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Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII (Read 31049 times)
RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #45 - 04/03/06 at 04:32:12
 
These are currently installed on the monoblocks.



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« Last Edit: 10/14/06 at 15:25:53 by RFZ_Quest »  
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #46 - 04/09/06 at 23:16:56
 
Since the last post, many more tubes have arrived and I am slowly testing them as time permits. It is kind of like Christmas around here except that I am buying my own gifts!

Here is another photo of the TORII MK2 with the RCA 5U4 ST style rectifiers in harmony with the KT88's.


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« Last Edit: 10/14/06 at 15:27:16 by RFZ_Quest »  
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #47 - 04/09/06 at 23:40:06
 
I picked up a rather unique find and with relatively low cost *(shipping cost from the Ukraine only), a bulk purchase of N.O.S. Russian military 5U3C rectifiers that date back some time before 1960 if I am correct on the vintage. These were manufactured at the Svetlana factory. They are BUILT about as heavy duty as it gets! These are the same size as the Ruby ST types that ship with the amp.





I was offered these from a guy that built amps and used these in his designs. He no longer needed them and offered the entire stock of TEN pristine (never used) tubes in total for only $1.00 plus the shipping which really cost a good bit. All in all, I invested about six dollars each per tube. These are Russian versions of the Western 5U4G designation. This of course makes them fully compatable for experimentation as direct drop-ins.
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« Last Edit: 10/14/06 at 15:29:19 by RFZ_Quest »  
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #48 - 04/09/06 at 23:45:49
 
Some more photo's of the N.O.S. Russian military 5U3C rectifiers.


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« Last Edit: 10/14/06 at 15:31:04 by RFZ_Quest »  
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #49 - 04/10/06 at 00:03:33
 
Here are the American counterparts. I just recieved this N.O.S. set of RCA 5U4G rectifiers in pristine condition. These are my referance standard along with the British military Mullards. I believe that it is going to be very difficult to top these in overall performance.


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« Last Edit: 10/14/06 at 15:34:47 by RFZ_Quest »  
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Rap
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #50 - 04/10/06 at 00:09:54
 
You still listening to tubes when you have that nice Teres to listen to music on ::) Smiley

P.s Nice home page Grin
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« Last Edit: 04/10/06 at 00:10:21 by Rap »  
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #51 - 04/10/06 at 00:35:59
 
Hello Rap,

Thanks! Oh yes, I am definitly listening to that well built Teres vinyl rig with the Decware phono stage.

Just swapping in tube variations at the same time and kicking back to enjoy the results. After this post, I am back to listen to that golden vinyl machine and spin some live Sarah McLachlan performance which is recorded on premium 200 gram vinyl by Classic records. I have the British Mullards in now with the KT88's.

Be back soon.

Paul
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #52 - 04/10/06 at 05:22:46
 
I intended to refrain from making any further comments on the TORII MK2 until I had evaluated a wide variety of tube combinations. After what I just experienced, I find myself with the need to express what I consider just too fantastic to hold back! This amplifier is now very much stabilized with over 300 hours of burn-in adjustment and the character for which it portrays is that of superb speed and incredible force. I never realized what the actual capabilities of the radial (RL2) speakers could extend to until this amp proved what they are made of. The RL2’s are really a very good match for this amp and I can only imagine what I will experience once I mate this amplifier to the custom built HDT MKII’s in the near future. That should prove to be the ultimate marriage and only time will tell.

I just finished listening to Sarah McLachlan on vinyl with the following configuration and it was absolutely incredible beyond the imagination!

Teres turntable with Origin Live Silver tone arm mated to a Dynavector DV20X cartridge.

Decware Zen 1.5 phono stage with a trio of Ei Elite 12AX7EG tube array. *(Directly connected to amplifier. NO preamp is utilized.)

Custom shielded silver interconnects and speaker cables.

TORII MK2 with the following tube array:Ei Elite 6DJ8EG drivers; JJ KT88 output valves; British military version Mullard GZ32 *(CV593) rectifiers along with the Westinghouse OA3 voltage regulators.

This combination provides extreme accuracy with full-bodied vibrancy, which evokes pure emotion within the senses. I am operating the system without the augmentation of the WO32 subwoofer so that I can directly evaluate the main speakers only.  The dynamic presence of this amplifier combined with the high efficiency of the radials proves to be tactile to say the least. If you think that the SPL force of this combination is anything short of exhilarating then think again. THIS AMP HAS AN ABUNDANCE OF POWER AND PROVES TO HAVE MUCH IN RESERVE! I do NOT exceed the twelve O’clock position on the gain control as the dynamic level becomes much more than I need to drive this system into intense volume. I will not use the word LOUD because to me, that evokes a presence of irritable or annoying reference in its description. What I prefer to relate to this combinations sound is that of pure excitement. With only fifty percent of available gain at tap, there is a mutual connection to the music as the notes are effortlessly felt in harmonious form, conveyed with the most articulate reproduction of the musical embodiment.

