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  1. #1
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    New impressions of old brands

    Frenchmon and I were hassling the local hi fi shops again today. We heard a Mac system driving B&W 802d's. The system had a set of Mac 1200 watt monoblocks, that's 1200 each. I haven't heard Mac & B&W together before. So I now have new impressions of B&W, 1) they can in fact do some serious low bass, and 2) they must be more neutral than I thought. I asked the guy if they had a sub on and he checked and said no. The 1200 watts to each speaker drove the 802's to do some deep powerful bass. Neutral because the B&W took on the Mac sonic signature. I'm not sure if Frenchmon hadn't heard B&W before or just that model, he said those B&W are sure rolled off. I assured him they are not and that character we were hearing was the Mac gear. It was a Mac tube preamp, current model. Not sure where to lay blame but the system was warm to the extreme.

    In another room they had some Klipsch Reference series, a set of RF82's and RF63's. The RF82's sounded pretty good but the 63's were better and look great. Klipsch may still have stuff they sell to Best Buy but they are also putting out some good stuff too. I have really changed my view on this brand of speakers. The dealer tells me they are planning a Palladium event in the near future. If you haven't heard of Klipsch's Palladium line you should check it out on their website. They aren't in any of our budgets but it will be very interesting to hear them. From the look of the RF63 it's getting harder to tell by looks that a Klipsch is a Klipsch as well.

    We also heard a Gallo set up but I discussed this system already in a thread on the "Amps/preamps" forum, called "Good idea or not willing to commit".

  2. #2
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    I've heard those Monoblocks on Snells and on Martin Logan. Impressive. I would buy them for the meters alone. The MC-501 does a bang up job too. With the Martin Logan I had a religious experience, it was pure magic with a soundstage so big it swallowed up the whole room.

    About the amp with interchangeable boards, did you guys actually do any swapping? If so, what were the results like? Curious if the character is instantly audible, or if it's more subtle than that.

    Sounds like a fun day you guys had. Did Frenchie get any TT time in?

  3. #3
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great day.
    I picked up a copy of the latest issue of [I]Stereophile[I] magazine in the airport and they had a review of the Palladium P-17B speaker which I have not read yet.

    They also had a write up on one reviewer's experience refoaming and listening to a pair of original Large Advents. He compared them favorable to most speakers that you would find out there today in the $500-$1,000 range.
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular anamorphic96's Avatar
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    I always had mixed feelings about Klipsch. Between 2006 and 2008 I worked for a commercial cinema dealer and we installed Klipsch 90% of the time and was always impressed with the end result. But I also had a chance to spend some time with the Klipsch reps and here quite a few Reference home systems that where set up properly. Boy did they sound good. They never sounded harsh like most people claim. It was more forward sounding but never harsh.

    I should have taken advantage of my dealer discount more. The only thing I picked up was the Klipsch iFI system which was there top of the line iPod computer system based around the Reference RSX 3 satellites and 8" sub. I still use it and it sounds great.

    Never had a chance to here the Palladium line. But have heard really nice things.

    Being a longtime Paradigm fan I find the new monitor series to be lacking compared to the older lines. The new tweeter sound sound very irritating and way to bright.

    NAD is another company that does not offer any of the value that they use to. Their newest line is way overpriced and not much different than the old.

  5. #5
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    We did hear a vintage VPI table with a SME arm and Grado cart. Frenchmon was planning on following up with a guy who had a Pioneer table for $70.00 today. I believe he is leaning toward the used table to see how he likes it and what condition his dad's LP's are in.

    Unfortunately, we did not get to swap any boards in and out. That would have been interesting.

  6. #6
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    poppaC wrote
    With the Martin Logan I had a religious experience
    LOL...

    frenchmon
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  7. #7
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Love the Musical Designs/Vincent?Gallo system.

    The musical Designs gear sounded pretty good to me....it was solid built as well. He did show us another board he had but he never put it in. He showed me how to put it in though.

