Contact Jud Barber directly at Joule-Electra.com
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I'm looking at getting a Joule and someone mentioned that their sound tends to break up or harden in complex, bass heavy, passages. I find this hard to believe because all the published reviews have been glowing(aren't the always), although when they do mention minor shortcomings, this breakup has never been cited.
Anyway, what are you impressions of the Joules? I've been looking at either the LA-100 or a LA-200. Is there a big difference between the two?
There was a used LA-200 here for $1,350 a few days ago and it didn't last very long. At that price, I wanted to snatch it up even though I won't have the rest of they system for 6 months or more. Joules seem to be the type of preamp that will continue to stay in your system while you change everyhting else.
Joule IS the kind of piece you keep in your system. I've had mine for over 6 years; even bought a second one for my bedroom system. BEE-YU-TEE-FUL!!!, any way you slice 'em.
Only other pre I've looked seriously at since the Joule came home is the Hovland. Just haven't scraped up the $$ at the same time as the interest to pull the trigger there. Smiling with the Joule in the meantime though.
I am thinking about upgrading my LA 100 MkIII to the 150. Jud says: more inner detail, extended top & bottom, better definition, greater dynamics, improved transient attack, and all this without any loss of charactaristic Joule tonal sweetness or purity. Very, very tempting for $750 upgrade. How could you lose?
My 100 is a nice piece...huge soundstage with distinct instrumental voices layered within it, timbrally accurate... large complex passages easily retain coherence. Very sweet, open, clear midrange. Very dynamic. Vocals are exceptional. Plus for a tube amp, it's *quiet*. No break up of LFs noted at all, not in large scale classical, not in rock nor R&B nor jazz. The opposite of hardness in loud passages. The usual knock on this pre is that, on the contrary, it makes music a little more beautiful than real life.
I don't play metal or rap or industrial and can't imagine anyone who does wanting this kind of sophisticated line stage. I found a good power cord to improve the Joule quite a bit, for dynamics & leading edge transients. A TG Audio SLVR did a magic trick with the Joule.
I'm not altogether clear on specs of 200, believe it had the Purist silver wire. Don't be afraid of either Joule. Just budget some extra for one of Bob Crump's cords.
I just upgraded my LA-100 to the LA-150 and what Jud was saying is right on the money. I have been playing music all weekend and am amazed at improvement in the detail, soundstage, etc. IMO worth every penny of the upgrade price. I have also been comparing it to the Hovland with the mind of keeping the better one. In my system (one of the many classic Merlin Joule Cardas systems)the LA-150 is much better in every category I care about. The Hovland sounds much closer to the LA-100 than the LA-150. I was one of those who believed the LA-100 was slightly tilted to the warm sound of neutral and slighly veiled in the HF. The LA-150 corrects this and then some.
could you go into more detail about the joule 150 vs. hovland? i was thinking of looking into the hovland, but if all it takes is $750 upgrade to beat it, hey i'm there.
FWIW: i have a 100mk2 and find that its an exceptional component in most every way..only a few nits with it, but nothing major enough to not recommend it...though i do disagree w/ a previous poster--i find that in my system when dynamics and complexity are called for at the same time, it gets a bit confused---but not much. all in all, a great pre.
Rhyno, first off I agree with you that during complex music the LA-100 MKIII does get a little confused. To my ears sort of veiled and sluggish. Some posters have heard it as a dark quality - confused is a good description, like you said by not much. Other wise, for the money, especially on the used market - I believe an upbeatable value. Now given that, I would say that the LA-150 is simply one of, if not the best preamps, certainly in my system. At first I found the LA-150 a little bass shy but after some breakin time I realized that it was just in comparison to the darker nature or the LA-100. The LF is actually faster and more tunefull. The LA-150 gives a much more detailed, wider and deaper soundstage with tremendous air. My wife hears it as detailed and yet smooth - You just want to keep listening.
IMO and again given my system (I am a big believer in the SYSTEM)the Hovland was softer than the Joule at both frequency extremes with the LF being the more noticable. I would say that the Hovland was more neutral than the LA-100 but it didn't reach as deep or as high. More romantic? Maybe - my wife thinks so - it certainly looks pretty but I love the Joules remote!
I have also compared a SF Line 3 which is just way to analytical in my system. At first, I thought the Line 3 had some nice feature which actually had very little value over the longer term. I guess I am a minimalist.
I found the CAT signature similar to the Hovland but more extended and maybe a little less romantic.
I listened to the BAT VK-5i but not the VK50SE which of course uses similar tubes and didn't like it in my system at all.
Finally, a good friend who also uses VSM-M's loves his Thor TA-1000 but I have never heard it in combination with my Joule amp and anyway I don't believe it would better the LA-150.
LA-100 >> LA-150 best upgrade yet!