My Long List of Amplifiers and My Personal Review of Each!


So I have been in a long journey looking to find the best amplifiers for my martin logan montis. As you know, the match between an amplifier and speakers has to be a good "marriage" and needs to be blend exquisitely. Right now, I think I might have found the best sounding amplifier for martin logan. I have gone through approximately 34-36 amplifiers in the past 12 months. Some of these are:

Bryston ST, SST, SST2 series
NAD M25
PARASOUND HALO
PARASOUND CLASSIC
KRELL TAS
KRELL KAV 500
KRELL CHORUS
ROTEL RMB 1095
CLASSE CT 5300
CLASSE CA 2200
CLASSE CA 5200
MCINTOSH MC 205
CARY AUDIO CINEMA 7
OUTLAW AUDIO 755
LEXICON RX7
PASS LABS XA 30.8
BUTLER AUDIO 5150
ATI SIGNATURE SERIES 6005

With all that said, the amplifiers I mentioned above are the ones that in my opinion are worth mentioning. To make a long story short, there is NO 5 CHANNEL POWER AMP that sounds as good as a 3ch and 2ch amplifier combination. i have done both experiments and the truth is that YOU DO lose details and more channel separation,etc when you select a 5 channel power amplifier of any manufacturer.
My recollection of what each amp sounded like is as follows:

ATI SIGNATURE SERIES 6005 (great power and amazing soundstage. Very low noise floor, BUT this amplifiers NEEDS TO BE cranked up in order to fully enjoy it. If you like listening at low volume levels or somewhat moderate, you are wasting your time here. This amp won’t sound any different than many other brands out there at this volume. The bass is great, good highs although they are a bit bright for my taste)

NAD M25 (very smooth, powerful, but somewhat thin sounding as far as bass goes)
Bryston sst2(detailed, good soundstage, good power, but can be a little forward with certain speakers which could make them ear fatiguing at loud volumes)

Krell (fast sounding, nice bass attack, nice highs, but some detail does get lost with certain speakers)

rotel (good amp for the money, but too bright in my opinion)

cary audio (good sound overall, very musical, but it didn’t have enough oomph)

parasound halo (good detail, great bass, but it still holds back some background detail that i can hear in others)

lexicon (very laid back and smooth. huge power, but if you like more detail or crisper highs, this amp will disappoint you)

McIntosh mc205 (probably the worst multichannel amp given its price point. it was too thin sounding, had detail but lacked bass.

butler audio (good amplifier. very warm and smooth sweet sounding. i think for the money, this is a better amp than the parasound a51)

pass labs (very VERY musical with excellent bass control. You can listen to this for hours and hours without getting ear fatigue. however, it DOES NOT do well in home theater applications if all you have is a 2 channel set up for movies. The midrange gets somewhat "muddy" or very weak sounding that you find yourself trying to turn it up.

classe audio (best amplifier for multi channel applications. i simply COULDNT FIND a better multi channel amplifier PERIOD. IT has amazing smoothness, amazing power and good bass control although i would say krell has much better bass control)

Update: The reviews above were done in January 2015. Below is my newest update as of October 2016:



PS AUDIO BHK 300 MONOBLOCKS: Amazing amps. Tons of detail and really amazing midrange. the bass is amazing too, but the one thing i will say is that those of you with speakers efficiency of 87db and below you will not have all the "loudness" that you may want from time to time. These amps go into protection mode when using a speaker such as the Salon, but only at very loud levels. Maybe 97db and above. If you don’t listen to extreme crazy levels, these amps will please you in every way.
Plinius Odeon 7 channel amp: This is THE BEST multichannel amp i have ever owned. Far , but FAR SUPERIOR to any other multichannel amp i have owned. In my opinion it destroyed all of the multichannel amps i mentioned above and below. The Odeon is an amp that is in a different tier group and it is in a league of its own. Amazing bass, treble and it made my center channel sound more articulate than ever before. The voices where never scrambled with the action scenes. It just separated everything very nicely.
Theta Dreadnaught D: Good detailed amp. Looks very elegant, has a pleasant sound, but i found it a tad too bright for my taste. I thought it was also somewhat "thin" sounding lacking body to the music. could be that it is because it is class d?
Krell Duo 300: Good amp. Nice and detailed with enough power to handle most speakers out there. I found that it does have a very nice "3d" sound through my electrostatics. Nothing to fault here on this amp.
Mark Levinson 532H: Great 2 channel amp. Lots of detail, amazing midrange which is what Mark Levinson is known for. It sounds very holographic and will please those of you looking for more detail and a better midrange. As far as bass, it is there, but it is not going to give you the slam of a pass labs 350.5 or JC1s for example. It is great for those that appreciate classical music, instrumental, etc, but not those of you who love tons of deep bass. It is articulate sounding too
Krell 7200: Plenty of detail and enough power for most people. i found that my rear speakers contained more information after installed this amp. One thing that i hated is that you must use xlr cables with this amp or else you lose most of its sound performance when using RCA’s.
Krell 402e: Great amp. Very powerful and will handle any speaker you wish. Power is incredible and with great detail. That said, i didn’t get all the bass that most reviewers mentioned. I thought it was "ok" in regards to bass. It was there, but it didn’t slam me to my listening chair.
Bryston 4B3: Good amp with a complete sound. I think this amp is more laid back than the SST2 version. I think those of you who found the SST2 version of this amp a little too forward with your speakers will definitely benefit from this amp’s warmth. Bryston has gone towards the "warm" side in my opinion with their new SST3 series. As always, they are built like tanks. I wouldn’t call this amp tube-like, but rather closer to what the classe audio delta 2 series sound like which is on the warm side of things.
Parasound JC1s: Good powerful amps. Amazing low end punch (far superior bass than the 402e). This amp is the amp that i consider complete from top to bottom in regards to sound. Nothing is lacking other than perhaps a nicer chassis. Parasound needs to rework their external appearance when they introduce new amps. This amp would sell much more if it had a revised external appearance because the sound is a great bang for the money. It made my 800 Nautilus scream and slam. Again, amazing low end punch.
Simaudio W7: Good detailed amp. This amp reminds me a lot of the Mark Levinson 532h. Great detail and very articulate. I think this amp will go well with bookshelves that are ported in order to compensate for what it lacks when it comes to the bass. That doesn’t mean it has no bass, but when it is no Parasound JC1 either.
Pass labs 350.5: Wow, where do i begin? maybe my first time around with the xa30.8 wasn’t as special as it was with this monster 350.5. It is just SPECTACULAR sounding with my electrostatics. The bass was THE BEST BASS i have ever heard from ANY amp period. The only amp that comes close would be the jC1s. It made me check my settings to make sure the bass was not boosted and kept making my jaw drop each time i heard it. It totally destroyed the krell 402e in every regard. The krell sounded too "flat" when compared to this amp. This amp had amazing mirange with great detail up top. In my opinion, this amp is the best bang for the money. i loved this amp so much that i ended up buying the amp that follows below.
Pass labs 250.8: What can i say here. This is THE BEST STEREO AMP i have ever heard. This amp destroys all the amps i have listed above today to include the pass labs 350.5. It is a refined 350.5 amp. It has more 3d sound which is something the 350.5 lacked. It has a level of detail that i really have never experienced before and the bass was amazing as well. I really thought it was the most complete power amplifier i have ever heard HANDS DOWN. To me, this is a benchmark of an amplifier. This is the amp that others should be judged by. NOTHING is lacking and right now it is the #1 amplifier that i have ever owned.
My current amps are Mcintosh MC601s: i decided to give these 601s a try and they don’t disappoint. They have great detail, HUGE soundstage, MASSIVE power and great midrange/highs. The bass is great, but it is no pass labs 250.8 or 350.5. As far as looks, these are the best looking amps i have ever owned. No contest there. i gotta be honest with you all, i never bought mcintosh monos before because i wasn’t really "wowed" by the mc452, but it could have been also because at that time i was using a processor as a preamp which i no longer do. Today, i own the Mcintosh C1100 2 chassis tube preamp which sounds unbelievable. All the amps i just described above have been amps that i auditioned with the C1100 as a preamp. The MC601s sound great without a doubt, but i will say that if you are looking for THE BEST sound for the money, these would not be it. However, Mcintosh remains UNMATCHED when it comes to looks and also resale value. Every other amp above depreciates much faster than Mcintosh.

