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  1. #26
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    No monkey coffin is worth $13000.
    ...

  2. #27
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    Ajani,

    If you want one of the better examples of a SET you should consider a Bottlehead 2a3/300B. Because of their homespun looks they don't bring that much on the used market. The great advantage here is that you get someone's dotted on, meticulous hand built amp "child" ( they're usually way over built by OCD guys ) for a ridiculously low price if you factor in tons of man hours and quality parts. When a Bottlehead is listed on A'gon you'll see the internals proudly showcased as that's where it's builder gets his rocks off. The only SET I've heard so far that is way better is the three chassis Mercury Vapor tubed "Voice of God" GM-70 ( aka The Oil Sheik's SET )

  3. #28
    RGA
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    Have you auditioned said monkey coffins? I've heard OB speakers, top of the line ones - top of the line electrostats, planars, horns, ribbons, hybrids, single drivers.

    Just saying.


  4. #29
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani View Post
    I was disappointed that the Miniwatt merely got a class D rating, despite being raved about in other mags.
    That class rating does more to get people to wind up with terrible systems than any other single thing in the entire industry IMO. Hyperbole? I don't think so.

    First this and other rating systems are hugely problematic - and hell I see the problem on JUST the things I've owned or from the brands I've owned - so that means it is probably happening with EVERYTHING.

    Soundhounds carries a class A rated speaker - several in fact and class B rated ones - in every case the class B rated speakers are preferred - and it's NOT close.

    For over a decade Stereophile was rating various integrated amps class A and class B - FINALLY they get a Sugden A21a a decade into it's run 3rd generation. On Audio Asylum - the reviewer notes that it would be his choice in the price class and the best amp in the price class. The longest selling integrated amplifier in the history of the world is MISSED by the biggest U.S. magazine for THREE DECADES!.

    The Brit magazine awarded a lesser amp over the A21a because of lack of features and watts. But they admitted it sounded the best. But the other amp is the one that gets plastered in the next issue of "Editor's Choice" amp shooutout winner - this implies that it was the best sounding amp - it wasn't. The same magazine gave my OTO 4 stars - despite saying it was "easily" the best sounding amp in the test - again features and power.

    And AGAIN - only ONE guy at Stereophile makes the decision as to where stuff goes on their listing. Art Dudley said the AN E should be given a new class rating of A++ but it got a class B (never mind that John Marks called it the most memorable experience he's had in all of hi-fi), Wes Philips called it the best reproduction he's EVER heard, and a contributing technical editor also bought them.

    No they give the class A to speakers no one there would touch with a 50 foot pole with their own money.

    I sort of see Hi-Fi Choice's rationale (and perhaps it is JA's reason too) - idiosyncratic products like 8 watt tubes and fussy with SS speakers have a higher chance of sounding poor with systems most of their reader's own.

    I posted this analogy of B&W getting huge press while being less good IMO than lesser known much better sounding lower priced products.

    The analogy I like to make would be rottentomatoes a website the culls critics across the country and gives a movie a fresh tomato or rotten tomato rating.

    There may be a film (think speaker) that virtually all the critics like. The overall Rating for X movies is 98% fresh. This is THE movie to see.

    Movie 2 gets 85% Fresh and 15% rotten. Still good but nowhere near the marks of the first film(think speaker).

    But looking deeper at the individual reviews and you see a little more information.

    Assume both films (speakers) had 100 critics evaluate.

    The first film(speaker) had 100 critics who on a scale of 5 stars 90 of them give the film 3/5 (which is the threshold to pass) and 8 give it 4/5 while the other 2 give it 2/5.

    So 98% liked the movie (speaker) enough to recommend them. No one Hated the speaker but no one LOVED the movie (speaker) either.

    Movie (speaker) 2 had more dissenters. 15 gave it 2 to 2.5 our of five - however 80 awarded it 5/5 claiming it the best movie (speaker) of the last 2 decades (speaker), while the other 5 gave it 4/5 rating.

    The majority rules and statistics favour the first movie - and rightly so - there is MORE of a chance you will walk away thinking that it was a GOOD movie (speaker) but film(speaker)2 has a much greater chance that you will walk away thinking this is the best movie (speaker) that you have seen (heard) in the last 20 years or ever.

    Polarizing movies and speakers or anything else such as food run a greater risk of offending the palette but they also have a much greater chance of heightening the reward.

    McDonalds has been hugely successful largely because they make a very bland product - bland is largely inoffensive to the taste buds and can appeal to a large number of the population. Thai Spicey soup or Salmon has much stronger taste that many people could gulp up everyday while others scrunch their face up and are ready to hurl just smelling it. The Filet of Fish is inoffensive but it's no Sockeye cokked over fire in white wine.

    I personally don't want to own or watch or listen to the 3/5 above averaged but unlikely to be a genuine star kinds of movies/speakers. It may sound "good" but I'd rather risk my time on the stuff that could be a 5 star shake me to the core experience - even if I have a slightly higher risk of getting something that is not to my taste.

