hi Erndog, you need to match with medium sensitivity speakers with medium impedance level that does not "run wild".
you'll need to do basic homework first! Regards.
you'll need to do basic homework first! Regards.
I actually owned both Dragons MK1 and II.
Physically, the MK2 is bigger and heavier than MK1, due to the increased weight of transfomers. MK2 uses dual power transformers instead of one in MK1. Also, the Dragon MK2 is much cooler to operate. If you stand close or even 6 feet away from the MK1 amp, you will definitely feel it when it's operating! Mk2 amp is exceptionally quiet to operate and feels cooler.
Sonically, MK2 is way better than MK1. I happened to own latest Franks 300B (before owning Dragons MK1) and this MK2 sounded very identitcal to Franks, back ground noise is so low and black like Franks and you can hear more minute details and nuances. With Dragons, you will not sacrifice any bass weight and impact and dynamics that you come to expect from bigger powerful amp, yet retaining the strength of Franks! Franks might still be the champion, on certain recordings and music...i heard a few tracks on both amps, i can't tell the difference. Again, your mileage may differ with mine, on the type of music and setup...so leave some room for variance.
If your budget permits, go for Dragons MK2. Else, go for MK1 in used market, with new tubes are around $4k before shipping and taxes.
Actually, if you don't listen to large orchestra and music with alot of bass, go for Franks...best buy!
Thanks for the info.
I ended up getting the Dragon MK I. It does some things better than the Pass Labs XA30.5 and the Pass did some things better. So it is a mixed bag.
The pass has better bass, sounds fuller, and has more weight or umphff to it.
The Dragon has better separation, more 3D, and very smooth, which I really like. However, it sounds a little thin compared to the pass amp. As a result it has less bass drive.
Any advice on how I can tweak the Dragons so they produce more weight to the music?
I think I'm reading that you like the sound of 211 high power tube amp. Yes, i agree with you the sound is 3D, natural and organic. Though XA30.5 has only 30W class A power, i'm surprised that you could hear more bass weight...maybe SS does offer that bass magic! Or maybe listen to the sound and if possible, compare to 'live' music...determine which one (pass Lab or Dragons) is more accurate.
Everyone has different preference. I've owned Coincident products since 2004 and increasingly more and more, after all these years, i think i can safely say, Coincident makes neutral gears (speakers and amps)...i'm sure there are people out there thinks it's "bland" and prefers more coloured sound, perhaps romantic sound.
I still miss the romantic but highly coloured 300B sound...so the Franks though neutral and un-coloured, plays all music accurately. Unlike some romantic 300B tube amps which sounded romantic, hence, suitable for some music only. You can throw all kinds of music at it, and it will reproduce music true to its design. Most 300B SET class A amps or even 211/845 class A are lower power...to make it high power, manufacturer chooses Push Pull DHT design...Coincident has amazingly made it (Dragons MK2) similar to the more accurate Franks, in terms of tonality, PRAT, Bass,dynamics and soundstage. If your source and preamp is up to the task, you can hear more details.
Personally, i like the sound of Franks but prefer the power and bass weight of high power SS amps. If bi-amping is not in your plans and you're not planning on upgrading your cables to get more bass weight (a costly route)...you might want to consider either upgrading your speakers or even add a quality subwoofer like REL, JL Audio or Seaton Subs. I have not heard any of these three subs, but the reason i suggest a subwoofer is, I've tried connecting a HT subwoofer, Energy brand, to my 2-channel music/movie setup, and the bass weight was much better with subwoofer when watching movies. Even when listening to 2-channels music, it did sound better with more bass weight.
There are some audiophiles who uses Dragons MK1 amp as bass amp (in bi-amp setup) only if details and noise level bothers them. Mk2 amp is a huge improvement, imho, so the pricing and performance will more than justify the purchase compare to getting the Franks.
I agree with your characterization of the Frankenstein, transparent and
quite minimal coloration. The bass is very good but not the best available
obviously.If the Dragon amplifier has essentially similar character as the
Frankenstein(but with more bass and power) then it should respond
significantly to various brands of tubes(as the Frankenstein surety do).I
don't know if there's as many choices for the 211 tube as there are for the
300b.From everything I've read or heard said, the MK II Dragons are a
considerable improvement (and many felt the MK I was very
good).Remember that speakers matter, some may be better with the SS
amp and others are better with tube amplification. I'd recommend the
Coincident power cord, it's excellent with their components and is
priced.I've never heard the Dragon described as thin or to have diminished
could it be poor match for the speakers?
