Author Topic: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G  (Read 12889 times)

Offline Carlman

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2008, 07:15:11 AM »
OK, I'm counting down the hours... ;)
Can't wait to see everyone today.
TTYL,
Carl
I really enjoy listening to music.

Offline richidoo

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2008, 10:28:28 AM »
Anybody who is sitting on the fence about coming, see what you stand to miss if you make an imprudent choice... ;)


It is sounding mighty fine!! My wife Julie says live it up boys, it's all back to normal tomorrow... haha But she's got her Kate Bush blasting now, maybe she will have sudden audiophile conversion.

Offline stereofool

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2008, 10:31:48 AM »
I'm not missing this treat  :drool:...heading out in just a little while  :D!
Steve
Have you ever noticed.... Anyone going slower than you is an idiot...and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

Bigfish8

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2008, 10:47:36 AM »
Anybody who is sitting on the fence about coming, see what you stand to miss if you make an imprudent choice... ;)


It is sounding mighty fine!! My wife Julie says live it up boys, it's all back to normal tomorrow... haha But she's got her Kate Bush blasting now, maybe she will have sudden audiophile conversion.

Rich:

I can't hardly wait!  What a beautiful set-up and it appears that there is some serious amplification sitting on top of that stand!

Ken

Offline richidoo

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2008, 11:02:41 AM »
Yeah, the maple stand has 100 pound rating for the top shelf. :shock: They never planned on this...

Korato is nice and toasty, been on for 5 days.

I am finding that the pure absorbtion without a scrim like GIK uses takes a bit too much off the highs. We can experiment a little with it.

Drive safe everybody.
Rich

Offline Inscrutable

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2008, 11:13:04 AM »
Just sent Rich a PM ... washed out of deck-building ... washed-in to GTG ... see y'all soon!

Offline stereofool

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2008, 06:11:34 PM »
Rich,

As always...thanks for your hospitality 8)!!

It was great getting to hear some great gear, and especially getting to see you guys again! Everything sounded great.

Sorry, I had to cut out early...had to get home for an online class  :(.

Rich's room...temporarily


Electronics involved


Korato Amp


Usher behemoth..


Tim, Sol & Rich


Rich & Carl


Some of the 'Wild-Bunch'!


Ken, Richard & Rich


« Last Edit: April 04, 2008, 02:13:47 PM by stereofool »
Steve
Have you ever noticed.... Anyone going slower than you is an idiot...and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

Offline Carlman

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2008, 06:50:06 AM »
You've done it again, Rich!  Nice spread, great gtg!  I guess you've got some practice now. ;)
Many thanks for hosting again.  I hope some others can host to mix things up but I felt like we got to compare some amps, and have some good discussion... the most I could hope for.

The biggest improvement to me was the impact the sound treatments made.  While the Usher's were technically excellent, I couldn't live with them long-term the previous times I've heard them in your room.  You've clearly found the problem and isolated it because last night they were as attractive to hear as they are to look at.  (and they are 'handsome' speakers)  I like how revealing they are of changes.  I'm not entirely enamored with the highs but that's because I'm forever 'ruined' by the Piega's. ;)  I just like what I have better. 

I was surprised to hear how much the bass changed from amp to amp.  Seems like your room is in dire need of significant amounts of bass trapping.  The open room floorplan lends itself to bass suckout so I can't say the Usher's were to blame... They certainly responded differently to the other amps on hand which leads me to believe a certain band was being sucked out...  BTW.. Have you done any sweeps in your room?  I thought you had but couldn't remember.

The amps all had their strengths.. I liked my McIntosh MC402 the best, it just sounds right to me.  It's dead quiet, does finesse, midrange, and bass with aplomb.  It doesn't over-present any one area.  Every other amp we heard was a compromise in one direction or another.  Just as I was getting used to what I thought was the 2nd best (of the amps on hand) we went back to the Mac... and it all came back to me.. and that 2nd best became a very distant 2nd..

The Korato was a neat amp but not in the same league as the Mac.  We put the Korato in directly after the Mac which isn't fair.  At more than 3 times less money, the Korato performed as if it was 3 times less money.  The Korato has a definite character to the sound.  It has a nice whole, warmth to the mids and mid-bass that Rich's room and speakers needed.  It filled a void that nothing else there could do (as well).  However, if I were to listen to the same amp in a different room, with different speakers, I would think the mid-bass and mids would be over-presented.  Overall, I'd say there are some that would like the sound of this amp, it is pleasing to listen to and is forgiving of bad recordings. 

