Random thoughts on AK-Fest 2006 (long)

Discussion in 'AK Fest 2006' started by Billfort, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

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    First I’d like to thank Dave, Nancy, Tim, Stephanie and all the others who put in so much effort to make this thing work. It just gets better every year and I sure hope it continues to grow and flourish. I know there is always random talk of moving the Fest but I really think a central location like MI is perfect and if it means this management group continues here, we could not do better. Every year I consider (for a second or two) bringing along some of my stuff or even the whole damn system and setting up a room but the border and cube-van requirements always scare me off, maybe someday.

    This year I pretty much had to compromise with the family to attend and ended up bringing along Mabeth and our newborn daughter so had a tough time spending a lot of time in the rooms and certainly missed a few or had limited listening time. I did manage to sneak out for some late night listening (or is 3am early morning?) Friday and Saturday so did get my fill. Based on limited listening then, here are some random thoughts.

    Craig’s VRD p-p amps where again sounding nice in his rooms and Grumpy/Ray’s. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Lascalas sound as good as they do in Craig’s system and the amount of bass these amps do with Grump’s AudioNotes was a surprise. Actually, when Ray put on some hip-hop like stuff that seemed to be specially mixed to rattle fenders on lowered Hondas, I thought the bass was way too much – not what you would expect from an 8” woofer and tubes.

    Also interesting in Grump’s room was a very sweet sounding un-suspended Sota TT and a little phono-stage comparison we did with one of Gilbert’s SS pieces and the Blueberry phono section of Dave’s pre-amp. Ray had to install the cartridge on the Sota and only got as far as putting the box on the platter Friday night (at 3am) but got it dead-on on his first attempt Saturday. Either he’s a set-up genius or luckier than I was in winning the AN DAC.

    The AudioNote speakers seem to be something special really and I’m amazed at how adaptable and flexible they are. I listened to them at home after building the cabinets on 2A3 & 300B SET’s and have now heard them with higher power push-pull tubes and good SS. The 2A3 was not enough but they sounded great with everything else. I have my favorite (and it used tubes) but the surprise for me was how good they sounded with the Blue Circle amp.

    The Almarro room sounded good and I have to think these are some of the best bang-for-the-buck tube amps available. I especially like the 6C33 based amp and would love to hear it on Grump’s AN’s. If I was going to build a 6C33 amp I would change my plans and just buy this one.

    I really liked the Maggies in the Audio Dimensions room powered by big Audio Research tube amps – expensive for sure but this is by far the best I have ever heard these speakers.

    I loved Tubino’s system featuring the big Tannoy co-axes driven by DeHavilland 845 amps. Maybe it’s the high-eff co-ax/SET thing which had a somewhat similar presentation to what I have at home but this was one of my favorite rooms. This system again confirmed to me that this type of speaker makes the right compromises to allow you to enjoy lower power tubes in a regular sized listening room (seated fairly near-field) without having to give up dynamics and imaging.

    It was a pleasure walking into Ski’s room and listening the The Clash’s London Calling on his Altecs (416 woofers, 811 horns) powered by an ST-70. I would have stayed longer in there but damn, there was a funky smell at that end of the hall!

    Mark’s home brew speakers using a JBL woofer and Klipsch tractrix horn mated to his beautifully built DIY push-pull amp sounded fantastic and Kegger’s $1.00 ‘sorta’ full rangers where a shocker – limited on the top and bottom but smooth and musical.

    I didn’t spent too much time in the rooms using SS but really liked Jimbecky’s Ohms powered by a Mac and Punker’s Ohms with the Blue Circle pieces. Punker’s system really stood out for me when playing vinyl and it seems the Blue Circle stuff is consistently good in just about any system I’ve heard it in - my favorite SS manufacturer? :)

    It was nice to see SACD players being used in many rooms and on reflecting back after the fact, there does seem to be a bit of a parallel with them (and vinyl) being used in the rooms I enjoyed most. Dead and dying format maybe, but it’s nice to hope it’ll be around even as a ‘niche’ like vinyl - hell, maybe it’ll thrive as a ‘niche’ like the LP obviously has.

