The BAT dealer I know sold off all his Nordost Valhalla cables and uses BEL cabling exclusively on his BAT equipment.
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Based on what you said about the Cardas NR & the MIT Mag 3, I'd look at Acoustic Zen's best copper I.C.. That ain't based on the hardware as you asked, but it is based upon playing with the same three cables in different locations in my system.
FWIW, seems like the NR is a good cable to keep in your tool box, they seem to have a way of eventually working their way back somewhere in your system over time. FWIW & IMHO & Your milage may vary.
Oh, the head cheese at AZ says his silver I.C. is a good one that doesn't bite hard on top, but I've never heard it and have never ended up liking a silver ic.
If you want to retain the harmonic richness and 3-dimensionality so strong to the BAT products, NBS Signature is a phenomenol value on the used market. It often sells for the same price as the Cardas Golden Cross and the NBS is far and away more resolving and tonally coherent. I too liked the Harmonic Tech Magic One but it was a little too mellow and indeed did not quite have the "stage presence" that my system was capable of bringing out. I have since bumped up to use NBS Statement but I have a great desire to try the Purist which seems to get high praise from everyone. For longer cable lengths, the MIT 350 REF or EVO cables are also an outstanding value and retain the ambience and bloom of the BAT products.
I think with the quality of amplification you have you should at least buy something like AZ silver ref or Audience AU24 or (what I use) Audio Note AN-V.
All three of these cables offer terrific bang for the buck.
If you are not using at least this level of cable I think you are severely limiting your sound.
I have all BAT gear and very happy using Audioquest DBS cables. Depending on your budget you can go with Panther or Cheetah. I use Cheetah and find that it has detail, texture, and still has a very even tonal balance with high end extension and bass weight /detail. These are the best silver cables I have listened to (if you exclude AQ Sky).
Lots of deep pockets here. A renowned maker of OTL gear once told me he uses Belden microphone cable. It was his belief that balanced cable mitigates many of the shortcomings of RCA cables/connectors. Just one man's opinion, of course. BAT and your dealer would probably say something else all together.
Cables like Canare, Cobalt, bettercables.com and bluejeanscables.com all offer great values and might get you there. Way too much voodoo in cable land, but that is not to say the above suggestions are invalid. What's important is that you hear the difference, which is not always for the better.
Try fatwyre.com for loans and suggestions. Best of luck in your quest.
People don't spend thousands of dollars to get the 3-dimensionality, decay of notes, ambience, bloom, etc., inherent with BAT gear only to have it destroyed by cheapo cables. I tried 2 pairs of Belden XLR cables and they worked ok from sources to my then line stage, ARC LS5. However, they so dramatically reduced the above qualities when used from the line stage to the amp that you're better off just using solid state gear and leave behind the extra attention needed with tube gear if you are going to go with such a cable. There's only voodoo in cable land when other links in the chain have not been properly addressed first.
And the issue of whether or not the cable is balanced or single-ended also has little to do with this. Sure, running some truly-balanced products like the BAT or Aesthetix or some ARC in balanced mode vs single-ended can make quite a dramatic difference in dimensionality. But just changing from SE to balanced is not suddenly going to bring on the 3-dimensionality if the cable's topology/materials/design does not have this ability in the first place.
Gee... I really appreciate the input folks. Truly. I do appreciate the input about the Cable company....been therre, done that....will again. Doubtless. Great way to addition things beforehand....
I suppose I should mention the source and speakers too, although I was holding beck there as to not taint the input.... I'm using a Sony SCD xa 777 es SACD PLAYER IN TWO CHANNEL PREDOMINATELY. . . a pair of Phase Tech PC 10.5 Towers, (all original but play flawlessly, apart form their inherent deficiencies, but on the whole great units for their cost, 2200.00 new), and a Velodyne CHT 10 INCH 100 WPC sub.
I know I'm lacking in the speaker end and sub as well. . . but hey, ya gotta startt somewhere, huh?
I'm adding very soon a MIT 3 RCA for the CD to pre link. . . and am inclined to go with the same brand throughout....possibly not the same model, but same brand....
I'm on an island with my ambitions for testing future wires it looks like. No one has made mention of the Synergistic, or Nirvana. I felt better hearing Audience mentioned, as well as Cardass GR, and Nordost Quattro's.... Thanks for that. I was feeling a bit out of place there for a time....I've had little faith in wires for the most part. Especially costly ones. . . but hearing is believeing....and it was an Audience XLR in place of an old cheap XLR of mine that turned my head around....
