Down graded, with fantastic results

I sold some gear recently to raise some cash. I sold a pair of Cary/AES Six Pacs mono amps, a Cary/AES DJH preamp and a pair of B&W 703 speakers. I purchased a pair of Tyler Acoustic Ref. monitors and a Jolida 302b integrated amp to go along with my Jolida CD player, all wired with Signal cable speakers. My wife does not usually comment on the "sound" of our system, but last night when the Jolida amp finally arrived, she loved the sound of it. I must admit, it does sound fantastic! And at a fraction of the cost of my former gear! $2,050 is the cost of the new stuff. $6,200 was the cost of the AES and B&W gear.
Congrats! Just goes to show ya that you don't have to spend a set amount of money to acheive the sound you want.
It's too bad you didn't replace the speakers first, and then the amplification components. I would like to have gotten some insight as to which component change caused a greater improvement. Oh well... Enjoy!
Sounds like you did very well!I have a Jolida 102B that is a very good sounding little int. The great thing about the Jolida is that you can have it modded to a pretty high level as the design is a very good one,this was told to me from a tech that works for VAC,the easiest thing you can do to improve the sound is to roll the tubes,that alone will give you a nice improvement!Ive never heard the Tylers,but they have a great reputation,ill bet your system does sound very good!Ray
Good for you. This hobby is at its best when we don't spend an arm and a leg and get sound that pleases us. It is most frustrating when we spend a large sum of money and don't get what we are expecting. Good Luck and enjoy the music.

Congrats on the Jolida. It is an excellent amp for the price. And it responds very well to tube rolling. In my case it replaced $2800 worth of solid state electronics.

Hi Gretsch6120,

I always like to hear stories like that and I applaud your wise choices. Those SignalCables are great wires, especially for the price, as I'm sure you've found. :)
sounds like you have enough for that new guitar???simple systems sound the best,imho!
Yes indeed, purchased a new Gibson 175, jazz box! My new stuff is awesome! It has such sweet, beautiful mids. I was listening to some Wes Montgomery, he was IN my living room. Next came "American Beauty" by the Grateful Dead, the HDCD remaster, another fantastic listening experience. Now, my old gear was very nice, maybe a bit more bass slam, but my new stuff is warmer and more intimate sounding, if that makes sence. The Tyler Acoustics throw such a huge sound stage.
Good on'ya man! The 302B was my first tubed integrated. I enjoyed the heck out of it too. I'll second the recommendation to roll tubes in it, especially the EL34's. I really don't believe you have to spend a ton of money to have a very engaging system. Congrats and enjoy!

Gretsch6120 ... now, if you can only ignore the urge to "upgrade" when it starts to gnaw at you! It happens to everyone ... all that new gear, some attractive prices on AGon used components, the certainty that for just a few more dollars you'll find Audio Nirvana ... when the system you have, the one you've put together and love, is exceedingly satisfying! You've found inner peace ... work hard to keep it!
Jax2, what would recommend for EL34's?
I recently did the same thing and am more satisfied with my system now than ever. I went all Signal cable as well and I went with Tyler Freedom series speakers. Those are two things we have in common with our "downgrades". I really like the Tylers alot - extremely musical. Great sound with minimal cash outlay feels really good.

I agree with the system upgrade! I must fight that urge! One thing that I will upgrade are the speakers. Tyler Acoustic's upgrade plan is a no brainer. 100% of your money back toward an upgrade, you can't beat that. While I love my Ref. Montiors, I know that I will love one of his bigger models even more!
Jax2, what would recommend for EL34's

Just the swtich from the mediocre Chinese tubes to some decent Russian tubes like Svetlana or JJ Teslas would be an improvement. If you want to spend some serious money go for NOS Mullards, but buy from a reputible tube dealer (The Tube Store, Vintage Tube, VTV...or?). For a more modest price the 1990's JJ Teslas in the blue and yellow boxes are damn fine for the money.

I do agree that it does not take much of a cash outlay to get good & even very good sound in the home environment. The sound with relatively inexpensive equipment is, in general, a bigger compromise than some well-designed hi-end gear but the compromises are quite livable. I've often seen people happier w/ smaller systems (what they call a down-grade) than they were w/ their prev hi-(sp)end gear. Is it possible that these people, who down-graded, are listening to music now rather than the sound of their 2-ch? They seem to forget about the electronics & the speakers & seem to be enjoying the music emanating from the system as a whole. This seems to be a major reason in my mind for a happier audio-enthusiast who "down-graded". Actually, in my mind, he/she "upgraded"!!

