home › Forums › General Discussion › Atma-Sphere MA1 3.2 vs Pass XA60.8 amp
- This topic has 95 replies, 20 voices, and was last updated 11 months, 1 week ago by MikeB.
April 19, 2022 at 7:23 am #1176
A few more questions on CAT.
1.How did the tubes blow? Were they old?
2.KT120 tubes are often used on JL3s.Were you using them?
3. Was JL3 better than JL1?
April 19, 2022 at 11:43 am #1177
1) I don’t know why each of the tube’s blew. With the JL3’s & their internal meters, they were easy to spot however. Having new sets of power tubes in both the JL1’s & JL3’s when I got them, I never changed the entire complement of tubes, because of a tube failure. So, the tubes that failed weren’t old per se. The fact remains that in over approx. 20+ years, only 3-power tubes developed a problem & 3-resistors were needed to be replaced. In general, then, power tubes were not a concern during my ownership.
2) I used a new set of 6550’s in the JL1’s when I got them and began with 6550’s in the JL3’s which my pair originally utilized. My CAT dealer retrofitted the JL3’s to use KT120’s & sourced the new tubes from CAT which submitted them to an in-house stress testing procedure. The retrofit required a change of the sacraficial resistor (as one would imagine). But more than that, I am not entirely certain what else was changed, if anything.
3) The JL3 with twice the number of power tubes than the JL1, was obviously more powerful. However, I never actually A/B’ed one amp against the other in a back-to-back test. But my audio memory suggests that the JL3’s were NOT sonically different, or superior to the JL1’s.
Around 2008, I had an opportunity to trade the JL1’s for a preowned pair of JL3’s with my local CAT dealer. It was a deal I couldn’t refuse, but not one I really needed!
With my old non-PX panel, non-consummate transformer M1 SoundLabs, a handful of tracks (no more) seemed to benefit from the more powerful JL3’s. This was perhaps because the JL1’s clipped slightly on a passage in those tracks). It was never a real bother however. But with the newer SoundLab panels and transformers, I would assume that the power difference between the 2-amps would NOT be noticeable due to the power increase. Sonically, there may be a difference, but not one I believe would justify the cost difference between the 2-amps. When I auditioned Atma-sphere MA1’s against the more powerful MA2’s at a SoundLab dealer on U1PX’s, there was a difference that I termed gravitas-like (e.g. perhaps a the MA2’s were a little more dynamic). Could the difference have been volume related between the 1st and 2nd trial, yup, we didn’t use a decibel meter to check. But as I suggested for the JL1’s & JL3’s, the difference was too subtle and not worth the extra expense, either upfront and later, if re-tubing were necessary. -Mike
April 18, 2022 at 8:47 pm #1174
I am curious about your experience with the CAT JL3s. How many times did you blow the tubes? Did they blow because they were overdriven or just old tubes? I am considering CAT amps and this worries me.
April 18, 2022 at 10:37 pm #1175
Chungjh, I owned both CAT JL1’s and then JL3’s. I had them for approx. 20 yrs., and had only 3-power tubes with issues during that time. So, they weren’t hard on tubes at all.
As I believe I previously mentioned, when a tube blows it takes a resistor with it. The resistor is soldered to each power tube socket. The resistor acts as a fuse. That was the case with all 3-power tube issues I experienced over the years.
As my hair grayed, arthritis progressed, leaving me with the use of walking aids. Because of this, owning a pair of ~190lb./ea. monoblock amplifiers became less and less prudent. Unfortunately, this was compounded by the resistor issue. I can still remove a fuse; but I can’t move, let alone flip-over a 190lb amplifier; remove the approx. dozen screws from its bottom plate and then de-solder a resistor and solder another in its place. If I weren’t disabled, I would not have dispensed with the CAT’s.
There obviously is no best of anything in our wacky hobby. However, among high power push/pull amps., the triode CAT’s must be placed in the very small mix of the best. They will drive virtually anything and will do so with prodigious bass, coupled with SET-like purity in the mid’s and highs.
December 29, 2020 at 6:11 pm #747
BtW i created a fb group for us.
I love my Soundlabs
December 29, 2020 at 3:38 pm #746
I did try swapping backplate but still no cracking sound. When I asked Roger he said i should send it in but if the panel plays music then might be ok.
December 29, 2020 at 3:09 pm #745
I was quoted 6350 for the newest panel from Roger. PX the whole deal
December 29, 2020 at 3:06 pm #744
How much did the 560 panel cost?
December 29, 2020 at 3:01 pm #743
Yes. The series of upgrades over the years was not that expensive. The new base focused panels were very cost effective vs purchasing new speakers. Although I do not have the consummate backplates, I have many of the updates in them and to my mind, saved thousands to get a big upgrade with the a unique new “560” base focused panel in a pristine panel metal stand.
Yes, I would like to have 6 or 7’ panel, but in a smaller condo dedicated audio room, they work great.
Running them with a heavily upgraded and modified VTL 225t mono blocks and they have plenty of drive for these panels.
December 29, 2020 at 3:00 pm #742
Mine may be pristine 1 for all I know.
