System reviews

Discussion in 'AK Fest 2005' started by jbmcb, Apr 13, 2005.

  1. jbmcb

    jbmcb Registered Trademark

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Warren, MI
    Here's my quick review of a few of the systems at AK2005, standard disclaimers apply (Poor listening conditions, opinions are like certain body parts, everyone has them, etc...)

    Best overall sound: Audio Dimensions Maggies/ARC/Clearaudio/Arcam/ASC. OK, so I'm biased towards maggies, but this system had the best midrange/treble of any system there. Bass was a bit thin, and boomy in the upper bass registers, but overall really, really nice.

    Second Up: Shanahain/Shanling. Those little towers sounded really nice, and the Shanling T300 was super-cool looking.

    Other reviews:

    Audio Reproductions Hartsfield: Almost stunning. Wow, all that loud, amazingly clear sound with 60W of tube amplification. Simply amazing. The only problem was something really strange going on in the upper-midrange that drove me nuts. Not typical horn-honkiness, something else. Could have been room-induced, I suppose, but it really bothered me.

    Salk Sound Veracity HT3: Sounded really nice. There was some funniness in the treble, but I only heard them for a few minutes so it could have been the recording, or some other factor. Beautiful speakers, probably the nicest looking speakers at the show.

    Royd monitors @ Botrytis. Pretty nice for minis. The super-wide placement had the soundstage kinda screwy, but overall sound balance was nice.

    NOS Valves Room 2 Klipsch/NOS Amps - Argh, those Klipsch speakers were nasty. I forgot what they were playing but it was *loud* and the midrange was *harsh* I could only stand listening for a few minutes. Sorry, didn't like them.

    Stacked Advents/receiver. Surprizingly good from a strange configuration. A little constrained in the treble, maybe some wierd resonance or something, but overall not bad.

    Ohm speakers - I seem to remember a couple people had them, I didn't like them. Treble was all over the place. Due to their unique radiation pattern, the room was probably a major factor in this.

    AKG Electrostatic headphones @ Elusive Disc - Really nice, except for a lack of bass. What they did do, they did extremely well (typical of planars/stats) Surprisingly comfortable given their odd headband. Much more clear than my Sennheiser HD-580's, maybe even beter than the 600's we have at work.
     

     

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  2. hotgas

    hotgas Super Member

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    1,171
    Location:
    CA
    It seems you are into "new" or "high end" stuffs. I'd like to ask all reviewers state their preferences and age if applicable. I've seen some people develop some nostalgia to certain products and not by "critical" listening. It is something that they used to hear that makes them hate others. It is probably the case here too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2005
  3. Retro Stereo

    Retro Stereo Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    6,614
    Location:
    Owatonna, Minnesota
    HG,
    I think the word "hate" is a little strong here. Although the reviewer is a younger 29 years-old, he is certainly entitled to his opinion. I listened to both pairs of the OHM's he is referring to for quite a while, and I thought they sounded wonderful. To be honest, out of everything I listened to over the weekend, I didn't hear a set-up that I hated, or even disliked. I did however, prefer a few over the others, but once again, that's my opinion.


    Retro
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2005
  4. styler

    styler Super Member

    Messages:
    1,439
    Location:
    a turkish prison
    sound reviews

    having been there and listened to all the systems i can say that all sounded at least "good." certainly room limitations hampered some set ups, especially the Hartsfields which really needed some space. your mention of the room with the Klipsch that sounded less than sterling was likely due to the fact that Kegger was using DVD-A and did not have an on screen set up to convert to 2 channel sound. when i went back the second day and relistened to his home-made speakers, i was much more impressed. then there was the issue of sound bleed, we were as far from the Hartsfields as you could get and could still hear them! when i asked Classic Audio to turn the volume down low, i found the Hartsfields to be much more pleasing, i may be too old, but those suckers were too loud! not to gripe though, they were amazing! i concur on the blue circle and obelisks, killer sound, with excellent range and totally non-fatiguing. grumpy's audio notes were my favorite, but thats a tough call given all the great set ups. Botrytis and his budget set up was superb too. i tried to listen to the maggies several times but never got there without the Hartsfields interfering. all in all, great sound from everyone, very different approaches, a wide variety of sound, all good! :yes:
     
