SL3 System Upgrade Step 3 - Tube Pre/Power

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Erictrostatic

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The last step of my upgrade plan is to get tube pre amp and power amp.
I'm currently using Classe CP-35 preamp and CA-100 power amp and I'm thinking about these 3 systems:

1. conrad johnson Premier LS17 and Premier 140. MV60 seems to be under power for the SL3 from the reviews I have read, or is it?
2. Audio Research LS16 MKII and VT100 MKIII.
3. Audio Research SP16L and VS110.

Are they a good match for SL3?

My goals as mentioned in Step 1 and Step 2 :

1. Bring out and tighten the bass
2. Make the overall sound fuller, it's a bit thin right now if you know what I'm saying
3. Achieve a true representation of the musical instruments (is it called tonal balance?)

Eric.
 
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DTB300

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Erictrostatic said:
3. Audio Research SP16L
I do own one and really like it - I have it matched up with a Solid State Amp. I compared it against the highly talked about Adcom GFP-750 in active or passive mode and there was no comparison. The 16L replaced a Counterpoint SA5.1 that I had owned for years.

I just saw one for sale on Audiogon for $1200

Dan
 

kach22i

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Erictrostatic said:
conrad johnson ................ Audio Research
Going off what I've heard, read and been told; C.J.'s a fuller riper sound - A.R. is a dryer more accurate sound.

When I've listened to Sonic Frontiers their was no tube magic, I think A.R. shares that trait - sorry.

People swear by the VT-100 though, a little rich for my blood, but then again so is most C.J. stuff. :D

I think we are talking about a "house sound" here. I think you are describing/seeking the C.J. sound.

Let your ears do your thinking..........can you listen to both?

I ended up with a Golden Sound SE-100 (100 watt) amp and a GRAAF WFB ONE preamp wiht the Aerius - $2,000 for the whole thing. The SE-100 can be bridged to mono, perhaps you could pick two up and still be half the price of the big brand names.

Has anyone ever gotten close to the tube amp "Inner Sound" made? A stat company making a tube amp - interesting venture to say the least.
 
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Erictrostatic

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kach22i said:
Going off what I've heard, read and been told; C.J.'s a fuller riper sound - A.R. is a dryer more accurate sound.
My "memory comparison" of VS110 and MV60 tells me the same. Though I haven't listened to VT and Premier 140.

kach22i said:
When I've listened to Sonic Frontiers their was no tube magic, I think A.R. shares that trait - sorry.
It has been too many years since I last heard an SF amp. They went out of business, did they?

kach22i said:
People swear by the VT-100 though, a little rich for my blood, but then again so is most C.J. stuff. :D

I think we are talking about a "house sound" here. I think you are describing/seeking the C.J. sound.

Let your ears do your thinking..........can you listen to both?
I'm still working on how to bring home the ARC from 1 dealer and the CJ from another dealer and AB compare at home. It's actually a lot of work and the 2 dealers are 90 miles apart does not help...

kach22i said:
I ended up with a Golden Sound SE-100 (100 watt) amp and a GRAAF WFB ONE preamp wiht the Aerius - $2,000 for the whole thing. The SE-100 can be bridged to mono, perhaps you could pick two up and still be half the price of the big brand names.
It's not unusual for me to start shopping for certain brands and end up with something totally not in the list. I'll keep Golden Sound and Graff in mind. Years ago, I started shopping between B&W, Thiel, Sonus Faber, Apogee and ended up with ML.
 

kach22i

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Erictrostatic said:
It's not unusual for me to start shopping for certain brands and end up with something totally not in the list. I'll keep Golden Sound and Graff in mind. Years ago, I started shopping between B&W, Thiel, Sonus Faber, Apogee and ended up with ML.
I had been looking for years for a local Cary SLP-98P preamp and lusted for a pair of V-12's mono's, several 98's slipped past me over the years- then the same local shop selling the Golden Tube had the GRAAF. I can't pass up a bargin what can I say.
:D
 

DTB300

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Erictro...

Don't worry about what any of us have in our systems, or if "tube magic" is there or not (is that like fairy dust?), or whatever cliche is trying to be sold to you. All of this info may give you a starting point, but that is about it....