    This is why a film like Forrest Gump beats a Pulp Fiction at the Oscars. The latter has a much much higher chance to offend the audience while the former is mainstream inoffensive and charming and sweet. More people have a much higher chance of liking Forrest Gump (obviously since it won). Pulp Fiction though in critic circles tends to be regarded considerably as the better film and one of the best of the decade or ever made. Pulp has more risk to be disliked but it also has a higher chance to be on your top ten or 20 of all time list.

    While a B&W tends to be well regarded gets good reviews I don't recall reading a lot of wide support that they shake people to the core and they were the best sound ever heard at a show, or wow I can't believe that they transformed my view of the audio industry.
    Last edited by RGA; 02-21-2012 at 08:05 PM.

  5. #30
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    YB,

    If I tattoo a serial number on my Bottleheads do you reckon the SQ will get ever better? :-)

    It makes sense to read the full review so you don't have to "suspect" what the reviewer might have said.
    Stamping a serial number on an amp does not make it sound better. It does however demonstrate a certain level of quality control, which probably exists throughout the manufacturing process (and after sales support).

    I read the review. Sounds impressive. But, who knows with reviews nowadays? Sorry to be cynical, but there have been enough examples where mediocre gear is made to sound like the best thing since sliced bread. Is the reviewer saying the Miniwatt surpasses the Decware for sound quality? His comment relates to one aspect of the sound and that it is comparable to the Decware in that regard. That's about it. It's not really a thorough comparison.

    I'm not saying the Miniwatt produces lousy sound, but I do wonder (like Ajani) if one has to add qualifiers to it. I also believe that generally speaking you pay for what you get. Better parts and build quality don't come cheap, but they usually lead to better performance (and certainly support). I'd be skeptical of a story that contradicts this. But again, you've got more experience with tubes than I do, and you've heard the Miniwatt, while I have not. My skepticism would lead me to the likes of Rogue or ARC, but not everyone will look at it the same way.
    Naim Nait 5i
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  6. #31
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    YB, you're wasting money and making poor decisions if you think cost is the benchmark for quality sound. I learned it the hard way and if you stay at this hobby long enough maybe you'll get it to.

  7. #32
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    I don't believe that because I express skepticism about a $189 integreated amp it must mean I don't get that cost isn't everything. Was it Meridian who took an Oppo Blu-Ray player, added their own faceplate, and charged thousands more? I certainly wouldn't buy their machine, in fact I own an Oppo BDP-93 and think it's great.

    I downgraded from a Rega Saturn to eventually land on the Simaudio CD.5 (about half the price) and much prefer the sound I am getting from the cheaper player.

    So I understand that cost isn't the benchmark but to write it off entirely wouldn't be correct either.

    But I will defer to you, as you have actually heard the N3 and the reviews online are overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps making a good sounding low powered SET amp is viable due to the inherent simplicity of the design, which would make the high price of most of the competition all the more frustrating. Under $1,000 (NAD territory) would be a nice place to see more tube amp designs, but maybe the scale just doesn't exist to support that. Seems like you need to spend $2,000 and up for a brand new amp from a well regarded manufacturer. Believe it or not, I'm not looking to shell out big money. I want value too - something a little more than the Miniwatt but less than the typical tube integrated would be nice, from a company that can have a bit more faith in. Of course, any integrated I purchase has to have more than one input, as I run four different sources depending on what I'm listening to. When I look at tube amps I quickly realize that this greatly reduces my options.
    Naim Nait 5i
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  8. #33
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    That class rating does more to get people to wind up with terrible systems than any other single thing in the entire industry IMO. Hyperbole? I don't think so.

    First this and other rating systems are hugely problematic - and hell I see the problem on JUST the things I've owned or from the brands I've owned - so that means it is probably happening with EVERYTHING.

    Soundhounds carries a class A rated speaker - several in fact and class B rated ones - in every case the class B rated speakers are preferred - and it's NOT close.

    For over a decade Stereophile was rating various integrated amps class A and class B - FINALLY they get a Sugden A21a a decade into it's run 3rd generation. On Audio Asylum - the reviewer notes that it would be his choice in the price class and the best amp in the price class. The longest selling integrated amplifier in the history of the world is MISSED by the biggest U.S. magazine for THREE DECADES!.

    The Brit magazine awarded a lesser amp over the A21a because of lack of features and watts. But they admitted it sounded the best. But the other amp is the one that gets plastered in the next issue of "Editor's Choice" amp shooutout winner - this implies that it was the best sounding amp - it wasn't. The same magazine gave my OTO 4 stars - despite saying it was "easily" the best sounding amp in the test - again features and power.

    And AGAIN - only ONE guy at Stereophile makes the decision as to where stuff goes on their listing. Art Dudley said the AN E should be given a new class rating of A++ but it got a class B (never mind that John Marks called it the most memorable experience he's had in all of hi-fi), Wes Philips called it the best reproduction he's EVER heard, and a contributing technical editor also bought them.

