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  1. #26
    RGA
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    Bobsticks

    Part of the sound is the presentation provided by a dealer. It's not to say that the AX Two is necessarily better than a give Harbeth but the resulting sound in the overall system set-up was better. I had an emotional response with the AX Two that I didn't even get with the SCM 150 - the front end gear attached is important. Linn has been saying that for decades.

    One dealer here pointed out that manufacturers need to be careful who they choose to sell their products because if you can't show it properly then people will get a lesser sense of the sound - or a negative sense of the sound. Like Klipsch and Athena selling at Best Buy in a wall of speakers - you can't really hear them anywhere near their best so they're relegated as being cheap mid-fi while same priced B&W is considered high end when really it's not better it's just that you get to hear them at their best in dedicated rooms with better gear.

    And the AX Two is no slouch. Hanging in with a $100k system is completely absurd (in a good way).
    Last edited by RGA; 04-18-2012 at 04:35 PM.

  2. #27
    RGA
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    Wow - as an aside - could it be that John Atkinson is coming around to Art Dudley's take on the AN E? It's a slow creep up and grab you loudspeaker and if John would simply take the engineering hat off - and just sit back and listen then ...

    The corner placement required by Audio Note speakers always raises my eyebrows—there was even a mirror next to one of the speakers!—but the sound of Ivan Moravec performing Brahms late piano works, the Op.118 Intermezzi, on a secondhand Turnabout LP, was extraordinarily engaging on the Audio Note AN-E Lexus Signature loudspeakers. This was the last room I visited Saturday night and I didn’t feel the need to visit any more rooms for more music.

    I'm patient - even the measurement freaks will come around given enough time. They're too right, too natural, to real, and too good.

    Stereophile's Ariel Biltran
    Nestling in with Audio Note | Stereophile.com

    Now I want them to get the AX Two - At $19k a speaker should be good - nothing less should be expected than greatness at that money. At under a grand is the fun stuff.

  3. #28
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    I have auditioned enough SS to know that the only one that would be in this price that I would like enough would be the Sugden amps. But they don't compete with better tubes - and better tubes are now the same price or less money than the Sugdens.
    Well given how you feel RGA I doubt you're going to be swayed by a relatively inexpensive SS amp. But...have you ever heard the Exposure 2010s2? I think it's fantastic and probably one of the best buys at it's price. I don't have near the listening experience that you do. I recall you said you liked Creek and Simaudio for their SS efforts (or at least they were not bad). I've not done a comparison against Creek, but I thought the 2010s2 was much better than the Simaudio i-1, at least in my system (and that's paired with a Sim CD player). It also easily beat an Audiolab 8000A.

    Art Dudley absolutely loved the amp in his review, and I find much of what he says is how I feel about the amp. The foundation (bass and mid bass) the amp lays for the music, the drive that it has, the composure, the clarity and transparency, the extended and clean highs; they are all fantastic and it's hard for me to imagine better (at least with this type of amp). The 2010s2 is very simply designed for great sound quality. As Dudley points out though, it's key to use low capacitance cables, and I found that doing so improved the sound dramatically (LFD and Nordost are said to work well, and I in fact use the former).

    Speaking of LFD, there is another highly regarded British SS amp. Quite a bit more expensive than Exposure though.
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  4. #29
    RGA
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    Yes I have found a number of SS amps I like for the money but in general I would not buy them unless they compete with good SETs - and so far not one of them does - not at $1k not at $10k not at $100k.

    I have no doubt the Exposure is good value for the coin - so is the Roksan, Sugden, Heed Audio, Creek Audio among others. My time with Sim Audio was short so I don't want to get into where I would place it.

    A lot has changed in Art's system since 2005 when he reviewed Exposure - he currently owns Shindo and Audio Note speakers are his main reference.

    SS and AN speakers generally are not a good match.

    This has nothing to do with the Exposure or the "good" solid state amps but system synergy is critical and an otherwise excellent amplifier can simply be a poor match with certain designs. AN drivers operate differently than most others.

    So it's less about the amplifier and more about how the amplifier operates with a given set of speakers.

    I don't have the technical background so I am forced to somewhat generalize things to Feedback, damping factor, SE operation, class A.

    There are always exceptions to generalized rules mind you but in general unless people I trust say otherwise I don't have the time to try out designs that seem to follow the same patterns of design I don't like. Art Dudley is an ear I trust - and he noted they stopped using Mosfets. So perhaps....

  5. #30
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    So I take it that MOSFET amps don't work great with AN speakers?

