JM, I've heard Alon V MK 1 with VTL monos in triode mode with NOS tubes,and also at higher price point the Dehavilland GM 70 monos. Both amps sounded great with the Alons, both were using the Alon black orpheus speaker wire.
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I'm driving a pair of Model V's with Antique Sound Lab AQ-1008. There's a warmth and spaciousness with this combo that I haven't heard with SS.
I heard a pair of Alon Circe's powered by a VAC PA100/100 not long ago. It was the most spectacular system I've heard to date. The sound stage was holographic and mesmerizing. The images were so solid you felt like you were in front of an orchestra.
But back to amps... Carl designs his speakers with tubes in mind. If you read any reviews where he set up the system, you'll see that he uses tubes. I've seen references to VTL, VAC, Conrad Johnson and Antique Sound Lab in his systems. There's no doubt that Alon's sound better with tubes. I've done it both ways. I drove a pair of Model I's with a pair of McCormack DNA-1's, but the magic wasn't there. It wasn't until I picked up a pair of Quicksilver Mid Monos (50 watts) that the midrange and vocals came alive. The Mid Mono's were wonderful at low listening levels, but ultimately didn't have enough power to reach the SPL I wanted. 100 watts is a good benchmark for 87 dB Alons.
If you won't consider tubes, check out this forum: SS Amp for natural vocals
My cable is pretty basic (Canare 4s11), but as far as I can tell, it hasn't hindered performance. Experimenting with other cable is on my list of things to do, but it isn't a high priority.
If you're bi- or tri-wiring, here's a quote from Carl in a 1993 Stereophile review:
I would like to point out the importance of tri-wiring the Alón IV for best performance. The Alón IV was developed as a triwired system and employs three separate crossover boards which provide magnetic, electric, and physical separation for the three sections of the loudspeaker. It is important to use identical lengths of identical cable for this purpose, so as to maintain the coherency built into the system. For instance, it may be "common practice" to use larger-gauge cables for the bass section, but this will invariably upset the tonal balance and coherency of the system.
While I don't have a pair of the Model 5's, I do have a pair of Model 1's and a pair of the Lotus SE mk ll's and found that both models benefited from using MIT2 Bi-wire speaker cables and another option is AQ DBS Bi-wire cables which really brought my Alon 1's to life.
I agree about the tube amplification but if care is taken, one can get away with SS without too much loss. I am getting VERY good results with a Sonic Euphoria PLC passive preamp driving a Pass Labs Aleph 3 via AQ DBS Bi-wire Volcano speaker cables upgraded to 48VDC DBS/Alon 1's.
The Lotus' were/are being driven by a refurbished EICO 2050 integrated amp with spectacular results. There is a magic that vintage iron and Alnico have that is hard to deny :-) (The 2050 just needs a new PS FE cap to bring it back to life which I have on hand but have been away on business)
I have the Alon Black Orpheus Tri-wire cables and while it is better to use the tri-wire harness over using jumpers, the MIT and the AQ cables bested the Black Orpheus in all areas but the results may be different if different amps/IC's/system were used.
The Alon Vs can be tricky. They sound pretty good with a wide variety of amplification but they can sound truly outstanding with certain amps.
I used the solid state Herron M150 mono amps on my Alon V MkIIs with the tubed Herron preamp VTSP1a-166 and it was an outstanding, natural, highly musical combo. I learned later that Keith voiced the 150s on his Circes. I can't recommend Keith's gear enough.
In general Alons/Nolas really sing with tubes. But the Herrons have a good deal of that "inner fife" of tubes amps and sounded wonderful with the Alons. The tubed VTL450s sounded fabulous, but I couldn't afford them. And the Herrons were better on the bottom end.
I used the Black Orpheus tri-wire, which was OK, and also Coincident, but liked best of all the TG Audio wire Bob Crump made up for me. Tri-wirung is the way to go with the Vs IMO.
the preamp/poweramp mentioned are good as i am not experienced with a lot of gears
i just sold the monarchy se 100 deluxe which is 100w mosfet
class a cause the bass is not as weighty as the odyseey and i cannot afford to keep the amps
any good pre/power combo which has high performance/price ratio
I tried for years to get the V MkII's to sing with a variety of components. I actually upgraded those speakers to above the Circe level with all new Alon alnico drivers, internal wiring, and a pair of Carl's outboard crossovers that according to Carl "contain more expensive components and are better than the Circe crossover." It just wouldn't happen for me, even when using a tubed preamp. They simply sound better with tubes, and I didn't want to go to a tubed amp. They also like power. I would suggest a tubed amp of at least 100 wpc (more would be better), and probably a tubed preamp also. As a hint, I believe I read that Carl likes the ASL Hurricanes.
I finally sold my pair of V's to achieve better dynamics in the midrange/mid-bass region, and a better mid-bass to bass transition. The V's caused a distinct mid-bass hump in two very different rooms I used them in. Carl began using two bass drivers in the Viper (I believe with staggered crossover frequencies) to remedy that issue. Reactions to the Alon/Nola speakers seem to be that users either love them, or prefer a different type of sound. The latest review in TAS of the Viper Reference explains the sound pretty good, and still applies to the sound of the V's.
Finally, I find Mingles' quote from Carl interesting since Black Orpheus uses a different connector for the bass run than for the other two runs, but I am sure it is voiced for the speaker. A used set of those should be inexpensive and should work fine. Good luck.
04-08-08: Mitch2I know they can sound nice with SS, but I really believe Alon's are best matched with tube amps. Not a tube preamp and SS amp. I don't claim to be an expert on the issue, but when the designer uses tubes to audition the speaker for reviewers, there must be a reason for that.