December 29, 2020 at 2:33 pm #739
Wow, I am impressed with your loyalty to your Pristine 2. Why didn’t you just upgrade to new ones? Cost?
December 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm #741
I am the same way I got mine for $1300 and I could possibly add another 2k in upgrades. A M545 would be like 14k would It REALLY be that different?
It would be smaller by 1/2 foot
December 29, 2020 at 2:31 pm #738
Yes, I had an older model on the Pristine 2. I think I purchased them back in the mid 1990s.
Since then, diaphragm change, copper diffusion ring, power supply, back plate upgrades, new Reg. bias supplies and a special order design modified 560 base focused panels fitted to the pristine 2 metal frame. Roger says there is nothing more I can do with these backplates.
December 29, 2020 at 1:29 pm #730
Which model SL do you have? It sounds like an older model.
December 29, 2020 at 1:27 pm #729
The new regulated bias supplies are straight forward to install if you can do easy soldering.
On my backplates, the new bias supplies would not fit horizontally. So, I had to stand them on endwith removal of one plastic flange and secure them with hinge angles and glue.
If you have a larger backplate, they should fit in. Either way, they will fit in.
Roger will send you the bias supplies with sufficient lead length and a new bias pot and schematic for installation. All is straight forward and takes under an hour to fiddle through for each panel. The price from SL is most reasonable in MHO.
Highly recommended to do this. My opinion is that new bias supplies provide almost twice as much bias output as the older unit and is ac input voltage regulated to boot.
December 29, 2020 at 1:17 pm #728
December 29, 2020 at 1:05 pm #726blgtrioParticipant
Hi hpfish10, swap backplate from one panel to the other to see if the panel still does not make a crackling sound. If it does crackle when reversing the backplate you may have a fissure in the insulation of the panel which would require sending back to Sound Lab.
December 29, 2020 at 12:50 pm #725
Chungjh, how hard was it to upgrade your bias supplies. One of my A1 panel plays ok but even setting it at max I could not hear any crackle so I am thinking to upgrade the bias supply.
December 26, 2020 at 6:12 pm #712
December 26, 2020 at 1:49 pm #711
lotus123, good point. Another amp that is interesting to me is Carver 350 tube amp. Anyone hear them with SL?
December 26, 2020 at 1:45 pm #710
@chungih, PS audio has 60-day return if you don’t like it. Uncle Paul says for the much investments, a little return shipping is well worth it because there is nothing more true than having the gear in your own system at your own listening environment.
December 26, 2020 at 11:07 am #709
Yes I am and do. The PS BHK preamp is relatively low gain and I had originally bought it to go into a system with a First Watt SIT 3 driving the Triton References. The SIT 3 is VERY low gain and it just did not work. I was basically running the SoundLab system with the phono preamp going through the MSB DAC, so basically no preamp, which gave me enough gain and sounded good. Paul from PS has aggressively espoused the concept that adding a preamp into this sort of system, even when you have enough gain, would improve the sound, which I took with a grain of salt. In any event, having the BHK preamp, I decided one day to try it in the system, and guess what? Paul was correct and it sounded great. I had also rolled the tubes in it and am currently using Bugle Boys. I also tried some 1950s long black plate RCAs which also sounded good. I find the Bugle Boys a little more transparent, and the RCAs a little warmer.
December 26, 2020 at 10:53 am #708
@Loudspeaker7, are you using the BHK preamp to go with your BHK 300? Do you recommend this pairing?
December 26, 2020 at 10:49 am #707
Hi, I find the BHKs extremely natural, transparent and very clear sounding. I find it difficult to imagine anyone feeling that they lack clarity in the high end, but perhaps these listeners are looking for a more aggressive and accentuated high end.This might relate to their loudspeakers not being as transparent as the SoundLabs, or perhaps their associated equipment as well as wires. And of course, there is always the differences in personal taste. I am using the top of the line Audioquest speaker wires. I find that my whole system is very revealing of the differences in program material and of course I do not know what these listeners might be listening to in terms of program material as well as sources.I am currently listening almost exclusively to vinyl, however when I listen to digital, it is CDs through an MSB DAC and transport. Although some listeners feel that streaming delivers the same quality as CDs, this is not my experience, even with higher quality streaming. And of course less than the best streaming, which many people listen to, and lower quality DACs, of course, might be an issue with some listeners experiences, and they might be looking for “bright” electronics to juice up the high end. I like it natural and believe me, with my system, there is no problem with high end clarity. In terms of the tube rolling, this of course can make a difference. Honestly, as I had the Bugle Boys around, I switched out the tubes as soon as I got the amps, so really have no experience with the stock tubed. There are some other tubes PS recommends, I believe Tungsram. In terms of why there are so many BHKs on the used market, I don’t follow this so I was not aware and really have no explanation. Perhaps there were a large number sold and so that may relate. I believe that PS has a return policy so that would enable you to try the amps in your system. BTW, I have also used the BHKs with the Triton References that I designed, and they sounded excellent with those as well.
December 26, 2020 at 8:13 am #705
December 25, 2020 at 9:18 am #703Massimo StefanizziParticipant
Thank you for sharing your experience Louspeaker7!
I deeply appreciate your expertise!