Well, after listening more, I have some different thoughts about it. I've come to the conclusion that the Dragons are not thin sounding. They are very neutral sounding. Whereas the Pass amp was warmer sounding and in my opinion has a slight upper bass hump.
So what I'm experiencing sounds like something is missing because my brain is used to hearing more warmth and bass. I just need to relax and adjust to the new sound :)
I also want to add that I love bass. The low end is very important to me, probably more so than most people. I find that solid bass helps with adding a foundation to the music.
I have tried upgrading the 211 tubes over the stock ones. I just installed some new Psvane 211-T tubes and I heard an instant improvement. So that is a move in the right direction. I also have a JL Audio Fathom 10" sub which helps too.
For power, I'm using Pangea AC-9 power cords, which I find are an excellent value. I'll check into the Coincident power cords.
I'm not sure if switching out the 300B tube could help. It came with the EH Golden 300B. Israel recommends the 300B Black Bottles. Is this the same as the Shuguang Treasure? Would this be an improvement over the EH I'm using?
Thanks for helping me get my Dragons dialed in.
That's a wise move , give yourself adequate time with a different sounding
amplifier then you can compare and contrast. Jimmy's observations stated
in earlier post were on the mark.I'm not surprised that upgrading the 211
tube made a significant improvement, a transparent amp allows each
different tube's character to become apparent . Israel is right, the Black
Treasure tube is much better than the respectable EH 300b and you'll easily
hear the better sound of this driver tube. The Coincident amplifiers will
reveal the natural tone and body but won't add gratuitous warmth and
color.They are very honest amplifiers.As you discovered, patience pays off.
I have a similar amp to your Dragons, the Cary 805AE. It uses a 300b to drive the 211. I have several pairs of 300b's and notice a difference just rolling them in while keeping the same 211.
I think it's worth experimenting. The "best" is subjective of course but I think most would be an improvement over the EH's. One of my favorites in the Cary is the Sophia Princess Mesh. I thought the Genalex Gold Lions were pretty good also.
fwiw, The Cary AE can take either a 845 or 211. I thought for sure the 845 would be my favorite. I had a 845 SET earlier in my path that I liked a lot. But it's the 211 that I enjoy the most in this amp. I still sub the 845 in for a change every once in awhile.
Like Charles, my favorite amp is a 300b SET. I use one in my hi-eff system. In my other system, that uses Magnepan 3.6's, I use Pass's XA100.5 amps. I decided to take a gamble and bought this Cary 805AE for the Maggies to see if I could pull off SE on them. It worked. Drop Dead Gorgeous sound and like you, find both the Pass and Cary to have their own strengths.
Last night, I swapped out the Pangea power cords and tried some Audience powerchords and this was a very nice improvement. The soundstage got bigger and the Dragons sounded more open. This was not a subtle improvement.
I'm using the dragons with no preamp. I'm going direct from the Empirical Audio Overdrive dac into the mono blocks. My source is a 2011 Macbook Pro laptop, using Amarra version 4318 (this is the version Steve at Empirical recommends). For the USB cable, I'm using an inexpensive Belkin Gold.
So far my biggest grumble with the Dragons is that they don't have XLR inputs. My dac sounds significantly better using the XLR outs versus the RCA outs. As an experiment, I'm getting my Placette XLR cables modded to have RCA connectors on one end. We'll see what that does.
Also a friend of mine just read this thread and offered me to try out his Sophia Princess 300B's tubes! (Thanks Scott) I'll let you all know how these Sophia's sound in the Dragon.
You have found a very nice recipe that works for you and to stick with, just season to your taste.
I love the 300b as does Charles. (currently using Sophia RP.)
My Pre has XLR out and I declined to use an adapter so I commissioned Tempo Electric, Joseph Levy, for XLR/RCA IC cable. You are about there... I would like to be there to listen...
