I've had really good luck running ProAcs with ARC gear; I've also heard the ProAc line is voiced with ARC electronics. I've got VT100s powering my 3.8s and D240s powering my 2s. If you are looking for an integrated, you might look at the ARC CA line...
I've tried the Simaudio Moon I-5 and Electrocompaniet ECI-3 with ProAc 1SCs and feel that they definitely prefer being driven by tubes. My current system includes a solid state BAT VK200 amp, Kora Hermes tube DAC and a Blue Circle tube preamp. I've used this set up with Response 1SCs and Response 2.5s, and it's allowed me to enjoy the midrange of tubes along with the control and power of solid state.
I think the VAC Avatar is an excellent place to start your search. Who knows, it may end right there!
You cant go wrong with the Cary 300 SEI Integrated.
This is the Stereophile setup they used to test the 1SC.
Here are the stereophile reviews:
Cary 300SEI Integrated
You may also like to include Audio Note Soro SE tube integrated in your list. It also has a phono input which you may need for your turntable. Another one to consider may be Union Research SK2. Like yourselve, I also have Response 1sc, and I'm running them with Audio Note Pre/power amps. Personally, I think 1sc sounds best with tube amps but if you decide to go to SS, you may also try NAIM Nait5 integrated or Ayre AX7 integrated. Good luck.
Anyone else find the 1sc a bit bright and etched sounding? I can't imagine using many SS or any ARC amps with it. Now the Resonse 2, 2s, and 2.5s, yes. Also, it seems people are saying 300B SETs are powerful enough to drive this speaker - I presume this would be in a small room?
Hmm... Haven't listened to the 1sc, my experience is w/the 2s and 3.8s. I used to run Quicksilver mono amps with my 2s, which was a nice combination, but a little on the dark side... If the 1scs are hot, the Quickies might be a decent match...
That's exactly why I didn't like the solid state Simaudio Moon I-5 or Electrocompaniet ECI-3 with the 1SCs. I found that the 1SC's treble became excessively bright and the "ProAc midrange magic" was missing when driven by solid state gear. Using a tube DAC, tube preamp and a slightly dark solid state amp creates and entirely different and much more pleasing soundfield. That being said, I have heard ProAcs sound lean and bright in an all tube system as well. Tubes aren't necessarily the magic bullet, but may be the path with the most possibilities.
In the past, ProAc and ARC have been linked as a combination with great synergy. I heard an all ARC set up driving ProAc D80s a couple years ago at CES and thought it sounded very big and organic, but was a bit weak in the PRaT department. It could have also just been the show conditions or my personal taste in music reproduction.
I currently own the Response 1SC, Response 2.5 and Tablette 50 Signatures. Among them there's definitely a ProAc "family sound" present, but they also have slightly different characters much like siblings would in any family. The Tab 50 Sigs are quick and lively much like a person in their early twenties. The 1SC is the same person but at 35 years of age. A bit more settled and less inclined to take a misstep. After using both for almost three years with a subwoofer, I was shocked by the improvement when I purchased a pair of 2.5s locally earlier this year. The floorstanders actually image better than either monitor and the seamless, beautifully articulated bass is something that makes buying another subwoofer difficult to justify.
Have you heard the soro se with the 1sc? My understanding is that it is a great amp for the midrange, but not very satisfying at the frequency extremes. Is this your experience or? I have not had the oppertunity to listen to the soro myself.
I just sold my 2.5's to return to the 1sc's. My experience of the 2.5's was not the same. I do think they are a fabulous speaker. They have great bass and are seamless from top to bottom (providing one uses good speaker wire), but I did not think they where a top contender in the imaging department. Sure the sound stage is larger than the rather small sound stage that the 1sc presents, but they did not disappear the way that the 1sc's do, no matter how I placed them. I suspect that adding the Sub to your system may be the reason for our different experiences, who knows, could be a lot of things.
Thank you all for your input! It looks, at this point, that "TUBES IS IT" and that has been my opinion from the start. I however was curious about ss. Keep it coming!
That's really interesting that our experiences comparing the 1SC and the 2.5 are almost completely opposite. Different rooms, different gear. :)
My room is a bit acoustically challenged, but it's odd how the 2.5s actually soundstage and do the disappearing act better than the 1SCs. Very interesting! My speakers are in front of two openings that lead to small rooms. That could be part of it.
Your experience makes me afraid to switch to another room if need be in the future, heheh.
Do you think you'll get the VAC Avatar? There's a "Super" up for sale right now.
If you decide to go that route, I'd be interested to know how the VAC and 1SCs like each other.
Gunbei - I auditioned in my home the Tablette Sig. before deciding on the 2.5s 7 years ago as I really hoped to find something less expensive. The Tabs were so bright and, as my wife called them, cold sounding that I couldn't even consider them. This with a triode P/P amp.
