I have an Aleph 3 driving a pair of Silverline Sonatinas ( Avalon style) and they are a great match. Great amp, by the way!
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I have a pair of Refernce 3a da Capos...I haven't heard them with the Aleph 3 but I think it would be an ideal match....I used to own Aleph 2s and am familiar with the series. I have recently acquired a pair of Living Voice Avatars. I also think these would be great with the Aleph 3. They are 94 dB, 6 ohms. Good bass down to 35 Hz or so. Most musical speaker I've heard. Both of these speakers have very stable impedance curves. I'd stay away from speakers that have an impedance that drops as it goes down. Look for minimum impedances well above 4 ohms - like 6 or 8 ohms....my two cents...
To me, the most prominent characteristic of the the 1SC's was their smooth midrange. The Aleph 3 sounded liquid and open through them. A great match. The highs were also well laid out, prominent without excess emphasis or graininess. The well-behaved character of the Aleph in the highs was important viz the relatively revealing treble of the 1SC's. The bass was OK down to the midbass, but of course needed a subwoofer. I've heard the Aleph amps criticized by some for soft bass. Naturally, I couldn't tell with the 1SC's because they rolled off before the low bass.
In contrast, the R1's seemed to be weak in the midrange. I think there is a slight trough in the response. I attributed this to the speaker more than to the amp since I had just swapped out the 1SC's which were fine here. The highs were great, with a sweet, feathery lightness that reflects the R1's ribbon tweeter. Again, the Aleph 3 was beyond any criticism in the highs. The R1's pretty clearly went deeper in the bass than the 1SC's, although not to the lowest octaves. I still have the subwoofer in, although set to a lower crossover. I have said before that I think the R1's woofer has been stretched to the low end and that's why there's a little gap in the midrange. The R1's with the Aleph 3 didn't produce the tightest bass, although certainly not flabby and definitely tuneful. (For example, my WATT/Puppy 6's driven by Pass X600's in another system are clearly tighter.)
Imaging and soundstaging were great with either speaker. I feel the R1's are better in dynamic range, especially at the frequency extremes, when both speakers are compared at moderately loud volumes. (I'm sourcing a Mark Levinson 390s directly into the Aleph 3, and all my cabling is Cardas Golden Cross.)
Both speakers are good examples of the minimonitor's art. However, they do sound significantly different. Of course, I recommend auditioning them to assess their suitability for your own taste.
Thanks for the great review James.
I own ProAc 1SCs and Tab 50 Sigs and have read many reviews praising their performance when matched with the Aleph 3. The Aleph 3 is an amp I've had my eye on for quite some time, and when you mentioned you owned the highly regarded Red Rose R1 as well, I was curious as to how they sounded with the Aleph 3. Thanks again, James.
Sargon, of the speakers you list, the Triangles may be the easiest to drive. That may be something to consider if you have a large room, but the ProAc monitors which have a sensitivity of only around 86dB should still work well. What are your other components and cables?
Thanks for all the recommendations. I dont have a large room. I am getting back into audio so at present I only have the aleph 3 and some audio research cables. I was planning on getting speakers and for a few months driving the aleph 3 directly with either my portable CD player or my DVD player. Crap I know, but I loved the aleph 3 so much when I had one before, it was the first component I wanted to get. So basically I dont want speakers that are overly bright, something that will round off the rough edges from the source.
A comment from over the pond,I love my Aleph 3's as well,but like you am aware of the power limitations. It's not the most origonal comment,but there are Watt's and there are Watt's.The Aleph 3 may not have double the power attributed to valve watts, but they seem much more powerfull than their rated 30. The real problem seems to be in the fashionable,at least over here, small 2 way stand mounts. Even ported they seem to need 60 to a 100 minimum. I bought mine from a guy who gave up trying to drive his excellent Dynaudio 1.3 contours and reluctantly sold me his Aleph 3.
I digress, I would also support the excellent Living Voice speakers, just I believe becoming available over the pond. Built for valves by a valve nut, at 94db sensitivity they also sound wonderful with the Aleph 3. I am also tempted by your Avalon speakers. The larger closed box models are out of the question, but has anyone tried the baby Symbols with the Aleph 3. I'd love to hear your opinion.
I use Aleph amps too, but I'm sorry, but I can't give credence to this question. You match speakers to a ROOM, not an amp.... Find speakers that sound great with your Aleph IN YOUR ROOM, and then you're done. So tell us about your room: it's dimensions, damping; your musical taste, etc. Who knows, the Aleph 3 may be too small (like it was for me), and you may end up with a bigger one. I got a pair of Aleph 2 hanging from the basement rafters! But ONLY after selecting my speakers. Don't do this backwards....