I think you have an underpowered tube amp for those speakers.
A high power, high current SS would make a big difference I'd bet.
I'd try a good Class D Icepower, like Wyred, Bel Canto or others. Wyred would not set you back too much.
Templetech - Mapman is right. It might be something with amplification since Gallos are described in this review http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/hyperion/938_3.html as sharper sounding than Hyperion HPS-938 that I have.
Active 40's are very good speakers. Keith Richards demands to have them as monitors at every session.
i have heard that some people can be dissatisfied with them until they amp the subwoofer seperately, but i don't have any first hand knowledge with that.
i have the reference avs (which i love), however they took a LONG time to break in. the little spheres are filled with some kind of material, if i recall, and it takes quite a while to smooth them out. months, if i remember.
I doubt that it's a power issue. I've been running mine with 12 wpc SET monoblocks for 5 years and they never sounded remotely like that. A friend is using another pair with the same amps. They should sound fast, open, detailed, and very involving. As to the Class D idea, I've tried two Class D amps with the Gallos and they both sucked all the life out of the system, but system synergy can be an elusive goal.
I'd start by replacing the speaker wire (I used to have Kimber 8TC) with something from Morrow Audio, but it sounds like a bigger problem than can be addressed with speaker wire. Do you have them well out into the room? They're superb speakers and worth your experimentation. Dave
PS You're not trying to bi-wire them are you? The lower pair of speaker inputs is NOT for bi-wiring.
Well, I might expect a SET to do some things well in theops area of concern with those speakers, but it would surprise me if a set could drive them to their max.
I do not believe these speakers to be inherently tube friendly though and I also do not believe an 80 watt tube integrated, no matter how nice a piece otherwise, to be capable of driving them to the max.
Class D done right might still not be a match to a tube amp affectionado's preference, but it is a viable option that can sound very good done well and can also be most cost effective. Big high current monster SS amps like Krell or similar others are another option for sure if pure size and power consumption is not a concern.
Mapman, do you own a pair of Gallo Ref 3s?
No, but I have auditioned them and considered buying them at one point and have also done some research and read comments by owners as part of that.
Never heard them on a set amp.
I do not doubt they do some good things with a SET, particularly at lower volumes and with some kinds of music, but it would surprise me if any speakers in their efficiency category could be driven to the max off a SET, although those few watts available with a set probably do deliver maximum bang per watt.
Whether or not that matters to any particular listener, particularly SET affectionados, is a different thing. I'm just stating a mainly technical observation based on what I know. I could be wrong....
Fair enough. Here's where I'm coming from. I was running Gallo
Reference Ultimates (the top of the line predecessor speakers) with
the same amps and pretty much assumed that the Reference 3s might
not have enough power. I then heard from a man who knew my amps
and was involved in final pre-production testing of the Ref 3s and
encouraged me to buy a pair, saying that my amps would be ideal. He
further said that 10 watt amps of his own design were used
successfully in this pre-testing process.
He also knows my room -- 18 x 40' with a sizable "L" off
one of the 40' dimensions -- so we're not talking about small spaces.
I do use the Gallo SA subwoofer amp on the woofers' second voice
coils but I often forget to turn it on.
As to "driven to the max," of course not. But I've never
knowingly clipped the amps even with big band and orchestral
classical LPs and CDs. Three friends have bought Ref 3s after hearing
mine, so the amps must be doing something right. I've heard Ref 3s
driven by pretty powerful solid state amps (Musical Fidelity) and was
not terribly impressed. Others might well be terrific with them. Dave
Edit: If I had gone solely by how the Ref 3s sounded in the shop
where I bought them, I never WOULD have bought them :-)
The thing with SET amps I think is they clip and distort in a less harsh way than SS amps. That allows them to go louder than one would expect off a few watts.
Regarding SS, I think you have to throw the kitchen sink current-wise at speakers like these in order to max out the performance. My OHM speakers are similar. Less power and more current can trump more power but less current. I've found the Bel Canto enhanced IcePower designs accomplish this as good as anything. The sound is not unlike some more neutral sounding tube amps I have heard, but not tube like in the euphonic sense that many enjoy.
The Gallos are extremely easy to drive, with a benign (8 ohm) impedance curve and virtually no crossovers -- none at all between mids and highs and just a capacitor or two between woofer and mids.
Are you saying the impedance curve is near flat 8 ohms at all frequencies?
If so that would indicate more tube friendliness in general.
Most things I've read about the gallo's suggest using high quality SS amps and the more power the better for the bass. that would suggest a less than flat impedance curve with lower impedance at lower frequencies, not an uncommon thing with speakers these days.
It's hard to know these things for certain unless it has been measured and reported for a particular design. have you seen something like this for the Gallo's?
When I heard them, a tube pre-amp was used with a higher end NAD SS amp, not sure the model. This combo also drove a pair of Quad ESLs very well in comparison.
I would really like to know this for sure. I have considered experimenting with a SET amp in my house, but I do not believe most of the speakers I currently run to be particularly tube friendly. Despite that, I could see it working well perhaps in a smaller bedroom system or such even with the less than optimal speaker matching.
That's what I'm saying. But for the life of me, I can't remember where I heard or read it. Stands to reason, though, given my own experience -- remember, I have a BIG room -- and that of a friend using the same amps on his own Gallos. And the reports of others here and on AA who power them with tubes and love the results.