Take note: I have listened to many different rectifier tubes over the past two weeks. While many sounded very good with the RCA types proving to be top notch, something very special finally became coherent after installing the Mullard military versions.  This is the first time that I have mated them with the KT88’s as I initially auditioned these rectifiers with the SED EL34 Quad and with the JJ KT77 Quad. These sound very involving with crisp clean sound but the KT88 combination seems to take this into a higher level of balance.  The KT88’s provide a fully extended dimensional presence with a more pronounced integration of the lower registers. I.E., Bass lines are extended lower, with increased definition at the bottom frequencies.  There is a constant sense of physical connection with the music as the instruments are “felt” as well as heard. What this combination does for piano and the female voice is something that must be experienced to understand.

The album “Mirrorball” which is Sarah’s live recording from a few years back has always sounded very special but tonight, the TORII MK2 just kicked it up a few notches and this combination of tubes is going to be very tough to enhance with additional improvement if indeed that is really possible. I still have a long way to go with this experiment but after what I heard tonight, I think that I may have already hit the plateau of musical enjoyment. This however is not the final word as I have some Mullard GZ34’s with Blackburn production codes that will make their way into this competition as well as the mighty RCA 5U4G, “GB”, 5Y3GT, and 5AR4 versions. I listened to a set of Sylvania 5U4GB matched rectifiers with “side getters” the other evening and I can tell you that the magic was present there as well. The next step is to evaluate the well respected RCA rectifiers with the KT88’s and find out just how they compare to the Mullards.

The point of this in context is that the choice of rectifiers here is absolutely crucial in determining the overall sound of the amplifier in general just as the right choice in driver tubes can make such a profound difference. In order for your output tubes to sound optimal, obviously this hinges upon the power supply itself. I have already proven that to myself and this area is foremost critical. If you doubt this, try it out for yourself and just see if you can detect the difference.

To be continued…………..


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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #53 - 04/16/06 at 15:24:18
 
This is my Hickok 6000A Mutual Conductance tube tester which is approximately forty-five years old and is in wonderful condition. Line calibration is steady and everything works great. At the least, I plan to replace the capacitors as I doubt they are operating at peak performance levels. They are cheap to replace and this would insure better accuracy under load. This is one of the latter post 1961 models revised for later model tubes and will test just about any tube that we use in our equipment. Tube adapters can always be integrated. I also have two pre 1961 Hickok units for testing older tubes. One being the model 6000 and the other is a model 600A in very nice condition. The Hickok 6000A will be my primary tester which will come in handy to insure proper tube integrity.



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« Last Edit: 10/14/06 at 15:36:50 by RFZ_Quest »  
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #54 - 04/16/06 at 15:29:34
 
Preparing to test a set of RCA 5R4GY rectifier tubes with the initial line calibration referance.


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« Last Edit: 10/14/06 at 15:38:15 by RFZ_Quest »  
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RFZ_Quest
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TORII MKII advanced evaluation
Reply #55 - 05/30/06 at 00:12:36
 
TORII MK2 evaluations underway.......

.......Update.........



It has been awhile since this post has been updated but with good cause. I am currently underway with a major task that goes well beyond my initial intentions with this review. To expand further into the depths of comparative listening, I have been granted the opportunity to add a completely new dimension to this diverse evaluation.  Currently, I have added to the mix; a set of RL-3’s, a set of DM944’s (bookshelf models), and a very special prototype set of “full-range-driver” models, incorporating a superb transmission line design with stunning bass and midrange capabilities. Another major upgrade added to this test phase is a custom set of hybrid speaker cables that simply go well beyond those used with my radial 2’s. These are very transparent with EXTREME detail, clarity and extension for which to accurately convey the information produced by the TORII MK2 .

Another dimension that I am focusing on is that of real time speaker and room response calculations, which I now have the capability to monitor with the use of a professional hand held audio analyzer. With this, I know instantly what each frequency is registering in real time, with peak response SPL at my listening position or anywhere else that I choose for accurate room response and averaging. Rather than just trying to express the level of sound perception, the SPL levels sum this up concisely. This absolutely proves the validity for which the awesome sound levels that these very efficient speakers will achieve with the TORII MK2 and with the low powered S.E.T. mono-blocks. The ability to measure with A, C or FLAT weighting can be programmed with a predetermined dynamic range for each category.

