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Drivers for Ariel speakers
Drivers for Ariel speakers
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Old 21st October 2019, 07:23 PM   #81
Kineticmac is offline Kineticmac  Belgium
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Originally Posted by Lynn Olson View Post
My condolences; that must have difficult for you, and hifi always has to take a back seat to the events of the real world. I wish you the best, and hope your family is doing OK.



They have the same ownership and the same feature sets, as well as user interface, but are "tuned" a little differently. My guess is this is done with different op-amps and different electrolytic caps, which can noticeably alter the sound of solid-state equipment. Traditionally, there is a Denon house sound and a Marantz one, going back to the Seventies when they were quite separate companies, and Denon always had a sharper, more "technical" sound while Marantz always harked back to its made-in-the-USA 50's and 60's sound ... lush, very musical and involving, and worth every penny of its premium price. I always thought that vintage vacuum-tube Marantz was way, way better than McIntosh. There's still a pale shadow of the classic Marantz sound in contemporary receivers, but a direct comparison with vintage equipment shows how much has been lost in the transition to transistors and the mass market. (Transistor receivers are pretty much mass-market by definition.)

Vintage, made-in-the-USA Marantz equipment were never receivers, but preamps, power amps, and the famous Marantz 10B tuner, the product that bankrupted the company and forced the sale to the Japanese. (It was rumored that Marantz lost more than $100 on every tuner they sold ... and that was $750 back in the late Sixties, equal to $5250 now.)

That aside, my previous home-theater receiver was a Denon, which was well-made, but I never cared for its sound that much. The Marantz AV8003/MM8003 separates, which I bought as refurbished units, were actually half-decent at playing music, and some of that character is there in the receiver line. I'm pretty sure the engineers "voice" these things so they have the Marantz house sound, since we're talking about made-in-China receivers undoubtedly made on the same production line as Denon (and probably many other brands).

It would be nice if the HT manufacturers offered a simple feature to turn off the inputs of the built-in amplifiers so they could used as a pre/pro without sonic compromise, but nope, nobody offers that. So the pre/pros, without any power amplifiers at all, cost as much as a premium receiver, despite having a lot less in the box.

That said, the simplest way to sonically upgrade a receiver with RCA pre/pro outputs that have at least 2V rms out (many don't) is to get a secondhand hifi grade amplifier for the L and R speakers. As mentioned earlier, Class AB transistor amp technology has essentially been static since the late Seventies, so there are lots and lots of secondhand high-end transistor amps out these selling for modest prices. The market is glutted with pretty good transistor amps, yet buying a receiver compels the buyer to get 7 or more channels of pretty mediocre-quality amps. (Hint: if the amp can't drive a 4-ohm speaker at low distortion from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, it's not a good amplifier.)

One drawback of higher-efficiency speakers is they shine a spotlight on mid-to-lower quality amplifiers, revealing grainy, two-dimensional sound, and harsh, edgy tonality for singers and orchestras. So it's actually not easy to recommend speakers for modern HT receivers ... and unfortunately, I find the sound of modern HT receivers to be not as good as the mid-fi receivers of the Seventies, and those were far from the best at the time. It would be easier to recommend HT receivers if we could skip the mediocre power amps that are built-in, and shop around for a stack of older power amps that sound better and are very reasonably priced. But as always, convenience wins over sound quality ... and not surprisingly, all-in-one sound bars now outsell home theater systems.

Thanks Lynn.


I found this : "Music fans are catered for, too. Put the AV8003 in Pure Direct mode and feed it a good-quality stereo analogue source and it does a frankly stunning impression of an audiophile stereo amplifier, with an equally lush, refined and detailed signature"
Will this help in getting better stereo music out of the preamp?
If I use the Marantz preamp and use a multichannel amplifier like say from Emotiva, will this result in a better overall sound? I heard they were good price/quality wise.
Please don't kill me for asking this: Could it be, because youre from an older generation, that you are used to an older sound? I wonder if younger people like the transistor sound better.