So OK. Purist it is....didn't like the speaker cables I tried, but perhaps the IC's are different. . . and a nod to Acoustic Zin ? is it? so I'm figuring tha that ought to cover it for a time....and thank you all for your time and consideration....oh, yeah, and most valued experiences.
I'll add those mentioned above and 'see' for myself...figuring the addition of loudspeakers is not going to change waht is being supplied, only reproduce it....so giving the best signal to the loudspeakers is the focus for the time being....
anything else I should know about in terms of IC'S IN YOUR OPINION (S) ?...ONCE MORE YOU ALL HAVE MY DEEPEST APRECIATION FOR YOUR TIME AND EFFORTS...
...as it turns out... the Synergistic Research resolution ref x2, active sheilded became the choice for the main link, pre to amp. balanced. Pricey but worth it. they bested the SX Ltds in the overall... the SX however was/is quite the ambient retreval champ. A phenominal SS envelope, and great harmonics, it lacked in the lower regions in my system and was edged out by the SR RR x2 active XLRs... though not by much and there was a compromise or two as well with the SRs. there are always some compromises..
Actually, I got the Syn Res Refs back in Sept 2006. It took me nearly five months to go through ten sets or more of ICs prior to making the choice. I could well have lived with a few of them too... Shunyata's Altairs, the SX's, or VooDoo's Ultralinear. The Res Refs x2's were frankly, a good fit and came in quite affordable to boot... as well as given their retail prices.
I'm of the opinion if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The BAT stuff is here to stay for a time... only the pre is something I seek to upgrade/change and then simply for grater flexibility in selecting sources. the sound quality of it is simply remarkable, after some isoing, and tube rolling, pcs... etc.
It'll be pricey to add the flexibility I seek and retain the sonics it has for sure. Likely, I'll have to move closer to the "dreaded neutrality" monster by so doing.
The amp is a keeper as it was made at the very end of the run of vk500's prior to the release of the 600... so in amp terms, it's still young... and is a real dream by solid state accounts. IMO Though I do wish it would do RCA as well as it does XLR... Oil well.
LOL Brian, I was thinking the same thing. It's not easy staying that focused and disciplined on AudiogoN, you are to be congratulated Jim. There has to be some sort of award I would think. 'AudiogoN Merit of Discipline' maybe.......
Thanks John... but yeah, if it ain't broke, why fix it? My lightspeed like movements in swapping out gear can likely be attributed to the thickness of my wallet more than anything. however, I feel a lot of really good devices are out there... and one needs get the absolute best one can from them... which means, trying different wires, tubes, isoing, etc... to really find out if a thing is super or subpar. that takes time... and money. time I've got.. I hope.
Finding a sound you feel is super is a hard thing to let go of for me. I'm a "Are we there yet?" sort. More about the destination than the journey. I'm not saying i've the best, but as we have talked before, what I do have is way better than a lot of what is out there for severely more money.
Speaking of severely more duckets, I have decided which way to go next though... and it'll be a while.
I'm gonna try one of Kevins ren MK II pres. If that is a good fit and i believe it will be, then I'll do either speakers or swap out the amp for a VAC tube amp as well if not for complete replacement, then for up top.
and I'm adding room treatments, little nick nacks like the last two PCs... and Elrod, and VooDoo tesla. Just gotta keep polishing up what ya got and make sure there isn't a diamond lurking somewhere in it's midst.
'cause if the grass appears to be greener on the other side, then most likely it's time to water your own lawn.
A higher water bill is a sight lot cheaper than digging a new well.
But if things ain't good right off, maybe making moves quickly with pieces is a good notion... mine was good right off the BAT.
Jim, nothing to be ashamed of, I wish I had your discipline. Many times I've found out that better isn't better after all.....it's just different.
FWIW, I would be surprised if you found the VAC Renaissance MK II superior. I had one and wasn't overly impressed. I guess it could have been system synergy though. You might notice a bit more air in the high's, but you'll lose the dynamic drive in the bass. This might be what you're after though, only you know.
trust me, I'm way past shame. Not even a big part of my venacular.
That's right... you did have one, but your's had some problems. Maybe the sound was affected in some subtle way also? regardless, that's NOT what I want really.