I'm really enjoying getting this amp dialed in. So far everything I've done has produced a good result.
For whatever reason, I don't hear much about the 6EM7 input tube for the Dragon. Are people rolling this one too? I'm not sure how much of an impact this tube makes. Mine came with some NOS Sylvanias.
Back in 2010, after i bought the latest Franks with 100hrs new and before it was fully broken in, i started with tube rolling, it was my first tube amp (i was a SS person all these while). The stock EH300B was acceptable and reliable: it was good in the midrange but both ends were noticeably rolled off..then Sophia Electric Princess which after trying, i thought it to be lacking in bass but highs were very extended and airy, while midrange was a big improvement over EH300B.
I wrote to Israel if i should to try the Western Electric 300B which some says has the best midrange, OR the KR300B (there were others on the internet commented its poor reliability), his recommendation was simply "Shugang Black Treasure". Truly, it was the best among the few that i sampled. Black Treasure beats the Sophia Electric in everyway, especially the bass. If i remembered correctly, the background is even blacker.
However, this was my experience with Franks (i sold the black bottle 300B with the Franks) with 300B as output tubes. Frank (the amp) was honest enough that i could tell the difference between each brand of tube even before the amp was fully broken in. Well, my observation could be biased because the amps and tubes were all new but i could still tell their characteristics even when it was new. I think i had each tube running between 80-150hrs, switching back and forth. After the Franks was fully broken in, it was very open whereby both ends were more extended, soundstage is wider and deeper, and midrange is more transparent. Overall, a fully burn in Franks, would sound neutral, organic and 3D, and very much 'live'. Once i remembered that i was listening to a Jazz FM station through my Vintage Sansui Tuner, the music stopped and like there was air sucked out from the room. I dozed off at my couch and suddenly jumped out of it, thinking someone was at the door. I had goose bumps. LOL. My MK2 Dragons would sound very identical to the Franks though i never got the same goose bumps as i had with the passive preamp/Franks combo.
I am still using EH300B in my MK2 dragons. If i remember correctly, maybe i'm wrong, that Israel said the 300B driver tubes did not bring about a big change if i used the Black Treasure. This was in 2011. If you got a chance to try the Black Bottles in your dragons, please post your experience. Thanks
I'm using Coincident CPRE and all Coincident cables (Extreme power cords and Extreme Shotgun interconnects & speaker cables). Israel did not publicly mentioned this in his website, but write to him if you're interested. Once you got these cables and pair it with Coincident speakers...you'll not want to remove it. System matching is every important, the cables he designed, sounded best in Coincident's system. Several years ago, as a younger audiophile, i buy & sell, swap cables...i once sold my regular extreme interconnects/speaker cables to another guy who had a passive preamp/VAC power amp. He said Coincident's cables create a heighten sense and does not sound natural. I was still being a SS amp person, and the sound came out to be bass heavy...it was perfect as i was using it as 2-channel music/movie system. Actually, i still do...
You would not believe the outcome of listening to these Shotgun cables system, it's extremely satisfying. Where do i begin?
First, if you're living in New York, Coincident is exhibiting at an Audio Show between April 12-14. They say, picture tells a thousand words...but i say, let music speak for itself. Ask Israel if he's bringing his Shotgun cables.
To demonstrate it's excellency, i used my Onkyo HT receiver connect to my CPRE speakers, using all Coincident cables. I'm using Esoteric X03SE and Magnum Dynalab MD108T tuner...very enjoyable. From the receiver, i had connected an active subwoofer, Energy brand...the result is frequency extension on both ends, and yet tubey warm...couldn't believe it?!
Of course, there was no comparison with Statement Linestage and Dragons Mk2...my Onkyo Receiver was blown away...far far away...it is this good. I mentioned this because i'm a bass freak, like you, bass is paramount to me. Not just bass, but quality and warm/wet bass...i think? My Esoteric X03SE SACD player sounded more weighty in bass and the bass punch is way deeper and fuller. But this comes with a price, big one!
I couldn't help but cuckle a bit by this statement you made above---"My MK2 Dragons would sound very identical to the Franks though i never got the same goose bumps as i had with the passive preamp/Franks combo."
