Sideways move at best,YMMV
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I had a Thor TA-1000 mkII pre and Art Audio Jota monos before I got the Fila. The Fila was an improvement across the board. I also just got the upgraded BAM and RC's, and my system sounds like the best of tubes and s/s. Refined and transparent like the best tubes, but weighty and fast like the best s/s. It's an amazing little integrated. I plan to gradually upgrade my cables to Cardas Clear and may eventually get the Merlin sub that is apparently in the works, but as far as my basic setup, I'm done.
Word of advice: If you decide to go for the Fila, and you only intend to run one source, do not get the tape loop option. Otherwise you will need an extra pair of interconnects.
Not saying the Fila is better than what you have, but it is certainly a great pairing with the Merlin, between ergonomics and money in your pocket, I don't you will be dissapointed. I made the move from CAT amp and pre to the Ars, and in terms of musical satisfaction I thought the Ars was right up there. If you want to improve on what you have and the Ars, I think you would need to make a move to OTL amps (Joule or Atma-sphere), but for many, they could just live with the Ars and not think twice about it. I do prefere the Atma-sphere separates, but you are talking 3x $$$, alot more tubes and heat, and space.
the e34l is a much better sounding tube than the el34. and as for tube rolling, it is really doubtful that you will find a better sounding combination than what is there already. you will only make it sound different and imho, not better. the jan 5814 is a classic.
the e34ls must be a matched quad.
how old is the amp?
After 3 weeks of listen to my new Filar SE with stock tubes, here is my comments in comparing to my existing Cary SLP05/CAD120S:
Cary pair give more punch, body, and detail. Sound is rounder (?) even at low volume.
I would give 7/10. Now, I'm satisfy - ARS Sonum can do so much, but not miracle.
I'm keeping the Cary pair!
Well, you do have a preamp/amp combo selling for a bit over 3x the price versus a small, lower powered integrated "voiced" for the speaker, seems like a fair fight to me. Should not be too shocking you might prefer a $12,000+ combo (and Dennis Had is not chopped liver) to the Ars, but the question is how far does the Ars take you at a far lower price point? Pretty far I think. Ultimately, I prefered my $13,000+ Atma-sphere combo, but I sort of expected that. That being said, one could easily live with the Ars/Merlin combo, get off the merry-go-round and just enjoy the music without worrying about the next upgrade, tweak, buying expensive ICs or NOS tube rolling.
I'm totally agree with you, Pubul57
Having Cary running with Merlin for sometimes, I always feel like trying the Ars (just to make sure I don't miss anything :-))
Now I'm happy knowing the fact - I'll give it a try with Amperex PQ white label 6922 and a pair of Amperex Bugleboy 12AU7 Holland along with Herbie tube damper ring. Just want to test it out
Just want report back on tube roll of my Filar.
I swapped with Amperex 6922 PQ white label USA - result finer detail on high freq, mid-range is smoother.
Next swapped the orig JAN 5814-A's with a pair of Amperex Bugle Boy 12AU7 Holland - result incredible bass, stronger and tighter.
Overall result is excellent for the money (~$150)
If your combo is lacking bass, try a pair Amperex Bugle boy :-)
PS: I also place 3/4 lb heavyhat Mapleshade (x3) on each of the tranformer- not sure if they're help (have some lay around)
My next step will be trying Herbie Ultrasonic tube damper
t, tube rolling imho may or may not make it sound better but it will certainly change it's sound. think on this, years of r+d have been spent on it. it is a tuned item with those tubes. also, his amp is an older version than yours. yours probably sounds better than his without the effort.
think before you move.
If you want NOS tubes, there is no better source for testing and getting what you think your getting that Andy at Vintage Tube Services. Don't know if you will like them better than the JAN Phillips 5814s as I never tube rolled the Ars when I owned it and there is something to the idea that it might just very well be "voiced" for the JAN Phillips, even if the Amperex is a better tube in most applications.
Best place for 12Ax7/6922 tubes is Brent Jessee (google it)
Like I said, spent $150 just to know your amp limit is cheap compare to buy a pair of CGR IC - If you don't like them, unload them here.
I do like my result - PS: my Filar SE is 2007 production. It's getting better and better every day :-)
And remember: a dollar spent on room tune worth more than $10 spent on equipment :-)
Roll tubes did not affect the sound stage.
I follow your advice moving speakers 8ft apart and the seating 10ft from speakers - sound stage get wider and stereo separation is better than previous set up.
Now I need to "dial-in" final spot base on Jim Smith's instruction in "Get Better Sound" - It's time consuming :-)
I have tried E88CC from Telefunken and Siemens.. liked teles...then i read thuan98s views on amprex
i tried 1 Amperex 6922 PQ white label USA & 2 Amperex Bugle Boy 12AU7 Holland and its wonderfully romantic...you will stop taping your feet insted get up and dance..thank you thuan98 for sharing your views in the forum
it is definitely better than the regular tubes (jj & philips) in fila by a big margin
Excellent review T. Some times you just have to listen to something to get past your preconcieved notions. Few believe that a smallish 2-way speaker could be among the very best speakers in the world - till they hear the Merlins for themselves. 130+ "reviewers" (user reviews on audioreview.com) seem to think so too, and you can't that kind postive response through advertising and cocktails.