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Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions (Read 18500 times)
Lon
Ex Member



Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
01/07/04 at 17:28:56
 
My EL34 Monoblocks are on the way to being broken in and I can attest that they really make the Radials sound GREAT.  It's funny, I was expecting a weightier and perhaps "slower" sound and yet what I have been getting is a very "Select" sound especially the tonal balance, with more loudness available at the touch of the gain knob.  I have discovered that there is a bigger image of larger ensemble works though, that the soundstage seems taller when the ensemble is bigger.  Not displeasing at all!  I'm listening to my Ellington and Basie and Goodman and Gil Evans and other orchestral pieces with delight.

Overall a great combination, that will be more suitable for medium sized rooms than the Select and Radial combo, which I can imagine only really works ideally in small rooms such as mine.
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #1 - 01/20/04 at 12:57:21
 
Here are some more impressions (also posted in the General Audio forum):

I really like the Svetlana tubes.  They were last week broken in to a point where they sounded great.  The reproduction of some piano was unlike any that I have heard on cd before, quite natural and full-bodied!

I should have known SOMETHING had to give because Saturday morning I turned on the amps and one channel was quiet. . . turned out one of the Svetlana EL34s had failed!  Well, the evening before FedEx had dropped off a pair of JJ EL34s that I had decided to try one day soon, and that day was sooner than I thought!  It took a few days for the haze to burn off the JJs. . . they're pretty good tubes, but no Svetlanas!  I emailed DeVon about the tube gone bad, and ordered a pair of "C" Logo Svetlanas as well that I saw at a very nice price on ebay.

What was nice about the JJs was that I have a pair of Mapleshade Tube Anchors that will fit these, and don't yet have a pair that will fit the Svetlanas.  Quite nice how the Tube Anchors give you that smidgeon more of detail and warmth that some tube lovers seek.  

The amps themselves are settled in quite nicely.  I get pretty much the satisfaction I got from my Selects with them, PLUS gobs more power.  I find that I am listening to a lot of familiar music in order to analyze the sound, and I'm also listening to larger ensemble pieces or more dynamic pieces and enjoying the headroom and scale that the Monoblocks bring to the listening.  

Overall I am quite happy with my purchase and am enjoying the tweaking and comparing and analyzing. . . . I think they'll be even better performers with some more use; they are definitlely blooming and breathing better now, but probably will improve in those areas over the next few months.

Great amps!
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Eddie Vaughn
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Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #2 - 01/23/04 at 20:58:49
 
I'm glad to hear the fine report of your happiness with the system, Lon. Those Svetlana EL34s do sound better than anything I've ever heard with the exception of Mullard.

You described the speed and tonal balance as being very much like the Select, which is very neutral. I'm sure that's the signature Steve was shooting for. Do they also have that classic EL34 midrange warmth, or are they like when you triode wire them in an ultralinear push pull amp (Dynaco ST-70), and gain air and space but lose some of the thick warmth?

Eddie Smiley
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #3 - 01/23/04 at 21:32:42
 
It's more the latter:  they don't have a coloration really that I would normally associate with the EL34.  Which I was expecting them to have at first, but am happy with them as they are; they are neutral and open sounding like the Select.

I'm looking forward to a weekend of listening.
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Xhorxhi
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #4 - 01/24/04 at 03:48:12
 
Hey Lon,
Glad to here your enjoying the new monoblocks. Even enough to get ride of your beloved Select? I love my Zen "C" and will be doing some mods soon! Still I like the more "forward" high bias position on the "C" and the select has that bias switch as well so the niggling question is are the el34 mono's more like the select on high bias (forward), low bias (laid back), or somewhere in between? I may move to the el34 mono's especially if I can alter the bias (after market) to give a more forward presentation. Also is the sound stage still there like the "Select"?
I'd really love to get your comparative opinion on this!
"Can't make up mind" -Chris-
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #5 - 01/24/04 at 13:09:58
 
Chris, I would say it is "in between" the two bias positions in the Select.  I prefer the laid back, because I'm in a small room and forward is IN YOUR FACE.  With the right combinations of tubes I'm sure you could move the sound more towards the forward-sounding position just as I am working to move it towards the more laid-back position. . . .
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #6 - 01/24/04 at 13:27:14
 
And yes, yes indeed, the soundstaging is there in full.

