Devor - KEF - Vienna Acoustic – Wilson?

Hello all!

KEF Blade IIe, Devor Gibbon X, VA Listz, WAS Sabrina.

These are not the top items on the short list, but they sure do make a lot of sense and keep occupying my ‘spend thrift’ thoughts for speaker system solutions, among a couple others. I listed them in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of personal preference.

These loudspeakers seem as diverse as they are similar in cost to performance ratios given the subjective press they have recieved.

With the exception of the Sabrina and Gibbon X, Numbers are fairly even across the board with their sensitivity, and impedance. in terms of size and weights, respectively they appear close there too. Except for the Blade II, pricing is close as well.

Designs differ and esthetics are all seemingly very nice to outstanding.

I’m asking here for any experiences someone might have with any of these speaker’s individual voices, house sounds, and esthetics, if or where applicable.

I’m simply trying to cut down the list for which ones really deserve going out of the way to audition. Or wait for in terms of build, or possibly buying used.

Although I could definitely go either way powerwise, tubes or SS, tubes are ordinarily a preference. It does depend on the speaker’s ‘voice’ and voltage needs/demands, however.

If anyone would be so kind as to add their thoughts on any of these choices unique characteristics that would be amazing.

Demands great up stream components. Difficult to place? Needs loads of breathing room? Limited in the bottom octave (s) ?

Neutrality? Hot up top? Warm? Dark? Loose bottom end? Transparency? Imaging? Limited depth? Etc.

Hard to drive?   Not normally tube friendly? Stay away from SS?

Tremendous gratitude for any insights. Thanks much.
Blade or Wilson gets my vote. Sound wise - do you like British or American? Wilson have big bold warm bass hump or resonance whereas Blade will be tight precise and flat in the bass. Both have good mid range which is the first thing I would consider in any speaker.

I can only comment on the Liszt and Sabrina.  The Devore X wasn't available at the time but the X and the O/96 would now be on my list. The Kef was not available near me.  The Audio Physics is another one that I wish I could have listened to.  

There are a couple of reviews in Absolute sound and Soundstage Ultra which pretty much sum up the Liszt accurately.  It is a very neutral, images well and is well balanced.  I listened to a couple of the Wilson offerings including the Sabrina.  A lot of people like them but to me the top end is fatiguing and there is a disconnect with the bass and the balance with the rest of speaker.  That's just my opinion.    After listening to about 15 different speakers I bought the Liszt.  I am using a tube pre amp and Herron solid state mono block amps.   

Quad 2912 for ultimate clarity or Harbeth M40.2 for more dynamics. But at this price there are many options, and nobody can hear them all, let alone compare them directly and in your own home.

Shadorne > Blade or Wilson gets my vote. Sound wise - do you like British or American?
…. Both have good mid range which is the first thing I would consider in any speaker.

Blindjim > thanks so very much.
owning several pairs of BW, and the Monitor Audio golds circa 2003, followed by several US brands, I’d have to say I could live with either country’s derivitives… depending.

Bass as I have seen with limited exp is not the first priority usually with English models. Top ends too, in entry level or into mid range models are often a bit too edgy for my tastes.

Probably the only real area a loud speaker must do exceptionally well apart from their mids is the upper range. Hard, harsh, strident or piercing notes simply kill me. Its likely why I went to preferring tubes over Ss. Then hearing better tweeters found where my true priorities laid.

As you said, and I sincerely agree, the mid range is key, though not the only key. Bass is important, and probably too important to me. Though the top end MUST be kind, well mannered and highly resolving. Of drivers the Dyn Audio Isotar tweeter is the best one I’ve heard so far, pretty much. It is smoking good IMHO!

Goose > …. Reviews from Absolute sound and Soundstage Ultra which pretty much sum up the Liszt accurately
Audio Physics is another one that I wish I could have listened to
…. Sabrina to me the top end is fatiguing

Blindjim > many thanks on the review agreement for the Listz.

Audio physic is on my list though their lower octave impact and delineation are big questions for me. To date I’ve not heard one stick of AP. I get the impression they image like bandits and produce great mids. Beyond that I’m clueless. I’m also not enamored by their apparent ‘or lightweight slight’ overall build. I guess I may be erroneously expecting quality speakers should have more heft to them as their costs soar. lol

Top end is too energetic even in the new Sabrina, huh?

I have been told the Sabrina’s did not suffer from the same liveliness former WAS tweeters exhibited. Albeit, the mention was provided from an audition wherein the Sabrinas wer driven by tube power which could definitely slant the account or at least imply something of a caveat.

I've only heard the Liszt.  Superb speakers!  Demo'd with Ayre electronics.  First, to prove a point, he powered them with the AX-7 60W integrated.  Sounded greater.  Then moved on to the AX-5, and you could definitely hear the difference.  But these are *easy* to drive.  Very transparent.  Great full sound.  Fabulous imaging and soundstage.  If I had a rich uncle, I'd have bought them on the spot.
My favorite speakers are Vandersteens....however using your current list the Blade would be my choice.   VPI uses Blades in their evaluation of their equipment.

Twoleftears > I've only heard the Liszt. Superb speakers! If I had a rich uncle, I'd have bought them on the spot.

But then, that rich uncle would also have to like you too, right?

