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Big Dog RJ

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Well here it is maties, 15 years in the making starting from scratch since arriving in Aus in 2004. This certainly took a while to put together. Went through Infinity's, Maggie's, Wilson's, Quads and hybrids, finally reaching the ART's, simply marvellous!

Here are a few more pics on the gear. The CJ amps have been modded to operate in Class A bias of 60w. Anything beyond that mark leading towards 80w and upto 140w switches in Class AB. These are the LP125M's, partnered with the CT5 preamp, which also has been upgraded & modded with Duelands and Mundorf caps along with CJD Teflons and top grade Vishay resistors right throughout, full layout. These mods took around two years to complete, stage by stage until a custom sound was created.

The phonostage is a CJ TEA2SE Max version that was just upgraded recently along with the Rega power supply for the RP8. I was considering either the Michel Orbe or Gyrodeck but borrowed the RP8 for a while... it sounded pretty good so I just kept it!

The digital playback system consists of Esoteric K07xs which was upgraded recently as well. A few other internal adjustments were done to deliver a slightly higher voltage bias, which results in deeper bass impact and better LF detail.

The CLX's now rest on the Gaia II's and all the gear sits on Solid Steel audio racks. So, overall a significant improvement since March 2021. I have no plans to further upgrade, although improvements by tweaking and minor changes is always a learning curve.

There's one pic showing the CJ MF2550SE SS amplifier driving the CLX's, this was during the mods of the monoblocks. During this time, I also tried several other SS amps, Plinius, Dartzeel, Momentum, and Boulder. Out of all of these, with each one having pros & cons... it was the Pass Labs XA series that I preferred. Although I'm not a fan of SS, and truly passionate about tubes, the Pass Labs XA series of Class A amplifiers has something special when combined with ML stats, especially the CLX's. The drive, grip and control on the stats is superb! There's nothing overblown or too much of anything, it's really well balanced and something that allows you to listen for endless hours. I really liked my time spent with the big MF2550SE but it can't play softly, rather it needs to be cranked up to allow it to fly, and once it gets going, oh boy does it soar! Another fantastic combination with stats, I very highly recommend it.

Cheers, and enjoy those fine tunes!
Woof! RJ
 

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Big Dog RJ

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Cheers mate,

It certainly took a while to get there, as it was no easy task. Moving from our old place to the new place, required a lot of adjustments. From AC mains wiring, to acoustic panelling, and getting the appropriate flooring, had to be thought out carefully. Didn't want to end up with a larger area that has echo or a lot of reverb. Would be like a kangaroo bouncing off!

This is an open plan area; so the lounge, dinning area and kitchen area are all in one good sized space. The trick is to create a listening space within this open area, so as not to install separate walls but rather adjust furniture, partitions and locate system gear to create a listening space. Since the walls are well away from the CLX's, there are no negative reflections or close boundaries to recreate unwanted energy or overblown patters. This is very important for the full effect of transients and dynamic swings that feel limitless at times, and the CLX's comtrol these extremely efficiently.

The CJ monoblocks are also well equipped to handle these full range stats, especially after the mods were done on their Class A bias operation. It allows for greater grip and control, which is crucial in obtaining that full control on stat panels. This is where most amplifiers fall short. With well designed power supplies and high current capacity, driving and controlling stats shouldn't be a problem.

There are times where I sometimes think to myself what's all the fuss about... can't I just plonk these in the larger area and just plug in the gear and play. However, constantly tweaking and fine tuning is totally worth it because at this level, you really don't want compromises. It's a marvellous thing !

Cheers to all, and enjoy those fine tunes!
Woof! RJ
 

Big Dog RJ

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Greetings from down unda Melbourne...
After a few years of living in purity with the CLX's since Sept 2018 and going sub-less... I've been pondering the idea of adding subs. So, since that time up till now, I've tried quite a few, Velodyne, REL, JM Labs Gotham, Vandersteen, and perhaps two other kinds can't even recall what brand. Anyway, none of them worked well to my liking both at our old apartment and in the new place, so I just gave up.

Either way, they were too over-powering, where excessive bass seems to linger in every track... like listening to a tower speaker with multiple LF drivers bombarding the heck out of the room... just awful. It also smeared the transparency and openness of the stat panels, and not to mention the numerous times I needed to adjust level controls of each type of recording. Something was a miss whenever I used subs, just didn't work, until...