  5. Grumpy

    Grumpy Krusty old SOB! Yes, I own Audiokarma Staff Member Admin Sponsor Subscriber

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    I liked everyones but to me mine was what floated my boat :)
     
  6. Punker X

    Punker X Moderator Moderator Subscriber

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    Panic in Detroit
    Funny you would like the Sanahain so much and not the Ohm's. Both Omnidirectional having the same type of radiation patterns. As one of the guys who brought Ohm's, I really liked the Shanahains, because they sounded like a refined Ohm.

    X
     

     

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  7. BlackSwamp

    BlackSwamp Previously DingusBoy

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    That's the way it ought to be. Aside from my analog front end, I felt the same way.

    BTW...you have two very awesome tables!
     
  8. matt39

    matt39 Active Member

    Messages:
    107
    Location:
    Michigan
    A slightly different take...

    I'd like to cite some of the systems from a slightly different perspective, kind of a personal (strictly personal!) awards method. I'm 54 and have been into audio for over 30 years but my orientation is more contemporary than vintage. I just like AK the best because there's a great spirit here and a lot of local guys.

    Best Sound: Veracity HT1's with intense competition from the Magnepan's, Shahinians and Ohm Walsh 4's (I think they were the Walsh 4's). I don't think I've ever had a speaker so quietly and thoroughly capture my imagination like the HT1 did.

    Most Innovative: Reel2Reel with his combination of vintage with computer technology. Who would have ever imagined stacking Mach 1's on Forte's?! The clarity of the sound was amazing. R2R and his wife are great folks and really made you feel at home.

    Favorite System: Botrytis with budget electronics and his Royd Envoys. I just really had a great time listening to this system with Dave and Gloria. I heard more new (to me) music here than anywhere else. In fact I've already got jazz.fm in the favorites list and I'm going to start looking for Blossom Dearie and Remy Shand recordings this weekend. Dave really illustrates how it doesn't take massive bucks to get really great sound and he and Gloria are great company too.

    Biggest Surprise: The great sound in a small package from the Epos ELS3 speakers in the Elusive Disc room. With special thanks to styler.

    Biggest Disappointment: Didn't get to meet Grumpy or listen to his Almarro's. Maybe next year.

    Favorite Thing at the Fest: The people. From Punkerx and cabinover to BrianB and Jim Salk to Kamakiri and Echowars--what a great group.

    Well I hope I got everyone's name right! And I hope to see you all next year. Thanks alot.

    Gary
     
  9. jbmcb

    jbmcb Registered Trademark

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Warren, MI
    I forgot Grumpy!

    I forgot! That system was pretty darn good as well. I wish I could have stayed and listened to the Impact amp, I'm thinking about getting one to play around with. I've seem 'em online for $20.


    Re: Ohms
    > Both Omnidirectional having the same type of radiation patterns.

    The Sanahain's weren't exactly omni, they were forward-up firing, IIRC. They were going widthwise across the room, however, not lengthwise, which may have made a difference. I should have made it more clear in my review, only the treble was off on the Ohms, I thought the rest of what they did they did very well.

    Re: Preferences
    > It seems you are into "new" or "high end" stuffs.

    I like anything that sounds good. I thought the Advents sounded pretty good (disclaimer, I used to have a pair, driven by a McIntosh MA5100 integrated, nice setup) In any case here are my vitals:

    Age: 28

    Career: Writes test software for Sirius Radio (digital audio, RF, you name it)

    System: Sumiko 'table/ Audio Alchemy CD/ Denon DVD -> Sonic Frontiers Line 1 -> Krell KSA-100S -> Maggie MGMC1's + custom sub. Dual purpose, migrating to a home theater system with updated amps and preamp.

