Help! Best amp for Rockport Aviors?


I recently purchased a pair of Rockport Aviors to replace my Dynaudio C2s. My system comprises of a Berkeley Reference DAC, Spectral DMC-30SS preamp, and Spectral DMA-260 stereo amp. My intial impression was disappointing - "hot" treble and a lack of low end slam. I assumed that my amp didn't have enough current to drive the Aviors properly so I auditioned the Spectral DMA-400 RS monos with the Aviors and that combo still didn't resonate in the way I first heard the Aviors (kicking myself for not noting the system). My current theory is that the Spectral gear (as much as I love it) isn't a good match for the Rockports; therefore, I have a bit of a quandary - ditch my Spectral system or the Aviors.

I know that Andrew uses a Gryphon stack to voice his speakers. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't kmow of a USA Gryphon dealer and wouldn't purchase a Gryphon component without hearing it in person first.

So cut to the chase: Avior owners out there - what do you drive them with that results in the "softer" treble and bass slam that I know these speakers are capable of. My current guess is to audition Pass Labs.
jason_john_howes
Pass 350.8 would sound great.

Any advice why? I was thinking of the 350.8 and XA200.B. Have you heard them with the Rockports?
A possibility I would consider, especially with regard to the hot treble, is that digital noise at RF frequencies might somehow be coupling from the DAC, or from whatever is providing the digital signal to the DAC, into the circuitry of your preamp, and causing effects at audible frequencies as a result of intermodulation or other conceivable effects.

The ultra-wide bandwidth of your preamp is what brings that kind of possibility to mind. Although a similar possibility also exists with respect to the amp.

Possible coupling paths include interconnect cables, AC power wiring, and radiation through the air.

So I would focus on the preamp as well as on the amp. And before deciding how to proceed it might be worthwhile for experimental purposes to try whatever non-Spectral preamp you can readily get your hands on (that would be compatible with the 10K input impedance of your amp), that would presumably have a much less extended bandwidth and not respond to RF noise that the Spectral may be responding to.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

Thanks Al!

A bit more information for you - just had a dedicated 20 amp line installed for the system and have used the requisite Spectral/MIT interconnects/speaker cables since day one. Would you suggest an AC power conditioner (e.g. Shunyata, etc.)? Or am I misunderstanding your suggestion?
Al - I should also mention that this same "hot" and "lean" characteristic is also present in analog sources feed directly to my preamp.
One other data point - putting my C2s back into the system results in the "shouty" characteristic of voices that I was trying to improve upon (which the Aviors do) but they are less fatiguing to listed to and they appear to have another octave down on the Aviors, which makes NO sense to me.
Jason,
I have the heard the Aviors on multiple occasions with both tube & solid state electronics and I don't believe that the speakers when properly setup have a hot treble. I am guessing that you purchased these speakers used and have set them up yourself. If that is correct, and assuming  they are already broken in, then I think the first place to start is with speaker placement in your room. In my experience with my own Rockport speakers, with the beryllium tweeter in your speakers, I have found that speaker placement within your room is absolutely essential to avoid the sound that you are describing. If you purchased them new from a dealer, then I would definitely back in and work on that setup. 
Thanks!!

Any general advice on placement? I currently have them place in a equalateral triangle (my listening position being one point of the triangle) with a bit of toe out to mitigate the "hot" tweater. Am I approaching this incorrectly?

Also, I forgot to mention.that I haven't installed the feet, as I was playing with placement. Do they make a difference in your experience?

J
And yes, I purchased them used from an authorized dealer so I assume they've been broken in by now (and I have at least a 100 hours on them myself).

j
+1 on what babybear said.  It would be helpful if you listed your system here and posted pics; from personal experience I can assure you that speaker placement and room issues can have a big impact on sound.
Sure thing! Sorry to be a nube, but what is the best way to post system photos on this forum?

Thanks all for the supportivs responses!

