Outstanding brands?


Just learned that zanden when set up correctly is simply one fine system.
What other brands could be considered to be in the same league.
My idea of a fine system is one that I get lost in the music and feel as thought the instruments are there positioned in front of me like in the concert hall. With the bass sounding realistic, and the air surrounding the instruments. Playing symphonic music is one good way to challenge the system, but I also listen to jazz, rock, brazilian, big band among others. As my system has gone through changes the sound has improved and each genre proves to be exciting.
Experienced a-goners know as we get closer to a realistic sounding system our ears get better we hear deeper into the soundstage and realize it is still a recording, but there are times for some reason or other there are moments that what we hear sounds damn real. The recording plays a big role no pun intended, just picked up some mercury's and london's, and it is an eye er ear opener to say the least.
In the end it is all about the music, the equipment is just a means. I still appreciate my car system and work place radio, but in those cases I am filling in the missing nuances and details.
pedrillo
looks like you have one mother of a set up.
Larry
You know what I think.
When the midrange/lower mids/upper mid bass is produced properly,it is easier for the "brain" to relax and not have to interpret.Thus the constant mental/spiritual or mind/heart dilemma is put to rest.Just my two cents-take it as you will.
"Just learned that Zanden when set up correctly is simply one fine system.
What other brands could be considered to be in the same league."
It certainly is. Other systems in the same league I am familiar with:
Wavac with Steve Nugent's Spoiler DAC. or with vinyl.
Atma-Sphere " " " " "
VTL " " " " "
I am sure there are others, but I am not familiar with their sound.
And yes, as you say, it is about the music and only the music and the dilemma Tpsonic writes about is not something I bother with as long as my system is doing what I assembled it for. It has to serve the music, so I can forget about the rig.
I prefer some of the "older" VAC amps & pre.
VAC Ren. Sig. Mk. III One Hundred Forty amps mated with a VAC Ren. Sig. Mk. II pre amp with phono (still current) & add in 2 matched octet sets of WE 300B's + a pair of Sonus Faber Stradavari's & forget the rest!
After 45 years in this hobby - I have found audio nirvana.
This systen has the sound, the looks & the they are there in the room with me feel that I have been searching for & have finally found.
IMHO:
1) The 2 VAC components listed above are the very best work/s Kevin has ever come up with & should make any speaker system sing!
2) The WE 300b is still the best sounding tube ever made.
3) The SF Strad's are (if not) the finest speakers ever built.
Don't ask any of the reviewers of their thoughts, as they are a fickle as the wind & have even recommended or awarded some of these components very highly.
Close your eyes & listen - Then open them up & see the beauty.
When you can hear glorious sound, see true beauty & have a very low maintainance set up - YOU HAVE IT ALL!
As others have said: There are other great systems out there, but this one I can feel & touch, but it can also reach out & touch me.
Pedrillo!.. You have the ugliest turntable I have ever seen. If I brought that home, my 30 year marriage would end... quickly.
In Pedrillo's defense, to make an analogy, while certainly not pretty, his TT is of the kind that wins men's admiration in the locker room and makes women smile.
Dgarreston, LMAO! I will agree, it is one hairy chested turntable. Maybe if I show it to my wife she'll let me have one?
"Just learned that zanden when set up correctly is simply one fine system"
Absolutely agree. As I am leaving with one for now over a year, progressively built, now complete with simply astounding 9600 monos. Simply unbelievable.

Other all one make system I have heard is the Audio note Ongaku based system, complete with Audio note speakers. Probably much pricier, but not better, than my Zanden. Detlof mentioned Wavac. I have heard all wavac (pre and amp) at CES and sound was believable (un);-) Lamm would be another outstanding brand I have heard. Polar opposite would be an all MBL system, when set up right is also great. Still nothing is like Zanden. To my ears.
Oops. Leaving=living. Gotta do spell check;-)
Zanden and Wavac play indeed in the same league, as does some Lamm gear. Not MBL to my ears, I don't like a guitar string plucked coming at me like a Mack truck in size. Ain't natural but it will impress some of course.....
"Not MBL to my ears, I don't like a guitar string plucked coming at me like a Mack truck in size."

I've heard this criticism of MBL before. Having heard MBL 111s at least, I'm not sure I understand it. Is it more attributed to 101s and their particular extreme dynamics, as I understand it? Does it have something to do wit the fact that they are omni's and the soundstage can go from wall to wall as would be the case listening to a live performance in most venues?