I want two things from the newer pre... remote flexibility and more sonic integrity. better in imaging, more fleshed out images, and more colorful with of course better tonal accuracy. And less user interaction.... being a bit hard of seeing and havving a tube pre with eight gazillin tubes probably wasn't the best idea I ever had either... but it sure seemed so at the time.
Naturally the 'sonic improvements' I seek (more old school tube sound), may well only come via adding a tube amp... instead but I really would like to improve upon the level of flexibility as all I have just now is volume control. Fine actually, if the pre wasn't in another room all together.
...adding a tube amp for the top end would be the least expensive path... but then no flexibility increase. Hmmmm.
...and you weren't too thrilled with the VK51SE either, huh?
I guess there could have been some sonic problems on my VAC Ren mk II, but I also had a VAC Avatar Super, and I would say the overall house sound was the same. Very refined and polite, lots of air were the positives. I think the VAC's were the best high's I've heard from tubed products. Plenty of detail and air, but no sign of grain. Overall I preferred the BAT VK-51SE over the VAC and a CJ Premier 16LS mk II. The CJ and the VAC sounded a bit more 'tubey' with a warmer midrange, and if this is your cup 'o tea, they might be for you.
To date the BAT VK-51SE is still the best preamp I've heard in my home. It was much more dynamic, powerful and lively than the CJ or the VAC. The soundstage is also much larger with the BAT. I've also heard a VK-5i, like yours, and again, the VK-51SE is more dynamic and powerful, but the VK-5i is a bit sweeter in the mid's. IMHO, the VK-5i has the midrange glory of the CJ and the VAC. Of these three, I would say the CJ has the best midrange, the VAC the best highs, and the BAT the best bass. I also still think your BAT would have a bigger soundstage as well.
I sold the VK-51SE for economic reasons, to date, I still haven't heard a better preamp. I've heard preamps that better it in certain areas, but not as a whole.
That being said, I do hope to hear a ARC Ref 3 someday, as I've heard many great things about this preamp.
John... whoa! that sure shed some light on things for me. I do trust your judgement. I do dig the mids I have now. Extremely enjoy the grand Ss too... one that can, envelope you at times depending upon the recording. there's not much of the sound the 5i makes with how it's configured presently, that I don't like... and of course it's in conjunction with the BAT vk500 which also emulates something of a tube sound but with more authority and strength.
I do appreciate the info on the "Super" as well. that was another notion. Perhaps a previous CJ might be more to my prefferences. Most of the tubes I have now will fit there as well.
Do all the CJs make a racket when the volume is adjusted? The new ones do. I dig the silent .5db volume increases of the BATs. Maybe the 51 is the ticket as I would hate to lose the midrange I enjoy now. I sure didn't care much for the CT6 I heard... or the 14 either. too solid statey... and both were with tube amps... the CT 6 (or maybe a 5, 7995.00) had the newest CJ 160 wpc? tube amp and some plannar speakers. Sure it was nice... but lacked body and warmth. Not worth my 19K for sure.
I'll make every effort to hear a 51se before I buy another pre. It makes sense... and there'd be no need for tube rolling with a vk51se... that's a big plus for me. i scare myself everytime I swap out tubes in my pre. thankfully, I've stumbled onto a really super mix of tubes now... so changing them out is no longer neceassary.
I'll definitely try to hear a 51se somehow or other.
Owned more gear and cables than probably anyone on this site...I have come full circle and recommend Transparent! There is such a huge difference between there stuff and everything else that it's just sickly good!! Get some on loan and listen for yourself...that way you can avoid all the expense and heartache of trying everything else as I did!
Well Jim, from what I've read from you in the past, I think you would prefer your VK-5i. It is warmer than the VK-51SE. BAT in general is more dynamic and powerful than the CJ's and VAC's, I think the answer lies in the bigger power supplies. That said, the VK-51SE uses the 6H30 'Super-tube', which may or may not be super, depending on your cup 'o tea. There is no doubt that the 6H30 tube is more dynamic, powerful and just sounds larger than the 6922's, however, it's not for everyone. If you do not like the newer CJ's that use the 6H30, you may not like the newer BAT's that use them either. The older 6922 tube does have a sweeter midrange. The CJ Premier 16LS mk II I had was a 6922 based preamp, it was second from the top of the line (Art 2) and listed for around $8500 new. I didn't notice it making a racket when the volume was adjusted though.
