The Parsifal Encore's are very nice speakers, I know I own them too. They can be a bit warm though, which unto itself is not a problem. However, the Cary SLP-98 is also very warm and sweet, so I do think that you have too much of a good thing.
If you want to try a nice tube preamp that will be more transparent than the Cary, try a Hovland HP-100. Should put you in about the same ballpark price wise too.
You may also consider more neutral cables,as the PAD's can also be on the warm side. Warm preamp + warm speakers + warm cables = well...you know.
I really liked my time with the SLP98 and although it is a bit warm, its transparency is quite good actually. My McIntosh C42 was a bit better in terms of dynamics so I sold the Cary. I think what you are hearing are the slightly restrained dynamics of the Cary. The Lamm will surely change that. You might also want to look into VTL. They aren't sterile and have good bandwidth.
thanks for the responses. hovlands have a phono, which i dont need, and tend to run over 3K, which is actually OK, but if i dont need to spend the cash, would rather not. i think my finalists are:
herron vtsp 1a/166
Dennis - a Hovland HP-100 may not necessarily have phono board in it as mine did not and I very much enjoyed it and it sold for around $3K. Now I did audition the Lamm LL2 deluxe up against it and found them to be more different than one being better than the other and I think it would be more of a system match with your amp which I am not familiar with. I found the Hovland to be more neutral and the Lamm to be more relaxed with great timing but maybe a little less detail than the Hovland at least in my system and most importantly with my 46 year old ears.
I can say that the Hovland stayed the longest in my rack was only displaced by the big Lamm (L2 ref) although thats now gone too and maybe I have a bit of seller's remorse with the Hovland and would consider the HP-200 if one at the right price came along.
As far as bang for the buck I think the LL2 deluxe is a great preamp and they can be bought for less than $3K without fail.
just thought i'd give an update on where i finally landed... i got a hovland hp100, up to current specs, and am using some finely matched, low noise mullard 12ax7 from andy at vintage tube svcs, and a cleartop rca for the 12au7 (not using the phono stage, so just got some cheapos in there). the hovland is sitting on some walker valid points, and i got some walker HDL for the speakers. everything is sounding AMAZING. i'm goin to be listening for a while, but i have a feeling i might be swapping in some 12ax7 that are a little more open on top, just hoping i can get a little more air without sacrificing the midrange that is just absolutely the best i've heard in my system. not bloated, not slow, so open, and still very palpable... really enjoying it!
Thanks for the update Steve, I'm glad you are enjoying the rig. I thought the Hovland would make a great match, though I am currently using a ARC Ref 3 myself. If you are not using the phono stage, why not just take the tubes out and save the wear altogether? They may come in handy later in 'emergency duty'.
Are you still running the Legend Audio triode monos? How do you like them?
For that little more air, you may want to try either some silver ribbon cables (RSAD) or some of the Jade Audio Vermeil or Hybrid gold/silver cables, Gabriel Gold Revelations may also work for you. Personally, I would recommend the latter two. I found that silver, while initially enjoying the new transparency, eventually I preferred the gold mixed with the silver. Better extension than the PAD cables, but still truer harmonics than pure silver. The Jade Audio Hybrid's are the best I've yet heard, but can be a little pricey. The Vermeil is a steal at it's asking price, IMHO. You have 30 days to decide for yourself.
hey john. yep, still running legend audio triodes. everything sounds great, but the amps are new, the preamp is new, and the speakers are relatively new, so i'm still settling into the sound. it's incredibly open, very 3 dimensional, great balance from top to bottom, good imaging which probably could be a ton better with some room treatments, and actually a nice tight bottom end, the top end maybe could be a little more open, definitely think mullards all throughout is not the way to go. i'm sort of curious to see what a higher powered amp could do, but i think i'm sitting with what i've got for a while. RE: the cabling... not sure i want to swap cables, i really love the PAD sound. would rather swap out some tubes... overall less expensive, at least imho.
Steve, you are correct, swapping tubes is definitely cheaper. I didn't really notice that you were using Mullards throughout, yes this would be a good place to start. I've always been more of an Amperex fan myself, though Siemens will also give you more life up top. Mullards are great if you have a tad too much high end, but not so much so if you seek more sparkle, IMHO.
what amp are you using john w/ your parsifals? the legend triodes are 42w/ch, which is fine for fairly high listening levels, but i definitely am missing some slam and authority on rock. i thought maybe somewhere i saw you were using nagra vpas.... are these 50w enough for you?
i have no expierience with the ll2 directly, however i have owned an Emotive Poeta before my current Lamm L1 preamp, and it was good riddence to the Poeta pre. The bass was out of whack in timing and presentation, but the mids and highs were good. But by no means was the Poeta in any league as the L1. Period.