Get as much stuff as you can, in any brand, tube or solid state, in your budget range and listen to it - like you said, you may even surprise yourself in what you end up buying. Try to also get your testing of a pre and power amp together and buy what sounds best to you. All your travels and time will benefit you in the long run in getting the system that you like.

Dan
 

DTB300

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kach22i said:
Going off what I've heard, read and been told; C.J.'s a fuller riper sound - A.R. is a dryer more accurate sound.

When I've listened to Sonic Frontiers their was no tube magic, I think A.R. shares that trait - sorry.
Karch....too many cliche and audio geek terms here - sounds like the rags and their hype....Just say you did not like the sound of CJ, Sonic and AR for your tastes....no extra fluff needed as it just confuses a lot of folks....

The reproduction of the music by components is accurate or it is not - the main thing being how much of the inaccuracies (and they all have it) you are willing to live with.

"Tube Magic" - no such thing as magic in electronics, it either adds to the sound or removes from the sound. Does a person like what tubes do to the sound? Does a person like what solid state does to the sound? Each of us has our own preferences and need to go out and find what they are.

I make purchases for the reproduction of sound I am looking for, and Erictrostatic should do the same....find what he likes and forget all the hype....

Dan
 

kach22i

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DTB300 said:
Karch....too many cliche and audio geek terms here - sounds like the rags and their hype....Just say you did not like the sound of CJ, Sonic and AR for your tastes....no extra fluff needed as it just confuses a lot of folks....
1. I like C.J......................however I must admit that heard it once when the salesman burned his own CD back when that was a very new thing to do - and it was very edgy on the top end even on B&W speakers. So many factors - can't blame the equipment, gotta blame the source on that episode.

2. A.R. was heard with Maggies/Magnapan's back when I could give a hoot about amplification and thought it was all about the speakers.......does that count?

3. Sonic Frontiers.......I called the shop ahead of time to have them warm it up. I came in and it was cold - not even turned on. I can say that S.F. when cold has a lack of rhythm when compared to an all Lynn system...then again Lynn is the rhythm champion of all time.

4. Limited exposure to store systems does not make me an expert, nor does reading all the rags for years. Also I don't switch or upgrade my system very often. Take your own CD's with you, in a shoe box, go the store when they first open up on a weekday - take time off work if you can. Happy hunting!

PS: A couple of days before my wedding back in 1992, my boss (of seven years) suggested that I take some "me time" off. I took my box of CD's to a store that had an all Melior/Ed Meitler system............I'll never forget that listening session - almost as good as the honeymoon. :)
 
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Jeff Zaret

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Ok this will require a 3 cent answer. Sorry Dan :)

The big picture here that you have to remember is that "our" auditory memory is very short. In time, I believe it is maybe 20 minutes or less and if you can not compare side by side it is hard to make a true value judgement. Typically attention spans are 20 minutes at a crack although mine may be measure in nanoseconds lately.

Ok I am not a salesman here for audio equipment and that sure sounded like it. EEEEEEEWWWWWWW But this is an fairly accurate statement. We all can not have the ideal situations when trying to demo equipment so there are comprimises and some, "gee I hope I made the right decison" and "yes dear I am sure this is the one I want" statements. Be as objective as possible and do not try and do this in one afternoon because you will get confused, overwhelmed or any combination of that and frustrated. Try and stay with "stuff" that is as close to what you have if you can not demo at home. This will also help the frustration level by not adding to it.

Now as far as CJ, I just bought a CJ pre that replaced my Rotel. The sound difference was amazing as far as staging, openness, more bass and seemingly more headroom/power to spare. I still have my SS amp and that so far I have no compaints.

Jeff
 

Spike

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Erictrostatic said:
The last step of my upgrade plan is to get tube pre amp and power amp.
I'm currently using Classe CP-35 preamp and CA-100 power amp and I'm thinking about these 3 systems:

1. conrad johnson Premier LS17 and Premier 140. MV60 seems to be under power for the SL3 from the reviews I have read, or is it?
2. Audio Research LS16 MKII and VT100 MKIII.
3. Audio Research SP16L and VS110.
Any of the tube combination mentioned above will give you fuller sound than the Classe'. I should know since I have had the Classe' CA300 in my system for 10 years now. That said, we're now getting picky about the various degrees of fuller sound. The ARC VT series (100 & 200) have emphasis on hi-resolution sound (fast, thin, analytical) whereas the CJ are on the liquidy (syruppy) lush side. The ARC VS series are supposed to go back to the tradional tube sound characteristics of the older ARC equipment, but I have not heard the VS series. Neither of the ARC nor CJ were good fit for my reQuests. BAT and Cary showed promises and I ended up with the AES SixPacs monoblocs. I would have gone with the V12R but did not have the depth on my rack for it. The BAT Vk75 had lots of promises as well, but it was too deep, and costs beyond my budget. The Cary amplifier in triode mode has the magical midrange that sounds right in my system. Another thing to consider with ARC is the high-cost of...retubing for they require matched quads of 6550. Several people on AA board complained about the impossible task of...adjusting bias on the VT series already. Hope I put things into perspective a bit for ya. Good luck

Spike
 

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kach22i said:
I took my box of CD's to a store that had an all Melior/Ed Meitler system............I'll never forget that listening session - almost as good as the honeymoon. :)
Meitner is great stuff...too pricey for my budget most of the time. But when setup right, it is awesome. There was an article, I think about the CES describing a Meitner room or a Meitner system that was $250,000 in components and cables... Must be nice...

Dan
 

zaphod

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DTB300 said:
Meitner is great stuff...too pricey for my budget most of the time. But when setup right, it is awesome.
i still run meitner gear. and i'll put it up against pretty much anything. i'm not claiming to be an expert in picking out gear or to have golden ears, i was just lucky enough to live in the same city (London, Canada) as a dealer just starting out who carried an unheard of audiophile line by a Canadian company just starting out - Museatex.

Music, Aesthetics, Technology == Museatex, Ed Meitner's company. The first line was called "Meitner, by Museatex" and the later gear "Melior, by Museatex". I never really got into the Melior gear.

The gear didn't look like audio equipment, heck it didn't even smell like audio equipment - more like a combination of furniture lacquers and fairy dust :)

This same dealer also started carrying a line from a (then) small speaker company in Kansas .... and the rest is history.

the moral? luck, timing and a good dealer make the difference. For what it's worth, my dealer was Target Hi-Fi. No longer a ML dealer, and Museatex is gone, but still a great store.

DTB300 said:
There was an article, I think about the CES describing a Meitner room or a Meitner system that was $250,000 in components and cables... Must be nice...
if i had heard that i might well have exploded on the spot. That's a euphemism.

do you remember what speakers where in that system? i like the ML meitner combination and the Museatex factory used Accoustats, but i never really appreciated the melior speakers for everything i was supposed to.

well, it doesn't always cost that much, mine certainly didn't and i bought it new. Used prices for an amp is about 500 USD. any amp. so the str-55 is 500, the mtr-101 is 500. (ps: there is still a pair of mtr-100 in the classifieds :)

the big dollars start to come in for Ed's latest stuff from EMM labs - his switchman preamp is several dozen thousand, and his SACD players more than that.
 

DTB300

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zaphod said:
do you remember what speakers where in that system?
Ha...found it...here is a cut and paste....


If you haven't heard Ed Meitner's EMM labs digital equipment, you haven't lived

The list of equipment used to breathe life back into recorded music in this room was daunting!

2 - Von Schweikert Audio VR11SEs/$120,000 a pair = $120,000
(rotated into the front left and right location occasionally over the weekend))

4 - Von Schweikert Audio VR9SE's/$60,000 a pair = $120000

4 - darTZeel NHB-108 Model One Stereo Amplifiers/$18,000 each = $72,000

1 - EMM Labs CDSD - SACD/CD Transport/$7900

1 - EMM Labs DAC6e/$11,500

1 - EMM Labs Switchman/3 Multi-channel Preamplifier/$8000

2.5 pairs - Jena Labs Pathfinder Interconnects/$6000 a pair (DAC6e to SWM/3) = $15,000

2 pairs - Jena Labs Pathfinder Interconnects (SWM/3 to darTZeel's)/$6000 a pair = $12,000

11 - Jena Labs T-Rex Power Cords/$1,100 each = $12,1000

2 - Jena Labs Fundamental Power 6.1 Power Supply/$6100 each = $12,200

1 - Jena Labs Fundamental Power 3.1 Power Supply/$1100 = $3300

4 - Silent Running Audio Ohio Class XL Plus Iso Bases (each darTZeel amp)/$2000 each = $8000