December 24, 2020 at 5:07 pm #701
Marvelous Loudspeaker7, I too reminisce the dimensionality produced by ADS, I think, a time delay not bigger than a preamp that allows you to select the ambience of a small club night club, concert hall or inside of a cathedral church. I got to look it up SDP1.
December 24, 2020 at 11:12 am #700
Hi, Yes, they are Quad 989s. I am using them for ambiance retrieval. Let me explain: Back in the early 70s, while in college, I had a “Quad” system with Tannoy 15″s in the front and 10″s in the rear. I was using a Marantz 7C and Marantz 9s in front and 8B in the rear. I was using an EV SQ decoder as I recall for the rear channels. Quad was being pushed, but there were not many Quad recordings but the decoding, as the simpler Hafler DynaQuad circuit, did a good job of pulling out the ambiance information and sending it to the rear. If properly set up it was subtle but excellent. I eventually replaced the Tannoy Quad set up with KLH 9s driven by Futtermans, and that clearly sounded better, even in plain stereo.
Fast forward to 2003. I had Quad 989s. They had replaced Martin Logan CLSs, which I still had in my storage area. I was speaking one day to Dave Gordon of Audio Research who brought up the ARC SDP 1 to me. This was a unit which had basically a line level Hafler circuit along with an adjustable digital delay line. It was originally intended to get ARC into the home theater market, and failed miserably at that. But Dave mentioned that he had a few friends that were using it in very high end music systems to extract and deliver ambiance information to the rear. I located one, set it up, with the Quads in front and CLSs in the rear, and was not overly happy and abandoned that project, but kept the SDP 1. As I found out later, I had not set the system up properly, using too much delay and having the level of the rear speakers too high.
Again fast forward to the summer of 2020. I had retired from GoldenEar and with the pandemic, was basically hunkered down in Maryland, not exactly bored, but looking for projects. For whatever reason, I thought I would try the SDP 1 again: nothing ventured, nothing gained. I spoke with Dave about it and he forwarded me some set up tip info, and I set it up again, this time with the Ultimate 845s in the front (which I love) and the Quads in the rear. The rest of the system is an Acoustic Signature Ascona turntable with Kuzma 14″ FourPoint arm and Lyra Etna cartridge, Channel D Lino C current based phono preamp, PS BHK preamp, PS BHK mono blocks, Atmosphere amp in the rear. As you can see, I listen very nearfield, maybe 7.5-8 feet from both the front and rear speakers.
And the sound is extraordinary!!! As I mentioned, the level of the rear speakers should be very low: you should not be able to identify discrete sound coming from them. Having the ambiance recovery speakers in the rear helps to take the room out of the equation, and overall the effect, if you want to call it an effect, is to improve the three dimensionality of the front soundstage and overall give a more relaxed and natural musical sound to the presentation. I wonder what the system would sound like if I dug out my old EV decoder and put it in the system? And clearly, what the SDP 1 is doing could be done better with updated technology. Here is a link to an article that Gordon Holt wrote about the SDP 1 in 1995 which helps give more insight. https://www.stereophile.com/tubepreamps/844/index.html
December 24, 2020 at 5:13 am #697
Hi D10, thanks for asking but I do not plan to sell my Wolcott at this time since I use them to alternately drive my Wilson Maxx2 and SL.
December 24, 2020 at 5:13 am #696Massimo StefanizziParticipant
Maybe QUAD 989?
December 24, 2020 at 7:16 am #699
@Massimo & John V,
Loudspeaker? had custom grill on a pair vintage SL-A1s (early 80s) that I also have. I was thinking about pairing it up with my main Majestics to add ambience. But didn’t know how to properly hookup the speakers.
December 24, 2020 at 4:49 am #695John VParticipant
The rear speakers look like Acoustats to me. Maybe he is running them as surrounds.
Lovely room and system, I like the custom grille color and finish.
December 23, 2020 at 10:52 pm #694
@loudspeaker7, are you running 2 pair of SL or just 2 separate systems in the same room?
December 23, 2020 at 10:10 am #692
Would you consider selling your Wolcotts?
December 23, 2020 at 10:07 am #691
I would keep all solid state amps turned on all the time …. eventually not if you away for prolong period of time.
I tried several class D amps with SL – not good combo for my ears. Sound was typical hifi – dry, analytical, thin, without real life dynamic swings. On other side sound was clean with good PRAT. Different people – different tastes…
December 23, 2020 at 10:05 am #689
To Chungh: As I mentioned, I have the PS Audio BHK Mono Blocks and they are excellent and I heartily recommend. Very transparent, fast, dynamic and very musical. I did roll the input tubes to Bugle Boys. I have not compared them to the PS Class Ds, however I have to imagine that they are better.
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December 23, 2020 at 10:04 am #688
I agree with TWB, that my Pass amps sound great cold and doesn’t need more than 30 minutes.
This is with the assumption that they been in standby mode.
If the amps have been unplugged, then it definitely takes longer and they don’t sound good initially.
December 23, 2020 at 9:28 am #687rlucianoParticipant
When I had Pass X600s, I felt 30 minutes was the minimum and an hour was ideal. With the PS Audio BHK monos, 5-10 minutes seems enough.
