nothing I
haven't said before. [If you were to ask others, many would disagree.
My arguments are radical, but the proof is in the evidence.] In
any good system, the attributes of the speaker-system make the biggest
difference as to how realistic that system really is - not the amp, or
any other component - the speaker is the most important, most
influencial, and final supplier of realistic reproduction.
I just thought it best to make
that clear. In future, if you want to maintain the level of realism now
attained with the Altecs, then you need to ensure that these attributes
which the Altecs display (as itemized in the 'Ultimate Speakers..'
article) are inrtinsic to any potential candidate. Expecting any amp to
make that kind of a difference is futile. The difference between good
amps is nowhere near as pronounced as that between most
types of speakers and those like the Altecs and W-Es - the latter are,
intrinsically, vastly more realistic than most popular types. The
majority of the 'best' today, constrained by
are geared toward un-natural analytics; hyper-detailed resolution and
pin-point soundstaging - none of which is apparent to this extreme at a
live musical event - while they lag in the more important areas
necessary for the truly lifelike and realistic reproduction of music.
The latter types (like the W-Es and Altecs) are geared toward lifelike
OVERALL REALISM, with particular distinction in realistic tone & dynamics
which most of the popular modern speakers intrinsically lack, severely.
your speakers are mainly responsible for the unprecedented levels of
realism you're now experiencing - that's it.
By the way, a version of the
Audio-Note you speak of is also recommended in that article. However, I
should also point this out: All the other speakers you mentioned,
including your own Valencias, are reticent in their response at the
very highest frequencies (many augment them with super-tweeters - some
don't). The Audio-Note is the only system, amongst those, that is
nearly flat to the high-frequency extreme. I strongly suspect that your
attraction to it may be partially influenced by that fact. In light of
this, and with a view to enhancing your enjoyment of your current
speakers, I'd advise you to, perhaps as early as this coming week and
prior to your next test, implement the 'cheap-trick' tweeter-system
I'll describe next. It costs next to nothing, and is easy to implement.
This would serve until you're ready to address the issue 'properly' -
you may even want to keep it, as I said before. Watch-out for it.
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;
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."
good sign". What an understatement? I agree tho, that's definitely a