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SoundLabs with various amplifiers? (Read 7140 times)
Miko1971
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #30 - Oct 20th, 2016 at 6:59am
 
I agree, I would also add that Balanced power is something that cannot be overlooked. I recently bought a Equi=Tech Model 2QR.

It's a 20 amp Balanced line distribution/surge protection. Just as with Balanced cables, power can also be balanced with all the benifits of common mode rejection.

Can't recommend it strongly enough..
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AUDFILE74
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #31 - Dec 6th, 2016 at 12:54pm
 
i have heard Atma-Sphere  OTL's match quite well with soundlabs. essential audio's owner Brian Walsh has ruined me for life with that combo. the result is a high resolution detailed sound that will uncover deatail in a transformative way.
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Miko1971
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #32 - Dec 19th, 2016 at 1:37pm
 
I should say i am picking up a pair of the Original Carver Silver Seven Tube Amps. They will be sent to Mr. Carver for updating and It would be nice to hear the difference from what i consider ( Mr.Carver also thinks so ) his best SS amp, the Sunfire 300.
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Needle
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #33 - Apr 24th, 2017 at 11:20pm
 
AUDFILE74 wrote on Dec 6th, 2016 at 12:54pm:
i have heard Atma-Sphere† OTL's match quite well with soundlabs. essential audio's owner Brian Walsh has ruined me for life with that combo. the result is a high resolution detailed sound that will uncover deatail in a transformative way.


Do you remember which Atma-Sphere and which SL you auditioned?

How was the bass performance?
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-Mike
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #34 - Apr 28th, 2017 at 11:35pm
 
The results of my recent amplifier audition with my Soundlab M1PXís with the Consummate Transformer and Hot Rod Upgrade follows.

My dealer had the following amps that he brought out for an audition:
ē      Atma-Sphere MA-1 Mk3.3ís (most recent model; taken-in on trade)
ē      Pass Labs WA 160.5ís (Class ďAĒ, 160w/channel)
ē      Mark Levinson 534 Stereo (250 w/channel)
ē      My dealer also brought a pair of Rogue Audio Apollo monoís (but after problems with the above 2 amps, he recognized that the Rogueís wouldnít work and he didnít even get them out of his van.

Side Note before I go on: Many years ago, before switching to CAT JL1ís and then several years later to the newer and bigger CAT JL3ís, I was using a Levinson 336 Stereo amp.†

Back then, I auditioned the CAT JL1ís and Parasound Halo JC1 monoblocks against my Levinson 336.† The Parasoundís were fine; maybe better than the Levinson and for fewer bucks.† However, the CATís simply blew the Levinson and Parasound amps off the map and into the next zip code.†

So, after an initially listening to the Parasoundís, I never went back to them simply because the CAT JL1ís were better in every sonic attribute, every one.† I first noticed the CATís fantastic bass abilities.† I then wondered, well whatís missing, what donít they do?† After extended listening, the answer was nothing Ė everything was better!! They had a SET-type midrange, spectacular top end and superb harmonics! With an ability to control my then Soundlab M1 NON-PXís in a manner that if I never heard, I would have never believed!

Back to this yearís audition:
The Pass Labs monoblocks and Mark Levinson amp. encountered problems with a Telarc Track of the: ďVery Best of Eric Kunzel Top 20 -- Cybergenesis/TerminatorĒ (Theme).† The Levinson's protection circuits shut it down and the Pass made an unusual sound in one channel.† †

Continued.....On Next Page:
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-Mike
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #35 - Apr 28th, 2017 at 11:38pm
 
We let the Levinson sit for a while and after a restart, it shut down on another track which wasn't playing very loud and by comparison to the Telarc track, was very benign.† The Levinson at 2-weeks old was still quite new.† So a problem may have cropped up.† Or that track and the Soundlab's simply caused it to run out of juice.† We were using at least a 3meter run of Nordost Tyr speaker cables that the dealer brought with him.† I don't know if that may have been a contributing issue.†

I generally only play the Cybergenesis/Terminator (Theme) when auditioning. Earlier in the day before the amp audition, my CAT JL3 monoblocks played it without noticeable strain or objection Ė as they have done far too many times to count!† The track is essentially sound effects rather than music and has some frequency extremes occurring essentially simultaneously.† It obviously presents a very difficult load with the Soundlab's.† †At any rate, my former Levinson 336 (350 w/ch.) amp that I owned 15-years ago, always played this track without noticeable problems!† However, the Levinson I auditioned had only 250 w/ch. and the Pass is a 160 w/ch class ďAĒ amplifier.