December 23, 2020 at 9:13 am #686
But it took 5 hours to sound good in my tiny room (9×11).
Does this mean 5 hours to warm up?? My Pass lab amps sound great cold, but do get a bit better when fully warmed up, in my opinion, no more than 30 minutes!
December 23, 2020 at 8:05 am #685
December 22, 2020 at 8:47 pm #683
December 22, 2020 at 8:44 pm #682
I currently use CJ Premier 350 to drive my A1 non-PX and am very happy with it. I also have Wolcott 220 as a backup. The Wolcott has better mid range but not as dynamic as the CJ, and the CJ midrange is nice, has warm tube sound in it.
December 22, 2020 at 8:35 pm #681
Overtime, I have driven my Soundlab U3’s with Bryston 7B’s, Cary V8’s, Wolcott Audio Presence220’s, and now PS Audio M1200’s. Each one of these amps delivered better SQ than the previous one. The Wolcott’s were great, but the M1200’s are better in every aspect. Effortless sound, top to bottom. If you want to hear what the M1200 beta testers say about these amps,there is a 15 min video posted on the PS Audio website. The M1200’s have a Class A zero-feedback, fully differential tube front end and MOSFET outputs. I immediately noticed an effortless and more engaging listening experience, with gobs of inner detail and punchier bass. One of the most noticeable improvements was the “PRAT” factor (pace, rhythm and timing). Foot tapping, head nodding rhythm.
December 22, 2020 at 7:22 pm #680
December 22, 2020 at 7:18 pm #679
Actually, Brooklyn Amp is not dynamic (250W). I was thinking the PS hybrids would be more dynamic. Just guessing. Also, a lot less heat in my tiny room.
December 22, 2020 at 7:13 pm #678
@cgybgjh, how did you like the 300 watt Brooklyn class D amp to merit you into considering other class D?
December 22, 2020 at 5:55 pm #677
I am now considering two hybrid amps: PS audio BHK monos vs PS Stellar M1200 (tube/class D). M1200 is half of BHK price. What do you think?
November 26, 2020 at 4:25 pm #626
I have 1999 year A3s with toroid I backplates. I could make 100WPC Atma-Spheres clip when I pushed them. I do love the way they sound. I have never gotten the VTLs to clip, and I’m surprised how good they are in tetrode mode. I thought they would be a big step down from the Atma-spheres but I am happy with them. If I compared MA-2s vs. the VTLs, it’s very possible I”d prefer the MA-2s but I wouldn’t know without a careful comparison. One option for me would be to update my soundlabs someday to be more efficient (to everyone: Is is PX panels or toroid II that helps more there?) and then compare the Atma-Spheres and VTLs since I still have the Atma-Spheres.
And, I agree with other posters that the Atma-Spheres are very reliable and easy to care for. More so than the VTLs. And also agree that Ralph Karsten is a wonderfully knowledgeable and communicative manufacturer.
November 26, 2020 at 4:19 pm #625
I have 1999 year A3s with toroid I backplates. I could make 100WPC Atma-Spheres clip when I pushed them. I do love the way they sound. I have never gotten the VTLs to clip, and I’m surprised how good they are in tetrode mode. I thought they would be a big step down from the Atma-spheres but I am happy with them. If I compared MA-2s vs. the VTLs, it’s very possible I”d prefer the MA-2s but I wouldn’t know without a careful comparison. One option for me would be to update my soundlabs someday to be more efficient (to everyone: Is is PX panels or toroid II that helps more there?) and then compare the Atma-Spheres and VTLs.
November 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm #622
To chungjh…Sorry , I’ve never compared PS Audio M1200’s to AS, so I am unable to comment.
November 26, 2020 at 3:25 pm #621
To grg3939, cosmoman: Like you I switched as my taste in music evolved during this journey. I didn’t realize how much more darker sounding the MA1s were after auditioned other high powered tube mono blocs. MA1s had a palpable mid range and slightly quicker but Wolcott had a full bodied sound from top to bottom with a very relaxed pacing suitable for jazz quartet and voice. I still prefer the Wolcott as it conveyed emotion but Class D is, a little dry sounding at the top, more versatile and does the job for most musical passages. All my signal sources are still tubed. Not perfect but I think within the next few years class D will get there. My class Ds are Hephaestus Olympus mono blocs. I compared it to newer generation of class D like the highly reviewed Benchmark, not that much difference at all. I had Acoustic Imagery Atash also that worked well with SL but Hephaestus is smoother because of the MOSFETs at output. My first class D was Cherry mono blocs that smoked Pilinus, and other mid fi SS amps. For dollar to performance ratio, class D is way to go.
November 26, 2020 at 12:46 pm #620
Hi, I am currently using PS Audio BHK mono blocks with my Ultimate 845s and they are excellent. I also have a pair of Atmasphere Ma 1s, earlier ones, and also excellent. Different sound, as people are describing. BHKs are really surprisingly good.
November 26, 2020 at 12:44 pm #619
How is the SQ of M1200 better than AS?