    No they give the class A to speakers no one there would touch with a 50 foot pole with their own money.

    I sort of see Hi-Fi Choice's rationale (and perhaps it is JA's reason too) - idiosyncratic products like 8 watt tubes and fussy with SS speakers have a higher chance of sounding poor with systems most of their reader's own.

    I posted this analogy of B&W getting huge press while being less good IMO than lesser known much better sounding lower priced products.

    The analogy I like to make would be rottentomatoes a website the culls critics across the country and gives a movie a fresh tomato or rotten tomato rating.

    There may be a film (think speaker) that virtually all the critics like. The overall Rating for X movies is 98% fresh. This is THE movie to see.

    Movie 2 gets 85% Fresh and 15% rotten. Still good but nowhere near the marks of the first film(think speaker).

    But looking deeper at the individual reviews and you see a little more information.

    Assume both films (speakers) had 100 critics evaluate.

    The first film(speaker) had 100 critics who on a scale of 5 stars 90 of them give the film 3/5 (which is the threshold to pass) and 8 give it 4/5 while the other 2 give it 2/5.

    So 98% liked the movie (speaker) enough to recommend them. No one Hated the speaker but no one LOVED the movie (speaker) either.

    Movie (speaker) 2 had more dissenters. 15 gave it 2 to 2.5 our of five - however 80 awarded it 5/5 claiming it the best movie (speaker) of the last 2 decades (speaker), while the other 5 gave it 4/5 rating.

    The majority rules and statistics favour the first movie - and rightly so - there is MORE of a chance you will walk away thinking that it was a GOOD movie (speaker) but film(speaker)2 has a much greater chance that you will walk away thinking this is the best movie (speaker) that you have seen (heard) in the last 20 years or ever.

    Polarizing movies and speakers or anything else such as food run a greater risk of offending the palette but they also have a much greater chance of heightening the reward.

    McDonalds has been hugely successful largely because they make a very bland product - bland is largely inoffensive to the taste buds and can appeal to a large number of the population. Thai Spicey soup or Salmon has much stronger taste that many people could gulp up everyday while others scrunch their face up and are ready to hurl just smelling it. The Filet of Fish is inoffensive but it's no Sockeye cokked over fire in white wine.

    I personally don't want to own or watch or listen to the 3/5 above averaged but unlikely to be a genuine star kinds of movies/speakers. It may sound "good" but I'd rather risk my time on the stuff that could be a 5 star shake me to the core experience - even if I have a slightly higher risk of getting something that is not to my taste.

    This is why a film like Forrest Gump beats a Pulp Fiction at the Oscars. The latter has a much much higher chance to offend the audience while the former is mainstream inoffensive and charming and sweet. More people have a much higher chance of liking Forrest Gump (obviously since it won). Pulp Fiction though in critic circles tends to be regarded considerably as the better film and one of the best of the decade or ever made. Pulp has more risk to be disliked but it also has a higher chance to be on your top ten or 20 of all time list.

    While a B&W tends to be well regarded gets good reviews I don't recall reading a lot of wide support that they shake people to the core and they were the best sound ever heard at a show, or wow I can't believe that they transformed my view of the audio industry.
    I skimmed through your response - as I essentially know your views on Stereophile's rating system already. However a few points need to be made:

    1) Too many people stupidly assume that because a product gets a 4/5 or a Class B rating, then they should dismiss it in favour of a 5/5 or Class A rated product in their price range. Stereophile, What HiFi? etc all tell readers that you may well prefer the 4/5 or Class B product depending on system synergy and your individual tastes. So an AN-E being rated Class B really is no big deal. As you mentioned at least one Stereophile writer thinks the sound is Class A, while JA is not convinced (different musical tastes and systems).

    2) My issue with the Miniwatt rating is that Class D really is a very low rating - essentially products that are very cheap and fun to listen to, but not High Fidelity by any stretch. So that would make me conclude that it is probably just good for the price as opposed to a good example of what SET is capable of. So not a SET amp that I want to use to judge SET technology by.

  9. #34
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    Ajani,

    If you want one of the better examples of a SET you should consider a Bottlehead 2a3/300B. Because of their homespun looks they don't bring that much on the used market. The great advantage here is that you get someone's dotted on, meticulous hand built amp "child" ( they're usually way over built by OCD guys ) for a ridiculously low price if you factor in tons of man hours and quality parts. When a Bottlehead is listed on A'gon you'll see the internals proudly showcased as that's where it's builder gets his rocks off. The only SET I've heard so far that is way better is the three chassis Mercury Vapor tubed "Voice of God" GM-70 ( aka The Oil Sheik's SET )
    Any thoughts on the Bottlehead Stereomour? If I do buy a SET, that's the most likely option.

    Stereomour Stereo Single Ended 2A3/45 Integrated Amplifier Kit

  10. #35
    RGA
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    Ajani (This is long but might be worth your time - as I kind of want to do this in my reviews)

    Psychologically and because most of us grew up in a letter graded society - A is better than B and 5 is better than 4.