I have a JoLida 502A that is heavily modified so I can speak a bit about the JoLida sound I get from this amp. it just might be similar to the 302B. Yes, I know that the 502A uses 6550/KT88 while the 302B uses EL34s. So, I'm not comparing tube sounds.
Both the 502A & 302B use plenty (atleast in my mind!) of GLOBAL negative feedback! I've got the 502A sch & it's very easy to see this. The 502A measures very nicely on the bench but the global -ve feedback has an effect on the overall sound: dark & broody & closed-in. The soundstage is also closed-in/2-D. The sound is limited to the width of the speaker separation. Playing w/ the speaker position did not improve the sound by too much. After the mods were made, the sound opened up but nothing like it should be for an amp of such a well-known topology that could exist w/o any global feedback. One has to to hear another amp that does not have any global negative feedback to realize what I'm saying. To this effect I wish that you has retained the AES Sixpacs. They have a feedback on/off switch. Perhaps you played w/ this switch while you owned the Sixpacs? If you did, could you tell the difference in sound?
IMHO, getting rid of Sixpacs was a big mistake. It easily bests the 302B in every respect.
Anyway, I've lived w/ my JoLida since Jan 2005 & I gained this insight over a period of time. The JoLida amps are not the best implementation of this well-known amp topology. I also feel that paying so much for the mods to some 3rd party company is throwing good money after bad - it's a total waste knowing the way JoLida implemented the design. For this same amount of money (for a brand new amp) my gut feeling is that one can do better - getting a used Pathos or a used Viva or a new Primaluna or a Sugden or an Audio Refinement represents a much better choice. As a used unit, however, the JoLida is excellent.
Global negative feedback?! I'm talking about listening to music. Getting rid of the Six Pacs was not a mistake, while I really enjoyed them, but I am enjoying listening to MUSIC just as much with my Jolida. That is a problem with the audiophile public; some of us tend to focus too much on analyzing gear as opposed to listening to music.
Bombaywalla - please don't take my comments personal, I just find people tend to focus on gear and not the actual music.
As an addendum to the tube recommendations: I should note that New Sensor has reissued a Mullard EL34 (they bought the rights to use the name and have tried to reproduce that famous tube). I have no idea how well it does that though, but it's a whole lot cheaper than NOS.

As far as Bombaywalla's experiences, my perceptions of the stock 502 Jolida I've listened to fairly extensively and in comparison to other two other amps does not resemble the description above (but Bomb's was highly modified). I found the stock amp neither "dark and brooding" nor to have a "2D soundstage" (though I wouldn't say they were champions of depth). It does give more emphasis to the lower end than the 302 and tends to have perhaps a 'fuller' sound for that reason. The 302 posesses more midrange magic and is a bit more light and airy in comparison. I thought both to be fine amps for the money (in stock form). No experience with the AES six packs (nor modified Jolidas), but yes, I'm sure there are many amps that can do things differently/better, and it takes pretty basic experience and or informed speculation to start listing them. But I say, if you're happy and you know it....clap your hands! If your enjoying the music that's saying a whole lot. Don't let others, or your own wee grey matter start spoiling that for you. If you go driving down the road in your new Honda Accord thinking about how much better the experience may be in a Mercedes, well, you'll never enjoy all the good things you could about driving the Accord. Heck you may even cause an accident thinking about that damn Mercedes...whoa, HEY, WATCH OUT! RED LIGHT!

Carpe diem!

the global -ve feedback has an effect on the overall sound: dark & broody & closed-in. The soundstage is also closed-in/2-D. The sound is limited to the width of the speaker separation. Playing w/ the speaker position did not improve the sound by too much.

From my experience switching back and forth between employing global negative feedback and not employing global negative feedback, Bobywalla's description of the effects of global negative feedback is pretty darn close to my experience.