I bought your Promitheus Signature and have enjoyed it quite a bit over the last 2-3 years. It is a very good passive and yes, it can bring on those goose bumps. But it has recently been displaced from my system by guess what?? A Coincident Statement Line Stage. The poor Promitheus is getting a complex, having been bumped from two consecutive systems by the CSL. Funny how things go.
Can't believe it's been 2 years...! I'm glad you made the move up to CSL, it's a move i've never look back. The Prometheus Signature is a good passive preamp at its price point because i heard bass layering, very detailed sound and airy, which makes it sound distinctly different from its lower price entry sibling which i also owned before getting this Signature version. I was attracted to passive preamp because it first introduced me to 'purity' and 'natural colour' of sound. The biggest difference Prometheus Signature compared to CSL, is the transparency and weight of sound. CSL is able to bring out clearly more subtle details (whereas with 'Signature', i need to pay close attention ) and bigger sound stage, imaging is more definitive or in position...almost see through, if you will. So, the CSL being an active preamp does have an advantage because it is well designed. Without comparison, it's hard to tell how good CSL is, as a preamp. But i wish it didn't have a shiny SS finish, and better still, if it comes with remote!!
I'm thrilled we cross path again!!
I saw this launch of budget or entry level amps as an answer to the market demand or trend of today and near future of audiophile world...high end ultra expensive setup and big profit margins are the bygone days. The real world today is looking for bargain and value. Many thin margins are better one fat margin that may or may not come. Not to ignore the real competition from "Made in China" made possible by free trade, open market...and internet! Anyone with experience of good chinese amp or setup?
However, having said, Coincident still is a market leader in Speakers design & manufacture. This is their bread & butter, their know how in speakers design has positioned them well among the tube audiophiles. I thoroughly enjoy my setup, even my Onkyo HT receiver has made proud! So for anyone who starts from scratch, i would strongly advice investing in Coincident Cables and Speakers first, i won't be surprise in future audio shows, Israel will demo his stereo amp with his top-of-line cables and speakers, to proof you don't need to be a millionaire to enjoy good music!
I think Israel is going to have sucess with both of this new amplifiers. Knowing him, he won't offer something for sale unless he's satisfied with the sound.I suspect the 845 integrated will provide true top level performance at a obtainable price and be able to drive moderately efficient speakers. This amplifier weights 100 pounds, The transformers and power supply are likely very high quality and over specified as is his habit.
Update: The modded Placette XLR/RCA cable arrived yesterday and I heard an immediate improvement when I used the XLR outputs from the Overdrive dac going straight into the Dragons. Right now, I'm very pleased with the sound I'm getting from my computer audio rig. This sounds 100 x's better than my old cd player rig. I was using a Modwright tube Oppo 83.
Today a friend is going to be letting me borrow his Zu Druid speakers (not sure which Mark) and I'm very curious how they will sound with my Coincident Dragons. I've been using Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Signature System for the past 4 years and have grown attached to them. I also use a JL Audio 10" sub to help fill in the last octave of the low end. I'm excited about hearing what Zu speakers have to offer. I've been fantasizing the idea of getting new speakers and have been contemplating the Coincident Super Victory II or the Zu Definition Mk IV. Auditioning the Druid will certainly help with this decision.
Good for you, Ernie!
I agree with you, having XLR input into the amp (provided source-to-amp are all balanced circuitry), is the preferred way to go. The weight and transparency increases noticeably. Before making next major change, try to have a few more listening to speakers & cable combinations to determine what you like best.
Personally, and this is just me, depending on the budget, i would go with either:
1. Statement LineStage/Franks with good monitor and subwoofer. This is because Linestage offers you another line out to your subwoofer...and having a good monitor that throws a 3D soundstage and solid imaging, leave the lower bass to a quality subwoofer. The Statement LineStage also offers balanced (XLR) input and output.
2. Get a powerful (tube/SS) integrated amp to drive the speakers of your choice. Personally, i would go with Coincident Extreme Shotguns cables and a Coincident Triumph MK2. Let the integrated amp also drive your JL Audio subwoofer. If the integrated amp has both XLR input (from your source) and XLR output to your subwoofer, then this route might be good. I have good experience with my Onkyo HT receiver using all Coincident cables, particularly Extreme Shotguns.
