Outstanding review! Your mention of the "incredible bass and dynamic range" of this piece under listening vignette #5 is very highly appreciated, at least by me. My main "phobia" regarding tube amps or preamps has been the potentially anemic bass that such units can have. Given its other attributes (which you describe so eloquently), it sounds like a piece worthy of audition, even if doing so requires some effort.
Spot on review Andrew.
One section of your review really captures the essence of the Dude in both of our systems.
"You have a “live” sound that does not assault your ears in a pushy, aggressive, compressed, HiFi way. All the vibratory energy of live instruments is faithfully recreated."
I say a great big AMEN to your wonderful words here. Yes, the Dude is the MAN and brings music to life in my home also.
Very nice review indeed.
Thanks for the kind words guys and thanks Pat/Rx8man for sending me Bill/Grannyring's review in regards to TRL. I would NEVER have known about them otherwise. My hope is more people will get a chance to hear this pre-amp and other TRL offerings.
I would also like to thank Bill/Mdhoover for singing the Intuitive Design song. Again, I would have never known to look....
I had had the mistaken idea that this unit was closer to $5K, and I was STILL thinking of checking it out. At $3500, it's even MORE tempting. Thanks, "Dude." Even though I'm already satisfied......still......didn't regret upgrading to Chimera cables when I was also satisfied (already ecstatic, actually).......so.......hmmmmm. Andrew, your testimony is VERY compelling. I called the company and they CAN do a remote but they don't like to. When I called and asked about it, he was cordial and said that they could do it, but I could sense his distaste at the prospect defiling his fine creation with an unnecessary "add-on" such as a remote volume control. Purists, those TRL "Dudes" are.
Bill, as I mentioned, I paid 3500. I believe TRL has some fancier chassis in the docket with laser etching, etc, that will push the price to around 4K??? As for the remote, I find that I dial it in to a certain level and just sit back. In the past, I would get up and down a lot to twiddle with the volume. Now, the soundstage, etc does not change much if at all with volume changes and thus I am less compelled to do so.
Himiguel, expansive and effortless are two good adjectives that I failed to use in describing the Dude. Good stuff. I am glad you are enjoying your GTP-3. Very kool.
Well, I am at the 6 week mark and things continue to open up further (if that were possible). I believe the Dude is one of those pieces that matures even after months and months of use. I experienced that phenomenon with my Summit speakers.
I am now completely in the "rediscover my music collection*" mode which is a good place to be. I cannot emphasize that element enough in regards to the Dude. When your focus shifts from equipment analysis to music, things are as they should be. The irony is that well designed gear ultimately becomes invisible.
*rediscovered or discovered music worth checking out:
1. Patricia Barber, Live: a fortnight in France
2. Steve Davis, Quality of Silence
3. Richard Leo Johnson, Language
4. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
Finally, in addition to Bill Dion, I wanted to thank Jack Seaton for waving the TRL flag. You hear their enthusiasm and it sounds sketchy and too good to be true, but it ain't. Thank you.
Mintzar, you are in for a treat. If the jones becomes unbearable, please feel free to swing through Charlotte. My wife tolerates philes and won't lash out. She does get irritated when she is trapped in the car with me and I am jawing about audio.
Luis, thanks for asking about the Zardoz. I will reviewing that device shortly. I did not do head to head comparisons prior to buying....it was a gut decision. Previously, I owned the Granite Audio 657 CDP which was very, very good in its own right but grew tired of spinning CDs (lame Gen X). That being said, the Z is righteous (like the Dude) and people need to know about it and at least put it on the list while looking for digital gear.
Thank you for the kind words about the review. I have always enjoyed the process of writing. It flushed up a lot of audio memories, crazy conversations with philes, etc. Unfortunately, I am tired surgeon and have little in the tank for extracurricular activities such as review writing. I decided to write this review out of moral compulsion more than anything. I have a habit of finding obscure but noteworthy gear and felt it was time to flap my gums a little. That being said, I might consider it at some point in the future when my life is less insane.
I had a fantastic time listening to Andrew's system last weekend. Absolutely fantastic music! I'm really looking forward to bringing some toys over to see where his expensive gizmos can be pushed! Thanks for the excellent hospitality, Andrew! It was a real pleasure!
I've had the Dude for over a month now and it never ceases to put a smile on my face. I'll be writing a review myself as I snatch myself away from the film I am shooting right now. But the Dude is beyond my high expectations.
I'm looking forward to your review of the Dude, however, you have piqued my interest. What film are you working on, or are you at liberty to say? Could it be The Big Lebowski sequel? :)
I'm also happy to hear that TRL family members are reaching out to each other. Toys are meant to be shared and it makes the journey all that much better. Enjoy!
The Dude abides!
I am actually working on an independent film for the next few months, but then will be working on a sci-fi/fantasy film out in LA after that -- which I can't say anything about. The film I am working on now is about a guy who wakes up completely naked in a cornfield and has to survive his way home. It's about how he gets clothes, what dangers he faces along the way, and how the heck he got there in the first place. It's a fun shoot.
I'm not sure that I can surpass the Coen Brothers' work on The Big Lebowski, though that'd be a great film to work on!
Confirming Andrew's Zardoz analysis. It's ability to decipher spatial information is uncanny. There is an abundance of image floating. Vertical spatial information rendering is the best I've heard by far: Some images fully 1.5 feet above the speakers -- not vague ghosts, but palpably formed instruments.
Tonality is also the finest I've encountered. It removes more plastic and digititis from CDs than any CD playing configuration I've encountered. The harmonic richness of well recorded piano is simply mezmerizing.
It has all the audiophile attributes we demand, BUT...most importantly: The Zardoz is a deeply musical instrument. It wraps and iron fist around your soul and
I am supremely critical and do not engage in hyperbole. It is my wish that every 'phile audition this piece. Unlikely, but such is its mastery of music.
I have the bad habit of emailing reviewers/thread masters on Audiogon about their sentiments about a piece of equipment after the fact. Shockingly, a high percentage of people who wax poetic about equipment later throw it into the Audiogon recycle bin not long after the initial review. I will answer my own question: NOT! The Dude is just as spectacular and musical today as it was over a year ago when I first purchased it.
I can offer a few observations:
1. Power cords: it is relatively impervious to power cords (relatively). Good cords will still make a modest difference, but not to the degree that I have experienced in other equipment. I believe that is a testament to the quality of the power supply.
2. Tubes: I was relatively happy with my NOS RCAs, but, being a scientist of sorts, I decided to roll away based on the suggestions of others. I tried the Raytheons (I do not think they were the real deal organ grade). They had great clarity and speed and detail, but were a tinge hot on the top in my system. I recently tried a NOS Tong Sol. That tube was warm and fat but was a little slow and lacked clarity and detail. I recently popped in Marconis, and they have a very nice sonic signature with better clarity than the Tong Sols and GE tubes, but I still have an itch. Gary "Glory" Anderson really likes the 12XS7s, and I may convert my unit to 12V from 6 and see how they sound. All that aside, my system is sounding very, very good with the Marconis in the chain.