As I mentioned in the body of the review, I was able to hear the Triolons with a variety of front ends, amplifiers and cables and to hear a number of other speakers driven by various combinations of the same equipment. This marathon listening session is more fully detailed at www.audiofederation.com/blog/ which includes pictures of the Triolons and some of the other equipment; consequently, no real point would be served in rehashing the same information. However, I would like to make several observations on the amps used with the Triolons and the effect that the amp used ultimately had on the sound.
Edge Electronics NL Reference "paramid" 800 watt solid state amps: the Reference was tubelike (here I mean classic tube sound). The highs were somewht soft, the bass somewhat less controlled, particularly from the mid bass down, very sweet and three dimensional with good detail and transparency and excellent dynamics. There was a tremendous sense of air and space. Image height was excellent. This was one of only two amps that made the side and back walls disappear. Imaging was never pinpoint but was very natural. This was one of my favorite amps on the Triolons, even though most of the other amps were more neutral. Think big and lush and fun to listen.
Edge Electronics Sinature One (400 watts): more detailed than the NL Reference, tighter bass, more accurate frequency response, more transparent but unable to recreate the sense of air and space that the NL Reference amps created. Lower image height, smaller soundstage, more pinpoint imaging but not as lush as the NL Reference. Very accurate but not as emotionally involving or fun.
Lamm ML1.1 90 watt push pull amps: closest sonically to the Edge NL Reference, but with flatter frequency response, but less power in the bass. The bass is tighter than that of the NL Reference. The ML1.1 has a better sense of depth and imaging than the Edge Signatures and a better sense of air and space but the air and space never equalled that of the NL Reference. This was a very nice amp and the best bargain of the amps used on the Triolons. This amp uses solid state rectification. Never as emotional or lush as the Edge NL. The micro dynamics were exceptional.
Lamm ML2 monos, 18 watts per channel, single ended, tube rectification: these amps are extremely dimensional with an excellent sense of air and space; very good in differentiating drum heads; excellent image height; very delicate and extended top end; very harmonically neutral; really glorious midrange; not quite enough power on big music like The Gladiator, but otherwise glorious; very clean with vanishingly low distortion; very sophisticated and emotional. Clearly and by a fairly significant margin, the best amp on the Triolons of the ones mentioned thus far.
Audio Note Kegon amps, 20 watts, single ended, tube rectification: clearly and by an audible margin the best sound heard on the Triolons during the entire listening session. How can a 20 watt tube amp have better control of the bass of the Triolons and better micro and micro dynamics than the two Edge solid state behemouths? This was the best bass of any of the amps auditioned, effortless. There was not a single area in which the other amps beat the Kegon. A truly synergistic match for the Triolons. I was told by the owner that the magic was in the silver wire transformers.
Further thoughts: I hope to hear the Einstein 60 watt mono OTL's in the spring.
Some additional technical information: the crossover point from the woofers to the midrange horn for the Campanilies is 700 hz so that the frequency range from 200-700 hz is being handled by the four 10" SEAS drivers which also handle the lower frequencies. The same 200-700 hz range in the Triolons is covered entirely by the 30.5" horn. This difference has major consequences in the sound of the two speakers as detailed in the review. The impedance curve for the Triolons is essentially 5 ohms from 100 hz up to the limits of audibility; however, there is a very narrow Q peak at 30 hz of 28 db which rapidly decreases to 1.9 ohms at about 70 hz and then flattens out to 5 ohms by 100 hz which makes the Triolon very amp sensitive, particularly below 100 hz.
I travelled to Sacramento on Sunday to help uncrate/set up my Campaniles in the home of the audiophile who bought them. This allowed me to finalize the purchase arrangements for the Triolons which should arrive sometime after CES. This also allowed me to hear the Campanile Highs in another system which in some ways was very different from mine. The components in the buyer's system included the latest versions of the Zanden transport and D/A with the latest clock, Levinson 33 amps, an Audio Research Ref 3, Transparent Opus interconnect and speakerwire, a Krell subwoofer, and a full Isoclean AC set up in a room about 30% larger than my listening room.
