My thoughts on the Daedalus Ulysses
Some years ago I did a write up on the original DA1 loudspeaker which I believe can still be found on the Daedalus web site. I can say that my findings on those speakers still hold true today but now I have a new Daedalus speaker to write about.
Earlier this summer, Lou and I spoke about having the Ulysses here at Purity Audio Design to make available for anyone in this region to audition as well as to use as a reference in the testing and auditioning of the Purity Audio Design products. Our plans were to discuss this further at RMAF as we were both busy with preparing for the show. We ended up talking prior to show as I contacted him shortly after experiencing the flood to let him know I would no longer have the very large listening room as the facility was lost in the flood. I then gave him the dimensions of some of the rooms in the new location, still a decent size, and he felt the Ulysses would do just fine in any of these rooms so the decision was made at that time that the Ulysses would come to me immediately following RMAF……..and they did!
Before I begin, I have to comment on Lou’s woodwork once again. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing any Daedalus speaker up close and personal, you cannot possibly know how much effort and skill goes into the cabinets. The craftsmanship is second to none. I have always been a fan of using real wood in audio, especially loudspeakers and the Daedalus speakers are the finest example of this I can think of in the industry. They are beyond furniture grade.
Upon arrival, I immediately got them into a system. While this was not an all out statement system, the Ulysses made no hesitation in telling me they were here and meant business. I did not take the time to dial them in just yet but did let them run for a few days while I continued getting the benches set up in the new work shops. After a few days, it was time for some serious listening.
To get a good handle on the potential the Ulysses has to offer, several system combinations have been used to get a handle on these speakers.
First listen was with Class D amplification. Well, actually a pair of Purity prototype hybrid amplifiers that delivers 250/500 watts (8/4 ohms) with our zero gain tube input stage. The Ulysses really come alive with this type of power driving them. The bass is tight, fast and informative while the midrange and upper end remain smooth and musical which was an initial concern of mine using Class D amplification with the midrange drivers being used in the Ulysses. There was no hint of grain or aggressiveness. Overall, the presentation was very smooth and well balanced.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the Ulysses as compared to the DA1 was the pinpoint center imaging and soundstage. The original DA1 did a wonderful job of providing the same level of smoothness and spaciousness but from my sonic memory, did not have the same degree of center imaging which also results in more spacious soundstage locations.
Next up was a pair of Audio Note Quest Silver Signature mono bloc 300B amplifiers which have also been upgraded with Audio Note pure silver foil capacitors running TJ Mesh Plate 300B tubes. At 8.5 watts, these amps also had very good control over the Ulysses in this room. The bass was still well controlled and informative but not quite with the same level of impact and attack as the high power Class D amps but one would not expect this from an 8 watt 300B amplifier. The mids and highs were very clean and full of detail. The only disappointment to my ears was the lack of that 300B warmth and body but as I mention below, this turned out to be caused by the amplifiers due to all the silver in the amp rather than the speakers. Don’t get me wrong, the combination was glorious just not the “typical” 300B bloom. The soundstage remained wide and deep with more upper end air than one would expect from a 300B tube.
Next up was a pair of Melody M845 mono bloc amplifiers. This brought forth a much different presentation. I say ‘different’ because this is strictly my opinion and cannot say it sounded ‘better’. After installing the 845 mono blocs, the presentation became fuller which is what I was looking for as a personal preference. At fist listen, one might think the upper end is slightly rolled off but in reality, everything that was there with the different amplifiers was there with the 845s. I think the reason for this perception is you are no longer trying to listen to the components and simply enjoying the sensuous music coming from the speakers. I hate to use clichés but the speakers simply disappeared and you forgot you were listening to audio components. To confirm this, I switch the other amps in and out using the same few personal references in regard to recordings. All the same information was there but the music had a different type of hold on you. The Melody amps seemed to add an emotional content that I thought was there with the other amplifiers, in fact it is still there, but was now taken up several levels.
Recently I received back the Purity One-I integrated hybrid amplifier from RMAF and wanted to get this paired up with the Ulysses. The One-i is simply two components in one chassis; our Purity One linestage paired to our modified 125/250 watt Class D amplification stage. This combination proved to be very enjoyable. The dynamic control one would expect from the high power was certainly there along with the smoothness of having a tube preamp in front of them.
The systems in our showrooms are not only used for auditions but also for a reference in the designing of the Purity Audio Design products. If any piece of the puzzle is not up to the task, it does us no good to have it taking up room. So far the Ulysses have proven themselves to be a speaker that has to remain for this purpose. The high efficiency, extended range and high power handling allows the versatility needed when manufacturing amplifiers of various power rating. It will certainly be used in the continued design of our new parallel 300B amps. These are here to stay!
I do not have any solid state preamps or amplifiers on hand so I can only comment on the use of tubes with these speakers.
In the end, the Ulysses is an exceptional speaker that appears to be at home in just about any size room and with most any type of amplification. As I mentioned about the DA-1, the Ulysses too provides a different presentation as compared to most ‘conventional’ speaker designs. Being designed by a musician, the Ulysses is a “live venue” speaker. It does not try to hide faults in the recording nor does it enhance any particular range for a false interpretation of the presentation. It simply lets you know exactly what the artist intended you to hear. Dynamics are tight, fast and informative. Highs are extended with exceptional air and presence and the midrange simply has an eerie sense of realism.
Overall, the Ulysses will tell you exactly
what is going on in your system which is exactly what we were looking for. If the system is not up to the task, there will certainly be some micro details and nuances that you will never hear. Using the same recording as a reference, I installed some less than stellar amplifiers and sure enough, there were some details in the recording that you could no longer identify. If you are a Ulysses owner or plan on becoming one, do yourself and these speakers a favor and make sure your system is up to the task of allowing you to experience the fullest potential these speakers have to offer.
I won’t try to tell you there is a particular power rating or design that works best with the Ulysses as several different ranges and design have proven to sound great with these speakers. Just make sure the quality of the components is there. The Ulysses [and you] deserves the very best equipment your budget will allow.
Feel free to ask any questions or post comments.
Purity Reference Linestage
Purity Ultra GT Silver Linestage
Puurity Ultra Linestage
Purity One-I Integrated Hybrid Amplifier
Purity Hybrid Mono Bloc Amplifiers
Melody M845 Mono Blocs
Audio Note Quest Silver Signature Mono Blocs
Audio Note OTO SE Integrated Amplifier
Tenor 6C33 OTL 75 Watt Mono Blocs
Audio Note M8 preamplifier
Highly Modified Tube CD Player
Modified Sony CD/SACD Player
Sony CD/DVD/SACD 400 Disc Player
Purity Harmony Balanced Tube Buffer
Purity Copper Foil Interconnect Cables
Purity Silver/Gold Foil Interconnect Cables
Purity Silver/Gold Foil Speaker Cables
MB Perfetto Interconnects
MB Musicale Speaker Cable
Clarity Labs Harvest II Interconnects
VH Audio Airsine Power Cords