The VK-51SE had better dynamics and bass than any preamp I've heard, period. Not just better than any tube preamp, but better than Krell, Levinson, Classe, Threshold or any SS contender. The VK-51SE midrange is definitely tubed, and best all SS preamps I've heard in this regard, but I have heard warmer, sweeter mid's in tubed preamps. However, the other tubed units don't have the rhythmic drive and power that I love from the BAT. The BAT is also the soundstage king. One thing that may interest you about BAT is that your VK-5i has 5881 tubes in the power supplies. BAT got away from tubes in the power supplies with the 50SE and then the 51SE. Well BAT is just releasing it's new preamps, VK-32SE, VK-52SE/Rex, the difference? Tubes are now back in the power supply.
Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm.........
One current preamp that sounds like it may fit your budget and sonics, and fill your remote flexibility requirements is an Aesthetix Calypso. Have you considered this model? I would love to hear one, as it has garnered unbelieveable reviews from Stereophile and TAS. On top of that I've heard it's the real deal from those whose ears I trust. I have never heard anything negative about it's sonics. The only complaints are that it can be tough on tubes and tube rolling is not easy. At $4500 list price it probably cannot be beat for sound and flexibility. Many say that you have to spend twice the price to better it.
John, the illuminations are super. I did see the newest BAT SS pre at their site... though nowhere else. Nada. Absolutely, warmth and a touch of tubeyness is my prefference in sound in general. For where I want dynamics, old school rock and so forth, I'm simply gonna use another smaller system.
the Stereophile review made mention of one disparaging note... component synergy. in ref to the Saturn Calypso. I agree it interests me a lot. A dealer told me it was a hit or miss item for many folks. Sort of supporting the Stereophile take.
I'd sure not mind hearing it too. A dealer is about 200 miles round trip from me... and the folks at Aesthetics said they maybe could help if getting over to the dealer wasn't happening for me.
Did you have the 51se with other amps besides the 600? that might could play a part too. I understand the 600 to be quite the dynamic SS amp... akin to Krell. the vk500 hasn't a bright or brittle bone in it's chunky little body. It has always sounded as the pre or proc feeding it... given my limited experience in putting other things in front of it. It seems to have sufficient transparency in that anything I do to my rig does come through as a noticeable change. but yeah, I'd as soon stay oriented a shade or so to the left of neutral.
the addition/replacement of some PCs and passive filter have moved me to very near the 'DNM' (dreaded neutral monster), and things have 'cleared' up considerably from the sometimes darker side of the scale my rig previously resided in.
Thanks to my now preffs for big band jazz and slow entrance to classical genres. Not a bad thing either. So I'm no longer looking for 'lush'... that phase is likely past. I just can't physically take a top end that is anything less than easily or sweetly rendered. It just hurts after a while. Reckon I've gotten to sensitive there being hard of seeing and all. I don't know. ..and I'm really trying to avoid doing another amp as well, with mine being balanced only, the field of representatives and sonic qualities I want, it seems the path is pretty narrow... especially if you add in my hamstrung wallet.
I'm using Tung Sols in mine. Like 'em. A lot. I had no idea tubes weren't in the power supply circuit in the current BATs. Hmmm. Tubes there definitiely would seem to provide a tameing aspect on the Dynamics.
thanks for the Transparent thoughts. lol. I believe I'm set for a time however.
No, I only had the 51SE with a BAT VK-600SE amp, so synergy could have had something to do with it. Though I had a pair of Clayton M-100 monblocks when I had my VK-31SE, and thought the BAT family sound was still there.
Yes, you could say from 1999-2007 BAT had taken the tubes out of their power supplies, now, as of 2007, they are going back to tubes in the power supply. They showed the new models at the CES, and my dealer tells me they should be shipping shortly.