While I can enjoy the music with global negative feedback, my enjoyment increases when there is no negative feedback. The music comes alive, extends wider and further into the room, and becomes more real. It enhances the musical experience, not just the audiophile experience. Amps that offer an option to switch or adjust global feedback settings have a leg up over those that don't, IMO.
Re. your comments about trading up from a Honda Accord to a Mercedes Benz - that's *NOT* what I wrote (if you'd care to read my orig post again). I was talking about taking the same amount of money & buying a better implemented amp. So, I was talking about a lateral move. If you want to use an auto simile then maybe Honda Accord to Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima?
"Global negative feedback?! I'm talking about listening to music."
Now, you have me stumped & speech-less!!! (err...word-less)
Bomb - You may have misunderstood my point; What I was suggesting is that there is a arguably a "better" version of virtually anything you choose to buy (or any direction you choose to take in this life for that matter). I used the example I did because it was an obvious extreme. My point was that you can sit around looking at all the "faults" of what you have in life, or what you have chosen, OR you can accept and enjoy what you have, realizing it's pretty damn amazing, and stop wasting your time thinking about what you had, could have, should have, etc. IMO the latter is a tremendous waste of time and energy. Yes, if you want to put it on the level of a specific Toyota, that cost the same as your Honda being an arguably "better" choice, it is STILL a tremendous waste of time and energy IMO. What's the point? Why would you want to point out what is 'half-empty' in someone elses glass, rather than help them celebrate the stuff that fills their glass?!? I did read your original post quite thoroughly, thank you.

Like Gretsch perhaps, I don't really care what the mechanism(s) in the background is that actually causes the music to sound good. My ideal (probably like most of us here) is to have the mechanisms disappear entirely, and I find that dwelling on such details just take me further away from being in the moment (enjoying the music). I do know enough about such things as you speak of to be a menace to myself and society in general. Not sure what good it does to dwell upon the why's and wherefors, I'd rather enjoy the music as well in this case. I know there will always be some product out there that does certain things "better" than the one I have. Yes, I have heard the difference between an amp with adjustable global feedback. I owned one (a Mesa Baron). Though I agree with the observations regarding Global Feedback in general, I'm not sure that it would occur to me to share them here, no more than it would sharing any particular knowledge of details of other products unrelated to the one the poster is enjoying. Nor would it occur to me to share the opinion that he made a mistake (given his celebration of his decision I can hardly understand that position nor the inclination to share it).

Bombaywalla - All I ment was I do not want to get into the analytical side of audio equipment, I just want to be happy with what I have and spend my $$ on music. BTW - what are your musical preferences? I enjoy jazz, (which really shines on my new gear), blues, old rock and roll and Cajun/zydeco (I play guitar in a zydeco band).
Hi Gretsch,

some tubes I liked on my Jolida 302b:

Powertubes: SED (Svetlana) EL43 or JJ E34L
I liked the SED a bit more than the JJ, smoother highs, a little softer bass, deeper soundstage. However, I had a couple of SED failing after very short time, with the JJ being very stable.

Preamp and driver tubes (my favorite combination)
12AX7 1970s Tesla E83CC Frame Grid gold pin
12AT7 1980s Mullard CV4024
Altnernatively the EH 12AX7 gold pin worked quite well also. Not as nice as the Tesla, but still good.

Preamp and driver tubes (alternative combination)
12AX7 1980s Jan GE 5751
12AT7 19??s BRIMAR 6060 T-Series Black Plates

Enjoy the Jolida! With the right speakers it is a great amp! And tube rolling is great for managing your upgrade urges...

I must answer your post w/ some caution because there are aspects of which I agree with & yet disagree w/ some aspects as they apply to audio.

"My point was that you can sit around looking at all the "faults" of what you have in life, or what you have chosen, OR you can accept and enjoy what you have....."
yes, I agree w/ this strategy, in general. It does make life more enjoyable to live.

