Signature 16 Speaker Pairings

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groovybassist

Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« on: 30 Jul 2014, 12:35 am »
I'm a new owner of a Signature 16 and Bellina DAC. I'm maybe half-way through the 100 hour break-in period on the Sig 16 and maybe 20 hours in on the Bellina, so still some way to go.

I'm using them with Merlin TSM-MMMs, which take great advantage of the clarity of RWA gear, but I'm curious of other pairings which might move the center-of-gravity a little lower if that makes sense.  This is all for future reference (famous last words), but if you've had positive experience with particular speakers, I'd love to hear about it.  Vinnie, feel free to chime in as well.

I listen to a lot of folk and jazz at moderate volume, but occasionally like to throw on some Zeppelin and turn it up.  Not much classical though.  Keeping all the positives of the Merlin's, and adding a touch more density and reach down low would be the ideal. Thanks.

Mike

cacophony

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #1 on: 31 Jul 2014, 01:45 am »
Love to hear some thoughts on this from current owners too as I'm considering buying either a Sig 16 or 57 -- initially planning on pairing them with Sonus Faber Liutos.  Anybody running the current RWA amps with SF bookshelf speakers?

hiradi

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 42
  • in my 70th year and one windy ride !!!
Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #2 on: 1 Aug 2014, 12:35 am »
My RWA Signature 16 amplifier is driving a "German" horn 99 db , dead quiet and the good thing is with the tube you can tailor the sound a bit...
in my long Hi-Fi experience , it all comes down to matching your components ...you can buy RWA with confidence !!!!  :thumb: great product and I will soon write a review...
Cheers from down under !!!


Vinnie R.

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #3 on: 4 Aug 2014, 06:06 pm »
Hi cacophony and hiradi,

Welcome to the RWA forum!

In general, the Signature 16 is happy with a wide variety of speakers (it is fine with 4-ohms, and small dips below that at all audio frequencies).  The trick is, if you want to play fairly loud with its power rating, then you either:

- Go with more sensitive speakers (i.e. those that produce higher SPL's with lower amounts of power)
- Use speakers that sound great for near-field listening (e.g. Harbeth's excel with this, so even though their models
have sensitivity ratings around 83, 84, 85dB - if you are listening near-field at around 5 to 7 feet from them, you will be
able to play at louder levels than you might think).  The closer you are to the speaker, the louder the volume.  Every foot you move away, the
more power you need to get an equivalent loudness level.

With all this being said, we have customers running such a wide variety of speakers with their Signature 15 / 16s. 

Questions that I usually ask when someone wants to know if the pairing will be good:

- Sensitivity / load of your speakers?
- How big is your room?
- How far to you sit from your speakers?
- How loud do you like to listen? (I know, this is all relative because "my loud" and "your loud" might be
different, but I'm trying to get an idea.  If you say, "I'm in a small apartment and can't play too loud," or
"I like to crank it up and feel the music" - I then have a pretty good idea  :green:).
- What genres of music do you listen to?
- Is your room more on the sound-reflective or sound-absorptive side?

Answers to these questions help get an idea if 16wpc into 8-ohm / 32wpc into 4 ohm is enough, or if something like
the Signature 57 would be better. 

Our customers are often surprised by just how well the Signature 16 does, and they find that it acts more powerful than the rating
suggests.   

But NEVER, NEVER  confuse the volume control setting (e.g. 9 o'clock, 2 o'clock) with power (watts).  Having an amp that gets loud sooner on the volume control does NOT necessarily mean it is more powerful!  It means it has a higher GAIN setting.  You can have two integrated amps - one rated at 10wpc, and the other at 500wpc, and the 10wpc amp could make your speakers play louder at the 9 o'clock setting on the volume dial than the 500wpc amp.  Really!  This does NOT mean the 10wpc amp is more powerful.  It means that it has more gain at that volume control setting.  But at some point on the dial, the 10wpc will start to clip (distort), and the 500wpc amp will be able to play far louder than that with without distorting.  Make sense?

Hope this helps, and sorry if this is information overload!  :o

Vinnie

groovybassist

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #4 on: 5 Aug 2014, 02:53 am »
Vinnie:

I'll answer these questions for my situation - interested in your thoughts on current speakers and potential options.  The answer may come back "more power", but a Sig 57 isn't in the financial cards right now.  Maybe some day.  Thanks.