I then tried the Response 2s in my house and it was beautiful sounding but a bit too beautiful, if you know what I mean. Wonderful late night classical music speakers, though. I finally did spend a 2 1/2 hour private listening session with the 2.5s at the dealer using an 845 SET and an 25 wt SS and fell in love. Bought them that day and have not looked back. In fact, just this past week I treied to sell them to see if I could find something better and more musical, got an offer (on the low side) and decided to withdraw from the market. I just can't let them go! I actually thoroughly enjoy just looking at them and it made me quite sad to see them sitting unplugged my the family room. Last night I dragged them back to listening room and decided in 2 minutes that I'm going to keep them. Besides, this makes my wife very happy as she actually paid for them with her bonus that quarter - and we all know how our wonderful ladies get sentimentally attached to things! (I guess me too.)
I also listened to 1sc with SET amp (Cary 300B which is a bit on the warm, dark side of things) and found the ProAcs etched and uninvolving. But remember, just like we all taste differently, we also listen differently.
Recently, I tested about a dozen integrated amps and settled for the Sugden Masterclass.
Accuphase E530 Class A is also very nice and has alot of features.
Worth a listen.
The more we all post our ProAc experiences, the more it seems they have a Jekyll and Hyde personality, heheh. Greatly affected by the electronics upstream and their environment.
I can understand you and your wife finding the Tab 50 Sigs sounding thin. I noticed this tendency as well, and chalked it up to the small enclosure. I believe the 1SC uses the same drivers, but in a larger cabinet which may allow the woofer to achieve a fuller sound. I'd guess the crossovers could be different as well.
I'd always wanted a pair of 2.5s, but never thought I'd pull the trigger because of their size. I was lucky A'Gon member Alcides had a beautiful pair in yew wood up for sale. We both live in LA so I was able to see them before I bought them, and I have to admit I had the same reaction to their appearance you just described. As a matter of fact, I still do when I see them. I love their simple elegance, and I think their sound matches their appearance.
This summer I considered getting the VAC Avatar Super as well. It's beautiful looking and from what I've read very nice sounding and quite powerful for only 80 watts. However, for once common sense won out and I decided to put a halt to my run away spending. Now, maybe you can tell me what I missed out on, heheh.
Hi Gang. I really enjoyed Gumbei's "sibling anology" regarding the proac family of sound,rather appropriate here really. I am a big fan of stewart Tylers response series of proacs. When the original tablette was first introduced... it's only real competition at that time was the original 15 ohm version of the LS-3/5a bbc monitor which was sold by rogers or chartwell. I preferred the Roger to the proac at that time and still use the rogers in my kitchen to this very day,and driven by tube amplification of course. When the proac response 2 was first introduced, I was literally mesmerized by it's timbral fidelity and their uncanny ability to disappear in a room. Furthermore: I was stunned by their ability to resolve the midbass with such detail and drive. Of course,I was instantly in love and bought a pair for my small to medium room [16ft x 21 ft x 8ft ceiling] at home. At the time, I was driving them with the ARC d-79b and the ARC sp-10 mk2 preamp. We enjoyed them for a good 3 years. I would sometimes audition different amplifiers, both solid state and vacuum tubed. Even though I was using a tubed preamp... I never did soulfully connect with any of the ss amps and always thought the lower powered amps of each manufacturers sounded more musical. re: threshold,Levinson,krell, bryston and Bedini. The only ss amp that made beautiful music; whereby I could really get lost with the response 2, was the little 25 watt pure classe A Bedini. There are a whole slew of tube amps that really synergize well with the proac without needing to take out a second mortgage. The Conrad Johnson mv-52 is a real little honey of an amp with the response 2 as well as my friends [tricked up]little el-34 based asl 1003 integrated.... makes magic in a big way, immensely enjoyable for very little money.He uses it with the newer [back ported] response 2's. From the response 2, I upgraded to the reponse 3 floorstander and thoroughly enjoyed them for more than a decade....always driven with vacuum tubes of course. In actual fact.... they were a little too large and would overpower the room if one got carried away with the volume control. However...They would still disappear,image, and could flat out rock and roll if the mood called for it. I eventually sold them, as I had the opportunity to acquire the massive response 4 for the right money.However, I still miss the response 3 to this very day. Obviously, the response 4 was much too large for my room at home.... I moved them out to my studio room. A rather large but dedicated room [32ft x 27 ft x 12 1/2 ft ceiling] but the 4's still retained that beautiful proac magic that they all seem to possess when driven with quality vacuum tube amplifiers. Go hear the proacs with decent tube amplification and there is just no going back! Personally speaking.... In a typical medium sized living room or den in the average home, I honestly believe the 2.5 is the most versatile speaker in their entire line up. One that will always make for an enjoyable listening experience. Enjoy!
Amen, Ecclectique and Gunbei. I feel terrible as I almost worked out a deal to sell my 2.5s but I just can't - almost like ending a friendship for no reason. Maybe some day I'll upgrade to Merlin's floorstander but until then...