That said, my future purchase (when i can find a steal of a deal) will be the Pass labs 350.8. I am tempted to make a preliminary statement which is that i feel this amp could be THE BEST stereo amp under 30k dollars. Again, i will be able to say more and confirm once i own it. I hope this update can help you all in your buying decisions!


whitecamaross

Showing 50 responses by dasign

#1 sounds forward, too much treble energy and unnatural to me. #3 sounds most natural and #2 very close to #3.
WC, I understand that you will test your DCS Rossini DAC with an upcoming preamp, to validate if your system sounds better with or without a preamp.

The Rossini DAC has 4 user-selectable analog voltage outputs (0.2 Vrms, 0.6 Vrms, 2 Vrms and 6 Vrms) in the DAC software settings. To what output voltage have you set your DAC to?

The reason I’m asking, is that I own a DAC with 3 user-selectable voltage outputs and mine works best using the 2 Vrms value feeding my monoblocks (29 dB gain).

When I received my DAC, the original manufacturer setting was at 18 Vrms, which sounded horrible. I tried a second setting at 6 Vrms which sounded better but had a limited volume control (some lack of dynamic range). I finally set it up to 2 Vrms, which provided a linear volume control with dynamic/best sound.

You may want to check that out prior to your preamp test (if not already done). Looking forward to your next YouTube video. I really enjoy your journey!
Whitecamaross, I’ve been following this thread since the beginning. Probably the best forum topic I’ve read in a long time.

The Boulder/AR combo should be a world class pair IMHO. But how will you know if you do not test it? This mission you have started is like hiking to the Everest. It is a long and dangerous mission (back pains + lifting the Boulder).

Will you stop the hike with only a few feet left? Will you be filled with remorses not knowing if the Boulder/AR combo could potentially have beaten the Luxman pair? Will you sleep well? Pleeeeeaaaaase go for it!

Good luck with the install, if you decide so.

A fan (LOL!)


A few years ago I was using the Classe Audio DR-7 preamplifier in combination with their DR-9 power amp. The DR-7 was the top-of-the line Classe preamp at the time, and built as a 2 piece preamp (Power supply + preamp). I purchased an Audio Alchemy DAC and tried it with/without the DR-7 preamp. The best sounding combo was without the DR-7. But this was like +20 years ago.

I am now using a Benchmark DAC 2 HGC with a pair of Krell FPB-350 MCX monoblocks and very happy with the combination and not looking into using a preamp at this point. My thougth process is that when you have less equipment in the chain, the audio quality should be the best.

However, I would like to think that today's electronics are much better than ones built 20 years ago. The Audio Research Ref 10 preamp is probably one of the best preamp around and would surely would like to better understand the interaction with a recent DAC with/without its preamp section being used.

I've been following this thread with great interest and looking forward to Whitecamaross findings
Whitecamaross,

Just came back from the Montreal audio fest and checked out a few pieces of equipment. Best speakers heard there, were the Martin Logan ESL 15A (illusion of speakers disappearing, nice woofer integration to panels, no coloration and wide soundstage). Another worthwhile speaker were the Focal Scala V2 Utopia (sounds very similar to the ML 15A). Also checked out the Wilson Audio Alexia series 2 (no coloration, full-range and very dynamic/in your face). 

Simaudio introduced their new reference monoblocks called the '888' (888 Watts/8 Ohm or 1776 Watts/4 Ohm). These suckers are as big as a coffee table and look/sound marvelous. Shipping weight is 300 pounds!

Good luck in finding your audio Nirvana. This is such a great thread!