Nice new car…. OR…. A very nice pair of speakers? Life is just too hard way too often.

Did you get a feel for where the Listz land on the warm to cool or wet to dry ledger? Big, medium sized or little room?

At 4 ohms the springs flowing into them had either 120w or 250w. most speakers should be able to account well for themselves with those levels of available authority.

Stringreen > the Blade would be my choice. VPI uses Blades in their evaluation of their equipment.

Blindjim > much gratitude. VPI = Turntable, pretty much, correct?

I’m assuming you have heard the other speakers or most of them in making your choice for KEF?

Or were they just that impressive?

I’ve been noticing many audio appliance makers use several speakers with which to voice or confirm their products, especially amplifier makers. Three different types and or brands is not unusual.

IMHO ‘flexibility’ with regard to power, in a speaker system is for me a rather high priority. Along with its presentation and ability to convey the sonics coherently and cohesively in a well balanced delivery.

Speakers must recreate or geographically depict the venue persuasively .for them to be worthy candidates. Imaging, remarkable or journeymanlike, seems more key to the synergy of the complete system and room, although there must be a convincing soundstage for any speaker to grab my attention right off. imaging and honesty are always the two items which will pull me in, or leave me cold when I first hear any speaker.

Thereafter comes all the other integral aspects.

Additionally, being able to produce on a high or at its highest level, with but limited amounts of current/voltage is always a HUGE plus. Though not very often a deal breaker for me. Having the real world ability to drop merely 30 to 100 wpc on a speaker and have it really sing can not be seen as anything other than an enormous advantage.

All these asides sat down, the speaker’s actual performance that comes closest to emulating reality MUST be the deciding factor for its purchase IMHO.

How handily it arrives at naturalness and organics and with what degree of ease with respect to the amount and quality of power needed to get them there, seems to me to be the true deciding factor when choosing loudspeakers.

This is what I look for basically. And of course, how much of the bandwidth is delivered vs cost.

I’d sure not like spending upwards of $20K and then be forced to add another $5 to $10K or more, to address the bass properly. Although it seems a ‘given’ with the vast majority of passive loudspeakers.
Hey Blindjim,

Glad you are back up and running.
Hi!! Thanks for the kind regards.

Irma took a toll. Been involved in the clean up. And its been significant. It ain’t all done yet either.

As well, immediate health concerns have been a morass of incredible incompetence and needless delays.

I think it has come down to one of these four unless something unforeseen but very beneficial occurs. . other more $$$$ options would be the preff, but I’m sold on one not needing incredibly expensive speakers to reveal “Wow!” listening sessions. Besides, $15 to $20K ought to gather up some pretty competent reproducers despite whose name is on them. If a used pr. By a very very well regarded seller arise, all the better. Especially if they are in the state or at least the region


I most recently heard the Wilson Sabrina's last weekend with the new Nagra Classic Amp (SS) with the Nagra Classic Preamp (tube). The other equipment was Transparent Cables/PCs/power conditioning and the dCS Debussy DAC playing thru Tidal. It was a very good for sure. Very revealing, nice pace, and very non-fatiguing over the four hours the system was in use. I have heard the Sabrina's a number of times and they've mostly been paired with ARC gear, which also sounds very good. I've also heard them with D'Agostino Momentum Monos/Pre a few years back, which I considered very good and have more recently heard them with an Arcam integrated with room correction (not as good as any of the other electronics I've mentioned previously). I very much like the Sabrina's and the Nagra worked very well with them. While I was there the Nagra Classic Amp was compared to the D'Agostino Classic Stereo Amp. I preferred the Nagra Classic Amp for its finesse and tactilness. The Dag was very iron-fisted (read bass controll) and overall less involving. Funny how a 40 lb. amp sounded better to me than a 108 lb behemoth. Weight, implementation, etc are all factors, but for me, the sound is the most important.

The Nagra equipment is not inexpensive. The amp is approximately $20k and the preamp around $16k. The Debussy is about $11k and the cables I have no idea. But I can say that this was a system that played very well for me. Some people deride dCS for it being to sterile. For me, I don’t remember hearing dCS before last weekend but thought that these pieces played complementary roles. It was very musical to me.

Jim, you said "but I’m sold on one not needing incredibly expensive speakers to reveal “Wow!” listening sessions". This is what this Sabrina/Nagra/dCS system did for me. But I've also heard the Sabrina's with ARC and felt the same. I hope to hear them with the T+A HV series integrated and multi source player. I've read that this combo works very well together but have not heard it yet. Hope to do so in November.


KEF Blade Two comments – Jim, I took part of the following comments from another thread I was in back in June. --I heard the Hegel 360 at the Los Angeles Audio Show and it was very good; considerably better than the Rost although the Rost was pretty good too. They performed comparison tests between the Rost, H360, and their reference separates. The 360 was fairly close to the separates and it and the Rost have built-in DACs; the H360 is also 250 WPC. The demo speaker was the KEF Blade Two. I liked the Hegel sound. –I can also say that of the Blade Two; very even tonally with a bit of pop and sparkle. Though I liked them a lot, I took them off my list because they are $25k. But I also took them off because I like the Sabrina’s better. One observation is I’ve read that the Blade can be tough if you are close to sidewalls because of the side-mounted woofers. I think the Audio Doctor guys in New York have plenty to say about the Blade here in the Agon forums if I remember correctly.