    After listening to the Mac outfit with the huge B&W speakers I was impressed at what the B&W's could do, but the sound of the Mcintosh was just to darn warm for my taste. I like my music to have a little sparkle and pizazz and the Mcintosh was so warm that it made the cymbals and upper effects sound very rolled off. On top of that they had some very thick audioquest cables and speaker wire that's extremely warm.

    I have a friend who has an old vintage Mcintosh tubed amp MC 225 and its not overly warm like the new stuff....so I think they have change their sound character a bit.

    Now on the other hand....listening to the Musical Designs hybrid tube amp,,,Musical Designs tubed preamp, Vincent Hybrid tubed CDP with the Gallo Speakers made for a nice system. The sound was warm but not overly warm like the Mcintosh/B&W system. I mean I was really getting into the Musical Designs/Vincent/Gallo system. He played a variety of songs...he even had some early 50's blues by Lightning Hopkins. This one song by Hopkins helped me to see where Stevie Ray Vaughn got some of his influence from...not only from Hendrix but Hopkins as well.

    The Gallo speakers have a very airy sound to them. It was the Reference Strada speakers and the Gallo speaker stands.

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    He also had the Gallo sub TR-3

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    This made for a very pleasing audio experience that was not boring at all. The bass was nice and deep...thick when it needed to be and the tightness that you expect... and the highs where sparkling without being bright at all, and a nice mid range that was open and clear.....No ear bleed from that setup..just nice open, sparkly, and airy. The tubed preamp with the hybrid CDP and Hybrid amp gave it slam with warmth...a very nice system with the Gallo outfi. This system only was 75 watts per channel, but you would think it was much more than that....Total cost not including the Analysis Plus Cabling ruffly around $7000.

    Now having said that, it was as if something was missing from the Gallo system. Aside form not having the sub as perfectly blended as could be...Peabody and I talked about what was wrong after we left but we could not really put our hands on it. There where 2 negative things we discussed concerning the system. Though it had a nice airy sound with sparkle and excitement. I think at times some of the voices we heard where a little to laid back and recessed . When I listen to Vanessa Williams cut "Breathless" off her new CD "The Real Thing" her voiced was as if it was withdrawn or recessed...it was "cold" a little distant...and not up front. But It was different when Lighting Hopkins was singing. The other thing that was strange, was when the owner put on a song from Pink Floyd s album "The other Side of the Moon" "Us and Them", during parts of the song the system seem to not be able to hold its composure during a very complicated part of the song. At first we could not figure out if this was the amp or the speakers, but I think it may have been the speakers because when we got to Peabodys home the Heresy's seem to have the same problem, but the Dyaudios handled that part of the song just fine. But other than that the system in my opinion was top notch and makes for a very good system. The only other thing is that speakers of that design may take a little getting use to if you like traditional box speakers.

    The owner also has the new Gallo Reference 3.5 Loudspeakers that he has down in his basement breaking in....at $6000 a pair, I can't wait to take a listen.



    frenchmon
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    Frenchmon, as I think about the Gallo set up I wonder if it's possible to have too much air. It was like the detail was there and the sound quality good but nothing to sort of bring it together to give you a picture or feel of the performance. Some recordings more so than others. Or, it could be it's just another way to present the sound and it takes some getting used to.

  9. #9
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Frenchmon, as I think about the Gallo set up I wonder if it's possible to have too much air. It was like the detail was there and the sound quality good but nothing to sort of bring it together to give you a picture or feel of the performance. Some recordings more so than others. Or, it could be it's just another way to present the sound and it takes some getting used to.
    Well Vanessa Williams voice was a little recessed. On the Cantons she is more forward...but that's no biggie. I did get that feeling that the sub was not blended as it should have been. The way he had his speakers on the front wall and the gear on the side wall, the sub in between the speakers where more to the left of center rather than in the middle. The imaging in my opinion was great as well as the air... but it could also be that they where just not set up and placed correctly in his room. Those speakers have great dispersion of sound, which means that maybe they require sound treatments more so than a speaker that has more of a beaming effect. Most times when using stand mount speakers and a sub, it takes a little to get the placement just right. That may have been the problem...finding the correct placement. I wold love to hear those speakers and sub in my two channel room...I have sound treatments. But overall, I thought that system sounded pretty good. It had a way of drawing you into the music. But it takes a little getting use to....those are not your traditional looking speakers and they do sound much much bigger than they really are....I think I like them, but don't know if I could spend money on them. But they would be great if a person was low on space. I think he should also have a traditionl box speaker t o demo as well, but I liked what they could do... How about you?