Daniel
+1 WC

I totally agree with your position to avoid answering same questions/comments on both platforms. It is a total waste of your valuable time. Since you’ve been posting your videos on YouTube, I have decided to strictly post my comments on YouTube, since I feel this is the media that is most rewarding to us audiophiles and want to continue to support the production of these videos.
WC, I’ve been following your thread since the beginning and love the experiment you are sharing with all of us. I personally own a pair of rebuilt Apogee Duetta Signature (DS) ribbon panel speakers. I love panel speakers, because they do not colour the sound. The DS are a ‘flat’ panel type, i.e., barely no high frequency power emitted from their sides.

If I were to purchase a new panel speaker, it would be a ML ESL 15A which I have heard at the 2018 Montreal audio show. This is an impresive speaker, very natural, extended, high resolution and with 3D presentation.

My audio room size is 18 x 12 x 8 and have plenty of bass coming from the DS. Over the years, I’ve contemplated purchasing a pair of Apogee Diva, but had abandonned the project, since users who tried to shoehorn the Diva in smaller rooms were greatly disappointed. 

The ML Neolith video is somewhat misleading. The Monolith is a big ‘curved’ panel type. So there will be more high frequency energy coming out to the sides of the speakers when compared to a flat panel type. ML is doing so, to probably improve the imaging of the speakers. Since they are playing in a small room, they are toeing-in the speakers  to potentially avoid side room reflections.

The other concern I have, would be bass-loading your room. I know you like to hear your music ‘pedal to the metal’ and that would be a high risk to purchase such an expensive speaker to resell it, a few weeks later...

I would ask ML the recommended room size for the Monolith before making a move.

Regards,

Daniel


WC, installing a 30 A breaker should cost about $75 (time) + cost of breaker (around $35). However, the wiring benefit will be if you re-wire your 30 A dedicated circuit with 10 gauge wire. I have done so for my Krell FPB-350 MCX Monoblocks and had a dramatic increase in bass/dynamics.

If you decide to re-wire, figure out 2 hours @ $75/hour + cost of 10 Ga wire.
WC, I’m with you on uber priced cables, IMHO, they are not worth the money they are asking for. I would strongly recommend that while doing the breaker/outlet job, you also should consider replacing your electrical wiring feeding the power amps.

My Shunyata PCs (used Anaconda CX) are built using 10 GA. A typical NA house would be wired with 12 or even 14 GA wiring. Maximum current rating for a 12 GA wire is 20 A, while 10 GA is 30 A. Redoing the wiring would be beneficial to any power amps you would be trying. This would only add  a low incremental cost if you have an electrician already coming in for the breaker/outlet job.

I was astonished by lower noise floor and improved bass on my monoblocks, when my 12 GA wiring was replaced by 10 GA. It is the best bang for the buck improvement I did on my audio system.

Here is a very interesting article written by MSB Technology on the subject: http://www.msbtechnology.com/faq/how-to-wire-your-house-for-good-power/
WC, I am looking forward to hear from you regarding the Sonore Signature Rendu SE.

I have owned a few of their products ( Microrendu and now the Ultrarendu). You will be shocked by the audio improvements. They have created a mini PC and proprietary OS to minimize typical audio impairments generated by laptops/PC. 

You should noticed a very black background and increase in instrument delineation/low level details. Your bass will be as solid as it has ever been with the Magico/Focal.


@shadorne
Your post of August 19th (4:52 AM) is somewhat misleading, where you have hyperlinked what looks like a speaker frequency response graph. There is no title on the graph itself and a reference to the Soundstage test article, would have been beneficial to the understanding your post.

While I now understand what the linearity test plot you posted means and the conclusion you arrived to, it was done on the MK1 version and not necessarilly relevant to the speaker discussed here (MK2).

Agreed that it would be interesting to have the same testing done on the MK2 version.
@dracule1 
Exactly. A frequency response plot will only provide info on frequency linearity or flatness of the speaker at a specific power input.

