Shootout at audiojerry's place

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earlmarc

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Shootout at audiojerry's place
« on: 19 Sep 2004, 03:49 am »
First off, I would like to thank Jerry and his wife for welcoming us members of the circle with great hospitality. They made us feel right at home. Again, Thank You.

I have waited for this day for some time and was thrilled when I arrived at Jerry's. Steve Sammit of SAS Audio Labs tagged along bringing his 10A preamplifier. I brought my EA ZR-1600 and APL HiFi Phillips SACD 1000.

Jesse flew all they way from Houston Texas to bring his RAM ZR-1600 to the gathering. I applaud you Jesse and was glad to finally meet the other pioneer of the Carver ZR-1600.

Jerry has a beautiful home and hosted us in his finished basement which was his entertainment room. We used his Audio Research VTM200 amplifier as a reference for comparison. We listened to both the EEMM and SAS 10A preamplifiers. We used the APL HiFi SACD 1000 primarly as the digital front-end and Dynaudio Special 25 speakers. Jerry also had another digital source as well as an assortment of cables and conditioners. I will let Jerry list those items when he posts.

Wow, where do I begin? Stay tunned!

zybar

Re: Shootout At AudioJerry
« Reply #1 on: 19 Sep 2004, 04:03 am »
Quote from: earlmarc
First off, I would like to thank Jerry and his wife for welcoming us members of the circle with great hospitality. They made us feel right at home. Again, Thank You.

I have waited for this day for some time and was thrilled when I arrived at Jerry's. Steve Sammit of SAS Audio Labs tagged along bringing his 10A preamplifier. I brought my EA ZR-1600 and APL HiFi Phillips SACD 1000.

Jesse flew all they way from Houston Texas to bring his RAM ZR-1600 to the gathering. I applaud you Jesse and was glad to  ...


Talk about a tease... :lol:

So how did things sound?

George

earlmarc

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Shootout at audiojerry's place
« Reply #2 on: 19 Sep 2004, 04:13 am »
Things sounded GREAT!!!!!! Its bedtime for me. Zybar, I promise I will write about the whole experience, but not tonight. Good Night.

zybar

Shootout at audiojerry's place
« Reply #3 on: 19 Sep 2004, 04:15 am »
I look forward to it.

George

audiojerry

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Shootout at audiojerry's place
« Reply #4 on: 19 Sep 2004, 06:06 am »
Marcus, thank you for getting the ball rolling, but I wish you had offered a little more input before me, but I understand, it's late.  :wink: Actually, it's after midnight, and I'm sure I will have more to say later, but I'd like to provide an initial commentary.

First, thanks to everyone for attending. It was a pleasure to meet all of you, and I am very pleased to have started some great friendships. It was a most enjoyable gathering with lots of listening. There were great insights by each in attendance, and I personally gained a lot from the experience. Along with Earlmarc, Steve Sammit, and JCC, Eric and Hibuckhobby traveled up from Beloit, but had to leave early. I am hoping they might have a chance to comment on their impressions, but unfortunately, they only had enough time to listen to the RAM and briefly to my ARC VT200 for comparison.

I wish they could have had the chance to listen to Earlmarc's EA before leaving because there was such a tremendous difference in the way each sounded. In fact, I have never heard such a big difference between amps in a side-by-side comparison.

They also missed the privelege of listening to Steve's 10A linestage. I love my Minimax, and I'm reluctant to make any rash proclamations after such a short time with Steve's preamp, but my early impression is that I thought it sounded absolutely wonderful and would love to spend some serious time with it. I think Steve and SAS audio has to find a way to get the word out that he has some stuff worthy of some very serious consideration. I'll comment more on it as we go along.

Before we got started, I think we all agreed that we would do our best to be objective and offer our honest impressions with no intention of offending anyone. For the most part I think we were very much in agreement on much of what we heard, but at the same time our preferences and expectations were very diverse. I am very grateful to JCC and Earlmarc to have provided the opportunity to compare two very different Carver's to my ARC. I'm a die-hard ARC tube-o-phile, and I'm really not offended that someone else has strong preferences for a different type of sound.

I don't want to put words in JCC's mouth, and I'm not speaking for him, and I encourage him to offer his views because he is very eloquent and states his viewpoints very clearly. That being said, I got the distinct impression that he was rather disappointed with my system and the acoustics of my room. JCC arrived early with his lovely wife Aileen, (sorry if I misspelled) and spent about 45 minutes listening to my system with his music while I completed my chores outside.