    frenchmon
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  10. #10
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    I agree, the system sounded great. I'm just a bit stumped as to why I didn't find it totally satisfying. It's not like the Mac system where i knew immediately why it wasn't my sound.

  11. #11
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I agree, the system sounded great. I'm just a bit stumped as to why I didn't find it totally satisfying. It's not like the Mac system where i knew immediately why it wasn't my sound.
    I agree, but im convinced its just a matter of tweaking and placement. You are an audio hobbyist with skills Peabody, im sure if you where left alone with that system you would find the correct placement and have it tapping your feet and snapping your fingers in no time.

    frenchmon
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  12. #12
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    I've heard those Monoblocks on Snells and on Martin Logan. Impressive. I would buy them for the meters alone. The MC-501 does a bang up job too. With the Martin Logan I had a religious experience, it was pure magic with a soundstage so big it swallowed up the whole room.
    Business took me to the Binghamton, NY area about two years ago, so naturally I went to tour the McIntosh facility. The folks there are most accommodating and have a wonderful facility. You can tell everyone there takes pride in the product. I watched their FloJet glass cutter etch smooth holes for new faceplates. They actually have skilled ladies color the inside of the holes with a magic marker. They are certainly all about the look. And the meters.

    At the end, I was taken to their demo room where they have their best stuff for auditioning. They were driving a pair of XT2TKs using their two kilowatt amps sourced by a SACD player and C1000 linestage. The sound was certainly big, neutral and clean, but was not at all holographic like I've heard before. When I close my eyes, I like to have the walls disappear. That was not happening here. Delicacy was also lacking on acoustic guitar. Not my cup of tea.

    They have a video tour on youtube found here. The president spoke from the demo room I mentioned. You'll note the gear in the background. Nice light show!

    rw

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    Yeah, some of the McIntosh gear resides in the warmth end of the pool. Obviously not going to be everyone's cup of tea.

    But I can telly that the McIntosh C220 and MC252 combo, do in fact have plenty of delicacy with acoustic guitar. Wonderful delicacy.

    I'm not sure what all the contributing factors were to what E-Stat heard, but I suspect it is most likely attributed to the XRT2K speakers (not XT2TK, as E-Stat stated).

    As much as I love my Mac gear, I've never liked any of their speakers (no, I haven't heard them all). The few Mac speakers I have heard always seem rather heavy-handed and brutish in their delivery of the music. As if the crossover bludgeons the signal through the speakers. Ugh, never have been a fan of their speakers.

    I've tried my Mac gear through several speakers ( Wharfedale Opus 2, Jamo C809, C807, C803 bookshelf, C607 and C603, Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grand and the Sonus Faber Toy Towers) and the Mac amps and preamps are certainly delicate when the recording calls for it. Very sweet sounding and so very muscially satisfying.

    One would be better served listening to Mac gear through speakers other than Mac speakers. Just my opinion.

  14. #14
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMyTree
    But I can telly that the McIntosh C220 and MC252 combo, do in fact have plenty of delicacy with acoustic guitar. Wonderful delicacy.
    Although I haven't heard the combo, a reviewer friend of mine very much liked the 2300/2301 combo on his Scaenas. The Mac speakers could well have been the biggest problem with the giant SS amp lacking refinement in depth and HF purity. It's a shame the folks at McIntosh don't realize that.

    rw

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    I also wanted to mention the holographic thing, but had to cut it short as I had a work-related phone call.