2 - Silent Running Audio Ohio Class 3.0 (One for each EMM Labs Component)/$1000 = $2000
 

zaphod

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kach22i said:
The time ripple speakers were my favorite part - just like a drum skin (it was like a drum kit in the room) were my favorites (rolled off top end though)............just had too little money, and too small of a room at the time.
i tried to like those speakers. REALLY tried. but they never cut it for me. the "point source rippling out" was also the quad ESL-63 (FRED) approach and i never fell for those either sticking instead with the ESL-57. i used to claim that the discontinuation of the ESL-57 was so that people would buy the ESL-63 :D

Museatex also put out some cone-based subs and a very few satelite systems that had a sub and half-size time ripple speakers on a stand. never heard them.

i owned Ed's AT-2 turntable for about a month and replaced it with an oracle/sme combo. Ed is a digital genius. capital G genius. but his analogue gear, while very good, never reached the same levels that his digital gear did. pity. stand alone they would probably have done very well.

here's my meitner fan site
 
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kach22i

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Getting back to amplification for a moment................what do you guys think of this (Blue Circle BC-2.........75 watts single ended)?

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?ampstube&1116218914

I've never heard any of the Blue Circle stuff before, the older hybrid stuff really captures my imagination though. $2500.00 obo....................I'm staying with what I have.



Found this:
http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/bluecircle_bc21.htm

And this:
http://www.bluecircle.com/index.php?page_id=63
 
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zaphod

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kach22i said:
Getting back to amplification for a moment................what do you guys think of this (Blue Circle BC-2)?

I've never heard any of the Blue Circle stuff before, the older hybrid stuff really captures my imagination though. $2500.00 obo....................I'm staying with what I have.
Gilbert Yeung of BC used to post a lot here. he has a pair of hot pink CLSIIz and a bathroom wall that was a maggie.

nice guy, and while i've never heard BC gear, it is very well regarded in this forum. search in the old forum archives for more information.

as to that advert - beautiful gear, but i would have polished up the fronts before the picture.
 
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Erictrostatic

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Spike said:
Any of the tube combination mentioned above will give you fuller sound than the Classe'. I should know since I have had the Classe' CA300 in my system for 10 years now. That said, we're now getting picky about the various degrees of fuller sound. The ARC VT series (100 & 200) have emphasis on hi-resolution sound (fast, thin, analytical) whereas the CJ are on the liquidy (syruppy) lush side. The ARC VS series are supposed to go back to the tradional tube sound characteristics of the older ARC equipment, but I have not heard the VS series. Neither of the ARC nor CJ were good fit for my reQuests. BAT and Cary showed promises and I ended up with the AES SixPacs monoblocs. I would have gone with the V12R but did not have the depth on my rack for it. The BAT Vk75 had lots of promises as well, but it was too deep, and costs beyond my budget. The Cary amplifier in triode mode has the magical midrange that sounds right in my system. Another thing to consider with ARC is the high-cost of...retubing for they require matched quads of 6550. Several people on AA board complained about the impossible task of...adjusting bias on the VT series already. Hope I put things into perspective a bit for ya. Good luck

Spike
Spike, great comments, thanks.

Spike said:
Neither of the ARC nor CJ were good fit for my reQuests.
Do you still remember how they were not good for you?
 

Spike

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Erictrostatic said:
Do you still remember how they were not good for you?
As I mentioned in the previous post, ARC VT series were too...thin, sterile, no bloom in the mids. CJ were too slow, syruppy, lacking that certain immediacy of the music. That plus factoring in the high-cost of re-tubing for the ARC, pretty much sealed its fate for me. Don't get me wrong, I had...an ARC LS7 preamp with a Classe' CA300 for 10 years and was very happy with the combination. It just that for the $$$, I didn't feel that the ARC amplifier offer what I was looking for. On the other hand, I found the "magic" in the Cary AES amplifiers running in triode mode (instead of ultra-linear like ARC & CJ). Hope this helps. I should also mention that I'm not too critical about lightning fast, kick-snapping bass so the Classe' is fine for me in that it does go very deep. If I were to look for kick-snapping bass, I'd go with a...Krell amplifier for absolute control on the cones, in a bi-amping configuration, of course.

Spike
 
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