    I know I missed a bunch here and the family thing really limited my time in the rooms but I sure had a great time and enjoyed meeting so many old and new friends. Can’t wait till next year!
     

     

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  2. tubino

    tubino A guy with too many tubes Subscriber

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    Thanks, Bill! I think you nailed it about the compromises. I like that you can be really close and still have phase/time coherence. Minor nitpick: they are dual concentrics, not really co-axials.

    Too bad you didn't hear the system the next day when we plugged in the multitapped nickel autoformer volume control (iron by Dave Slagle) in place of the preamp. I expected a loss of dynamics, but I was wrong. No losses, and significant gains! We also had Larry Moore's 300B amps on the Tannoys, so I got to hear that combo for the first time. IMPRESSIVE.

    I want one of those autoformer volume controls!
     
  3. Charivari

    Charivari Fighting Naïve Realism

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    Greetings fellow Tannerd, might I put you into a bit of a hard decision? Which tube/amp do you think offered the best sound with your Tannoys, your deHavilland 845s or the 300Bs?

    Thanks,
    - JP
     
  4. Kegger

    Kegger R.I.P. 1/12/1966 - 6/1/2017 Super Mod

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    Billfort it was great finally meeting you after having been in many conversations.
    I really respect your oppinions as you seem to have already traveled the road I'm
    going down now. Still trying to find me some 100db or more speakers to use on 300B.

    Hope to see you again before the next fest!
     
  5. Negotiableterms

    Negotiableterms Administrator Staff Member Admin Subscriber

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    Family at Fest

    This year I had a wedding to go to, but next year I'd like to attend. It would make things a whole lot easier if the family could come along, and there were some things for them to do.

    I know there's a shopping area nearby and a water park, but it would be a great thing if we could organize some things to coincide with Fest activities. Bill, any interest?
     
  6. Punker X

    Punker X Moderator Moderator Subscriber

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    Thanks Bill, Great seeing you again this year. Just to set the record straight, Gilbert does make tube preamps. My BC3 pre amp and the one used in the ZU room were both tube pre's.

    X
     

     

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  7. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

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    Yeah, by day 2 'the family' was a little less co-operative about just staying in the room while I roamed upstairs, an AKfest version of cabin fever for my wife I guess.

    I sure would have loved to hear that set-up, especially one of Moore's 300B's on the Tannoys - I heard one of his amps (a 6SN7>10Y>300B version) a few years ago on a Supravox field-coil full-ranger and really liked it. I always felt that the Tannoys needed some juice to really get going and figured a 300B wouldn’t really do it, what was your impression of the combination?
     
  8. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

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    Was nice finally meeting you Kegger, even if Saturday I had to talk to you while you where laying on the floor in your room. I DO understand though, I know you where one of the guys still going at it when I left for bed at 3:30am Friday night.

    It would be great to have you over if you ever get up Toronto way sometime. Since I never seem to sell anything, I could probably take you down the road I've traveled in one listening session by just swapping out components. :)
     
  9. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

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    Ahhhh, so there IS tubes in there, that might explain things! :)

    After hearing the Blue Circle stuff in several systems now, it would be an easy call for me if I had speakers that needed SS balls - this stuff is nice.
     
  10. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

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    You know this might be a great idea. I can't see my wife wanting to miss the trip in future - she doesn't enjoy spending hours on end immersed in audio like I do but does have fun at the fest and likes to spend some time listening to the systems. Having some others to share a little family oriented stuff with might be just the ticket to make the trip more enjoyable for her and our daughter.

    This would take some planning though, the immediate area is ah... well... let's just say I was warned not to let the girls venture out on their own. That said though, a short drive probably opens up all kinds of possibilities.
     