November 26, 2020 at 12:32 pm #618
I always leave them in standby mode (rear power switch on, front power button off), which means the Class D solid state portion is powered on, but the 12AU7 input tube is off. Since tubes warm up very quickly (they have heaters!) they are ready to go very quickly. After 5-10 minutes, I notice no difference. Even after 2 minutes hardly any change. It’s the solid state stuff that can take much longer to warm up, but since it is always on in standby mode, there is no necessary warmup cycle.
November 26, 2020 at 11:05 am #617
How long does M1200 take to FULLY warm up?
November 26, 2020 at 10:49 am #616
Wolcott Audio Monoblocks are not dark.
November 26, 2020 at 10:45 am #614
Class D comment. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Driving my U3’s (Toroids,PX panels), my Wolcott Audio EL34 tubed Monoblocks were far superior to previous amps (big Bryston’s, big Cary). Excellent bass control, open and wide/deep soundstage, extended and airy highs. They never sounded strained, and I have a huge room (42×26). U3’s 12’ apart, 10’ from front wall, 7’ from side walls. Seating 14’ from speakers at 75-80 dB.
But, after auditioning PS Audio’s new Class D M1200 hybrid Monoblocks, I switched. Cleaner, punchier, more inner detail, better balanced soundstage, more effortless, more engaging… I could go on. Classical music is noticeably more engaging.
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November 26, 2020 at 10:05 am #613
November 26, 2020 at 9:59 am #612
November 26, 2020 at 6:37 am #600
@chungih, not at all. MA1, I would call it a form of coloration created to make the amp seems quieter. Remember, we are talking about technology going back decades. Now we are moving closer to sonic purity.
November 25, 2020 at 5:46 pm #594
November 25, 2020 at 5:44 pm #593
AS put in the option switch to go class A or A/B, to reduce the heat. Those with AS amps, how does the A/B sound compared to A? Noticeably different?
November 25, 2020 at 4:58 pm #592
I second to TWB. I have to say MA1 is a dark sounding amp and if that’s what you are looking for. Back in the 90s, if you are looking for a quick tube amp OTL would be it for a lack of hysteresis from having no output transformers. Actually, MA1 did not sound like tube amp. I switched to Wolcott tube amps to feed the power hunger SL and love the full bodied sound from Wolcott, albeit not as nimble playing rock music but sonically more engaging that draws you into the performance. I would say you will be happier with Pass XA60.8 amp. I dumped Wolcott for class D amp two years ago to save from being burned by utility bills and skin as well.
November 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm #585
If you are looking at tube amps and can go for the Atma-Sphere MA-1, I would go there. These are incredibly reliable and Ralph provides great support. I also think these are among, if not the best tube amp for SL speakers. Definitely worth a shot over CJ and other options.
November 25, 2020 at 2:49 pm #583
ZOTL is genius design – unfortunately not enough power for SL. Maybe Quadrature Z would be good – I am thinking of trying it in my system . C-J is safe bet I assume .. never tried in my system
November 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm #582
Has anyone tried Conrad Johnson tube amps with SL?
November 25, 2020 at 2:32 pm #581
What is the size of your room? My room is only 9 x 11 and may be more sensitive to heat. I have heard that AS amps could have reliability issues. I don’t know if this was 3.2 version.
November 25, 2020 at 2:28 pm #580BelleMusiqueParticipant
I use MA-1 Mk 3.3 with Soundlab A3. I do not find the heat from MA-1 excessive. Yes there are a lot of tubes there, but they do not heat so much. Since I started to listen music on tube amplifiers, I’m having troubles to listen solid state. Atma Sphere amplifiers will give a very smooth and relaxed sound to your stats. Go for it ! And upgrade to 3.3 ! It’s worth every cent.
November 25, 2020 at 1:54 pm #579
I am in the market for a new amp for my M545. I had Pass Labs X250.5 for a while and I upgraded this year to X250.8. Now I just sold my X250.8 because I want to try a tube amp. In my tiny room (9 x 11 ft), X250.5 was great; so I thought X250.8 would be even better. Nope. While it had much more power, it didn’t sound as good as X250.5. But, in my room, where I don’t play very loud, it took about 6 hours of playing to sound GREAT. I have BAT Rex2 tube preamp (300 W heat, but incredible sound), so I don’t want to use up 6 hrs of tube time just for warming up.Since tube amps don’t take more than one hour of warm up, I chose to go with a tube amp. I am considering Atma S MA1, but it generates 1000 W of heat just idling. My X250.8 generated 450 W idling and it was quite hot. I don’t know how you guys with AS gears handle the heat.Some people recommended LTA ZOTL40. I can get used Conrad Johnson amps pretty easily. Any recommendations? I want something reliable and hassle-free.
June 11, 2020 at 9:10 pm #428
Thanks everyone. I can’t sound stage each player’s position very clearly but it is well centered in that the main singer comes from the center. It is possible that the recording engineer for most of my tracks on Tidal playlist didn’t do a good job. Does anyone in this forum have Tidal tracks that should give clear instrument separation spatially? Like you are walking in between instruments.
June 11, 2020 at 7:26 pm #427
chungjh: Because Soundlabs are a line source, being close to the side walls shouldn’t be an issue.
I previously had my M1PX’s within a foot of the sidewalls in my 14-1/2 foot wide room with no center image issues.
