Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design

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Bill Baker

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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.


Conclusion:

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.

Associated equipment:

Electronics:

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

Cabling:
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





Charles Xavier

Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #1 on: 19 Nov 2011, 03:48 pm »
Nice write up Bill

- Evan

Hugh

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #2 on: 19 Nov 2011, 04:05 pm »
+1  :)

Daedalus Audio

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #3 on: 21 Nov 2011, 02:05 am »
Bill, thanks much for the very thoughtful review!  I'm glad you made the comments about clarity and neutrality, many of my customers and manufacturers who use these have mentioned that they appreciate how they can clearly hear everything upstream.

I'm flattered by the woodwork comments, they may help me keep the shop help motivated! :P

someday I'll have to visit!

thanks again,
lou



Bill Baker

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #4 on: 27 Nov 2011, 12:44 am »
Quote
Bill, thanks much for the very thoughtful review!  I'm glad you made the comments about clarity and neutrality, many of my customers and manufacturers who use these have mentioned that they appreciate how they can clearly hear everything upstream.

I'm flattered by the woodwork comments, they may help me keep the shop help motivated!

someday I'll have to visit!

 I am glad my findings are on par with other's. It is refreshing to have a speaker that tells exactly what the upstream components are capable of.

The woodwrok comments are simply the truth. Anyone who has seen these speakers knows exactly what I mean. :thumb:

You are welcome anytime you are in the area Lou. Would love to have you by.

jriggy

Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #5 on: 27 Nov 2011, 06:38 pm »
Hello Bill,

 I enjoyed your write-up and would love to hear more details regarding the chosen gear...

You preferred the sound of the much lower priced Melody amps (@ $5500) compared to the $18k Quest Silver sigs? This sounds like good news to the budget conscious and almost seems contrary to your statement saying the Ulysses deserve the very best equipment possible. Maybe it is more a statement of how good the Melody 845's are with the Ulysses?
 


Bill Baker

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #6 on: 27 Nov 2011, 07:07 pm »
Hello jriggy,

 I think the reasoning for not particulary liking the Quest as much as the Melody is due to all the silver in the Quest which seemed to rob it of the 300B signature we all lust for. As I mentioned, it did sound very good but not what I would want from a 300B amp. I am a big fan of silver but the application is critical.

 The Melody had more body and 'tone' in comparison. I realize the Meloody is less expensive but they are designed and built extremely well.

My favorite combinations so far are the Purity Ultra linestage going into Purity Hybrid mono blocs. And the Purity Silver Statement or Reference going into the Meloody 845 amps. I have been able to try all of the Purity preamplifiers with the amps I have on hand.

There will be additional combinations coming forth in the near future as the speakers we have on hand now are being used in the R&D process of some new Purity products :wink:

jriggy

Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #7 on: 28 Nov 2011, 04:19 am »
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the extra details! It is always nice to hear about gear that sounds great with the Ulysses from people with more experience... everyone I know with Lou's speakers has quite a different system to the next. I suppose proving that they really do work well with many types of amps.

Thanks again

 Jason

figcon

Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #8 on: 2 Dec 2011, 02:36 am »
Hi All.

I've been using Lou's speakers for several years now and enjoy them as much now, as ever. As my reference equipment has gotten better, so have the speakers.

I'm using a pair of Rogue Audio Apollo monoblocks, which are very powerful 300/210 watt +/- Ultralinear/Triode amps to drive my Ulysses and Ulysses loves them. I am using a pair of Emotiva XPA-1's on a pair of Deadalus subs, which Lou custom made fore me and boy did they come alive with these amps. Each sub has two 12" drivers per cabinet and they are great subs....Cabinets are a bit large, though.....

My point is while Deadalus speakers can be used with few watts, my experiences are that they love power and really come alive with higher powered amps, especially great tube amps..

By the way, I took delivery of a Rogue Audio Hera II preamp to drive the system and I believe it is the new preamp deal of the century. Wow, what a preamp and while it is expensive, compared to a lot of other stuff out there, it is a great deal for what it is capable of doing.




Daedalus Audio

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #9 on: 2 Dec 2011, 06:00 pm »
so early this week a mystery box shows up from Bill Baker...  one of his preamps for me to try.

 this is an amazing piece of gear. incredibly clean, quiet and defined.  the imaging is the best I've heard, breathtaking. the detail and tonality is near perfect, the instruments sound very, very real.  at times I felt like I was playing in a jam and keying into the rhythm section... a subconscious reaction because the only time I've heard instruments sound like that was on stage playing! I'll write more as the month goes on and I (hopefully) have time, but this is a serious contender!

thanks,
lou


zybar

Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #10 on: 2 Dec 2011, 06:10 pm »
so early this week a mystery box shows up from Bill Baker...  one of his preamps for me to try.

 this is an amazing piece of gear. incredibly clean, quiet and defined.  the imaging is the best I've heard, breathtaking. the detail and tonality is near perfect, the instruments sound very, very real.  at times I felt like I was playing in a jam and keying into the rhythm section... a subconscious reaction because the only time I've heard instruments sound like that was on stage playing! I'll write more as the month goes on and I (hopefully) have time, but this is a serious contender!

thanks,
lou

Lou,

Which model?