Of course, on my last two comments, your mileage may vary.


…. Nagra Classic Amp (SS) with the Nagra Classic Preamp (tube).

….the H360 is also 250 WPC. The demo speaker was the KEF Blade Two. I liked the Hegel sound. –I can also say that of the Blade Two; very even tonally with a bit of pop and sparkle. Though I liked them a lot, I took them off my list because they are $25k.

….but for me, the sound is the most important.

Extremely cool. Fascinating insights and well artivulated too. Thanks.

It sure would be nice to get something of a handle on the KEF Blade presentation with tubes. VA Listz and Music as well.

I agree, the Blade IIs will really have to have some long legs to overcome the added costs in either case, Sabrinas, or VA Listz.

I’m really liking the idea of the VA speakers, esthetics and flexibilities. Especially the added setup flexibility of the VA Music… albeit, once more, the disparity in added expense from the aforementioned two units (Blade II & VA Music) is yet another obstacle that might be to difficult to justify another either to ten grand or so IMO. Then too, if one eyes the vA Music, they gotta Eyeball the Blade itself, right?

Especially nice would be getting more of a bit of a handle on what the current VAC Sig II pre and 200 IQ amp yield with any of these speakers. Together, their MSRP = $42K setting them well above some other pairings of great interest, and as you just input here, the Nagra SS plus Tube pre combo @ $36K.

Youtube vids show the above VAC pair with Nola metro Grands (?) and a $7 or $8K CDP I don’t recall its brand or model, or the wires… maybe Shunyata? I recall the PLC was the $5K Shunyata.

Although I want a bit of snap. Pop. But hopefully no crackle. And a touch of ‘kick’ from the system with the genres I enjoy most, Nola’s presentation seems to me similar to some dipoles & open baffle speakers I’ve heard which in all were quite satisfying presenters. Consequently given the notion as you stated here it is indeed all about the sound, not the ego or name dropping trips some can get onto with gear.

Neither do I have a penchant for dealing with 100 plus pound amp (s), but I would if they were worth it. Heat too is not something I fancy, but again, if its worth it, then sure. Thankfully I can still lift an amp that heavy and move it about. Depending. I also bought ‘dollies’ for such things.

One big decided plus here is IF I stick to my plan for non uber priced squeakers, there will be more $$$$ for power and a DAC. IMHO, that is a outstanding factor.

I’ll have to look into the nagra SS amp. Didn’t think they made any.

Lastly, the point of side firing bass drivers could be an issue. Initially, ‘whatever’ will sit on the short wall. A bit less than 14 ft. side to side . A tad less than 21 ft. deep, though no real shot at placing them on the side walls at all as the projector and screen arrangement precludes that choice completely.

The distant 'horizon’ thought however is that I plan on moving to a different house. Where, and when is unclear but it will happen. That next joint will have a larger side to side usable dimension for sure. By how much? No clue. It’ll just be wider or I’ll look elsewhere. . 17ft. W seems about right.

This is a sticking point on the Sabrinas. In my current digs, they would be the likely optimum choice. Sizewise. In a larger room? Not so sure.

Naturally too, if any setup issue exists with those side firing drivers, it would be just a temporary thing.

and then, what about the Devore Gibbon Tens? Their specs indicate a far greater list of compatible amps than any of the others on this particular list.

Unquestionably the end result, or the ‘sound’ is indeed the goal, not the gear.
To my mind the VA Lizst's were right down the middle.  They didn't sound forward or recessed, tipped up or bassed down.  Heard them in a medium-sized room.  They certainly didn't overwhelm (volume control) but there was clearly a lot of oomph left there if you so desired.  In short, they checked all the audiophile boxes (imaging, soundstaging, etc.), and they hit them pretty much all on the golden mean.

To add to my prior posts, the room I heard the Sabrina's in last weekend is 15.5 wide, 25.5 deep, and 9.5 high. It was also very well damped and the power is also well sorted out. The room was fully pressurized while music was playing. In addition to the digital music vinyl was also played. It was glorious as well.

I was given the remote and pushed the Nagra Classic Amp and it never lost one bit of composure. The volume at times was turned up to the 2 O'clock position and there was no compression, breakup, etc. The amp has a small power meter "Nagra Modulometer" and an Orange LED, which "is also fitted to indicate saturations, excessive temperature." I had it turned up quite a bit to see how it would fair and the only indications I got for this is massive crystalline dynamics and the Orange LED blinking some times. Even when blinking, there was no change at all in the sound. After experiencing this several times I realized it was much louder than I initially thought. And it was oh so pleasant at any volume level. There was never any "crackle" as you mentioned above; but snap and pop were definitely there in the room. A very lively and invigorating sound. It never got boring even after four hours.

The amp runs fairly warm when in play and just warm to the touch when idling. The Nagra Classic Amp and Classic Preamp look to be fairly new products. I like them but in the end I think they are out of my range, at least new and retail. One great thing about these components is they aren't gargantuan in size or weight; amp is 40 lbs and the preamp is just 11 lbs.

I have read a lot good about Vienna Acoustics but do not ever remember hearing them. If I'm not mistaken, Guido Corona has The Music. The Liszt looks like a real deal at $15k.

