Author Topic: Changes are coming........  (Read 5425 times)

Offline hometheaterdoc

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Changes are coming........
« on: October 14, 2009, 11:33:31 AM »
Hey locals!

Disclaimer:  Carl, this may have too much of a commercial slant to stay in NC Audiophiles.  So if you want to move it to Dealer Ads, have at it.  I'm still debating where to stick it....

There's going to be some turnover at my place.  I took a look at all the gear piled up everywhere and had to make some tough choices..... especially since I have even MORE stuff on order at the moment that will be shipping as soon as it's built and/or comes into stock. 

As with a lot of audiophiles, I tend to go in cycles.  But I'm worse because I'm also a dealer (or is it that I'm a dealer because I'm worse than most audiophiles and having the business is just a facade to hide my insane gear collecting tendencies????  Hmmmmmmmmm).  Anyways, I get energized about new gear and go on a shopping spree.  I buy tons and tons of gear not only because I want to hear it, but because I get these grandiose ideas about having as many possible combinations and permutations of gear I can possible can fit into one room.  That's why it ends up that I've got 6 pairs of speakers, 8 amplifiers, etc. piled into rooms, all at different price points, all adding up to an overall investment that makes me shake my head eventually.  I try to be too many things to too many *potential* customers instead of focusing on what is selling and displaying just that.  It's this weird fight in my head of displaying only what's necessary versus "build it and they will come" mentality.  Add in my desire to have a bunch of the best of the best gear that is priced beyond what my typical customer will ever buy and it's a recipe for a whole lot of gear and not a lot of common sense.

This time around, with more square footage to fill in my new place, it's even worse.  I literally have no room in the Salamander racks I just bought and have stuff piled up in corners of rooms and in closets.... with more gear on the way.  In the past, I would reach a point of critical mass, realize how ridiculous I was letting things get, and start purging... Now I've got someone living with me that is, shall we say, *less* than enthused with the current buildup of gear, wants the purging process to start NOW and the buildup process to never repeat itself again........

Through all the cycles, certain things always held fast and true.  I always kept those things that I loved the most and sold off everything else.  The stuff that got purged may have been very good, but wasn't the absolute best.   That usually left me with a bunch of high dollar stuff that wasn't helpful for demonstration purposes to locals.  I sell a whole lot more $3K and under amplifiers than I do $19K ones.... but those Butler Monad monoblocks are so incredibly good that I just couldn't part with them.  Likewise I kept only JPS Aluminata cabling when most folks are never going to go beyond the SC3 level, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

This time around, I'm trying to be more practical.  Plus, this buildup cycle, I found some pieces and combinations of pieces that, while not the best or my absolute favorite, were so much closer than in the past that I can finally live with them without feeling it's a massive compromise.  At least that is what I've been repeating to myself over and over and over and over and over again.  So far it's kind of working.... OK, so it's not really working....  But I'm going to stick to it :)

So first the good news (i.e. more new gear coming):

Belles 22A tube preamp... this is a new product that isn't up on their website yet.  It will be shipping in a few more weeks once all the chassis parts, etc. arrive and Dave can start building out units.  My order is already placed based on my experience with the VT-01 tube preamp in the Statement Line.  This 22A will be very similar to the circuit in the VT-01 but will be a slightly stripped down version.  It will only use 2 12AU7s instead of the 4 in the VT-01.  MSRP will be $2495.00

the NEW Belles Reference 150A...  This is an all new circuit for the Ref 150A including a price drop to $2295 MSRP I believe (might be $2195.00).  It should be under construction and on its way to me very soon.  Again, things learned with the Statement line amplifiers (SA-30 and SA-100) prompted this change in circuit topology.  I was looking for an amplifier with a bit more juice than the SA-30 pure class A amplifier. The SA-30 I have here now, because of its lower power output, won't work with all my customer's speaker or even every one of my own showroom speakers. 