The best is, if you can audition the setup in a dealershop or bring it home to test it out, if you like it.
The issue with tall full range speakers is the positioning of speakers. Having separate monitors/subwoofer will provide you an easier optimum positioning. Monitor produce a directional sound but subwoofer bass is omnidirectional...makes it slightly tricky with positioning. i.e. while you get good focus and sound stage, it may comes at the compromise of subwoofer positioning. CPRE speakers are the purest transducer i've heard and it's separate monitor/subwoofers provides this advantage. My personal budget is skewing heavily towards cables and speakers. Then, the amp and finally the source...this is just me. I've had Totem Model-1 and Mani-2 Signature in my setup, while having the passive preamp/Franks..and all Coincident regular Extreme cables. The Coincident Triumph MK2 beats both of them flat! In fact, if you want a accurate and detailed midrange, you might want to consider Coincident Super Eclipse MK3 which i also owned...no regrets. But due to its high impedance, it will sound dry with SS amps...no such problems with 300B SET amp! However, it's low frequency only goes down to 28Hz...hey, you have a JL Audio subwoofer? wink-wink.
I think you'll be able to make a good informed decision based on unbiased listening...reviews are only for those who hear it themselves. Let your ears be the judge!
Coincident LineStage preamp has two RCA outputs and one XLR output, but you can only choose one type of output at any one time. You can listen to a XLR connection source and output via RCA OR XLR connection amp.
My first experience with 300B tube amp, was a Grant Fidelity A-534 10WPC 300B SET driving my Super Eclipse MK3. I was using an Arcam FMJ CD23 cd player as source. The sound was romantic and heavenly...both my friend (who tries to sell me this integrated 300B amp) and myself....after listening for a while, we both fell asleep on my couch! The legendary clas A 300B midrange, changed my experience...this is music, i tell myself!
Back in 2008, i paired my Super Eclipse MK3 with a SS SET integrated amp, Sugden a21a. I think it was 25WPC? It produced a 3D soundstage, organic and nice sound and good punchy bass. But in terms of music, it won't hold a candle to Class A SET 300B tube amp. Price of integrated 300B SET amp is good too (made in china), and if you look out for a Super Eclipse MK3 which has very good detailed midrange for its price...you might get it for less than $2k and no need of speaker stand and still fairly easy to move it around by yourself for positioning.
However, if you want a good monitor speakers, the latest Triumph MK2 is excellent choice. I paired it with my then passive preamp/Franks. However, i did on one occasion listened to the latest Super Victory II...highs were bright or with abit of treble energy compared to my CPRE which is completely natural yet very low noise floor. Do listen to a ribbon tweeter speaker before committing...
That dealer who was playing the Super Victory II speakers was not using Coincident amps and cables.
I have both the Zu Definition Mk4 and the Druid Mk4-8 ( last model before Druid Mk5 came out late last year). I can speak to the differences between the two as well as the effects of amps. I've had the Coincident Frankenstein Mk2 powering the Definitions now for about 1 week and I've done a lot listening in this week. I've used the Atma-Sphere M60's and Clayton M200's as well.
The difference between the Druid and Definition, even the earlier Definition Mk 1.5 and Mk1.9, is large. Still, the Druid properly set up is competitive with many more expensive speakers. It brings the rich tone, coherency, and dynamic ease (macro and micro) that Zu is known for. The Definition's, in comparison, sound more "alive", more dynamic, present a larger soundstage with a little less image focus, and more resolved inner detail. The Mk 4's are really special.
To my surprise, the Coincident Frankenstein Mk2 drive the Definition Mk4's wonderfully in my open 6000 ft^3 listening room. Unless you listen regularly at really high SPL's, I can't imagine needing more than the Franks on the Definition Mk4. At natural to quite loud volume levels, they are alive, dynamic and nuanced. Bass is surprisingly as good or better than my M60's. It is easier to follow the bass line in complex music and is just as textured. It is not solid state "tight", but I don't find that realistic anyway. If the instrument produced a "tight" low frequency sound, the Franks present it that way.
