• 04-04-2012, 09:16 PM
    Update on the system build...
    My last thread appears to have been deleted.

    Anyway, I auditioned some things and passed over others due to what I consider to be used prices that are far too high - though I could negotiate.

    Speakers in consideration:
    Epos 11
    Revolver R33
    Quad 21L and 12L
    Harbeth HL K6ES
    ATC SMC11
    Tannoy DC8
    B&W DM110i
    Tannoy 628

    Audiolab 8000a and 8000c preamp ($995 for both)
    VTL 120/50 ($1800US)
    Conrad Johnson PV11/MV52 ($2,300US for both)
    Cary SLA Sli9 (could not find info on this amp but asking $1k US)
    Dared MP2a3 or MP 300B (about $850 US each)
    Creek A50ir
    Audio Refinement Complete CD player
    Audio Note Dac Zero and CDT Zero transport ($1300US for both)

    I enjoyed the Revolver speakers more than some of the others - first time I've heard Revolver. A little more personality but a little more openness and dynamics and jump factor than the polite Quads. But often in a short audition the jump factor speakers stand out while the Quads may be better on a longer session.

    The Dared stuff is new and looks pretty cool. I like that the tube in the middle gives you a clipping reading - so you know if the tube amp is being pushed into distortion or not. A built in meter but the tube displays the information.

    Also saw a really nice Project turntable - the sexy looking ones (RPM 5.1 I believe) for $600US new. I remember liking their lower models far more than my Rega P2 clone.

    The problem with the used gear is that the sticker price seems really high. Their English is zero and The AX Two standmount is about $5,000 HKD which is slightly more than the Epos 11 and not quite as much as they're asking for the Revolver. I will audition the AX Two again but it's much better than the Quads and doesn't have some of the box and treble issues that the ATC SMC or Tannoys seemed to possess. The Harbeths are $1300 US and while nice is creeping out of budget and is apparently difficult to drive.

    Any input on Dared? I have read reports on AA that people shilled them heavily in the past and one poster didin't think they competed with other makes for the same money.

    The Audiolab SS gear also holds interest largely due to the immense amount of raves and best in class awards the British press piles onto them. Their CD player/DAC/Preamp unit and 32 bit processing which is designed in Canada is intriguing. They imply that the numbers are a bit of marketing but then they say it's the best sound in it's class - so maybe there is something to the marketing. Have not heard it so I don't know. Audiolab 8200CD review from the experts at whathifi.com

    But again the new prices are not all that much more...

    They also had an old set of Allison 115 that looked in great shape for $200. But I suspect these were before my time. But they were asking a hair over $200US. Problem might be getting them serviced down the line as they're pretty old.
  • 04-04-2012, 10:33 PM
    Man RGA that is a lot of gear.

    What is this, a second system? It seems like you are matching low level to high level hi-fi gear. I have not heard any of those speakers, yet the Harbeth and Tannoys seem intriguing.
  • 04-05-2012, 04:07 AM
    What where the Epos 11 like? And how different are they compared to the Harbeths?
  • 04-05-2012, 04:21 AM
    Lots of Harberth lovers over at Karma. Not sure how you liked the B&Ws but just before I typed this out with a non recommendation I looked at some other opinions which were similar. They can be boring. You would be better of with a pair of Dynaudio 42s or 52s but they are not on your list. The Tannoys look interesting. The Revolvers look to be a nice pair with a typical UK sound, made in Cornwall home of the Pasty.

    You need to decide on a speaker or amp first, then match the other. It does not look like any speaker on your list will match nicely with every amp or vice versa.

    Looks like fun deciding tho, good luck.
  • 04-05-2012, 05:08 AM
    From this list ...


    Originally Posted by RGA
    Audiolab 8000a and 8000c preamp ($995 for both)
    VTL 120/50 ($1800US)
    Conrad Johnson PV11/MV52 ($2,300US for both)
    Cary SLA Sli9 (could not find info on this amp but asking $1k US)
    Dared MP2a3 or MP 300B (about $850 US each)
    Creek A50ir
    Audio Refinement Complete CD player
    Audio Note Dac Zero and CDT Zero transport ($1300US for both ...

