Where should I go next? Where are my weak links?

I am now running a much simpler system than I did in the past. I have a pair of Zu Audio Essence speakers coupled with a Mini-Method sub. They are driven by a pair of Manley Neo-Retro 300b amplifiers. I listen mostly to vinyl. My turntable is a slightly upgraded VPI Scout with the SDS drive, scoutmaster platter, ring clamp and VPI mini feet. The scout is loaded with a Benz Micro L2 wood cartridge. I use a Linn Linto phono stage and a Manley Shrimp preamplifier. I condition the power on my source components with a Furman Elite 15. All my interconnect cables are Zu Audio Missions and my power cords are Zu Boks. My speaker cables are Zu Libtecs. I really love the sound produced by my system. I did not really understand how dynamic my 300b amps could sound until I coupled them with a copacetic set of speakers. But, being as I am, I can't help looking to improve on what I have. I am aware that I am not the most knowledgeable or experienced audiophile, so I am hoping for some useful suggestions from all you savvy folk out there. I am not looking to revolutionize my system at this time, just to refine what I have. I wonder whether an improved phono stage might be in the cards.
It seems you have covered all of your bases. I would suggest to invest in music and enjoy your system.
You have some nice gear there! The room with the wood floors may tend to be a problem if you don't have it well treated. I would try to get your tube amps off the floor and up on some form of isolation platforms to reduce the floor vibrations they are getting down there. The bass coming from your speakers will often create problems in a lively room like that.
Unless you're willing to junk everything, start from scratch and spend over $30k, I would leave the system alone. On paper it appears to be a really well put together ensemble and you say you love how it sounds. You're at the top of the mountain, enjoy the view!

But if you absolutely can't resist and someone will shoot you dog if you don't change something, then get a Manley Steelhead.
I agree with Onhwy61. You have a very balanced system. You might mention what, if anything, you are looking to improve.

A new phono stage would be nice. But since you metioned that you listen mostly to vinyl, I will throw another fly in the ointment.

Consider a Well Tempered Amadeus TT. I just bought one and it has to be one of the single best improvements I have made to my system in a very long time. It might sound like a lateral move from your Scout, but I would wager it's far from it.

Please, RIP and just enjoy the music. Your system is well balanced with quality gear. Why drive yourself crazy. Wait until your house burns down, which will give you an excuse to start over. Put more money in media and go to some live concerts.
Linn Linto is nothing special, replace the Frontend with a Manley Steelhead.
Or better, with Lamm.
And then I would think about a better Turntable, VPI isn't really serious.
Table/tonearm or phono preamp.
I think the two areas that you might benefit from upgrading are the phono stage and the power conditioner. Manley just came out with the Chinook phono stage at $2kish and it is based on the Manley Steelhead circuitry. Seems like you have a predilection for Manley so hopefully you have a local dealer who can lend you the Chinook to audition in your system. From what I have read, the Furman conditioners have had mixed reviews. You may want to check out other options from Shunyata or Audience or Synergistic Research as a potential upgrade path.

However, I agree with Onhwy61's initial reaction which is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you are satisfied with what you are hearing, then put the "upgraditis" aside and just enjoy the show.

Good luck.
I agree with Onhwy61 in that you already have a very good system with a solid foundation. As a 300b SET amp owner I can tell you different driver and output tubes selection can make a significant impact. What 300b are you using?
I just put the Takatsuki-TA 300b in my amp and the improvement is honestly profound.
Dear Iramirez: My first move in your system can be with the Manley amplifiers that can't handle accuretely the electrical impedance curve showed by the Zu speakers due the very high output impedance value on the Manley's that is over 2.0 ohms!!!. IMHO, terrible to handle those speakers.

What the Manley can shows about is mainly very high colorations due to that high output impedance. I know that you like it but this is not the issue the subject is how to improve/weakest link and the Manleys is a good audio system link to start.

You need as all of us amplifiers that can handle with accuracy and low distortions our speakers that in many of our systems are full of colorations/distortions. Yes, many of us like those distortions but the subject is not what we like but what is wrong or not and IMHO those Manle's are " wrong ".