Hey Tomryan. I'll toast to that, Yeah..... without question, the Merlin is something special, but so is the 2.5.... as well as your lovely wife. cheers!
I'm currently running 1sc with the Audio Note M6 preamp and Audio Note Quest Silver 300B monoblock. Don't be put off by the 9 watts output. There is no problem with dynamic whatsoever. The sound is really magical and gorgeous. I've not heard Soro driving 1sc though, but I would think it should produce good result. I think you must audition them before making the purchase.
Ecclectique - Ever heard the large Merlins (or even small ones) and if so, how do they compare to 2.5s? Also, I remember hearing about 5-6 years ago that some people were modding the 2.5s' crossovers and swearing it simply improved what was already excellent. Heard anything about this?
That's some great experience you've had with the ProAc line with different amps. And your virtual system has me wondering what a vinyl front end might do for me. :)
It's interesting that so many people such as yourself have had success mating ProAcs with low powered amps. The specs might lead you to think that ProAcs could be a difficult load for an amp, but the positive testimonials over the years seem to disprove this.
I'd read often about the Merlins years back before I bought my first pair of ProAcs. With both the TSM and VSM, isn't there a mod or attachment one can change depending on whether you're using tube or solid state amps?
The 2.5s are only 86db efficient but have a very stable impendance curve (I don't think they drop below 6ohms) and a benign phase angle making them quite easy to drive.
I also remember something about the Merlins as regards using tube or SS but, based on what I read here, most owners use tubes and a lot use OTLs. The Merlins also appear to be a very easy load.
Ahh, Tomryan that's the trick, eh? The stable impedance curve.
I had no idea. I always wondered about that. I've been too preoccupied with the sensitivity and efficiency of the speakers.
Gunbei - we also need to check what's called the phase angle of crossover as the flatter that is (less steep) the less power is needed to drive.
I have a friend with 84db Spendors. You'd think he'd need a min. of 100wts to drive but since the impendance curve and phase angle are very easy (benign) he uses a 20wt OTL and everything works great. I know another speaker that is also 84db but has a wide imp. curve and steep phase angle - it's a bitch and needs a minimum of 100wts just to get going. I also know a speaker that is around 91-92db efficient but has a difficult imp and crossover load and requires lots of power.
I used to drive Studio 100 with Electrocompaniet ECI-2 with great results !
Tomryan.... Yes,I have heard the Merlin vsm [with bam option]on many ocassions and have seriously considered them to replace my reference 3a decapos.They are very special indeed! I honestly believe they are a world class speaker and must be considered top shelf by anyones standards. When driven with good vacuum tubed amplification and properly set up in an appropriate room .... they are magic with a capital M, and breathtaking in every regard.They are just so versatile with so much up side and so few liabilities. Can be optimized in both small rooms and large rooms due to their modest sized footprint. I had the pleasure of spending a week with them in my dedicated studio room. Driven by a pair of Atma-shere 2.2 OTL's and mated with the supratek syrah, they mesmerized each and every one that heard them. Even more impressive was the fact that my room is actually a little too large for the Merlin [32ft x 27ft x 12 1/2 ft ceiling]. They can kick out some very high spl's levels with out any sense of strain with an appropriate high powered amp. In my books.... their greatest asset is their ability to reproduce recorded music in the correct tonal balance and at very low levels to boot, then resolve this [both micro and macro] imformation in the proper dynamic scale. Impressive indeed...as not too many other speakers [in my experience anyway] possess this elusive quality other than the original quad 57 esl and perhaps the soundlab A-1. Regarding crossover mods on the proacs?.... Yes and no.... I played with the caps in original response 2 and settled with an auricap for the tweeter, however: one must always consider at least 30 hours of run in time on any given cap when evaluating these changes. Personally speaking here.... the biggest "bang for the buck" mod for the proac is to remove the stock crossover entirely from the cabinet. This does require additional wire,soldering,and removing the bass driver to get at the crossover inside the box. Not to mention the dexterity of a contortionst to get at it as well. Well worth the work though but be sure to use good hook wireup. I used cardas in my case. I can honestly say that this mod is not suttle, and improves the speaker in every way,especially micro imformation and nuance. And No, it does not alter that beautiful "proac voice" or the balancing act between tone and resolution that all the praocs seem to possess. RE: Proacs and amplifier power. In my humble opinion,this is one of proacs biggest strengths and one that should not be taken lightly for those considering lower powered amps or sets. For example: I found the Merlin extremely critical regarding the amplification in front of it,both power wise and quality wise. Not so with the proacs, It sounded wonderful with every amplifier I hooked to it, anything from an 18 watt single ended tube amp,on up to whatever power envelope you wanted to throw at it.
Put Audiomat in your list. I also want to upgrade my electronics for my Proac response D15.