HiFi Travels - Gerry's Thread

Gerry1965

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Point taken gents, I have been letting the side down, haven't I?  Phone is with me, let me see if I can take and post some pics before I'm banished :angel:

The third machine is owned by Francois and is not an option for me to purchase.  He asked that I listen and write a review for him.  Machine will then be returned.
There is a potential for a fourth machine to come into play, but as yet, it is not available and no timeline as to when it may become available.

Can I be objective regarding my choice?  Not totally sure about that one, but I will do my best to elucidate.  What I can categorically tell you is that aesthetics will not be a factor - these all have looks that appeal, albeit it in different ways.
My beautiful wife does at times drop a bombshell in terms of what she is hearing and a comment on what she sees, but with the 2 contenders, no explosions or remarks have been forthcoming...and that is good.
 

Gerry1965

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Seeing as the weekend is knocking, I thought it prudent that I satisfy the picture-hungry masses :angel:

Firstly, for a little perspective, let's show you what my (yes, I purchased her) sweet Japanese Geisha Girl looks like when compared to the sheer size of the Coral-based horns.  Mind you, the little Geisha doesn't exactly have the widest waist in the industry.



A top view showing the mauve-hue top plate.  Just a little different from anything else out there and special.
Yes, Eve by The Alan Parsons Project was loaded in the Marantz CD63 KI Edition.  That Bass Boost control adds its own form of magic to seriously anorexic recordings.



Let's peek in through the top cover and see what she is hiding under her mauve skirt.





That gold front panel is extremely reflective.  The first time I saw a Leben, I really didn't like the green stripes; however, these have grown on me and I now see it as part of the Leben charm.


 

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That's what we're talking about! BEAUTIFUL! We're those Chris Templer's Corals? Can't see enough in the picture.
 

Gerry1965

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Yes Alan, those are uncle Chris' Coral-based horns; the ones with the Goodmans Axiom 201 drivers.
However, I have not been able to categorically confirm that this pairing of cabinet and driver was as-built by Chris.  The cabinet has a cutout that I equate to the cabinets that originally housed the Tannoy drivers as detailed in the build reports on TNT Audio.  So, these may be the Tannoy cabinets with retrofitted Goodmans Axiom drivers.  No problem with this though as Chris used exactly the same dimensions for both the Tannoys as well as the Goodmans cabinets.
Still need to plug the cutout holes; will do that when I refinish the cabinets.
 

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Thank you Gerry! We realise you're not BIG into the picture thing but would you mind taking more pictures of your speakers?

You do know that you're losing a lot of bass extension from the Coral horn if you also have a "bass port". I had a pair of Coral horns, first with a pair of 10 inch Axioms, the bass extension wasn't great! So uncle Chris suggested I turn the speaker around that the horn faced the corner and loaded the room more. This helped with the bass but muffled the mids. I then added front facing horns above the Corals. Wanted a bit more and added a second 12inch in dipole at the "rear" now front of the Corals and this worked very well. Later changed the Axioms out for dual 12inch Phillips drivers.

 

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Gerry1965 said:
Yes Alan, those are uncle Chris' Coral-based horns; the ones with the Goodmans Axiom 201 drivers.
However, I have not been able to categorically confirm that this pairing of cabinet and driver was as-built by Chris.  The cabinet has a cutout that I equate to the cabinets that originally housed the Tannoy drivers as detailed in the build reports on TNT Audio.  So, these may be the Tannoy cabinets with retrofitted Goodmans Axiom drivers.  No problem with this though as Chris used exactly the same dimensions for both the Tannoys as well as the Goodmans cabinets.
Still need to plug the cutout holes; will do that when I refinish the cabinets.

If your pair is the pair I think it is then they're beautifully sounding and this convinced me to build a pair of Corals.
 

Gerry1965

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No apology necessary Alan, discourse is a wonderful aspect of life and this is what my thread is meant for :2thumbs:

Happy to take some more pics and share, I actually do like photography (just not good at it yet), the past week was a little hectic with business-related activities.

Yip, that unplanned for bass port aka 'the hole', needs to be plugged, will probably apply a temp wood patch to fill the hole and then make it good when I refinish the cabinets.

I think in a previous post in this thread I alluded to wanting to consider an Altec VOTT or an Altec 604-based speaker.  Multi-cell horns intrigue me, even though I've never heard one.  But for now, these Corals are my pride and joy.
 

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^Thanks Gerry! Try plug that hole ASAP! You can pretty it up later, you will receive substantially more tight bass. Placement of the Corals is critical as you must get them to couple with the room, lots of gains to be had!