    I'd very much like to hear the VTL and Conrad Johnson gear. They would provide a distinctly different character than what I'm listening to now. Whether I'd like what I'd hear better would remain to be see (heard).

    The other stuff doesn't appeal. Either there would be little difference than what I've got, or I strongly suspect they would be less good, (and generally more expensive).
  • 04-05-2012, 05:20 PM
    I'v listened to the Harbeth a spell and remember a rich midsection but lacking in the upper ranges. That was at the store tho, and would love to take a listen to them again. Yes Art k and a few others over a audiokarma as well as audio asylum love them. I have yet to hear Epos but outside of that one batch that got bad reviews with the bad tweeter a few years back, they get excellent scores. Living in Durham North Carolina, 45 minutes from Cary North Carolina, I've heard Cary audio many a times....wonderful stuff. but the ConradJohnson gear....well syrupy warm...a tad to sweet in my book.
  • 04-05-2012, 06:24 PM
    I love my Dared MP-2a3c single ended triode amp which walks all over push pulls and ss gear but is not up to the level of my Paramour 2a3 mono-blocks. My friend in Charlotte has modded his Dared and I may do the same with mine.

    High end replacement caps in low end Chinese amps can make an incredible difference. I learned this with my Jolida JD9 mods.
  • 04-05-2012, 07:48 PM

    I am very tempted on this amp because I generally prefer SETS and Dared has been around for long enough that it isn't smoke and mirrors. I also believe they've OEMed for other companies like VUUM which sold in London Drugs in Canada.

    Do you know what the U.S. list price is for the 2a3 so I have an idea of how much to negotiate?
  • 04-05-2012, 08:23 PM
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    certainly that's my usual advice "system synergy" over components. You can take otherwise great components and get lousy sound (or lousy for the money anyway).


    In my last thread I noted that the used shop was very cramped and any real audition is not possible. the store happened to be playing the revolvers in a room with probably 50 pairs of speakers and the Revolvers still managed to sound quite good considering they were on stands at ear height while standing.

    Most of the equipment is vacuum wrapped in plastic. It's used gear and they sell to people who know what they want apparently.

    There were many many other speakers and amplifiers and CD players: Plenty of Dynaudios, Sonu Faber, Mordaunt Short, MB Quart, Heco, Monitor Audio, Elac, B&W Matrix, 602S2 and 602S3, Canton, ProAc, Spendor, Charo, Mission, Paradigm, Wharfedale, Kef Reference, older Kef 102, Klipsch, JBL, Focal.

    And just as many amplifier CD player brands (Tons of McIntosh tube amps, several amps from Jadis, Quad, Arcam, Cambridge Audio, Micro-Omega, Meridian, Cyrus, Threshold, Wadia, Levinson, Krell, Bryston, Cal Labs, Sonic Frontiers, Tanberg Parasound, Adcom, Classe, lots of Musical Fidelity and Nuvista gear, etc. I didn't list largely because I felt the used asking prices were on the high side. The Bryston gear was actually somewhat reasonable - a Bryston 4BST and their preamp of that era for $2k for both. But Bryston preamps are unlistenable to me. Classe had a pre/pro that seemed reasonably priced but Classe doesn't quite do it for me.

    The ability to audition is seriously limited so the intent somewhat is to take a chance on it by reputation - the speakers I can audition but the choice of front ends will be limited to their opened displays I think.

    I always prefer speakers that allow me to listen to a variety of amplifiers so the LE hard to drive speakers like the ATCs are off the list. Some Harbeths are off the list some are not.