I also have not heard the  Devore Gibbon Xs (at least as far as I can remember). But they, like the X, have an advantage of having several bass drivers - two nine-inch woofers in this case. Would like to hear them. $16k puts them right in there with the others mentioned. Do like they appear to be easier to drive.

Finally, as I've talked about before, I've been to many audio shows in the last 3-4 years. That to say that it is possible I've heard one or both of these speakers in the past. If I walk into a room and it makes my ears hurt OR conversely there's no snap, I don't hang around long. Just because all this high-end speakers are positioned in a room does not mean that they are paired with the right gear or that the person who set them up got it right. Maybe I'll get to hear them at some point.

And of course, YMMV. Have fun with the hunt.
anyone compared Harbeth 40.2 vs KEF Blade or KEF ref 3?

Twoleftears > VA Listz, In short, they checked all the audiophile boxes

Blindjim > Really great input. I deeply appreciate it. Very cool.

Hopefully, someone will chime in on the Gibbons, if only in general.

As well, how well do tube amps handle the KEF Blade’s and VA upper end speakers.

Each article I’ve seen indicates the VA Music and Listz were run by only SS power.

It seems to me, merely from my own EXP and specs of various speakers, tube amps will work yet the question remains therafter, how well with how little? How much will it take to get the larger bass drivers into the mix?

Since I found out about the facet of having enough watts on hand to actually control the drivers competently, it is an easy enough task to hear when a system would benefit from amps that could deliver more current. On the flip side, too much ‘control’, or too much power, seems to help dry out the tones or timbers of the notes. Albeit, its said frequently one can not have too much power as it aids shooing away possible clipping episodes which can really damage a driver.

Apart from the obvious issues in matching amps with speakers adequately, then appropriately, and in best case scenarios proficiently, nailing down   the right amount of power, consequent control and of course voice, for the speaker system has enough variables to confound many who are still awaiting the answer from the knife juggling constantly bickering squirrels in our heads.

Of course, this could just be myself that has a frantic furry colony of semi dangerous critters vociferously debating the route to audio paradise.

Just to expand on that point: I first heard the Liszt's driven by the solid-state 60W integrated from Ayre.  And they sounded great.  They sounded better, needless to say, when we moved up to the more powerful and much more expensive AX-5.  Now as it happens, I used to have the AX-7 in my system.  It was replaced not too long ago by a Cronus Magnum II, 100W tubed, which to my ears (both left) sounds a good deal better.  So yes, tubes may indeed apply, though probably not the flea-watt models (that I also love: a classic Cary owner for many years).

Go to the thread  "Just retired and want to get back to vinyl listening" and see comments on 09-21-2017 1:35pm by Steventoney for a few comments as you read down on the Gibbon X.
I like the Gibbon X very much in my listen 2 weeks ago or so -- I go back tomorrow to the shop to pick a TT I’ll take with me on my move -- still working on the Integrated Amp and Speaker final choices -- after move...

I will listen to some other speakers -- but right now at the top of the list are Devore - Harbeth - Audio Note -- I listened to Gibbon X - M30.1 - AN-E -- will listen to the Devore O/93 tomorrow and re-listen to Gibbon X

I would like to listen to the larger Devore and Harbeth models O/96 and 40.2 -- will see if I can find a place after moving..

Would need to find something that really floors me to move off one of those 3 brands -- I want to keep speakers less than 14-15K at stretch -- may well shoot for 10-12K or so

Twoleftears > I first heard the Liszt's driven by the solid-state 60W integrated from Ayre. And they sounded great. They sounded better, needless to say, when we moved up to the more powerful and much more expensive AX-5.

Blindjim > interesting. The Cronus Magnum II never did push the Listz though, did they?

pokey77 > Go to the thread "Just retired and want to get back to vinyl listening"

blindjim > Super! Thanks much. I will try.
Thanks also for the update on room size and so forth I missed earlier. Many great thoughts there. Yes indeed. It is so true about gear and synergy… setup… matching gear and matching all that to a room… and cleaning up power so it does not adversely affect the audio by bleaching it...

I look as said here and nearly always when I post, the sound of what ever put together rig ahs to grab me quickly. Or soon. I don’t care if the speakers are gang busting immagers or not. Not just then. Its all about timber, and organics. Naturalness. Reality. One always knows it when one hears it. If there’s balance in the strike or leading edges and the decays too I’m definitely interested. But the tone or color of the instrument has to be alluring.

Then I’ll start trying to disassemble the outfit accounting for that or this as to its influence on the sound.

Maybe it is from decaying sight. Perhaps its because I was a musician for a pretty good while. Who knows and who really cares. The sound does have to alert me some way, some how for me to go further with it all.

I’ve heard great components individually of great reputations, compiled . together with a life sucking power line conditioner and not been impressed one iota. Albeit, in spite of some really soul sucking pieces, been able to forgive the overall and pursue the one or two items in the array that did matter. In fact bought them thereafter right off these pages. Piece by piece. Johnny Cash style.

It does seem however to ALWAYS come down to this…. Even great speakers will never do their best presentation until what is in front of them gets elevated significantly. It has ALWAYS followed too that if the upstream products are spot on performers already, many less than ultra expensive speakers will sound outstanding. Provided they are at least ‘honest’ and cohesive or coherent in the bandwidth..