I have no clue of what different amplifiers should sound like. So I have to get a general consensus of what a good receiver/amplifier is.
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Old 21st October 2019, 07:43 PM   #82
zigzagflux is offline zigzagflux  United States
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Originally Posted by Kineticmac View Post
I wonder if younger people like the transistor sound better
My kids could care less about sound quality. Given the chance to listen to "Green is the Colour" on my Karna/Ariel setup vs their bluetooth earbuds, they choose earbuds. Shrug their shoulders when I play it on my system.
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Old 21st October 2019, 08:26 PM   #83
Kineticmac is offline Kineticmac  Belgium
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Originally Posted by zigzagflux View Post
My kids could care less about sound quality. Given the chance to listen to "Green is the Colour" on my Karna/Ariel setup vs their bluetooth earbuds, they choose earbuds. Shrug their shoulders when I play it on my system.

I'm not talking about kids. I meant younger audiophiles. Are their tastes different?
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Old 21st October 2019, 09:47 PM   #84
Moondog55 is offline Moondog55  Australia
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I doubt that there are many young audiophiles; things have changed.
Audiophile systems are now very much exotic esoterica where most people are concerned. We DIY Audioholics are a different and strange breed now
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Old 21st October 2019, 11:06 PM   #85
Lynn Olson is offline Lynn Olson  United States
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Originally Posted by Kineticmac View Post
Thanks Lynn.

I found this : "Music fans are catered for, too. Put the AV8003 in Pure Direct mode and feed it a good-quality stereo analogue source and it does a frankly stunning impression of an audiophile stereo amplifier, with an equally lush, refined and detailed signature"

(a) Will this help in getting better stereo music out of the preamp?

(b) If I use the Marantz preamp and use a multichannel amplifier like say from Emotiva, will this result in a better overall sound? I heard they were good price/quality wise.

(c) Please don't kill me for asking this: Could it be, because you're from an older generation, that you are used to an older sound? I wonder if younger people like the transistor sound better.

(d) I have no clue of what different amplifiers should sound like. So I have to get a general consensus of what a good receiver/amplifier is.
In order: (a) The flowery phrasing just means that Pure Direct (or Direct mode, as well), bypasses the A/D, DSP, and D/A stages for analog inputs. The signal still goes through the volume control chip and a variety of op-amps and source-selecting chips. (Neither the volume control nor the source selectors are pots or mechanical switches.)

This isn't what you'd find in a traditional preamp, where there is no digital stuff of any kind, and volume control is done with a pot (with the annoying addition of L/R tracking errors) and switching is done with mechanical switches. The actual circuits doing the work of signal gain and buffering are then vacuum-tube, solid-state with discrete transistors, op-amps, or a mixture of the above (hybrid circuits). This approach gives the lowest possible distortion, or put another way, a more consonant distortion profile (whichever is your thing) than a device that digitizes all sources and then uses DSP for signal processing.

But still, in the A/V world, Pure Direct is a nod to quality, which is appreciated. Note that Bass Management is not functional when Pure Direct or Direct is selected, nor distance compensation or room equalization (these are all digital-domain functions).

(b) You don't need to rush out and buy a Marantz pre/pro, but I have admit they sound better (to me) than the custom-installation home theater equipment in the $5,000 to $15,000 bracket. Not as good as a "real" hifi component like 2-channel NAD or similar, but plenty listenable.

A useful compromise is a recent-vintage Marantz all-in-one receiver and using the pre-out jacks to feed a decent-quality stereo amplifier (NAD etc.) for the front L and R channels. This takes a big load off the internal amplifiers, and the Center and Surround channels are less musically important. The next step is an external amp for the Center channel, which can either be mono or a stereo amp with one channel left unused (bridging doesn't always sound better). By using external good-quality amps for L, C, and R, the internal amps are only being used for the Surround channels, which carry very little musical content. By the way, I do enjoy DTS Neo:6 Music Mode on my pre/pro, finding it superior to Dolby Pro-Logic II (music mode). Technically, the internal amps in the receiver are still running with no speakers connected to them, but they have no speaker loads drawing current, which is kinder to the main power supply (which the pre/pro op-amps appreciate).

