02 October, 2010

Home Visits: Saba + Lenco +CAS

Home Visits: Saba + Lenco +CAS

Highly recommended: Vash's own Blog; Lenco Heaven

One fine day recently I called Vash and spontaneously arranged to visit him, primarily to listen to the Saba speaker and Lenco TT and Decca cartridge. Vash is a naughty fellow who experiments with all sorts of gears and DIY at a high level. This time the gears have changed a lot from my previous visit, and luckily I remembered to take my camera. The analogue setup and amplification are relatively simple:

TT - Lenco-Daiwok L75TT + Trans-Fi Terminator Tonearm (air-pump) + London/Decca Jubilee (with Daiwok's branded accessories 'Midas Touch' sandwiched between head-shell and cartridge).
Phono - DACT CT100 (Battery powered)
Preamp - Restek Consens
Power amp - VTL ST-150 (2008 version)
Speakers - Saba Reso with Siemens tweeter (first order crossover)(The article on assemblage of the Saba Reso in Vash's Blog is highly entertaining)

The elaborate and eclectic Digital setups merit a little description:

The main DAC used is - Lavry Blue 4496 with 3 cards to accept 3 inputs. Obviously this accepts up to 96 only.
For regular CD replay: Meridian 500 + 518 as source
For CAS: Firewire interface into Weiss converter
For some CDs - Tandberg 14-bit player direct analogue out
For HDCD - Audio Alchemy DDE 1.2 DAC is used
For SACD - dCS p8i

I stayed about one hour and listened to almost every combination. I must say the Saba Reso speakers, which I first heard so impressively at the home of Daiwok (tugged into corners), revealed even more of its potential this time when placed freely in the middle of the room. Needless to say, simple chamber music and cello solo were magnificently rendered, sounding dynamically close to uncompressed. The leading edge of Starker's cello was fast and lively, with no overhang; crescendos were for once completely natural and unforced, and all these I attribute partly to the speakers and partly the Decca cartridge/TT combo. Here the effect for my taste surpassed the Magnepan 1.6 I heard last time (and that was very good already). Even large symphonic works were delivered eminently satisfactorily. Whatever the simple speakers were missing in terms of ultimate composure and magnitude they were compensated by a superb fluidity and naturalness. The VTL 150 is a lot of power for these speakers but they seem to take it well enough.

One reason I enjoy visiting Vash is because of the balance he strikes between various media. Analogue and digital playbacks both sound balanced. And we could enjoy the various digital technology. I appreciate that he recognizes the achievement of some early players. Here's a man who chases after the newest hi-res files but can also hear the goodness of some old players. This is in stark contrast with many modern CAS people, who have very little experience with analogue or older technology, and that makes their preaching highly dubious (indeed there is a lot of commercial interest behind these things).

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