I saw that, I shall reserve comment until I've revisited Sean beautiful A7's. Having spent many hours infront of both, I can tell you that both are end games!
 

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Uncle Chris built the Altec 604's into Jean Hiraga  Onken's. We spent a day comparing the Onken's to the BIG A7 stack! Alan Hobkirk heard the Onken's and they now reside in Alan's lounge. From that day I built Onken's but with separates. Uncles Chris' advice was more could be had from Onken's for less. MarkC also runs Onken's with 604's.

Enter Sean who buys an original pair of A7's and has done extensive work on them! Now I need to get some (extended) listening time infront of them again. Sean might have topped the Onken's. Will be very interesting as just before my Onken's left I'd gotten them to sound incredible and would have not have let them go but unfortunately they were already spoken for. I ran seperates, Altec bass and Iwata horn.

I would happily live with either!...
 

Gerry1965

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Thanks for the info Alan, this ties together numerous posts in this forum. :thumbs:

Francois was trying to arrange a visit to Alan Hobkirk's to enable me to listen to the Onkens with the 604's.  Time is a challenge, never enough of it during the weekend.  When the time is right, this will happen.

How about your new babies?  I know you are still fine-tuning and wanting to do additional work inside the boxes.  Are these VOTT and hot-rodded Onken beaters?  Might be too early to answer with confidence and that is totally acceptable.
 

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Gerry1965 said:
Thanks for the info Alan, this ties together numerous posts in this forum. :thumbs:

Francois was trying to arrange a visit to Alan Hobkirk's to enable me to listen to the Onkens with the 604's.  Time is a challenge, never enough of it during the weekend.  When the time is right, this will happen.

How about your new babies?  I know you are still fine-tuning and wanting to do additional work inside the boxes.  Are these VOTT and hot-rodded Onken beaters?  Might be too early to answer with confidence and that is totally acceptable.

Running the same drivers with Sean's crossovers, crossovers thanks to Sean match the drivers perfectly! Difference between the Imperials and what was before is the Imperials are horns so bass is faster, cleaner and very powerful. It's effortless and presents on a MASSIVE scale! To sum it up in one word, immediate!

Positioning with horns is critical as mentioned early. Before I turned the lounge around there was a bass suck out in the lounge. All the bass ended up at the end of the passage by our bedroom door, most ideal!
As per Sean, "It sounds like headphones" the man made me turn the lounge around, not an easy task! Lucky they're on castors but still a mission getting them on the carpet. And a bam a different speaker! Tons of bass in the lounge and judging from the wife there's still bass at our door.

 

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With the lounge turned as per Stuart the room now acts as a transmission line. Guess where? Yeah our bedroom door. I can now listen in my sleep.
 

Gerry1965

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My Corals are against the long wall and I fire them down the width, but behind me is my wife's office of about 3x3m and next to that is the entrance to the kitchen.
Some day when you have finished tweaking, I will need to listen to your Imperials.
 

Gerry1965

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23 July 2021, the evening

Staring at the rather imposing and surprisingly heavy integrated that Francois wants me to review was just a little too much ? I had to connect her.  First, measure the width of this beast, she is a lot wider than both my Italian Lady and the loan Japanese Geisha.  Good news is that it will just fit, so without further ado, disconnect the Japanese Geisha and in she goes.  Gee whiz, it really is a porky machine this one!

She is a single-ended-triode (SET), line-level integrated amplifier, based on the 845 triode tube.  According to Stereophile ?...the 845 was designed?by RCA, in the early 1930s?to be a sturdy source of power in commercial and military radio transmitters like the ones in your local AM station or B-17 bomber. Each 845 anode requires over 1000V DC and is capable of dissipating about 100W...?.

The sun has just about dropped below the horizon and the 2 x 845 valves adorning this beast are not just huge, but they also glow a lot brighter than any of the valves of the machines previously listened to - a brightish white, similar to a dim incandescent bulb, as compared to a more muted red glow.  Should be quite inviting tomorrow morning.  It also emanates a lot more heat, thankfully it's going to be another extra-cold night.  Feeling the side of my right speaker I'm alarmed at just how warm the surface is, it gets rapidly moved away from the heat source.  Left speaker is moved a commensurate distance to maintain symmetry.
Well Stereophile accounts for the heat - ?Run in pure class-A, the 845 tubes' filaments operate at 3140?F (edit ? 1726?C),  and their glass surfaces emit literally skin-searing heat. Beware! Never touch the big tubes while they're lit, or for quite a while after they've been turned off?and never poke around inside an (edit - name removed) just after you've turned it off. The former will send you to the emergency room. The latter could send you to your grave?or, worse still, maybe even void your warranty!?  Funny man!

