Tube amp for Odyssey

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Sunnyboy 1956

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Hi this is my first post here. I live in New Delhi(India) and acquired a pair of ML odyssey from the dealer in Mumbai about 10 days back. I have a couple of newbie questions and would appreciate any help. Firstly, given the erratic power supply in this part of the world the Odysseys are switched off when not in use. Will this affect the 30/100 hr(?) break in period?
The MLs are hooked to a Bryston 14BSST with an ARC SP16 tube preamp. I would like to eventually biamp using a tube amp for the panels. Would welcome any suggestions based on experience.
Many thanks
 

aliveatfive

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I've always been impressed with the sound of MLs and Audio Research tube amps. The VS 100 watt per channel model might be a more cost-effective approach to your question. I have a VT 100 III driving Ascent is, which I will soon probably upgrade to Summits. The VT series probably has a bit more slam, but its upper midrange may be a little too ananlytical for some. Be sure to listen carefully (preferably at home) before you purchase.
 

roberto

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Sunnyboy 1956 said:
Hi this is my first post here. I live in New Delhi(India) and acquired a pair of ML odyssey from the dealer in Mumbai about 10 days back. I have a couple of newbie questions and would appreciate any help. Firstly, given the erratic power supply in this part of the world the Odysseys are switched off when not in use. Will this affect the 30/100 hr(?) break in period?
The MLs are hooked to a Bryston 14BSST with an ARC SP16 tube preamp. I would like to eventually biamp using a tube amp for the panels. Would welcome any suggestions based on experience.
Many thanks
Hola...congrats with your new Odyssey. These are truly hi-end speakers. If you want to drive SS with tubes, it is important to get both or at least close specifications regarding their sensitivity to match the right level of both amps. In other words, sometimes if you don't have an input volume control, you could get or too much bass or too much mids and highs...try them before to be sure they will match!!!...there are many options with tubes and transistors. Your Bryston is a great amp. also. Before that, did you try to by-wired or shotgun with cables?...sometimes this array makes a big difference. Hope this can help. Trust your ears!!! Happy listening,
Cheers,
Roberto.
 
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T

Transparent

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Congratulate on your new Odysseys.

I don't think switching off your Odysseys would have any affect on "Break-In" period and don't worry too much about it. Just enjoy your new speakers. I started to enjoy my Odysseys the very first minute after they were out of boxes. At first the bass was very shy (as they stated in the manual) but after about 2 weeks I can feel the bass was stronger and more musical. I listened to mine around 1 to 2 hours every week night and around 4 to 6 hours in the weekend, so as I said, after 2 weeks, my Odysseys were "broken-in". The Odysseys are only switched on there is music
going through them. You may consider a high quality Power Conditioner to protect
your gears. Just do a search on this forum then you may find out what Power Cond.
other people are using.

I agreed with Roberto that matching the power level between your Bryston and whatever the tub amp that you are going to get is very important. The 14BSST is
a very powerful amp and as Roberto suggested I would try the bi-wiring before
anything else.

Happy listening

/Transpa.
 
S

Sunnyboy 1956

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Many thanks.Really appreciate all the the advice. Just curious about the remark that the Odyssey are bass shy, at least initially. I have them biwired with the 14BSST and they are producing some awesome bass the like of which I have not heard before. Its tight, deep and gut wrenching eg the latter part of Dire Straits Sultans of Swing or even that awesome bass track on James Taylor - Gaia(?). Of course, the Odyssey is a quantum leap over the B&W CDM 9 NTs that they replaced. If this is happening when the speakers are barely a few days into breakin, the prospects sound delicious. The amp is also in an extended breakin coz it came back with loads of new transistors.
I reckon if I want to biamp using the 14BSST for the woofers, I may need to change the preamp. I borrowed a home grown pair of tube mono blocs which sounded superb in the mid to upper range but a tad weak in the bass. However, the volume control on the ARC preamp was way too high to permit biamping with the Bryston.
Shall post a picture of the system once I figure it out.
Happy listening
 

Spike

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Search this forum for bi-amp