    I don't believe people shake that even with an explanation - and that assumes that most people bothered to read it. I can't count the number of times I say something is not all that good and someone comes back with "well Stereophile gave it class A so it must be "elite" - well no it may in fact not be - in fact it could outright suck).

    If numbers and grades are to be handed out they should only be handed out by the reviewer who reviewed them. And a detailed explanation of what they value.

    I tried to do this years ago on this forum - Please don't be too hard on me - this was 2004 before I had any thought of being a reviewer - I don't even wholly agree with my 2004 self - but I think there were some good ideas here and I may try to tighten it up since it's incredibly convoluted right now.

    I lifted these ideas by basically blending three stereo publications together - enjoythemusic, hi-fi choice, Stereophile while making modifications


    First the rating system:


    Speakers are rated into several categories of certain aspects of the speaker’s sound which I have tried to account for in my listening sessions. For example, the “Bass depth” rating is not just bass depth, but also how well the speaker performs with what bass it does offer. Stand-mount speakers are usually at a disadvantage in this regard but this is a fact of life and no compensation is made for those wishing to add subwoofers. If a speaker has no deep bass it has none and will score a zero. By all means if this is unimportant disregard the bass depth aspect and purchase a sub-woofer.

    Further, I have my own personal tastes in what I look for in loudspeakers. I prize the overall musical event more so than trying to rank individual aspects of treble or bass or imaging. As such in the areas most important to me I have added modifiers. So each aspect of sound such as imaging or tonality I have scored the product out of ten. However, because the Midrange is more important to me than Deep Bass, I have added an X3 modifier to the midrange so that a score of 8/10 with the X3 modifier will now be weighted 24/30.

    There are eleven aspects of sound that I have used for my ratings with a total out of 200. Each aspect is scored out of ten, with the aforementioned weighted modifiers. This is to be as objective as I can be. This also allows the reader who may value Imaging and Sound-staging more than I do to weight that aspect more and perhaps high frequencies less.

    An overall percentage is given of the speaker’s performance. Percentages above or below the middle of the range expected will affect the overall grade given to speakers. I have developed a base line of where I expect a speaker’s performance percentage to be given relative to the price of the speaker using the following table.

    Based in Canadian Dollars(Subtract roughly 30% for US figure)

    Up to $200 (30-40%)
    $200.00-$500.00 (40-50%)
    $500.00 - $1,000.00 (50-60%)
    $1000.00 $2,000.00 (60 – 70%)
    $2,000 - $5,000.00 (70-80%)
    $5,000.00 - $10,000 (80%- 85%)
    $10,000.00 and up (85%-100%)

    Note: Speakers receiving 90%-100% are given a Reference Recommended Tag. A speaker scoring less than 8.5 in Deep bass will get a LLF in front of the Reference tag to indicate that the speaker is Limited Low Frequency (In other words does not offer reference quality in the deep bass).

    For example, a speaker at $600.00 that scores 65% is performing well above expectations for its price range and will receive a Best Buy Tag.

    A speaker performing in the upper part of its expected percentile will receive a Recommended Rating. A speaker performing within its expected percentile price range but at the lower end will receive no tag.

    Lastly, an expensive speaker performing below the expected performance percentile range will receive a Not Recommended. This is my question to the manufacturer as to why the speaker is so highly priced given the performance offered up. It may very well be the case that some of these speakers outperform speakers receiving a Best Buy or Recommended tag at lower levels; however, it is not, to put it bluntly, performing to the level of similarly priced speakers or my expectations. It should be stressed that a Not Recommended Tag does not mean it’s necessarily a BAD speaker.

    Note: Any speaker ranking 80% or better will be given a FREE from being given a Question Mark. While I may deem it overpriced, high end speakers to me have attained remarkable musicality which trumps the details.

    A Speaker with a Best Buy rating is not necessarily a better product than one which receives a Recommended tag. However, a Best Buy tag in the same price range may be superior – if in doubt check the overall percentage.

    Do not be put off by relatively low percentage scores. Nothing is likely to score a 100% and very few will rate higher than about 85%. I consider speakers rating 75% or better to be high end, 70% or better for bookshelf speakers. These are rough – obviously if a Speaker has a lot of 8s but did poorly in bass response and you like subwoofers anyway it should still be highly considered. Also if build and finish are critical to you then certainly taking a 63 over a 67 makes sense if the latter is a butt ugly beast.

    Note: All speakers are judged on their sound when I have auditioned them. I have no interest in the look, finish, price or name recognition or even build quality of loudspeakers. Unless noted expect the build quality to be good for almost all loudspeakers built today at pretty much all price points. I am sure there are the odd speakers with gross defects, but that I suspect would be quite rare. What is attractive for your home is up to you just like the sound of the speaker.