The Krell is extremely flexible and crossed over at 60 hz mated seamlessly with the Acapella's. The Levinson amps also mated exceptionally well with the speakers as did the Opus speakerwire. The 33's tonal balance (at least in this system) was different from that of the Parasound JC-1's, more biased toward the midbass, darker, richer but not as extended at the very top, somewhat slower and less detailed but with excellent depth and good focus. All in all the amps and the rest of the system complimented the sound of the Campanile's.
After many months of weather induced delay, the freight company delivered my Triolons last Saturday (3 very large crates, 2@200# each and one at a whooping 1500#). The crates are currently in my garage awaiting the piano movers who will come in this weekend and move the speakers into the house. Given that each of the woofer towers weighs 650#, this seemed prudent. Hopefully I will be able to get the Triolons up and running over the weekend.
Fred, congrats on the delivery of the Triolons.....that is most definitely 'an event'.
be careful not to hurt yourself moving those beasts around.
i will anxiously await your initial impressions 'in-room'. i had missed this thread earlier......the Triolons have always looked like they might be something very wonderful.
as you are 'tri-amping'....which amps will you be using initially?
The Triolons are designed to be tri-wired and can be tri-amped. Herman recommends the tri-wiring over tri-amping if a single amp will drive the speakers properly. I have three pairs of the Isoclean Super Focus on hand and will initially be tri-wiring with those cables; however, that will be a target for further experimentation. Again, initially, I will be using a pair of modified Parasound JC-1's to drive them; however, this is a very short term solution as there are much better amps out there for these speakers. I auditioned the Triolons with Audio Note Kegons and was very impressed with that combination. I would also like to hear the Einstewin 60 watt OTL and the Ayre MX-R amps on them. Needless to say it will take a while to recover from the initial cash outlay on the Triolons. I think that I will be very happy with them and hope that you and Albert and other interested members can visit me in the future when they have been optimized. Thanks again for your past kindnesses.
It has been an incredibly hectic 48 hours! Four piano movers arrived at my home about 8 AM Sunday morning and proceeded to move the assorted boxes that constitute the Triolons into my listening room. On Saturday I had carefully measured and taped the positions of the speakers because I figured that once bolted together, there was little chance that I would want to move these 850# monsters. The speakers were positioned much as they had been at Mike and Neli's: front inside corners 73" apart, back corners about 79" and about 60" from the back wall with the back of the listening chair about 12' from the front of the speakers. Surprisingly this turned out to be a really good location and allowed about 36" from the outside edge of each speaker to the side wall. The speakers made it into the house safely without incident. It took most of the remainder of the day to rehook up the system. Then it was time to fire everything up! The ion tweeters which positively loathe travelling would not come on. At this point, I decided to give myself a rest and wait until the next day to troubleshoot the tweeters since the most likely scenario was that FedEx had dropped the wooden shipping crates and dislodged a tube. I also decided to await on Neli's arrival to help [she had been at an audio show in Dallas over the weekend, so the timing was great]. I should also note that disassembling the tweeters is tedious and getting the metal cages back together is similar to a Rubik's cube.
Neli arrived the next day after lunch. We pulled the tweeters and proceeded to disassemble them. As predicted the Siemens PL509 driver tube in each tweeter had been dislodged. After putting the tube back in the socket and putting back on the anode cap, both tweeters were now working but were a bit spitty as they burned dust from their combustion chambers. We then put everything back together and began a listening session that lasted until midnight.
Initial listening was with an Esoteric X-01 D2 with a variety of classical and female vocals. The sound was very good with excellent depth and detail, but never magical. Two significant changes were made, i) hooking up my Saturn A55 subs and ii) switching to the Rockport turntable. The subs blended seemlessly with the Triolons and added the bottom octave which the speakers just cannot produce without augmentation. The turntable was revelatory, think jaw dropping. Now there was magic! We played mostly Decca 2000's and 6000's with one or two re-issues such as Sounds Unheard OF.
Further thoughts: The Triolons are a significant improvement over the Campanile Highs. They are much more detailed without being bright or strident, the micro and macro dynamics are vastly superior and the bass, particularly from 170 to 700 where the largeer horn operates instead of a dynamic woofer is superb; faster tighter, better controlled and much better integrated with the smaller horn and tweeters. Unfortunately, the Triolons' resolution is a two edged sword and tends to magnify problems with other components. The Parasound JC-1's are actually doing a much better job than I had expected. They are excellent at controlling the SEAS woofers, fast, detailed and clean. They do lack a bit of harmonic richness and texture in comparison to something like the Kegons and they do have the least amount of whiteness in the upper mids and lower treble. Likewise, I clearly need to experiment with my current cabling (Crystal Reference) which may be contributing to what I am hearing.
