31 March, 2011

Letter from NYC 2011 (13): Genesis V, MBL, EAR, Michaelson & Austin

L: Note the M&A preamp up front; R: DIY table for EMT 930 using pipes! (click to enlarge)

Letter from NYC 2011 (13): Genesis V, MBL, EAR, Michaelson & Austin

Among my hifi friends MW in LI must count as one of the craziest; perhaps even insane. I have previously reported on his Western Electric setup. It has been barely 2 years and yet his system (including the room) has undergone so many upheavals that it'd be hard to chronicle. Yes, you read it right, it's upheavals, not mere changes like what happen to you and me. I shall be brief, as I really cannot second-guess why MW made his moves.

L: HMV's; R: KEF'ed Genesis

After Mark's excellent Vandersteen 2CE period came what I had to come to think of as his mid-life crisis (don't we all experience that!). He pawned the WE combo to me but later acquired a full MBL set (the wrong path in my opinion, and you'll see why). Also, he divided his basement into two halves, presumably to give more space to his children (no, an electronic warehouse is not quite suitable really). The resultant small square room was not kind to his hifi. At this point he acquired a pair of Genesis V (early version). Not happy with its performance, he swapped out the mid range units for LS3/5A's KEF's!!!!!!!! Surprisingly, the sound was not THAT bad. Also, a pair of ancient HMV loudspeakers made a brief appearance (they sound very good).

Last time I was in NYC, he heard my horns (as yet unannounced) and was smitten. A 180 degree turn took him to build a horn system, which went through several iterations with JBL pro and Altec drivers in a custom JBL pro enclosure. With such disparate elements, electronic crossover was employed and after a bit of experiment sound was surprisingly robust.

So I was surprised this time that he had gone back to the Genesis V. Happily the stock mid range units were restored. AND he had knocked down the partition and regained use of the full room. The first time we went, we pulled the speaker up front about 2 ft, adjusted the bass servo as well as the knobs on the back before we got good sound. This is a complicated speaker!!

Over 2 days we heard the Genesis V driven by 2 sets of electronics:

Analogue: Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm/Denon 103D
Digital: MBL Transport+DAC
Preamp+Amp A: MBL 6010+amp
Preamp+Amp B: Michaelson & Austin TVP-X preamp/EAR 509

I shall be brief. While the MBL set sounded reasonably well on its own, upon switching to the M&A/EAR all-tube combo the system took a huge leap forward. So much for the under-achieving MBLs. That is hardly surprising. Like the EAR, the M&A preamp was designed by Tim de Paravicini, hence "Tim's Valve Preamp". This is an all-out effort, almost dual mono, with 4 tubes in the phono section and another 4 in the linestage, per channel. It is also rare as hen's teeth now. The sound was excellent with vinyl.

Back to the Genesis V. I think we had it in the sonic ballpark but, with the bass still a bit tight and not deep enough, had not quite hit the bull's eye. It was close though. Even then, the sound showcased the speaker's rich and solid sound. There is a marvelous texture to the mid range and treble that should still put most current hi-end speakers to shame for their etched sound. The basement I think is a little small for the speakers too. I have heard them in much larger rooms to different, if not better, effect.

This early all-out effort uses 6x 12AX7 and 6x 12AT7 and constant current source design. The separate power supply is transistor.


  1. hi dou you have xover info for gen v?