|Finally, the two cold solder joints in one of my Rowland 7M amplifiers have been fixed. Just a simple 2 minutes soldering job at home, thanks to a kind live phone consult by Jeff himself. Now the system is back purring like a kitten. |
Great say you, but. . . the problem is that now I have fallen totally prey to Upgraditis Furiosa, the most pernicious and 'wife threatening' form of Audiophilia Nervosa.
I listen mostly to classical--lots of chamber, vocal, Early Music, Baroque, Romantic, some large orchestra, lots of cello and other strings--on a system that I have lovingly put together over the last 20 years: EAD T1000, AT&T glass C-core glass wire, EAD D7000 Mk. 3, AudioQuest Quartz RCA, Audio Research LS2B, Gutwire XLR, Jeff Rowland 7M monoblocks, Cardas Golden Ref PCs on 7M, Cardas Golden Ref speakerwires, MagnePan 3A speakers.
The sound is sweet, lush, with a large if slightly unfocused soundstage, sometimes slightly veiled, somewhat soft at the bottom, can sound glorious in the midrange, good if not spectacular at the top. Much better at small ensembles than at full orchestra, where the sound stage can collapse and full strings and brass often display signs of brittleness and two-dimensionality. But, so much for self-criticism. Now what to do?
I intend to migrate towards a fully balanced system, with redbook and SACD capability and a tube linestage. I will start upgrading at the source and linestage points. The source will be an Esoteric X-01 or an upcoming APL NWO-1. But in this thread I'd like to discuss options for a new linestage. My requirements are an open and detailed, sweet sound, accurate with minimal coloration, with very good but not necessarily overwhelming macro-dynamics, an excellent three-dimensional and accurate soundstage, superior microdynamics and subtle nuance. The linestage must sound great out of the box--after breakin of course: not only after going through many cycles of NOS tubes musical chairs. All of this from a company with a stellar track record and reputation in quality, dependability and pre/post sale support. I listened to the VTL 7.5 and found it to be too soft. The BAT VK51SE sounded too dark. Then I listened at length to the VAC Ren II, which seems to embody all of my requirements. I have not heard the VAC Phi as yet, but it is in the running by inference. Nor I have listened to the ARC Ref 3, although I intend to: Ref 3 is in the running by reputation.
Suggestions? Opinions? It's your turn guys and girls!