All things said, I am extremely happy with the Triolons!
i think you probably need to play with toe-in ;-)
glad you like the new toys fred. agree that the crystal ref needs to go. looking forward to hearing it myself.
A short update: The Triolons sound significantly more like real instruments played in a real space than the Campaniles with an incredible amount of new detail on cd's and records which I had not heard with the Campanile Highs. This greater resolving power has a down side in that it very quickly reveals weaknesses in associatewd components. As a friend said,"I have never particularly liked the JC-1's when I have heard them at CES particularly on Soundlabs; however, I can now understand what you see in them. They are doing an excellent job of controlling the woofers and are very detailed with a large soundstage and wonderful depth. There is still a slight roughness in the upper mids/lower treble that I can hear but the Bybees and other changes to your JC-1's have significantly ameliorated that roughness. They still do not have the bloom or harmonic complexity of a really good tube amp." Much more so than the Campaniles, the Triolons highlight weaknesses in the other parts of the reproduction chain. I think that this is a long way of saying that I will eventually replace the amps but that is a lower priority than changing the cabling to something with more body than the Crystal Reference.
Thank you for posting your impressions, Fcrowder. I have been following your thoughts with interest. I just bought an Acapella Violon. This was a lot of money by my standards, but feels a little bit like peanuts next to your speakers.
Given that the tweeters require AC power, have you tried connecting the tweeters to a power regenerator? I am considering the purchase of one.
Your speakers are in my mind a credable alternative to the larger Acapella's, particularly in a smaller room. They certainly can sound excellent with the right associated equipment. Unless your tweeters have beem modified they use a European connector and the wire that was provided bythe manufacturer. This has two real downsides: i) the connector (AC) female on the amp includes a Corecom filter which is very poor quality. The connector should be repalced with a good quality IEC which will allow you to use a much betterpower cord. Only at that point does it make sense to buy an outboard filter. Note that the IEC is a drop in fit that requires no metal work to the case.
I probably should have said that the plasma tweeters should never be used without some sort of AC line filter as that will void the warranty and may lead to damage to the tweeters. The Corecom filter in the IEC is a very cheap filter but does protect the tweeters. Likewise the wire provided with the speakers works but is not ideal. Acapella sells a replacement byt it is very expensive.
There is a review of the Triolons and my system at http://www.dagogo.com/Spotlight/AcapellaTriolon-Crowder.html. I will be responding later this week. I have also just inserted Jorma No. 1 bi-wire speaker cables on the Triolons and will be commenting on the Jorma vs the Isoclean on the Triolons.
"A couple thoughts":
Fred all that money invested in your system and Rhyno says that it's only good for orchestral music or live recordings of any kind?
Shouldn't a "World Class" system be able to excel at the art of reproducing any type of music?
Is your system up to the task of reproducing the:
Cubanate - "Cyberia"
Slayer - "Reign In Blood"
Napalm Death -"Scum"
Afro-Cuban Allstars - "A Todo Cuba Le Gusta"
Recordings or is the system only dedicated to the reproduction of simple and un-amplified arrangements?
On paper and in the pictures your system looks GREAT! But the bigger question is, does it deliver the goods?
Congratulation Fred on your achievement: assembling one of the worlds most expensive systems; Lets hope that its performance, caliber and degree of realism and enjoyment can match that level as well.
suggest you re-read the review; all systems excel at some things and less in others. i simply point out this system's strengths relative to everything else.
when you hear the perfect system, pls let me know.
btw, slayer & napalm death are compressed to hell, and are two selections i'd gladly use as examples on "how not to master a recording". jesus saves, but he cannot save this bad a recording. for its inverse, listen to the decemberists "mariner's revenge song".
Rhyno, It's been a while. Time for you to make another visit as this time you will be amazed by how all those recordings sound remastered and converted to DSD.
Carlos, in your recent posts you mentioned the Triolon speakers with distain.
Have you ever heard these speakers?