    My ratings are meant for me as a hobbyist and for your entertainment. My reviews like all reviews are only any good if you agree with them. Perhaps you will be inspired to listen to something you have not heard before – and that is the best thing any audiophile can do. Spend days and days listening and comparing against other speakers. Listen in different locations with different gear in good rooms and in bad. Listen with some known recordings knowing you will have expectation bias so try listening to genres you know but unfamiliar recordings and find the speaker that can delineate differences better.

    Paradigm AtomV3 $180CDN $140.00US.
    2 way 2 driver stand-mount 70hz ? 20khz +/-2db ? 89db 8ohm

    BEST BUY!!

    I have to say I have loathed the previous incarnations of this speaker which sounded more like a screech box with an over-inflated mid-bass and atrociously obnoxious and un-listenable treble. Well the mid-bass is still pronounced, but the treble has been markedly restrained, so much so that this new incarnation of the speaker given the price is actually quite fun to listen to and one of the best you will likely find under $200.00. It?s amazing what a subtle change in one area can do to the whole presentation. It?s still not as coherent as I would like seeming to lack in the micro-dynamics and resolution departments. You know there is more brush work going on and you want to hear more of what is going on your recordings. But you have to look at the price. What is on offer is quite a lot considering it is a sub $200.00. Let?s be realistic ? it isn?t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but the fact is you could pay a fair chunk more and not get as much. The treble has been toned down I suspect a bit rolled off from the last model and that loses some crispness. However I would gladly give that up for a smoother balance. The speaker presents a wall of sound rather than get into the inner resolution so I sort of feel detached to what I?m listening to. Nevertheless it?s a good rocker surprisingly and will serve home theater fairly well no doubt. For under $200.00 and many place here are discounting them even more I can recommend this model with a solid Best Buy. Watch out they don?t try and serve up the V2 ? that to me is a mess.

    Ratings are in absolute terms rated against all speakers of all price ranges and ratings are not inflated because they are deemed budget speakers.
    Deep Bass 10hz ? 30hz_____________________ 0/10
    Bass 30hz ? 80hz__________________________ 3/10
    Midbass (80hz ? 200hz)_____________________ 5/10 X2
    Midrange (200hz ? 3khz)_____________________5/10 X3
    High Frequency (3khz ? up)__________________ 4.5/10 X2
    Attack (including macro-dynamics)____________ 5/10
    Decay____________________________________3/10
    Resolution (including micro-dynamics)_________ 2.5/10 X2
    Imaging and Soundstage____________________ 5/10
    Tonality__________________________________ 5/10 X2
    Cohesiveness (integrity of the musical event)___ 4.5/10 X4

    Overall____________________________________83/200 = 41.5%



    The actual reviews I did in 2004

    http://forums.audioreview.com/speakers/rga-reviews-$1-000-00-loudspeakers-wharfedale-athena-technologies-etc-page-1-a-6694.html

    Part 2 (and shows I was not anti-Paradigm even back then)

    http://forums.audioreview.com/speakers/rga-reviews-$2000-00-page-2-epos-audio-note-paradigm-b-w-etc-6696.html

    Part 3 RGA Reviews Page 3 - yes still more.

    I stress I don't even agree with my 2004 self on some of those - it was more of an exercise to see if such a rating system would work.

    I think that it could work if a magazine did this - different reviewers would simply weight the aspects of the sound differently but you would still be able to have clear values. But it would require the reviewer to have sampled a lot of gear in the different price ranges. I love listening to stuff like Trends for $200 all the way to cost no object - but some reviewers really only look at $10k and up components.
    Last edited by RGA; 02-21-2012 at 11:52 PM.

  11. #36
    Ajani
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    RGA - that's not a bad rating system. Though I would like to see a system without the extra weights for certain categories - simply because that would vary depending on listener preferences. So an overall score out of 100 for persons who want it simple and a detailed break down of ratings across categories, for the rest of us so we can know whether the speaker scored well in areas we care about.

    Lots of readers love simple ratings systems - if I'm not mistaken hi if choice moved from a score out of 100 to out of 5 to appease readers. So that's the danger of having more accurate (and complex) ratings systems.

  12. #37
    RGA
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    Yes my system there was quite convoluted but was trying to really pin it down.

    Still the other problem was the arbitrary price ranges I had set-up and the sliding scale factor - if something gets a 98 and two years later something destroys it then I have to do what Martin Colloms ended up doing and going over the maximum. Colloms started out rating gear out of 10 - no he gives stuff 89 out of 10. LOL.

    Hi-Fi CHoice had issues. The 5 star rating systems winds up with most everything getting 4 or 5 stars and with my previous note that they like things that get 4 better than what they give 5 it causes confusion. This was true of their other system where they liked stuff they gave high 80s over stuff they gave 90+ ratings to.


    I think I like what you said here -

    So an overall score out of 100 for persons who want it simple and a detailed break down of ratings across categories, for the rest of us so we can know whether the speaker scored well in areas we care about.

    Instead of showing all the modifiers and percentages that should be kept just by me or the reviewer.