Regards and enjoy the music,
Nice system. You say you listen mostly to vinyl. Do you listen to mostly unamplified, acoustic music? If so, my suggestion would be to remove the sub from the system. You will almost certainly be very pleasantly surprised by the result.
Wow, thank you all for the suggestions. I actually agree with all of you.

1. Enjoy the music, yep, I'm definitely doing that. My system is good enough, it presents a solid enough illusion of realism that it takes an effort to actually listen critically, system wise that is...

2. I consider the Linto to be the weakest link in the system. I believe it is a competent phono stage, but not a remarkable one. I have been lusting after the Steelhead for a long time, but don't know what it could really do for my system. I've never really had an opportunity to hear a really good tubed phono stage. I've thought of selling my Linto and the Shrimp in order to acquire the Steelhead.
Yeah, the Chinook is a temptation. I know nothing of the Lamm, but I imagine that it is very good. Why is it better than the Steelhead?

3. The Furman has worked very well for me. It definitely helps reduce my noise floor without impacting adversely on the dynamics of my system. I have not tried any other conditioners excepting a Monster. The Monster did nothing for me. I imagine that there are much better conditioners out there, definitely an avenue I am willing to pursue.

4. I really like my Scout. I have used two different cartridges on it. I originally had the Dynavector that VPI recommended with it, but then I moved on to the Benz. The Scout may not be a world class turntable, but it certainly revealed the differences between cartridges, and it definitely exploits my Benz Micro's potential. The Benz was a big step up in my system. Funny, the thought of switching to the Amadeus is one that I just started considering yesterday. The Amadeus' reviews are intriguing, but I think I need to improve my phono stage first.

5. Tubes... My Manley amps are currently sporting Tung Sol 6SL7 input tubes, Westinghouse 6SN7 drivers and TJ Mesh 300B power tubes. I am replacing the TJ Mesh tubes in short order because I believe they are reaching the end of their lifetimes. I have been driving them pretty hard for 6 years and their previous owner used them for another four. I can definitely hear a bit of tube rush coming from them when the system is idle. I would love to replace them with Takatsukis, but they are too dear for my current budget. I am considering Psavanes at this point. My Shrimp is driven by a pair of Mullard 12AT7 tubes. I doubt I can find a better driver for my Shrimp.

So, if you can bear with me for a little longer, I have a few questions for you guys...

Syntax, why is the Lamm better than the Steelhead? Won't I get better synergy with the Steelhead, sticking with Manleys throughout?

Shakey, I am really intrigued by the Amadeus, but I'm afraid that it might be a little too complicated for me to use on a daily basis. My Scout is really plug and play, totally hassle free. Is the Amadeus easy to use? Also, do you think it would be synergistic with my Benz cartridge or would I also need to be thinking of a cartridge change.

Bigshutterbug, what amplifier stands do you suggest?

Charles1dad, I understand that you live in Michigan. I am in Ann Arbor. I have fantasized about a system just like yours since I first purchased my 300b amps (6 years ago). I would love to hear your system one day...

Rauliruegas, I don't know enough electronic engineering to see where the impedance mismatch between my Manley amps and the Zu Essences lies. The Zus are a 12 ohm speakers and the Manleys have a 12 ohm tap. I don't understand where you find the impedance mismatch. Please forgive my ignorance and try to enlighten me...

Once again, many thanks for your kind and thoughtful answers.


The Amadeus is a little daunting to set up, but is extremely easy to use after that part is accomplished. I too am using a Benz, the L2, seems to be a wonderful match to my ears.

Hello Ivan,
Your answers and questions are very thoughtful,you`re certainly on the right track.I live in Orchard Lake(near West Bloomfield).If you would like to sample my Takasuki or my Shuguang Black Treasure 300b tubes in your Manley I`d be willing. Thanks for your kind comments regarding my system.

Ivan I know that Raulirugas means well but if you like the sound of your system that`s 'all' that matters. This talk about relying on measurements and liking 'plesant colorations' is the path to frustration, just trust your ears and you`ll be better off. I `ve heard too many components that are said to be 'accurate'(usally solid state) and measure great and sound nothing like music(my 2 cents worth)I hear at live unamplified events.