I much prefer Fred's simple approach to building a fine system than your conglomeration of re-mastering equipment.
If your posts are accurate you have much more money invested in your re-mastering studio than Fred has in his system.
However, your posts never fail to amuse but thats about all they are worth.
In response to the Dagogo review mentioned above, I posted the following letter to Constantine:
How does one respond to a review of ones own system, when you do not really disagree with any of the conclusions reached? I could say that I find the picture of me on page 3 to be somewhat less than flattering, but then again, it is a pretty accurate depiction. I would, if possible, like to clarify some of the points made:
Imaging: the Triolons in my room would probably benefit from slightly increasing toe-in; however, no multi driver system of this complexity, regardless of design, will image like a small monkey coffin. Inversely, monkey coffins will never move the amounts of air or properly produce the soundstage of an orchestra playing Mahler at full tilt. I agree with Ryan that the imaging of the Triolons is more akin to what I hear at a live musical event.
Amplifier Choice: Ryan characterizes these speakers as having a benign sensitivity plot. Assuming that we are talking about sensitivity, he is correct. At 94-97 db, there are quite efficient. Unfortunately, if we are speaking about the ability of an amp to drive these speakers, the sensitivity is misleading. The factory provided an impedance plot by frequency of the speakers. The plot from 40 hz to 40,000 hz is literally a straight 4 ohms; however, there is an impedance spike at 28 hz of 30 ohms. As one might guess, the choice of amplifier is critical to the bass performance. Note that the Campaniles have almost exactly the same impedance curve. Most tube amplifiers, including the Wolcotts (which are capable of 300 watts with the right NOS tubes) do not do a very good job of controlling the bass or driving the speaker. Most transister amps leave something to be desired driving the horns and tweeter. I have heard the Triolons with the Edge Reference and Signature 1.1's, the Lamm ML 1.1 and ML 2.1's and the Audio Note Kegons as well as the JC-1's. Strangely enough, the best combination, thus far, has been the Kegons closely followed by the ML 2.1's at 22 and 18 watts respectively. Bass was clearly not a problem with the Kegon or for the most part with the ML2.1's. The JC-1's do a better than adequate job but are not even close to the Lamms or Audio Note or for that matter the Einstein OTL's; however, the area in which the JC-1's excel is in driving the low end. Check back to a description of the power supply of these amps and the current capacity.
Bass Extension: In speaking with the designer of the Triolons, his goal was never to plumb the depths of the bottom end. It was to make this speaker with its multiple dissimilar drivers coherent. I believe that he has been successful. If you examine the two more expensive Acapella speakers, you will note that the Excalibur has a larger bass horn that allows a lower cross over point and uses 15" woofers. The top of the line Spharons use a horn loaded woofer built into the room; however, I doubt that it has much extension below 30 hz; yet in terms of sound, it probably far exceeds the Excaliburs. In addition to the Acapella's, I have two of the 21" Cabasse Saturn A55 woofers which are the best that I have ever heard. I mention this as I seldom feel that need since the arrival of the Triolons to turn them on.
Wiring Choices: Talking with Brian Ackermann, the hierarchy for the Triolons (i.e. best sound) in order of best to least is: i) bi-amp and tri-wire, ii) single amp, tri-wire, iii) single amp, bi-wire, iv) single amp, single run of speakerwire. In particular, the use of bi-wiring on the single amp makes a significant difference in bass control and extension.
Cross over: Ryan states incorrectly that there is no crossover between 170 and 5000 hz. There is one at 700 hz. Apparently, it is not audible.
In closing, I would like to thank Dagogo for a review that captures much of what has made these speakers special.
Docsavage, While in Shanghai, China on business last year I was able to listen to not only the Acapella Triolon's but the Acapella Excalibur's and Sparon's driven by Audionet Amp II's, FM Acoustics and Halcro monoblock amplifiers. I left the auditions unimpressed. The ion tweeter sounded inefficient and had a hard time integrating with the collage of other drivers.
Even in Germany, where I conduct a great deal of business, Stereo Testmagazin Der High Fidelity Februar 1994 issue Pg. 124, they gave the A capella Campanile a luke-warm three stars.
By the way, while in Shanghai, I also heard an ALL top of the line Burmester reference system and left that audition unimpressed as well. Don't take it personally; it's hard to impress me after living with my reference system over the last year.