At any rate, sonically, I didn't like the Pass.† The Levinson was interesting, much better than I thought it would be.† But to go with the ďLevinson soundĒ, I would have had to move up to their monoblocks (400 w/ch.), but they would have been ~1/3 more expensive than the Atma-Sphereís.† Plus, sonically, what I did hear, wasnít equal to either my CATís or Ralph Karstenís wonderful OTLís!

Thus, the Atma-sphereís portrayed a harmonic character like my CAT's do and I believe they did so with more clarity.† For example, the Nils Lofgren live "Keith Don't Go" track's guitar not only portrayed the guitar fingering sounds like the Levinson, but displayed more mid-bass (perhaps?) depth that gave more character to the guitar, better portraying it as an acoustic instrument.† Continued.....On Next Page:
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-Mike
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #36 - Apr 28th, 2017 at 11:42pm
 
This Is Page....3 of 3:
I'm not good with verbal sonic explanations; perhaps what I heard was improved harmonics.† At any rate, once heard, it's hard to go back.

All in all, the Atma-sphere MA-1's handled the Soundlabs with aplomb at the spl's that I normally listen at without stress or strain, either sonically or when viewing their meters!† I wondered if they would have enough juice and drive, but that was never, ever found to be a concern!† While the 2-ss amps coughed, sputtered and overall, sonically couldnít compare to my CATís or the Atma-sphereís!!

Following the multiple amp audition, the dealer left me with the Atma-Sphere MA-1ís.† Iíve really grew to be quite enamored with them.† In fact, I believe them to be better than my CATís!† I certainly believe their noise floor is lower.† Wow, I would have never assumed that I would like them as much, or even better than my CATís.

Thus, the MA-1 OTLís are a great marriage with my HotRod, Consummate M1PXís.† So much so, that I traded my beloved CAT JL-3ís for Atma-sphere MA-1 Mk.3.3ís.† After over 100ís hours now, Iím a very happy camper.† Ralph makes a fabulous product that simply just work with my Soundlabs.
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Needle
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #37 - Apr 29th, 2017 at 11:16pm
 
Mike,

Thanks for that great write-up!

May I ask the level at which you normally listen, an approximate SPL at listening position?


-Mike wrote on Apr 28th, 2017 at 11:42pm:
This Is Page....3 of 3:
I'm not good with verbal sonic explanations; perhaps what I heard was improved harmonics.† At any rate, once heard, it's hard to go back.

All in all, the Atma-sphere MA-1's handled the Soundlabs with aplomb at the spl's that I normally listen at without stress or strain, either sonically or when viewing their meters!† I wondered if they would have enough juice and drive, but that was never, ever found to be a concern!† While the 2-ss amps coughed, sputtered and overall, sonically couldnít compare to my CATís or the Atma-sphereís!!

Following the multiple amp audition, the dealer left me with the Atma-Sphere MA-1ís.† Iíve really grew to be quite enamored with them.† In fact, I believe them to be better than my CATís!† I certainly believe their noise floor is lower.† Wow, I would have never assumed that I would like them as much, or even better than my CATís.

Thus, the MA-1 OTLís are a great marriage with my HotRod, Consummate M1PXís.† So much so, that I traded my beloved CAT JL-3ís for Atma-sphere MA-1 Mk.3.3ís.† After over 100ís hours now, Iím a very happy camper.† Ralph makes a fabulous product that simply just work with my Soundlabs.