Hence my philosophy for spending more on power and front ends, than on speakers… 90% of the time.

Teventoney > I like the Gibbon X very much
    > I Would need to find something that really floors me to move off one of those 3 brands -- I want to keep speakers less than 14-15K

Blindjim > I would be tremendously grateful for your input on the X’s and what was used to drive them in what size room.

After your audition, if you would not mind posting those thoughts I’d sure appreciate it.

I had the impression prior to reading your thoughts here that the Gib X’s were the top Devore product. True it is not as sensitive as the 96s looking at the spec sheets..

I saw a used pr of Gibbons listed recently. Harbeths and AE too.

I feel your pain on the which ‘INT” to get as well. Nice ones are sure not inexpensive. You are absolutely correct on which amp to what spkr too. Be true to yourself there. It will make you happy or ready to sell it soon. With the Devore or Audio notes, I’d be inclined to really go off on some smoking SET amps.

I don’t know how ‘polite’ or easy sounding Harbeths are though I suspect an INT with tubes somewhere should work if there is 150 wpc or more, for moderate sized rooms. Less in smaller, more in larger ones.

As for ‘stretching’ the buying dollar, if it were me, I’d take cash if possible. Cash has no hidden fees like plastic, bank transfers or PayPal. RWV


Jim, totally agree with you on top notch electronics enabling average speakers to sound "outstanding". I've heard it a few times and have realized that to short change yourself on quality components just short changes you on sound.


Thanks for coming in and providing your insight. Much appreciated. Looking forward to hearing more about the Gibbon Xs.

Yes indeed. Thanks very much for any and all feedback on either harbeth or devore speakers. Especially the Harbeth 30, 40, and Gibbon X and what amp pushes them in how big a room.

I tagged into that thread you mentioned. Thanks much.
Reading thru it I’m surprised no one interjected the notion of a Prima Luna INT as an option. The latest ver I read about says it is remarkably flexible with tube rolling. Thought it had a phono section too. $5k new. ## the distributor is out there on the left coast too in upscale audio.

Another thing took me while reading thru the posts there, analog. Watching youtube vids of mike Fremer on TTs got my attention. The associated ancillary gear needed for TTs puts me back off. Fremere’s input and setup videos were very interesting at any event.

It is undeniable fact. Without an exemplary well heeled signal speakers just don’t matter how great they are. Otherwise, we would be buying high dollar speakers and using androids and iPhones to run them or using any turntable and something like a Bose radio. Or Sony boom box.

It disturbs me too the speaker first club saying the best place is to start there always.

Nearly anything in the MSRP $5 to $8K range especially the popular sorts should be a fine enough starting place. If used, all the better. maybe. They should be decent enough especially in the mids and upper ends to hear the upstream changes or additions when where ever applied!

Then sell them when you’re ready for bigger and or better. Simple.

Then you have the amp you like a lot and just tote it along to audition speakers if home listening is out of the equation and the shop has nothing remotely similar to your’s..

Another reason for speakers being the final destination is speaker tech. it moves nearly as quickly as does digital tech. four to five years out your units are bordering being outdated. Although it doesn’t mean ‘time to buy the latest greatest” either.

There is an arguable trap we lay for ourselves with supposed ‘keeper’ speakers. When or if, its time to sell them.

Do ‘em like cars? Or do ‘em like schooters? Sell em off every two years or so, or keep ‘em regardless.

Both perspectives cost money. Sadly, quite often, one costs much more.

It appears we never really own our gear, we simply rent or lease it.

Unless of course it is tube amps. In that game we only have to rent the tubes.


Hey Jim,
I've heard several Prima Luna integrateds: the Prologue Classic and the Dialogue Premium HP. Both are quite good. Check out this thread for tons of comments.

Enjoy reading all the comments but look for Kevin's comments (upscaleaudio). As you'll notice from reading the thread, I was at this shoot out. There were three integrateds in the shootout:  the Prologue Classic, Dialogue Premium HP, and an Audio Research Vsi75. In a blind test, I chose the  Dialogue Premium HP with the ARC a very close second. In fact, they all three sounded much more similar than they did different. The three integrateds were played through Sopra 2s and it was the first time that I've heard that speaker sound good. If you have any questions, LMK.

pokey77 > The three integrateds were played through Sopra 2s and it was the first time that I've heard that speaker sound good.

Blindjim > tubes usually make so so sounding speakers sound far better. Usually. If they can push them. (see my latest thread on mega watt amp & low imp spkrs what’s this all about and why). The current conspiracy to eradicate demonstrably, lower powered amps of any kind by speaker makers is seeing to that.

During the shoot out, did Kevin ever stop talking? Back in ’05 to ’07 as I was getting rid of my biases or just setting them aside for a bit, and looking into tubes I called upscale for info on tubes. Got to talk… er, listen to KD about them. Albert Von S was the same way. They talk. You listen. Maybe they will answer your Q. maybe not. However, it was usually interesting, but frustrating at the same time. Lol

I’ve listend to Deal’s youtube vids on a few things, mostly PL. youtube is a new venue IMO for gathering info from the ‘horse’s mouth’ as you get to hear designers and equipment makers , forum promoters, reviewers, etc. I like nearly all I’ve seen so far. The PSA input is very cool.