Usher Audio Mini Dancer 2.... Ever since I let the Be-20s go, I've missed the big Usher sound.  The Be-718 Tiny Dancer models won't work ideally in my larger 2 channel "room" since it isn't a closed off room.  Instead, it's essentially wide open to the entire first floor of the place and is a huge airspace.  The joys of open floor plans, right? :(  These $4795.00 MSRP Mini Dancer 2 floorstanders will give me the walnut finish and curved cabinet look I miss about the Dancer line, a small enough footprint to fit the space, performance that will fill the airspace, and a price that's within reach of a lot of folks.  These will share time in the 2 channel room with the Harbeth Monitor 40.1 speakers.  I *love* what the Harbeth speakers do on 95% of the music I listen to.  In fact, on some things I even prefer them to the Be-20s that came before.... believe me, that's saying a *lot*.  If I had to settle on just one pair of speakers forever, the Be-20s would be at the top of my list for anything under $20K MSRP..... as long as you have the room for them..... which I, unfortunately, do not in my current room.... the airspace is big, but the placement options just don't work....  if I did, Rich's pair of Be-20s he has for sale would be returning home to me in spite of that whole trying to be practical thing I mention above!!!!

When they are setup in their proper position, the Harbeths are truly phenomenal.  But that means they are more nearfield than I like to listen sometimes and don't image like traditional speakers.  So by having a speaker choice, the Usher Mini Dancer 2 will give me that Usher punch and allow me to listen in a more "traditional" perspective of the speakers set further back and more far field alignment.  Plus, these are small enough that they can still sit unused towards the back of the listening room when not in use until I want to move the Harbeths out of the way and listen to them.  I have to compromise with a certain someone about the 8 pairs of speakers in each listening room I've currently got going on.  So this is my "practical" compromise.  I get to keep a slightly pricier speaker I love (the $13K Harbeths) and get to have two great pairs of speakers in the main 2 channel room to feed all sides of my musical tastes in speakers.  In turn, I have to let some other electronic pieces go and eliminate most of the speakers in other rooms that are lining the walls and not in use.

What's definitely staying:

LFD integrated amplifiers.  They are not outrageously priced and the performance for the dollar is too incredible to ignore.  While they aren't a well known brand and the manual volume control will annoy the crap out of lots of customers just like me, I'm convinced it's worth the compromise..... and I think I can package them so it's possible to get around that compromise...

JPS Labs cabling.  I don't care what it costs or how impractical it may seem.  It doesn't sound like music to me without JPS in the mix.  I am going to pare out some of the demo cables though so I don't have too many just lying around.  Trying to find the balance of having enough of each range to let folks try versus having too many just sitting there waiting for folks to ask to borrow.

Harbeth speakers.  The big boys stay in the two channel system despite their positioning requirements and higher price of entry.  The little fellas are stupid good and I'm going to try to find a way to make a surround sound/2 channel combo system out of them in the theater room.  It will likely be 5 of the new P3 models as those really work well in that vein if a good enough sub can be mated with them to keep up with them for surround sound. 

Era speakers.  The better half loves the look of them and loves the sound of them paired with a dirt cheap receiver in the family room that's not supposed to be a showroom.  Ultimately, I won't have as many models on display as I currently do.  I'll likely take advantage of her unwittingly giving me an additional showroom for those models to be displayed and get rid of the others.  The value of the line can't be ignored.  So they'll be sticking around as my budget choice for customers even if I don't have multiple pairs of each model on display like I currently do. 

Belles.  Honestly, there was a time a couple years ago, given my mix of product lines at the time, that Belles just didn't work.  It was too much of the same sonic characteristics of the other components in the system and the result in the systems I put together was to end up with a sound balance that was too neutral and transparent.... and the truth is that I, and most people, like a little love in their sound.  I think with Butler, LFD, and Belles (especially their tube preamps that are really good and allow you to tailor the sound) I hit enough of a mix to make each of the speaker lines and complete systems I now offer really work... while at the same time offering a range of sounds from more lush to more neutral and resolving.  I'm still trying to make the nagging voice in the back of my head go away when it tells me I need a good value tube electronic line to really round things out.  We'll see who wins that battle :) hehehe


