looks like you have one mother of a set up.
"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.
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.
"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.
"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...
"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 (Ã®f 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 (Ã®f 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 MÃ¼nich 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.
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.