Just last Wed, I was at my ML dealers place demoing the new Masterpiece line with top tier gear that he's brought in, such as Vitus, Pass Labs and Jeff Rowland. As we tried different settings and various configs, there was one particular sub that caught my eye. Placed in a corner unpacked was a brand new ML BF210! I asked him what's up with that?

Turned out to be an all inclusive unit with ARC ready software to calibrate the room and had the special CLX Art crossovers! Oh boy, I must have! So I bought it! Will be picking it up tomorrow morning and I've already done some adjustments on the CLX's to accommodate it being placed in the centre with plenty of space to breathe.

I must say, I'm very impressed with this particular design and the way ML has managed to incorporate a special dsp to integrate very well with the CLX's or any of the Masterpiece line, it was an absolute pleasure to trial. The level of control and flexibility it has is outstanding! Various settings and the ARC software is available for that perfect sense of balance. Apart from this, the transparency, speed and clean bass is of the highest definition I've experienced so far with this kind of sub. No wonder it was offered as a combination with the CLX's but I never had the chance to actually try it out properly. The other thing I remember is that the BF210 & BF212 series were quite pricey at the time but this time round I managed to acquire it at a reasonable price, since the item arrived just when our AUD to USD currency conversion was at a much better rate, so I grabbed it! Afterall, it was the very last one he had and in the exact same color as my CLX's. Hell yeah!

Once it's all set up properly tomorrow arvo, and I've done the final ARC calibration, and everything is tickety boo, I'll write up a summary. Till then, enjoy those fine tunes!
Woof! RJ
 

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Congrats RJ. As you experiment with them be sure and try using a speaker connection from your amps or your CLX. I use direct from my amps. All of the adjustments operate with a much different sound then line level from your pre.

For me, sending the signal to the subs just as you do to the CLX is a much more cohesive sound.

If you get west of Melbourne, please wave at the 12 Apostles for me. My wife and I often look at our pictures and videos of the experiences we had in your beautiful area. That and our walk along the river out to the National Tennis Center and surrounding sports facilities.
 

Big Dog RJ

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Oh wow!!! My goodness gracious, the BF210 is in da house.

It's probably the most versatile sub I've ever used to date. Such that, the settings are very easy to follow and they're of varied modes to allow any room settings, just marvellous!
I noticed that when set perfectly, the LF detail forms as one speaker with the CLX's, there's absolutely no overhang. Most subs I've used are too bass heavy or the bass is always lingering in the background and this is what ruins the mids & highs...

I'm not saying that the ML BF subs are the ultimate but they're just so well designed and gel extremely well with stats. I very highly recommend it, and it's an absolute pleasure to listen to. Zero fatigue.

Will be till 4am for sure!
A mighty woof'n!!! Enjoy those fine tunes!
RJ
 

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roberto

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RJ,
I am so happy that at last you sow the light! Now you know what you were missing. Remember our talk about it? The CLXs are designed to have a this sub along. It is a perfect match. The bass distortion is like none. I had before a lot of different subs too, and their sound was not as precise as this is.

The blend with the CLXs is a perfect match. MARTIN LOGAN made possible this to happened.
When I feel a perfect blend with mine, I still drop the bass energy a little bit...this setting is what the CLXs were missing...a naturalness with the bass!

The deep bass notes are played like if the CLXs are the ones that are doing it. As the bass in the recordings is a mono signal below 70Hz, our ears can't located frequencies below 100Hz (it is very difficult even for a trained ears) the sub placement is not that important in the room...sometimes there might be in other model subs the possibility to have less frequency cut above in their built in crossover, and we might hear it, but this is not the case with the ML BF series.

It is -24dB cut signal cut in the BF series...their specs are very conservative. With the CLXs, it is better always to have quality signal than quantity. And these BF subs are a wonder to use.

Congratulations dear RJ
 

Big Dog RJ

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Yes, Robbo mate I do remember our conversations many times and quite a while back. After the last sub trial, which was a Vandy I think... it didn't perform too well with the CLX's, this was around 2019/20 during covid lockdown in Melbourne, so after that I just gave up! It smeared the mids & highs and on every track I'd have to get up and adjust levels, it was a mighty PIA!

Just last week I ventured into my ML dealers place to demo his latest amps, Vitus, Pass Labs and Jeff Rowland top of the line to drive the 13A's, 11A's and 15A's. Only then, I saw this thing and asked him about it... said it was fully ARC software loaded and ready to go on the CLX's, so I grabbed it!