Currently Classic FM (UK) is playing from the Coral-based horns and nothing bad jumps out at me, that is always a positive start.  Presenters voice is clear and the classic tunes are flowing.
Let me see if I can sneak a CD in before dinner.
Pop in Eve from the Alan Parsons Project into the CD80.  As the relay in the CD80 makes contact, I hear a light electrical pop on the speakers, now that was weird.
Initial listening impressions leave me underwhelmed, it still sounds anorexic.  However, I don't get the time to sit and dissect as my wife calls us to supper.  Acts as background music for supper, even then I am missing the touch of warmth I have become used to; but, to be fair to this integrated, I will have to listen to Eve on either the Japanese Geisha, or Italian Lady; maybe this disc is skeletal beyond valve-fattening redemption.

24 July 2021, at about 05h15

Settle down with Classic FM(UK) on the tuner and a hot cup of tea in my hand.  The big valves really emit a lot of light.  It is quiet this morning, must be a combination of weekend and icy cold temperatures, most pleasant.  Even Ruby my Ridgeback is curled up on the couch, a blanket is duly pulled over her.

As I relax and listen at very low volume levels, I become aware of a background noise, very slight, but audible when focussed on it.  Strange.  Get up, ear close to the speaker and sure enough, there is more noise compared to my Lady and the Geisha.  Turn volume down and it is definitely present.  Switch off, give the amp a minute or two to settle down and switch on and listen.  No noise while she is going through her power-up routine, the second the relay clicks, the feint noise is back.  Funny thing is that I didn't hear it at Francois' on the speakers that this integrated was connected to.
Oh well, nothing I can do at this time, so it's back to listening.
Mulling this over, I recall that last weekend Francois said that he had installed a Ground Defender in an effort to eliminate noise from one of the USB ports in the chain that this integrated was connected to, can't recall which machine in the chain the culprit was.  But, the fact that a background noise is present, plus the pop when turning on the CD80, as well as the Ground Defender being deployed at Francois', makes me think that this amp is extremely susceptible to electromagnetic interference.  I'm not an expert, so don't take my word as gospel.

Settling back with a second cup of tea and an early morning treat for Ruby, I also become aware of a different noise in the mix.  Get up again, listen close to the machine; there it is, the middle transformer.  Now, I was aware that the middle transformer was noisy from hearing it at chez Francois; was hoping that my seating position was far enough away for it not to be audible at these really low volume levels.  Will test at more normal listening volumes as well and determine if these impact on listening pleasure.

Wife is still asleep, so slip Norah Jones' come away with me (not happening, I'm happily married) into the CD tray.  This is the Deluxe Edition set that includes the Live in New Orleans DVD (the DVD is really good).  With the volume turned down and knowing that there is background noise, the CD is not enjoyable, so there is no point in any commentary.  Strange how one's mood changes when these nigglys pop out the casework.
Will spin her again one evening this weekend with the volume turned up.  Just need to warn my wife that Norah is going to invade her listening space.

Pop into Francois later the afternoon to discuss my findings thusfar.  Also help to unpack a set of Cambridge Audio EDGE devices ? an EDGE W amplifier and EDGE NQ.  Stunning looking devices, must say I am impressed with the look and finish of the casework.  Also unpack a set of latest generation B&W 804D3s, also amazingly finished, as close to a black mirror as I have seen.  The B&Ws are being readied for demo as I leave, but don't get to listen.
I also took the valve cage home with me, those 845s are just too hot to leave unguarded.  My wife really didn't like the looks of the cage when I installed it, I think it looks quite pretty.

25 July 2021, at about 04h00

Another early morning session listening to Classic FM (UK).  Mind you, it is a little too relaxed as I eventually drift off...

Turn the volume up to below normal speech levels just before breakfast and I'm happy to report that none of the noise on the channels detract from the music and the transformer certainly isn't audible.  That bodes well.