"Why would you want to point out what is 'half-empty' in someone elses glass, rather than help them celebrate the stuff that fills their glass?!?"
Well, now that I agreed to your 1st statement above, why would I not agree to this statement?
Isn't the whole point of being on an audio forum to improve oneself as audiophile in terms of improving one's ability to discriminate correct sound from just plain, old sound? If that's not the case, why aren't all of us buying Bose, JVC, Hitachi or some other mass-fi electronics & reveling in the fact that it sounds pretty darned good? You might come back & tell me that you KNOW that it doesn't sound that good? Well, how did you learn that? By somebody else helping you to celebrate your purchase of some mass-fi electronics?
When & if you do this, Marco, you are doing your fellow audiophile the biggest dis-favour! You are telling him/her that it's OK to be mediocre & to like 2nd-rate sound & to never uplift himself/herself to a higher plain to sonics.
I can bet that you have learnt a lot hanging out on Audiogon thru the collective experiences of the other members. I'm sure that has helped you grow as an audiophile. I can confirm this for myself - I have many members here to thank for my growth as an audiophile. If they hadn't kicked me when I made a mistake or concluded incorrectly, I would have still reveled in some mass-fi gear!
That was my point to Gretsch6120 in my orig post - the underlying message to him was to understand what the JoLida represents in terms of its sonics. How various design choices made by the manuf affect sound. And, if he ever wanted to get better sonics, what to look-out for in his next purchase.
I really think that being on an audio forum is to make us all better audiophiles who understand better what makes our gear tick + how to get better sound from what we buy + provide feedback to manuf so that they manuf gear that best reproduces correct sound 'cuz they know that the buyer knows what correct sound is. It's a symbiotic relationship & we all grow. To let someone revel in 2nd-rate sound is "dumbing" him.
Perhaps you do not agree w/ this line of reasoning? So be it! Then we agree to disagree. We can have diff viewpoints & still be cordial to each other. I'm very much OK w/ that, Marco.

"All I ment was I do not want to get into the analytical side of audio equipment,..."
Unfortunately, 2-ch audio (or any audio) is electronics. Choices made in how the electronics has a direct affect on your enjoyment or lack of. I feel that it's much better to understand what you have & enjoy it w/ better/complete knowledge of why the sound it is like it is rather than enjoying it in ignorance. Ignorance might be a bliss; but, ignorance IS ignorance.
Just because you delve into some of the analytical aspects does not mean that you cannot enjoy the music! Why are these 2 things mutually exclusive?
Remember, I NEVER said that you analyze the sound each time your system comes on! What I said was to understand why you get the sound that you get.
Ok, I think that I have said enough.

Music preferences - I like Jazz from the 1950-1990 era by the jazz greats. I also like classic rock, blues (acoustic & electric), some new age stuff, some flamenco.
Well stated Bombaywalla.
Bombaywalla - thanks for the clarification, and indeed we do agree to
disagree still. I take exception with the idea that there is any need
whatsoever to be able to distinguish such nuances by analyzing their
technical origin in detail, as you seem to be doing. I do believe a person who
enjoys music can make the call what works best for their ears and their
budget without such an education as you suggest. Just as one can enjoy a
fine wine without knowing what exactly it is that makes one taste better than
another. You do not need the vocabulary, nor the knowledge, IMO to make
such things enjoyable, and, in my experience, such knowledge more often
takes me away from the enjoyment itself. As far as "reveling in 2nd rate
sound" and "dumbing" our fellow enthusiasts, that's about
as far from my intentions as you could stretch. Again, I don't think the
knowledge you offer as a direct response to what was originally posted, nor
what followed, though it may be sound information (pun intended), goes
towards responding in the spirit the original post as it was made. I don't
think "Ignorance" as you've defined it, is necessarily a bad thing. I
no more need to understand the differences in the suspension systems in the
Honda and Mercedes in order to determine for myself which ride I prefer
under specific conditions, as I do to understand global feedback, harmonic
distortion, or how to read and understand bench testing of components in
order to appreciate the differences between one component and another.

To me it still ultimately strikes of someone saying publicly, "Hey, I
traded down my Mercedes for an Accord and I was really surprised that I get a
big kick out of this car and I'm enjoying driving in a whole new
way"....and to this your response would equate to me to be "Well,
you should understand that the Accord you chose is bested by several other
choices in the same price bracket! You could have bought any of the
others." In other words, I just don't get it. In that very same spirit, one
could go through all of the posts here on Audiogon where folks are actually
happy with what they have, and explain that there are better versions of what
they have for the same, or not much more, money. Then go on to explain in
great detail just why they are better. What's the point? Yes, you can say it's
in the guise of educating others, but really, what IS the point?! If someone is
actually asking that kind of question, yes I understand completely then, but
no such question was asked here.