From his comments I felt that JCC was accustomed to the dynamic impact and larger sound that his personal system and room is capable of. JCC stated that he values a system that reveals as much as possible and holds nothing back. He has large floor standing full range 96db efficient speakers from Daedelus in a much larger and open room, which is very much different from the intimate space and 2 way Dynaudio monitors in my listening room.

Unfortunately, my goal for building my system and my listening preferences were not entirely compatable with JCC's preferences, I don't believe. I also believe the components and cabling that comprise my system may have adversely affected the performace of the RAM in my system. I don't believe there was a whole lot of synergy when listening to the RAM in my system through my speakers. I did get a sense of power and dynamic range from the RAM, and it was very revealing of details. As I said before, I have never heard such a tremendous difference in the way two amplfiers sounded in the same system.

When listening to Earlmarc's EA, I was astounded by how different it sounded from the RAM. Because of my partiality to my ARC and the sound of tubes, the EA was much more to my liking. JCC may think I'm crazy, because I think he found the RAM to be superior. By comparison, I found the EA to me more laid back, smoother, silkier, while JCC's was more aggressive and forward. The RAM seemed to pound out the notes while the EA gently stroked you with each note. When listening with JCC's I noticed the details to a greater extent, but at the same time there was less airiness and sense of frequency extension.    

Because I like tubes, I enjoyed the warmer midrange of the EA. The EA seemed to have softer and cleaner highs, while the RAM seemed to be harder in the highs. I'm trying to state the differences while clearly stating my bias, so I'm trying to point out why I prefer the EA without fatly stating that one is technically superior to the other. However, I do believe that the EA was cleaner in terms of not smearing notes or producing glare as well as having a darker, quieter background.

Based on what I heard tonight, I think that Steve of Empirical Audio is the real deal and performs some very high quality mods. I also feel that Earlmarc's musical preferences may be more in line with mine based on what I heard in his components. His modded APL Philips sounded sensational, and I'd love to spend more time getting to know it as well as his choice in preamps. His SAS 10A preamp may be the best kept secret in high end audio at this time, but if we can persuade Steve of SAS to get an audition tour going, that may change. :wink:  I MUST spend a few days being seranaded by this beauty!  

As for my vote for amps, I'll stick with my ARC. The EA is a very fine sounding amp, and totally non-digital or solid-state sounding. I mentioned that it sounded much more like my ARC than the RAM, and I was able to  listen to music in a relaxed state of mind like my ARC, but I still prefer the ARC's ability to better capture the subtle complexities of timbre in instruments and voices, and I still think it does a better job reproducing the highs of things like cymbals, bells, and triangle with a more crystalline clarity, as well as clearer sibilants of speech.

JCC, I hope I didn't  offend you, but it was certainly nothing personal. I'm sure you will be able to defend your RAM quite admirably. I open the floor to some lively debate and commentary.

Thanks again to all who attended. It was great fun!

Marbles

Shootout at audiojerry's place
« Reply #5 on: 19 Sep 2004, 04:37 pm »
I can't wait to hear more feedback from this comparo.

Jerry from what you describe, Steve did to the amps what he tries to do to his digital front ends. That is he tries to get his digital front end to sound like it is analog, or natural sounding.  Non-fatiguing yet extended.

earlmarc

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Shootout at audiojerry's place
« Reply #6 on: 19 Sep 2004, 07:44 pm »
The listening session begin using the Eastern Electric Mini Max preamplifier, the Audio Research VT200 amplifier, and the APL HiFi Phillips SACD 1000 digital front-end. I was very impressed with the sound of these components as a system. We listened to an assortment of music from Nora Jones, Charles Mingus, Pink Floyd, and etc.

The ARC VT200 presents an airy presentation with excellent 3D depth and imaging. Dynamics are also superb with good solid bass. The ARC has a refreshing and natural character that is musical and warm. Detail retrieval is far reaching and extended. Widgth and depth of soundstage is its major strength. A beautiful sounding amplifier is the ARC VT200 and it made an excellent reference amplifier.

The APL HiFi Phillips SACD 1000 shined like a superstar and made this comparison a delight. The APL is silky smooth and is as open as air. Detail retrieval is clean, airy, and very extended. Soundstage has weight with excellent dynamics. The air and warmth of this player touches you and makes you smile. This is the best player I have ever heard so far. I was pleased everybody enjoyed it.

The Eastern Electric Mini Max preamplifier was a pleasant suprise. I had listened to this player before a couple of times with the stock tubes and thought I could do better. Jerry had replaced his stock tubes with NOS tubes. I don't remember exactly what tubes Jerry used. I'm sure he'll provide that information later. The EEMM possesed a sweet and warm touch to the music that was open and airy with good 3D depth. Widgth of stage was also good. Bass performance and detail retrieval was the only short comings I found with this preamp. Bass performance was good, it had presence and impact but wasn't as tight as the SAS 10A. Detail retrieval with the likes of the APL player was excellent but wasn't as good as the SAS 10A.