So what goes you ask?  The notable items so far include my beloved Butler Audio A100 Monads.  I almost sold them a while ago for reasons unrelated to their sonics.  In a way I was glad for the financial meltdown hitting at that point and me keeping them.  I've gotten to enjoy them again.  By far my favorite amplifiers to this day.  They just totally get it.  They are everything I ever could ask for in an amplifier.  The problem is that they are $19,000 MSRP and dealer cost is very high.  To even break even, the sale price has to be very high, way beyond what only a select few of my customers want spend on an amplifier.  They are a custom, hand built one at a time by the owner of the company, product... They don't have brand name recognition on the order of Audio Research, Classe, B&W, etc.  They are very expensive and labor intensive to build.   With as many great choices out there to spend your audio bucks on, finding a lot of customers to buy a $19K amp from a small company is tough.  I'm not Audio Advice here in town and I don't want to become like them.  So even though it's the best sounding amplifier I have here, and as much as it is going to pain me to sell them (and regret it later), I am finally going to let the Monads go for good this time.

Another piece that is in the mix to go is the Oracle DAC1000.  Again, it is by far the best DAC I've used until you get into the stupid priced ones.  Just this week, I've done a couple more direct comparisons with other DACs I brought in for evaluation.  I won't name names as it's not fair to them.  But suffice it to say, the Oracle is still king.... in some cases by a country mile.  The modded Buffalo I have here is ok... but in a direct head to head with system setup properly, the differences are not as subtle as they appeared at the open house.  I can very easily pick out the improvements the Oracle provides.  However, the reason I'm even looking at other DACs is that the DAC and preamp functions the Oracle provides is starting to get pricey at >$6K.  I don't have a line of folks at my door wanting to spend that kind of cash.  So, even though I've yet to find another piece that I feel is its equal, the Oracle may have to go to make room for the less pricey options that are more in line with what customers are wanting to pay.   

There are other items that are going to be heading out.  Look for some things to start popping up for sale in the dealer area and on other venues.

Anyways, I haven't scrolled up yet... but I bet this has gotten longer than I anticipated... just some thoughts on where things are going and how I'm getting there.  I thought it might be a touch interesting for folks.  I can't imagine what other folks in the industry are feeling at the moment.  I'm seeing a focus back on more value oriented items at the lower end of the scale.... both in 2 channel and especially in home theater.  Actually I've seen folks going back to 2 channel because they can get better 2 channel for the price that it would have set them back on the surround sound.

I plan to have another get together as soon as the new pieces arrive.  It'll be fun to share the new toys and see what everyone thinks...

Shane

Shane Sangster
Used to be Night & Day Audio.......

Offline mdconnelly

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2009, 12:58:49 PM »
Shane,  when I started reading you post I had two fears...

1) that you might not have the Oracle DAC1000 in the list of things to go.
2) that you would! 

Believe me when I say that the 2nd fear is the one that will get me in the most trouble   [-X  But lately, resistance has proven to be futile.

Don't know if I can swing it, but I would love a chance to borrow it sometime to compare to the Tact.   
« Last Edit: October 14, 2009, 01:00:20 PM by mdconnelly »

Bigfish8

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2009, 06:25:35 PM »
Hi Shane:

I really enjoyed reading your post and as a person that has had the great fortune of visiting your home I can testify that you indeed have a lot of very nice audio gear.  I will certainly be interested in hearing the Mini Dance Two's and the new Belles Preamp. 

Ken

Black Sand Cable

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2009, 08:20:37 PM »
But I'm worse because I'm also a dealer (or is it that I'm a dealer because I'm worse than most audiophiles and having the business is just a facade to hide my insane gear collecting tendencies????  Hmmmmmmmmm). 


I came to terms with this a long time ago and now just live with it!  :D I gave up fighting it. I like to collect stuff.....It's nice when stuff sells every once in awhile as it keeps suppliers happy but I have no issues with it hanging around for an extended time!

lonewolfny42

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2009, 08:22:23 PM »
Shane...

Quote
There's going to be some turnover at my place.  I took a look at all the gear piled up everywhere and had to make some tough choices..... especially since I have even MORE stuff on order at the moment that will be shipping as soon as it's built and/or comes into stock.