It took less than 15 minutes to fully set up including the software, it's truly remarkable! An absolute work of Art!
Cheers Robbo mate, and keep those fine tunes playing in Costa Rica!
Woof, RJ
 

Robert D

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I've loved both of my ML subs. First the depth i and now the BF 210. I'm glad you finally came around and tried it out. You were missing out.
 

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Congrats RJ!

I have a couple of them now, bought in late 2020. My brother, who was “working from home” out of my place due to Covid, wanted "BASS!" and was fine with them while I was breaking them in, but after doing the ARC calibration he was shocked by how much the sound improved. He wasn't amused when I adjusted them ever so slightly so you couldn't tell they were on, unless you actually turned them off.

They are wildly flexible and tuneable. Glad you’ve already found the sweet spot for your CLXs.
 
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Well here it is maties, 15 years in the making starting from scratch since arriving in Aus in 2004. This certainly took a while to put together. Went through Infinity's, Maggie's, Wilson's, Quads and hybrids, finally reaching the ART's, simply marvellous!

Here are a few more pics on the gear. The CJ amps have been modded to operate in Class A bias of 60w. Anything beyond that mark leading towards 80w and upto 140w switches in Class AB. These are the LP125M's, partnered with the CT5 preamp, which also has been upgraded & modded with Duelands and Mundorf caps along with CJD Teflons and top grade Vishay resistors right throughout, full layout. These mods took around two years to complete, stage by stage until a custom sound was created.

The phonostage is a CJ TEA2SE Max version that was just upgraded recently along with the Rega power supply for the RP8. I was considering either the Michel Orbe or Gyrodeck but borrowed the RP8 for a while... it sounded pretty good so I just kept it!

The digital playback system consists of Esoteric K07xs which was upgraded recently as well. A few other internal adjustments were done to deliver a slightly higher voltage bias, which results in deeper bass impact and better LF detail.

The CLX's now rest on the Gaia II's and all the gear sits on Solid Steel audio racks. So, overall a significant improvement since March 2021. I have no plans to further upgrade, although improvements by tweaking and minor changes is always a learning curve.

There's one pic showing the CJ MF2550SE SS amplifier driving the CLX's, this was during the mods of the monoblocks. During this time, I also tried several other SS amps, Plinius, Dartzeel, Momentum, and Boulder. Out of all of these, with each one having pros & cons... it was the Pass Labs XA series that I preferred. Although I'm not a fan of SS, and truly passionate about tubes, the Pass Labs XA series of Class A amplifiers has something special when combined with ML stats, especially the CLX's. The drive, grip and control on the stats is superb! There's nothing overblown or too much of anything, it's really well balanced and something that allows you to listen for endless hours. I really liked my time spent with the big MF2550SE but it can't play softly, rather it needs to be cranked up to allow it to fly, and once it gets going, oh boy does it soar! Another fantastic combination with stats, I very highly recommend it.

Cheers, and enjoy those fine tunes!
Woof! RJ
This is a really amazing system!
How did you know that the modifications to your CJ amps were going to make the sound better but not worse? Do you use a tuning specialist that does to audio equipment what some mechanics do to stock vehicles to converted them into higher performance cars (e.g. AMG version of Mercedes)?
Is the sound difference between tube and solid state amps very different or only slightly different for the ML speakers? What is the lowest power tube amp you would use to drive your system? Do you think lower priced stereo integrated tube amps like those made by Prima Luna will be able to drive the ML speakers properly?
Pass Lab typically states output power rated at 8 ohms but not at 4 and 2 ohms. How did the XA Pass Lab amp handle high frequencies? Did it sound bright or harsh? I though you would be a good judge as you use tube amps.
Thanks RJ.
 

Big Dog RJ

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G'day MD (mystic Dragon)

Oh boy, those questions you've asked was like one of those I would have to answer on a thesis paper... it basically calls for a 20,000 word assignment. Well here goes!