My advice is go with your gut reaction and emotional response to what you hear.It it moves you then you`ll know it`s right.
Best Regards,
Regarding the question about the impedance match between amplifier and speaker, see Figure 1 in Stereophile's measurements of the speaker, and JA's comments in the paragraph just above the figure.

IMO the wide variation of the speaker's impedance as a function of frequency does NOT necessarily mean that driving the speaker with a tube amp having high output impedance is a problem. It just means that the resulting sonics will vary more widely depending on what amplifier is being used than if the speaker had a flatter impedance curve.

-- Al
Dear Charles1dad: +++++ " Ivan I know that Raulirugas means well but if you like the sound of your system that`s 'all' that matters. This talk about relying on measurements and liking 'plesant colorations' is the path to frustration, just trust your ears and you`ll be better off. I `ve heard too many components that are said to be 'accurate'(usally solid state) and measure great and sound nothing like music(my 2 cents worth)I hear at live unamplified events.

My advice is go with your gut reaction and emotional response to what you hear.It it moves you then you`ll know it`s right. " +++++

good that you know exactly what means to match at electrical level speakers with amplifiers that btw is something like to match the cartridge impedance with the phono stage load impedance with that cartridge or like to match a cartridge with a tonearm.

In all these examples that " match " is critical to achieve " near perfect " quality sound reproduction ( between other things. ).

I said in my post that it does not matters what we like but what is wrong or what is right.

Many people as you do not like accurate audio systems nad the main reason why don't like it is because for to many years we are accustom/biased to hear our systems full of colorations and distortions then when some of those colorations/distortions gone we don't accept it. Our brain is already equalized to those colorations and distortions and can't switch in automatic to a more accurate sound.
The music has accuracy and when it did not we can hear it at once. Accuracy/neutrality IMHO is a must to have in any audio system .

That you, Iramirez and other people like distortions/colorations we are accustom to does not means is right.
I like and try to grow up and IMHO I grew up and still do thank's that I always question not only my self and what I have but what the AHEE put on my head in the last 30 years.

Years ago I was thinking exactly like you and like many other persons but thank's to my high ignorance level and step by step I learned in this and other audio subjects.

As you I attend ( at least one day every week. ) to listen live unamplified music and sometimes amplified too.

The electrical impedance mistmatch between speakers/amplifiers is not only " measurements " but a Law's physics Ohm's Law in specific.

You, me or any other person can't argue nothing and I mean nothing against the Ohm's Law. The subject is , again, what we like it or not but that if we don't care about the Ohm's Law what we are hearing is only a cartridge/source signal with a heavy way heavy make up that nevr will tell us ( trough the audio system ) what is in the recording.
Of course that if you don't care what is in the recording then you can follow " enjoying " the full colorations and distortions that you as Iramirez are enjoying right now.

+++++ " It it moves you then you`ll know it`s right. " ++++

weel, music has the power to move almost any one even through a Walkman, again this is not the subject.

Iramirez: http://www.stereophile.com/content/zu-essence-loudspeaker-measurements

here you can take a look the electrical impedance curve on your speakers where you can see that that speaker impedance electrical behavior is not flat but a complex curve ( up and down over the frequency range. ) even more complex that what we can see.
Well, that is what the amplifier " see " and what we need is flat frequency response with out different output levels through the frequency range.
To achieve a evenly output level and due to that Ohm's Law the amplifier must have a very low output impedance ( around 0.1 ohm. ). When the amplifier output impedance is so high like the 2.0+ ohms in your Manley's the response on output level is not evenly but wit different output level all over the frequency range and this means: heavy colored reproduction.

The Ohm's Law is more complex than this but I explain in this way trying to made it simple.

What you are hearing are not what your Zu speakers can show you on quality performance level but a colored sound due that those amplifiers can't handle it.

in that link you can understand better what I'm trying to share with you and where you can read this:

++++ " With tube amplifiers having the usual high source impedance, the disparity between the impedance in the mid-treble and that above 10kHz will shelve the top octave down. Similarly, the reduced impedance in the lower midrange compared with that in the bass and treble will suppress that region somewhat when the Essence is driven by a tube amplifier. " +++++++

IMHO as our each one ignorance level goes down as better we can enjoy and hear what is in the recording.