Regardless, I would be hardpressed to not think of MBL as an outstanding brand. Their technology and sound is quite distinctive and delivers unique results that are hard to match for those who subscribe.
Detlof, you are correct. When I had MBL 6010d pre and 9008a monos, guitar string plucks were indeed 'like a rope' as you once said. I have heard an all ( including ref digital front end) MBL system set up right, once in a big room ( really wide- thrice the distance between the speakers, like 40 some ft, with 9011's and 101's and it sounded rather impressive. Although recalling that sound I would not compare it to Zanden's or Lamm's or Audio Note's. It was different, but still impressive and least like what I have heard same system at the displayer's (i would not name him) house( was horrible). Same system, different room and the sound was more than bearable.In the past I would have added a Jadis name plate here, but not so now, having had some experience with the sweet stuff.

Detlof and Mapman, Now that you are bringing up. Was that in same league. Emphatically, No!! I would not spend my money, again. Although the MBL preamp is drop dead gorgeous! On the other hand I am yearning to get my hands on another set of 9600 monos to drive my woofers. Am weighting for Dow to go up to 10000 plus ;-). Next year may be.

After that Black metal thread in the 'best of' , i did get some Meshuggah and the mastodon and the slipknot and the Opeth and the Rammstein and the porcupine tree records. Zanden Really does them justice. Never mind, that you feel nauseous after 60 minutes of metal assault. It is that good.;-)

BTW, Meshuggah and Mastodone does stand out as elite metal bands.

Back to the thread subject...
Mapman,
"Does it have something to do with the fact that they are omni's and the soundstage can go from wall to wall as would be the case listening to a live performance in most venues?"
Yes it does to my mind and just that is not natural to me.
A plugged guitar string should not go wall to wall, it should emanate from some point within the soundstage with high precision and natural in size (îf recorded right in the first place) and that is just that what (to my ears) the MBLs cannot do properly. To me they are for people who are unfamiliar with live concerts and I don't mean rock in big arenas. Of course they are impressive, but not particulary musical as far as I am concerned.
"A plugged guitar string should not go wall to wall, it should emanate from some point within the soundstage with high precision "

The MBL 111s I heard did this exceptionally well with all instruments in a very deep as well as wide soundstage. Similar results with the OHMs in my system.

"..and natural in size (îf recorded right in the first place) and that is just that what (to my ears) the MBLs cannot do properly."

This is where omni's like MBL and OHM will differ IMHO. Properly set up, the instrument will emanate from a specific location, but the location may fill more space vertically from floor to ceiling, which might sound unnatural in a nearfield listening scenarion, but then can spread from there more naturally, like a ripple in a pond or sound in a concert hall.

Too small a room or listening too nearfield might make this seem like an unnatural perspective, but not the case in a more typical non-nearfield listening location and in a larger room better suited for the presentation of omnis.

Given the nature of the beast (omnis), it seems like a stretch to me to not label MBL an outstanding brand just because it is not to everyone's personal tastes.
Good reasoning Mapmann, but allow me to remain sceptical. "Outstanding" is a subjective value statement, not an objectified label. I don't doubt that many people will find the MBLs outstanding as you find your OHMs. For me, I have some suspicion that they tend to screw with phase- the MBLs that is- and that is something I am finicky about. Opinions and tastes differ thankfully. Otherwise we would have nothing to talk about, would we.... (:
I think the innovative technology and resulting sound of the MBLs alone makes the brand distinctive and outstanding in certain ways that of course will not appeal to all. My only qualm is that this stuff is very expensive and beyond the means of even many audiophiles.

OHM, though similar in its sound in many ways, is a different case. Here, the emphasis is on making good sound, omni or otherwise, affordable to many not necessarily via major new innovations (the WALSH driver concept is a good 40 years old already) but through ongoing refinement of the original design and offering cost effective upgrade paths for anybody who owns any pair of OHMs. Its a very blue collar approach to delivering good sound to the masses.
I'd have to toss Audio Research in there also IMHO.

I recently acquired my first piece of ARC tube gear and have been extremely pleased with the sound.

Plus, this is another company that has been around for ages and offers customers upgrade paths for most everything as I understand it.