First, many congrats on your new pair of Odessey. I've posted a number of times here on the topic of bi-amping, specifically tube on the panels and solid-state on the woofers. You can do a search on this board for keyword "bi-amp" or posts by "Spike" and get to a bunch of useful information.
I don't understand what you mean by the volume control on the ARC preamp is way too high to permit biamping with the Bryston. Do you mean the bass is overwhelming the mids & highs? If that is the case, you can always attenuate the incoming signal to the Bryston to match gain with the tube amps. I'm doing the same thing. If you look at my system #27, the silver box sitting on top of the big Classe' is the attenuation unit to adjust gain for the bass.
If you already have the ARC SP16 tube preamp, you should seriously consider the VS55 (or its bigger brother, VS100) to match with the SP preamp. The synergy between ARC preamp + amp deserve serious considerations for the sum as a whole is much more musical than if you were to consider them separately. There is a certain magic created when you match ARC components in a system, especially the ARC components of the same series. For myself, I tried ARC VT tube amps in my system to mate with my ARC LS7 preamp, but there were hints of something amissed. I finally found the magic with the current set-up of ModWright preamp and Cary/AES SixPacs + Classe', but that's just my preference.
Enjoy your system and good luck on your venture into bi-amping. It'll take your system to a whole new level, as did mine.
 
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aliveatfive

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VS55 is probably underpowered - even on the panels only - for MLs. Try VS110, instead. Also, try running that amp full-range and compare.
 
S

Sunnyboy 1956

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Spike
Many thanks for the information and the links. I guess I am as much if not more of a Technological idiot than most. My take from all the information is that if you want/have to biamp than active biamping via an external crossover is the way to go. Passive biamping using the inbuilt crossover may not yield the best results. This raises a number of questions. According to one of the links the external crossover should be optimally set at 350 to 375 hz while the Odyssey is set at 250 hz. While a difference of 100 to 125 hz is not small, won't you end up interfering with the design integrity of the ML if you were to tweak the crossover frequency? This could void the warranty. Further the information/links appear to be generic and possibly not specific to ELS. The ML owners manual recommends only passive biamping. I bought the MLs because I love the speaker not because I wanted a speaker to biamp.The biamping exercise is only an attempt to coax greater performance.
Anyway my weekend attempt at biamping did'nt work out. The bass from the Bryston totally overwhelmed the home grown tube mono blocs. I even tried using 2 preamps from the cd but again it was an artificial picture. Rather like using an equalizer in a high end system!
I suppose someday will think of adding the VS110. Would not like to experiment with any other tube power amp.
Happy listening
 

Spike

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Sunnyboy 1956 said:
My take from all the information is that if you want/have to biamp then active biamping via an external crossover is the way to go. Passive biamping using the inbuilt crossover may not yield the best results.
This is TRUE given a theoretical environment, but we're dealing with implementation details here. The fact of the matter at hand (with ML speakers) is that you cannot do without the passive (internal) crossover. Now, the question becomes that do we want to add more processing into the signal path just for the sake of having an external crossover to match with the "theoretical specification" or do we want to keep things streamlined and go with the passive approach. Keep in mind that you're only degrading your signal by adding components into the path. This is the balancing act we're facing with the ML speaker models today. If your speakers are ML Monoliths which come with external crossover, things will be much easier.
According to one of the links the external crossover should be optimally set at 350 to 375 hz while the Odyssey is set at 250 hz.
No, the external crossover should be set to the SAME crossover frequency of the internal one.
Anyway my weekend attempt at biamping did'nt work out. The bass from the Bryston totally overwhelmed the home grown tube mono blocs.
You need to match gains between the Bryston and the tube monoblocs. The Bryston overwhelming the monoblocs means that you'll need to attenuate the signal between the preamp and the Bryston, while leaving the signals to the tube monoblocs untouched.
Just to give you an idea, you can take a look at the following link to the "nude attenuators" from EVS:
http://www.tweakaudio.com/EVS-2/Ultimate_Attenuators.html