    Music: Anything good. Rock, Jazz, "Classical" (anything but chamber music or opera) Techno, folk, even some country, a bit of "world music" esoterica/experimental, whatever. Prefer LP over CD. (I find CD's fatiguing)

    Sound preference: I like accuracy above all else. Low distortion, low noise, I like everything tight and dynamic. Especially sensitive to midbass and midrange ("Honky" horns drive me crazy, in a bad way :) Digital fatigues me after a while, I prefer analog. Prefer solid state over tubes (I know, I have a tube pre, but it doesn't sound tubey)

    I forgot to say what a fun time I had last Saturday. Thanks all for a great show.
     
  10. TIC

    TIC Active Member

    Messages:
    225
    Location:
    Cincinnati
    Hey, me too!!!

    I'm with you jbmcb! I thought the AD Maggie/ARC system was the best for my taste. I would also like to point out that the $1800 Maggies had about $10,000 worth of hardware driving them, so they should sound pretty good. I haven't heard Maggies in a long time and the last pair I heard were 3.6s, but I was shocked at how good the $1800 1.6's sounded. When I get into my new house and a larger listening room, I may audition the Maggies based on what I heard at the Fest.

    The bad thing is I would be breaking "TIC rule #1", which is NEVER buy a speaker that requires a lot of power! Feeding them with good amplification gets expensive!

    Enjoy,

    TIC
     
  11. Grumpy

    Grumpy Krusty old SOB! Yes, I own Audiokarma Staff Member Admin Sponsor Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,387
    Location:
    Texas
    The 1.6's are not really that power hungry. Harry plays that same set at his shop with 50 tube watts. Now the 3.6's do need a fair amount more watts but they go pretty low.
     

     

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  12. one1speed

    one1speed Single driver/tubes here.

    Messages:
    291
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    I like the deHavillands/Tannoys. Oh...wait. I wasn't there. But that system peaked my interest, any thoughts on that system? I don't think it was mentioned above.

    What I thought was interesting is that there was everything for multi-thousand dollar systems to receivers. Did anyone try taking some of the big money speakers and hooking them up to a vintage receiver to see what it could do?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2005
  13. styler

    styler Super Member

    Messages:
    1,439
    Location:
    a turkish prison
    tannoys

    i was quite impressed with the DeHavilland and Tannoy set up. sat thru a wonderful Dylan Slow Train Coming, in awe and amazement.
    Tyler :D
     
  14. krimney

    krimney AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,875
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    my impressions

    It is hard to pick a favorite system out of the bunch. If I had to choose one to buy it would not be the one I would "want" to buy but the one I could 'afford" to buy. I'm sure we would all take a set of hartsfields but not all of us can afford them.
    In the real world I could only afford a few of the systems I heard.

    I think Punker's Ohms sound very good, as did the Obelsiks, I found the bass to sound similiar witht he ohms having a bit more slam to them.

    The tannoy impressed me because I had a set of monitor reds for a while and what I heard at the fest sounded better than the reds did.

    Gary's mach 1 are a speaker you can get without breaking the bank and they will hold their own against mcuh more expensive speakers. They can sound a little bright at times but that's what tone control is for.

    the advents- great sound on a budget. I have two pair myself!

    The maggies, great detail but beyond my budget.

    The EPOS, excellent value, would make an ideal XMAS present for the kids. A great start to their own classic system. High WAF and great sound.

    The audio notes, just plain old fashioned good sound. nothing big, nothing flashy, nothing unexpected, very easy to listen to for long periods (I think I spent more time lsitening to these than any others, I had to help contribute to the empties in the room :D )

    The Royds- I agree they may have been a little far apart, personally, I'd favour the EPOS over the royds.

    The salk stuff is very good in every respect, looks, sound and resonable value.

    I know there were more but all in all, if I were to choose one pair, that I could afford and felt gave me the most value it would probably be the Ohm, they had the sound, the looks, would not break the bank and they are VINTAGE :D
     
  15. matt39

    matt39 Active Member

    Messages:
    107
    Location:
    Michigan
    How did I forget the Tannoys?