This is exactly what makes retail and marketing such a challenge. Because the reasons that one person buys are exactly the same as why another person won't.
I think ultimately, in this case Howard, although Bombaywalla and I might buy
the same amp for the very same reasons, he/she may be able to put more
technical words and labels to qualify the choice, whereas I may leave the
reason to be; "I liked the way it sounded better than the other
ones." I could further go on to describe why I liked it, and I could even
get kind of technical if I wanted to (not likely). I'm not questioning why he/
she would choose one amp over the Jolida for instance, I simply do not
understand his/her motiviation for interjecting the information they chose to,
into this thread given the spirit of the original post. It seemed odd to me,
needless to say (per my previous post)..kind of like bursting someone elses

Right on, Marco. Totally clear. Bubble bursting seems to be an epidemic 'round here.

I was going to say that when I read in the author's post,
I sold a pair of Cary/AES Six Pacs mono amps, a Cary/AES DJH preamp and a pair of B&W 703 speakers. I purchased a pair of Tyler Acoustic Ref. monitors and a Jolida 302b integrated amp to go along with my Jolida CD player, all wired with Signal cable speakers
I would expect this change would put a big smile on his face. The Jolida is an all-day musical pleasure, as are the Tylers. Great marriage. Mazel tov (crush microphonic tube under foot).
Big smile here, yes indeed. Currently listening to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messangers - "Like Someone in Love".
I did feel that Bomb was doing a bit of bubble bursting. Still smiling! Now listening to Ryan Adams - "Jacksonville City Nights".
Big smile here, yes indeed. Currently listening to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messangers - "Like Someone in Love".

Cool! Right now I'm listening to some second order harmonic distortion through my SET amps! Sounds GREAT for some strange reason! Big, blissful smile on my face too! When I get done working I'm going to go upstairs and enjoy some global feedback on the SS rig and think about all the poor choices I've made in this life. Boogy on!

I did feel that Bomb was doing a bit of bubble bursting.

Consider yourself 'educated'. If it doesn't hurt just a little, it ain't worth a damn. Now make it burn! Keep smiling man, you're getting smarter! Repeat after me: "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane". That's it, soon you'll be able to pick out components with the big boys! Bend over deeper man, pay attention to what we're telling you; we know better! Boy, you're going to be sore tomorrow!

since you went with the the 175 gibby,i asume guitar music is of importance?,what style.i play too,just curious if i can turn a ear.(what years the big box?)i play guild savoy 150,dave
This is getting a little silly . . .
This is getting a little silly . . .
Welcome to Marcoville, one of the few enclaves of 24-hour audio fun.
Gretsch6120, Marco,
sorry guys I didn;t mean to do any bubble-bursting (but it looks like I might have!!); rather, I was trying to educate.
Looks like Marco knew all along [I figured he did. I know him a little bit by now! ;-)] but he wasn't going to give up so easily!
anyway, educating the listener from my experience was what I was after. i'll work on better delivery for the next time...
Dave - actually I purchased a Heritage 575 (2005 model), very similiar to the Gibby 175, made in the old Kalamazzo, MI factory. I also have a Heritge 535, like a Gibby 335. They are fantasic guitars! I have a Tele and a Gretsch 6120 Nashville also. I love guitars (maybe more that audio gear!) I love jazz guitar, Grant Green is one of my favs. Dave, do you play in a band? I play with a Zydeco band in SW Louisiana. Bomb - you really did not burst my bubble, I appreciate your honest and educated assesment of things ;>)!
This is getting a little silly . . .
Welcome to Marcoville, one of the few enclaves of 24-hour audio fun.

....I gotta be me, I GOTTA BE ME!

yeah i like the heritages too,nice.probably a lot more axe fo da money,doing lessons right now with howard roberts kid,young guy,roberts music institute,along with don mock.check out that guys credentials!just jammin around shortage of great jazz out here,enjoy gretsch!!
A "downgrade" in your speakers will also yield great results with your current set-up (Paradigm, Mission, etc.)

Fernando - what do you mean?
I ment that you can also consider a step-down in the speaker piece (I did that for some other reasons) and found great results using a pair of Mission 733i w/subs ($500 US) replacing a nice pair of B&W CDM1s.

You were speaking of sownsizong and wanted to share with you my experience hoping it might help.
Gotcha, yes, I down sized my speakers as well. From B&W 703 to Tyler Acoustic Ref. Monitors. Love the Tylers!
hi end audio, as in golf,or love, or life, is additude. you can spend all the money you care to and to an unbiased listener you won't get more than a 5% improvement. drastic differences maybe, but realistically, not drastic improvements. what you ultimately get from listening to music is food for your soul.