I suppose an item which concerns me on this amp & speaker stalk, is control of the bottom end on what ever speaker I like in all other respects. I’m possibly over emphasizing this as I feel adept control of the drivers a key to immediacy and realism.

That said, it worries me to keep 100wpc tube amps or less on the top part of the short list as I look at speakers. Sure, even substantially less watts will make most speakers produce noise. At some level. Some will sound decent too. A few given better matching will sound very very good. Although, until the power amp can fully embrace the speaker satisfying its needs fully, the best that speaker has to offer isn’t gonna be heard…. IMHO.

Stanley turrentine has a track which leads by a bass drum softly tapping to the beat. With 93db 6 – 8ohm units and a BAT 250wpc amp it was easy to hear this intro. With 60wpc EL34 monos on the same speakers it was invisible.

Bob james group Fourplay > Heartfelt > café l’amore, a woman whispers very softly as the percussion sets the mood. She speaks only a few words. ‘Fire’ is distinguishable. After that the words are less intelligible with less power.

Subtle meaningless cues of course, but it points out my inference for revealing more sonics with better control or more power. Either scenario tube plus SS amp or tubes throughout was were equally enjoyable.

I simply found this facet eye opening.

Best case scenario? Have two power plants available. . others may say have two entirely different rigs. I doubt I want to get that deep this go ‘round.

For me, ARC is not an option just as Van der’s are not.

Sure would hate to lean on a desire and ignore the truth being dealt, not by the amp but by the speakers actual needs.

Ten trillion speakers s out there and its fascinating how quickly that herd is culled when preffs and power needs and room size, and esthetics and budget come into the mix, ain’t it? Sheesh. still more than curious as to what might be done as a prelude to

erecting the main rig by getting in an EL34 amp (40 - ??wpc) PL? and a pr of 2 way monitors, Andrew Jones? All of modest heritages. Its why I vie PL as a sincere option. Its versatility with rolling tube types alone would be very educational. Maybe fun too. My EGGO says the office needs its own decent outfit.

What’s the real kicker here? That fella in the INT thread you sent me to, listened to the Gibbon X in False church VA. I stayed there when I had to go to D.C. back in April. I never even considered that area for auditioning gear. Lol. Amazing. It was a quick in and out legal affair anyhow. My mind wasn’t in the right place. But now I know. DC is very ‘spensive. Whoa.


blindjim - "tubes usually make so so sounding speakers sound far better" Pokey77 - I have heard the Sopra 2s with tubes a few times and solid state alot. I think it was Rogue tubes if I recall correctly. In any event, it was very analytical and shrill. I don't think any electronics could put the Sopra 2s in my wheelhouse. But who knows?

blindjim - "During the shoot out, did Kevin ever stop talking?"  Pokey77 - Actually, he just described what he was doing with setup, what the system consisted of, and then would leave the room while we listened to each of the three integrateds. He neither tried to influence the attendees or foist a sales pitch on us. It was very fair. After the shootout was over, he pulled the covers and showed us the internal parts. He did point out what items were in each component but did not try to sway our opinion of build quality; he let us each do that on our own. In the end, the two PL products were very musical and they essentially sounded like the twice-as-expensive ARC product. And you know I love ARC gear.

blindjim - "Although, until the power amp can fully embrace the speaker satisfying its needs fully, the best that speaker has to offer isn’t gonna be heard…. IMHO." You are absolutely correct.

As I mentioned before. My most recent demo was Sabrina's with Nagra Classic Amp/Pre + dCS Debussy DAC. Also substituted the D'Agostino Classic Stereo amp in the same system. With the DAG it seemed as if the bass was over damped and lost it's texture. With the lower-powered Nagra both my friend and I felt the music and speaker was better served. I don't think that the Sabrina's needed all the control the DAG could give.

I think the PL option is a very good choice. I'd go with the Dialogue Premium HP if PL is found to synergize with your speaker choice. It was very good. Would make a killer office setup but I can tell you the PL stuff runs plenty hot; Kevin did mention that PL stuff runs the tubes very lighlty vs. most of the competition. You may have seen the story where a PL integrated was left on for at least six months. Kevin had him send in the tubes and they tested at 90%. The proof seems to be in the pudding.

I'd like to hear the Gibbon X and the new Super Nine. Hoping to see some comments show up here on the 'Gon soon.

Happy Sunday and happy search Jim
pokey77 >
…. Rogue tubes & Sopra 2s - it was very analytical and shrill. I don't think any electronics could put the Sopra 2s in my wheelhouse.

Blindjim > My only EXP with the Focal line was with their 900 series in a dismally poor setup. Krell HT amp, monster wires, yeech. On rep alone, I figured their upper lines deserved some attention. Focal can show with anyone’s elecs I suppose. I keep seeing them paired with VAC though. Hmmm.

….Kevin Deal did point out what items were in each component but did not try to sway our opinion of build quality; he let us each do that on our own.

Blindjim > Super! My jest of KD was not meant as a derogatory slight at all. (input for the thinner skinned demographic. lol)

…. In the end, the two PL products were very musical and they essentially sounded like the twice-as-expensive ARC product. And you know I love ARC gear.

Blindjim > ARC. I’ve been getting that impression.
My question here would be on the manner in which the PL was or were running as I thought they could be switched between SET and PP. were they in SET, or ultralinear – PP, in this comparison? I suspect the latter, not the former.