Your placement specs seem to be well within reason.
Accurate toe-in should provide a very solid center image, as long as your listening chair is exactly between both speakers. If you haven’t, measure one speaker’s placement — corners of each speaker to the wall you say is “about 5 ft” behind the speakers — and adjust the other speaker’s to those dimensions, to make sure both are as exactly placed the same as possible.
Moving further back or closer shouldn’t affect the center image as long as your listening chair (& head) is Centered Exactly between the speakers.
It might be worth a shot to play a mono source to more accurately check center imaging, presuming both speakers are in-phase.
One speaker biased different than the other could affect center image. If you have a test CD with a center output individually for both right and left channel, and a decibel meter, you could check one speaker’s level against the other’s and adjust the bias accordingly. However, if you biased both speakers as the manual explains, the difference should be minimal. For the most part, bias should only need to be slightly tweaked. My bias pot’s positions have always been very close to each other’s — if one is at 12 o’clock, the other has always been very, very close to that. Thus, I wouldn’t expect large differences between one speaker’s bias pot’s position and the other, unless something is amiss with the speakers, pre-amp, amp, or very unlikely, perhaps the cables. -Mike
June 11, 2020 at 6:43 pm #426
Do not worry – you can sit as close as the soundstage start to be too high. You do not have choice ! You must have space behind you ! Position yourself that speakers have space behind them and that there is space behind you .. Well..difficult with 10f size of room …
Btw I listen SL where owner was sitting like 3F from them and had huge space behind him. I was in the middle of the orchestra … amazing sound .. Different rooms, different choices…
June 11, 2020 at 6:29 pm #425
Wow. Sit 3 ft from speakers? I would be closer to speakers than speakers are to themselves.
June 11, 2020 at 5:00 pm #424
So your room is 10f long. It is short – there no doubt about it ! On other side – nothing wrong with using SL in near-field position ! I luv it !
On your place I would go 3F from front wall, you will sit 3F from speakers and you will have 3F behind!
For SL lovers:
Sidewall distance from wall to speakers meaning nothing
About toe in:
I found that middle of the speakers should face your shoulder on your listening chair. More toe in – more highs, more dynamics but narrow soundstage .. More out – wider soundstage, loss of focus
How you gonna do it ? In dark , take flashlight and put it on the middle of your head – look at speakers and be sure you see reflection from the myler to be symmetric to your position.
Also! Do not spread SL too far apart! You will loose bass and dynamics ! Even if they are close to each other – they should make soundstage wall to wall!
I told that Joe Cohen when he exhibit his amazing cables with SL at California show I think year or two ago when he complained that they could not get bass from SL .. IMO SL were to far apart ..
June 11, 2020 at 4:42 pm #423
Width of the room is 9 ft and 10.5 ft long. My ears are about 1 ft from the back wall.
June 11, 2020 at 4:41 pm #422
TWB – excellent post . For SL lovers: The bigger panels are much easier to drive than smaller ones. So it means you need less power to run U/M/A-1 than small U/M/A-545! Yes, it is opposite from box speakers …
June 11, 2020 at 4:40 pm #421
In my city system I utilize 4 Stillpoint Apertures to good effect, two on the sidewalls and 2 on the front wall between the speakers.
June 11, 2020 at 4:37 pm #420
Toe-in angle is critical in a small room. Symmetry and Equal distances from back and side walls must be achieved for a balanced sound field. A quarter in matters…
What are your dimensions?
As well, in near field listening, equal optimal bias on your panels is very important. I found that more toe in works, and careful bias adjustment for centering image provides a greater soundstage presentation.
I have a similar size panel in a smaller room setting and these adjustments were important to achieve best performance. Let your ears determine guide the optimum adjustments.
June 11, 2020 at 4:36 pm #419
My room is actually 10.5 ft long and my distance from the SLs is at an angle since I am sitting in the center. I am wondering if I am too close to the speakers?
Has anyone tried the sound absorbers that SL is selling? Are they effective?
June 11, 2020 at 4:31 pm #418
I too have a pair of the 545’s, in my case the Ultimates, in a small room. In regards to imaging, placement is everything. You need to experiment until you find what’s best for your room. Acoustic room treatments should also be considered.
In the case of the Pass Lab XA.60.8 amps, in my country system, with the U-1PX, they do a very satisfactory job. The 60.8’s definitely did not have enough power in my city system with the 545’s, but the X-260.8’s drive them very well.
Nearly twenty years ago I was a Wolcott dealer and loved how they drove Sound Labs. But when Henry Wolcott aged out, it became almost impossible to get them repaired. He held the schematics tightly, and very few techs knew how to trouble shoot them. I also owned JC-1’s, but found them to be too neutral for my taste.
June 11, 2020 at 4:27 pm #417
If your room is 10f long – and SL are 5f from front wall and your seat is 6-6.5f from speakers than your room should be 11+ feet long ?
June 11, 2020 at 4:14 pm #416
It seems that in my small room with M545, the sound from the left and right periphery (where the speakers are) seems more emphasized (?louder) than the singer (in the center). I am thinking that this may be due to speaker placement and toe-in angle (about 20%). What do you all think?
the outer edge of SL is 11 in from the side wall and the space between SLs is about 4.5 ft. I am sitting about 6-6.5 ft from SLs. There is about 5 ft from the front wall (facing me) and SL panels.
