F4 listening impressions - diyAudio
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Old 22nd August 2011, 12:35 AM   #1
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Default F4 listening impressions

I finished my F4 a couple of weekends ago, and I've had some time to listen and thought I might share a few impressions.

First my system:
  • Townshend Rock III turntable with Rega 3 arm modified: Cardas litz wire, and Origin Live upgrades to the back end. Cartridge is a Grado Z1+.
  • Phono stage is an EAR 834P.
  • CD Player is a Naim CD5i.
  • Preamp is an Audio Research LS3
  • Cables are a mix of homebrew silver cables, MIT, and the phono low level cables are by Origin Live.
  • Speakers are homebrew Pi Sevens.
My previous amplifier, which has done great service for over 15 years, is a Music Reference RM-9, which has gone from EL34s to 6550s (to provide more current for a pair of Thiel CS3.6s.

The room is fairly large: perhaps about 20x20 (not actually square) with a pitched ceiling, and hardwood suspended floors and pine board ceiling.

Over the years I've tried a number of different amplifiers, from a Quad 303 to ATI, and an Audio Research D70. The Music Reference has been the best, despite a touch of hum and a penchant for blowing fuses.

The F4 is, in a word, better. The main differences I'm hearing are much more powerful bass, which I assume comes from the current capability of the F4, and a delightful clarity in the top end.

The differences are most obvious with well-recorded, relatively simple music, like John Denver, Lee Konitz (vinyl), Muddy Waters, and the King's Singers. This kind of music is simply much more compelling to listen to: more dynamic, more interesting, and more informative.

I've been having trouble with complex orchestral scores, however. Often complex music just seemed a bit messy. But this leads to the other sense in which the F4 is a revelation. It really tells me what's on the recording, and sometimes that's not great. John Williams, for example, seems to record bass-heavy, and sure enough, he's pretty bass heavy on the F4. So I started to search for good orchestral recordings, and on the train the other day I was listening to the opening of Solti's Walkure (no, not on my F4...). I was struck by the smoothness of the orchestra, so that evening, I put on the CD (yes, with the F4 this time). A revelation again. Beautiful, velvety cellos and basses, sonorous brass, clear voices. I couldn't stop listening. All is forgiven.

So I'm super-happy with the F4. I am not so happy with some of my recordings, but perhaps one day I'll be able to upgrade them as well. In the meantime, I know the system is not the problem, and in particular the amp and speaker combination seems synergistic. Imaging is amazing, and I get enough volume not to replace dusting the furniture, but to irritate my family, and certainly more than is required for realistic levels.

So thanks again to Nelson and the diyaudio community who made this possible.

tim
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Townshend Rock III w/ DC motor, Hagerman Bugle 2, Naim CD5i, Voyage MPD, ODAC, MiniDSP, Pass BA-3 and F4, Parham Pi Sevens
RC Preamp (in progress), DIY Silver cables, Open Baffle BOFU, DIY subwoofer, GainClone, o2 Headphone Amp
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Old 22nd August 2011, 01:30 AM   #2
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Thank you for the review. I am about to build one and really appreciate the comments.
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Old 22nd August 2011, 01:38 AM   #3
a.wayne is offline a.wayne  United States
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Thanks for the details Tim.......
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Old 22nd August 2011, 01:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbarnes View Post
...John Williams, for example, seems to record bass-heavy...
I meant the Australian singer, John Williamson - sorry! If you don't know him, look for "Chandelier of Stars". He's best known for a song called "True Blue", and he does a great cover of Eric Bogle's "Shelter".
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Old 22nd August 2011, 01:42 AM   #5
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Default You're welcome...

Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzforb View Post
Thank you for the review. I am about to build one and really appreciate the comments.
I had a lot of fun building the amp. The enclosure was the hardest, and I it took a few goes to get the left channel stable (bad soldering, I think).

I'm sure you'll enjoy the process and the results.

tim
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RC Preamp (in progress), DIY Silver cables, Open Baffle BOFU, DIY subwoofer, GainClone, o2 Headphone Amp
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Old 22nd August 2011, 11:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbarnes View Post
I had a lot of fun building the amp. The enclosure was the hardest, and I it took a few goes to get the left channel stable (bad soldering, I think).

I'm sure you'll enjoy the process and the results.

tim
I am currenly listening to AJ monoblocks
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Old 22nd August 2011, 05:41 PM   #7
alazira is offline alazira  United States
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Well written review Tim.
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Old 25th October 2011, 12:30 AM   #8
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Just a quick note to say that now I have the BA-3 up and running with the F4, everything is even better. Fantastic imaging and clarity, a renewed sense of "being there", and even more bass grip.

Best of all, superb dynamics - sometimes scary sforzandi.

It's years since I've spent so much time listening to music.

Thanks, Nelson - it was great to meet you at Burning Amp.

Tim
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RC Preamp (in progress), DIY Silver cables, Open Baffle BOFU, DIY subwoofer, GainClone, o2 Headphone Amp
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Old 25th October 2011, 01:44 AM   #9
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Glad you met me! Heh Heh....

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Old 25th October 2011, 05:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
The room is fairly large: perhaps about 20x20 (not actually square) with a pitched ceiling, and hardwood suspended floors and pine board ceiling.
Hi Tim,

Have you done any room treatments?

Vince
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