About 18h00

Knowing that my wife doesn't enjoy Norah, I removed the eponymous The Very Best Of Cat Stevens from the display case, popped it into the CD80 and settled in for some enjoyable music.
It didn't take too long to realise something wasn't right with the sound.  I had listened to this CD on numerous occasions across multiple CD/DVD players, speakers and amps and as far as I was concerned, it was a beautiful recording with no nasty surprises lurking.
Round about track 3 'Morning Has Broken', my wife comes and sits on the couch next to me and promptly says: ?This bass is hurting my ears where I am sitting, but sounds really good in the kitchen.?  There was indeed too much bass in the listening position and it was bloated and blooming.
Not what I had expected at all.  Ensue head scratching.
However, there was more weirdness waiting to expose itself.  During Track 6 'Lady D'Arbanville' my wife comes back and indicates in her own way that she feels Cat is shouting.  I tell her that she has a point and that there is something really screwy between high-, mid- and low-frequency ranges.
Not sure I can properly convey what I am hearing, but let me try.
High frequency range was forward, biting a little.  Bass was really forward and booming, as if the amplifier was losing control of the speaker.  Midrange was recessed, it was being overshadowed by high and low frequencies.
Double weirdness because none of these maladies were present listening to Classic FM(UK).
Next step would be to interchange cables between the DAC and CD80, their basic designs follow the same approach, though there are differences in wire gauge with the CD80's interconnects effectively being 33% thicker and the helix-based ground has more coils per cm.

Can Of Worms Time - I know that the CD80 is picky when it comes to interconnects, whilst still connected to the Sansui AU-417, I had to remove a set of ?vanilla? analog interconnects because the sound was thin and tinny (here's where my audio lexicon leaves me in the lurch, I hope that you understand what I am trying to convey).

Now, I have heard this particular amp at Francois' before on a couple of occasions and none of these challenges were present.  In fact, other hifi lovers who were present commented most positively as to the quality of sound reproduction.
I can only come to the following logical conclusion ? there appears to be a synergistic challenge with this particular integrated valve amp interfacing with my peripherals.

27 July 2021, at about 16h30

I sit at my desk and Classic FM(UK) is playing and I hear no anomalies.  The problems with CD replay is really bugging me, quite perplexing; there should be a logical reason why CD replay is as screwy as it is, but that logic eludes me.  Especially in light of the fact that the same Marantz CD80 and interconnects sounds simply sublime on both my Italian Lady and Japanese Geisha Girl.
I may interchange the interconnects between the DAC and CD80 as the first step to try and isolate the challenge.  Seeing as I have the Marantz CD63 MKII KI languishing in storage, I may very well bring the Ken Ishiwata-touched player into action as the following step.  I do have spare analog interconnects that are not quite as exotic as those installed, will need to try them as well.
 

Gerry1965

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Correct  :thumbs: 518ia.  Beautiful looking machine with its creamy white case, transformer covers and valve cage.  The orangey copper faceplate is a breath of fresh air and makes that machine instantly stand out in a crown of black and silver.
 

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A couple of additional pics for Alan






30 July 2021, the afternoon

Feeling a little more relaxed after a busy week, it is time to remove Francois' behemoth and replace it with my Japanese Geisha.  Because this machine was not on my list, I thought it best to let sleeping dogs lie and return the heavyweight to its rightful home.

Last weekend I also informed Francois that I would purchase the Leben even though I had not quite settled on whether she stays or my Unison Research stays.

Oh, I also swapped out the Marantz CD80 for the Marantz CD63 MKII Ken Ishiwata Edition, simply had to spend some quality time with her.

One of the CDs I listened to using Francois' machine was Eve by The Alan Parsons Project in the CD80 and it sounded really, really anorexic; even skinnier than the other Arista discs.  Which was strange as the past few weeks have shown that valves have a tendency to fill out the sound quite attractively.
So, had to try it in the CD63 KI hooked up to the little Geisha.
Surprise, surprise; even with this combination it sounded beyond valve-fattening redemption.

But wait a second!

This Geisha has a beautiful weapon in her arsenal ? the Bass Boost function, a function I had not tried to date.  One click clockwise of her rotary switch and at +3dB boost, Eve comes alive and sounds just wonderful!
An extra click to +5dB boost bloats the sound, so back to +3dB it goes.

What a revelation ? Bass Boost, the perfect foil for serious audio anorexia.

Is it correct to have to boost bass?  In the eye (ear) of the purist, possibly not.  However, if this function makes listening more pleasurable, then why not?
Why did designers and manufacturers ever remove this type of function?  I suspect that the answer to this question is more complex than just a simple ?let's remove it and save some money?.

I will listen to Eve using my Italian Lady, but I have this feeling of impending doom that even Italian artistry will not overcome the lack of bass-twiddling facilities.

This also answers previous questions from Nirvana regarding my final decision as to which lady stays and which one goes:

Though not quite as biblical as the original, it seems quite apt that Eve will be the decision maker yet again.



 
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