Next we switched from the ARC amplifier to the RAM ZR-1600. We listened to mostly the same recordings all over taking turns circling from the sweet spot chair to surrounding chairs.

The RAM ZR-1600 amplifier is an agressive brute of an amp. It has a high impact and slam factor. Its extremely detailed and extended. Bass and dynamics was the best of the group. The width and depth of stage is large with a heavy impact. The midrange is clean and literal while the treble seemed streched. The RAM lacked the air, warmth, and friendliness of the  ARC. The RAM wasn't as seemless as the ARC. It didn't have the tonal coherency of the ARC. There was a lively and natural air to the ARC that the RAM lacked ( a natural flow that is musical). The RAM seemed solid state by comparison. I wouldn't decribe the RAM as tuby sounding.


Hey guys, got to take a break. Stay tuned for more.

earlmarc

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« Reply #7 on: 19 Sep 2004, 11:38 pm »
Back to the RAM ZR-1600, the RAM's agressiveness places it in a category of heavy weight brute amps. I prefer a tamer presentation that is natural and airy. The RAM is forward and pushy and is quite detailed. In the area of musicality I found the ARC more pleasing. It was smoother, had better extension and more air and life to the music. The RAM is punchy and open but doesn't have good control at the far edges of extension. The highs come across as stretched. The midrange while clean lacks the airy hieght and tonal accuracy of the ARC. I got the impression by watching and talking with Jesse that he preferred the agressive nature of his RAM amplifier. I noticed everytime he selected a piece to listen to that he would crank up the music with his amp. He seemed to like it agressive and loud. It was a pleasure to meet and talk to Jesse about his RAM. I respect the fact that he seeked and found satisfaction with his RAM mod. In his contentment for his amp., I'm sure he feels his amp is the best for the part it plays in his system. I preferred the ARC VT200 over the RAM ZR-1600.

Next we switched out the RAM ZR-1600 with the EA ZR-1600. My first impression after the switch was how much it sounded like the ARC. I think Jerry was just as suprised by the similarity. What was also obvious to me was that both the ARC and EA was more natural sounding and open with better frequency extension. The RAM was plenty extended but lacked good control at the edges. I'd give the edge to the ARC in frequency extension rise and decay. It was the most believable. The EA was awfully close to the ARC is this regard.

Sorry guys, Again I have to go. Alot going on today.

audiojerry

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« Reply #8 on: 20 Sep 2004, 01:34 am »
It's obvious that earlmarc has a very good ear!  :lol:

One very important point to consider is that the Carver is far more efficient and friendly to the environment. After more than an hour of continuous operation, it remained cool to the touch. It obviously uses far less energy than my ARC, and you'll never have to replace tubes. It also occupies a lot less space. If I weren't so spoiled by the ARC, I think I could live with the EA. I may still consider it.

lonewolfny42

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« Reply #9 on: 20 Sep 2004, 01:54 am »
Thanks for the comments so far...very interesting! :)
Quote
His SAS 10A preamp may be the best kept secret in high end audio at this time, but if we can persuade Steve of SAS to get an audition tour going, that may change.  I MUST spend a few days being seranaded by this beauty!
Hey Jerry...that sounds good !! :)

hibuckhobby

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« Reply #10 on: 20 Sep 2004, 03:32 pm »
I've been waiting to read the results of this listening session because Eric and I had to leave by 3:45 in the afternoon to get back to Roscoe, Illinois.
First a couple of comments on the gathering.  Jerry was a most gracious host and I want to thank him again for putting this session on.

My opinion is that Jerry's system has been very carefully tuned with a view toward a synergy that provides a very natural timbre of instrument and voice.  It is a near-field listening environment where the listener is 6-7 feet back from the speakers with the rear wall about 3-4 feet behind you.  I am used to a larger room and therefore found the soundstage to be narrower than I am used to...OTOH, the sense of depth and a feeling for the space the recording occured in was exceptional.

My opinion is much like that of earlmarc and AJ in that I don't think there was a good synergy between the RAM 1600 and AJ's setup.  I also got the feeling that Jesse's preferred listening level was higher than mine.  What I did note was that once the levels were lowered, the RAM sounded a leaner...especially through the midrange than the ARC.  On certain recordings, this added to the sense of a live performance.  When the volume was turned up however, it started to hurt.  Nora Jones voice in the upper registers was hard to listen to.  On older jazz recordings where there was less processing and perhaps less extended high end response, it was very pleasant to listen to.  There was always a sense of endless power reserves.