1. CJ amplifiers & mods:
I've been using CJ gear since I was in my teens, so it's been around our home, in demos, and at stores around the world where ever I travelled. Over the decades CJ has further refined the classic tube circuit and redesigned tube gear with the shortest signal paths, a single gain stage and utilising high quality parts. This has helped them to remain at the forefront of tube gear with finesse. Audio Research ( ARC) OTOH has developed highend tube gear over decades and they've made serious breakthroughs in tube gear, further designing the high definition series, and that's what they stand for- Audio Research! Any of their gear can be upgraded to SE (special edition) versions, which include upgraded power supplies, caps, resistors, higher voltage rails etc. I've always admired true Class A topology using push-pull config not Single Ended Triodes. SET's are very sweet sounding but they lack the drive, impact and full grip that push-pull offers in ultra linear mode. And so, the particular monoblocks that I have are capable of being modded to Class A plus further upgrades on full SE version, which I did that took over 2 yrs by a certified tech.

2. Differences between SS & tube:
SS devices are either on or off. Operating in Class AB. When operating in Class A, these devices are always on... hence derive more heat and drive to full potential. All you require is a solid handful of Class A watts to get things up to full spec. SS devices are also high current devices, ideal for driving stats and reactive loads. Tubes are high voltage devices, they get the required high current from their transformers (trannys). The bigger the trannys the larger the current capacity, also great for driving stats and reactive loads, tube gear offers both high voltage and high current. Also depends on the power supply design. There's not one that's better than the other, both types have pros & cons, it's just a personal preference.

3. Lowest powered tube amp:
The lowest powered tube amp I've used is a SET design by Cary and Lamm Audio. Rated at just 8w & 18w the most, it was more suited to higher efficiency speakers with benign loafs not reactive loads. Speakers like horns or Tannoys, efficiency ratings of greater than 100dB and impedences of around 8 to 16 Ohms, very easy to drive.

I've used tube amps from CJ, VTL, ARC, Sonic Frontiers, Golden Tube Audio, Quad, and Manley Labs rated around 60 to 80w per channel, in ultra linear pentode design, which had no issues driving panels such as Maggie's, Quads or MLs.

4. Prima Luna gear:
This is one brand that has come a long way... they keep improving each year and they make some pretty good gear. However, to me this is still "entry level." My personal preference is always with either CJ, VTL or ARC. They're the real all tube designed amplifiers that money can buy, and they do it extremely well!

5. Pass Labs amps specs:
Yes, sometimes Pass Labs doesn't divulge all the required specs, that's because they don't feel it's necessary to do so. Nelson Pass is a legend! He's well known for his very early designs, such as the Pass Aleph series, the Forte and mighty Threshold amplifiers, these are solid pure Class A stuff, not toys. So after so many decades, when you refer to a company like Pass Labs, you really don't need to know all the specs. They're as good as they sound, rock solid power supplies, that don't flinch one bit under stress, and his latest gear is far superior, like I said in a class of their own!

Phew! I hope I've answered all your questions MD...? Hopefully, others can contribute.
Cheers, RJ
 

Big Dog RJ

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Oh! I forgot to answer your last questions on the Pass Labs XA series...
No, the XA series is not bright or harsh in any way whatsoever. They have tremendous amount of torque in their power supplies and produce a healthy dosage of pure Class A output, capable of handing very difficult impedence swings and reactive loads typically found in stats.
My very good mate, Kostas is using just one XA30.8 to drive his CLX's full range without any subs! And it's one of the very best systems I've heard to date! Rated at just 30w of Class A, oh boy it can really deliver!

The XA60.8 and XA160.8 are much larger then there's the XA200.8, which is the mother ship of Class A design. Extremely powerful and huge power supplies, these things can virtually launch the next mission to the moon!

Cheers MD,
Woof! RJ
 
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Oh! I forgot to answer your last questions on the Pass Labs XA series...
No, the XA series is not bright or harsh in any way whatsoever. They have tremendous amount of torque in their power supplies and produce a healthy dosage of pure Class A output, capable of handing very difficult impedence swings and reactive loads typically found in stats.
My very good mate, Kostas is using just one XA30.8 to drive his CLX's full range without any subs! And it's one of the very best systems I've heard to date! Rated at just 30w of Class A, oh boy it can really deliver!

The XA60.8 and XA160.8 are much larger then there's the XA200.8, which is the mother ship of Class A design. Extremely powerful and huge power supplies, these things can virtually launch the next mission to the moon!

Cheers MD,
Woof! RJ
I spoke with Kevin today. I will audition the Pass Lab XA30.8 when he has one available for demo.
He told me he advised you that two subs are even better.
Kevin is right, I have been using 2 subs with my Focal speakers. It is much better than 1 sub. The difference between 2 and 1 sub is major.
Is a 2nd sub the next upgrade for you system? Ha!
 