    I think the concern I have is that like Martin the number systems or star systems lump too much stuff together I give one amp a 5 and another a 6 and then something comes along that is better than 5 but not has good as 6 and so now I have to give it a 5.5 and the whole thing becomes problematic - perhaps in 4 years I go back and want to lower a rating on something or increase it on something else.

    Indeed the Brit magazines have been known to do that dropping 5 star products to 4 stars when something new comes out. I find that approach somewhat annoying.

    I suppose the other approach I could take from the education system and use a Rubric style system with very clearly written "levels" - A speaker that attains level 5 must do the following A,B,C,D and E things very well. A level 4 speaker does three of the things in level 5 but does not meet the level of excellence in the other two areas. Then if something does step up over level 5 it is possible then to add another category of why it outstrips what level 5 is doing. Each level could be named.

    It's actually quite difficult to really get one of these systems that I am happy with and then to try and get all the reviewers of a magazine to buy into it is as well. It forces people to pin it down into an objective "number" and I think a lot of reviewers would rather hide from the " you only gave this amp a 3/5 what drug were you smoking" kind of battles.

    I agree in principal with the Stereophile class Rating systems - but not the way it is handled in terms of how items are chosen to be placed where. And frankly there is way too much stuff in Class A - Arthur Salvatore may be a bit of conspiracy guy but numbers don't generally lie - Class A implies the best stuff - and that means it should be reserved for a very small number of products (even if the entire industry has gotten much much better and there are many great great brands our there - it is still important to differentiate which is the best of those elite brands - to me the rankings would either look like a pyramid or a diamond. Elite gear at the top - more and more gear heading towards the middle or bottom.

    And discontinued or gear that is no longer made should not be knocked off the list. Plenty of people are willing to buy used or search for older gems. Manufacturers may not like it but it certainly would help with the resale value. Examples from this forum might be Tube Fan's Fulton J Modulars or Florian's Apogee Grands or the Quad 57 etc.

    I will float the idea to my fellow writers and see if they have interest in this - the issue for our magazine is that we don't all review or audition the same gear. It's easier for a Hi-Fi Choice which brings in 10 amps and has a panel of 10-20 people listen and make notes. The gear with the best combined score wins.

  13. #38
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani View Post
    RGA - that's not a bad rating system. Though I would like to see a system without the extra weights for certain categories - simply because that would vary depending on listener preferences.
    But you can't take listener preferences out of the equation. A review is just that, an evaluation of a product by one person, and so that person's preferences are going to factor in. Especially with something as hazy as discussing the sound produced by an audio system. I think it's true that we don't all hear the exactly the same, or process what we hear the same way.

    I personally like the system RGA has outlined. It might be a little convoluted, but it's not that difficult to understand if one puts in a few minutes of his/her time to read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    If numbers and grades are to be handed out they should only be handed out by the reviewer who reviewed them. And a detailed explanation of what they value.
    Agreed. Not just that, but the grades must be attributed back to the reviewer. i.e. you can't have Art Dudley, Atkinson, Tellig, etc. review products and assign Class A, B, C, and D, and then turn around and have these ratings lumped together into one set of Stereophile ratings. You must maintain a separate list of ratings for each reviewer. This is for consistency and integrity of the Class grouping. Because ultimately the grade given by each reviewer is to a large degree based on their preferences. This fact becomes distorted if all ratings are grouped together as if they were assigned by one party instead of 10 or 12 different parties. So a publication may say item X is Class A, but in reality perhaps only one reviewer (the one who actually reviewed it) would give it that rating. All others might have given it Class B. Maybe this is why Atkinson has the final say (but that's not good either).

    Getting back to your system, I like the multiplier because in one quick glance I see what you find most important. A reader can easily zero in on the reviewer(s) s/he has most in common with. Their ratings will be of more use to this reader.

    I was going to mention Salvatore. His website is a great read. It may come across like a conspiracy theory but he really lays out the case against publications like Stereophile and it's pretty air tight, IMO. WAJ on Audio is another similar site I just discovered. Interesting reading there as well.

    Still the other problem was the arbitrary price ranges I had set-up and the sliding scale factor - if something gets a 98 and two years later something destroys it then I have to do what Martin Colloms ended up doing and going over the maximum. Colloms started out rating gear out of 10 - no he gives stuff 89 out of 10. LOL.
    You could always adjust the ratings down, similar to how the Brits do it. But you'd have to zero in on the one or two things that the new product does better, and then it will just lead to a new final score. Personally, I find 89 out of 10 not very intuitive. Adjusting a score downward makes sense, as over time new high watermarks will be established.
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  14. #39
    RGA
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    I of course agree with the logic - or lack thereof of having a classification system where there is no transparency as to why something is graded a certain way.

    A rating system where you have speaker XYZ.

    If three reviewers have fairly auditioned it - you say Art gave it an A+, Wes gave it an A+, John gave it a B, Fred gave it an A- etc. That makes more sense because you can got to the reviewer you think is best or hears it the way you do.