I went ahead to look at the specs for the ARC VS series and Bryston and here's what I see:
ARC VS55 has 25db gain, VS110 has 28db gain, while the Bryston 14BSST has 29db gain. If you were to go with the VS55, you'll need to 4db of attenuation at the Bryston's input. On the other hand, you'll need 1db of attenuation going the VS110 route. In the practical sense, most people won't notice the 1db difference so you can save some $$ and go with a more standard 3db attenuation value for in the case of the VS55 and forego any attenuation in the case of VS110. The rationale being that a little bit more bass might be preffered by someone in his/her set up. Follow this Parts Express link to see the in-line attenuation unit. A friend of mine is using the 6db attenuation units in his setup with great results.
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?&DID=7&Partnumber=266-240

Good Luck
Spike
 

roberto

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Spike said:
This is TRUE given a theoretical environment, but we're dealing with implementation details here. The fact of the matter at hand (with ML speakers) is that you cannot do without the passive (internal) crossover. Now, the question becomes that do we want to add more processing into the signal path just for the sake of having an external crossover to match with the "theoretical specification" or do we want to keep things streamlined and go with the passive approach. Keep in mind that you're only degrading your signal by adding components into the path. This is the balancing act we're facing with the ML speaker models today. If your speakers are ML Monoliths which come with external crossover, things will be much easier.
No, the external crossover should be set to the SAME crossover frequency of the internal one.
You need to match gains between the Bryston and the tube monoblocs. The Bryston overwhelming the monoblocs means that you'll need to attenuate the signal between the preamp and the Bryston, while leaving the signals to the tube monoblocs untouched.
Just to give you an idea, you can take a look at the following link to the "nude attenuators" from EVS:
http://www.tweakaudio.com/EVS-2/Ultimate_Attenuators.html

I went ahead to look at the specs for the ARC VS series and Bryston and here's what I see:
ARC VS55 has 25db gain, VS110 has 28db gain, while the Bryston 14BSST has 29db gain. If you were to go with the VS55, you'll need to 4db of attenuation at the Bryston's input. On the other hand, you'll need 1db of attenuation going the VS110 route. In the practical sense, most people won't notice the 1db difference so you can save some $$ and go with a more standard 3db attenuation value for in the case of the VS55 and forego any attenuation in the case of VS110. The rationale being that a little bit more bass might be preffered by someone in his/her set up. Follow this Parts Express link to see the in-line attenuation unit. A friend of mine is using the 6db attenuation units in his setup with great results.
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?&DID=7&Partnumber=266-240

Good Luck
Spike
Hola Spike...agreed with you 100%. It is very good to have you with us! It is true that 1 dB is very difficult to hear, and also some good $$. The Bryston amp has a lot of good power, and it is a very good sounding amp...

Hola Sunnyboy...why don't you try first to shotgun your speaker cables or bi-wired them? Sometimes, this array will make a big difference in sound for good...my 2 cents...happy listening,
Roberto.
 
S

Sunnyboy 1956

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tube amps...contd

Spike and Roberto
Many thanks for your advice and valuable contributions.Thanks to guys like you who care and share that this is such a great hobby and it feels good to be a part of the worldwide ML family.
A friend who makes tube amps(hence the reference to home grown) says he can fix the attenuation problem. Meanwhile I am using the Bryston full time and am really thrilled with the results. :D Occasionally when I switch to jazz or female vocals I plug in the tube mono blocs. The sound is obviously different. I reckon that the mono blocs(50 wpc, 8 ohms) don't really do justice to the Odysseys.
I hope to post a picture of the whole system, mono blocs, bryston et al as soon as I can borrow a digital camera. Seem to have misplaced mine!
Take care and happy listening
 

Spike

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Sunnyboy 1956 said:
A friend who makes tube amps(hence the reference to home grown) says he can fix the attenuation problem.
Be sure that the attenuation is done on the Bryston side and not the monoblocs.
I reckon that the mono blocs(50 wpc, 8 ohms) don't really do justice to the Odysseys.
I beg to differ here for I have 50-watt monoblocs and those are more than enough. I was able to (comfortably) register 98+ db on my SPL with the monoblocs running full-range into my ReQuests. I didn't feel that I was pushing the monoblocs that hard. You mentioned "erratic power supply" in your part of the world in your original post and I am wondering if this is a major contributing factor to the problems with the monoblocs. Maybe you should consider a voltage generator (not just a power conditioner) to stabilize the incoming power to your system. Also check to see whether the monoblocs have chokes on the input power supply section to stabilize the voltage inside the monoblocs.