Sol's amps did different things for me.  He had a 60w and a 30w available.  The 60 had some good punch, definitely big bass.  But I wasn't nuts about the highs/upper mids when it started to warm up.  The 30w had the most musical performance of the 2 and had a relaxed, yet detailed musical presentation.  It would be a great choice for me on a small system.  Great work, Sol.

The main thing I took from Rich's gathering is that building a dedicated room is the way to go.  Acoustics are everything.  Rich's moderate amount of treatment took a speaker from unacceptable to enjoyable for me.  I was quite pleased (as always) to experience the latest experiment... and also encouraged to get my room done. (still 2 months away)

Thanks for hosting again, Rich.  I had a really nice time seeing and talking with everyone.

-Carl
« Last Edit: March 31, 2008, 06:52:37 AM by Carlman »
I really enjoy listening to music.

Offline richidoo

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2008, 09:24:37 AM »
Thanks to everybody who came last night. It was the best sounding and most fun meet yet, IMO...

Sterefool came an hour early, by special invitation because he had to leave early and has a 2 hour drive each way. He got to enjoy the system with his tunes for a solid half hour, and we had a great visit.

Nick came early too to check up on his SC7 server, which I couldn't get back on the network after installing new router. Nick fixed it and it started rescan. When we finally were willing to stop the music to switch from PC to his server, the difference in speed was very noticeable. I will definitely want to get a dedicated server for running SC. Carl heaped generous praise upon the faster response time, I think the word was "adequate..." ;)  But he graciously bit his tongue when the PC was running it less well.

Sol Samet brought over 2 amps of his design. One is I-60, a 60 watt PP integrated. It was pretty good, but a little harsh on the mid and upper octaves. Solid bass, a little too much bass SPL for me, but that makes good prat which is what Sol values most in any amp, whereas mine is tone. After our gentle but serious critiques, he realized the cause was the output devices, and decided to scrap the current design completely, and choose new output devices and redesign. That may sound severe, but I have seen sol design an amp in one day, take a month to build it and it sounds incredible. That is the part of the hobby that he loves, and as long as he continues to share the latest designs so freely, no-one should feel bad for the old I-60. ;) Sol is the designer of a highend theater amp that received Amp of the Year award in Perfect Vision or TAS magazine a couple years ago. He also brought his I-30, 30wpc integrated. It is further along in the development cycle, and enjoyed close attention and positive words from the crowd. Not quite enough steam for the Ushers, but otherwise excellent. My only critique is that it's ultimate tone quality is not yet that of $10k tube amp. Considering the conservative parts choices and simple circuit design, it is a great achievement. It is as good as any $2000 ss amp that I have heard.

Sol also provided the funniest moment of the night when it was his turn to listen to his CDs. He brought a Strauss CD on Telarc. There was a track on there with handgun shots that were the funniest thing I every heard. The contrast of happy go lucky Strauss punctuated by periodic gunshots was hilarious. Being Telarc the dynamic range was fully preserved so it really did sound like a gun, hall sound and all, like some fucking madman was shooting people in the audience, in time with the music, while the band just kept playing like nothing was happening. Wow, that was funny, I wonder is Strauss meant it that way. He was the Michael Jackson of mid/late 1800s aristocratic Europe. I am gonna put it on my RMAF test disk next year.

Thanks to Ken (Bigfish8) and his wife Vera for the delicious brownie cookies. Ken's eagerness to learn and understand what he is hearing to apply to his own system shows an master audiophile in there, trying to get out. He is enjoying the confidence gained from his first year and is ready to start fine tuning things wisely. Congrats Ken, you made it through the hard part! Now you're a lifer.

I hung up some 5.5" thick cotton absorption "panels" that I got from Sensible Sound Solutions on the front wall. This helped the resolution and overall tone of the Usher immeasurably. At first it was too dull in the treble. So me and stereofool  stretched a piece of plastic stretch wrap across the absorbtion at ear height, which restored the highs perfectly. The speakers sounded great.