    The AudioLab gear I researched somewhat and it seemed to be polarizing - a lot of comments about it being too analytical and bright and that newer versions are better. So I'm largely off that track. CJ is typically described as a little too the other end of the spectrum (which IMO is the better end to be on if you have to choose an end). It's Easter so the Audio Note dealer is close - I was hoping to go there today to try the AX Two standmount - I want to try the Epos 11 as these two are about the same price. The AX Two has been a bit of a giant killer for me for quite awhile.

    I will also try the AN K/Spe (which I owned) - it just won loudspeaker of the year in the press here. I find that somewhat amusing since they've been selling it since 1990 - which illustrates the progress of loudspeakers that a 20 year old speaker (30 if you count Snell) wins such an award. But it costs 5 times the money of the AX Two so we'll see if they have an old demo lying around for cheap. It's the perfect size for my apartment and can be driven off of 3 watts but also sounded very good with my Sugden A48b 70 watt SS amp.

    The Audio Notes obviously have a strong influence on mere here because HyFi reminded me that it is about synergy - it's important to have the speaker mesh with your front end gear. I did see a K/Spe in Poplar burl with rubber surrounds so it's a bit older. We'll see but they retail for $3k in the U.S. Eesh.
  • 04-06-2012, 02:40 AM
    I bought my Dared from this guy based near Chicago who also sells on A'gon. $800 seems the going price.

    Dared MP-2A3C 2a3 SET tube amp, new US limit Ed | eBay
  • 04-06-2012, 03:41 AM
    Thanks that's about what it goes for here as the asking price. I have sent Dared an e-mail to see if they would like it reviewed. It seems only their higher end models have been reviewed but not everyone can afford $3,500 on a tube amp.

    I am really curious to see what they can do sub $1k.
  • 04-06-2012, 03:45 PM
    I just spotted a pair of Snell Ell's at my local swap meet this weekend for $100.
    I'll pick them up, ship'em to ya, you put $500 worth of Audio Note parts = end of discussion :thumbsup::cornut:

    .....by the way did anyone catch my "low-level to hi-level" joke?

    RGA your all Hi-(level)-Fi..right?!

    By the way everyone should check out Roy Hargrove's "Ear Food". Just picked it up from Amazon. Great fun of a jazz level.
  • 04-06-2012, 04:14 PM
    I had the Quad 12L2 for a bit. I think the older 12L is often regarded as the better speaker. I ended up preferring Castle and PMC to Quad. The 12L2 for whatever reason were very boomy on my speaker stands, and sounded a little too congested and yes, polite.

    I also had an Audiolab 8000A integrated at one point. I much prefer my Exposure amp for it's amazing clarity, composure, and drive. In comparison, the 8000A sounded like there was a sheet placed over the speaker drivers.
  • 04-07-2012, 06:20 PM
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    Well I sure had an interesting day auditioning a bucket load of gear in Mongkok.

    There is a giant building with store after store covering 21 floors. Everything from Sugden A21se to Sugden Mystro speakers (Sugden makes a speaker? I know now.

    I was in one shop that had some very lovely Chario speakers for under $500 US. Just not finding something like that in Canada built that well that looks that nice for that money. There was a fellow auditioning an uber built CD player from Cayin which is not available in the U.S at $1k. Once again the build quality is ridiculous and it sounded really quite good. The fellow auditioning was deciding between it and the famed Shanling CD player - he ended up buying both CD players as he felt the Shanling had better bass while the Cayin was better in the mids.

    Turns out after talking to him he is the guy who designs King Sound loudspeakers - small world. So I hope to get a pair of his Queen speakers to review - we'll see.

    I ran across Zu Audio Essence loudspeakers connected to this pictured Frankenstein of a tube amp with in house OEM'd tube cd player

    The tube amp is absolutely gorgeous sounding using 845 tubes on the outputs and 300b as driver stages to give you a whopping 24 watts in SET. As you know that is serious power for a SET. The amplifier has massive transformers weighing in at over 160lbs

    "LM Audio 219IA 845 SET integrated Amplifier. 24 watt Single Ended Class A. 300B driver tubes, 310A input tubes. Adjustable bias via built in meters. Remote controlled. 4,8 and 16 ohm taps. Negative feedback adjustable and defeatable. Pre-amp input. Power output via meters. Two power transformers for true dual mono operation. Point to point wired throughout. Comes with a tube cage."

