System #29 (Clarity)

MartinLogan Owners (MLO)

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risabet

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Robert Bethune
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, USA
Model: Clarity
Purchased: 2004
Mods: These are stock, why mess with excellence, especially as they are still under warranty.



Electronics:

Sources:

Turntable System: Linn LP-12 (Origin Live "Ultra" PS w/ DC motor/high current x-former option/Ittok (damped with Herbie's dampers) w/AudioQuest Leopard tonearm cable (72v DBS)/Dynavector XX2 mk. 2 LO MC feeding the electronics below.

Hi-Res: Toshiba Laptop w/Win10 running JRiver MC19 converting to DSD-on-the-fly; Hires downloads from HDTracks, 2L, HDTT, SuperHiRes through a Schiit Audio "Loki" dedicated DSD DAC

Optical disc: Sony SDP-S470 through Tube Audio Design (TADAC)

Audio Electronics:

SUT: Parks Audio Budgie Cinemag 3440a step-up transformer
Phono Pre-Amp: Parks Audio Budgie phono pre-amp
Pre-amp: TAD-150 by Tube Audio Design
Amplifiers: TAD-1000 tube monoblocs; PS Audio 100C

Video Electronics:

Plasma Monitor: Panasonic Viera 42"
HDTV/DVR converter: Motorola DCT6412 III
Blu Ray Player: Sony SDP-S470
VCR: None

Subwoofer: Velodyne F-1000 servo Sub recently deceased after nearly 20+ years.

Cables:

The System is wired throughout with:
Audioquest KingCobra and DiamondBack Interconnects
Video is HDMI Cables
Speakers cables are Audioquest CV-8 (72v DBS).
Power is provided by Zu Cable's "Birth "power cords.

Stuff:

Includes Panamax 5300 power conditioner, Herbie's Tube Dampers, Vibrapod cones and feet, and other miscellaneous goodies.
 
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risabet

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Tad-150

The Pre-amp up close! Note the Herbie's IsoCup w/Lampblack balls
 

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risabet

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Power Cords

I've recently added power cords by Zu Cable. The "Birth" cords, purchased on E-Bay (one at a time), have yielded a deeper sound stage with quieter backgrounds, compared to the stock cords. I think that the depth increase is attributable to the quieter backgrounds allowing the music to expand out of a darker background. The extension at the bottom seems to have increased as have the delicacy and purity of the very top end. Next I'll be repalcing the captive cord on the amp with a pigtailed "Birth."
 

risabet

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Addition!

I've added an Origin Live "Advanced" PS w/DC motor to the Linn to replace the Valhalla board. A great addition and so much less expensive than the Lingo. Cleans up some of the bass and midbass issues with the Linn w/o losing the ability to "play the tune."

This unit works with many different TT and has received great reviews.
 

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risabet

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Coming Additions!

I've ordered a pair of tube monos to replace the PS Audio, should be here in 3 weeks. I can't wait! See the website TAD-1000
 
J

Jeff Aguilar

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I know that you are going to like the TAD-1000's. I have had mine since Christmas and they are fantastic!! It really matches well with the TAD-150! Congratulations on the new purchase.

Jeff Aguilar
System #36
 

risabet

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Analog Improvements!

Just ordered a Benz "Ace" medium output (.8mv) to replace the Talisman. The OL upgrade has motivated me to continue working on the analog part of the system, though after hearing the $15,000 McIntosh digital separates, I need to spend some dough on digital too.

Still waiting on the TAD's, Paul at Tube Audio Design is way busy , I expect them next week some time. Also expecting our second daughter about the same time, amps may have to wait in the boxes a while. Waaahhh :(
 

jjqiv

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risabet said:
Just ordered a Benz "Ace" medium output (.8mv) to replace the Talisman. The OL upgrade has motivated me to continue working on the analog part of the system, though after hearing the $15,000 McIntosh digital separates, I need to spend some dough on digital too.

Still waiting on the TAD's, Paul at Tube Audio Design is way busy , I expect them next week some time. Also expecting our second daughter about the same time, amps may have to wait in the boxes a while. Waaahhh :(
Congrats in advance for the new arrivals (i.e., baby and amps). Don't wait to unpack the amps. They could be very helpful for playing some sweet, soothing music to get the baby to sleep.