George

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #11 on: 2 Dec 2011, 06:19 pm »
Hi All.

I've been using Lou's speakers for several years now and enjoy them as much now, as ever. As my reference equipment has gotten better, so have the speakers.

I'm using a pair of Rogue Audio Apollo monoblocks, which are very powerful 300/210 watt +/- Ultralinear/Triode amps to drive my Ulysses and Ulysses loves them. I am using a pair of Emotiva XPA-1's on a pair of Deadalus subs, which Lou custom made fore me and boy did they come alive with these amps. Each sub has two 12" drivers per cabinet and they are great subs....Cabinets are a bit large, though.....

My point is while Deadalus speakers can be used with few watts, my experiences are that they love power and really come alive with higher powered amps, especially great tube amps..

By the way, I took delivery of a Rogue Audio Hera II preamp to drive the system and I believe it is the new preamp deal of the century. Wow, what a preamp and while it is expensive, compared to a lot of other stuff out there, it is a great deal for what it is capable of doing.
I hope to hear the Rogue preamp, it sounds like a lot of pre for the money.  seems like the bar has been lifted lately in preamp design!

on the power issue, I wouldn't say they "come alive" with power so much as these speakers can make good use of it. they don't need power to come alive, they are very fast etc with quality low power, but because they can handle the power with clarity, maintaining the same tonality at low as well as high volumes, they make good use of high power.
when playing anything with hard hitting drums etc they can reproduce the lifelike dynamics and for that they need power. I recommend the  MF paper on SPL found on my links page.

http://daedalusaudio.com/links.html

also periodically comments come up about high current with my speakers. these come from notes about the early DA-1, but in 2007 we completely redesigned the line and those amplifier current requirements were no longer valid. since then the Daedalus speakers are very easy to drive and do NOT need high current. 

thanks,
lou


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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #12 on: 2 Dec 2011, 06:20 pm »
Lou,

Which model?

George

I believe it is the Reference all copper, about $10,000

Berto

Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #13 on: 2 Dec 2011, 11:22 pm »
I feel the same way as Frank. As my seperates improved so have the Ulysses.  Another pre that I can confidently add to the list is the Tube Research Labs DUDE that I just got. Also My F2a tube monos are only 40 watts so I cant attest to what Lou says in regards to not needing alot of power.

I was very happy with my Shindo pre which made beautiful music with my F2a Tube monos. But the DUDE is in notha league. The pre lets the Ulysses dynamics, bass, and transparency shine through like i've never heard. For the first time I now hear every lil detail and volume change in voice or instruments.    I never imagined when I joined A/C a few years ago that I would be able to ramp up to the level of sound quality that I have now. I look fwd to listening to my Ulysses every chance I get now :D

Hopefully oneday I can be lucky enough to hear the Purity gear as I'm finding these small and innovative co's are building some of the best gear that our audio dollars can buy.

Bill Baker

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #14 on: 3 Dec 2011, 01:30 am »
The preamp Lou received is in fact the Purity Reference which sells for $9,995 and has continue to be a huge hit with all that hear it including the reviewers. To date, it has received a reward in both of it's latest reviews. It is currently in the hands of yet another reviewer.

vinyl_lady

Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #15 on: 4 Dec 2011, 06:48 am »
so early this week a mystery box shows up from Bill Baker...  one of his preamps for me to try.

 this is an amazing piece of gear. incredibly clean, quiet and defined.  the imaging is the best I've heard, breathtaking. the detail and tonality is near perfect, the instruments sound very, very real.  at times I felt like I was playing in a jam and keying into the rhythm section... a subconscious reaction because the only time I've heard instruments sound like that was on stage playing! I'll write more as the month goes on and I (hopefully) have time, but this is a serious contender!

thanks,
lou

Lou,

How does it compare to the Alana?

Laura

Bill Baker

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Re: Write Up of the Daedalus Ulysses at Purity Audio Design
« Reply #16 on: 5 Dec 2011, 09:58 pm »
To add to the "power" statement, the Ulysses appear to be easier to drive as compared to the original DA-1. Then again, they re different speakers and that was a few years ago.
The use of more power brings out more dynamic attack as well as help the speaker (any speaker for that matter) maintain it's composure during heavy or complex passages. The Ulysses certainly is more than capable of maintaining it's composure with much less power than many other speakers I have heard over the years. The Ulysses makes amplifier selection much easier as you don't have to limit yourself to only higher power designs.