Just a coincidence, but this friend came into a pair of Quad ESL-63s and I heard them in direct comparison with the Gallos, which we both preferred, especially in the highs. FWIW, he Gallos were slightly louder at the same preamp gain setting than the Quads. Dave
PS I do hope the OP isn't upset that we high-jacked his thread :-)
Or are the Paradigm Active 40's THAT good?!!
I think you answered that...at least far better than the Gallos at least for your tastes.
If you hear what you see then the Gallos are a work of art and will generate plenty of comments from guests.
I did do a comparison of the gallo's when I auditioned them with the top of the line Quad ESLs, which cost 4 times as much.
They were slow and veiled I suppose in comparison, but many speakers are.
Maybe a good SET amp can fill the bill if lifelike SPLs and a larger room is not in the equation.
I landed on my newer OHM 5s which ended up costing me about the same as the Gallos with sale price and trade-ins using refurbed cabinets.
I pulled the Gallos out into the room and I gave the Unico a day to warm up....it sounds better...especially on treble heavy music like harp (Vollenweider)...the spacial effects gave me goose bumps but the system still sounds veiled in comparison to the Paradigms. I should note that both systems sound a bit thin in my room which is why I was experimenting with speakers to begin with. I don't think the Unico is under powered. It's 80 Watts of high current output and pushed my Monitor Audio GR20 to earth moving levels. I do have one tube (in the pre stage) that is kicking in and out but...don't see how that could cause the problem. One thing I should note...these were dealer demos and have less than 100 hours on them . I understand they take a long time to break in...maybe they will open up. I had planned to sell the Paradigms but I'm going to hold on until I'm satisfied the Gallos will outperform them. I should note the review by Arvind on the 3.1 in TNT audio. He drew the same conclusion as me (so far)...even with a broken in pair; brilliant treble but lack luster mid and bass compared to some others.
Good point about the break-in, Templetech. This is the gruesome
period of Gallo ownership. If I hadn't been forewarned about how bad
they sound during the first 100 hours or so, I would have given up on
But I wouldn't ignore that tube problem. It can't be helping.
YEs, thanks. I did intend to mention to take break in time into account before passing any final judgement. It may all work out in the end once the system and your ears adjust.
I can't speak to the Paradigm Active 40's but I had Gallos for several years. One of the last amps I used with mine was a Unico Secondo and it was a great match for these speakers so I don't think it is the amp. In fact I liked it better than any other amp I used with the speakers. I had all Acoustic Zen cables when I bought the Gallos. I also had a heavily modded jolida 502b which is 60 watts and I thought it was a bad match too, maybe not enough power. So I started trading amps. A McIntosh 6900, a wyred4sound ST500, Clayton S40, the Unico, and finally ayon Spirit II back to 60 watts a channel and tubes. Somewhere along the way I tried a few other speaker cables including Kimber 8TC which were a better match than the AZ. I ended up with Morrow audio cables. If this had been my first system change I might not have had to go through all those amps. I would try some Morrow cables before anything else. They really opened my system up with the gallos. YMMV. I think you also need at least 400 hours to get them to open up. Good luck.
Alright folks...here's some new info.
A friend came by to audition the Gallos in question and agreed that the Paradigms were far more transparent and 'alive'. We were mystified as the difference shouldn't have been so great...regardless of wires. Now the Unico has been in storage for about a year and a half and it's been moved from Northern Canada to Vancouver Island...what if the amp were faulty? We took the Unico to his house and....it sounds the same (worse) on his speakers (Tannoy)...IT"S the FREAKIN' AMP...probably the tubes. I grabbed his Anthem power amp so now I can use the raw output from the DAC 1 into the Anthem / Gallo and the same output into the Paradigms (also using Anthem power inside) 'Apples to apples'....stay tuned for that test as the house is currently asleep.
Templetech - I don't own the Gallos, but definitely recall reading a review (Stereophile or elsewhere) stating that the Gallos not only needed breaking in, they needed SEVERE breaking in. The reviewer actually placed heavy blankets over top of them for a few days and played them continuously at HIGH playback levels. He went on to say that he believes many people have heard them without being properly broken in, which obviously leaves an "unimpressive" impression... good luck with your amp/situation!
I had 2 pair of Gallo 3.1's that I blindly bought locally years ago. One pair was brand new, not even opened. The other pair was fully broken in.
They both sounded average to me. Personally, I cant believe people pay so much for them. I know many of you love them, and thats great....but in my opinion there price should be around $1350 brand new at most.
Since selling these, Ive heard them at a dealer..still just found them to be just ok.
I have now listened to the Gallos (powered from Anthem) compared to the Paradigms...both using the Benchmark DAC 1 as source and pre. The Gallos sound better but still not on par with the Paradigm Active 40's. The Gallos are perhaps a little more refined on the treble but mids are not as defined or as detailed and the bass on the Paradigms is vastly superior...tight, powerful and completely integrated. Now to be fair...there is no second power amp on the gallos to power the woofers but....that's a chunk more $$$ just to match the Paradigms. I'm not a Paradigm fan in general...find them rather clinical and lacking but...the actives may very well stay with me for good! I'm having my Unison retubed and checked over and will run the Gallos from that for a few weeks...see how that pans out.
yawn - I am not at all surprised. Well designed active speakers are indeed tight powerful and completely integrated. They will usually trounce all but the best passive designs. Of course their clarity is clinical sounding and understandably not to everyone's taste.