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I spoke with Kevin today. I will audition the Pass Lab XA30.8 when he has one available for demo.
He told me he advised you that two subs are even better.
Kevin is right, I have been using 2 subs with my Focal speakers. It is much better than 1 sub. The difference between 2 and 1 sub is major.
Is a 2nd sub the next upgrade for you system? Ha!
I find that 3 subs increases the sense of immersion into the soundspace! My 3rd sub is located behind the listening position and set to be "just" on.
 

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So why do multiple subs sound better? Is it because the sound is more dispersed, spread around the room? Perhaps also it spreads the bass load between multiple subs, so as to reduce the demand on the subs? Reduced load adds more accuracy and faster response?

The overall volume of the bass should be the same, right? When you tune the system you wouldn't want the bass to be over powering.
 

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I spoke with Kevin today. I will audition the Pass Lab XA30.8 when he has one available for demo.
He told me he advised you that two subs are even better.
Kevin is right, I have been using 2 subs with my Focal speakers. It is much better than 1 sub. The difference between 2 and 1 sub is major.
Is a 2nd sub the next upgrade for you system? Ha!
G'day mate,
Ah two subs... absolutely not!
Given the current room dimensions, this one's more than enough. It's settings are all set to low that sometimes it doesn't even kick in on certain recordings. Perhaps if I had a much larger room then maybe two to even out LF response... but that would pretty much be Neolith territory. I don't see the point other than price difference.

Kevin's always eager to please, great chap that way. He's also learned a lot in the highend, and has done really well, especially at this stage, where most stores have completely shut down. I try to support him much as possible and he's got some real nice gear to suit all budgets. I wish him well.

Glad to hear that your search is narrowing down... take your time and something tops will pop up!
Cheers, RJ
 
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G'day mate,
Ah two subs... absolutely not!
Given the current room dimensions, this one's more than enough. It's settings are all set to low that sometimes it doesn't even kick in on certain recordings. Perhaps if I had a much larger room then maybe two to even out LF response... but that would pretty much be Neolith territory. I don't see the point other than price difference.

Kevin's always eager to please, great chap that way. He's also learned a lot in the highend, and has done really well, especially at this stage, where most stores have completely shut down. I try to support him much as possible and he's got some real nice gear to suit all budgets. I wish him well.

Glad to hear that your search is narrowing down... take your time and something tops will pop up!
Cheers, RJ
The gramophone used to be state of the art in audio reproduction in 1880s. The CD player became the latest tech in the 1980s, one hundred years later.
The companies that made gramophones have not exist for a long time and the companies that make CD players will also cease to exist at some stage.
Not sure how long the high end audio industry can sustain if there is not a sufficiently large population of people in their 20s-30s who do not walk around but actually sit down when listening to music. The younger people who do sit down listening to music seriously these days do not buy Martin Logan electrostatics speakers although some of them may buy a paid of HiFiMan electrostatic headphones. It seems that Kevin is addressing a market segment of golden oldies like me who are now living their teenage dreams!
 
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Big Dog RJ

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Ha! Good one MD,

In fact we were discussing this very same thing on another thread, and it actually turns out that during our younger days, the old chaps of highend were probably saying the same thing... Then we got educated and read the good old mags from Harry Pearson, Art Dudley and the crew and here we are! So, hoping that the next gen will and should take up the highend... ? we all certainly hope so!

Of course back then, things were quite different for us young lads. We had to walk into real stores, sift through music (LP's, tapes, CDs) and pick something to our liking. The most portable gadget we had was the Sony Walkman then Discman, decent hifi rig with decent TT to spin some vinyl and that was it!

Now, just look at the medium available... the various digital formats and platforms, which the majority of young gen seemed to be quite dandy with. Only a handful of young gen even know what highend is, and that's because their parents have a highend system at home. However, I really don't think it gets the attention it deserves, rather comments like, "oh that's my dad's crazy tube music system..." it plays very clear tunes! those are the comments my daughter makes whenever her friends visit. 😔

One chap however did show interest, so I was thinking this guy could be promising... but she quickly turned it off track by saying, you really don't want to know 🙄 ... and that's all she wrote!

Anyway, let's see how it goes and what the future holds. Perhaps that's one reason why ML decided to discontinue the CLX's and also perhaps why many real stores are disappearing. Pretty sad outlook I'd say.

Until such time, enjoy those fine tunes!
RJ
 
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