13 April, 2016

Letter from NYC (52) 2016 (8): More Rare Birds

Tannoy Westminster Thanks to arrangement by Paul, and dedicated driver Philip, two Sundays ago we got to visit again Jimmy's system. Look at this pair!

The host's listening room is one of the most luxurious I have seen; I love the decoration, and all that wood! Even the equipment racks are beautiful solid wood (from Ebay).

Sources are an Oracle CDP fed into an MBL DAC for CD and a Lumin for digital files (we much preferred the CDP to CAS). Preamp is Conrad-Johnson GAT. Mono amps (one just glimpsed behind right speaker) are massive so-called "WE" (like these that our friend Simon has), each of which employs a bank of 8x 300B tubes. Sound was a lot better than a previous visit 3-4 years ago. We attributed the marked improvement to his new CJ preamp (old one was Audio Space 300 preamp) and also the Field Coil Line-Magnetic Supertweeters (power supplies seen to the left of the Oracle CDP and right of the CJ preamp).

The Westminster (older version, foam surround) used with the Line-Magnetic has a very different sound than on its own. Treble is airier and bass is more controlled. A very sculptured sound that we liked, though perhaps not for the Tannoy traditionalist.

Klipsch Forte Then I went to Philip's new house on Long Island where I heard and tweaked things a little. The setup is very simple, McIntosh MX-110/MC-225, a dependable combo. His basement is a vast and bare space, really too large for audio comfort. The Forte still sounded very good and much like the Quartet I have heard before (interestingly, both setups were a little lean). Philip just got a pair of Spendor SP-100, which I look forward to auditioning. Incidentally, as the Forte's sometimes dip low in impedance (Stereo Review, Pg 1, Pg 2), one should try all the output taps, including the 4-ohm. Which one will sound the best will likely be system dependent.

Focal/JM Lab Nova Utopia (Stereophile Review) Last Sunday I went with Paul to visit 台山華 . He had just moved to a smaller house. Equipment has not changed: Jadis CDP, Audio Note M6 preamp and Pass Lab X-250 amp. The current space for audio is small, about 200 ft, but has some sidewall reinforcement. Sound, including the bass, was surprisingly much improved over his old cavernous space, which lacked wall reenforcement. Once again, this shows the effect of the room is of paramount importance. This experience makes me ponder on Philip's setup above...

It was among the best JM Lab sound I have heard, and I have heard a lot, including the current flagship. Fast and crisp, and with good control, we played many CD's while sipping tea and chatting. It was gratifying to hear that the host has gotten totally bored with audiophile discs and now listens to more and more classicals, all on his own.

Happy Listening to you all!

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