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Solid State and Tube Listener Challenge

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by sheltie dave, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    Within the next couple months, we are going to have a blind listening challenge for local friends and AK friends who attend our annual gathering. Besides our normal listening and chatting, we will be running a blind test for all who wish to participate in a dedicated test of solid state and tube amps, to see if folks can discern between the two, if they can further identify what is what, and if they have preferences. To make things easier, we probably will run the test on a set of KHorns dedicated for the testing, since they are amenable to low volume listening/identification, and will allow the inclusion of a low powered SET amp.

    We probably will use a Monarchy Audio SM70 Pro, Levinson #27, Bryston 3b ST, Marantz 8B, Citation II, and custom 2A3 SET amp for the demos. This will provide a Class A amp, a flagship SS, a mid line SS, a classic 6550 output, a classic 6CA7 output, and a flea powered 2A3 output tube amp.

    All equipment besides the amps will remain constant, so we will have a valid controlled environment. We'll probably select three songs that we will cycle through for each amp, so hopefully they will be interesting.:D

    More to come....
     
  2. ke4mcl

    ke4mcl Super Member

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    thats awesome! wish i could join you guys.
     
  3. Mr. Lin

    Mr. Lin Lunatic Member

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    Very cool idea. I take it you'll eventually post the results here on AK? My guess is that the 2A3 SET amp will be the easiest one to identify when compared to any of the solid state amps.
     
  4. JohnVF

    JohnVF Lunatic Member

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    It's a very interesting idea. Not to put too much overthink into it..but certain amps sound better with certain types of speakers. I don't think the strengths or character of a big high current SS amp are going to be revealed on K-horns, for example. But it would be fun regardless.
     
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  5. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    From the demos I have been to in the past, it normally isn't hard to pick between two amps. At three amps, listeners have to know what and how to listen. At six amps, it will be almost impossible to pull out all the correct information with only three songs.

    I am still debating whether I want to run the amps with our JuicyMusic Blueberry pre, or if we will go with a early 90's Acurus L10 solid state pre that was a Krell knockoff.

    John, it is surprising to play with Khorns - you never know what may make them sing. Set up on a long wall in a 20' x 14' run of the basement, we will be nearfield, so the session definitely favors the tube gear, but the fun part(as always) is to see and hear what all the folks like. In this gathering, everyone will be under the microscope for the first hour or so.

    The Marantz 8B is a close contestant with the custom 2A3s on midrange, and the Marantz has Tesla EL34s for outputs while the 2A3s are generic Sovteks, so the field is slanted, but the SET amp is my second favorite of all in our stable.

    I'll get photos up in a day or two...
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
  6. JohnVF

    JohnVF Lunatic Member

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    At least with those amps I wouldn't be terrified of preferring an HT receiver over the Marantz 8B. They're all great, and I'd be very curious as to the differences. I could 'probably' pick out some of my own amps that I'm familiar with, but amps that I'd be hearing for the first time would throw me I'm sure.
     
  7. jon_s

    jon_s AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Just curious: Are the Citation II and Marantz restored?
     
  8. jimfet

    jimfet AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I know I love my Monarchy SM 70 pro. It is low wattage class A, but I can't wait to hear how it does.
     
  9. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    The Citation II has a normal total restoration with a set of Valve Art outputs and matched RCA front end tubes, the Marantz has a high level total restoration with premium NOS tubes all around.

    Jim, I have yet to make it past 15 watts with the Monarchy in our basement. I do have a friend who posts here who makes it past 150 watts with his two Khorns, three Belles, and VOTTs. He dries his laundry when he gets excited. :whip::whip:
     
  10. dokblues

    dokblues Just Glad to be HERE! Moderator

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    Hmmm Very Interesting! I think this is a Great test and will validate what a Lot of folks think. Then again it just might Suprise some too! Can`t wait to (hear) your results. Just wish I could attend.
     
  11. jimfet

    jimfet AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    A agree sheltie. I run my monarchy on 94db 1w/1m FE167e speakers. It has plenty of power for me.

    I just hope speaker eff. is taken in account during testing.
     
  12. Tangent

    Tangent Sweet nightmares!

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    You know what might be interesting? Have a sighted group there and compare the differences between both groups.

    Or two groups - Blind & Sighted. Do the comparison and then reverse the groups - blindfold the sighted group, etc. Use the same amp/speaker combinations but a different order.

    Would this eliminate personal preferences or prejudices? Hmmm....
     
  13. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    Gary, the amps will all be in another room behind the shared wall. I am drilling pass through holes behind the cove molding, so no one can even see the amps. I am going to run the amps and meter check with the fluke beforehand, so I will be able to preset every amp to one watt output.

    No one is going to know what they are hearing, except me...and I won't tell! :D
     
  14. Tangent

    Tangent Sweet nightmares!

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    Ahhh, very clever! Good for you!

    Oh.... if you think there'd be any arguments, you may want to consider a neutral observer. Like a wife who'd rather be shoe shopping.

    Good luck with that..... "sigh"

    :D

    What speaker wires will you be using?
     
  15. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Epic Member

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    One watt into Khorns is gonna be some serious volume.

    Can you elaborate a bit more on the comparision methodology? Are you going to try something like ABX methodology? Level match the amps being compared at any given time?

    Plan about three times longer than you think it'll take...

    I'd really like to sit in, unfortunately not likely. I'd toss in an Audio Research 100.2 and maybe even one of my pro amps if I could make it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2010
  16. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    Here are a few of the amps; the Bryston and especially the Levinson were not moved because my back started complaining with the Citation. This gave me a good excuse to drag in a vintage Lane coffee table that could withstand the weight of this iron!

    [​IMG]

    Here are the amps we will have in the kitchen system...

    [​IMG]

    And a closer look..

    [​IMG]
     
  17. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    And here is the full proposed lineup. Going just by weight, the Levinson is the champ, followed by the Citation II, the SET monoblocks, the Marantz 8B, the Bryston, and the Monarchy.

    [​IMG]

    The speaker cables to be used will be either Radio Shack 12 guage, Tara Labs thick fingers, or Apature flat series 12 guage. Probably will run the Radio Shack, as the holes required to drill through the walls will be the smallest. :thmbsp:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Redboy

    Redboy a few good watts Subscriber

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    Super cool idea! I bet that will be a load of fun.

    That Lane table is the bee's knees, BTW. Beautiful!

    I also like the looks of those SET monos a lot. Have you posted about them before? I don't want to derail this thread...
     
  19. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    RedBoy, I purchased the SET amps from a bud on the Klipsch forum, Erik Mandaville. He lives in Texas, and is one of the highly motivated DIY SET builders on the forum. It would be well worth chatting with him about some SET build ideas, as he has done quite a few of the Horus based mods that JFL has designed. It uses a 5687 driver, 5AR4 rectifier, 2A3, and Magnequest iron.

    http://forums.klipsch.com/forums/t/34788.aspx?PageIndex=1

    I wish Paul were still here to participate in this gathering, it will be a lot of fun to see folks scratching their heads. It is always easy to tell differences between two of anything, it rapidly becomes impossible to maintain clarity as the blind test options grow.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
  20. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

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    It looks like we will be doing this on Saturday, March 20, starting at noon. As soon as I can confirm with the boss, we will post in the Events section.

    We will also have a Moscode 300 hybrid in one of the satellite rooms. :tresbon:
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010

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