…. don't think that the Sabrina's needed all the control the DAG could give.

Blindjim > Interesting. Sonic or timberal accuracy IMO is not always one’s truest preff. Bass for EX below the low tones of piano and dog house bass or about 40Hz comes in thumps, whacks, and bumps, a lot. My first sub was well, ‘wooly’, compared to my Velodyne DD 15. Bass tones with tubes and loudspeakers in general was less pointed. Less leading edge, more emphasis on decays perhaps. Naturally this result can be ‘tightened’ up different ways. Depending on the recording of course. For quite some time, I actually enjoyed the less obtrusive softer ‘woolier’ lower end presentation. That is, until I experienced greater truth in that area.

I also found out in there somewhere, one can have ‘too much of a good thing’ now and then.

The bottom end does more than attend to its own precinct. It influences and can amend the mid bass and mids, removing some details and or reduces   or hampers transparency there as well. Most noticeably with vocals.

..…. PL option is a very good choice. …. the PL stuff runs plenty hot

Blindjim > This is why I wonder if SET was in play.
Past tube amps and Class A amps have shown me additional cooling is more than likely another area of need if I roll down that hill again.

Thru all the setups I’ve endured or been able to listen to, I’ve found the wires and if in the mis, Power line condidtioning are important areas to take notice of as to who’s who and where.

I’ve been lucky in that each of my own PLCs are all passive. Each time I’ve listened to remarkably expensive setups which use active power line conditioning or altering, I’ve periodically been underwhelmed. Something somehow in that mix was reducing the color within the tones. For lack of a better word, ‘bleaching’ the notes. Absorbing a portion of life notes should possess.

I’ve been reading up on Allmic, and Burning amps lately. A noteable hybrid or two, and what I can find online of Nagra.

My satisfaction will come from attaining what I believe music sounds like. Period. At the end of the day, IMO, tubes should have the luster tubes indemically demonstrate. Tube amps should not at all be found to duplicate SS. Ever. If a system is indistinguishable from one to the other, why do it at all?

Folks relent regularly on ‘distortion’ present with tube amps. So? Distortion is a viable part of what we hear in live music. Amplified or acoustic. This is inescapable. It’s the degree of distortion which should be contested, not its presence. Romance and euphony have their place. Although maybe not in every song’s recreation.

I want Def Lepoard and AC DC to resound without those attributes. Krall, Hartman, Coltrane, Martin, Koz, Holiday, Fitzgerald, well then yes, if it is received as a positive trait the tune can carry.

There in a nutshell is the dichotomy many including me wrestle with continuously. Adoring the traits SET amps present, but still desirous of speed, nimbleness, and honesty in a well heeled sophisticated coherent and cohesive production. The undeniable solution of course is to simply have two individual setups, one SET, and one simple, yes, but afforadable? Well, not immediately.

I’m toying with the notion of incorporating a TT source. Eventually. I”ve got a couple hundred LPs which might not yet be frisbies or Skeet targets. The enormity of expense in that area gives me a weak feeling in my stomach just thinking about it all. Wow. $4K just for a record cleaning device!! Good Golly Miss Molly!

Always see what wires and PLC is in the mix. They definitely contribute to what you are hearing.

With the correct tubes, am amp can sound and perform like it is something else entirely. If you aren’t careful you’re gonna talk yourself into those Sabrinas.

RE 9s & Xs (tens) yes. me too. I bet it will be next sprng or summer before info filters onto the various forums and mags about their comparisons..
I feel like we're kinda doing this backwards -- starting with four speakers and trying to see which ones you might like.  As I'm reading through responses I'm getting bits and pieces about what you like, what's important to you, and you're actually looking for in a speaker, but it's hard to pull it all together.  I think it would be more efficient and effective if you could summarize where you stand on these critical points so we have a more focused picture of what you're looking for, and then we'll be in a much better position to provide informed and targeted feedback and recommendations.  Just my $0.02. 

Soix > I think it would be more efficient and effective if you could summarize where you stand on these critical points so we have a more focused picture of what you're looking for.

Blindjim > many thanks. Let me know which points you need clarification on and I’d be happy to provide them.

My preffs and desires, and a general vicinity of what I’ll spend is pretty well outlined in my Keeper speakers under $25K thread and a similar one on amps costing $15K posted fairly close together. About a month or so ago.

My original intention was to put together a new or mostly from new pieces, a main system. Upgrading and updating from what I have left over and onto what is reputedly better now.

Two main areas are amps and speakers. Neither of which do I presently own class A items, as you put it, but will buy ?? in the not too distant future. Likely spring or summer 2018. Sooner if at all possible.

These four speaker makers interest me though they are not the only ones. I like the idea of tubes and reasonably eff speakers and have had that previously. This time I simply want it all on a bit higher level.

My system philosophy is source > power > speakers. In that order. More $$$ to less $$$$. Neither am I really opposed to buying used at any point however, given the amounts or levels of build and or quality, I’m a bit reticent to lay out five digit dough on pre-owned until I see it first hand… or it comes from an incredibly strong seller where I have recourse.

I’ve a few medical roadblocks in my path just now preventing me from traveling so there’s plenty of time to attempt to get a feel for some things and pondering the overall budget.