Yes, exist some audio items that are accurate/neutral and sounds " terrible " but does not sound " terrible " because are accurate/neutral but because are not well designed, that's all.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Almarg: IMHO there are many scenarios/stages between amplifier/speaker's impedance mistmatch.

The " big " trouble in the Iramirez system is that the Manley's are not only a wrong match for those speakers but a " dratical wrong " amplifier with because that so higher than usual output impedance: 2.0+ ohms when there are tube amplifiers with a lowe output impedance around 0.5-0.8 ohms where is less " dramatic ".

As I said this match on amplifier/speaker is like the tonearm and cartridge one or cartridge impedance and phono stage lod impedance.

Why in the other two cases we " worry " about and try almost always to have the best match we can and with speaker/amplifiers we don't care at all?, other than ignorance on the subject makes no sense to me.

Of course mine is only an opinion and the must important one is the Iramirez and yours.

Regards and enjoy the music,
10 years of use with 6 hard driving on a 300B sounds like a very good reason to change. The Tung Sol 6SL7 is fine but you can do a lot better than Westinghouse on the 6SN7. Some Sylvanias perhaps there are quite a few good ones still floating around. The CV=1988 by Brimar is superb. The luxury of a new finely made 300B is wonderful news to my ears even though I don't have an amp to use them in. The Psvanes are getting mixed reviews I would proceed with caution. Otherwise I would add some heavy custom brass footers from Edensound and good platforms and call it a day. Like the others said enjoy what you have got.

You may also want to mark your calendar for AKFest which is near Detroit (forget which suburb). IIRC it is in April and will feature a number of different dealers and manufacturers.

I would also suggest potentially trying out different power conditioners. Many places will allow you to audition them. Cable Company has a number, as does Audio Advisor or Music Direct if there isn't a dealer nearby. Especially if your amps are plugged into the conditioner, I'd suggest checking out Running Springs conditioners. Doesn't seem to limit dynamics of amps as some can.

Another happy Amadeus owner here too. Believe Don Better in Cleveland is the nearest dealer of them to you.
"Of course mine is only an opinion and the most important one is the Iramirez and yours"
Yes at the end of the day that`s all it is.I`ll continue to trust my ears and you do what works best for you, we`ll both end up happy.
Dear me, where to start? I did a little reading on impedance matching between amplifiers and speakers, so I think I have a better understanding of the mechanics involved at this point than before. I believe Rauliruegas is sincere and forthright in his criticism of my amplifier mismatch. But, I also believe that he is being overly dogmatic about the value of accuracy as it pertains to systems that are, ultimately, nothing but generators of illusion. I am not dismissing accuracy. I just think that there are other factors--aside from a flat impedance curve for speakers or a low output impedance in an amplifier--that bear upon the production of a convincing illusion. My speaker/amp combination may shelve down the treble and roll off part of the lower midrange, but I am willing to accept those 'flaws' as a fair compromise when balanced against other sonic virtues such as deeper soundstages, tonal beauty, warmth, lively dynamics, etc. Rauliruegas' insistence on low output impedances for amplifiers puts every low powered SET amplifier out of the race as regards quality sound reproduction. I do not think that is anywhere near 'right.' My own amplifier/speaker mismatch provides a reproduction of musical events with a palpable presence that, I believe, would be hard to match by most other quantifiably accurate systems. Rauliruegas may claim that I am merely flattering my ears with misguidedly pleasant colorations, he may be right. I don't deny that I want my system to please me. I thought that was the point.

With all due respect and wholehearted regards,


Thanks for the offer to lend me the tubes, but I'm afraid that my amps require 4 300b rather than the two in your Franks. I just ordered a set of the Psavanes and --as per Mechans recomendation-- I am switching my 6SN7 drivers also. My Manleys can run single ended or push pull so they bear 4 300b tubes. I think I will switch my Manleys for a pair of Franks someday. The Franks are reputedly better, not to mention how much cheaper they are to tube roll. I would love to hear your system someday. I am very curious to hear how your Coincident + Franks differ from my Manley + Zu. I am also very curious about your digital front end. I have a Peachtree iDecco which sounds very good to me, but I am sure that your digital seriously outclasses mine. Also, why no vinyl? Your system seems to be begging for some...