(c) This a perfectly good question, no embarrassment at all. I grew up with vacuum-tube sound in CinemaScope and Todd-AO 70mm movie theaters, from home Ampex and Sony tape recorders, and home mono, followed by stereo, phonograph players and AM-FM radios. I didn't hear transistor sound until I went to college, and liked it at first ... faster, snappier, more powerful, but the transistor stuff back then was notoriously unreliable, which led to the demise of the old-line manufacturers of Fisher, Scott, Marantz, and others. The names were sold to Japanese companies with little connection to the US originals. I was in the high-end industry in the early Seventies (listening to all-transistor electronics from Radford and Audionics), and stayed in for some decades after that. I didn't return to vacuum tubes until the revival in the early Nineties, when I caught the triode bug, which is still with me today.

Since I design my own (triode) amplifiers, I'm pretty aware of the difference that various circuits and parts selection makes to the sound ... I can usually hear the difference in a matter of seconds or a minute or two at most. Or, not hear a difference at all, or a difference so small it doesn't matter. This is just part of the design cycle; designers hear things consumers, and reviewers, never get to hear, since we're working at the device and circuit level. That's true of speakers, or any other part of audio. Some designers put 100% trust in the measurements, others only use measurement for quality control, but I kind of sit in the middle; I use measurements to verify things are working the way I expect it to, and to try and correlate what I'm hearing with what I'm measuring. Sometimes there's a correlation, other times there isn't, and sometimes it seems to go in reverse. When worse measurements actually sound better, that's a problem that needs to resolved .. either measuring the wrong thing (easy to do), or sonically overlooking a problem area (also easy to do).

I have complete contempt for the Eighties-era idea of "accuracy". That's a concept that is borrowed from photography and lens design, and has nothing to do with appreciating music from electro-mechanical sources. For me, High Fidelity is closeness to what acoustical music, played in real acoustical spaces, actually sounds like. This is very different than the high-end sound that magazine reviewers like, which to me is tipped-up and edgy-sounding, with boomy, false, unreal bass, and a very strange spatial impression, usually very closed-in sounding. I don't like this sound at all, and don't find anything "accurate" about it. If it sounds like musicians in the next room, that's really rare ... I almost never hear it at a hifi show, and only occasionally when visiting other hifi enthusiasts.

But I also like German techno and London dance electronica, and that takes a sense of power, but the finesse of a system that's also good with acoustical music is really welcome as well. Doing both at once is the trick; the dynamism and big thrills of electronica, and the delicacy of solo voice presented with in-the-room realism and sense of physical tactility (you almost feel the performers right in front of you).

I can say that reasonably flat high-efficiency speakers and good triode amplifiers can reliably deliver this illusion (which can be very powerful and nearly hallucinatory), but it's more of a struggle with lesser-quality equipment. It's also something very few audiophiles have ever heard, and I think most reviewers have never experienced it, either. However ... not everyone can "get" this illusion. I've met many audiophiles, and some reviewers, who are incapable of perceiving it. There's no way of telling in advance, since it's a perceptual and emotional-response thing that's very individual. The kind of audiophiles who follow 20-item checklists (I've met them and sat right next to them at a demo) don't seem to "get" what I'm talking about. They're deeply wired into the Stereophile and Absolute Sound sonic paradigms, and just don't hear the way I do. I'm not going to force my perceptions on them, and what they listen for is alien and incomprehensible to me.

The emotional-response aspect is a big part of it. When I was reviewing the Ongaku and Reichert Silver 300B DHT-triode amplifiers in the early Nineties, I invited over three of my Tektronix/audiophile friends. I played a piece of music that brought tears to my eyes and Karna (every time), and the three of them sat on the living-room couch, all three of them with their arms folded across their chests, trying their hardest not to feel the emotions, and just stay inside their heads in "audiophile" mode. What they asked to listen to was "Planet Drum", and all they cared about was boom-boom bass. That was eye-opening. I didn't realize until then, looking at the arm-folded trio, that some audiophiles didn't want to feel when they listened .. it was all about the checklist and the social side of audiophilia.

People who read my stuff come from all over audiophilia. I have no idea what they like, or what they expect to hear, or their background in sound and music. That's why I'm so vague about recommending things. I know what my friends like, and adjust accordingly. But someone on the other side of Internet, no idea.