J
It's been a while since I did it, but if you click on your name in the upper right corner of the page, you should get a drop-down menu.  Select "My Virtual Systems" to get started.  
Hi Jason,

If the dealer is local to you and he is a Rockport dealer, have him come out to do the proper setup in your room. Just FYI, I have heard most of the Rockport speakers properly setup, and I don't recall any of them being setup toed out - usually toed in. So, I would say your setup is off. Also, they are a ported speaker, so usually the first thing to do is work to get the best possible bass you can get and once you have that, work on toe in, toe out and subtle movements (closer or further to the side walls and to the wall behind the speaker).
Hi babybear,

Thanks for the advice. In your experience, what is the best placement for a ported speaker to get the good bass response? My C2s are also ported (but their port is a good foot higher than the Aviors) and I've never had a problem getting strong bass out of them. What am I doing wrong?

J
Would you suggest an AC power conditioner (e.g. Shunyata, etc.)? .... I should also mention that this same "hot" and "lean" characteristic is also present in analog sources feed directly to my preamp.
Thanks for the additional info, Jason.  If the same objectionable characteristics occur with analog sources, and with the DAC, all digital sources, and all other nearby possible sources of high frequency noise turned off (e.g., dimmer switches, fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights, computers, uninterruptible power supplies that are sometimes used with computers, etc.), then I guess my theory is ruled out.

Regarding the possibility of adding a power conditioner, no I wasn't specifically suggesting that, and I suppose it's anyone's guess as to whether or not it would be beneficial with respect to this issue or in other ways.

Good luck.  Regards,
-- Al
 
Jason,

Proper placement is very dependent on the speaker and your room so there isn't one best place.

Another suggestion that I have is for you to contact the dealer that you purchased them from and based on you saying that they are authorized Rockport dealer - contract with them to travel to your home and do the setup for you. It would be well worth it to have it done correctly. 
Agree with having the dealer come earn his profit and help with setup assuming they are a Rockport dealer and know what they're doing.  If I were you I'd call Andy Payor and get his take on it.  I've spoken with him and he's a really nice guy, and I'd bet he'd narrow down your problem pretty quickly and accurately.  I've heard several Rockport models in many different settings with lots of different equipment, and I've never heard them sound the least bit bright.  Nor have I ever seen a review categorize them that way.  I'd highly suspect your amp and pre, for whatever reason, are just not a synergistic fit for the speakers and/or your tastes.  Maybe you can borrow a different amp and pre from your dealer to see if it addresses your problem.  BTW, I've heard Gryphon is working on getting US distribution again but not sure where that's at.  I heard the Altairs with a Boulder Class A amp and pre and it sounded quite good.  As Gryphon amps are also Class A that might be an avenue to try if possible, so makes like Pass, Clayton Audio, and Plinius among others might be worth exploring.  But again, I'd start with Andy to cut down your options.  Last thought, I suppose it's possible the speakers have been damaged but probably not likely.  Best of luck and let us know how it goes.  Great speakers BTW. 
Thanks soix!

Your thinking aligns with my theory - I really appreciate your advice and I will reach out to Andy today.

Stay tuned.

J
I have heard the Aviors a few times at a local dealer with Aesthetix Saturn Eclipse electronics (Romulus CD/DAC, Calypso preamp, Atlas amplifier) and Transparent cables. They did not sound hot or fatiguing at all. I agree with soix that you should contact Rockport, and you should also have your local dealer help you with the setup.
If your C2’s are ’shouty’, this indicates something is amiss in your system - not the speaker(s). Since the Aviors are hi-rez, the issue will be even more pronounced with them. Once again, Al’s detective work is right on target. Set-up is probably a contributing factor.
It seems like a room interaction to me also. These speakers need room to breath based on my limited time with a couple different Rockport speakers, and plenty of current delivery to properly drive them. Get them right though, and you will have speakers to rival all others at any price. They are truly magical when all things are correct.

Pull them out into the room a few inches at a time and see what happens.
used boulder 1060 w rockport merak / sheritan to great effect. they need current and rockports are not bright in the treble. thats something else (could be cabling too, but suspect its spectral).

pass & (older) krell would be good bets too. gryphon of course. 
I've heard them sound really good with  BAT SS amps, and with simaudio. Neither system was "hot" sounding. Both played big, detailed,  and slightly warm. 
As some people have commented, the Aviors need lots of power behind them. They are not a benign load on the amps with impedance dipping to around 2 ohms at certain frequencies. The scanspeak berrylium tweeter is one of the best but also needs power to drive them properly.