Nothing to do with driver compression, which would need to be measured by an audio spectrum analyser at different power level inputs to verify appearances non-linearities or distorsions.
WC, you just came up with a very interesting conclusion about today’s best preamps. In the late 90’s, I purchased an Audio Alchemy (AA) CD player with volume control, to replace an early Telefunken CD player (which sucked real bad...). The AA CD player was feeding a Classé Audio DR-7 preamplifier/DR-9 power amp. The DR-7 preamp was one of the best SS preamp at the time, a two-piece design with separate PS.

Once I connected the AA CD player directly into the DR-9 power amp, there was no coming back and sold the DR-7 preamp. The DR-7 was subtracting some bass and low level details compared to the AA direct connection.

However, technology evolving at a fast pace, I was recently reconsidering this decision with my current reference system. I guess you just put the last nail on the coffin regarding this idea with your recent finding...LOL!
WC, I have personally heard the Focal Scala Evo as well as the ML 15a at the 2018 Montreal Audio Fest. Both speaker sets were my favorites among all the speaker sets present.

Difficult to say which one was better, since listening to them in a hotel room, with different ancilliary equipment makes it virtually impossible to sort them out.

However, if I was in a market to purchase some speakers, these would be on my short list.
WC do not worry about your Krell not being in position to correctly feed your upcoming speakers with 87 db sensitivity. I had the Krell FPB-200 CX stereo amp feeding my refurbished Apogee Duetta Signature ribbon speakers which have a 86 db sensitivity. Never felt that my speakers needed more power. The Krell drove those babies without a sweat.

Do not forget that the Krell and probably the D’agostino have more power/current available than published in their specification sheet. 
Viber6/Dracule1,

Which Apogee speakers have you owned? What ancilliary equipment were driving them?

Dracule1,
Which refurbished Apogee retailers cannot set them up properly?

I had my Apogee Duetta Signature rebuilt by Rich Murry from True Sound Works. My DS have natural and extended treble since I followed the original Apogee installation procedure. Second, Apogee restorers typically only restore the speakers and ship them back to their owners.

There are only 2 official US Apogee restorers, 1 on the East coast (Music Technology, VA) and 1 on the West coast (True Sound Works Audio, NV). Do you really think they will drive/fly half of the USA to their Apogee owners to install them? This would be a local sales store responsibility. As you know, there are none of them left, due to Apogee going out of business shortly after being bought up by a VC company.
grey9hound,

I agree with WC on the recorded audio quality of many electronica/edm musical tracks.

Here is a representative sample of well recorded electronica/edm I listen to from Roon/Tidal:

Track/Artist/Album

  • Cacao/Bruce/Sonder Somatic 
  • Radius/Daniel Avery/Slow Fade EP
  • Resynthesis/Max Cooper/World Passing By
  • Blood on my Hands/Shackleton/Blood on my Hands
  • Olympus Mons/People Plus/Olympus Mons
  • Acid Lab/London Modular Alliance/INTLBLK006
  • Yol/Konduku/Emerald Island
CCR - ´Who’ll stop the Rane’
Techno-dude,

The Plinius amplifier terminals are fed from the same internal bus, so you’re good on this one. I’m somewhat confused about your recommendation to use WW unterminated jumpers. How will WC connect these to the speaker terminals? Seems very unlikely that WW will ever sell such wiring jumper arrangement. The jumpers connecting the speaker binding posts must be removed for bi-wiring. I think the replacing the original ML jumpers by WW jumpers could provide marginal benefits (if any) in a non bi-wired mode. I do not think that ML is providing cheap jumpers on its best speakers. Remains to be proven.

The main idea behind bi-wiring is to improve sound quality by directly feeding a pair of cable the crossover tweeter circuit and another pair connected to the woofer circuit. In a bi-wired system, the power amplifier sees a higher impedance on the tweeter cable at lower frequencies and a lower impedance at high frequencies. The same logic also applies for the woofer cable portion (higher impedance at higher frequencies).

Altough the complete signal gets out of the amp on each terminal, it will split up because of the lower impedance of individual Xover sections seen by the amp. The high frequencies will travel mostly in the loudspeaker pair driving the tweeter circuit and the low frequency will travel mostly on the loudspeaker pair driving the loudspeaker woofer circuit.