And yes my overall investment in audio equipment (as seen in my listening room) is more than Fred Crowder's BUT my reference system retails for less than his system and therefore one should expect bigger returns for his investment. And that is the point of one of my post that in audio you don't. You get better results by using your brain, knowledge of physics/acoustics/psychoacoustics/electrical-engineering and experience than if you set out to buy some of the most expensive components out in the market.
For all readers of this thread, I am pleased to announce that the Acapella Triolons will be displayed at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver CO., on October 12-14. The speakers will be driven by a complete Einstein system (OTL amps, Preamp & CDP) All tube system. Power conditioning by Isoclean, and cables by Acapella.
In addition look for follow-up reviews of the Triolons in Dagogo and Soundstage in the coming months.
Regards, Brian Ackerman / Aaudio imports
That's fab Brian, I am looking forward to auditioning the Triolons at the Audiofest. [WWCS?!] Guido
Thank you Brian,
I will absolutely look you up in Denver. I already have my plane tickets and room, I would not miss this show.
There has been some discussion about whether these speakers represent the state of the art or whether they are merely expensive. While it would be easy for me to assure you that they are in fact "the real deal", that is never a very satisfying option and never really answers the question. Fortunately, two different things are bebinning to happen: 1) reviews by the magazines (which some will say really mean little, and more importantly, 2) each of you can hear the speakers for yourself with excellent associated equipment at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and draw your own unbiased conclusions. The speakers will be shown in a large first floor room that in the past was used by Jonathan Tinn. If you make it to the show please make a point of stopping by and after you return home return here and post your impressions (good or bad). I will be at Rocky Mountain and hope to meet many of you to talk about music and the crazy world of audio.
Count on it Fred, like Albert's, my airplane ticket and hotel room are already booked. [WWCS?] Guido
Well thank you Guido & Albert for your excitement in hearing the Triolon's. I will be showing these speakers in the Larkspur Suite on the main level.
Also I would be happy to share some great photo's of the Triolon's in my new showroom. For anyone interested in seeing these pictures please email me at... email@example.com
Best Regards, Brian
I recently accepted delivery on my set of Triolons. I believe the third set in the US at the moment. I have no doubt there will be many more after their debut at RMAF. The job of moving them into my piling house was a hair raising experience. 7 foot tall, 650# bass towers elevated 12 feet into the air to the first floor. I am sure you get the picture. With some luck we got them in safely.
After two weeks all I can say is that they are the finest speakers I have heard. These are the only speakers I have purchased without hearing them first. My previous speakers, Acapella High Campanile's, gave me some insight as to what I could expect but they did not prepare me for so dramatic an improvement. I must confess that I also thought the Campanile's were the finest but the Triolons are in a different league.
Until I heard the plasma drive I was a fan of stats but with the Acapella Plasma tweeter I get the high end air of stats combined with the dynamics of horns. The impact of these speakers must be heard to be appreciated. At first I was skeptical about the combination of horns and conventional drivers but Acapella has found a way to combine these different architectures into one cohesive sound. Ultra transparent and yes the feeling of being there or more like - they are here. I agree with Rhyno, these speakers have indeed redefined what can be achieved in the home. The Triolons are the end of a 43 year journey for me.
Now for disclosure. I enjoyed my High Campanile's to the point of inquiring about a dealership which I am pleased to announce was recently approved. I am located in So. West Fl. and members are welcome to stop in for a listen.
Currently in the reference system:
Einstein the tube pre
Einstein mk60 amps
Einstein The turntable's choice balanced phono stage
Galibier Gavia turntable
Schroeder Ref. SQ w/ Dynavector ZV1s
Tri-planar VII w/ Einstein EMT or XYZ Universe
Lee Island Audio
Al, congratulations on your dealership. Even before you became a dealer, you were most helpful and gracious in our exchanges - which tells me that you are a real gentleman. I am sure that most Audiogonners interested in Acapella would benefit from your insights. Best of luck in your venture and thank you once again for your helpful comments on the Triolons.
Al, If you have the time could you comment on the ability of the Einstein amps to drive the Triolons and your experience with single vs bi-wiring?