On the Definition's or the Druid's, the Dragons wouldn't break a sweat at insane volume levels. Given the easy drivability of the Coincident speakers, I doubt either the Franks, and certainly not the Dragons, would struggle at all.
Germanboxers' s description of the Frankenstein driving the Zu DEF IV is
eerily similar to them driving my Coincident speakers.A very natural large
scale sound and very balanced across the frequency spectrum. It produces
more volume than I need in my generous size room.The tone and timbre
are full and realistic, the sense of flesh and blood presence is striking. I'm
not surprised at the exceptional synergy Germanboxers is experiencing and
the quality of the bass he's hearing.Both the Franks and Atma-Sphere
have low noise floors,are very transparent, clear and fast(like
Germanboxers I've heard them compared in someone's system).The Franks
tend toward fuller and the Atma-Sphere toward a bit leaner sound(matter of
preference and system matching).The Frankenstein is very revealing of
the true emotion and expression of the music(what some would call
My speaker isn't as sensitive as his Zu DEFs (101db vs 94db) but the
Coincident is a very easy to drive load (piece of cake for the Dragons) and
the Frankenstein seems to coast with them.IMO either Coincident amplifier
will be superb with either brand of speakers. You won't go wrong with these
Israel has a clear objective in designing and marketing his stereo amps: beat the competition and offers entry products as an introduction to their separates.
He said, Turbo 845SE will sound more powerful than Franks but separates (LineStage/Dragons or Franks) still offers much more superior sound (purity and transparency). He made the stereo amps for the space and budget conscious who still demand good quality sound. I'm impressed by build quality of these stereo amps in the pictures.
He has a clearly focused group of customers he's going after...serious audiophiles who are growing.
I've been listening to the Druids for 4 days now and thought I'd share some quick impressions.
I found them to sound revealing, transparent, neutral, open, fast, lean and sometimes strident on the top end with some cd's. These weren't a synergistic match for my system. Music sounded too hifi and sterile. My Tyler Acoustic Linbrooks system speakers sounded warm in comparison, which is a better match with my electronics. In my friend's rig the same Druids sound totally blissful and amazingly good! It's all about careful system matching and synergy. This was a fun experiment.
Do Coincident speakers have a similar sound to Zu speakers?
Just to be fair, those who are familiar with the Zu line say the DEF MK IV is
a significant improvement. I'm not sure if you can attribute a common
house sound or not (I haven't heard them). Germanboxers found the Zu -
Frankenstein match to sound very well.But as you acknowledged, different
system and ears.
In terms of the Coincident speakers I find them to sound as impressive as
their electronics and as one would anticipate work wonderfully together. Of
course I haven't heard every model but I did I hear the Pure Reference and
my Total Eclipse and can say the match is excellent. I'm not familiar with
the Victory models that utilize a ribbon tweeter.Coincident speakers are
very transparent, open and quite uncolored.For the most part, you will just
hear the character of the source and electronics just as jimmy has
described before in other posts. I'd say the overall sound of my system is
organic and just a bit to the warmer side of dead center neutral.Tone is
adequately saturated with a full bodied sound and much harmonic
preservation if that helps you get a feel for their sound with my particular
I'm surprised the Dragons/Zu Druid combo produced an analytical sound. Could it be a synergy issue of your cables/Zu Druid combo?
Coincident gears do have a common characteristic: neutrality (whether speakers or electronics). However, the line of speakers do sound abit different, depending on your liking. My experience with Coincident started in 2003 with owning Triumph Signature bookshelf, then a Conquest in 2004, Triumph Extreme in 2006, Super Eclipse Mk3 in 2008. In 2010, an audiophile friend allowed me to run my then Dragons MK1 (with black faceplate) on his Total Eclipse Mk2. Before my CPRE in 2011, i had the latest Triumph Extreme MK2 in 2010.
None of these speakers i owned were analytical. To my surprise, i didn't like the Super Victory Mk2 after hearing it in a dealer showroom, it could due to the ribbon tweeter but it sounded more airy, extended and detailed than the Triumph Extreme MK2. But the dealer wasn't using coincident cables and amps...so i can't say for sure it was the ribbon tweeter. I didn't read alot of professional reviews on Coincident speakers that their ribbon tweeter sounded bright or analytical..then maybe it's my personal preference. Maybe it's tendency of ribbon tweeter to sound abit shrill?