Well component sysnergy is an issue with any item, including the VAC preamp you were talking about trying. FWIW, the Calypso is much less $$$ than the VAC, so I thought it worth mentioning. I'll have to re-read the whole article, as I must have missed Mikey's synergy complaint. The only compliant I saw from Mikey was in regards to the manual, summed up in his conclusion:
Was I impressed by Jim White's Aesthetix Saturn Calypso? Damn straight I was. Used with far more expensive gear, it held its own and then some, and had one of the best-balanced sounds of any audio component I've come across at any price. At $4500 it's no budget product, but it's a high-performance component in every sense of the term, and something you can stick in the face of any cynic who thinks high-end audio has become a ripoff. Whatever the Calypso's sonic shortcomings might be, they're so well hidden that you'll discover them only by changing out the Calypso for whatever might prove to be better. My biggest complaint was the manual's virtually blank specifications page. The purchaser of a high-performance audio product deserves better documentation.
The Aesthetix Saturn Calypso was one of the most enjoyable, musically satisfying preamplifiers I have had the pleasure of reviewing. Your $4500 buys you a beautifully built, smartly designed, crisply functioning, versatile, and, most important, sonically brilliant preamplifier. I could live with it happily ever after. You could spend a great deal more and get more for your money, but you're just as likely to get lessthat's how good the Saturn Calypso is. "
Sounds like it would be worth a trip to investigate anyway. Even if just to see if the remote's flexibility suits your needs.
So, if I understand this right, you are very happy with the sound of the VK-5i, but are just looking for more flexibility with the remote, is this correct? If so, I'll stick by my reco of the Calypso, or, if you have the dough, you may be interested in one of the newer BAT's with the tubes back in the power supply again. The least expensive new model with more remote flexibility than your VK-5i is the VK-32SE which has a list price of $7995 w/ remote.
...same Stereophile article ... previous paragraph...
under the header "Cooking"
" but in my system for those days, the combinations of the two MF pieces or the two Aesthetix pieces didn't do justice to the music or to the system or to the individual components. When you're cooking up a stereo system, it's not enough to use the finest ingredients. You have to make sure the recipe works.
perhaps I read more into that statement than I should. it's passed around enough here. synergy. Personally I'd never have thought two pre's one phon and one line, from the same maker, would have had an adverse effect or show poorly of themselves, working in conjunction with one another.
... but that's what I was speaking to. the dealer mentioned it before I did. Not the refference to the article but the notion that those people who buy it, sell it within a short period (like a year or so) afterwards... not many are kept. longterm.. so says the dealer intimating the synergy factor being IMO, acute rather than broad.
For me, as always, "Preownedsville", or less expense is the rule, not the exception once we pass the grand or so water mark. In all, if, as with yourself last year, life hadn't got in the way, I'd have been far closer now to doing something in this regard. In any case, mine will needs be sold for me to accomplish this or another preamp move.
...and yes, flexibility is the ticket as much as is catching up on technology and improving things in whatever areas can be improved upon... sonically.
the engaging factor about the Saturn for me was the three available recitations of the line stage were all with different gear, in different rooms, etc... and all proved positive results in terms of satisfaction with it's performance. that's the bit I liked. the excerpt I entered here was the only inkling of a possible issue as I recall. Only four tubes ain't a bad deal either.
So yeah, new or used, I'm excited about it. ... and at $7K, I doubt seriously that'll happen, BAT or no BAT. Oil well. We'll see. one never knows what may come down the pike. but I'm sure gonna hate to have to sell the vk5i. Absolutely.
The dealer that you were speaking with that claimed Aesthetix owners don't keep their gear long, , did he happen to sell Aesthetix equipment? If he does, then his words may carry some weight, if not then his words are meaningless. FWIW, my dealer carries ARC, BAT, VAC and Aesthetix. He seems to push the BAT and the ARC the most. He says that Aesthetix is very musical, and some folks like it for that, but it is not as quiet as the BAT/ARC gear. However, the BAT/ARC gear has the 6H30 tube that you don't seem overly fond of. I'm sure the ARC/BAT gear is quieter, more dynamic and powerful sounding than the Calypso. The Calypso may be more musical and cost less though.
From your take on the CJ CT6, it may well be that the 6H30 tube is not for you. The only knock I've heard on the Calypso is that it can be hard on tubes. It only uses 4 tubes in an all tube gain stage, with high output (29db gain?). I've heard from those who love it say it sounds best with stock tubes. It can eat up some expensive NOS tubes. Sounds similar to the reputation that the Audible Illusions M3A garnered years ago. Wonderful sounding preamp at a bargain price, but tube maintenance issues. Even the top dollar units don't have it all though.
I do wonder why the Aesthetix Calypso at $4,500 comes stock with a full function remote, while a Aesthetix Callisto Signature at $11,000 comes with no remote at all......seems strange.