    Unfortunately good dealers seem few and far between. I am fortunate that I have a dealer that carries a lot of brands and they basically laugh at Stereophile as being absurd. Really all magazines are in the sense that magazines are essentially "grouped" individuals writing under one umbrella. The reason magazines give everything positive reviews - well NO - magazines don't give reviews - individuals give reviews. Perhaps it's the corporation is a person that clouds people's judgments - but "Stereophile" doesn't give a class A rating - John Atkinson gave something a class A rating. XYZ won DAC of the year - no John Atkinson awarded it DAC of the year. 4/5 of this staff have probably never heard the product of the year award winner - ditto TAS, and every other review magazine that hands out awards.

    I'll use Audio Note again - They had a DAC in enjoythemusic. that won DAC of the year - I am betting that only 3 people at that magazine has ever heard the DAC - and one of those three may not have heard the "specific model" - I love their upper DACs but the award is a complete joke. It implies it is the best DAC on the market in the price range - REALLY - did they all hear EVERY DAC that is available? No.

    And then not everyone heard it under ideal conditions.

    I loved the Trenner and Freidl RA Box and Acapella Violoncello - if dagogo gave out awards and they asked my I would say "I loved them - top five based on what I heard at the show" - they give them an award based maybe on other reviewer's in home full review + my show condition audition.

    To me that would be really weak.

    enjoythemusic to their credit does use numerical scoring but the problem there is that some guys are much harder on gear than others - even though they may actually like it more. So a guy might give it 75/100 but actually like the product more than another reviewer handing out 90's like candy.

  15. #40
    Ajani
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    @ybarcam - clearly listening preferences can never be removed from subjective reviews and that was not my aim. I was thinking of ways to aid comparability between ratings from different reviewers. With the current weighting system RGA and I could give a pair of speakers identical ratings in all 11 categories, yet he gives them an overall score of 80 and I give them a 65. Simply because he puts 4x weighting on cohesiveness and 1x on imaging while I do the opposite (or I put extra weighting on the bass categories while he puts them on midrange and treble) etc. I just think it might be more useful for us to have the same overall rating and simply explain why we would or would not buy the speakers (state that despite the overall good rating, I wouldn't buy it because of relatively poor scores in X,Y &Z categories which are critical to my musical enjoyment). Then the individual reader can determine which categories are important to him and do his own weighting if he desires...

    Or if we really want to get complicated we could show both the weighted and non weighted scores for the equipment.
    Last edited by Ajani; 02-23-2012 at 08:03 PM.

  16. #41
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    Hi everyone i am new to this forum but would like to say my Yaqin 20l just arrived and i really like it so far. I can give a full review in a few days when i have really sat down and gave it listen. So far great build quality that i can tell.

  17. #42
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Welcome to AR, looking forward to your review.
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  18. #43
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    Cool Yaqin Ms-20L my thoughts

    Sorry it has taken me awhile to get back to this forum. I think we all know the story, Kids, Wife, life.

    First let me say I was a die hard transistor guy. I have right now all Classe Delta series components.

    So I ventured into the tube world with not much knowledge, but have been educating myself over the net.. I have found out not to take myself to seriously having been in this hobby for at least 20+ yrs. I do take my music serious.

    Anyhow I am not a professional reviewer of any sort so please for give me for any mistakes or misunderstandings. I will be as honest and subjective as I can. Just stating what I hear and what music I listened to

    So here we go.

    First off the packaging and shipping carton (which was double boxed) was out standing.

    Instructions were very good all was in order,clear English,even some info on biasing(good for us newbies) I would still check out the internet for a video on biasing just for comfort sake.
    After unpacking the quality is quite apparent. Solid heavy construction along with fairly decent power cord as well as nice binding posts they look like WBT? Seem to be very good quality.

    Now lets plug it in. Everything. Does what it should, tubes glowing (El34's) along with 6J1. Little blue glow by volume control.

    I hooked to my old Sony 999es DVD,super audio cd player. Using transparent music link super RCA interconnects. That's pretty much it for components. I also am using Kimber cable 12tc and WBT banana plugs.
    The speakers are DC10audio Berlin mini monitors.

    All my listening was done in Ultra Linear mode. Did not have time to do A/B comparisons between the two modes.

    I let everything warm up for 5-10 mins. The first song I played was from Diana Krall Love Scenes track 4 "Miss You So". My first thought were how come at quater volume it seems a lot louder than my Delta serries CA2200 amp. ( I've read that tube amps have more current which gives it more volume) this is not what I know only what I've read.

    Next I skipped to track 1 "All or Nothing at All" of the same album.
    Something still seemed amiss. Volume was there but it needed something. It sounded hollow, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.


    Thats when I thought I should let the Yaqin run for awhile and see if it could get better. So I popped in Holly Cole collection Vol.1 and let repeat for about 14 hours.