I have made some very interesting observations with this analysis, impressed by the data registered from this equipment/room configuration! Of course, my ears are the true judge in the final determination of this ongoing evaluation and that is always the deciding factor. I can tell you this, I do not doubt in any way, the intense SPL readings that are associated with the TORII MK2. With this amp set at LESS than 50 percent total gain, I am amazed by the sound pressure that loads this room with so much more power on tap! With the gain set to the ten-o’clock position and with my listening position equilateral to the speakers at approximately seven feet spacing, this sector provides a balanced triangular set-up with the driver alignment intersecting directly at the point just aft of my head. The direct first response aligns with my ears to where the sound rays pass inline appropriately, to the left and to the right. In other words, the achievement of the “sweet- spot”; where the greatest involvement into the music allows for precise perception of three-dimensional imaging.

Within this equilateral triangle, it came as no surprise that I averaged well over 92dB in the mid-range with peaks in excess of 99dB. I recall at one point when the max reading registered at 102dB! This was achieved during playback of the “SO” SACD from Peter Gabriel using the JJ KT77 output tubes that are fully balanced and matched as a set. I like these particular valves very much as they produce clear detailed sound with solid impact.

It is not perceived as loud simply due to the freedom of sound fatiguing distortion. The greatest clue here as to how many decibels are actually present is within the simple test of normal speech. When you cannot hear yourself talk at normal speech levels over the surrounding music level, this is a good indication of some serious sound pressure going on around you.

This update was to keep you informed of the work in progress with much more to be analyzed. Look for a full review on this diverse mix of evaluations to be released in the near future, as it should be of an informative nature for those seeking a first hand perspective of these fine amplifier/speaker combinations.

For now, I am back to the next phase with the S.E.T.’s in place of the TORII MK2. These will undergo duplicate testing parameters with the exception of the ZTPRE, interfaced for control. The mono-blocks have in place; a fresh set of Ei Elite EL84EG gold pin output tubes, fully matched and balanced with preliminary burn-in for optimal performance. Vintage NOS RCA 5U4GB types supply rectification. The mono-blocks are driven by a set of EI Elite gold pin 6DJ8EG’s. For testing with the S.E.T. amplifiers, the gain control will be set to normal and the volume controls set to high maximum value, dependent on music passages presented.

To be continued…………………..

Paul


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Pyewacket
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #56 - 05/30/06 at 15:46:55
 
Hi Paul,

Well you're doing it again...  Now I'm just crazy over hearing your impressions of the Torii MkII with the RL-2s vs. the RL-3s.  ;)

Sounds like you are having a ball!!!  :D

Terry

P.S.  Paul, I REALLY would be interested in hearing your thoughts of the RL-2 vs the RL-3 with THAT amp.  Especially in the bass weighting of the matchup.

Thanks in advance,

T
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« Last Edit: 05/30/06 at 15:49:54 by Pyewacket »  
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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #57 - 05/31/06 at 01:35:05
 
Hello Terry,

Not a problem. This is exactly my intention with the speakers in question. The whole point of this extensive evaluation process is to provide others such as yourself with some impressions derived from a seasoned Decware listener with as honest and accurate information as one can give without getting overly technical. I realize that what you want to know is how this equipment interacts with each other and the resulting musical satisfaction. That is what really counts and I believe that you will discover my findings to be very straightforward and of the same perception if you choose to acquire any of these combinations. This I would expect if a top-notch source mated with the TORII MK2 kept in minimalist form were used with any of these speakers. The huge factor is of course within your room parameters and the acoustical effect that the room presents to the music. You will find that a select set of premium tubes along with high quality cables weigh heavily upon the total perception of sound quality.  As far as source recordings are concerned, I have music titles that really do not do justice to this system, but when great titles are played back, the system is allowed to breath and the magic distinguishes itself in a seemingly infinite manner.

As you know, I have gone to great lengths for providing the information posted so far and I am only in the first stages of the complete process. My time is limited so it may be awhile before all of this is sorted out, but I am making progress. I am at the stage of comparing notes with the RL-2’s versus the characteristics offered by the upgrade RL-3’s. I have been well accustomed to the RL-2’s for several years and I will make this brief and basic observation from my initial response to the RL-3’s.

The RL-3’s are definitely a cut above with far superior low-end extension. These speakers are a superb choice for the TORII MK2 and make for an excellent match for which is sure to please the most demanding listener.

These are of a completely different signature for which a volume of words could not justify the instant acknowledgement obtained with an actual demonstration. Bass extension is simply wonderful with a level of detail that usually would be associated with the augmentation of a quality subwoofer. I have had the WO32 at my disposal for quite some time now. To create the full-bodied presence of the music that I expect to hear while using the RL-2’s; I have always included the sub for that total satisfaction. With the RL-3’s, you would swear that the WO32 is engaged when in fact it is not even hooked up!