We played the McIntosh amp for 2 hours before any others, because it was the best match to the speakers' power appetite. With the absorption up the Macs 8ohm tap was easily listenable, unlike without the treatments the detail provided by the most appropriate tap was just too much. So the mac had an easy night and the ultra detail of the Ushers flowed effortlessly. Bass was a little loose when the very lowest notes were summoned ~30Hz, we judged because of the loose construction quality of my new house. They don't build em like they used too.... The speakers float on framed floor which resonates with the low notes and foofs up the bass. They need posts installed under the house to firm up the floor at those spots. The midrange was absolutely gorgeous, and tweeter too when the recording material allowed, which was most of the night in this case. Everyone brought some great discs. On occasion Duet users browsed by Artist where more than half is mp3 from the old days, so the tweeter's resolving power to closely follow the grit was evident. The lower mid suckout that is normally present with these speakers in my room was alleviated by three things: thick treatment on the front wall, pulling the speakers out another foot to 60", as well as all the big bags of warm water lying around on the couches. ;) The room always sounds better with lots of people in it. Now how to stop them from talking?>????   :rofl:

We hooked up the Korato KTA-100 once everyone was settled in, fed and beered up.  Most people did not enjoy the contrast from Mac to Korato, which is 1/4 the power and price, but we pushed on to give it a fair listen and discussion. After a little while to adjust we were hearing the special qualities it offers. On the hungry Ushers, the Korato preferred music that did not push it too far out of class A, which is 40W. The Mac's meters hover around 40W during normal loudish play. So my music collection is finally relevant at one of my own gatherings! haha I loved that to death... The amp has a peaceful, focused core that is very different from the AB amps we heard. I really like it, especially on older traditional jazz recordings that are not overly dynamic, and on my radio station which I play all day everyday. It is compressed so even high volumes don't poke up into class AB much. As the volume goes up the relaxed nature of the Korato is less evident. But when listening by myself in a quiet room the volume doesn't need to be cranked to audiophile party levels and the amp is much happier on the hungry Ushers. The speakers are rated 91dB sensitivity, and they are indeed less hungry than the Tiny Dancer 718s, but they still like the juice and like the recent TAS review says, they are extremely dynamic when fed well - meaning they suck every drop of current they can get.

The Ushers are a double edged sword in that they can easily reveal every nuance about any piece of electronics or recording. The Korato's tone was great from the core sense of feeling whole and relaxed, but changing the focus from enjoying the music to audiophile listening, especially at the high volume necessary to overcome party chatter in the adjoining kitchen the tone was, IMO, not as relaxed and pure as when played at lower volumes, staying in classA and not as pure as the McIntosh to which the Usher's are just child's play. But even at low volumes the Mac never provides that sublime feeling of peace that let's you let go and fly with the music, you always have to listen to it. That is the great potential of tube amps and the Korato.

I think in hindsight starting with the Korato might have been a better prorgramming choice. Live and learn. But the G2G attendees are mature, experienced audiophiles so making a big jump in gear is not difficult.

Dynamics were not as well defined as with the 500watt amp. But the prat and flow of music carried on nicely. The solid bass of the Korato filled in the Usher's sensitive mid bass region very well, even at high volumes, making instruments like bass guitar and mens' voices sound fuller than on the Mac, I liked that. A little less airspace on the high treble than the mac, and a lot less for both of them than with my tube amps, but it is easy to adjust to space, and there is plenty enough spatial information from Korato to fully enjoy all the music I have played with it. The treble's deviation from flat SPL as reported by the excellent reviews by the NYRavers is extremely subtle and preserves the whole musical cloth that is the amp's strength.