I finally sold my pair of V's to achieve better dynamics in the midrange/mid-bass region, and a better mid-bass to bass transition. The V's caused a distinct mid-bass hump in two very different rooms I used them in.Interesting. You may have better ears for this, but I haven't heard this hump in my system.
I actually upgraded those speakers to above the Circe level with all new Alon alnico drivers, internal wiring, and a pair of Carl's outboard crossovers that according to Carl "contain more expensive components and are better than the Circe crossover."Mitch, can you tell me more about these upgrades? What brand and gauge wire did you use? What brand were the caps in the external crossover? I'm interested in upgrading, but I plan to do it on my own without Carl's help. His prices are ridiculously expensive. Any pointers you can give me would be appreciated. -Mark
I purchased almost everything from Carl (which may no longer be an option), including new Circe alnico woofers and tweeters, Carl's internal wiring, and Carl's outboard crossovers that used upgraded capacitors from what was in the Circe. Other upgrades included Cardas binding posts, dynamat inside the boxes, and Sound Anchor cradle bases on spikes. I also refinished the cabinets. A lot of work, some fun, and a valuable lesson in determining early on what works well for the type of music you are going to listen to, before spending a lot of money. Instead of going the route I did, you would be better off buying used Vipers.
Sorry Jmlab926, not meaning to redirect your thread, but I believe the concensus is that you need tube amps to achieve the sound the designer intended for these speakers, and I would say at least 100 wpc. Maybe the Herron amps Harmonia uses are an exception, since she seems to like them. However, IMO, if you cannot use tube amps I personally would try other speakers.
I own a pair of Alon V MKIIs and have run them with Pass Labs X-250 SS (not the .5 models), completely modified Halfer SS 200, modified Counterpoint hybrid (basic mod) SA-220 and currently use an old all tube Lafayette KT-550 about 50-60wpc. Each amp offered a different perspective on the sound. SS better bass control and slightly faster sound, the Counterpoint has a real magic to the sound, not as dynamic or as much pounding bass as SS or as much air but the tone is really something, and the Lafayette has more air, much more powerful bass and a neutral mid-range that really sound right. I also had a completely modified Sonic Frontiers Power 2 that really controlled the sound of the speakers but was not a match for sounding as real as the other amps. I only recently tried to tri-wire the speakers. The sound did open up in all areas. High frequencies became more extended and clearer, mids were more relaxed then before with better separation. I have used a 6 awg multi-strand wire form Home Depot that Bound for Sound recommend for the Pass X-250 and I never experimented until recently. Right now since the Lafayette has only screw terminals, I am using wire from the spool that you get from Wal-Mart. Still sounds good. I am on a hunt to a bi-wire or tri-wire set-up so any more suggests please. Mine look like the picture already posted to the link above. I did replace the original spikes which helped out on my placement on carpet. Nothing big but better. Bill at Miller sound says that he can get them to the next level with some tweaks but I am too lazy to give it a try right now.
Mitch and I corresponded a few years back and although I never had his issue, I did hear it a few times on various CD recordings once he mentioned it to me. I use a small sub that I barely even turn on volume wise and that also changed the mid-range on the speakers to be more open, free sounding, etc. I do mean barely on.
I recently compared the Alons to the early Merlin floor standing model with BAM (not super BAM). The Merlins sounded smaller in size overall but offered a very refined sound in the detail department. Instruments sounded more real. Overall I liked the Merlins but preferred the open and relaxed sound of the Alons. Note that I used a single run of the spool wire on both speakers. The Merlins opened my eyes up to finding a speaker that is as open as the Alons but more ral in the detail department. I am not sure what speaker can do that and have begun another journey to see what I can find. Bobby at Merlin says his newer versions do what I am asking but I do not see how they can sound as open as the Alons even with the upgrades plus I do not have the $$$ to do it anyway with the job situation, just trying to stay employed right now.
I have heard a lot of new gear recently at a local reviewers home and I have to say that it is eye opening. Unfortunately, room size is not in my favor.
I hope this was somewhat helpful and happy listening.
I triwire my Alon V's with cable from GroverHuffman. They cost a bit more than the Nola cables, but I think I'm getting more for my money. Pretty satisfied with the cables, check them out if you are looking to upgrade. Grover is a stand-up guy and delivers good value in his products. Cheers,
thanks for the pics mingles i went ahead and bought a pair of alon V MKII i had to refoam the speakers i contacted Mitch here on this site and he gave some very good pointers i had repaired the surrounds before i contacted mitch for advice and was not happy with the results after some pointers from mitch i refoamed them again (this time using plastic wedges to center the cone) and the results are fabulous i ordered some black orpeus tri-wired cables should be here this week anyhow i have 2 amps one is a mcintosh mc-207 200 watts x7 which i use mainly for home theatre and the alons sound nice with that but when i hooked it up to my musical fidelity hybrid kw-500 at 540 watts a side they sound fantastic
Pardon the hijack- does anyone remember the smaller set of speakers that Carl had set up at CES this year. I know he had the big Vipers but he also had a very nice sounding set of, I believe, monitors or small floorstanders that sounded fabulous.
BTW- The best my Alon's ever sounded in my room was when I borrowed a pair of ASL Hurricanes (using Black Orpheus cables) Boy did they wake up. They were somewhat sterile with SS amplification.
I just hooked my alon v mk 11's to a pair of cary v12r's in stereo. verically bi-amped with the option to switch the bass to ultralinear. So far very happy with the results. Previous amps were simaudio ss monoblocks. Good but the carys present a broader soundstage and to me a more satisfying sound. So far I've kept the bass channels in triode. Doesn't seem like I will need ultralinear except possibly to annoy the neighbors.