How does this improve the sound? There is a large magnetic field generated in the woofer cable when music is flowing. If you split up cables like in bi-wiring, you are reducing magnetic interactions in the cables. So the magnetic field generated in the woofer cable cannot interfere with the high frequency energy in the loudspeaker pair driving the tweeter circuit. Bi-wiring provides better overall resolution without changing the speaker personality.

I am personally using bi-wiring on my rebuilt Apogee Duetta Signature speakers. I tried it a few years ago with MIT cables and Classé DR-9 power amp and no way I was returning to my original wiring setup. It was a very clear improvement.

I’m currently using Acoustic Zen Absolute silver bi-wiring cables fed by Krell FPB-350 MCX monoblocks and love my sound. If your speakers have bi-wired inputs, you should reaaly give bi-wiring a try. I would be surprised if you would not like it.
@mrdecibel, I totally agree with you. Depends on what techno_dude has tried (or not). There are many ways you can do bi-wiring, some better than others.

  1. Most expensive way is to purchase two sets of same cable  model/length.  We get the benefit of cable isolation in this scenario.
  2. Another solution is to purchase a  prepared bi-wire set, which has one pair of termination on the amp side and two pairs on speaker side. The low frequency and high frequency cables are assembled in separate sheats and running in parallel towards the speaker. This is the type of cable that I have and find them convenient for cable hookup. We also get the benefit of cable isolation in this scenario.
  3. Last solution is single bi-wire, where  a single cable with multiple internal conductors has two pair of terminations on speaker end and a single pair on the amp end. While this solution is economical, you loose the magnetic isolation benefit since internal conductors are assembled in same external cable sheath.
Well, WC did mention that he was going to do bi-wiring testing last week. Not sure if he had the opportunity yet, since he is waiting for the Block Audio monos to arrive.

Since he already invested so much money since the start of his journey, it may not be such an issue to try bi-wiring. Wireworld offers all of their top speaker cables in bi-wiring configuration as an option. He could probably trade his current cables for the bi-wired versions for minimal incremental money.
I am a fan of panel speakers. I currently own refurbished Apogee Duetta Signature ribbon speakers. Panels were refurbished by Richard Murry from True Sound Works. I personally rebuilt 100% of the Xover circuits using latest component technologies. What I like about panel speakers is that they are free of any cabinet coloration and minimize room side reflections, due to their cardioïd radiation pattern. Obviously, there is some care needed in speaker placement, especially minimum spacing behind the panels.

I was at the 2017/2018 Montreal Audio Show and the best speakers I heard were the Focal Grande Utopia, ML CLX Art and Rennaissance 15A.

The Focal Grande Utopia had a massive, dynamic and huge soundstage. It is a magnificient speaker but at a price tag that goes with it ($120K). You need a huge room/big amps to satisfy these monsters.

The ML CLX Art had the most incredible resolution I ever heard from any speaker. Its mids/high frequency reproduction were to die for, but seriously lacked output at the low bottom end. If I were to purchase these, I would add 2 subs. This is still an expensive solution ($29K = $22K panels + $7K  for 2 Balanced Force Subs). You still need a huge room to accomodate the panels/subs.

My goto ML speakers would be the Rennaissance 15A. This speaker is full range, wide soundstage, well integrated sub for a panel speaker. The mids/high are very detailed, but not as much as the CLX Art. However, the 15 A just kills the CLX Art in the bass department. The 15A has an Anthem Room Correction system built into the speaker for greater room intergration. Priced at around $25K, it is within reasonably priced for what you get. This speaker would fit in a medium-sized room.

I have never heard the Neos, I guess they would sound like a mix of the best features from CLX Art with bass from 15 A and probably/surely better than this mix....
Mikepaul, I had the same question asked to Krell’s technical support department and got same response...

However, I always like to make my own mind about any tweaks. So I purchased 2 Furutech top of line power inlets (Rhodium 20 A) and started dismantling original power cords. I had to cut-out a square on the back panel by drilling small holes and using a metal file to install the power inlet.