    The price "$3k U.S. I double checked - $30k right? No $3k. You have to be kidding. I know $3k is a lot of money for most people but this is ridiculous - and the quality of sound ain't no $3k affair - this was stunning.

    The Zu I was somewhat worried due to the comments I read on some forums about them and the Stereophile measured results. But the result of this combination really worked here and while I did here some speaker inbalances on the whole and given the price it was a deeply rewarding combination. The same dealer also carries Rogue Audio's complete line and Melody tube amps - I shall go back when I have more time. But keep an eye out for Line Magnetic. I was looking at my bank account to see if I could do something to get this thing.
  • 04-10-2012, 06:36 AM
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    The Journey continues to build a quality budget stereo system and one step has been completed and purchased.

    I decided to go back and audition Line Magnetic (LM) gear based on the staggeringly good sound I heard with the 219a and Zu Audio Essence Loudspeakers. Still what could Tube gear like LM and Melody do with the store owner's SCM 150 Loudspeakers and modest LM 215CD player. Let me pick my jaw up off the floor. For those that don't know ATC makes notoriously tough to drive speakers and tube amps that have trouble have trouble because they use puny ass transformers - the inexpensive LM amps and the more expensive but not that much more Melody amps ate the ATC's for breakfast - no problem play loud with full bodied bass and ridiculously clean treble response.

    No I didn't buy an amp because I wanted to hear the stripped down 219a called the 218a which is half the price but uses 845 output tubes - they were sold out and it will be a couple weeks before they came in.

    No I bought the Line Magnetic LM-215 CD player which unlike a lot of tube CD players that seem to use the tube as a tone control had first rate drama and incredible extension into the upper treble (Barber's Platoon theme as I call it) and everything was clear open transparent with goosebumps factor set to high.

    Line Magnetic has operated since 1995 but before that they have been an OEM for many of the west's bigger named stuff - but they're most respected for restoring Western Electric amplifiers (which may explain their looks). Everything is hand made and point to point wired.

    Keep an eye out for this brand - they are sold in the US through Tone Audio Imports who import Shindo Tone Imports
  • 04-10-2012, 08:27 AM

    Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    ... I bought the Line Magnetic LM-215 CD player which unlike a lot of tube CD players that seem to use the tube as a tone control had first rate drama and incredible extension into the upper treble (Barber's Platoon theme as I call it) and everything was clear open transparent with goosebumps factor set to high.

    I like the look; I've always preferred a functional but sleek appearance in a component.

  • 04-11-2012, 03:00 AM
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    The only problem with the CD player is the instructions are all in Chinese - LOL. So it's nice when it's dead easy to operate but Heaven help you if you buy a 7.1 receiver with multi-room and source :mad2:

    After auditiong numerous speakers over the last weeks from Harbeth, Rogers LS3/5a/ATC SCM 11/Mission 762 and MX 2, B&W PM1, Paradigm Signature S2, Magnepan Standmounts (yes they have a standmount!) Chario loudspeakers, Dynaudio Contour standmounts, PMC TB2, Acoustic Energy speakers, Rogers speakers, Elac, Spendor, Mistrel (really nice for the price) , Ruark, Spendor, and a few others including the Roksan TR-5 that I just reviewed -

    The Audio Note AX Two simply won out. I said it 5 years ago that they were the best speakers under $1500 and auditioning all these speakers that view didn't really change. The treble extension isn't with some of the others - nor do they possess the "punch" of many of them - but on acoustic material piano singer capturing the hall - and the goosebump factor with music like Loreena McKennitt, strings it's just a truly beautiful speaker to listen to. I simply don't know how these guys make money on a $650 US loudspeaker that is hand built in Denmark has to be shipped includes duties. Granted they had the advantage of following the notion of source first and having a very high level AN rig running them it had very superior information being fed. But the thing is - even with the $100k of front end gear attached it didn't seem out of place.