Mike

-Merlin TSM 87db/8 ohm
-Room is 16' x 16' w/two-story cathedral ceiling; opens to kitchen behind the listening sofa
-I sit 9-10 feet from speakers; this is largely driven by domestic harmony considerations and trying to leave some room for actual living
-I generally listen at moderate volume, occasionally turning it up a bit when my wife isn't home; I'm in my 50s now and find listening to music too loud irritates my tinnitus
-I listen primarily to folk, jazz and some rock; examples are Greg Brown, Jason Isbell, Johnny Cash, Janis Ian, Claire Martin, Holly Cole, John Martyn, Cassandra Wilson, Mary Gauthier, usual jazz legends, as well as Paquito D'Rivera, Art Davis, Patricia Barber, rock is typically 70s stuff: Zeppelin, Yes, Rush, Boston, etc.
-Room is probably pretty balanced in terms of reflectivity; there is a fair amount of wall space due to the two-story room, but it's carpeted, with a large sectional and large chair with ottoman

Vinnie R.

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #5 on: 5 Aug 2014, 06:01 pm »
Hi Mike,

Based on the details you provided, I think the Signature 16 should be doing a good job for you and you won't need a Signature 57. 

Do you find you can get it loud enough (regardless of the volume control position) WITHOUT hitting distorting?  If yes, I think you are in good shape, but you tell us!  :wink:

The dual mono, tubed Signature 57 is a turbo-charged Signature 16 (and then some!), but does NOT mean you need it, and the Signature 16 delivers excellent performance within its power range.  How does it compare to other integrated amps (or preamp / power amp) combos you have tried with your speakers? 

Vinnie

groovybassist

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #6 on: 5 Aug 2014, 07:07 pm »
Vinnie:

Thanks for your feedback. Loudness is definitely not an issue - the Sig 16 can get plenty loud in my space without distorting.

With the Merlin's, in terms of bass performance, the Sig 16 is as good or better than anything I've hooked to them and the midrange clarity is terrific. What's catching my ear a bit is the fact that the (what I'll call) "enthusiastic" top end of the Merlin's may be too much of a good thing with the Sig 16. I'm talking in the zone where hi-hats, crash cymbals, drum snares, etc. operate. These can be pretty crisp at volume on this combo.

Having said all that, I note I'm relatively early into the break-in process on the Sig 16 and the new Bellina, so it may technically be too early to make the call.  I just know how challenging the hi-end can be to get perfectly right on the Merlin's. In my setup, only a full blown tube amp really fit the bill, but that doesn't fit my domestic situation right now. I focused on your gear as I felt it would be a good compromise and I REALLY dig the fact that I could get off the power accessories bandwagon.  Synergy is everything in this game - just preparing myself for the realization the Merlin's might not be the perfect dance partner when the break-in is done.

Thanks for any thoughts you have.

Mike

Update: of course tube rolling may be the right answer in the long run as well.

Vinnie R.

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #7 on: 6 Aug 2014, 03:59 am »
Hi Mike,

Ok - sounds like you have plenty of power.

Here is a quick trick that might work really well for you:

I believe your speakers are bi-wireable - So you have jumpers to connect the woofer and tweeter
binding posts, correct?

Try feeding your speaker wire (standard, not bi-wire cable) to the woofer.  The negative posts for the woofer
and tweeter will have a jumper.  For the connection from the positive woofer to the positive tweeter post, use
a power resistor INSTEAD of a jumper.

This will reduce the high frequency output level.  See:
http://www.parts-express.com/search.aspx?N=4294967118+4294963631+4294963632&Nrs=collection%28%29%2Frecord%5Bendeca%3Amatches%28.%2C%22P_PortalID%22%2C%221%22%29+and+endeca%3Amatches%28.%2C%22P_Searchable%22%2C%221%22%29%5D&Ntt=resistor*&PortalID=1

Look on the left-hand column for resistor values.  I would start with 1 ohm.  If the treble is still too strong, try 2 ohm.  If still too strong, try 3 ohm, etc. etc.