I really do not see the need for additional augmentation with these, as they are that good. When you have been accustomed to having a good quality subwoofer for some time, these factors become readily apparent. As I stated in past posts, I have excluded the use of any subwoofer augmentation, as I do not want to distract from the qualities of the speakers in question. The whole point is to know what the main speakers are capable of in their purest form. If you go back to some previous posts in the reviews section, you will find that the owners of the RL-3’s have stated very close similarities as to what I have concluded about this model. If you read the review that was printed in a major audio rag, it states that the reviewer liked them so much that he purchased the review models rather than send them back!

I have so much more to say about my findings but I shall save that for the final review.  If there is something specific that you would like me to analyze with these speakers and I can accommodate your request, I would be pleased to do so for you.

I will be extensively reviewing the entire line-up of the Decware offerings, starting with the lowest priced models and advancing on to the higher priced models, providing my take on how each one of these designs sound with the TORII MK2.

As a bonus, the evaluations are to be repeated with the Single Ended Triode approach as this will show just how responsive these speakers are to low powered purest amplifiers.

I am pleased that you have expressed interest in this matter. I only hope that I can provide the answers that you seek.

Take care.

Paul.
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Pyewacket
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #58 - 05/31/06 at 15:45:26
 
Hey Paul,

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your insights.  Let me give you a little background into my approach to this "audiophile" thing.

When I was a very young man my grandmother had this wonderful old console stereo that my grandfather bought for her because she really loved her music.  She used to play that thing all day on Saturdays while she cleaned the house and the sound that thing made was just amazing.  Then, my father went and worked two jobs to be able to buy my mother a setup just like hers and for the next fifteen years I had that same sound in my home every Saturday morning.  I never realized just how good that was until it was gone.  Over the years I've spent a short ton on all kinds of gear and NEVER came close to that warm and intimate sound that those old tube rigs put forth.  It only took thirty some years to figure out what it was that made that "sound" so special.

So, I have a genetic double wammy in my love for music and now I have the opportunity to be able to set myself up with what I would consider my dream system.  The biggest hangup I've had is this whole subwoofer thing.  I really don't want to deal with that.

All that aside, back to the speaker comparison...  Over the years of hanging around here I've come to the conclusion that to get what I want is going to take a dedicated listening room, that's already a given.  Now I have the frontend handled as far as the vinyl goes, I'm commited to pick up Steve's gear as far as the tubes go.  Never having listened to any of it I just "know" that it's going to be better than any SS stuff I've ever had.  The final piece to the puzzle has been the speakers.  Well, what better to mate with his tube gear than his speakers.  I've thought about making speakers, I've looked and have been going out and listened to everones highend system that I could find over the last two years and have found all of them wanting to some degree.  Just by listening to everyone here that's had Steve's gear I have a pretty good idea that what I'm looking for is one of the radial speakers.  The whole idea just makes so much sense.  Now it's just figure out which one.  That's where you come in...  Talk about a leap of faith!!!

Now with all that blather out of the way... My listening room is not going to be very big, standard bedroom size.  Hopefully I can make it into one of the ratios that Steve put in his white paper on listening rooms.  With that, listening will be in the near field.  However, I do like to have my "sessions" and crank it up on occasion.  With the balls the MKII has that shouldn't be an issue, but I don't want Joe Walsh leaving the room because the final transducer is lacking.  I've heard so many people here talk of how good these speakers are and reference the likes of Diana Krall, Bob James, etc.  Not any that I can remember that talked about, The Who, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd or The James Gang.

Can you still be an audiophile and listen to that?  Regardless, pace, rhythm and dynamics are what I'm looking for and from what you've stated so far, what you have is all that and a bag of chips.

So Paul, if I haven't put you to sleep with all that drivle, I'm all ears...   Cheesy

Terry

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RFZ_Quest
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Re: Preliminary evaluation: TORII MKII
Reply #59 - 06/01/06 at 05:34:03
 
Hello Terry,

That was interesting to hear about your past leading up to your current philosophy about audio in general. You have expressed your intentions very well and I believe that this provides me with a clear picture as to what your focus is and what will satisfy your goals. Realistically, I can only give you my perspective as to how I perceive these components but it should give you a good lead as to what may be a more proper fit for your application. There is zero risk associated with buying Decware products anyway and the designer himself always best serves final recommendations. Steve goes out of his way to give each customer the kind of personal attention that is usually unheard of with any company that I have dealt with for any product.  

