Did you buy them new or used? If used, how many hours of play time do you have in battery-only mode before the BBAM loses power? Your problem may be weak batteries.
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Dgarretson, I noticed you have greatly modified your BBAM, it is likely you have increased dynamics and drive with that setup. My NEW DCA 66 uses similar batteries (4) which I'm sure help to maintain current for added drive and dynamics. I am guessing that perhaps you noticed the same weakness in the stock battery BAM and updated accordingly.
The VSM-MX's I bought used were about 2 years old & came with the standard BBAM (pre-SuperBAM). The batteries were giving out after about 4-6 hrs of use in battery-only mode (vs. advertised 12 hrs.) After taking the BBAM apart, I determined that two of the four NiMH batteries could not take a full charge. But even so, the battery-only mode still sounded better than AC-only mode or AC/DC hybrid mode.
I decided to upgrade the BBAM myself to much higher performance with low-impedance SLA batteries, more & better filtering capacitors, and most importantly, removing & bypassing the 3-pin DC regulation stages. The improvement for the system was on the order of 40-50% in smoothness of treble & midrange, resolution, transparency, dynamics, bass extension and control. I have spoken with Bobby about the SuperBAM. He believes it achieves similar improvements with upgrades to NiMH batteries, filtering cap, 3-pin regulators, and AC converter. He told me that the AC-only mode of the SuperBAM sounds better than the battery-only mode of the standard BAM, but that the battery-only mode of the new BBAM is better yet.
if you paid very close attention to the discussions concerning the super bam both on agon and aa you would find that the feelings on the subject are both obvious and virtually 100% in favor of the battery ops. i will say that there is a softening of information in your system and that is allowing the more detailed and less resolved and quiet battery operation to be preferred. the la 100 is certainly less definite sounding than a 150 for example. the 100 was a reference of mine so older merlins were a touch thinner and brighter and the 150 replaced it. the super bam ac ops is better than the old bam's battery ops and the super bam battery ops is a full 30% better than the old. there is nothing wrong here. if you prefer the ac go ahead and be so inclined as it will interface better with some systems. you may also want to experiment with the bam following the the cdp/or in a tape loop or between the pre and power amps.
you might also have the older battery supply in the super bam before we changed over to the 200 mah cells. those batteries did indeed sound softer and that was one of the reasons that we changed them.
there is no doubt that you may find a pc that is even better suited to your system than the stock cord.
work with it, get your system to sound exactly the way you want it to sound. there is no right and wrong here.
just have fun!
" I have also personally experienced some of these same symptoms with a N.E.W. DCA 66 amp I own which further reinforces my thoughts on this."
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don't blame batteries. Maybe it's just the amp that is not dynamic. I have a DCA33 and I don't think it suffers in the dynamics dept. Of course it's a completely different amp than the 66, so it's impossible to make direct comparisons w/o having them side by side. Also because it can only run in battery mode, you don't know that it would sound beter running on ac.
Thanks everyone. I just got off the phone to Bobby and it appears I have some synergy issues, also I do have the newer 200mah batteries. I will make some cable changes per Bobby's recommendations, and possibly go to the Joule Electra LA 150.
As things stand, I never meant to complain in any way about the sound I'm getting with this system, it is simply wonderful. I would just like to experience the Super BAM using it in the way it was voiced to sound best.
I don't see it as complaining but rather as you have indicated, attempting to wring the last bit of resolution out of ones Rig. It is what this community on its best behavior does best IMO.
Sharing experiences expands all of our horizons and helps one do that system wide reexamination that can be so important. It is good to have your "status quo" challenged. It is how we grow in life even in audio.
sns, the 230 mah batteries will have more potential, sound fuller and more dynamic. the 200's are older and probably on their way out. they are 5 years old.
you should also think about the use of a single speaker wire with the merlin lead free jumpers. it would sound better imho. call me about this for an explanation. i would get your wire re-terminated to a single run. it will sound fuller and more dynamic again and the highs more real and precise.
your speakers would sound more continuous and resolved lead free.
paul, when you get your master bam you can have the batteries removed if you want but it does sound better in battery mode if the gear is up to it.
the ac mode sounds fuller and more etched in certain ways but this is 60 cycle noise imho. your electronics is clearer and more distinct than sns's la100. he would know this if he ever gets the la150mk2 i recommended to him. that is his issue and the bi-wire makes the tweeter sound a hair nasal and a little dull. this is just because of the decreased dc resistance allowing the tweeter to play too loudly. easily rectified with my suggestions.