I do wonder why the Aesthetix Calypso at $4,500 comes stock with a full function remote, while a Aesthetix Callisto Signature at $11,000 comes with no remote at all......seems strange.
I went with the Callisto simply because it has far more tubes. These Minnesota winters can be quite brutal so having a space heater helps much. And with me having to stand next to the Callisto to stay warm, there's no need for a remote.
John, yes, he's a Calypso dealer. Knows my tastes. We were speaking of a VAC pre at the time too.
I think it'l be worth looking into though at any rate. Quiet is important to me. I'd be willing to sacrifice some dynamic thrust for a greater sense of musicality, and better harmonics. Funny thing though... listening late into the night recently I had to ask myself, "Why do I want to get another pre?" Oh, yeah, remote functionability... but the sound was super. We'll see.
Perhaps the answer for the remote with, and sans remote at a higher level is that at the extremes of the audio spectrum.. for the serious Audio nut... is a remote something one must have? Or, is it the sound. there are others that are sans remote at that level too... perhaps aesthetics wants a portion of that market share. Seems to me the more one pays the less one gets... in bells and whistles... but the signal integrity (likely) takes precedence.
I applaud your choice for seeking warmth in your musical purchases..
LOL John, but what about the heat in the summer time? Do you have to sit around in your skivies to listen? :)
That was a rhetorical question BTW, I don't think I want an answer to that.
Jim, I know that a lot of high end tube gear (Hovland, CAT, etc) doesn't come with a remote, unfortunately, I've become accustomed to one. I lived w/o a remote until 2000, now I don't think I can anymore. It's not just the volume control either, but I like being able to adjust polarity and balance from my listening seat. Not to mention the ability to mute when interrupted (happens more than I'd like at my home.....kids). I also usuually mute the output when the LP side is done, saves maybe two 'pops' at the end of the record until I can get up and get to the 'table.
I'm not getting any younger you know.....just ask my wife. :)
I understand. that's what I'm talking about. I see this whole she-bang as an experience... and I do see both sides... as i have lived both sides. With & without remote flexibility.
my issue is simple impaitience, or the inability to relegate myself to one source or content. No attention deficit disorder, just like hearing different things now. Wasn't always that way... and when the disc is good or a jazz show is good on NPR, or the like... I'm in no mood to change things.
And yeah, I'm getting older too. So conveinences are more well recieved. given also things like warm up time, let's check the news... etc.
it's niether a bad thing or a good thing IMO. it's a prefference. Plain and simple. I'm opting for some greater flexibility and ease. given my choice of the next contestant to sit on the rack from hell... I'll be fine, I'm sure... and the rack is about to see it's way to it's original destiny. it took a left somewhere along the way.
Not having a remote or an active linestage is stupid in today's world..the best gear yields nada to the would be purists.
Thanks Dave_b, but I get along just fine without a remote, thank you.....nothing stupid about it. I had an ARC LS5 and a BAT 31SE line stage (both remote driven) before the Callisto Signature. The remote capability was nice, especially on the BAT, but not at all mandatory. The Callisto Sig which so handily destroyed them both sonically made the need to get up and adjust the volume a moot issue. And now the Callisto has remote volume capability but I am fine without the need to incorporate this new feature.
As for systems needing an active line stage, there are plenty of people who swear that they do not need one and prefer the purity of their system without one. And I respect that rather than to refer to this as also stupid.
You've made a point in a number of your posts that you have heard a lot of gear and most likely more than the rest of us. GREAT! We're not here to win a contest but rather to simply share our experiences with others. What you're after is likely to be very different than the next person here.
I have to second John's response here. Nothing personal Dave_b, but that statement is kind of...well....stupid. Everyone has different tastes and styles, what I like isn't for everyone, but I understand that.
What if someone stated that using solid state electronics is stupid in today's world? You would certainly be offended and try to defend your choice of SS gear, wouldn't you?
You liking SS, my liking a remote and an active line stage are simply decisions that we made. That doesn't mean that others who chose differently are wrong.
If I like rum raisin ice cream, and someone else prefers chocolate cake, I'm not right, and they're not wrong. How hard is that to understand?