Warm regards,


Roscoeii, I will be attending AK Fest. I went a few years back, it was loads of fun. Perhaps we can meet there? Stop tempting me with the Well Tempered Amadeus. It was bad enough to hear from Shakey that he loves it with my same cartridge... I'm starting to think about a turntable change prior to the phonostage change. I was not considering a turntable change at all, previously that is...

Learsfool, I don't think you know good this subwoofer is. It is literally invisible. It has a volume control, a phase switch and a crossover frequency dial. I have the volume at the max. It does not matter. The true volume control is the crossover dial. It blends in so seamlessly with the speakers that I often forget that it is not even running. I often realize, after a few records, when I put on something that calls for deep bass, that I've forgotten to switch the damned thing on.

Cheers & thanks,

Hi Ivan,
I appreciate your respectful/tolerant response to Raul.I can`t count the number of times I or other tube amp owners(especially SET) have been lectured to(often condescendingly) about are 'misguided' preference for'coloration and distorted sound.SET amplifiers in 'my' experience simply comes closer to what I hear live then any other amplifier type. I realize everyone`s experience/conclusions are`nt the same and that`s perfectly fine. I`d never feel the urge to wag a finger at their SS amps, but that`s how it goes I guess.

Ivan you`re welcome to my home any time or perhaps I could bring my amps to you to hear in your system(you never no how components will mate).

I was a record spinner for many years(Well Tempered Classic TT,loved it!).i sold it to a friend and later got a used Linn LP-12(not as good IMO). My current fornt end with the Yamamoto-YDA DAC out pre forms the Linn TT, the PWT is a fabulous transport. JAzz redbook CDs sound so good with this combo,the CDs are cheap and plentiful(love Amazon). At this point I`ve no motivation to return to records.
Syntax, why is the Lamm better than the Steelhead?

Believe me, deep in your heart, you don't want to know it really.... :-)
Dear Iramirez: Just imagine a well designed amp that you like its quality performance level and that at the same time was/is accurate/neutral to help listen what is in the recording with low low colorations and distortions.

I think that till you or any one else can have that experiences you or any one else can't even imagine or dream the pleasure and enjoy level all we can achieve through an audio system hering music.

My take is that is better try ( at least try. ) to grow up than stay in the deep " hole " majority of us are for so many years.

I'm only saying: try, learn and move on.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Some further comments on the amplifier-to-speaker impedance compatibility issue:

It can be calculated that the interaction of the speaker's impedance dip to about 4 ohms at 20 kHz and the amplifier's 2 ohm output impedance will result in a frequency response rolloff of about 3.5 db at 20 KHz. The impedance dip to about 8.5 ohms in the area of 250 Hz will result in a frequency response dip of less than 1.8 db.

Neither number seems to me to be all that large. Furthermore, it seems very conceivable that the speaker was voiced with tube amps in mind, which would mean that its design may anticipate and compensate for those impedance interactions. Note in Figure 5 of JA's measurements, which shows nearfield anechoic frequency response, that the response is shelved upwards by about 3 db in the 10 to 20 kHz region!

The review noted much larger frequency response deviations due to interaction with the output impedance of the Shindo Haut-Brion amplifier they were using. My guess is that the output impedance of that amp is considerably higher than 2 ohms. The review indicated that the Shindo provided only a single output tap, which was nominally rated for use with 16 ohm speakers. That would seem consistent with it having a significantly higher output impedance than most tube amps provide.

-- Al
Thanks Al for clearing up Raul's misunderstanding in this matter.
Dear Al: I'm not talking about overall speaker behavior but about a mistmatch between the Manley and the Zu due to the Manley " behavior " that due to the amplifier characteristics in true works more like an equalizer with gain that as an amplifier with the right performance to handle the Zu speakers this is the main subject.

++++ " would mean that its design may anticipate and compensate for those impedance interactions " ++++

I hope not because that means more signal manipulation that means signal further degradation.

Now, I can't see clear which your point. Are you trying to say that the Manley is a right amp for those speakers? or are you trying to diminish the impedance mistmatch between Manley and Zu? which your point?