Jason,

I have a pair of Rockport Altairs and I went through the same amp-searching exercise when I purchased them. I realize the Altairs are different than the Aviors, but perhaps my experience will be of some assistance to you.

First, I've never found the BE tweeter to be 'hot' or too bright with any of the amps I auditioned. They may expose 'hot' or thin recordings more than your prior Dynaudio C2s. I know that 

I had the same 'lack of slam' experience.  reveal poor record .I had a VAC Phi 300.1A tube amp when I first got the Altairs and it lacked deep bass,  slam, etc.  I then tried Pass Lab XA100.5 monoblocks and no improvement. One might say the Pass Lab amps were even more polite with the bass and certainly lacked the mids & highs of the VAC amp.

I contacted Jeff Fritz of SoundStage who has experience and praise for Rockport speakers. Jeff mentioned I needed an amp with lots of current to manage the 15 inch woofers. He also mentioned that I'd likely be better off with a solid state amp. 2 suggestions he had were a Burmester 911 Mk III and believe it or not a Devialet. I arranged to audition both at my home.

Both amps immediately took care of the bass (slam) issue. Both sounded equal or better than the other amps I tried in the mids and highs. However, I noticed that as I turned up the volume on the Burmester, the treble became a bit harsh. Not so with the Devialet as it had the same sound characteristics from low to high listening levels. The Devialet was also 25% of the cost of the Burmester and did away with the need for a pre-amp, DAC, phono stage and all the associated power and interconnect cables. 

I ended up purchasing 2 Devialets to have 400 watts per side but to be honest a single Devialet has ample power.  I found in my case adding a 2nd Devialet is a subtle improvement. I've had the Devialets for almost a year and don't have the urge to change, which says a lot.

Hope this helps.
  
.


Thanks for the detailed response cycles2!

My dealer is also an authorized Devialet dealer and I actually went through that same "simplification" exercise and ended up passing on the Devialets as my Spectral system sounded so much better with my C2s. Given your advice, I'm going to audition them again with the Aviors. What speaker cables do you use with your Altairs? I auditioned them with my Spectral/MIT cables and I want to eliminate them from the mix, as perhaps they don't work well with the Deviatets...

Thanks again!
J
Hi,

i actually use 2 burmester 911 mk3 in mono configuration to drive my Aviors. The speakers disappear! There is no hardening in the treble, whatsoever and the bass is as visceral as i have felt. But I also use the burmester 088 preamp. I must confess, the 911mk3 is partial its own kin.....
......just to add, I have heard the Aviors driven by the Karan S600 stereo amp. Simply superb!
Do me a simple favor before you buy a new amp.  Drive your current amp directly from the Berkeley DAC.  I did this, taking a PrimaLuna Dialog preamp out of the mix, and it was a big improvement.
Synergistic Research's latest high-end cables, the Atmosphere Level 4.  I can't imagine that your cables are the main reason.  
Jason,

I've been reading reviews on your Spectral DMA-260 and the reviews say it has plenty of bass. That just means it had plenty of bass when the owner or reviewer used his speakers, not your Aviors. 

If you can remove your pre-amp from the system and go direct from your DAC as 'rvnye' suggests, this would start to isolate where the problem may be. That adds credence to auditioning the Devialet as it will remove both of your Spectral components from the audition.

Make sure your dealer configures the Devialet properly for you or shows you how to use the online configurator. They may have a specific configuration for their demo environment. 
I've heard the Avior with the new Ayre Twenty electronics and thought they sounded really good.   The high current capabilities of the amps really seemed make the speakers come to life.
Hi paul79 and babybear,

Thanks for the suggestions to move the Aviors closer into the room - that made a HUGE difference on bass response! Now I'm getting more of the slam that these speakers are known for. No need to improve on that front! Also to several posters that suggested my toe out was unusual, I've toed them in and getting amazing imagining, but still feel the top end is "hot" especially with rock music. I'm going to continue to play with placement and later on today I'm going to audition the following amps back-to-back-to-back:

-Spectral DMA 400RS Monos
-Simaudio Moon Evolution
-Devialet (800s, hopefully)

Thanks for all your help guys! Each post has been so helpful!