    The Dehavilland/Tannoy system was my choice for Best System Setup. It looked like something from a magazine. Sounded great too. The clarity of sound from a system with such large woofers was amazing. Dingusboy was the first person I met at the fest and he put me right to work carrying a turntable! Really nice guy. Didn't get to meet Tubino but there's always next year.
     
  16. Markus111

    Markus111 Big Horns & Many Tubes Subscriber

    Messages:
    591
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    favorite systems

    I'm 39, so I'm only halfway to losing my hearing :banana: I think personal preference and what your used to have a lot to do with picking your favorite system. I really enjoyed listening to all of them, and had my eyes opened to a few systems that I may not have previously condidered had I not heard them.

    So here it goes. My favorite system was the Altec VOTT system. Am I the first to say this? I think so! However, I have Klipschorns at home, so that is the sound I am most used to hearing. I fell in love with the dynamic sound of horns and tubes about 5 years ago, and haven't gone back since. Not to say that the other systems were not as good - some of them were incredible. Much of it has to do with the type of music you listen to. I was impressed with the Hartsfields, but I would have liked them in a bigger room. Plus, they were just too freaking loud! The upper midrange was shaving my eyebrows off. :no: Still, in the right setting I bet these are phenomenal.
     

     

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  17. BrianB

    BrianB AK Vendor Emeritus Moderator

    Messages:
    1,555
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Hi jbmcb,

    Thanks for your system reviews - and welcome to AK!

    I'm glad to hear that you liked my little Blue Circle / Shahinian system so much! FYI, the Blue Circle amp was the CS integrated, which is a very affordable solid-state unit (I believe you identified it as a tube amp at another audio forum - not surprising, given its tonality), and the Shahinian speakers were the Compasses, which are not polydirectional like some of Shahinian's more expensive models, but are nevertheless rather unique in their design.

    The Shanling CD player was set up in the room for part of Saturday at the request of a customer who was purchasing this particular unit - it was brand new and had not been played before, and the customer wanted to make sure that it was working properly before taking it home. For the rest of the show, we used an "entry-level" Audio Note DAC as the source for this system.

    Cheers,
    Brian
     
  18. Kegger

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

    Messages:
    11,710
    Location:
    Michigan,warren
    "NOS Valves Room 2 Klipsch/NOS Amps - Argh, those Klipsch speakers were nasty. I forgot what they were playing but it was *loud* and the midrange was *harsh* I could only stand listening for a few minutes. Sorry, didn't like them".

    I find the above quote very interesting as about 95% of the time the volume
    was very very low to where when people came in they would say "oh man it's
    such a relief to come in here nice and mellow" With many many props for the
    ease of listening to the system and many compliments on the speakers, both
    sets, the klipsch RB-35's and the DIY mini monitor with ribbon tweeter.

    Only thing I can think of was if someone thought the original statement must
    have come in there once when someone was playing something loud that was
    not recorded very well or a dvd-audio disk that was being down mixed from 5
    channel to 2 channel as when you don't have a screen to pick the 2 channel
    selection from the dvd menu.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I thought all the systems played pretty darn nice with a few that stood out
    for me where the hartfields but as everyone says they needed a bigger room.
    The salk systems where excelent looking and sounding. It was the first I've
    heard the larger version of ohm speakers and they rocked! And of'course all
    the speakers in the first nosvalves room needed a larger arena! I'm also quite
    a maggie fan and thought they sounded excelent too.
     
  19. jbmcb

    jbmcb Registered Trademark

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Warren, MI
    I think someone was playing Holst. It was *loud* Sorry I only checked in once, it may have been overloading the room and sounded better on quieter material :)
     
  20. Kegger

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

    Messages:
    11,710
    Location:
    Michigan,warren
    Jbmcb just noticed your in warren michigan too aye!

    Glad to see more local people enjoying the audio seen.

    Yah I definatly was not in there during your visit as I don't even have Holst
    let alone heard anyone else playing it.

    Oh well no biggie not everyone likes the same thing. See yu!
     

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