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Had a listen to a rather good home system today

Discussion in 'Home Cinema & Hi-Fi' started by Mr_Sukebe, 27 May 2006.

  1. Mr_Sukebe

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 23 Dec 2002

    Posts: 9,161

    Location: London

    Today I popped in to visit a chap I know from one of the other hi-fi forums that I frequent.
    I first met the chap last year when he bought my old Naim CD player. At the time he was running some big horn loaded Impulse H2 speakers on the back of a WAD integrated valve amp, my old Naim CDP and a Michell Gyrodec. Frankly I wasn't impressed at the time. Awesome dynamics, but could rip your ears off with no problem at all.

    In the meantime, there have been a few changes, so I thought it would be good to have a second go. Wow, have they changed.
    Same speakers, these:
    [​IMG]
    The picture doesn't really do them justice for size. They also don't look as big as they are in real life. Standing at around 1.3m, they're probably 50cm deep. As a unit, they're 3 way horn loaded units, with a high efficiency, making it easy for even low powered SET amps to drive.

    In practice, Rob is using a 40watt 6550 valve amp from a group called WAD. The valve power amp is on the far left of this shot:
    [​IMG]
    The rest of the kit is:
    Far left bottom - a record cleaning machine. Basically a hoover for LPs
    Middle Top - WAD pre-amp, PSU and phono stage
    Middle - Sony ES3000 CDP and my own Bel Canto DAC2
    Middle Bottom - Behringer 24 unit. Won't comment on this now, he Rob rates it and I'll be trying it out in my own system soon.
    Right Top - Micro Seiki record deck. Looks ancient, and it is, circa 1974
    Right middle - Accuphase tuner
    Right bottom - Record deck PSU and speed control box

    Cutting to the chase, this system is as good in it's own way as any home system I've ever heard. It's simply so natural in it's style of presentation. What it doesn't do is "impress" with overblown bass or similar (though it can go down to 28hz with no problems, as demonstrated on one track).
    The presentation is also different to most, giving the feeling that you're in a fairly large hall/concert room, and a third of the way back into it. If you've heard other good systems, you'll know what I mean. Naim sticks you next to the stage, with the band at the front. My own is a small jazz bar, this puts you further away and whilst still having stunning dynamics, doesn't make you run for cover.

    As the speakers are unchanged, I'm guessing the biggest improvement has been with the new pre-amp, which is rather special. Some other interesting comparisons. I was rather impressed with the Sony ES unit, which got quite close to my BC DAC in many ways, but blew it at the last minute by having overblown mid bass, and simply not being able to sound as natural and fun over longer periods of time. Whilst the Sony was heavily modded, these units are pretty cheap to buy, so for VFM, it's good stuff.
    The Micro-seiki still managed to make my DAC sound broken. This deck is a good 30 years old, but has a nearly new SME arm and Lyra Argo catridge (just don't ask the cost of either). There was simply no discernable noise from the deck through the system (something most decks suffer from to differing degrees) and it really did bring to life music from a variety of records that Rob played. Just joyous to listen to. As for surround sound, well one of the albums played was a 1958 mono LP with Ella on it, made every home cinema system I've ever heard sound completely pants. Should sound even better with a dedicated mono cartridge. Rob already has the cartridge, just waiting for a second arm to mount it on.

    So all in all, a damn good afternoon and music listening.

    Hopefully I'll get to try the Behringer in the next couple of weeks in my own system. It's meant to be able to bugger about with the sound of a system to wipe out some of the peaks that room nodes can create. As it costs peanuts (in the context of expensive systems) and can be run in purely the digital domain (if sited between CD transport and DAC), could be interesting.

    I'll keep you chaps posted.
     
    Last edited: 27 May 2006
  2. Barry Smalley

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,258

    Location: Tinternet

    Looks and sounds very impressive. What sort of money is it worth? :)
     
  3. Bear

    Capodecina

    Joined: 24 Oct 2002

    Posts: 12,668

    Location: Bucks and Edinburgh

    Looks good, I love the sound of valve amps. I used to listen to an Audio Note Ongaku connected to a pair of Martin Logan electrostatic hybrids when my friend used to work for Heatherdale Audio and wished I could afford the amp as it sounded so beautiful.
     
  4. Mr_Sukebe

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 23 Dec 2002

    Posts: 9,161

    Location: London

    Bear> you're a lucky man. I know how much the Ongaku costs and how good it's meant to sound. I'm surprised that it was running MLs though, as they're not the worlds most efficient speakers and the ongaku is hardly a powerhouse.

    Ref the system in question. The amps are kit units that have modified and uprated internals, but probably cost around £2k to build. The speakers are made by a company now out of business, but were around £3k when new (10 years ago). The deck was apparently £700, but that's back in 1974. My guess is that you'd be looking at probably £2-3k for the unit, £1300 for the arm and £900 for the cartridge. The CDP was around £800 new, but again has been modded.

    New equivalent cost would probably be around £10k. He's probably actually spent around £6k.