June 11, 2020 at 3:40 pm #415
Thank you for your input and comments!
I pose the question since I am itching to see if what is out there could improve SQ of my setup. It sounds like the consensus is both high power Pass Amp (XA60 is a no no, may be X350.5?) and Atmasphere (MA1 is good, but may be MA2 is better) should do the job very well, but unless I buy and listen to them in direct comparison to my amps (Wolcott and CJ Premier 350) driving my old non-PX panel and toroidal back plate I would not know. In my setup, both Wolcott and CJ amp can play rather loud (90+ db, I don’t listen louder 85db) without any hint of stress. Lately I put the CJ amp into more service and like it a lot, more bass than Wolcott but still exhibits transparency, warmness and full body sound.
June 11, 2020 at 3:19 pm #414
When hearing Brian’s U1PX’s driven by Atma-sphere MA-1’s, we never got into clipping level concerns. However, I never had him stress them or play at a level higher than he did, because I was happy with his chosen level and what I heard.
Brian also had the Atma-sphere MA-2’s on hand. They had a bit more gravitas (if you will), but besides that, essentially sounded the same as the MA-1’s. Again I didn’t do a how-loud-will-they-play comparison between the two amps, as higher volume levels weren’t warranted for my tastes. -Mike
June 11, 2020 at 1:09 pm #412
In your size room, 250.5 is more than enough ! It seems that you listen almost entire time in class A. One small secret between audiophiles is that 250.5 is the best sounding Pass! Just to let you know ! Keep it – 350.5 will bring you nothing new !
For all other SLOG members – the difference between Pass 350.5 and JC-1s :
Pass: better midrange – so sax, voices, etc is much more natural, entire sound is more tube like …
JC-1s – better frequency extension , more dynamic and tighter bass
What do I prefer ? Pass. Sound more like a real life .. some people would like JC-1s… they would say it is more neutral .. I agree..
It is old story that Atma and CAT are good with SL … it used to be Wolcott in the past .. I never heard them on the SL so I do not know but I could bet they are good because many people love that combo.
On other side I heard these amps with other speakers and I did not like them. But it means nothing! Different systems, my tastes , your tastes, etc… What I want to say is – do not believe nobody until you hear it by your own ears and in your system !
June 11, 2020 at 1:00 pm #411NolafileParticipant
So I gather that these newer PX panel are more efficient than prior offerings. So how much of a difference are we talking here? 1, 2, 12db? And what has improved to produce these improvements since the basic physics has remained the same?
The Atma-Sphere’s I believe are a OTL design. Has anyone managed to incorporate a direct drive OTL tube amp bypassing the interfaces? I would imagine the efficiency losses are quite high just due to the interface coupling.
June 11, 2020 at 12:33 pm #410RalphParticipant
I don’t listen to my U-1PXes at rock concert levels, but when I heard MA-1s drive Brian Walsh’s pair, it was easy to clip them.
I use 300 watt/channel VTL MB-450s and would really like double that amount to comfortably handle wide dynamic range classical content.
June 11, 2020 at 12:13 pm #408
PS. Also, agree with Ralph being excellent to work with.
June 11, 2020 at 12:12 pm #407
It is so awesome to see all the discussions stepping up. I had previously used amplifiers with the 500 watt/ch Ncore modules, and a few other large Class D amps. Generally, they were great-but I found a whole new level of satisfaction when I jumped to Atma-Sphere amplification on my U-1s. I don’t think you can go wrong with them, and the MA-1s did a surprisingly good job on my U-1 with the PX panels and Consummate backplate.
June 11, 2020 at 11:59 am #406
My experience concurs with D10’s.
A few years ago, when auditioning amps against my CAT (Convergent Audio Technology) JL3’s, we tried a Pass amp in the 250 watt range. It was a no-go!! And this was with consummate Backplates and PX panels. You said you had NON-PX panels and didn’t mention the Backplates. In any case, with NON-PX panels, the more watts the better – my guess the Pass x350 at a minimum with the x600 Pass probably more like it!
Before acquiring CAT amplification, I used a stereo Mark Levinson 336 amp @350 w/ch. It did just fine with the Soundlabs I owned then — M1 NON-PX panels, NON-Consummate Backplates.
Years ago, upon auditioning Parasound Halo JC1’s and then CAT JL1’s (a crazy underrated 100 w/ch.) against my Levinson 336, the CAT’s won absolutely hands-down — no comparison, no contest!! The Halo JC1’s were comparable to my Levinson. At that time, the cost difference was $10k for the Levinson vs $6k for the Parasound Halo’s. Thus, lacking a lengthy audition comparing both amps, my conclusion was that the Halo’s were a bargain. Because the CAT JL1’s were so damn much better in every area, there was no need to do a lengthy audition of the Parasounds. The CAT’s simply CONTROLLED the Soundlabs to an astonishingly degree when compared to the other 2-solid state amps. Bass was better, drive was better and nothing was diminished as far as resolution and frequency response was concerned. In fact, midrange was comparable to the SET amplification magic for which I had previous experiences — of course that was with other than Soundlabs (grin).