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TWB
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #38 - Apr 30th, 2017 at 4:00pm
 
TWB wrote on Nov 3rd, 2015 at 7:35pm:
After several years of driving my U-1PX Soundlabs with a pair of Ayre MXR's and being very pleased with the results, I have moved on. Currently in house, on a demo loan from Reno Hi-Fi, is a pair of Pass Labs X-260.8 mono blocks. Better bass, more control and authority, deeper and wider soundstage. At approximately 96 hours, these amps are still breaking in, but I am not hearing anything objectionable. They seem to be a great match, and have reserve power to spare.
I don't think they are going back.


Update: The previously mentioned Ayre MXR's were moved to my 2nd system in SF which does not utilize Sound Labs. Recently I sent them back to the factory to be upgraded to "Twenty" status. They are back and are currently driving my U-1PX panels while they burn in. I am very pleased with the improvement I am hearing over their previous status, and can easily recommend them.
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Tom
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #39 - May 1st, 2017 at 9:57pm
 
In their new configuration, are the Ayre better than the Pass X-260.8 at driving the U-1PX?


TWB wrote on Apr 30th, 2017 at 4:00pm:
TWB wrote on Nov 3rd, 2015 at 7:35pm:
After several years of driving my U-1PX Soundlabs with a pair of Ayre MXR's and being very pleased with the results, I have moved on. Currently in house, on a demo loan from Reno Hi-Fi, is a pair of Pass Labs X-260.8 mono blocks. Better bass, more control and authority, deeper and wider soundstage. At approximately 96 hours, these amps are still breaking in, but I am not hearing anything objectionable. They seem to be a great match, and have reserve power to spare.
I don't think they are going back.


Update: The previously mentioned Ayre MXR's were moved to my 2nd system in SF which does not utilize Sound Labs. Recently I sent them back to the factory to be upgraded to "Twenty" status. They are back and are currently driving my U-1PX panels while they burn in. I am very pleased with the improvement I am hearing over their previous status, and can easily recommend them.

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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #40 - May 2nd, 2017 at 7:44am
 
Needle wrote on May 1st, 2017 at 9:57pm:
In their new configuration, are the Ayre better than the Pass X-260.8 at driving the U-1PX?


TWB wrote on Apr 30th, 2017 at 4:00pm:
TWB wrote on Nov 3rd, 2015 at 7:35pm:
After several years of driving my U-1PX Soundlabs with a pair of Ayre MXR's and being very pleased with the results, I have moved on. Currently in house, on a demo loan from Reno Hi-Fi, is a pair of Pass Labs X-260.8 mono blocks. Better bass, more control and authority, deeper and wider soundstage. At approximately 96 hours, these amps are still breaking in, but I am not hearing anything objectionable. They seem to be a great match, and have reserve power to spare.
I don't think they are going back.


Update: The previously mentioned Ayre MXR's were moved to my 2nd system in SF which does not utilize Sound Labs. Recently I sent them back to the factory to be upgraded to "Twenty" status. They are back and are currently driving my U-1PX panels while they burn in. I am very pleased with the improvement I am hearing over their previous status, and can easily recommend them.



They are different than the Pass Labs, slightly better in transparency. Bass not quite as punchy, but very natural. They are still burning in, so it's premature for a final judgement. I will switch back to  the Pass amps later for a better understanding. 
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Tom
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Needle
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #41 - May 4th, 2017 at 1:14am
 
TWB wrote on May 2nd, 2017 at 7:44am:
Needle wrote on May 1st, 2017 at 9:57pm:
In their new configuration, are the Ayre better than the Pass X-260.8 at driving the U-1PX?


TWB wrote on Apr 30th, 2017 at 4:00pm:
TWB wrote on Nov 3rd, 2015 at 7:35pm:
After several years of driving my U-1PX Soundlabs with a pair of Ayre MXR's and being very pleased with the results, I have moved on. Currently in house, on a demo loan from Reno Hi-Fi, is a pair of Pass Labs X-260.8 mono blocks. Better bass, more control and authority, deeper and wider soundstage. At approximately 96 hours, these amps are still breaking in, but I am not hearing anything objectionable. They seem to be a great match, and have reserve power to spare.
I don't think they are going back.