As I posted : why any one of us could try to diminsh or ignore the critical importance that have a matching or un-matching amplifier/speaker combination on system quality level performance when any one of us take care matching cartridge impedance with phono load impedance or tonearm/cartridge match combination to achieve better quality performance level?

which the difference when maybe the speaker/amplifier impedance matching can be more critical and sensitive than the others?, makes no sense to me.

Trying to match electrical impedances between any other audio links but the amplifier/speakers always is important an almost all of us take care about: I repeat, which the difference with the amplifier/speaker impedanmce matching? why almost all do not care about? which is the explanation behind this audiophile behavior other than ignorance?

Which your take ?, I ask you because you know what we are talking about and I can't see you agree with that critical Ohm's Law importance. Again: why diminish it?

regards and enjoy the music,
Hi Iramirez - I understand that a whole lot of audiophiles like subs, and I am sure the one you mention is a good one. I do not dispute that.

My point about subs is that if we are talking about unamplified, acoustically produced music, they are simply not necessary. With the exception of perhaps the very lowest organ pipes, and maybe a very few other cases, acoustically produced music simply doesn't go down to the frequencies that would require a sub.

In fact, subs always make acoustically produced music sound a little unnatural. Yes, I make that an absolute statement. I have heard a great many of them, in audio stores and at audio shows, and in people's home systems. In every single case, unamplified acoustically produced music sounded better (meaning in this case more life-like, or real) with the sub turned off. I have even convinced a couple of speaker designers at audio shows of this, using different orchestral and chamber music recordings. In fact, one of my favorite activities at audio shows is to find a salesman hawking some system or other and ranting about how great his subs are, and then putting on a recording of acoustic music and asking him to play it with the subs on, and then off. The latter always sounds better, in the unanimous opinion of everyone in the room, sometimes shockingly so. Honestly, this test has never failed yet.

Now I hasten to add that if we are talking electronically produced music, this is not always the case. Sometimes subs can help enhance that, though as others have said they are always difficult to integrate properly, even when one knows what they are doing. And of course, most audiophiles do listen to a great deal of electronically produced music.

I think nowadays that even acoustic instruments are so amplified electronically as a matter of course in jazz clubs, and even symphonic pops concerts, that many people, including audiophiles, have simply become accustomed to this sound, and expect to hear it, even though it is not natural. Some day when I buy a really good home theater system for movies and TV, it will most definitely have a sub. But it will be separate from my audio system, and never the twain shall meet.
02-26-12: Rauliruegas
Now, I can't see clear which your point. Are you trying to say that the Manley is a right amp for those speakers? or are you trying to diminish the impedance mistmatch between Manley and Zu? which your point?

... Trying to match electrical impedances between any other audio links but the amplifier/speakers always is important an almost all of us take care about: I repeat, which the difference with the amplifier/speaker impedanmce matching? why almost all do not care about? which is the explanation behind this audiophile behavior other than ignorance?
Hi Raul,

I'm not saying that the match is unimportant. Basically what I am saying is that it seems plausible to me that the speaker could be designed to sound its best when driven by a tube amp having significant output impedance, and it may not sound its best when driven by a solid state amp having near zero output impedance.

Speakers having relatively high sensitivity are often designed that way. See Atmasphere's paradigm paper for further background on that.

I certainly agree with you that using an amplifier having a 2 ohm output impedance with this speaker will result in a somewhat different frequency response than using a solid state amplifier having near zero output impedance, as the calculations in my previous post indicated. However, that does not necessarily mean that the frequency response when driven by the solid state amplifier is "better" or more neutral or more accurate, either subjectively or objectively.

The bottom line, putting aside subjective preferences, is what kind of amplifier the speaker was designed and intended to be used with. Some speakers are clearly designed to be used with solid state amplifiers, others are clearly designed to be used with tube amplifiers, and many others straddle the fence.

The likelihood that the Essence is designed to provide good results when used with a tube amplifier is given plausibility by the upwardly shelved top octave that I referred to (that measurement presumably having been taken with a solid state signal source), which will almost exactly cancel the top octave rolloff resulting from the interaction between the speaker impedance and the 2 ohm amplifier impedance. It is also given plausibility by the good sonic results that have been described by the OP and by the Stereophile reviewers, and by the fact that a lot of people successfully use high sensitivity speakers such as the Zu's with tube amps.