    What you say makes sense though. You shouldn't go to any great lengths to hear the 2010s2 given your preferences which have been formed over many years of listening. But if you happen to come across this amp it might be worth hearing. I forgot about the fact that I also compared the Exposure to a Unison Research Unico P and an Anthem 225. The Exposure won out, though it was closer than against the Audiolab and Simaudio amps. It's just been a great amp that continues to impress.

    I agree with you about synergy between speakers and amps. I suspect one reason the Exposure works well for me is that I have paired it with British speakers (Castle and PMC), and of course the amp has no issue driving them comfortably.
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  6. #31
    RGA
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    People have driven SS with Audio Note - and liked the results. So I don't want to say it doesn't work - but I think it is more based on expectations and the idea of what "good" really is and what it means. I happily drove a Sugden A48b with AN speakers. And I was happy until I heard what I was missing. Sometimes it's better to be ignorant of what is possible sometimes.

    I don't have the engineering but apparently AN drivers act as radiating drivers rather than pistons is the layman response I got. The reason they want AN amps connected is because the amp transformer is designed specifically for the impedance and frequency behavior of the speakers (they call it mirror imaging). SETs have a general behavior perhaps that the speakers respond better to. Perhaps lower damping factors.

    If I see one I'll try it out. Hopefully it won't be in the wall-o-gear that they had the Sugdens in. That store was disappointing.

  7. #32
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YBArcam View Post
    So I take it that MOSFET amps don't work great with AN speakers?
    The type of output device per se isn't the issue. It is how the circuit is designed and most importantly, how it reacts to a given speaker's load. AN's are voiced using high output impedance amps which alters its FR as compared to low impedance amps (most SS). You need an amp that matches that characteristic.

    The First Watt F2, for example, is one SS amp using MOSFET outputs that would likely work pretty well given its high output impedance (low damping factor).

    First Watt F2

    Quote Originally Posted by YBArcam View Post
    I agree with you about synergy between speakers and amps.
    Absolutely, although it really doesn't have to do with the country of origin! The VTL tube amps that sound great driving my stats fare poorly with the Advents in the vintage system. It is the speaker that determines the most suitable amp to drive it.

  8. #33
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat View Post
    The type of output device per se isn't the issue. It is how the circuit is designed and most importantly, how it reacts to a given speaker's load. AN's are voiced using high output impedance amps which alters its FR as compared to low impedance amps (most SS). You need an amp that matches that characteristic.

    The First Watt F2, for example, is one SS amp using MOSFET outputs that would likely work pretty well given its high output impedance (low damping factor).

    First Watt F2
    Good to know and interesting stuff. You really need to know what works best to find the right match.


    Absolutely, although it really doesn't have to do with the country of origin! The VTL tube amps that sound great driving my stats fare poorly with the Advents in the vintage system. It is the speaker that determines the most suitable amp to drive it.
    Yes, of course. I didn't mean that country of origin is the reason per se. It's the electrical characteristics of both amp and speaker that determines a suitable match. That said, I gather that many British speakers tend to work well with many British amps, as the Brits tend to favour certain ideals that extend across brands. Of course, it wouldn't be across the board, but in the entry level space you've got Rega, Naim, Exposure, Roksan and perhaps one or two more that work well with speakers from EPOS, Castle, Rega, Linn, PMC, Harbeth, etc.
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  9. #34
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by YBArcam View Post
    Good to know and interesting stuff. You really need to know what works best to find the right match.
    I suppose it's interesting but he claims to only have made 100 of them. There is no price listed - and one still needs to actually hear it. Although based on what I have heard from Pass over the years - he is one of the only SS manufacturers where when I listen it consistently sounds good and even brings up the level of some speakers that have sounded poor previously.

    Unfortunately, it's not a particularly practical exception to the general rule if there are only 100 of them or if they're more expensive than good SET amplifiers already on the market for $2k - $4k.

  10. #35
    RGA
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    Well the amp decision has been made. Factoring in that this is a budget system build where every component would be under $2k on average I felt that the Cheap SET amps I was auditioning were not cutting it. I just wasn't getting what I wanted and what I want is a Meishu but they cost beyond reason. One day maybe.

    I may still get the 219Ia since I really liked it but a $7,500 amplifier is still not budget.

    After auditioning Rogue Audio, Melody, Audio Space, Dared, Line Magnetic, and a few second hand items from CJ, Cary, Jadis It ended up coming down to Line Magnetic and Audio Space. Yeah who would have thought.

    And it came down to both of their EL 34 based amplifiers. Sound quality was on par - I'd be happy with either one. The Line Magnetic has a remote control but to counter that feature the Audio Space has a full transformer headphone output.