I recommend you buy a pair of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ohm resistors to play with (one pair at a time).  Take your time listening.  I bet you'll find one that gets it just right.

NOTE:  I do not know the crossover schematic of the Merlins, so I can't be 100% sure that this trick will not change the crossover point.  It *could*, but not necessarily.  It will NOT hurt your speakers or the Sig 16 in any way, and will not cost you much to order the resistors + shipping.

And YES - tube rolling will also help.  But the resistor tuning is way cheaper and should be more immediate.

If this all works out, you might end up wanting to keep your Merlins!  If not, there are plenty of choices out there..

Keep us posted!

Vinnie

groovybassist

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #8 on: 6 Aug 2014, 03:03 pm »
Vinnie:

Thanks for the feedback.  I've already ordered the resistors.  Will give them a try and post feedback once I've had some time to experiment. 

-Mike

Vinnie R.

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #9 on: 11 Aug 2014, 03:12 pm »
Vinnie:

Thanks for the feedback.  I've already ordered the resistors.  Will give them a try and post feedback once I've had some time to experiment. 

-Mike

Groovy!  :green:

Hope it does the trick!  take your time with it...

groovybassist

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #10 on: 11 Aug 2014, 03:48 pm »
Nice pun   :)

This weekend I tried the 1 and 2 ohm resistors.  I thought right off the bat, the 1 ohm did the trick.  For fun, I went to the 2 ohm and it seemed like the bass was getting too prominent and treble rolloff too much, so back in went the 1 ohm.  Will experiment more in the coming days.  Thanks Vinnie.

-Mike

Jannemann

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 5
Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #11 on: 2 Sep 2014, 10:07 am »
I had a pair of Zu Audio Soul Supreme connected to my Signature 16. This was simply fabulous and breathtaking! Equipped with the best input tube it outperformed the 300b SET's in terms of speed and clarity.

Unfortunately my wife couldn't get used to the looks of the Supremes and I switched to WLM Divas. Although they also should have an efficiency of nearly 100db they are significantly less effective than the Zu's and these even had 16 ohm impedance. In my humble opinion the Signature 16 has not enough power for the WLM Diva's especially when listening to orchestral or even live Jazz music if you want to catch the atmosphere with higher levels.

So now I decided to go for the Signature 57 about which I started communication with Vinnie some minutes ago. With this situation in mind I can not even imagine to pair the 16 with less efficient speakers. But maybe my ears are getting worse due to ageing and I need extra power to compensate for this. Or maybe Germans simply like it loud ;-)

Have fun with your Sig 16s. And give a Telefunken ccA a try if can get one in very good shape. You won't think it still is the same amp.


Blu99Zoomer

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 203
Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #12 on: 2 Sep 2014, 03:46 pm »
Hi All,

Just wanted to comment on the speaker pairing question.  I recently purchased a Signature 15 amplifier from Vinnie.  I am using it with Tekton Design Enzo speakers.  These speakers are 98dB sensitivity speakers.  The Signature 15 makes them play as loud as I want in a room that is 22'X14' with 8' ceilings.  In fact, the system plays loud enough for me to be in other rooms in the house and listen for background.   I am using a Benchmark DAC2 HGC for my preamp.  The combination is very sweet and satisfying to these old ears. 

Regards,

Blu99Zoomer

Vinnie R.

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #13 on: 9 Sep 2014, 02:02 am »
Hi Jannemann,

The Signature 57 will provide more than enough power for the Divas, but the real question is - will your wife be ok with the larger
enclosure?  :dunno: :whip:   :banghead:

Hi Blu,

Thanks for sharing your Sig 15 / Enzo impressions!   :drums:

Happy listening,

Vinnie

TomekZ

Re: Signature 16 Speaker Pairings
« Reply #14 on: 22 Nov 2015, 09:19 pm »
My Signature 16 plays most beautifully into Wharfedale 80th anniversary Ditton. In my smallish room, these 4-6 ohm 86 db/m speakers play loud enough and play extraordinarily well at low gain. The Signature 16 is the most coherent amp I've heard: meaning that the bass and treble play in time with each other and the harmonics seem to be of one piece with the fundementals.