System #174 (CLSIIz, SL3)

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Brad225

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STV, I'm not sure how well I can describe it. We all know the clean, crisp open sound that MLs have. That is what attracted many of us to them in the first place.
The SL3s sounded great they had a full deep staging presents and a very exact center image for vocals or instruments. The width of the image would easily extend beyond the speaker right or left (that is something I could never figure out but sure look/sounds cool) when the music called for that. There is plenty of bass in them and with an external control they could be very laid back or make your chest thump. I had previously written about my changes in amps and CD player and how the sound changed and the SL3s could produce a very spacious appearance with every instrument or voice well placed with space around them. Well recorded music sounds mesmerizing and you would be drawn into the sound and poorly recorded were painful.

For me the CLSs even with new panels sound as crisp and clean as the SL3s and I think they will surpass them but only time will tell. What struck me immediately was it seemed with the much larger panel the music just flowed out of the speakers. There was so much more sound. Not that they are more efficient and louder as they need more power to drive them. Just that it was as though the smaller panel size of the SL3s could let out the sound the electronics before it were trying to convey. Kind of like crimping the garden hose or having to small diameter of exhaust pipe on a high performance engine.
The music seemed more complex with small nuances and details that were now part of the music where before the were slightly buried in the sound.
At this point that is about the only way I can describe it.
 

Jeff Zaret

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Brad,
Those new panels, right? Give them a couple of weeks and then the small nuances will be more prominent. The CLS will really start to open up for you and involved you and bring you in. The sound presentation and the depth of the sound stage field will increase.

You only to have to enjoy it now.

The only downside is now you will have to go through your entire music collection again and shake your head in amazement.


Jeff:cool:
 

philox

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I was writing in another post with a member that had both the Prodigy and Ascent and asked if the panel width made any difference because I used to have the SL3 and now I have the Odyssey and both have the same panel width. Thanks for the information
 

Brad225

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The curse or blessing of visiting other members systems has struck again. After our Tampa listening get together last summer where I was able to listen to Craig's, Alan's and George's system I was moved to continue with the upgrade bug.

I had been making different configurations of OFC from braids. single helix, multiple helix. counter helix, cross connect and single strand. Some sounded good right away and after a couple of weeks went bad and others were bad to begin with. The ones that sounded best but were a little mushy in the bass and were a bit edgy on the top were a single pair OFC counter helix over cotton with Teflon tape between and over the top.

All of the cables were ended with Eichmann bullets. I can't tell you how many times I burned my fingers during the months of building. Not to mention the burning looks from my wife as I would do all this in the TV/music room on the table in front of the couch. I have a very patient wife. I only ended up with one small burn from the soldering gun in the end. I have refinished the table twice already so what is once more.

I then decided to try some good manufactured cables and decided on Shunyata since my best luck was with a helix type cables with no shielding and this is what Shunyata makes, only much better it turns out than any of mine. The first cables I tried were 2 pairs of Altair RCA's between my Krell Standard/ LS25/Classic 120's. That was the end of my interconnect building.

I realize anything I would try had been tried by all manufactures but I had to be sure I couldn't build inexpensive cables just as good as the big guys. The sound had lost any edgy top end and the bass that had been lacking had appeared with the Altairs.
I next changed my Krell SACD to a Sony SCD-1 with Vacuum State mods and a set of Shunyata Altair XLR cables. This Krell that I thought was great player was not even close to the Sony in my system. The clarity image a spaciousness of the sound was amazing. The Sony had much better control of the low end also. I did try the XLR cables in place of RCA ALtair's with both machines and was amazed at the improvement in sound not just volume. I would suggest trying XLR's if you have the ability to use them in your system.

With the positive results of the XLR's I wanted to try them with my Classic 120's but they were single ended only. I looked into sending them back to ARC to change them to fully balanced and add new binding posts as they had barrier strips that made it harder to change to other speaker cables.
I decided that I would look for other ARC amps to replace them and decided on VTM 200. The only reason I wanted more power is the Vacuum State mods to the SCD-1 leaves it with a very low signal and with the 120's I would have to turn the LS-25 up to 3 o'clock at times to listen at a reasonable level and I don't listen to loud music. The new amps along with another set of Altair XLR cables was another dramatic improvement. The reviews of it having a large defined sound stage is accurate. The bass is much tighter and smoother than with the 120's but I guess you would expect that with a much newer amp. The depth and placement of sound had taken another step forward.

In between the Sony and the purchase of the VTM200's decided the low end was still lacking compared to listening to the sound at Craig, George and Alan's homes. George mentioned that although he liked a very strong bass in his music he thought mine was generally lacking some what. I spent some time playing with my Vandersteen sub and decided to add a second sub to the mix. Although this is a definite improvement it is still a challenge in my room to make it work well and I am still playing with them.

So, back to electronics. The LS25 is a very nice preamp but, the newer ARC preamp are said to compliment the VTM's much better. With that I started looking for a newer preamp and decided to start with the LS25 MKII since its circuitry is the starting point for the Ref 2 &3 and LS26 if I understand all this correctly. The cost to change to the MKII was about what I could sell my LS 25 to I started there. I have read mixed reviews about the 6H30 tube being used in the newer ARC preamps but in my system it is a much better sounding pre. It has more of the same improvements I have already described with the other changes to I won't keep saying the same things over again. I will keep the LS25MKII for a while but Donna has already prepared herself that a LS26 or Ref 3 will probably be in my future upgrade.