Good Luck
Spike
 
S

Sunnyboy 1956

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Gain attenuation on the Bryston

Spike
I guess its mission accomplished. When using balanced interconnects with the Bryston 14 BST there is a -6db gain switch on the amp which coupled with the -3db on the Odyssey provides some harmony.Since the tube monoblocs are prototypes have asked the manufacturer (www.lyrita-audio.com), to enhance the gain on the mono blocs. He says a 3db increase should be possible.
Am still in the mix and match mode as far as biamping goes. Hopefully this will settle down in a day or so and I can get along with truly enjoying the MLs.
Happy listening
 

DTB300

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Sunnyboy 1956 said:
Meanwhile I am using the Bryston full time and am really thrilled with the results. :D Occasionally when I switch to jazz or female vocals I plug in the tube mono blocs. The sound is obviously different. I reckon that the mono blocs(50 wpc, 8 ohms) don't really do justice to the Odysseys.
The Tube vs Solid State issue is always personal preference. Like Spike said, 50 watts is more than enough - 98dB is quite loud. My listening levels are usually around 80dB and up around 85-90dB for those louder sessions.

Again you need to sit down, listen, and make your choice of which amp you like best.

Things you want to evaluate are: Is the bass, mids, and high end what you like with each amp? Play songs with a Bass Guitar playing some solo cuts...Play some female vocals, play some drum work that has kick drum going along with some extensive symbol work, etc. etc. Listen to each part or instrument individually at first and see what you like best. Then evaluate the sound as a whole. Then find out which YOU like.

I just went though this process with my new amp purchase a few months back. Take your time - patience - patience - patience, listen, take notes, and decide from there. Your choice will be the right choice...we can only make suggestions for you to try.

My preferences are a Tube Pre Amp with Soild State Amps (the right solid state amp that is...)

Dan
 

roberto

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DTB300 said:
The Tube vs Solid State issue is always personal preference. Like Spike said, 50 watts is more than enough - 98dB is quite loud. My listening levels are usually around 80dB and up around 85-90dB for those louder sessions.

Again you need to sit down, listen, and make your choice of which amp you like best.

Things you want to evaluate are: Is the bass, mids, and high end what you like with each amp? Play songs with a Bass Guitar playing some solo cuts...Play some female vocals, play some drum work that has kick drum going along with some extensive symbol work, etc. etc. Listen to each part or instrument individually at first and see what you like best. Then evaluate the sound as a whole. Then find out which YOU like.

I just went though this process with my new amp purchase a few months back. Take your time - patience - patience - patience, listen, take notes, and decide from there. Your choice will be the right choice...we can only make suggestions for you to try.

My preferences are a Tube Pre Amp with Soild State Amps (the right solid state amp that is...)

Dan
Hola...read carefully what Dan and Spike said. They do have a lot of experience regarding how to set the Logans.
Again, my liking is tubes, and with the settings using balanced cables perhaps you could get it right. Trust your ears, and listen the instrument, first use a piano, then a cello. Why? Because it is easer to listen if the instrument is there (scenario) and must stay where your ears think it is. Piano has a lot of mid-range, some lower info and good highs also. The cello has more lower info than mids-highs.
as an example of how high is the pitch tone of a musican instrument, the guitar at the thinner string, called prima (first) at the fifth frett, we have 440 Hz. (A note), so the fifth string is tuned at 110 Hz!!! (A tone) The third string at the second frett is another A (220 Hz). We have here three octaves.
The tune-fork that is used to tuned any instrument at 440 Hz. It is the universal A, so all intruments are tuned with this frequency! and it is a high pitch...Jeff and many ML musicians owners are aware of this!
IMHO this is why it is so important the crossover cut frequency and why we have to deal with the phase...coherence is perhaps the right word. ML is a truly musical speaker and from the factory, special care has taken to match this efficiency with dynamic speakers and the electrostatic panel, and believe when I say many hours of listening sessions. Ithink this is why many of us like the CLS...there are no crossover point!!!
So, trust your ears and do what they tell you to do. Hope this can help, happy listening,
Roberto.
 