Amfibius, thank you for the kind words. I really do appreciate it. Now if I can get my wife to agree I will be all set. BTW please keep us posted on your Violons with the new Cary amps.
Fred, I will definitely post my findings on the Triolons with the MK 60 Einstein amps. I will also be experimenting with bi-amping as well as bi-wiring. I hope to post at least a preliminary report this weekend.
The problem is that the Triolons capture my attention to the point of making
critical listening difficult. In fact that they command my attention.
The involvement with the music as portrayed by the Triolons is simply beyond any experience I have had with any other speaker.
Doc, I really look forward to your thoughts but completely understand. It is critically important that you bi or tr- wire with the same cables. Mixing and matching leads to bad results. I recently tried a combination of Jorma No. 1 to the horns and Acapella La Musika to the woofers and tweeter. It was a complete disaster and destroyed the coherence that the speakers normally exhibit. Two pairs of identical Isoclean Focus wires worked much better. Conversely the combination of the Jorma bi-wire with the Isoclean Super Focus worked reasonably well (the best combination thus far). A friend tried Valhalla and Jorma with negative results. I am hoping to soon hear the Triolons with all Jorma wiring and with all La Musika wiring and will probably have more to say at that point.
Fred, one of the difficulties with bi-wiring with the Einstein amps is that the binding posts on the Einstein amps do not accommodate two spade connections.
They are excellent binding posts but to bi-wire, one set of speaker cables must be fitted with banana plugs. A tri-wire connection without some type of adapter or custom cable is impossible as far as I can determine.
I will post on my initial impressions of the Triolon speakers with the Mk 60 amps this weekend and I have a Y splitter for XLR on order to try bi-amping. The splitter should be here next week. I am going to stay with the Acapella cables and will order another set with banana terminations for bi-wire testing.
For further thoughts on the Triolons in a different system and with decidedly different electronics, see Constantine Soo's Dagoggo review of Brian Ackermen's system at http://www.dagogo.com/Spotlight/6DaysOfLivingWithAcapella.html.
Can someone please explain this statement to me:
"Whereas some loudspeaker makers are producing designs with drivers that can produce sub-octave lows and ultra-frequency highs, believing such designs would be the most faithful in sonic reproduction, making even concert grand’s to sound surrealistically thunderous and earth rattling, I think such concoctions ultimately contradict with the sonics of a real piano."
He goes on to say:
"For a phenomenon worthy of the status of a major breakthrough in loudspeaker design and production implementation, the ion tweeters and the oversized horns with the attendant columns of subwoofers were not to blast the listener with decibels. Rather, seemingly releasing energy in a sonically most unreal, gentle fashion per the nature of a horn in its coupling to the air around the listening space, the Acapella TE’s were the first transducer design victorious in shedding the common characteristic of all top designs that I’ve heard: the clustering of sound."
If you play track number 6, "Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take), of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, remastered edition, anywhere near realistic listening levels and listening to it doesn't make you reach for your ears than the speakers/system does not possess the dynamic range required to recreate real instruments in real world spaces. As Soo described in his listening impressions, it bears to mind my own listening impressions of the A Cappella Triolons and that is that they are gentle giants which lack the balls to reproduce real world instruments in real space; most of this due to the inefficient ion tweeter. Furthermore they also appeared to lack ultimate-resolution, this may have been a result of the upstream electronics but then again the Campaniles sounded the same with a totally different front end.
I know that the use of my reference system as a measuring stick may not be fair to the system in Shanghai but at these prices there really isn't any room for error.
I welcome Ryan, a.k.a Rhyno to come to my house and put the sound of my system up against the Triolons and associated system and report on its performance here.
The cost-to-performance yield of this speaker design leaves a lot to be desired in my honest opinion and it strikes me as interesting that the owner of Triolons here seeks to substantiate his purchase through these "parables".
Keep in mind Soo's own speakers as a reference when you read his impressions of the Triolons:
Apogee Duetta Signature
Audio Note AN-E SEC Silver
Tannoy Churchill Wideband
It does not surprise me that he was impressed and perhaps this will recalibrate his idea of what a good system should sound like; well perhaps it appears that it already did.
For the love of Gawd, will someone please go and spend some time with Carlos269, apparently he's lonely. "Come look at what I've got, come play with me."