All this work was worthed. Once done, I used Shunyata Anaconda CX powercords on my FPB-350 MCX monoblocks and heard immediate audio improvements. Bass was much tighter and also felt an increase in overall dynamics. An another unexpected result was that these class A amps were now running cooler. So even if the original Krell internally wired power cords are pretty sizeable, I think they were somewhat strangling the amps.
Another aspect of cables not mentionned previously by Almarg and Viber6 is the cable winding geometry, which have their own electromagnetic field propagation pattern when current is going through them.
Viber6, inductive and capacitive reactance varies per frequency as you indicated. It would very difficult to guess how a cable assembly would sound, even if a manufacturer would share this information.

The ideal cable would have zero reactance and infinite conduction level (zero resistance). Supra conductivity is possible but not at a commercial level...

I am currently using Acoustic Zen Absolute silver cables (XLR interconnects + biwire speaker cables). Acoustic Zen provides inductance/feet as well as resistance/ feet specification on their speaker and interconnect cables.

If all manufacturer would publish these infos, it could potentially give you an idea about the design quality, assuming we are looking for the perfect conductor cable. But numbers do not necessarily provide good sound...An audition of any cable is required + matching these cables between active components is also a must, as WC is currently experimenting.




Viber6, I’ve owned the Acoustic Zen Silver Absolute speaker cable for a few years and it is somewhat difficult to precisely answer your question, since I’ve had so many modifications on my system. Prior owning the Absolute Silver, I owned the Acoustic Zen Double Barrel speaker cables.

The Double Barrel was an improvement over my Audioquest speaker cables (I do not remember the model number...) which had better bass extension/resolution and overall spatial presentation.

When I replaced the Double Barrel with the Silver Absolute (SA), there was an increase in resolution for all frequencies, like lifting a veil from the Double Barrel. The two cables had similar tonal flat balance, but the SA had a ‘thereness’ quality when listening to acoustic jazz or chamber music.
WC, the track is on the album 'The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume 1' on Tidal.
Faxer, thank for your detailed explanation on the GT Audioworks speaker design. The information on their website is somewhat confusing when they mention ‘that the driver uses no crossover’. From your explanation they are using a high pass filter crossed over at 2.5 kHz for their high frequency ribbon.

They can call it like they like it, but IMHO, GT Audioworks is using a crossover (or high pass filter), to limit bass frequency going into their high frequency ribbon. There are few speakers with no crossovers and they all have frequency limitations, since physics rules apply to all transducers.
Whitecamaross,

Well you got the ML gear right! The ML 15A/13 A are personal favorites of mine. Heard them at the Montreal Audio Show on a few occasions. Just curious, are you going to try some of the Constellation gear soon?
WC, my guess is that your new amps are Constellation Audio Centaur II monos...
Ha! Ha! Right on the money. I hope this is going to be a great match with your Neoliths.
WC, I just looked at the Lampi’s photos, only one thing to say: BLING! BLING! Just marvelous!
It does not show up on my 'Texas Flood' album. Maybe robertrs has a different version.
WC, here are my favorite test tracks. These are identified by track/artist/album and are all available on Tidal. I have diverse musical taste and sorted things out in order by mood, ambient up to techno:

Music Box/The Cinematic Orchestra/Ma Fleur
Notes Falling Slow/Cowboy Junkies/ Notes Falling Slow
Shortline/Ry X/Dawn
Everything Disappears/Thomas Stronen/Time is a Blind Guide
So/The Range/Potential
Crisis/Anohni/Hopelesness
Deadman/Shackleton/Deadman
NY is Killing Me/Jamie XX/We're New Here


Mrdecibel, could’nt agree more on your ´Tin Pan Alley’ track. Gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it.
Let me  guess your next amps: ARC 250 SE...
WC, where are you at regarding the purchase of your tube amp? Stereo or monoblocks? When will you receive it?
As ricred1 indicated, there could be an issue with your power grid. I noticed that my best sound is occuring on Sunday mornings. I notice a blacker background and greater dynamics.

