"I run mine directly into my power amps(tubes),but I feel I could use a bit more fullness."
This is why you are lacking fullness.
This is why you are lacking fullness.
Running the Steelhead into a pre , as I said isn't the solution I am looking for.Too may variables, extra components, wiring, electrical cords, to name a couple of potential pitfalls.
I more than likely would get some extra meat on the bone, but what would I be giving up?
Does anyone have any positive expereinces of matching the Manley with a pre-amp?Is their a marriage made in heaven?
I know that modding most gear by replacing lesser quality parts with better ones, works.
Just wondering if anyone has dove into this fish pond.
I had a Steelhead for approximately 6 years that I bought new. I used a variety of NOS tubes, very good power cord (K-S emotion) and experimented with the different inputs and settings. The best results were obtained by using it only as a phono stage, through the fixed outputs, with a good quality line stage (at the time, a Lamm L2). I also preferred the MM inputs to the step-ups on the two cartridges I was using: a Lyra Titan i and an Airtight PC-1. I found that the addition of the line stage gave more weight and palpability to the sound; the Steelhead straight in had great bass and high frequencies, but sounded almost threadbare. Granted, I may have been adding an additional layer of cables and signal processing to the chain which is, in theory, not a 'purist' approach but that was my real world experience over the long haul, and not just a fast try-out of the piece or hearing it in someone else's system. The 'lack of meat on the bone' is precisely the difference I am describing, btw.
Whart,your description of the sound is similar to mine.
I still have a hard time understanding why this is so.
I run the Steelhead into old (but modded) Acoustat servo tube amps, so there's 4 tubes in each amp and four in the Steelhead, you'd think there would be a meaty sound.
One reason why I am reluctant to plug the Steelhead into a pre amp is the fact that I like to use the features of the phono stage that you can only access when using the variable outputs-mono.
I've got a Lightspeed Attenuator on the way to bypass the Steelhead line stage/volume and run my X-03 sacd player into it and then the power amps.So the Steelhead will be just for lps.
I moved on from the Decware-Grand Veena system for no other reason than I had the opportunity to acquire a pair of Acoustat X speakers with upgraded tube servo amps.
Years ago in the early 80's I had the Medallian 3 Acoustats and Conrad Johnson M75A-1 amp, Premier 2 pre amp, but always wished I had the servo powered ones that a few of my friends had and still use to this day, 30 years later.
Nothing to fault about either the DecWare Zen or the Grand Veenas,but the Acoustat deal was just too good to let slip by.
I use HiFi supreme fuses in everything and dedicated lines and Shunyata Hydra 8 and all Shunyata Annaconda power cords.
Since I am firmly in the camp that all components can be improved by such upgrades,I am looking to stick with just the Steelhead direct to the amps for lps.The HiFi tuning fuses were a step in the right direction, just looking to go a few more steps with the Steelhead.
Most stuff gets modded,new Teflon caps ie.,I would have thought that the Steelhead by this time would have had a few tricks done to it.
Lacee- I'll be interested to know if using the Lightspeed in lieu of the
volume control on the Steelhead is an improvement. (I'm aware of the
Lightspeed but never used one). Perhaps the difference in sound I
experienced between fixed and variable has to do with how the volume
control is implemented, I don't really know. I did find a considerable
improvement in tube rolling- the Sovteks are pretty sterile sounding; in my
system, i liked the NOS Tele the best, found the Mullard to be too euphonic
and the Siemens to be a bit stark. I also rolled the 7044 tubes. I've had
wonderful experience with the K-S cables, including power cords, though I
know that everyone has their favorite, depending on a variety of factors.
Two other observations: first, doesn't the mono switch still work even if you
are in fixed output mode? (I can't remember); also, my comments re the
sound 'straight in' were going to a pair of Lamm ML 2 SET amps, which are
very musical, with lot's of harmonic texture. So, it isn't just 'adding more
tubes' that makes the difference.
I might be able to shed some light on the Lightspeed question, if only by extrapolation. Like Whart, I prefer the Steelhead into a preamp. Directly into my amps (whether Bryston 28b-SST2 or Reference Line Silver Signature), I found it to be nicely transparent and dynamic but also to collapse the soundstage vertically somewhat and take on a bit of an edge. Running it into a Bent TAP-X passive that uses autoformers, however, all of the transparency and dynamics are retained but the soundstage is expanded to its realistic proportions. It sounds fuller and more natural. The AVC TAP-X has been compared to the Lightspeed sonically, so I'd guess something similar would happen with the latter.
As a linestage, the Steelhead wasn't as threadbare in my system as Whart describes, perhaps because I use a different, fatter-sounding tube compliment: Valvo Red Label 6922, plus Amperex 7119 and GE 7044 in place of the two pairs of stock 5687. The 7044 is richer than any of the 5687 I've tried, and the 7119 is richer still. These work best for me, but I'm using solid state amps. The best sound in my system is into a VAC Phi Beta tube preamp.
Still waiting for the Lightspeed.
I use Amperex Holland factory bugle 6922, and also some nice Seimans gold pin E 88c(6922) for awhile,both have their own characteristics, yet both better than the EH 6922.
I've used the original 7044 and the replacement 5687 from manley, but nothing exotic as yet.
I love the sound of the Steelhead ,but would it not sound even better with caddock resistors and teflon V caps?