What does it matter if your system sounds great if the company sucks.
carlos, thank you again for the invite. but i've heard your system, and given my precious limited time on the weekend, explain to me why it should be different this time? what has changed to make it so different than before? i recall what i heard, and it was dynamically unlimited, but not a system that invites more than short listening sessions. --now, is that dynamic expression that overcomes the listener, or something else (something less benign)? i have my recollections, and it was one of too much leading edge and attack at the expense of the holistic expression of tone.
understand i'm not knocking you: you have the system you want, and i am genuinely happy for you. we should all strive to suit ourselves, and butkus for those who don't like it. i for one didn't like it, so butkus for me. no worries though, i don't like many people's systems for a variety of reasons. methinks you prefer sound that can play at realistic levels regardless of tonal imperfections of the recorded instrument, which is a tradeoff some will make, and some won't. doesn't make anyone right or wrong. this isn't an equation. there is no right answer.
this is art.
think your comments on the accapellas are not reflective of what i've heard. are they perfect? of course not. i'd prefer more slam and more holistic imaging, but that's my personal preference. regardless of what i find most appealing, there is no doubt that they're good enough.
My current system sounds much more refined, neutral, extended and 3-dimensional than the system that you heard three years ago. Much has changed, just look at the pictures under my system here on Audiogon and you'll soon realize that the room and equipment in it is nothing like what you recall.
I stick by my comments of the A Cappela's. You only live about 25 minutes away using beltway 8 so why not come back so that you can recalibrate what a "True" world class system based on knowledge of sound reproduction, physics, acoustics and electronics sounds like. Why not take up this perfect opportunity, specially for a "reviewer".
As far as "tonal perfection", I think that my current system will knock you on your ass when you hear it; further more my system NOW has the flexibility where it can be adjusted to your tonal preferences on the fly (how do you like them apples?).
There is no right answers correct but some are more "right" than others!
A few additional thoughts based on changes to my system in the past months and what I heard at the RMAF. About two months ago, I changed my speaker cabling from the very good Isoclean Focus and Super Focus to the Jorma No. 1, substituting a single wire run to the woofer/tweeter and a bi-wire run to the horns. As it turned out the combination of the Jorma cabling and the change from bi-wire to tri-wire resulted in a very nice improvement in the sound of the system. While there was certainly a decrease in noise and an increase in inner detail, the real improvement was a degree of coherence throughout the trequency range, an increase in liquidity and an increase in texture and timbre. I was impressed enough with the Jorma to order a pair of Prime interconnects to run between my amp and preamp.
This was followed by a trip to RMAF where I was able to hear two excellent but very different amps (FM Acoustics and Einstein OTL's) driving respectively Campanile Highs and Triolons. Likemany of you, I find certain things that I like about using a really good transistor amp on the speakers, particularly with respect to bass contol, bass slam, dynamics and top end extension, but am willing to sacrifice some of this and accept the somewhat looser (some would argue more acccurate bass)that is produced by the Einstein OTL's if that means that I get the top end and midrange of the OTL's.
Although I have not decided which direction to go, I am currently leaning toward purchasing the Einstein OTL's. I thought that it might be interesting in posting some thoughts about the sound of the Einstein mono's driving the Triolons at RMAF.
As to the sound: The amps are very clean and excellent at creating the the well defined leading edge of struck instruments that characterizes a live performance. This is particularly evident with percussion instruments and with the piana which in my experience after the human voice is the hardest instrument to recreate in a believeable manner. Massed strings are also equally good. Decay of instruments is captured in a way that is lifelike and natural. I find it rare that a piece of electronics is equally good at capturing the leading edge and also the decay of sounds. Most seem to favor one over the other.
Human voice is well served, particularly female voice. Herman Winters must have a love or opera as he always brings a treasure trove of opera recordings to shows.
Bass is very different from that produced by a large transistor amp, a little bigger and less controlled with somewhat less impact but more organic and closer to the sound of acoustic instruments in a real space. This is probably not the combination for producing synthesized bass at high volumes, but otherwise is excellent.
As I said in another post, the sound was excellent on Sunday. At least in the RMAF room (which was very large and had an acoustic tile ceiling, a bit more power would have ocassionally been nice but not if it had come at the expense of what the amp was doing in other areas.