Not the specific models you are inquiring about, but my first had expierience.
I currently running a pair of Jeff Rowland Model 6 monoblock amps Steve. Plenty of power, and good bass control. I've long been a fan of the tube preamp/SS amp combo, and currently mate a ARC Ref 3 with the Rowlands. It's quite a nice match. I've also previously used a BAT VK-51SE/ VK-600SE combo with much success with the Parsifal's too. I wouldn't say the Rowland's are better, but I do prefer the soundstage created by monoblocks. They also cost a bit less than the BAT VK-600SE. I do like the ARC Ref 3 better than the BAT VK-51SE though.
I wish I could afford to try a darTZeel, but probably not this decade. :)
The Parsifal's are great speakers, it's hard for them not to sound good. I have one friend who swears that they still sounded best when I had a VAC Avatar Super integrated amp driving them. Though it did have plenty of midrange magic, I prefer the slam and authority of SS amps driving them, as it seems you may as well.
yo john. got some stereovox cables to replace my purist audio. i'll let u know how they fare. 600ii + LSP. if they don't work, i'll just sell them, hopefully wont take too much of a bath. :P
Steve, did the tube swapping not work out? I've heard great things about the Stereovox cables, but I haven't heard them myself. I'll be interested in reading your impressions. I heard a demo pair of the Jade Audio Vermeil speaker cables, they sounded so good that I ordered a pair. So I'll have Jade cables throughout my system once the speaker cables arrive. The Jade cables have gold clad silver conductors. I've found that they nicely couple the speed of silver with a richer, more vibrant sound.
Also, if you get a chance, try a Stealth Dream 'Preamp' cord on your Hovland. I think you will be mighty impressed.
i did a little tube swapping, and then realized i really need/want more juice to drive my speakers, so i got some new amps, coming in a couple days. canary 160. also thought i'd try some silver cables. the stereovox sound like they are a little less lean than other silver cables, i could definitely use some transparency.
i did get the audiopoints and the svelt platform for between the woofer and top cabinet, and damn did that make a huge difference!
Did you try the Verity Ovation partition between the woofer and monitor? Comes in less $ than the svelt, I think. Aluminum with sorbothane.
I'm glad you are enjoying the Audio Points and the Symposium Svelte platform. I also feel these are very worthwhile upgrades.
While you are at it (playing with the cables), make sure that you replace the stock jumpers with some silver, just for good measure. The stock jumpers are made of Discovery cable, just as the internal wiring is. However, Discovery cable leans to the warmer side as well, which might explain the warmth of the Parsifal's. I'm currently using a pair of Audioquest Kilimanjaro jumpers, which also significantly helped increase the transparency of the Parsifal's. Once 'tweaked in', these speakers are absolutely incredible. It's well worth the effort.
Let me know how you make out with Chris' cables.
i hadn't thought of that. oh well. the sveltes are great.
Hey Dennis, how are you liking the Canary 160's?
Dennis: Just tagging along on Jman's question re how you're enjoying your amps. I'm still shopping for new electronics for my Parsifals and wondered how you went about settling on the Canary 160s? What else did you try?
hey all, just saw this. I LOVE the canary's!! they blew me away. powerful, without strain on the parsifals. wonderful tone throughout without sacrificing energy or life. in fact, that's their strong suit, they have a lot of life to them. they present things forward on the stage, which i love, and i think mates well w/ the parsifals which i feel are a bit too laid back for my liking. my previous amps ran out of steam, i think partly because of my room size. the canary's have a tight bottom end that's controlled for a tube amp.
midrange of course is to die for. detail is excellent. separation of instruments is excellent, i hear zero congestion. dynamics are good but not the strong suit. i have yet to hear a tube amp that has that balls to the wall dynamics, but i also think it's partly due to the speakers i choose (electrostats, dynamic, never tried horns). that said, the canary's have more jump and excitement than most tube amps i've heard. they sound like VTLs in that way, but are more transparent and have better detail retrieval than VTL's i've heard (ST150, ST85). my previous all time favorite amp was a VAC 70/70 mk3, which i loved to death... the canary's have that same magic, altho i wish i could listen to the two amps side by side to listen to their differences. my bet is that they are much more alike than they are different.
i'm now at the point where i really WANT to listen music. i look forward to it, which honestly it's been a while since i've had that feeling.