I also have intermittent DC on my AC line, which makes my Krell monoblock transformers mechanically hum. So I’m investigating DC blocker devices as we speak. Balanced power transformers could also be of some help, to mitigate grid pollution.
+1 Ricred1, this is how my HT is setup. I use a Marantz SR5013 HT receiver which has 7.2 preamp outputs. The stereo analog out of the Marantz goes into the analog input of my Benchmark DAC3 HGC analog input feeding my 2 channel stereo system. Best of both worlds.
Viber7 +2 On your last 2 posts. I’ve had similar experience with gauge 10 dedicated power lines, Furutech GTX-D (R) NCF outlets, power cords (Shunyata Reasearch Anaconda CX series) and isolation devices (Steve Blinn footers).
WC, I agree with tjassoc suggestion. I also have used rock wool soundproof insulation for my ceiling and sidewall of my basement audio room. Basically it turns audio vibrations into heat. Works well is not too expensive. Another interesting product is Soundcoat GP3 dampening sheets which have an adhesive back. I’ve used these to minimize airborne vibrations to my equipment or noise generated by my power transformers. If I was in your situation, I would tack the GP3 sheets on your back wall and then fill up with rock wool.
D’Agostino Progression monoblocks?
Audio Research 250 SE Monoblocks?
VTL-MB 450 III monoblocks?
Happy new year to all. I've been following this thread since the beginning and just love it. WC, looking forward to your Youtube Channel to which I will subscribe.

+1 to Viber6 and mrdecibel regarding their music listening process.What is most important to me, is listening to music whatever the replay gear is (car radio, Youtube via TV or my audio reference system).

If I purchase new gear/tweak, I will listen to my favorite music which I am familiar with. My mindset is not expecting anything but musical enjoyment. If the musical enjoyment is increased during the new gear/tweak listening session (new details unheard of, increased dynamics, etc.), I will keep the new gear/tweak. I rarely use 'reference recordings' tracks since they are rarely musically interesting to me.

I am a music afficionado first and audiophile second. I am an audiophile just to increase my musical pleasure and not to show of my gear. When I get friends/family into my dedicated audio room, it is to share a musical experience with them. I never discuss my gear with them, unless I get questions/comments from them. My friends love music and none of them are audiophiles. I guess there are 2 types of audiophiles, the materialistic one (loves his gear first) and the philosophic one (loves his music first).

My 2 cents.
+1 yyzsantabarbara

I am a regular follower of Audiophilestyle web site specialized in audiophile computer setups and audio gear. I currently own the Sonore OpticalRendu combined with the OpticalModule. This setup is nearly the equivalent of the Sonore Signature Rendu SE Optical you are referring to.

One of their concept is to isolate the upstream noise coming from the home network router, using galvanic isolation provided by the optical connection. I previously used the UltraRendu ( Ethernet/USB converter) and could not believe the improvement when I purchased the OpticalRendu/OpticalModule.

It was a huge audio improvement (less veil, increase in low level details/bass). It is like accessing the master recording of the track you are listening. I thought my system was good prior to this purchase...Believe me, there is a lot of crap coming from your home network which affects the audio stream. I have a very simple home network (Cable modem + WiFi/Ethernet router + PC) and when I installed the Rendu optical network, it just brought life to my music. It is a huge improvement and relative inexpensive upgrade.

The Sonore Signature Rendu SE Optical is even better than my current optical setup according to AudiophileStyle forum members. It is an approved Roon endpoint.
New speakers + Vitus monoblocks
WC, your description of the amps was informative, concise and to the point. There was less repetition in the comments than the previous videos. The flow of speech was also very solid.

My 2 cents.
WC, I agree with other post members that you should use the better PCs for your interconnect/speaker cable tests. As you experienced yourself, PC make a positive difference sound wise.

If I was in the market to purchase a new interconnect cable, I would make sure that the rest of my system is tweaked correctly (PCs, speaker cables, amp matched to speakers, preamp matched to amp, etc.).

I think your test should replicate a real audiophile life situation.