I love listening to early Brubeck quartets on Korato, that relaxed but intense feel is hard to play on modern hifi gear because it is usually just too "there." You just want to say "get out of my face!" and relax with some Desmond. "The song is you" on Jazz goes to college from 51 is one of the greatest alto solos ever played, easily on par with Bird whom Desmond worshipped, but chose his own path unlike almost everyone else. Early Brubeck is a music experience that few people I know appreciate. Very different than the money grab that came later with Teo Macero at the wheel, still great, but not like the early years of experimenting and pure youthful joy. At first it sounds too corny, bad recordings, simple jazz standards from early 50s west coast style, wacko college kids going rock concert wild over the simplest snare drum riff. My father was one of those kids and booked Brubeck to play at his college, so I have listened to Brubeck for decades and heard a lot of stories. When I was a musician nobody appreciated Brubeck as a player and some begrudgingly gave it to Desmond, but their music is a religion, all but extinct now, but as beautiful as Zen or red wine. It takes time and a lot of practice to understand it and learn to appreciate what is available. But when you finally gain access you don't want the electronics to get in the way with overwhelming transparency. It is definitely NOT anything to do with sound quality. Totally irrelevant. Like bird or clifford brown recorded on "portable" bootleg machines you just don't care about the sound quality when listening to God talking. Shit, even stone tablets are "adequate!"  Old mono jazz recordings from 50s like Brubeck, dizzy, blakey, ellington are delicate in that they don't take to hifi repro well. Vinyl helps, but that's not the problem. Tubes make a big improvement over most SS hifi amps which tend to hype the sound at the expense of the soul. The Korato does not hype the sound. It does its best to step aside and let the soul be what it is. Compared to the Mac after 2 hours of extremely stimulating and perfectly recorded and mastered modern rock recordings, switching to Brubeck or 60s recorded Beethoven piano sonatas leaves a pause in the endorphin drip until the brain can adjust and recognize a source of beauty to replace the direct assault. For listeners that probe recordings deeply and don't want electronics to interfere with too much information typical of hifi gear, the Korato is a great find. It needs well selected speakers to allow it to stay in classA most of the time and speakers subtle enough to allow its peaceful feeling to come through without undue challenges that distract the Korato from its intended aim. I'm not sure Usher is that speaker. The Altmann BYOB chip amp has this same feeling of utter peace, but with only 10W on tap and a plank of wood for chassis, not many will venture that far into audio wonderland to taste it - for the same price as the very substantial and nice looking Korato!

I will be sliding the Legacys back in place tomorrow and getting some time on the Korato on more sensitive speakers (96dB measured). The Legacys are nowhere near as transparent as the Ushers, so I expect my nit picking tone and dynamics issues with Usher to be unnoticable. The Legacys are one of the world's great music lover's speakers, for somewhat veiled, but deep, meditative and satisfying listening. The Ushers are one of the worlds truly high end audiophile speakers, which evoke audible gasps of appreciation for how beautiful and poweful music can sound. But it is a fully conscious experience like a carnival ride, intensely stimulating in it's own way. It is not directly comparable to Legacy's strength as a means for travelling the netherworlds of deeper music unencumbered by the conscious "listening."

I don't think I have yet heard the Ushers at their ultimate potential yet. With Snappers attached and no front wall treatment, the detail and forward tone was hard to swallow. My wife literally covered her ears. I will try them again today with the wall treatment which seemed to remove all of that same flavor of aggression from the Mac/Usher combo. But even with that EL34 "rock guitar amp" forwardness, the tubes took the speakers to a place of great musicality and spatial awareness that the SS amps lack to the same degree.

I wimped out on the Feastrex. I didn't have time to do a third try at tuning them properly, and the jury is still experimenting to try to figure out how to tame them anyway. They were just not good enough to play in comparison to the Ushers. I want to play them in a way that the Triangle guys can understand what I love about them. Maybe next time. I will be working hard on them. Next up is gluing on spines on the rear panels, painting them thick, and installing tensioning rods to stretch the wood in the horns tight enough to substatially raise their resonant freq. I also plan to build them in solid pine and braced in a unique way for comparison.

Thanks again for everybody coming over. I would like to do another in early May so we can get another crack at the Ushers, hopefully they can stay here that long. Improve the room acoustics even more, maybe find some hearty power tubes for them next time? Stereofool, are you reading????  :D  Yowza (Steve has ARC VT-100), maybe Shane's Monads too. Happy springtime everyone!
Rich

Bigfish8

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2008, 04:27:22 PM »
I would like to thank Rich again for hosting the G2G last night and for the opportunity to talk with some of the local dedicated audiophiles.  As Rich mentioned in his thread above I am the newbie of the group having ordered my amps, preamp and speakers in April 2007.  I would like to thank all of the guys present last night for being so tolerant of my questions concerning music sources as I am convinced my current source is the weakest link in the system.