Later, after purchasing the CAT JL1’s (8 output tubes per monoblock) a few years thereafter, I had the opportunity to upgrade to CAT JL3’s (16 output tubes per monoblock).
Primarily Convergent Audio Technology (CAT) is known for their pre-amps. But from my experiences, CAT amps are where the company’s sweet spot really resides. However, because 55-pound transformers are used in the CAT’s, they are 190-pound (each) beasts. This coupled with my ensuing hip and spine problems, plus a sacrificial resistor at each tube socket, prompted me to seek different amplification. Unfortunately when a CAT’s (1 of 32 [CAT JL3] output tubes goes, it generally takes a resistor with it. In that case, one needs to manhandle 190-pounds by flipping the amp on its top, removing dozens of screws and de-soldering / re-soldering a new resistor that acts as a fuse. This was becoming a much too much of a literal PITA for me!!
Thus, I auditioned the Pass Amp previously mentioned, a Mark Levinson in the range of 250 watts and Atma-sphere MA1’s. The Atma-sphere MA-1’s were comparable sonically and in drivability to my CAT JL3’s. And at 36-pounds each and with fuses as opposed to (32) PITA sacrificial resistors, the decision to trade my CAT’s for the MA-1’s was an easy one!!
I should add that during my auditioning of the MA-1’s, the Mark Levinson choked – its protection circuit shut it down. Whether that was because it was fairly new or not, I don’t know. Additionally, the dealer had brought a pair of Rogue amps, but with the Levinson experience, he didn’t even take them out of his van.
The MA1’s drive my M1PX with their consummate Backplates with aplomb. How well they would do with NON-PX panels and NON-Consummate Backplates I don’t know!?! Perhaps someone can chime-in with their experiences of MA1’s and the Soundlab A1’s you specified.
After buying the Atma-sphere MA1’s, I must add that Ralph Karsten is one of the best and kindest manufacturers I have ever had the pleasure of dealing. He responds promptly to emails and does a good job of hand-holding new customers. I had an initial issue with the DC-Offset Adjustment. And Ralph simply advised to switch one tube from one bank of the amp to the other. Surprisingly, this can be done while the amp is operational, with the important proviso that heat-preventative material/gloves be used!! This robustness of hot swapping tubes and with a design of fuses as opposed to hand soldered resistors was a huge boon for me verses my CAT experience. I couldn’t recommend more than I already have the Atma-sphere / Soundlab combination. It just works!! -Mike
June 11, 2020 at 11:01 am #405
How would you compare X350.5 with JC-1?
In my very small room (9 x 10′), M545 works well with my Pass lab x250.5 and the needle rarely every move past the midline (leaving class A, 15W). Do you think X350.5 will sound noticeably better than my X250.5? X350.5 is considerably heavier, runs hotter and more expensive. I may consider buying one if it will REALLY make a difference. What do you think.
June 11, 2020 at 8:23 am #404
Ok … my experience .. the only Pass which can push SL – especially Non-Px panels is X350.5 and even better X600.5. XA – 60.8 is a joke. SL is electrostats and they are driven by voltage – it means they give their maximum with tube amps. I had good experience with JC-1s and Pass 350.5 but if you want to have the best from them – use tubes! Now panels are very efficient and 100w will be enough !
June 11, 2020 at 8:12 am #403
Due to convenience, I didn’t really want to go to tubes, though I’d be willing to if the sound justified it.
I have a large room that is open to the kitchen/dining. I listen at low volumes most of the time. I was just toying with the idea of upgrading the amp. Though with your recommendation, I may need to upgrade sooner. Larger XA series is now on my wish list.
June 11, 2020 at 7:44 am #402
Since I own 3 different Pass Lab amps, the XA-30.8, XA-60.8, and X-260.8, as well as Sound Lab U-1PX, and U-545PX, I can definitely state that more power would give you more satisfaction. While I have heard Sound Labs driven by Atmosphere amps on many occasions, and can attest they do a great job, I have never desired to own them. I am extremely pleased with the results of my Sound Labs being driven with Pass Lab amplifiers. In my opinion, the biggest Pass Lab XA series amp you can afford will probably be the best, assuming it’s big enough. The XA-30.5 or .8 does not have adequate power in my experience. If you can’t afford sufficient pure Class A power, the X-260.8 is a good compromise, and will drive even the least efficient Sound Labs well. Of course, room size is always a factor.
June 11, 2020 at 7:13 am #401
Similarly, I’m interested in comparisons between MA1 vs any Pass amp.
I’ve never heard any Atma-Sphere amps, so I can’t contribute much. I love the sound of the Pass XA30.5 with SL, but i wonder what more power would give me.
My setup: Yggdrasil DAC-> Tortuga Passive LDR-> Pass XA30.5 -> Prostat 922.
June 10, 2020 at 8:22 pm #400
Has anyone used or listened to AS MA1 vs Pass XA60.8 to drive SL A1 non-px panels? My current set up is CJ ACT2.2 and CJ Premier 350.
Thanks for any comment.
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