To me looking out for customers via service and support in addition to delivering good value products is a big part of any outstanding hifi brand.
What other brands could be considered to be in the same league.

I am perfectly aware it is difficult to judge the viability of such assertion with regard to lesser known brands. But knowing ARC and MBL to a certain extent, mentioned as league references here, I am clear in my own mind that Tidal Audio must be mentioned.

Not a complete one-make system - Tidal doesn't manufacture sources - but perfectly matched, "out-of-the-way" amplification and speaker systems as lifelike as they come (imho of course)

One occasion for some to get better acquaintanced with Tidal will be the 2009 Münich High-End where I believe they will show the Sunray speakers with Preos and Impact mono amps (the announced source is Swiss made Audiostone Pythagoras table with Thales tonearm)
I second VAC gear for sure being in "the same league", if not one of its own. With the right associated gear, very capable of transporting you to another time and place. It is now happening in my listening room on a daily (and nightly) basis and I couldn't be happier.

Associated gear is Esoteric, Synergistic Research, APL(32-bit DAC) and VSA VR-7se's. VAC gear is Phi 2.0 preamp, 2 300.1 Phi amps in mono configuration.
"The recording plays a big role no pun intended, just picked up some mercury's and london's, and it is an eye er ear opener to say the least."

I agree, have recently purchased several London phase 4 recordings. A recording this well done "gershwin" takes the "recording" out of the expeience and puts it in another dimension. Of course as others here have pointed out,my VAC 140's have alot to do with this illusion of being there. This illusion btw is more common in my system than not,thank god.
PS Audio
Marantz

Both CEO's are filled with Passion for Music.
Both Build quality components, that are affordable.
Both Highly Under-Rated!
Both Have made quality components for years.

I LOVE MY MUSIC!
Marantz?Maybe in the day.It appears they are interesteed in looks though.
Aesthetix calypso!
I second Aesthetix. Had the calypso, no I have the sig version for the price in my system it can't be beat.
Vandersteen for teh price is another one. Great accurate sound, not to say it's for everyone just a outstanding brand.
Programmergenius,
Can you share the improvements for the calypso upgrade to sig. I believe the calypso was one of the best purchases I made.
If you want to get close to the music , consider Ayre , and it's no where close to the price of Zanden.
If you equate great sound with emotion and passion, then Burmester is for you.

I was reading through this thread and just demonstrates we all have opinions but I had a laugh when I came across Detlof's postings in relation to his description of MBL 101E's.

What can I say, he just hasn't heard a proper set-up obviously yet.

These are the type of postings that others reading and take for granite such postings which is misleading and a shame.

If you truely want to hear what these speakers are capable of hear them paired up with a VAC Sig. MK2a pre-amp along with their Statement 450 mono blocks and you will be in for a real treat, just make sure you bring along something to wipe up the drool.

My front end is a TW Acustic Black Knight table with two different arm and cart combos.

Curious Detlof it's been a few years now since your posting above and if you happen to read this what does your system consist of because even at this time I could not locate any reference of such.

Personally what I have heard of Zanden I have liked but when I had their top notch trans/dac I preferred others, ending up with a MBL 1621a trans paired up with a Acustic Arts Ref Tube dac.
I heard Zanden and was not impressed.Not liquid enough like Burmester or dynamic as MBL.Of couse, only a true and honest audiohead would mention that there is no best. Everyone has different tastes. I do not like "polite" sound or sitting in the back row, but rather a more immediate sound. Texture, liquidity, transparency and dynamics. Not that Zanden is bad though.
Tannoy DC
AUDIENCE i have 6T and 6TS wonerful company GREAT service.Oh yes wonderful sounding units.
I know what you mean , the Bose Wave sounds so good no matter where you place it. I don't know why I waited so long to buy it. There really is a difference in electronics and finally I am experiencing High End sound quality. I am officially an audiophile.

A lot of terrific stuff, here! I would be remiss if I didn't advocate Balanced Audio Technology...IME, their top-shelf products acquit themselves admirably :-)

Regards,

Sam
Wilson Audio Specialties.
Bel Canto recently came through for me on customer service with timely repairs for very reasonable cost, so given the quality of the product + the customer service, I'll toss Bel Canto in the ring.
Hi Mapman,
Good to see hat you are still around and posting!
Detlof,

Thanks for the kind words.

Still kicking....