J
Also holy **** these speakers have amazing bass response! I guess I was starving them of breathing room...

J
By the way, the best placement I've found for the Aviors is:

- 12" from the back wall
- 8 feet between the speakers (measured from the inside of each enclosure ([]-----8 feet-----[] )
-17 degree angle in towards the listening position
- >= 10' listening position from the front of the speakers

Obviously, your room may disagree, but I hope this helps as a starting point from which you can experiment.

J
Also, I forgot to mention that my listening room is 12' (wide) by 18' (deep).

Hope this helps Rockport owners out there. I'll report about my amp impression soon...

J
HI Jason,

You are welcome and glad that you have got your Aviors positioned more optimally in your room. Assuming that the recordings that you are using that have the "hot treble" are not recorded that way, then I'd suggest trying the following:

Staying with your current Spectral amp, adjust the speaker positioning in very small increments. Start with adjusting toe in perhaps a half an inch (either more toe in or less toe in). And then listen with to see which is better - where you have them now or with slightly more or less toe in. These "micro" adjustments will allow to really dial in the speaker with the room. If after trying this, you still hear a "hot" treble on recordings that you are certain are not recorded that way, then play with the other amps as well and see how they sound.
Wait, you have these large, rear-ported speakers 12 inches from the rear wall?  Is that right?  Personally with the size of your room I'd have them at least two feet into the room measured from the rear of the speakers, and given spacing between the drivers I'd also experiment sitting more than 10 feet from the speakers to see if it gives the drivers more of a chance to become more coherent.  Best of luck. 
Try the New Spread Spectrum Amps Junior Godzella . Best SS. amp I have heard for $$$ 3500 retail
I had Rockport Aviors, had a tube Cary 05 running into Boulder 2060.  

I would say, with the Boulder, the Rockport were not bright.  Sounded just right.  

I do miss them.  But I was looking for something else.  
Ditch the Spectral.... Try to get vintage  EKSC 2a versions in monoblock iteration.. These are of the  legendary Jon Iverson fame amps... Still to this day, few solid amps can touch them for the treble delicacy and bass slam... I believe eagle audio in Kansas still able to supply a freshly refurbished pair. I think configured in mono they are about 2 grand. Just try to get 2a version, they are best sounding ones among three version. We had comparo session awhile ago  at my friend's set up here in NY and the stereo version of the 2a in my non humble opinion (and among very experiences music nuts who were present there) it handily bettered Spectral and Levinson amps that my friend had intended to purchase. Now a pair of EKCS are his summer amps , his winter amps being Tube Research Labs 400 (those are among top 5 amps), just to give you a point of reference. Short of custom designs, I doubt many solid state amps can better them in dynamics and slam, etc., regardless of price... Don't be tempted by the larger 7 versions, those look great but are not as good, although still better than Spectral I d say... Ditch the Spectral preamp, and try to audition the Croft 7R preamp with separate  regulated power supply. The British pound/$ is favorable now so you should be able to get a decent deal from England. The  US distributor overprices them by alot here, but Brit dealers will deal and provide units in US voltage...
Thanks for all the insight guys/gals,

After a lot of auditioning, I've settled on the Spectral 400 RS monos and I'm thrilled. The Aviors need a lot of power which the 400s deliver compared to the 260. Soundstage and mid bass are amazing with the Aviors.

As a side note, the new Nagra Classic Amps are amazing! It was a close toss up between the two and it was a razor thin decision. I love the Spectral "sound" but the Nagras have a more sexy sound in liue of the Spectral authority in mid-bass and treble.

J

Glad you sorted out the hot treble issue. A bit late on this post. My room size is similar, 14'x23'x10'(height) and from my experience the Aviors need to breathe. Agree with Soix that 12"" from the rear wall doesn't appear right. I have mine 3.5' from the rear wall.
best