    In my limited experience with Mac gear, I've found it's not the most holographic gear I've ever heard.

    The Mac sound is a bit ddifferent. It's hard to describe in words. There's this flow to the music and it kind of floats out and fills the room. There's depth to cellos and pianos and percussion instruments (if it's in the recording, that is). Guitars sound organic, yet lush.

    There's just this overall balance and pleasant wholesomeness to it. I don't know, it's the only way I can think of to describe it.

    But I think you'll find that listening to Mac gear with different speakers, will deliver a bit more than what you heard with the XRT2K. If the opportunity ever presents itself to you, listen for yourself and see what you think,.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Although I haven't heard the combo, a reviewer friend of mine very much liked the 2300/2301 combo on his Scaenas. The Mac speakers could well have been the biggest problem with the giant SS amp lacking refinement in depth and HF purity. It's a shame the folks at McIntosh don't realize that.

    rw
    Yeah, it's also a shame that the four or five Mac speakers I have heard ove the years; seem to all grunt and thump...in a heavy-handed manner. Guitar picking and strums come acorss like thumps. Rather than silky and natural.

    It's funny, I just had this very conversation with a mac dealer, two weeks ago.

    And he asked me what I thought of some of the Mac speakers and then proceeded to say almost word-for-word, exactly what I thought and have said here. I laughed out loud when he started saying it. Like he was reading my mind, lol.

  17. #17
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    I've heard Mac with various speakers and there's no doubt they have a "house" sound. As you stated it may not be everyone's cup of tea but they have a huge following. Generally I've found Mac too polite and warm to my taste. Not long ago I heard a $7500.00 Mac amp that did not push a set of Paradigm Signature 8's well at all. I suspect maybe a set up issue. The Kilowatt monoblocks drove the B&W 802's to do bass like I have never heard from B&W. Although the bass was deep and powerful the overall response was pretty balanced but overly warm to my taste, the piano, brass and cymbals didn't come through as they should, veiled for lack of a better description. This could have been a trait of the Mac tubed preamp they were using though. We wanted to hear the solid state but switching them around would have taken some effort so we let him off the hook.

    NMyTree, have you ever heard your Mac on any Klipsch speakers? I recently discovered the Heritage line and have been impressed with it.

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    Hello, Mr Peabody.

    No, I haven't heard the Klipsch Heritage. Admitedly, Klipsch speakers haev never been my cup of tea. I've auditioned a few of their speakers over the last 12 years and they haven't suited my tastes.

    But I am curious of this Heritage Series. One of these days I'll definitely check out a few of the models.


    What $7, 500.00 Mac amplfier model was trying to drive the Paradigm Signature 8's?

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    I used to be a Klipsch basher myself but the Heritage line and a few other models I've heard convinced me that they can put out some good speakers. The stuff in the big box stores is still pretty bad though. The Heritage are the models originally designed and sold by Paul Klipsch I believe in the 1950's. There have been some driver upgrades but as you can see by the looks some things haven't changed I have a pair of Heresy III and they are very good except they don't play very low. A fun speaker with a lot of dynamics.

    http://www.klipsch.com/na-en/products/heritage/

    I'm not sure which model of Mac but I'm sure going through a speaker selector didn't help the issue. Why this store has Mac I will never know.

  20. #20
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    the amp that i heard change the speakers

    was the hafler 500. dahlquist dq10s were never known for their deep bass but when powered by the h500, the lows became MUCH more authoritative. its like the amp grabbed the speakers by the testicles.

    same effect on my fried RIIs. i had put on the telarc disc TIME WARP and left the room for the latrine. from there it sounded like structural damage was being done to the house.

    at the time i couldnt afford to buy these items (the dq10s modified by randall research and the hafler amp) because we had just had a premature baby (1#6oz) and had lots of expenses.

    anyway, the amp transformed the available speakers so that a subwoofer wasnt missed while still sounding nice throughout the rest of the range.
    ...regards...tr

  21. #21
    RGA
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    MacIntosh is more glitz than substance but they make good sounding tube amps - it's a matter of matching them with the right speakers. But that is the case with most stuff. I just don't like the idea of paying a huge premium for the appearance of something when an ugly competitor makes better for half the price. Indeed some of the competing Chinese brands make the good looks as well for half the price.