    PS: I bought them - and I paid full price for them.The Roksan and one of the Charios were my runner ups. If Rock/Pop was my main thing then I would have probably went with the punchier harder hitting bass speakers like the SCM 11 which has an accuracy and exacting nature that I liked a lot but it possesses a bit of an edgier presentation (the 150 is better but 18 times the price).

    The Budget creation system with a goal of sub $2k is getting closer to completion.
  • 04-12-2012, 04:21 AM
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    Day 1 with the AX Two standmounts

    I decided to check the noise rejection of the CD player to see if there would be any bleed from the Trends Audio tube preamp. No hum or any other spurious noise. The little Trends amps perform admirably.

    I will comment on the room issues and sonics on the website at a later date.
  • 04-12-2012, 04:31 AM
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    Day 2

    Waiting for the appropriate adhesives (given that the walls are concrete the usual method of using an adhesive spray to glue the foam to wood and then nail the board into the wall is not going to work. I am will try the two sided tape made for foam - a little skeptical but worth a shot. So this is the makeshift set-up. I have started with 16 panels. I am using the stereo stand I had strictly for the LCD so I will be on the hunt for a Stereo rack or perhaps just amplifier stands.
  • 04-13-2012, 08:54 PM
    Line Magnetic makes CNET news - love it Listen before you buy a hi-fi, what a great idea | The Audiophiliac - CNET News

    Basically they're remaking Western Electric stuff of old and based on the sound quality that I've heard out of them it's a shame they ever left.
  • 04-17-2012, 04:17 AM
    Hey, since you seem to be in the right place, have you had a chance to listen to any of the JAS speakers?

    Orior or Orsa?
    Dignity International Ltd
  • 04-17-2012, 04:34 PM
    According to their distributor list they are not sold or no longer sold in Hong Kong.
  • 04-17-2012, 06:09 PM
    Aww........ come on man....... this is like watching paint dry....

    or maybe the usual "high-end" audio equipment review...

    Cut to the chase....
  • 04-18-2012, 12:15 AM
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    The idea of this is that most veteran audiophiles already own system what would you do if you started from scratch and built or a smaller room on a tighter than usual budget. I think the idea is an interesting one - if you don't, don't read it. My goal is to build a system at about 1/8 the retail cost of my current system and still have an all-day enjoyable sound with future upgrade potential in that each component won't be out of place in far costlier systems.

    For the newbie - it gives them some alternate brands to consider (and to try and turn over more stones). That is easier in Hong Kong since the stores are basically CES on top of each other. While in the U.S. you're basically forced to go to an audio show to audition anything (and usually not able to try several amps or sources on the same speakers).

    It will be a few weeks before this is complete as I am waiting for a dealer to stock a few amps that I am interested in. At a roughly 1/8 price point it rules out certain favorites.

    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.

    I auditioned Bel Canto for Class D - not impressed just as I wasn't impressed many years ago. I am currently reviewing Class T amplifiers and they're actually very good. For the money this technology is quite musical with enough grip and control that I'm not surprised by their success.

    Some of the amps under consideration are as follows: AN211 from Melody's sister company - Line Magnetic's 845 based amp and Melody's 300B (will also compare Rogue, Almarro, and Line Magnetic's 300B as well as an OEM version of Unison Research's S6 amplifier. Unison Research price $3000. OEM version $600 for the exact same thing without the fancy logo.
  • 04-18-2012, 10:50 AM

    Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    I'v listened to the Harbeth a spell and remember a rich midsection but lacking in the upper ranges...

    They tend to need a good bit of amp to get the best out of them. That not withstanding, I'm surprised they didn't make it deeper into the cut in RGA's tourney...


    Originally Posted by RGA
    certainly that's my usual advice "system synergy" over components. You can take otherwise great components and get lousy sound (or lousy for the money anyway).

    That much we agree on completely.