As with a lot of audiophiles, I tend to go in cycles.  But I'm worse because I'm also a dealer (or is it that I'm a dealer because I'm worse than most audiophiles and having the business is just a facade to hide my insane gear collecting tendencies????  Hmmmmmmmmm).  Anyways, I get energized about new gear and go on a shopping spree.  I buy tons and tons of gear not only because I want to hear it, but because I get these grandiose ideas about having as many possible combinations and permutations of gear I can possible can fit into one room.  That's why it ends up that I've got 6 pairs of speakers, 8 amplifiers, etc. piled into rooms, all at different price points, all adding up to an overall investment that makes me shake my head eventually.

Confession is good Shane.....so say 10 "Our Father's"...and 10 "Hail Mary's"....
......all is forgiven. :rofl:

Usher Audio Mini Dancer 2....I think you'll really enjoy them...their a good speaker....and they look great.
Sort of like the Acoustic Zen model (Adagio)....but sounding much, much better.
Matter of fact, I know someone that is replacing their larger Usher's for the Mini 2.
At RMAF, Stan (Music Matters) was showing these with the Belles mono's...a good room.
Cables were of course provided by Joe (JPS Labs).

Good luck..... :beer:
Too bad you didn't make the show


« Last Edit: October 14, 2009, 09:27:39 PM by lonewolfny42 »

Offline hometheaterdoc

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2009, 04:47:34 AM »
Mike,

You're more than welcome to give the Oracle a spin in your system.  You can pick it up when you pick up your speaker cables if you want?  They should be here this week.

The Belles stuff should be shipping this upcoming week and now that they have cleared customs, the Ushers should be on their way to me this week as well.  I should be in the process of breaking in the new gear very soon.  Get together coming soon!!!

Shane Sangster
Used to be Night & Day Audio.......

Offline hometheaterdoc

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2009, 08:10:57 AM »
22A preamp details:

Full remote functionality including input switching.

5 inputs
Tape Loop
HT bypass input
All inputs RCA only.  No XLR ins or outs

*dual* RCA outputs to drive two amps or amp and subwoofers. 

uses a pair of 12AU7 tubes.

MSRP: $2495.00

Carl, it looks like it has all the things you want on your 21A ;)

Both preamp and amp are scheduled to ship to me this week.  I'm looking forward to breaking them in.  I'll get some photos up as soon as I open the boxes.

Shane Sangster
Used to be Night & Day Audio.......

Offline Carlman

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2009, 09:18:01 AM »
Cool, and it's probably cheaper than a pair of SC3 RCA splitters. ;) ha.
Looking forward to comparing it.. btw, I have claimed your Radio Technique tubes.. they are mine!  :twisted:  I will buy you a new pair if need be... but I'd really like to keep these... they are indeed perfect.  I have carefully repackaged all the tubes and put them in your box.. I'd like to keep the Sylvania heavy duty's as a spare backup as well.  We can talk about all that later.

I re-did my speaker positioning for the last time, got it super balanced and am now completely satisfied with the sound I have.. well, other than I do want to add subs at some point.. but even without the subs, it is moving, engaging, technically excellent, and all just 'works' together now. 

BTW.. This post is all over the place (partially thanks to me, sorry) so it'd probably be best just to place a for sale ad in the dealer section just listing what's for sale.. and I can start a new post for what's going on in my world..

Thanks,
Carl
I really enjoy listening to music.

Offline Rob S.

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2009, 10:59:59 AM »
Shane,

When Mike gets done with the Oracle DAC1000 (and doesn't buy it) would you mind sending it up to me?  also wouldn 't mind hearing the modd'ed Buffalo too.  or at least borrow Rich's stock one ( maybe it's not stock anymore?)

I'll give you a call, got some other things to discuss. :)

Rob S.

No new money spent on audio!!  but starting in 2012!!