-- Al
Dear Al: Thank's for the link, I already read it in the past. Ralph is one of the designers I have in high respect.

I know that only a few speaker designers made or make their designs to achieve high quality performance with out taking in count electronics/restrictions to handle it. I'm not a speaker designer but if I was one that's the way I will make my designs. Then if that design at the end needs SS electronics or tube ones this fact was only a result of the speaker self design and not because was oriented to this or that kind of electronics.

Al, for me the main differences between audio systems quality performance level are each one audio system: colorations and distortion levels and how it handle these distortions.

For almost everyone but me what we like is not the main subject when we evaluate an audio system quality level performance.
I know as I think you know too that we can like music through full colored audio systems but for me that's means almost nothing.
What have sense to me and what I already experienced is that always that I heard a " distortion free " audio system I always like it and any one like it too.

I almost always like it my system even when was full of colorations/distortions but through the years I learn and understand the specific weight that have those distortions/colorations in any quality level system performance so I worked about and I'm still working to achieve that elusive target " distortion free " system.

Each time distortions goes lower each time the system let me hear more music more " what's in the recording " and higher enjoyment.
I learned to have not my ears equalized to my system but to be aware on different level of distotions ( different kind. ) and not only in my system but in other audio systems.

Obviously is not enough to have a " distortion free " system but a well designed one. A well designed one/distortion free system IMHO always will sounds great and likes any one and not depend what we like or which one are our priorities.
If that well designed and distortion free system does not like us could be not because the system but because that's what is in the recordings.

IMHO a well designed and distortion free system is always faithful to the recording.

I don't care about each one subjectivity because audio subjectivity is always the " easy " way to finish a dialogue like this one when arguments from one side " disappear ".

What kind of subjectivity am I talking about?, something like this one:

+++++ " Any audiophile will agree that the most valuable thing they have with respect to their audio system is their own hearing. " ++++++
or what you already posted:

+++ W if you move that's what has importance " +++

or what other people post about frequently:

++++ " this is what I like... " +++++

and my main subject is not what I, you are any one else likes but what's wrong or not.

The speaker/amplifier electrical impedance match is only one of the critical issues why we can't achieve a " near perfect " quality performance in our each one audio systems.
Colorations and distortions means differences in frequency response, noise level and any kind of deviations for neutrality, means differences on tonal balance and means non-accurate system response.

Why almost all of us take care on room/system interaction, why we take care on room contioning?, certainly to achieve near neutral performance with a better tonal balance and more accurate performance.

If we analize the relationship between the different links in the audio system chain we can see that are at least two critical relationships that almost no one cares about:
phonolinestage output impedance and amplifier output impedance.
We all care about almost all other link's relationship ( matchin in between. ): cartridges and Suts, cartridges and phono stages, cartridge and tonearms, cables and length of those cables, etc, etc.
Well electrical impedance match between speakers and amplifiers has ( at least ) IMHO a critical importance that if we don't care about we can't achieve a better quality perfromance level and not only this but we can't know for sure which one is the " true " quality performance level of each one audio system.

For me the name of the game in our high end audio is: accuracy and neutrality that means: low colorations and low distortions.

Another example on how achieve a lowest distortions in almost any audio system is the topic that Learsfool " touch it ": subwoofers, I agree with him that acoustic music other than organs perhaps does not needs a sub but we have to think in what we heard through each one system where we listen trhough speakers that always have compromises and one of these compromise is the IMD that the speaker drivers generate.
IMHO, almost any audio system benefits and improves its quality level perfromance when the main speakers goes lower in its IMD value/response.
This lower speaker IMD is something that even a " deaf " man could hear, I'm not talking here about " numbers " but a simple fact: lower speaker IMD.

Here we can read something about:


Anyway, I know that my overall targets are different from other people ones but my best hope is that sooner or later you and other people take concience and action on what you and me are talking through our posts in this thread.

Regards and enjoy the music,

You seem to assume no one else has owned or listened to 'low distortion,low output impedance' and so called 'accurate' SS amplifier and ultimately found them inferior. Just because you find these types of amplifiers more neutral and accurate is merely your conclusion and simply nothing more.You`re quite condescending considering those who don`t share your conclusions as "ignorant".