I DID part with my Select.  It has a good home.  I'm bonding to the Monoblocks well.
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #7 - 03/19/04 at 14:31:14
 
Well, I got my upgraded Monoblocks back from Steve last night.

The visible new differences are a "direct" input added and a switch on the front that either places a cathode bypass resistor in the path or takes it out.

From what little listening I've been able to do so far, I find that the front position (which I am GUESSING is with the resistor IN the signal path) has a more powerul appearing sound (it's louder) and maybe more bass, and is a little more forward.  The rear position is more laidback and quieter.  

I'll listen this weekend and report more if I feel I have more to offer.  I'm so happy to have these back.  I really enjoyed my time with my Proton AA1150 driving the Radials, and I like that amplifier a lot (it was my main one for a number of years before I got my EICO integrated in the system) and I'll have it in my living room system again soon.  But immediately, as soon as that single-ended tube Zen sound was back something in me relaxed!
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Scotty
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #8 - 03/19/04 at 15:21:08
 
Lon,

Are the upgrades you mentioned now standard on the EL-34s, or are they extras?  And if they are extras, how much were they?

Thanks.
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #9 - 03/19/04 at 15:56:54
 
I'm really not sure of the correct answer Scotty as I haven't had much communication with Steve.  He told me that he had upgraded the machines to have the switched cathode bypass resistor, and that he had changed one other resistor in the circuit to "reduce distortion."  I am under the impression that these two changes are now stock production.

The dual input I don't believe is; he is quoted in the bulletin board here somewhere as saying he would add this to those who bought the machines when the web page erroneously showed that they came with the machine, but that future units would only have the one input (controlled by the input gain control).

I didn't have to pay anything for these changes other than about 62 dollars in shipping. . . .
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« Last Edit: 03/19/04 at 15:57:40 by Lon »  
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #10 - 03/22/04 at 15:07:10
 
Well, listened a lot this weekend to a finally warmed up set of upgraded EL34 Monoblocks.

I'm getting used to the new cathode bypass resistor position on the switch. . . . It's very nice for low level listening, fleshes out the sound.  There is a point just above my normal listening level where this position becomes just a bit too forward, and as mab has pointed out in a private message "feels not quite as accurate"---I agree with that, for some of my normal listening and my louder than normal listening I am using the back position, the former "stock" sound. . . .

It's like having two amps in one, how can that be bad? Grin
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #11 - 04/05/04 at 14:36:00
 
Some more impressions, in case anyone is interested in the EL34 Monoblocks.

I've become seduced by the sound of the amps with the cathode bypass resistor in the circuit.  There is a fullness and a touch of mellowness that is pure classic tube sound and very . . . seductive.  It gives just the right touch of weight to the mid and bass and enhances dynamics.  However, right on the top end of my normal listening volume range it seems to be a bit too much of a good thing.  So I would say that 95% of the time the last few weeks I have been using this position, and when I want to play full orchestral pieces loudly or want to "rock out" (I would estimate about 5% of the time total) I restore the amps to their original signature. . . .

After having them back from upgrading and getting a good number of hours on the upgrade now I have to say I continue to enjoy these amps.  They have nearly everything the Select brought to my system, and more power to boot.  I'm glad I made the change.
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matchstikman
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #12 - 04/05/04 at 23:09:45
 

[quote author=Lon  link=1073500136&amp/0#11 date=1081172160]
They have nearly everything the Select brought to my system, and more power to boot.
[/quote]

Lon, just think of it, you say they have nearly everything that your Select brought to your system and they still aren't as broken in as your Select is.  I bet those monos are going to be golden in a year or two.
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Lon
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #13 - 04/06/04 at 10:50:14
 
Yes MM, I think in a few years they'll have that ease and depth that the Select slowly surely developed!  Man, that Select just lured you INTO the listening.  The Monos should become that seductive as well.
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Mrdi
Ex Member



Re: Radials and EL34 Monoblocks, some impressions
Reply #14 - 04/16/04 at 00:49:46
 
Oh no!!
I stumbled onto the wrong site.
Talk of 34 Monos, when I agonized for months over the new format.
My Select is barely warming up, and I'm tempted to look at the monos.
Again
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