Offline mdconnelly

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2009, 06:58:28 PM »
Rob,

Sorry, but after having it in my system for a few days, I just couldn't bear to let it go.  It mates with the Oracle transport (which I bought from Shane awhile back) incredibly well.   Just seemed right that they should be together again ;-)

But I will say that if I was just looking for a DAC, that unit Bill O'Connell is now selling (http://www.audionervosa.com/index.php?topic=1755.0) sounds like it is definitely in need of a listen!
« Last Edit: October 25, 2009, 07:01:58 PM by mdconnelly »

Offline hometheaterdoc

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2009, 01:20:33 PM »
Usher Mini Dancer 2's are in the garage... but a good buddy is going to help me out by breaking them in for me at his place.  So I won't be listening to them for a couple weeks.

I just got word that the Belles stuff finally starts on its way to me tomorrow morning.  The sheet metal was delayed getting to Dave.  I've been warned of a really long break in time with these new pieces.  But at the same time, I'm anxious to get them in here and give them a listen even not fully broken in... they'll start 24/7 play time duty as soon as they get here.  It's gonna be difficult to wait for them to fully burn in... but at least there is some exciting news on this dark day of selling off my long term reference stuff.....

Shane Sangster
Used to be Night & Day Audio.......

Bigfish8

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2009, 02:55:11 PM »
Shane:

I will be very interested to hear the opinion of the Mini Dancer 2's from the lucky guy that is getting to break them in.  I received a message last night from Capt. Humble on AC that he received the demo pair that was out at RMAF yesterday.  His comments are that they sound incredible in his room, much better in fact than they sounded at the show.  He also commented that his wife was very pleased with their appearance.  Since I have the ugliest pair of speakers in Raleigh, for certain, I do not know if I ever need for Vera to see them.  Ha, Ha! :rofl:

Additionally to the Usher's I will be interested to hear your comments and hopefully hear the Belles 22A preamp.  It seems to have all the features I seek from a preamp including a remote which my Mapletree lacks. 

Have a good evening.

Ken

Offline rollo

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2009, 07:53:31 AM »
Good move Shane. Best of luck. You may check out the Vandersteen line especially the 2CE Sing and 3A Sing. IMO they would sell very well and sound GREAT with the Belles gear. For the money its a tough act to beat. Besides those Vandys sell themselves with that rich and sensous sound.
   Now for the regular folk some NAD or Rotel gear so they step up in the future. Well whatever you do with your personality should be a winner.



charles
contact me  at rollo14@verizon.net or visit us on Facebook
Lamm Industries - Aqua Acoustic, Formula & La Scala DAC- INNUOS  - Rethm - Kuzma - QLN - Audio Hungary Qualiton - Fritz speakers -Gigawatt -Vinnie Rossi,TWL, Swiss Cables, Merason DAC.

Ecramer

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2009, 08:46:33 AM »
2CE Sing and 3A Sing. are both very nice speakers for the money i like them both I could live with either one.

Good move Shane. Best of luck. You may check out the Vandersteen line especially the 2CE Sing and 3A Sing. IMO they would sell very well and sound GREAT with the Belles gear. For the money its a tough act to beat. Besides those Vandys sell themselves with that rich and sensous sound.
   Now for the regular folk some NAD or Rotel gear so they step up in the future. Well whatever you do with your personality should be a winner.



charles

Offline rollo

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Re: Changes are coming........
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2009, 07:11:56 AM »
2CE Sing and 3A Sing. are both very nice speakers for the money i like them both I could live with either one.

Good move Shane. Best of luck. You may check out the Vandersteen line especially the 2CE Sing and 3A Sing. IMO they would sell very well and sound GREAT with the Belles gear. For the money its a tough act to beat. Besides those Vandys sell themselves with that rich and sensous sound.
   Now for the regular folk some NAD or Rotel gear so they step up in the future. Well whatever you do with your personality should be a winner.



charles
  Especially withe the Mc Intosh 402 amp and Homegrown cabling. terrific tone and weight. Intoxicating actually. If I ever get bored with the SETs and Pipedreams that is what will replace them.


charles
contact me  at rollo14@verizon.net or visit us on Facebook
Lamm Industries - Aqua Acoustic, Formula & La Scala DAC- INNUOS  - Rethm - Kuzma - QLN - Audio Hungary Qualiton - Fritz speakers -Gigawatt -Vinnie Rossi,TWL, Swiss Cables, Merason DAC.