  11. Markus111

    Markus111 Big Horns & Many Tubes Subscriber

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    True enough...... driving about 10 miles puts you in far greener pastures. Also, 10 or so miles to the south is Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum, which is world renowned, and a very interesting place to go for a day.

    Mark
     

     

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  12. Kegger

    Kegger R.I.P. 1/12/1966 - 6/1/2017 Super Mod

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    The swapping out deal would be very enlightening I'm sure!
     
  13. luvvinvinyl

    luvvinvinyl Aggie! Staff Member Admin Subscriber

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    Kegger, I only heard a portion of the lineup of amps which line Bill's listening room wall, and it was an experience I'll not soon forget.

    Bill, I hope it's not a year till we hook up again, but it was fun. Next year, little Andrea will be walking (running?), so she'll be the star of the Fest!
     
  14. tubino

    tubino A guy with too many tubes Subscriber

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    Comparison of deHav 845 and Larry Moore's 300B amps

    First, let me say that I could happily live with either Larry's amps or the deHavs with the Tannoys.

    I didn't have a chance to really try a wide range of music, but in other respects it was a fairly controlled exchange, using the Lector CD player to the autoformer control straight into first Larry's amps, then the deHavs, and the same copper foil speaker cables...

    I heard Larry's first, and that was also the first time with the autoformer. The immediate impression was of greater transparency and detail, without any addition of harshness or other negatives. I was astounded, wondering at first if that difference could be due to the amps only! Larry's amps excelled at the midrange and top end -- wonderful magic. As Larry said, the Tannoys liked his amps!

    Then we kept the autoformer in, and swapped in the deHavs. Okay, now I heard the same improvement in detail and transparency, and knew that the real gain wasn't in the amps, but by replacing the linestage preamp (and resistive volume control) with the passive non-resistive autoformer control.

    After more listening, both DingusBoy and I agreed that the 845 power was apparent in the low end, where the deHavs could really take advantage of the Tannoy's bass capabilities. Without the comparison I wouldn't call the bass performance LIGHT with Larry's amps, by any stretch, but in the comparison, the big power supply and 30watt output of the deHavs made for a punchier low end.

    The deHavs have a great midrange, but the 300B magic was apparent in the comparison.

    These are small differences, though, and as I said, I could happily live with either! I believe Larry is planning to build an 845 amp using a 10Y as a driver, and that will be a VERY interesting (and more fair) comparison!

    The Tannoy site claims 98db for the DMT 15's, but word on the street is that around 95 is probably more accurate, and low end is solid to ~40 hz, and not at all bad below that, so they can use power!

    But to keep this in perspective, swapping out the (very nice) deHav linestage for the autoformer was a bigger subjective difference from my POV than swapping out the amps. That swap depends on the output of the CD player and the sensitivity of the amps, but it was apparently a perfectly good match in both Larry's amps and the deHavs.

    I'm really glad Larry came up and brought his stuff. I love this hobby.
     
  15. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

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    Interesting. I haven't really cared for any passive pre's I've heard, finding them lacking in dynamics (and no phono stage!) but never heard one based on a high quality autoformer.

    I'm not surprised the 300B/845 comparison went like it did and it is nice to hear the 300B held it's own except for the bass, I don't think I'll ever mess with DIY 845's but certainly am not done experimenting with the 300B. No matter how much I stray from them and feel the 2A3 or 45 are better overall I keep going back to that 300B midrange - especially with the Western Electric 300B tube - there is just something about it.

    My mentor tube building friend who has probably built 25 or so variations of 300B amps seems to be stuck on them for the same reason and certainly has dispelled for me the notion that this tube can not do bass right and is too colored. It seems easy to get a decent sounding amp with generic driver circuits on this tube (6SN7 for example) but it really shines with the right driver section.

    So much to try and yet to learn. Yes, I love this hobby too! :)
     
  16. I will never miss an opprotunity like this again.
     

     

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