    The Audio Space won out. Interestingly I was there to make sure I wanted to review their speakers but their amps won me over. The speaker has a heads up is the best of these LS3/5a models I've heard - they really impressed me and I look forward to pitting them against the AX Two. Finally the AX Two has serious competition. They also make a cheaper version of the LS3/5a called the Gini but it sounded rather poor - it was a lot cheaper though but the build seems cheap and the slapped together. I heard Harbeth's version which was better but it had a lilt in the upper midrange treble that was not bad but I dunno just something not quite nice sounding - the regular Harbeth models sound better.

    I tried the Kt 88s but despite being a little pricier I preferred the slightly warmer presentation here from the EL 34.

    Switching between ultra-linear and triode
    Switching between high and low negative feedback
    Switching between direct and line input
    Headphone jack
    tube circuitry with choke coil
    Point to point soldering

    Output Power: 2 x 16W (Triode - Class AB Push-Pull)
    2 x 32W (Ultralinear- Class AB Push-Pull)
    Output Impedance : 4, 8 ohm
    Input : Single-ended RCA x 3
    Vacuum Tubes: 1 x 6N9P (6SL7 or ECC35)
    2 x 6N8P (6SN7 or ECC32)
    4 x EL34 (6CA7)
    Dimensions (W x H x D): 255 x 176 x 316 mm
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Update on the system build...-mini-2.jpg  

  11. #36
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    What is the exact model of the amp? Having trouble matching the pic to the model on the site?

  12. #37
    RGA
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    Yes they sell slightly different models to different countries - some models are everywhere like the bigger models but it's called the Mini-2 (SE). There used to be an amp called the Mini Houston which seems similar but it had different driver tubes and a few less features. The Mini-2 is the newer better version from what I can tell.

    I liked the sound better than the AS series KT 88s and 34s. But that is preference as I liked the sound but it was a little more hi-fi and a little less relaxing on music you should be able to relax to.

    This is the amplifier in Silver Integrated Amplifier - Mini-2SE Vacuum Tube Integrated Mini Amplifier product_info - Audiospace Tube amplifier,Integrated amplifier,Valve amplifier Audiospace Tube amplifier,Integrated amplifier,Valve amplifier

  13. #38
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    This one is similar but somewhat surprised you didn't get a SET.

    NEW AS-3iENGLAND 'EL34 Triode Connect. VALVE amplifier | eBay

  14. #39
    RGA
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    I auditioned the AS amp but I didn't quite like it as much. It has a different circuit and uses different input/driver tubes. The Mini-2 isn't as dark or brooding.

    No it isn't a SET but like I say the cheap SETs I heard from some of the others I didn't care for - it doesn't win just because it's a SET - SETs require quality transformers and that requires money. The 300B is a simpler design and so it's easier to make a good one but there are few inexpensive 300Bs. The Audio Space Ref 3.1 is around $6,000 or nearly 4 times the price. The Meishu Silver Sig (granted their top version) is now $20,600. As Philip Holmes mentioned it comes down to the transformer design and they make the best transformers in his view "ever" which is why they cost large.

    On the budget system I was looking at $5k for the cheapest Line Magnetic and 300B with only 8 watts unfortunately limit what I can review. Even the OTO has gone up in price since I bought mine. When I bought the OTO in 2005 or so it was about $3k now it's approaching $5k. And the OTO is a SEP

    This amp opens my review options up while sounding very nice not having some of the grating qualities of SS or some Push Pull amps that sound overly lean.

    I may still purchase the Line Magnetic 218 mini which is an EL84 SET with 3 watts per channel. Jack Roberts bought one already and likes it and Philip also noted that the EL84 is tough to screw up. I have to try it again.

    I'd like to have several different amplifiers to mix and match across various systems.

  15. #40
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    I've had the following push pulls in my home for extended stays yet none could resolve detail at low levels as well as my cheapest Chinese SET: Primaluna Prologue One, HK Citation, Dynaco ST70, HH Scott, Jolida 202, and Fisher 500.

  16. #41
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    I've had the following push pulls in my home for extended stays yet none could resolve detail at low levels as well as my cheapest Chinese SET: Primaluna Prologue One, HK Citation, Dynaco ST70, HH Scott, Jolida 202, and Fisher 500.
    I have not heard the Scott or the Fisher but I think the Audio Space is considerably better than the 202a, Dynaco ST70 and Primaluna. The 202a I have the most experience with and their 302B.

    Granted people do modify the ST 70 and claim greatness but the one I heard was pretty dreadful.