(d) Receivers, to be honest, are on the bottom tier of "real" audio, although there's lots of stuff far below that .... laptop speakers, mobile phones, earbuds, etc. The sound quality in theaters is pretty damn bad, too, miles away from anything like high fidelity. I think people buy B*se because they want a mellow sound for background music, which is frankly a pretty good reason to buy B*se, in an era when shrill sound from cheap titanium tweeters dominates.

Where you can hear the real thing? If you have a hifi club anywhere near where you live, go visit, and listen to some "real" amplifiers and speakers, and certainly listen to some tube gear, and see if that's your thing with your kind of music. You might like it, you might not. No way of telling.

Hifi shows often have terrible sound in 90% of the rooms, and it's slog trying to find the good rooms, especially if your ears are fatigued (which takes about an hour or two) and you're just getting confused, not enlightened. When I go to a show, I know exactly what I want to hear, and most of the rooms are not it, so I only go to a small fraction of the show.

This is a very lengthy reply, but I hope it clears up some things. A good starting point is finding out your own tastes, and what kind of gear does it for you. Do not trust any reviews, no matter how flowery the writing is. I can write too, and writing has nothing to do with listening.

Last edited by Lynn Olson; 21st October 2019 at 11:23 PM.
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Old 22nd October 2019, 12:56 AM   #86
chrisb is offline chrisb
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Mr Olson, that was absolutely brilliant.
Thanks
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Old 22nd October 2019, 01:28 AM   #87
DrJJ is offline DrJJ
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Lynn,

I always enjoy your contributions. Your ear -- and your writing -- are great.

One thing I would suggest is to go out and listen to live music. For me, that is large- and small-scale "classical" music (in quotes because I tend more to the Romantic period). Listen in a variety of spaces if you can.

It is one of life's great experiences, and what high fidelity seeks to reproduce.
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Old 22nd October 2019, 02:15 AM   #88
krivium is online now krivium  France
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Mr Olson, that was absolutely brilliant.
Thanks
I agree and i'm floored and impressed. Thank you.

Last edited by krivium; 22nd October 2019 at 02:20 AM.
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Old 22nd October 2019, 07:52 AM   #89
Hanze Khronye is online now Hanze Khronye  Australia
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Lynn Olson, I'm in two minds. Previously, you have shown direct favour to brands at the initial build, which were then superseded by an alternate recommendation by yourself. Lundahl, Onetics, Tribute. And one might say this is evolution. Maybe it is. Yet, I wonder what kick-backs you might get, or how genuine your interest is, and how this might sit with reality.

As you are in the 'industry', I wonder if stepping back and stripping clear of all this 'cult worship author' is not the most pragmatic approach for a perspective buyer like myself.

Direct question: Do the Klipsch Cornwall IV sound that good?. I've followed for long enough to have built your amplifiers and I need a new speaker (from Ariel).

Trusting that you have thick skin, I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards,
HK

Last edited by Hanze Khronye; 22nd October 2019 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 22nd October 2019, 11:42 AM   #90
system7 is offline system7  United Kingdom
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We don't seem to be making much progress on this:

Click the image to open in full size.

The Lynn Olson Ariel MTM design, as built by zigzag.

Since the Vifa P13WH-00-08 went end-of-line, we seem to be struggling for a replacement.

Click the image to open in full size.

Personally, I plain like Rick Craig of Selah Audio's ideas along the same line with his MTM design:

Click the image to open in full size.

In fact this is better than Lynn's original excellent idea, IMO. The ribbon tweeter matches the twin basses on cylindrical dispersion. Distortion is lower because twin basses operate at 1/4 power for the same SPL at the listening position.

At an affordable level, I like the plastic, aka polycone, Peerless 830860 as a replacement for the Vifa P13WH-00-08. Peerless HDS PPB 830860

No nasty breakups!

So, since everybody has given up on a replacement for the Vifa P13WH-00-08, let me offer further hope. Alan Shaw of Harbeth has been doing good things for years. His Radial 5" driver, with the phase plug, is just setting the bar very high!

I just enjoy this sort of freely given hommage to great speakers:
YouTube
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