It`s good you`ve found with works best for you, don`t be so smug with your attitude that you know what`s best for everyone else.I`ve heard many of the highly praised SS amps with ultra low distortion measurements and most did`nt sound very good to me(yep, had to use my ears,imagine that). I much prefer my current amplifier as it sounds far more realistic and natural. It`s silly to discount what others 'hear' as pleasing colorations. I could just as easily point out the deficiencies(they`re there) of the SS amps you prefer,but what`s the point? If you like that presentation that`s all that matters. Your opinion is no more informed than any others posted here. You`ve been posting the same doctrine for many years on audiogon, perhaps it`s you who needs to reconsider your narrow, dogmatic and redundant posts.
Dear Charles1dad: As any one I'm ignorant in several audio subjects. I don't diminish any one of you, I'm only telling why we are almost anal when matching other two audio links but amplifier to speakers: makes no sense tome, makes sense to you?

A well designed accurate and neutral audio item always is pleaseant when is surrounded of similar audio items/links but when is surrounded of other non-accurate/non-neutral and colored audio links we tend to " fix " the culprit to that well designed accurate and neutral item that because of these characteristics shows and showed several faults elsewhere in the audio system that before its integration were hidden for a more colored and distorted audio item.

I'm not talking of amps only, I'm talking of an audio system as a whole entity where a single " sick " link make ill all the audio chain.

We can't wait that in a colored and distorted audio system the " introduction " of one accurate and neutral link can cure/heal that system: NO, that one link is only the begin is only the first step to improve it and we have to " walk " more than one step to achieve that pleaseant, accurate, non-distorted and neutral system quality performance level.

Working on each audio link looking to lower and put at minimum all kind of distortions is the key to " perfection " on quality system performance level where any one will like and love the sounds comme out from that " perfect " audio system.

As I said: in this subject what you, me or any one likes is not important is not the subject but what is wrong or what is right.
I prefer a pleaseant system performance that's accurate, non-distorted and neutral over other that it is: don't you think?

Regards and enjoy the music,

Thank you for your incredibly kind offer. I certainly would love to hear your amps. I bet we could learn quite a bit from hearing them in both systems. Before I got the Zu speakers I ran my Manleys on a pair of RBHs which sported a similar D'Appolito array as your Coincidents. They sounded glorious with the RBHs, but due to a lower efficiency I could only listen to fairly moderate sound levels. I imagine, very generally, that your Coincidents have a similar presentation as my RBHs, but with greater dynamics. The RBHs threw a very different soundstage than the Zu, very, very deep behind the speakers. The Zu are astoundingly dynamic in comparison--they really can startle you on the attack--and they present a very broad very wide soundstage. I don't know if you have ever heard your amps on a single driver speaker. I assure you that it is a peculiar experience. I think that you would enjoy listening to your system with my Zu Essences. I think that the differences would be enlightening to us both... I don't know how to contact you privately, but I'll peruse Audiogon systems and send you an email with my phone #.

Warm regards,

Hi Ivan,
I`d look forward to that experience of hearing a different type of speaker. My email is charles1dad@aol.com.
Ivan, I choose from Wavelength Cardinal Signature XS 300Bs or Wavelength 45s Silver driving Beauhorn Virtuoso speakers which house 8" Lowther DX4s. Very simple crossover-less design in a VERY small apartment. They don't reach extreme highs or lows, but do work VERY well for my liking! (Volume is NO problem with either amplifier pairs) I certainly feel where you are coming from, my friend!
BTW, currently running Sophia RPs in the Cardinals.
Charles, I am enjoying your sound reviews and looking forward to further installments, not to mention reports of yours and Ivan's equipment getting together in whichever configuration. Big fun!
If Ivan and I can work out the details it should be both fun and educational.With the Takatsuki 300b tubes in my amplifier I`m experiencing the most pure,natural and 'realism' of sound I`ve ever had in my system. I really look forward to hearing your Sophia RP tubes in my amplifier. I bet your Wavelength amps just sound wonderful.
Best Regards,
Charles, I hope you're not hinting at me to send you my amps to test.... just kidding!! he he he
Isochronism you saw right through me.