I didn't listen to the ARC for long because we had to leave...and I have ARC tubes at home.  In fact, I felt that perhaps colored my tastes somewhat because as soon as we turned the ARC on, it was as though I began to relax and really get into the music.  It was smooth, yet detailed and full of information.  When Nora's voice went into the higher registers, there was no desire to wince and wait for her to lower her voice.  The bass was warmer or rounder, which gave "me" the impression there was more there...upon consideration, it may have been providing slightly less control.

I would gladly do this again...and hope we can arrange another gather in a few months to pursue this further.  I wish I had been able to hear earlmarcs EA/carver and Steve's preamp.  Earl's modded Phillips sounded very sweet.

As great as hearing other gear was, I enjoyed meeting some of the other AC members at least as much.  It's nice to put a face on the people you have been interacting with.  Again, AJ...thank you so much for opening your home and using your system as the basis for our comparisions.

Bob

JCC

Listening at Audio Jerry's
« Reply #11 on: 20 Sep 2004, 04:54 pm »
First of all thanks to Jerry and his lovely wife Ruth. The hospitality was great and the camaraderie with all my fellow audiophiles was wonderful. Last night when I got back to Houston it was late, and I couldn’t respond right away – but here it is:

Of the four of us who stayed throughout the entire session (two had to leave early), three had amps and everyone favored their own amp. Steve Sammit (SAS Audio) with his fabulous 10A preamp was the only one who was unbiased. I quote his words in which he said that the RAM unit was “more artistic.” In the ensuing discussion we want back and forth, and the following comments came out in my discussion with Steve.

1.   The RAM unit had more bloom and decay
2.   The other amps were more clinical and less artistic.
3.   But all four of us agreed that the ram had quicker attack and greater dynamics

Lets get into the listening:

We repeatedly listened to the 4th cut of SACD version of The Dark Side of the Moon. Everyone was startled at the presentation of the opening bells, which were close miked, and in the original performance set this up for a spectacular opening stanza. It was certainly intended to get your attention. The fact is that if your system can handle the dynamics and does not compress the music, it will come across in a startling fashion. Very few audio systems can accurately portray this well recorded section, which can come across with a vibrancy that is amazing and startling. It’s on the recording, and most systems have difficulty with a realistic reproduction of this cut, which highlights the differences between the three amps. In fact when we compared the three amplifiers, using Marcus’s modified SACD 1000 as the source there were obvious differences in the amplifiers:
·   ARC – This is a superb tube amp. It exhibits traditional tube sound. The music is there, but the ability to reveal the dynamics and bloom and decay on this passage was somewhat missing.
·   EA ZR1600 – This AMP sounded a lot like the ARC. A little more detailed, fluid like sound. Once again the dynamics seemed to be compressed.
·   RAM ZR1600 – This amp was also detailed with a fluid like sound. Although some thought that it was the most detailed of the three I found them all to be comparable on details. But when the bells came on the attack, bloom and decay were startling. Just like the intention of the real performance. It is on the SACD. It is intended to be startling. The ability of the RAM to clearly portray this section (and many others) was clearly superior.

As we listened to many other CD’s and SACD’s this difference was accentuated:

We listened to “Night and the City”  – This is Charlie Haden and Kenny Barron’s classic, which is close, miked on both the piano and the bass. Once again the differences were noticeable. We listened to this CD on all three amps. When listening on the EA amp Steve made a comment that the bass was a little heavy. We listened to the entire section and then went back to RAM unit.

With the RAM unit the bass cleaned up and was more detailed. But the major difference was in bloom and decay, and compression. Somehow, the bass did not appear as heavy, probably because it was more detailed. Yes you could hear the strum of the bass, but you feel and hear the percussiveness of the piano. The piano is a very percussive instrument. It was after this session that Steve made his comment about the RAM unit’s artistic presentation. Again the recording contained the information, but the RAM unit was the only one that did not seem to compress the recording.

We spent a lot of time listening to the “Live at Red Rose Music” SACD. This CD has the best piano presentation that I have ever heard. Jerry has player piano upstairs, and we listened for a while. We went back down stairs and listened to this CD. It was clear, with cool and quiet presentation on the ARC and the EA amps, that something was different. When we played it on the RAM unit it was improved (not perfect – nothing is). It appears that a major difference between real life and reproduction systems relates to dynamic compression, attack, bloom and decay is generally mishandled by audio systems. We’ve become accustomed to this type of presentation, probably because of reproduction limitations. The RAM unit takes audiophile reproduction to a new level in its ability to present dynamic detail without compression.