I know some who prefer passive linestages, they usually sound great with tube amps. I know some who prefer the sound of a unit with no remote, I can't say they are wrong, or stupid. Just because I'm too lazy to get off my fat ass to adjust polarity, balance and gain, doesn't mean that they are stupid. It just means that I'm lazy. :)
Just emphasizing the point that a remote is not a compromise in a well designed preamp, it will not audibly mask anything important and it offers one to slowly dial in just the right setting for a great performance from the listening chair..where it matters most! My experience and those of my friends has been that passive remoteless systems are problematic or tweaky at best with great inconvenience..but some will always enjoy the cult of old technology. Stupid is as stupid does I geuss...I apologise for the strong feelings..I prefer emotion and passion to passive politeness..did I say that..my bad.
Just out of curiousity Dave_b, have you tried say a Placette passive with a tube amp? Or ar you simply judging the passive's performance with a solid state amp?
I ask because system synergy is everything. I'm glad you are happy with your system now, it's a wonderful thing, being happy. I also prefer an active preamp with remote. However, I would never insinuate that those who choose differently from me are stupid. I would be a fool to do so. I've heard SET amps sound glorious, even though they are not my choice. I've heard passive controls sound incredible with the right source and amp. I've heard silver cables sound fantasitic in some systems, no small feat, I haven't heard this until the last couple of years.
I've also heard active preamps w/ or w/o remotes sound bad.
So what's the point of calling names? TALKING LOUDER or throwing insults doesn't make you more right. It may show a lack of experience on your end, but that's all.
Yes. Actually I can. The Aries I used was (according to a shunyata official), not burned in properly. in fact it was 'overburned'. the resultant sonic complextion was one of a lack luster presentation. The detail and resolution depicting the SS was so smooth as to be remarkably uninvolving. One good thing was you could play your worst Cd, the one with the most sibilence, and it would sound fine... er.
so my experience with the Aries was by and large skewed at the onset, given the info from Shunyata. I should also add that the next step up, the Altair, could well have been a keeper in my system, had I not mere days previous made a committment to the synergistic res Ref x2.... The other top contenders were in order; Nirvana SX Ltd, and the Voodoo ultralinear. Both as main ICs, and in XLR style.
The RR x2 won out by degrees and prefs. it did not have the harmonic sweetness the Altair did, nor did it have the amazing sonic envelopment of the SS or timberal naturalness as did the Nirvana SX Ltd.
I chose the Synergistic RR X2 active because it had a slight but noticeable prominence in the mid band area, better bass impact and depiction than either of the aforementioned, save the VooDoo ultralinear which was on par with the RR X2 in the bottom regions, and the presence or immediacy it gave to those items displayed as soloists or featured players, along with the well laid out SS.
Save some degrees of lesser naturalness or organic representation of the musical elements, and i do mean 'by mere degrees only', the RR x2 active ICs account more than well of themselves in that system.
I've since changed out both amp and preamp.... though no wires... and the same attributes can be accounted there as well in so far as the Synergistic cable. I no longer have access to the others.
Additionally, I used the Nirvana SL, not the SX as a main IC... the SX was employed solely as a main source IC from the xa 777 to the VK 5i. I found the SL more akin to the poorly burned in Aries, save the SL had far greater detail and presence, but was surely the warmest cable I've heard yet. A bit too warm even for me. it would have been very nice on my Krell KAV 250, for example, an amp I consider agressive and bright... prehaps.
One point I should make as to the VooDoo Ultrlinear, it possessed almost exactly the timber of the Altair, though better bass... though as I had it for only a brief time after it seemed to quit changing, I can't be sure of the overall once well run in. RMV.
it's all in what one wants or needs for synergy or prefference. I've found I have to usually, trade off one thing for another somewhere along the line. I went off for the presentation as a whole. Timberal accuracy, bass impact, imaging, and SS development. Not quite the ambience retrival of the SX, not quite the harmonic honesty of the Shunyata Altair, but it bettered both in warmth, bass, and a touch better view to the midband than either of the above. Price played a smaller part, to the point of being only slightly significant.
truth be told here... I could well live with either of these three RR, Altair, or SX very well indeed. In fact I'm considering one of the Altair or SX as a source IC to replce the venerable MIT Magnum on the xa777.
Hope that lessens the murkyness. More descriptive info on these cables can be had by reading my reviews of the ten or so cables I auditioned in my system prior to picking the Synergistic RR x2 active, in the reviews here on Audiogone.