DTB300

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roberto said:
Trust your ears, and listen the instrument, first use a piano, then a cello. Why? Because it is easer to listen if the instrument is there (scenario) and must stay where your ears think it is. Piano has a lot of mid-range, some lower info and good highs also. The cello has more lower info than mids-highs.
Roberto...thanks for adding the Piano and Cello - two great choices to also listen to when evalulating playback...I forgot to add another that I just thought of - acoustic guitar.

Dan
 

Spike

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Sunnyboy 1956 said:
I guess it's mission accomplished. When using balanced interconnects with the Bryston 14 BST there is a -6db gain switch on the amp which coupled with the -3db on the Odyssey provides some harmony.
Well done. Looks like you've made good progress on your set-up and ready to enjoy the MLs.
I borrowed a home grown pair of tube mono blocs which sounded superb in the mid to upper range but a tad weak in the bass.
To give credit where credit is deserved, the Bryston 14B SST is an excellent amplifier in its own right. The SST series is a whole different amplifier than the older ST counterpart where the SST is smoother and more extended in the mids & highs, while retaining the grip on the bass! As far as bass is concerned, there are not too many tube amplifiers which come close to the vise-grip control of the Bryston.
Occasionally when I switch to jazz or female vocals I plug in the tube mono blocs. The sound is obviously different. I reckon that the mono blocs(50 wpc, 8 ohms) don't really do justice to the Odysseys.
This statement raises some flags in my mind. Different in what ways? With tube amps (especially well-designed monoblocs), you should be jumping up and down, raving about the mids & highs already, not just "different". I looked at the Lyrita site and noticed that the tube amplifiers are very elegantly designed. That kind of begs the question about...where's the power-supply? To me, the most important thing about tube amplifiers is the power-supply section. How well regulated it is. The amplifiers (and pre-amplifiers) I was looking for in my set-up, knowing that the MLs have a wide impedance swing, are beefy power-transformers and choke on the input side. The choke design is to maintain the input voltage rock-steady regardless of the voltage demands on the output side when you have large signal swing during tough musical passages. I'm also a bit wary about the "erratic power supply" statement you made in your part of the world. Perhaps, the mids & highs are a bit thin as results of the drain on the power supply section.
Given that you have the tube monoblocs are still prototypes, perhaps you could relay this information to the designers for an...over-engineered power supply section to overcome the issues mentioned above. It is also good to consider a voltage re-generation unit to deal with voltage swings/droops coming from the wall outlet.

On the importance of well-designed power-supply, here is a link mentioning some thoughts from Dennis Had of Cary Audio:
http://www.caryaudio.com/reviews/may97b.shtml

You can always go to the SixPacs site and read up on the design and reviews of these monoblocs (which I have!):
http://www.sixpacs.com

Good luck
Spike
 
S

Sunnyboy 1956

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Different sound

Really appreciate all the advice/suggestions.
Spike
You make several useful and valuable points. I should clarify the comment on the tubes "sounding different". Obviously, the tubes(or at least these ones) cannot match the deep bass slam of the Bryston, especially on kick drums. My comment really refects my confusion on which I prefer. The silky smooth almost velvety mids and highs of the tubes or the awesome bass of the Bryston. In part this confusion is rooted in my eclectic tastes ranging from rock(Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Neil Young etc), Jazz( Coltrane, Patricia Barber etc), contemproary music (Greg Brown, Cohen), Classical including Indian Classical. I reckon its well nigh impossible to devise a system which sounds equally good across the musical spectrum. Ultimately a well matched system reflects the best compromise given a number of parameters - room size, budget, optimal component matching.I have reached a point on my audio journey where , hopefully, I can still appreciate each component upgrade/tweak while not loosing sight of the ultimate - its the music and not the system. A caveat, these remarks apply only to 2 channel.
Sorry for digressing.
Happy listening
 
S

Sunnyboy 1956

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Servo stabilizer

Spike
Your comment on clean power is extremely valid.Am trying to organise a servo stabilizer which also offers surge protection. Thanks for sharing info on the links.In this part of the world its all 230v!
Take care
 

jjqiv

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You may want to try out some Autoformers. They raise the impedance seen by the amp.
 
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