SNS, one of the reasons the VSMs are among the most "well sorted" speakers on the planet. 20+ of years of incremental improvement on what was a very good idea when it was first designed. When Bobby recommends something, I almost always do it, since he seems to always be right (about his speakers how they will perform best).
One can't help but wonder what Bobby could have done if he chose to make the best 3-way speaker in the world, but I can't help but thinking that three or more drivers (and additonal crossovers) would keep the Merlin magic from happening. The BAM was the real inspiration, it solves the problem of excellent bass (no not the deepest, loudest, most impressive, etc) with the coherence only possible with two drivers (with bass and dynamics that would be very hard to get from an electrostatic). I wonder how many people buyu large, multi-driver speakers for much more $$$ than the Merlins, just be cause they can't believe a modest looking 2-driver speaker could possibly be among the very finest speakers in the world - especially for smaller scale acoustic music - jazz, voice, folk, chamber, etc). The fact that this speaker works great with relatively low powered tubes is just icing on the cake.
paul, when you get the master bam and rcs it is my opinion that the sound will get quite a bit bigger, wider and taller. the layering and general expanse will be enhanced so the speakers will be a more convincing on large scale orchestral music. my sound sound room at the factory is large and they now fill it completely. they still have the intimacy but they can sound big when they have to.
Bobby, I think they are pretty darn convincing a large scale music, but there is something to be said for a 12" woofer, or two 8s - then again, they can't do what a 6 1/2" can do augmented with a BAM. I knwo a 3-way will do somethings, but it would not be worth it if you lost the magic of cohesiveness that makes the VSMs so special.
you are right paul. the first thing for all listeners to consider is the size of their sound room and purchase a product suited to the room's needs.
the vsm cannot fill grand central station with sound but then again a speaker that can, will sound terrible in a room that the vsm thrives in. and if bass quantity and extention is the issue, they work well with subs. then you can go larger in room size again.
Well, I've been playing the Master BAM and RC Networks for about 10 hours now, so it might get even better - but it really does not have to. I've already commented on the VSMs in general so I won't rant about how good I think these speakers are. I will say this regarding the Master BAM, just when you think a speaker can't get better, the MBAM indeed brings worthwhile improvements to the already superb MXe. Besides what appears to me to be quieter background and therefore more transparent soundstage and intrument localization, which are worthwhile in their own right (mind you I always use the BAM in AC mode) the MBAM really shows its stuff on acoustic bass, take a song like Autumn Leaves by Patricia Barber with very well recorded bass, the MBAM creates a clearer sense of bass presence and bloom and articulateness. I'm sure there are improvements from top to bottom, but I've focused on the bass because it was so noticeable, and given that this is, after all, a smallish monitor with an integrated stand, the bass is truly first-rate, at least for acoustic instruments and I really don't think the idea of adding a subwoofer at this point would make any sense - the speaker simply sounds natural and balanced and better than ever. If you own the VSMs, upgrading to the Master BAM is simply a no brainer, you will get improved performance equal to or greater than making changes to sources or electronics. The key to this speaker has always been its approach to producing good bass from a two-way speaker, and the key to that has been the use of the BAM to produce that bass without having to move to a multiple-driver approach with a bigger box and woofer. By making the BAM better than ever at producing bass, it is simply the next step in getting the most from a speaker that might just the most well sorted speaker in the world from years of focus on the basic design and wringing the most that design can give. To say the least I am impressed, and this with my small Music Reference RM10s, next up will be the Atma-sphere M60s and Music Reference RM9 Special Edition, both of which are excellent bass producers, and better amps.....
I can't be sure, but I would think the Master BAM might make the AC versus battery just that much more moot.