My final home made cables I gave up on were my speaker cables. I wanted to find Shunyata Andromeda's but since I needed a pair for the CLS's and a pair for the Vandersteen's (They take their signal direct from the power amp as do some of the ML's that have their own powered low end) the cost made me not jump right in with them. I waited until I found a pair of 3m Andromeda cables at Used Cables.com and sent them back to Shunyata and they returned me 2 pair of 1.5m cables. Once again there was no comparison with any I had made.

And last is the most recent addition is I built some risers/stands for the CLS's after continued suggestion to CLS owners by Neil about how much better they sound up off the floor. I only installed them yesterday but the low mid and bass are much cleaner. I am going to play with speaker adjustments and move subs and acoustic panels around for a while to figure out the best placement but even after only a couple of hours listening I would highly recommend getting them up off the floor.

I posted new pics at the front of the thread if your are interested.
 

sleepysurf

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Holy Moly! Impressive! Nice job on those stands, too! Looks like we need to plan another Tampa "road show" sometime soon!
 

Brad225

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Its happened again. Upgrade opportunity reared its head yet again. Found a good deal on a very low hours ARC LS-26. What a step up from the 25mkII. I was supprised there was that much difference between the two.
 

twich54

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Brad, I concur, been lovin' mine for damn near two years now !
 

Brad225

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Updated info and pics. Still adjusting speakers in new room. Very happy with where I am headed with the sound. When time allows I am going to make some difussion panels to go behind the CLS's to see what it sounds like. I also added more reflective material under the fabric on a few of the panels.
 

BillH

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Hi you have a similar system to mine
arc ref3
arc vtm200
front is a newer qsonix server
MSB Dac
custom built ML corner horns
crown K1 amp for the corner horns
ML monolith speakers (just went with the monoliths had clsII before) went in to my storage room.
XTA audio management system (crossover)
sounds pretty good.
have you done any tube rolling on you ARC stuff?
 

Brad225

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Hi Bill, I'm curious about the sound difference between the Monolith's and the CLS's. How would you describe it?
I have rolled some tubes in other ARC equipment i have owned but not these. My understanding is there is not much you can change in either amps or pre.
Just retubed the VTM200's in December with ARC tubes. There was an big difference in the sound across the entire musical spectrum. Everything seems much cleaner and more dynamic.
Post some pictures of your system in this part of the forum. We all like to see what others have put together.
 

BillH

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Hi Brad, on the ref3 I switch to the 6h30-dr tubes and notice more open and detail sound maybe a 10% improvement over arc ref 3 stock tubes, on the vtm200 I I change the 6550s for the treasure kt88, 6as7g used RCA black plates the 6L6gcus I used sylvania. I notice with this tube change tighter and smoother bass and a more forward sound . the biggest difference I noticed between the monolith and CLS was sound stage my whole back wall is like the stage, I bought the monoliths about 2 months ago and I think 1 panel is not opperating at 100% after spending years on getting to where I am at , and after dicussions with scott at martin logan I have ordered new monolith panels (they only sell in pairs)I should have them at the end of april . next few days I will try to post some photos. Bill
 

Brad225

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Thanks for the information Bill.
I was under the impression from something I had read that KT88's could not be interchanged with the 6550 due to temp and bias needs. I guess that goes to show what you get when believing the internet. I may try the 6h30-dr's though to see what they sound like.

Were the comments you made on sound difference with you CLS's or the Monolith's?
I have spent most of my setup time trying to aleve the forward sound that my system had. With the new room and acoustical treatments I have been able to achieve this for my ears. My speakers are about 7 ' apart and towed in maybe 1" with my chair about 15' away. More tow in and the center image is much to strong for most music to my ears.

I look forward to seeing pics.
 

RAH

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You have finely honed artistic skills. The CLS2z look dressed in black to impress. Everything looks very nice or impressive.
 
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Brad225

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Well, at this time I have decided to let the Diva's move on to a new owner. I didn't see doing anything with them for another 2 years. Seeing them covered up in my shop and not being able to rebuild them annoyed my. I don't deal well with unfinished projects but that is another story. In a couple of years i may look for another pair.

This is the simple version of my thoughts on the 610T's. If you like the sound of ARC amps, (and not everyone does) then they are stunning. I previously owned Classic 120's, still own the VTM200's, that the 610T's replaced. Each change has been an exponential leap forward in the quality of sound from the previous.

I realize this is not an in-depth description of the sound but I'm not much word smith. I will say that I could not be happier with the sound.
 

User211

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At the end of the day Brad a Diva restore is a job for the pros. Lest you are prepared to spend the required $$$ on at least a pro install of ribbons as a very minimum, best do as you did.

If you do get another pair, get everything sorted apart from the ribbons, before the re-ribbon. To do it well is never going to be cheap. Even if you do a lot yourself.
 
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