    It certainly seems like a lot of money, but do remember how much people blow on modifying cars, depreciation on cars etc. In theory, most drivers could manage with a Clio 1.5TD. In practice, people simply want something different and are happy to pay for it. This chap clearly loves music (has a LOT of CDs and LPs). In addition, this type of kit really doesn't lose much money, so he can probably sell most of it for what it's worth. Unless you're buying a classic car, nothing something that's usually the case with motors.
     
  5. Matblack

    Capodecina

    Joined: 23 Jan 2004

    Posts: 15,628

    Location: On my Boat, Drinking

    Being really picky but you'd think he'd choose some stands which look nicer, those green things are hideous!

    MB
     
  6. 9designs2

    Mobster

    Joined: 5 Jan 2003

    Posts: 3,418

    Location: Somewhere in the middle

    Hey Mr_S did the same on Friday night !!! TBH don't think I would have that "look" in my lounge let alone the wife !! ;)

    Guy off the Linn Forum invited me over to allow us to load the updates on my Unidisk, (3 separate patches !!)
    Once done we had a listen to his set up Non Linnies may need to have a look over at the web site .... But he had a 1.1/Kisto/2x5125 active Akurate 242's plus a top spec LP12.... With Katan rears and Akurate Sub(switched off).
    Was I blown away on my first hearing of 242's ???? hmmmm no :( It did have a wonderful open sound, it was in the room, not coming out of two boxes, remember this is all Linn set-up, not something you would have said 10 years !!! Bass had zero lag or coloration or over blown in any way, could all most think it was bass light till a big low note came along.
    It was the top end I was less happy with, for me the active cards were set a couple of notches to bright. Plus I think the 5125 power amps were holding back the system by a large amount, they are good amps, I have one, just out of there depth here.
    Have wanted to here 242 for some time now, I'm encouraged by them but will need further encounters before deciding if they would be for me .....
    The LP12 still had the ability to show up digital, old 60's recordings sounded great !......oh yeah LP12 is meant to be an old "has been" in the world TT's :rolleyes:

    What's great about hearing other systems, like them or not, they give a fresh look at your own set-up, I've since now tweaked my active cards on the Keltiks to limit the bass extension, think I was being greedy in too smaller room ;) and one notch up on the treble. Can't get the same openness, but along with the Unidisk updates the bottom end is much better controlled now.

    Cost !! hmmm "if you have to ask you can't afford it" ........ well we not at the Clio level, more high Spec A4 and 3 or 5 Series !!!.......

    Oh I take it the chair wasn't the Listen position !!! LOL :D
     
  7. Bear

    Capodecina

    Joined: 24 Oct 2002

    Posts: 12,668

    Location: Bucks and Edinburgh

    IIRC the Martin Logans are a bit over 90dB sensitivity so they arent too hard to drive. The shop also had a pair of Kegon monoblocks cant remember what what it was driven by pre amp wise and listened to that play Mr Sandman song (ok it wasnt my CD). It was like having guys singing in the shop, its probably a much used phrase but it was an odd but amazing experience. Its a shame that I wont be able to buy that sort of kit in my life time.

    That shop was great, it was always full of seriously high end kit.
     
  8. wozzizname

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 29 Jun 2004

    Posts: 2,210

    Location: Rainham, Kent

    Some very nice gear there. I know a local hi-fi dealer quite well, and used to be his 'second opinion' on equipment, so I frequently had some nice gear at home just to test it for him. Had some nice times with borrowed Mark Levinson amps, SME turntables etc
    Sold my Chord, Proac, Elite Rock and Conrad Johnson system when my son came into this world but would love a nice setup again (sighs wistfully)
     
  9. FrankJH

    Capodecina

    Joined: 6 Jun 2005

    Posts: 22,459

    OMG you dared say the S word aloud???

    Some would shoot you instantly on this board for using any of their gear, as they swear all their stuff is worthless pap

    lookin good though
     
  10. Mr_Sukebe

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 23 Dec 2002

    Posts: 9,161

    Location: London

    Innocent until proven guilty IMO.
    I'd never categorically say something is pants until I've heard it, and then it would still only be my opinion. Have to say that I was rather impressed, reminded me a lot of an old Teac VRDS-7 that I used to have for build quality and presentation style.
     
  11. 9designs2

    Mobster

    Joined: 5 Jan 2003

    Posts: 3,418

    Location: Somewhere in the middle

    What you have to remember is to most people the S company only make stuff for the high street and there own branded stores.... when in actual fact they do make some high end gear.....just they don't bring it these shores.....
    Funny though they had to go to LINN and ask them to design a player to make SACD sound good and show off it's abilities ....ROFL :D
     
  12. Dead Dog

    Mobster

    Joined: 30 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,874

    Location: SantaPodshire : )

    holy cow, theres some kit there :eek:
     
  13. FrankJH

    Capodecina

    Joined: 6 Jun 2005

    Posts: 22,459

    I dont know about the last couple of years, but as far as I am concerned their high end (ES) range was available in this county until at least 2003 /4 and even some of their widely available stuff ( maybe no this kind of league ) but still top quality