Update: The previously mentioned Ayre MXR's were moved to my 2nd system in SF which does not utilize Sound Labs. Recently I sent them back to the factory to be upgraded to "Twenty" status. They are back and are currently driving my U-1PX panels while they burn in. I am very pleased with the improvement I am hearing over their previous status, and can easily recommend them.



They are different than the Pass Labs, slightly better in transparency. Bass not quite as punchy, but very natural. They are still burning in, so it's premature for a final judgement. I will switch back to† the Pass amps later for a better understanding.†


If you do switch, please post your findings here.

Thanks!
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-Mike
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #42 - May 5th, 2017 at 1:30pm
 
Quote:
Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #37 - Apr 29th, 2017 at 11:16pm† †Mike,

Thanks for that great write-up!

May I ask the level at which you normally listen, an approximate SPL at listening position?


I have never put a meter on them.† Suffice it to say that I heard the MA-1's driving U1's at a S/L dealer's with a room much larger than mine and even there, SPL was never an issue.

In fact, I've heard it said that with the PX panels and new transformers, Atma-sphere MA-60's will drive them as well as the MA-1's drove the older panels and transformers.†

Plus, when compared to my former CAT JL-3's which will drive virtually any speaker -- including the MBL 101's -- the MA-1's never came up wanting in terms of driving ability and SPL's!†
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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #43 - May 14th, 2017 at 10:54pm
 
Thanks, Mike!

I've been wondering about A-S or CAT to drive a potential SoundLab purchase. Your write-up certainly tips my decision towards A-S.


-Mike wrote on May 5th, 2017 at 1:30pm:
Quote:
Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #37 - Apr 29th, 2017 at 11:16pm† †Mike,

Thanks for that great write-up!

May I ask the level at which you normally listen, an approximate SPL at listening position?


I have never put a meter on them.† Suffice it to say that I heard the MA-1's driving U1's at a S/L dealer's with a room much larger than mine and even there, SPL was never an issue.

In fact, I've heard it said that with the PX panels and new transformers, Atma-sphere MA-60's will drive them as well as the MA-1's drove the older panels and transformers.†

Plus, when compared to my former CAT JL-3's which will drive virtually any speaker -- including the MBL 101's -- the MA-1's never came up wanting in terms of driving ability and SPL's!†

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Re: SoundLabs with various amplifiers?
Reply #44 - May 17th, 2017 at 1:19pm
 
Needle, You're welcome!!

Although CAT (Convergent Audio Technology) is much more widely known for their pre-amps, I believe that Ken Steven's amps represent the real sweet spot in their product line.† They are simply killer amps that must be grouped in the best of the best list, especially in their SET-like mid-range purity coupled to their outstanding driving ability.† Their specs significantly understate their capabilities.† 55lb. transformers in each and a total of (32) 6550ís or KT120ís make that conclusion obvious!†

With that said, JL3ís weigh 190lbs. each and when a tube goes it generally takes a resistor with it.† Each tube socket has a resistor soldered to it.† The resistor acts as a fuse.†

I have trouble simply bending over, so, trying to move 190lbs. and flip the amp over to access and remove its bottom plate to then de-solder/re-solder a resistor has become virtually impossible for me.† This then is the reason why I sought other amplification, not because I wanted something more to my liking!

Sonically comparing CAT's against Atma-sphere's over an extended time would be an interesting exercise.† Although I've had both in my system, I didn't do exhaustive A/B'ing.† So, I don't know which would come out ahead.† They're both so superb in their own right with S/L's, that it would be a very difficult choice -- one that could never be wrong, just different!!

While both amps are quite costly, my experience suggests that it would be very difficult to find better amplification for S/Lís!!†

BTW, now that Iím no longer spinning vinyl, Iím driving the Atma-sphereís direct with a balanced Lampizator Golden Gate DAC.† Previously, with a superb pre-amp, using a DAC direct has had questionable results.† Both the Lampizator Big 7 that I previously owned and now the Golden Gate and their DHT's and power supplies are most definitely the exception to that rule!! Lukasz' balanced GG connected to Ralph's balanced amps is just a spectacular combination with my M1PX's!!
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