    Nothing beats a good SET on low level resolution (The Audio Space is no Audio Note). The Audio Space isn't an end of the road amplifier by any means - it's good for the kind of amplifier that it is against amps I've heard in the same price class and similar architecture.

    A SET will come down the line. Basically the Mini-2 is to hold the fort down, sounds "good" and gives me something to listen to until I can spend the time wading through various Single Ended options. I'd like to hear the Audio Space SETs as well as LM, Melody, Audio Note, and some others.

  17. #42
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    RGA, what did you think of the Rogue? Was it the Cronus that you listened to? I might purchase a preamp later this year and it will likely come down to Rogue, Audio Space, and PrimaLuna.
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  18. #43
    RGA
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    I would definitely try to add Line Magnetic to the list/

    The thing is they're all quite good. Tube amps have slight to significant variations on the sound. Just within the Audio Space line-up the sound difference is quite different - I liked them all but one seemed to sound more expansive and had more treble while another was better in the bass and richer sounding tonally - and it will depend on your speaker and taste - I liked them both so it will depend on the speakers.

    Rogue is a good brand I liked them when I heard them. I prefer the Line Magnetic simply because it appears to be built a bit better (appears beefier than the Cronus) has more options and is less expensive. Audio Space is on par with Line Magnetic.

    That said I doubt you can go wrong with any of them - it's a matter of which one do you like the looks of - which one gives you the features and looks you like. The cronus is more money but it also includes a phono stage and remote control so that offsets the price difference somewhat.

    The Line Magnetic has the remote but no phono stage or headphone out. The AS has the headphone out but no phono stage or remote.

    You have to weigh the importance of those since the phono stages tend to be cheap (not great) affiars in this price range and remote control is another switch that affects sound quality (how much or how little depends on the units and design).

    Also - resale factor - I would think the Rogue has higher resale value - (though you never know).

    It's harder in the west to audition stuff close by. In HK all the high end shops are very close so you can audition it all minutes apart to get an idea.

  19. #44
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    Thanks, of course it's true that the best match will depend on associated gear. I'm glad that you found the Rogue a solid product and not lacking a quality you think it should have. That's good enough for me, I'll just have to determine if Rogue offers the sound that I like.

    The Line Magnetic stuff looks great, but it appears the preamp is north of $3,000. That's waaaaay over my budget. Around $1,500 would be what I'd be looking at. A remote is a must, as I play around with volume levels on the fly.
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  20. #45
    RGA
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    Audio Space does offer remote on certain models but I bet on more expensive ones. The only thing I can see the Rogue lacks is a triode mode - typically triode sounds better than ultra linear which tends to sound more SS. Depends on what you will like. I think Rogue is a little more geared to tough to drive speakers while the others mentioned are more favourable for Higher sensitive speakers. Kind of like the 88 vs 34 camps.
    Last edited by RGA; 06-15-2012 at 04:27 PM.

  21. #46
    RGA
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    Well I got the Mini-2 delivered today. I like Hong Kong they deliver they set-up and right off the bat it sounds quite excellent. The triode ultralinear switch and the feedback switch makes a very noticeable very audible difference. I'll have to listen more to the variations on both sets of speakers across different music to figure which is going to work.

    One feature I didn't realize it had was the ability to be a power amp. That is certainly a nice addition for future upgrades so it's something to look for on the Rogue. I prefer it being a dedicated power amp rather than serving as the preamp because generally the preamp stage is the weaker in integrateds and dedicated preamps tend to sound better. It's a big cut above the Trends in the bass.

    I am quite surprised by how good it suits both the AX Two and LS3/5a so far. Very pleased by the rendering of the bass especially on Taiko Band's "Monochrome II"

  22. #47
    Forum Regular YBArcam's Avatar
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    Hi RGA,

    Nice, glad you like the new amp. Audio Space seems to be a legit high end brand out of China, that has gained accolades across the globe. Still a little under the radar here in Canada I think. Maybe that's because for that kind of money people can buy product made in other countries, so it doesn't always get the consideration it deserves. I saw an integrated from them (the Galaxy 34 I think it was) and it was built like a tank and weighed as much as one too! Very nicely finished as well.

    And it's my fault for not being clear. You looked at integrateds so that's why I asked if you listened to the Cronus. But I wouldn't consider the Cronus. If I go this route I'll buy a dedicated preamp. From Rogue it would be the Perseus. This preamp looks like it meets all my convenience needs: four inputs, a sub out (not sure I want a sub, but just in case), a remote.