I personally find Franks to be most easily live with. Dragons are prone to line noise, the brightness of tubes, the heat it generated from the pair of 211 tubes and the size & weight of dragon amps, of course the price difference.
If you ever going to consider used Coincident speakers:
1. Under $3000, you could get yourself a used Total Eclipse. The Dragons/Total Eclipse combo sounded big in scale and ballsier than the polite Franks and even the Cary 805AE. But Dragons sounded darker and prone to line noise, compared to Cary 805AE which is much quieter in background noise.
2. Less than $2000, a used Super Eclipse. I would prefer Super Eclipse for it's midrange liveliness and clarity. I would augment the lower octave with a quality active subwoofer.
3. Lastly, maybe Triumph Extreme MK2 with active subwoofer? The monitors are the champs in imaging.
For most music, Franks should do the job well and if you add the Statement Linestage...Franks will sound more powerful yet retaining the purity and transparency it was known for. Even driving the Total Eclipse which Charles currently owns, is not a problem. Dragons will sound much more powerful than Franks but surprisingly, i felt Franks is not less dynamic than Dragons due to that radio music experience i heard once on the Franks, was unforgettable. So i can't say that the Dragons are more dynamic due to it's higher power. But my thirst for power, eventually lead me to sacrifice purity and transparency for higher power dragons. Now, with Dragons MK2...i don't miss Franks.
Of course, LineStage/Dragons will offer you a very powerful sound and bigger sound stage, if you match it with good cables and the right speakers. Strongly encourage to listen to Coincident Speakers and their cables, to find out if that sound is what you like. Even driving or flying to that dealership will be more cost effective and productive than merry go round.
Thanks for both of your observations and experience about this. It is giving more to think about for sure.
This whole experience has led me to the conclusion that my Overdrive SE dac leans more on the detailed side of the spectrum. I prefer an organic sound. So when I paired up the Druids with the Dragons with the Overdrive dac, there was nothing in the chain giving it any warmth. So I'm taking a different approach. I ordered a Chord QuteHD dac along with a fully loaded Off-Ramp 4 usb converter. This dac is known to produce a more organic tone while still maintaining detail. We'll see which dac is a better fit for my rig.
It feels important for me to really get my source nailed down, so that I absolutely love it and that it produces the most realistic music. I don't like an overly warm, euphonic presentation either. I prefer the warm side of neutral. This whole business of component matching is such a delicate matter to get it right.
On a side note, I was able to get on a Power conditioner tour on Audiocircle website which should be coming next week: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=114616.0. Right now I'm using a Running Springs Haley, which I'm very satisfied with. I used a PS Audio Quintet before that and had mixed feelings about it. The Haley was a no brainer right when I plugged it in.
Your approach to get the source nailed down is right.If you go the Coincident route you`ll hear the essential character of the source component very clearly.Jimmy is right, the Coincident electronics and speakers are quite neutral(relatively speaking).My DAC is the Yamamoto YDA and it is rather organic and full tone/body but also transparent and very nuanced.The Coincident chain of equitment doesn`t alter that fundamental character as the signal travels downstream.So your plan is correct,choose your front end source carefully to achieve the overall sound you want.
I'm really enjoying the QuteHD DSD dac paired with the Off Ramp 4. Sounds very full, robust and organic with excellent imaging. The OR4 adds more weight and clarity. Everything sounds more focused and I didn't know there was so much smearing going on. I'm convinced that a high quality USB converter is a necessity for computer audio. This combination is closer to what I'm looking for versus what I was hearing with the Overdrive alone.
My only complaint is that on some recording with female vocalists, the treble sounds a bit hot. I'm hoping to address this by adding an external power supply to the QuteHD. It comes with a cheap wall wart. I ordered a decent one from MCRU here: http://www.mains-cables-r-us.co.uk/power-supplies/514-chord-qutehd-linear-power-supply.html
It's coming from the UK and I'm in the USA, so it'll arrive next week. More to come then....
Another solution might be warming up the sound from the Dragons. If I wanted a warm sounding 300b tube, which would you recommend?