I believe that most customers past and present can relate to that statement and I have yet to hear any negative feedback regarding his personal advice for which to select the appropriate gear. To add to this, you have Zygi’s personal consultation that I will without reserve, state wholeheartedly, that his word comes from that of true experience and wisdom.  Steve and Bob make for an outstanding design team and it is of my experience that their word is as good as gold. As far as I am concerned, any direction given by them can be “set in stone” as audio gospel.

When I was in my youth back in the sixties and into the seventies, I was never really exposed to any real Hi- Fidelity products (except for those being hyped by the boutique audio dealers) and there was no involvement with any serious audio direction within my family. I never knew what tube based equipment sounded like back in that era. It is no wonder since all of that was considered obsolete by the mainstream and the push was on for big mega watt solid-state components and speakers so large that it took two men to move them. You needed the big SS amps just to drive the majority of these designs due to the low sensitivity factors. Since I lacked experience with any refined tube based gear during those years, I based the current “state -of- the-art” (as it was referred to by the  promotional peddlers) type of monstrosities, for which to gauge what was supposed to be the most refined sound quality ever offered in  audio.  Looking back to that period, hindsight has given me 20-20 vision. Today, I am finally confident with how to put this all into perspective.

I fell victim as many did, to the premise that high-powered SS amps mated with oversize speakers were the only way to go if one was serious about audio. With the money that I spent chasing that goal in the eighties, I can only look back at my ill-advised delusions of audio grandeur and find it amusing at best.  We live and learn and sometimes life sends you down a rocky road when you were convinced it was the super highway.

One fortunate aspect of my youth was that vinyl records were the source of ultimate fidelity and aside from a turntable, open-reel decks were absolute “state of the art” devices for rendering music as reference grade quality. I still would not dispute that today when you take into consideration that technological advancement by dedicated designers has brought us such refined analog offerings available today that simply was not offered back then. This is not to say that good quality turntables were non-existent, but to merely convey the fact that the level of standard has advanced significantly. With the recent and steady upsurge in analog interest, and the fact that hard-core purists refuse to give up that aspect of audio reproduction, the resulting formulation has brought us some of the greatest designs ever imagined in analog playback.

To make things worse, I hastily made the transition to the CD format during the early to mid eighties and that only compounded my misdirection into audio disenchantment. One of the greatest analog components that I ever owned was that of a studio grade Akai 747 open reel deck with the type 1 dbx circuitry. Back in 1983, this was truly a work of art when it came to open reel machines and it had a hefty price tag as well. I ended up making a severe mistake by selling it, as it seemed that open reel decks were becoming obsolete with the “great” digital domain that was promised on the horizon.

Do not get me wrong here, there are some decent sounding digital components on the market but it has only been within recent years that this has come about. After hearing the modified Sony unit with the much-improved SACD format, I have found that digital can be an acceptable means to enjoy audio if done right. Once I actually had the chance to truly focus on the benefits of a well-designed hybrid offering, I find myself getting more involved with the digital format once again. This has a great deal to do with the benefits of a quality tube based output stage which renders the tonal balance to a closer facsimile of well regarded vinyl offerings.  I am still adamant as to the sound of properly produced vinyl and it shall remain as my reference grade standard until something comes along that will change my perspective towards analog playback. With the direction that things are going in the audio world, I have my doubts!

Now as far as music selection goes, I can easily accommodate your artist category. I have a huge collection of vinyl and digital offerings, which cover the majority of well-known “Classic Rock” releases with many that are substantially improved upon with refined remastering. Although my musical direction has changed dramatically over the past few years, I still resort to these timeless classics for a trip down memory lane on occasion.

I have every L.Z. album released except for CODA and The Song Remains the Same “live”, all remastered and released by Classic Records on premium 200-gram vinyl. These are by far the best sounding releases that I have heard to date and a huge improvement over the digital format. I have “Who’s Next” and “Who are You” on vinyl plus a nice European double album which was an import offering with a complete span of their career hits.  I have the entire Pink Floyd catalog on vinyl with some vinyl that were original pressings and some remastered versions as well. Plus I have all titles by Roger Waters (except for “Amused To Death” which is very rare and quite expensive) and David Gilmour on vinyl to include “The Wall” Live In Berlin by R.W. The “Amused” title by Waters was mastered by a technique called “Q” sound and  provides a very unique and surrealistic sound quality to the soundstage. I have a collectors edition from Sony Music with this remastered from the original studio tapes onto standard CD format gold disc. It is a bit reminiscent of the quadraphonic sound that always made their live performances so special.

There will be more on this. Thanks for your confidence!

Paul.
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