Naturally speakers and amps are not the whole shooting match as wires and racks or stands and so forth will be needed as will room acoustics.

I’d like very much to know about these listed herein, general presentations. As stated in the introduction. Are KEF & BW similar in sound and power needs? Are Vienna Acs warm or dead neutral? And do they really need loads of power? What about the Gibbon tens, I only know from specs they won’t need big amps, but some watts, yet nothing on their lower ends or tweeters presentations. I’ve heard a few Wilson’s inclduding Sophias I & II. A number of other speakers that I have not mentioned as I’m really not a fan given past auditions.

I would prefer a speaker system which can operate fully on amps with 200wpc and less outputs.if much less, all the better as tube monos might well be the direction I’d prefer to go.

That said, I’m not a tube ONLY guy. SS works for me too. The idea is to get as much of ‘they are here’ as is possible. If not that, then as much of “I am there’ as is possible.

I listen to everything but Rap – hip Hop – urban Jazz, and Electronica.

Looks are important. Maybe too much. Esthetically, I like each of the ones listed here. Others as well but felt getting a shot at hearing these would be a much easier task then some of the others I’m keen on like Martins or Verity’s just for example.

I’m not a card carrying detail freak. That said, I love a presentation that is jaw dropping foot tapping, all smiles, near tangible. Superb imaging and sound staging are high on my list, as is timberal accuracy. If it doesn’t sound natural across the bandwidth and have a bottom end that kicks, I’m not going to be too interested.

A super easy sounding tweeter is a real key. I’m real sensitive to highs and still have very good range of hearing so if its hot up top. I’m usually out quickly.

Won’t have enough room nor the disposition to bring in tall speakers. 4ft. or so should be sufficient. I’d use subs if all else in the speakers were top flight on all accounts but they had problems down below.
Again, let me know what you would like me to further illuminate and I will.


Check this thread out if you have not already.

I think all three amps were playing in the same mode to keep the contest equal. I believe Kevin talked about it but I've forgotten.

"If you aren’t careful you’re gonna talk yourself into those Sabrinas." Right now it is between them and the smaller MBLs. MBL is what got me to really consider buying a new system. I've just had many more chances to hear the Sabrina's than the MBLs in the last year or two.

"My satisfaction will come from attaining what I believe music sounds like. Period." That is my goal. I'm just hoping to make one last move that gets me as close as possible to that.

pokey77> Thanks for the link. This was one thread I was able to search for and find a couple weeks ago.. I tagged it today and asked a Q or two.

sometimes, with the exact thread name, Google will find it and that path is very easy.

Since A’gon changed the site back in ’10 or so, navigating and especially searching for specific items gives me significant trouble. My adaptive or accessiblility software won’t locate or read some of the buttons or controls I need to use. They seem to have become invisiblethe site was not written adequately enough. . Now and then I can find them visually. Its tedious.

One thing I’ve found as absolutely true is once you hear something that blows you away, if at all possible, buy it. Trying to resemble it, or emulate it will never duplicate it.

That has happened to me only once. I did try to recreate it with portions of that rig. It came off very well, a good while later, but not with the voice I heard from the orig system. I’ve accounted for this in plenty of threads and my reviews on the Thor TPA 1000 MK II, Silverline Sonata IIIs and Dodd monos, respectively.

When I had the chance, I should have bought a pr of the Thor PA30s. circumstances did not permit so I went the way I could. Eventually it became very satisfying. Then life bit me where it hurts for a while and well, here we are again.

I suspect too, as is said around here, even a ‘turn key’ setup ain’t gonna sound identical to how it sounded at where ever, once it is in our listening room. I would venture it would be mighty close though. Maybe better, maybe not. But awfully close. Close enough to tweek into shape I’d think.

If MBL is what pushes your hot button, buy MBL. Even if it hurts a little at first. If its at all do-able. This is of course, dependant upon just how pedantic with some things you may be.

I’m totally unfamiliar with MBL whatsoever. Are they di poles? I seem to recall a review that alluded to the reviewer traveling to MBL to listen to a certain recording thru MBL amps & Focal Grands at the factory, then returning to listen to a lesser outfitted rig but with similar amps or speakers… yeah, maybe it was MBL amps I was reading about.

Its now been such a long while for me, having anything well above average would work … for a pretty good bit of time. Eventually, knowing me, I’m gonna want to get ‘real’ about a pretty nice SET outfit. This is why I’m more interested in speakers that can do very well with lower powered amps as the ‘best’ of all possible scenarios to wind up in. Remaining open minded on this point is troubling, but I’m hoping its not impossible.

Maybe its as simple as seeing potential in a system, or component. Unquestionably it’s the speakers you hear though it is as well the system’s components too. As I’ve said, if the speakers are kicking out glory, they need to be recognized as mighty good speakers despite the rest of the components based solely on ‘performance and potential’.

The only time I’m willing to be contrary to this notion and dismiss Heavenly sounding speakers is when the stuff upstream of them has too much ‘can’taffordium’ or a lot of ‘unobtaininum’ in their builds. That is until I can hear them with more ‘down to earth’ gear pushing them.

Woo. Best sound I’ve ever heard!! Yeah, but who can afford the 200K worth of goods sitting upstream? Again, its not merely the speakers making the jaw dropping noises and that part is easy to forget when looking ‘just’ for speakers.