Additionally to enjoying being a part of the group, these gatherings are significant learning opportunities (SLOs) for me.  People will write their opinions of gear in the various forums.  When I attend these G2Gs I actually experience the audible changes you can easily hear with each piece of gear switched into the system.  What these experiences have taught me is that you should not commit to purchase new gear without there being some trial period where you can evaluate it in your system and in your room. 

The BE-20 Ushers are the best sounding speakers I have had the pleasure of hearing.  I thought the midrange was to die for.  The highs sounded detailed without be overly bright as I experienced during the demo of a pair of Focal Speakers.  The bass was nothing short of intimidating as the Ushers made me think there were a couple of subwoofers playing on certain passages.  I did not spend much time in the optimum seat but what I heard, in particular when connected to the big Mac, was very detailed and still very enjoyable, very musical.  I wish I had a larger room as I would be begging Vera on my hands and knees to let me buy them!

A special thanks to Bryan Pape for allowing us to audition the Korato Amp.  It has a nice appearance and a very nice sound when played at lower volume levels on the big Ushers.  I will be interested in Rich's comments on how it sounds when he connects it to the more efficient Legacy's.

Ken

« Last Edit: March 31, 2008, 06:17:06 PM by Bigfish8 »

Offline bpape

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2008, 08:35:11 AM »
Thanks to all who took the time to listen and write.  I've been going back and forth with Rich about the amp and I'm pretty sure something is amiss.  Just doing the math, with a 91db efficient speaker, you'd be able to get close to 110db peaks with just 64W of power.  Well over 105db and still stay in Class A.  That amp has been used with some brutally difficult speakers to drive and I've never had comments that it sounded strained at all - in fact, it's always been the opposite, that they were surprised at how effortlessly it handled those loads.

As for the upper mids and highs, if anything, to a fault, those who found it less than accurate always said it erred on the side of being too polite.  Being edgy is something I've never heard from that amp in any way.  Another thing that makes me think something is amiss with that particular unit.

When Rich received the amp, there were some questions as to whether or not it had been damaged in shipment.  There were some things that were a bit loose but we decided to go forward anyway.  Rich is going to be taking the amp to Sol to have him check it out and make sure everything is up to snuff.

Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of this and potentially allow it to remain there for a while if anyone would want to listen again.  It's certainly not an amp that's going to be everyone's cup of tea.  IMO, the comments about it being on the warm side are spot on - this is a definite characteristic of many solid state Class A amps - and one that I personally prefer, but it's not for everyone nor is it a perfect match for every speaker.

Once again, thanks for the comments and time.

Bryan
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Offline richidoo

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2008, 12:39:00 PM »
When I heard the Korato in Denver at RMAF show last fall, it sounded different than now. So I tend to concur with Bryan, and I figure it's worth looking into. Thanks to Sol Samet our local high end amp designer for volunteering to look it over and test for distortion and power. We should be able to get into it this weekend if all goes to plan. I am already thinking about another meet in mid-May to show off my Feastrex speakers and another big surprise :D  So hopefully the Korato and maybe even Ushers can have an encore performance.
Rich

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2008, 12:54:35 PM »
I will have to make a trip one day and get in on one of these things!  :D

That Korato amp looks a lot like the Acurus amps from days past.


Offline Carlman

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2008, 12:55:16 PM »
I'm definitely up for a repeat listen. :)
I sort-of gathered something might be amiss... Hopefully it'll all get sorted soon.
-C
I really enjoy listening to music.

Offline bpape

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Re: TAS - Spring Equinox G2G
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2008, 01:11:44 PM »
It looks somewhat like an Acuras on the outside








But not on the inside  8) :shock:

And here is it's big brother that I'll have at RMAF this year





Complete dual mono construction with two 800VA toroidal transformers, 35A bridge and 144,000 uF of Cornell-Dubilier filter caps in the power supply, a completely symmetrical push-pull circuit with 4 pairs of Motorola bipolar transistors in the output stage of each channel, Beyschlag 1W precision resistors, internal wiring is VdH SCS 12/18.

Bryan
« Last Edit: April 04, 2008, 01:16:16 PM by bpape »
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