    After the 14 hour burn in or whatever we want to call it. I played Dire Starits the very best of track 3 "Romeo and Juliet" this amp did not let me down keeping the volume between 1/4 and 1/2 I could really not believe this. The vocals were realistic the bass seemed fast and open. Time to switch to track 5 "Private Investigations". All the sound is there I could hear the glass breaking in the back ground. The breathing the creaking of door and when the bass came in it was not lacking or at least I did not feel the need to turn it up. The little Yaqin seemed to be in good control all musical nuances.

    Next I played the cd Midnight oil's "Blue Sky Mine " track 9 "One Country" this time I was more than surprised at how this little amp made me feel. The distinctive voice of Petter Garrett was crisp and clean. The bass and guitars were upfront and clear. I next skipped to track 10 "Anartica" I can not lie I pushed the amp on this song I put it to 3/4 or more. Expecting the bottom to fall out or the unit to basically shut down. Not gonna happen. Everything once again was it should be the haunting voice of Mr. Garrett was, well haunting! When he cuts in with the phrase " one place left in this world"

    I am very pleased with the Yaqin ms20-l. I think from experience the little amp needs some time to warm up. I have been running it now for about 30-40 hours. It seems to be getting better every hour. Oh yes I did replay the Dian Krall cd. Much, much better atfter the 14 hours burn in. I did not think that it would make so much differance, but take your time and let this amp do its thing. For it will not disappoint and I have to say I am hooked tubes.

    Just let me say in retrospect I love my Classe gear
    It can produce pure magic and I love it.

    I just have to say for anyone looking to get into tubes for a budget price before they make a move into the higher end markets. You should at least give this a serious listen. Well that's it for now. I would like to thank Mr Song Gao very friendly fast service. He has an e-bay site look it up he is in Ontario, Canada.

    I also have ordered a shanling cd3000 top loading player. We will see how these mate together.

    Thanks for reading. I would love your feed back. Thanks.

    My equipment

    Classe Delta Series
    Ca-2200
    Cp-500
    Cep-100

    Speakers
    Monitor Audio PL-100
    Dc10audio Berlin mini monitors

    Yaqin ms-20l
    Sony 999es

  19. #44
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Thanks for your comments, Hearingaid, and welcome to AR forums.

    It would not be unusual for tube amp (or any amp) to need 100+ hours before it sounds its best.

  20. #45
    Audio casualty StevenSurprenant's Avatar
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    This thread is a little outdated, but I want to add a little to it.

    I own the Yaqin 13S which is an update of the 10T. Right from the beginning it sounded better than most ss amps I've listened to, but I discovered that with the right tubes, this amp really shines way above the norm. I use Svetlana winged =C= for power and Full Music for preamp duty. The result is a truly holographic soundstage with solid images throughout. The best way to describe the sound is that it sounds real, real instruments and real people populating a 3D space.

    Only twice have I heard soundstaging and imaging this good and that was with relatively very expensive SS gear. I think the SS gear in those systems produced a bit more air between instruments than the Yaqin, but the Yaqin sounds better is some ways too.

    To make a long story short, it doesn't get "much" better than this. I realize too that I might have just gotten lucky and the synergies just fell into place with my system.

  21. #46
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    yaqin MC-10L

    Quote Originally Posted by YBArcam View Post
    Maybe I should read the review in full, but I suspect Ebaen may have later said what the Decware does better than the Miniwatt. That's what I find happens in a lot of pro reviews. They rave about how a incredible a budget component is (when was the last time you read a bad review?) but then ultimately they conclude it falls behind it's more expensive competitor in certain respects.

    But like I said, I don't have any experience with the Miniwatt or Decware. What can one expect for $189 from an integrated amp though? If the Miniwatt is all that it should be a game changer. I'd be interested to see if in ten or twenty years down the line it is still remembered as more than a flavor of the month product.

    In the review I mentioned from the other forum, the reviewer noted that the Miniwatt had no serial number. This is a major concern. He was unsure if his amp had some sort of defect. What if a run of N3's had a specific defect? Without serial numbers how is Miniwatt going to trace this? Are they even interested in doing so? This is another reason why I'd pass and purchase instead from someone else who is interested in releasing a quality product.

    I wonder if Yaqin amps have serial numbers. I don't see one in the eBay pic the OP linked to. What kind of support will you get if you plunk down $500 and the amp develops a problem? I know there is a warranty shown on the eBay page but if I had to use it I'd be holding my breath.

    Do these products truly sound good and compete with products 5 and 10 times the price, or do people just love them because they sound good for the money and represent a cheap way to get into tubes? If it's the former then perhaps I will have to change my outlook.

    For now I think I'd rather save up and buy a 20 year old integrated from Audio Research (for example), and be assured of a certain level of sound and build quality, support if I need it (even when outside of warranty), and a stable resale value. And it would likely be the last tube integrated I'll ever buy. Might take a few years to save the cash, though. That's the part that sucks.
    This amp does compete, and even surpass many (classic) amps, tube or other. Great little amp! Compares well with Dynaco st-70;AR D-76A; Harmon Citation 2,ect.

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