    Anyways, I don't want to derail your thread here. I will probably start one soon.
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  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    Well the amp decision has been made. Factoring in that this is a budget system build where every component would be under $2k on average I felt that the Cheap SET amps I was auditioning were not cutting it. I just wasn't getting what I wanted and what I want is a Meishu but they cost beyond reason. One day maybe.

    I may still get the 219Ia since I really liked it but a $7,500 amplifier is still not budget.

    After auditioning Rogue Audio, Melody, Audio Space, Dared, Line Magnetic, and a few second hand items from CJ, Cary, Jadis It ended up coming down to Line Magnetic and Audio Space. Yeah who would have thought.

    And it came down to both of their EL 34 based amplifiers. Sound quality was on par - I'd be happy with either one. The Line Magnetic has a remote control but to counter that feature the Audio Space has a full transformer headphone output.

    The Audio Space won out. Interestingly I was there to make sure I wanted to review their speakers but their amps won me over. The speaker has a heads up is the best of these LS3/5a models I've heard - they really impressed me and I look forward to pitting them against the AX Two. Finally the AX Two has serious competition. They also make a cheaper version of the LS3/5a called the Gini but it sounded rather poor - it was a lot cheaper though but the build seems cheap and the slapped together. I heard Harbeth's version which was better but it had a lilt in the upper midrange treble that was not bad but I dunno just something not quite nice sounding - the regular Harbeth models sound better.

    I tried the Kt 88s but despite being a little pricier I preferred the slightly warmer presentation here from the EL 34.

    Switching between ultra-linear and triode
    Switching between high and low negative feedback
    Switching between direct and line input
    Headphone jack
    tube circuitry with choke coil
    Point to point soldering

    Output Power: 2 x 16W (Triode - Class AB Push-Pull)
    2 x 32W (Ultralinear- Class AB Push-Pull)
    Output Impedance : 4, 8 ohm
    Input : Single-ended RCA x 3
    Vacuum Tubes: 1 x 6N9P (6SL7 or ECC35)
    2 x 6N8P (6SN7 or ECC32)
    4 x EL34 (6CA7)
    Dimensions (W x H x D): 255 x 176 x 316 mm
    I have not really liked any of the EL 34 based amps I have heard or any 3/5 speakers. To my ears, the EL 34s are too slow and lack true PRAT. Ditto for the 3/5s. Perhaps in an extremely small room.

  24. #49
    RGA
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    Well there are exceptions to every rule. The 3/5a I can't really compare to other versions since I've not heard the originals - this model is fast and apparently has more bass than any other version of the design - I can't say because the only other one I really spent time with was Grant Fidelity and then not long - but PRAT isn't the problem - they are fast and clean and not bright.

    EL 34 I do see where you're coming from - other ones I've tried have sound a little slow and sluggish - which isn't the case here. It leans to the KT88 side of the spectrum but not too much that it's overly bright.

    The 3/5a was designed for small studios although I found this speaker to work well about 15 feet apart in a big room - the subs make a big deal. I have tried the speaker without the sub and am less enthusiastic on them. The subs make them "significantly" better - and i mean significantly better. But there is some break in time left so we'll see.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    Well there are exceptions to every rule. The 3/5a I can't really compare to other versions since I've not heard the originals - this model is fast and apparently has more bass than any other version of the design - I can't say because the only other one I really spent time with was Grant Fidelity and then not long - but PRAT isn't the problem - they are fast and clean and not bright.

    EL 34 I do see where you're coming from - other ones I've tried have sound a little slow and sluggish - which isn't the case here. It leans to the KT88 side of the spectrum but not too much that it's overly bright.

    The 3/5a was designed for small studios although I found this speaker to work well about 15 feet apart in a big room - the subs make a big deal. I have tried the speaker without the sub and am less enthusiastic on them. The subs make them "significantly" better - and i mean significantly better. But there is some break in time left so we'll see.
    Why not just get an Audio Note J? Don't need a sub, they supply more detail and WAY more jump factor? Plus, they are 10dB + more efficient. IMO, the 3/5 simply will not work with a low powered tube amp (if you value dynamics), and certainly will not work with a SET amp. BTW, while SET amps are low power, their realistic sound is due to other factors. Check out Robert Harley's editorial on the magic of SET sound. At the CAS 2010 and 2011 three of my four favorite rooms were using SET amps. Driving the Sonist, Audio Note, and Teresonic speakers those SET amps produced a sound extremely close to the real thing, especially in timbre, inner detail, and effortless presentation. Almost all other systems, even $400,000 + ones, sounded etched and strained. Constipated in fact!

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