On another note, if you are financially committed to the purchase of the Ace, I would strongly recommend ponying up a few more bucks for a Shelter 501. The Ace is a very good cart, but the 501 is in much higher league.
 

risabet

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The ACE has Arrived!

jjqiv said:
Congrats in advance for the new arrivals (i.e., baby and amps). Don't wait to unpack the amps. They could be very helpful for playing some sweet, soothing music to get the baby to sleep.

On another note, if you are financially committed to the purchase of the Ace, I would strongly recommend ponying up a few more bucks for a Shelter 501. The Ace is a very good cart, but the 501 is in much higher league.
I seriously considered a Shelter, but the $450.00 cost of the Benz is a chunk less than the $800.00 cost of the Shelter.

On a preliminary listen, the Benz is a smooth, slightly bright cartridge. I think the 40 hours break in will calm the brightness and give more weight to the bass. But generally I have high hopes that this will be the one for a while. I hate rolling cartridges. I'll write a review on AA in a month or two.
 

risabet

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Everything arrives!

Wednesday 4/20 the amps arrived with the Panamax 5100 power conditioner from TAD. I set up the units on Thursday, switched it on and horrible hum. Isolated the hum to the cable which requires a video ground isolator. Nothing is ever is simple in this hobby.
 

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risabet

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Ground Loops galore

The hum was caused by some serious ground loops:

1. Cable TV loop removed with a Jensen video ground isolator
2. Loops between the amps, pre-amp, and CD player removed by floating
the grounds on the amp and CD power cords.

Grounded through the pre-amp only, the system is now dead quiet, even on the phono input, allowing the magic of the tubes to shine through.
 
T

Taz

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Instead of floating the grounds which can be bad. Try a product called HumX by ebtech I had a bad loop hum and tried everything this thing rocks and it is cheap and does not go in the signal path.
 

risabet

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The measure of the TAD-1000?

The amps have about 40 hours on them and are beginning to sound more consistent. There are many variables to deal with with these amps, the biggest being the variable feedback or "focus" control. With the control at minimum the imaging is moderately diffuse, more like a live event than reproduced music. With the control at the maximum, the image is tightly focused, a little more forward. I am setting it right in the middle for now, which seems to give me the best of both worlds, good focus and the blended acoustic of the best halls. I'll continue to listen and report on the sound.

Speaker cables are next. I'll need 1m prs.
 

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risabet

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Break-in surprise!

The speed with which break-in seems to finalize is quite astonishing. Literally within an hour or two of listening at around the fifty hour mark the sound of the amps has locked in. Bass is deep and tight, the sounstage is expansive and at the same time specific. Harmonic richness in spades. Nice!
 

risabet

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Done for awhile!

I've reached the point where I am deeply satisfied with the sound my system is producing. I will be laying off the upgrading, tube rolling doesn't count, and spending my money on music, both live and recorded (mainly vinyl), and on the baby, who is really cute.
 

risabet

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Amps in Triode Mode

Running the TAD-1000's in triode mode adds much to the level of harmonic richness that the amps have. Yes, it may be more euphonic, but the music has so much life and immediacy that who needs more accuracy when the music is so involving.
 

risabet

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Minor upgrades/changes

Switched the 6L6GT's for some Big bottle EL-34's. Will let you all know how they work out. Also upgrade the IC between amp and pre to AQ King Cobra.
 

risabet

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Changes!

I've purchased a universal player (Denon DVD-2910), actually the wife purchased it as a 10th anniversary present, and the Cinemag 3440a transformers to use as a SUT for the phono. I wanted a uni to get rid of the Parasound and the Toshiba to cut down on space in the new rack I'm building. Another issue is that the Parasound is at least 15 years, though it works perfectly, there have been enormous advances in digital conversion and processing in the last decade and a half.
 
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risabet

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Beat_Dominator said:
My DAC is 14years old but I love it ;)
I was quite enamored of the Parasound also but in point of fact, the Denon beats the s**t out of it sonically and ergonomically. The presence of DVD and SACD are just gravy. Looking for a tube DAC to run it through.
 
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