    Mike did a pretty interesting comparison of his take on the big power amp makers out there and how he felt they compared on a variety of sonic aspects. Since he's sold most of these brands and thus owned them and works with them day in and day out it's a little interesting to see how he ranks them and as you can see - none of them are perfect in all aspects. I met Mike and Neli at CES and they are astoundingly knowledgable on gear and music.

    http://audiofederation.com/blog/archives/656

  22. #22
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Mike did a pretty interesting comparison of his take on the big power amp makers out there and how he felt they compared on a variety of sonic aspects.

    http://audiofederation.com/blog/archives/656
    From the blog post in link:

    "Harmonic Purity: lack of contamination of fundamental harmonic with other odd and bizarre harmonics (i.e. a tuning fork compared to a steel barrel - they might both primarily resonate at the same harmonic, but… one is purer than the other). I think solid-state amps do better here than many of the tube amps - which are often all over the place w/r to harmonics.

    Harmonic Resolution: amount of subtleties in the harmonic - most real instruments, like a pluck on a guitar or striking of a piano, have lots of things going on besides the harmonic (and its fundamentals) at one single freq of the note."


    Don't these two things pretty much negate each other?

    Seems to me with extremes like this one amp could be high on the list because it lacks resolution while another could be high on the other list because it is harmonically impure.

    IDK - seems like a bit of BS here, could someone explain?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    MacIntosh is more glitz than substance
    I have to disagree.

    Because for people such as myself, those of us who love the McIntosh sound; their gear is nothing is it doesn't appeal to our personal taste and preference in sound.

    I completely understand the Mcintosh sound is not everyone's cup of tea. I understand not everyone loves the seductive, full-bodied, rich warmth of their gear.

    But for those of us that do, it's the sound we all love and desire.

    I don't know anyone who owns McIntosh gear simply, strictly because it looks cool or appeals to an aesthetic taste. I know some people and maybe in certain circles it's popular to make such claims. But every McIntosh lover I know craves the sound.

    My experience with McIntosh lovers and McIntosh gear speaks of a completely different story and mindset; than the one you're representing.

    We find plenty of substance in our Macs.

  24. #24
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    From the blog post in link:

    "Harmonic Purity: lack of contamination of fundamental harmonic with other odd and bizarre harmonics (i.e. a tuning fork compared to a steel barrel - they might both primarily resonate at the same harmonic, but… one is purer than the other). I think solid-state amps do better here than many of the tube amps - which are often all over the place w/r to harmonics.

    Harmonic Resolution: amount of subtleties in the harmonic - most real instruments, like a pluck on a guitar or striking of a piano, have lots of things going on besides the harmonic (and its fundamentals) at one single freq of the note."

    Don't these two things pretty much negate each other?

    Seems to me with extremes like this one amp could be high on the list because it lacks resolution while another could be high on the other list because it is harmonically impure.

    IDK - seems like a bit of BS here, could someone explain?
    Hummm ... I don't think I agree with the first part. I.e. I don't think lack of resolution ever makes an amp sound good.

    Of course, there is a fundamental difference between natural harmonics on the fundamental frequency, which are not distortion: these are what high resolution amps deliver.

    On the other hand, harmonics created by the amplification chain, which are distortion.

    Some say tube equipment tends to sound nice because it creates 2nd and 3rd order harmonic distortion. These harmonic injections add mellowness and perhaps that sense of "depth" that tubes sometimes provide. But then this isn't accuracy, but euphonics.
    Last edited by Feanor; 05-16-2010 at 04:27 AM.

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