I disagree with Marcus’s comment on brute force. It’s not watt’s, but it is more about dynamic compression. Some of you might not like what you hear, but it is closer to the real performance than is typical. It’s true that if you prefer a more subdued sound you will like the EA. If your true desire is realism and musicality, you will prefer RAM unit. No it is not typical of audiophile comparisons, which generally compare to other systems. It is, however, much closer to live music, and to the recording studio.

Jon L

Wow
« Reply #12 on: 20 Sep 2004, 06:13 pm »
Just goes to show you people do hear differently!  Thanks for your impressions.  I would love to hear all these amps in my own system some day.  As far as ARC amp having "traditional tube sound," that's the first time I've heard that one, though.  All the ARC tube amps I've heard in the past such as VT100, Reference 300 were some of the least tubey-sounding, definitely so if compared to SET amps and even compared to most push-pull tube amps...

Steve

Thanks, and evaluations
« Reply #13 on: 20 Sep 2004, 08:47 pm »
First, thanks to Jerry and Ruth for being such great hosts. Makes things so pleasant.

I just wanted to mention that I would be glad to send a 10A preamp around to All those at Jerry's get together. I got to know each one, at least a little.

With that said, I know that time and other responsibilities are always in play. So if someone cannot evaluate, no problem.

Just let me know who would like to evaluate first, if interested.

Take care and it was a pleasure to meet all of you, and hope we can meet again, soon.

earlmarc

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« Reply #14 on: 20 Sep 2004, 08:52 pm »
Continuing with the EA, the EA is a smooth, detailed, and dynamic amplifier more similar to the ARC than the RAM. It possesses much of the same qualities of the ARC but with a little tighter bass and transient snap. I didn't notice much difference in dynamics and detail retrieval. The EA had the quietest background of the three amps. The EA didn't have as much air and depth as the ARC, but again it was very close to the ARC in this regard too. Steve Sammit of SAS used a depth test CD that demonstrated a person walking back 60 feet from the microphone. The EA was able to follow the person's footsteps and voice all the way back and forward. The EA has excellent frequency extension that is smooth around the edges. The EA is easy to listen too and is non-fatiguing.  In the area of believabilty I give a slight edge to the ARC. Thus, overall I preferred the ARC by a nose over the EA.

Next, we switched preamps from the EEMM to the SAS 10A. Having lived with the SAS 10 for months, I was familiar with its character once it entered the chain. I know Jerry is very fond of his EEMM, but to me the EEMM wasn't in the same playing field as the 10A. The 10A seemed to bringout more in all of the amps tested. The EEMM seemed smeared by comparison. The 10 was more transparent. Individual instruments were more identifiable in space and more details came through. The depth and size of the soundstage increased as well. I think most of us noticed the improvement after the switch. Jerry said it best. The 10A is probably the best kept secret in audio.

The purpose for this shoot-out was to bring two versions of Carver ZR-1600 together and offer information about what we heard to our fellow members. The selection of a particular amplifier is a personal choice. Both the RAM and EA Carver's offer to very different presentations. Here is my breakdown between the two:

Dynamics and Transient Attack:

1. RAM
2. EA
3. ARC

Mid and Sub Bass Performance:

1. RAM
2. EA
3. ARC

Midrange:

1. ARC
2. EA
3. RAM

High Frequency:

1. ARC
2. EA
3. RAM

Attack:

1. RAM
2. EA
3. ARC

Decay:

1. ARC
2. EA
3. RAM

Imaging:

1. EA
2. ARC
3. RAM

Self Noise:

1. EA
2. ARC
3. RAM

Inner Resolution:

1. RAM
2. EA
3. ARC

Soundstage Depth:

1. ARC
2. EA
3. RAM

Soundstage Width:

1. ARC
2. EA
3. RAM

Musicality:

1. ARC
2. EA
3. RAM

Believability:

1. ARC
2. EA
3. RAM

I really enjoyed this shoot-out and hope to do it again soon.

zybar

Shootout at audiojerry's place
« Reply #15 on: 20 Sep 2004, 09:38 pm »
Great posts guys.

This thread really highlights how we each hear differently and want/like different things.

It also shows how important it is to try gear in your own system.

Again, great job guys.

George

audiojerry

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« Reply #16 on: 21 Sep 2004, 02:55 am »
I'd like to make a clarification that my wife, Ruth insists upon. Her piano is not a "player" piano. She is very sensitive about this. It is a Yamaha C7 Conservatory Series 7' concert grand with an integrated Disklavier midi system. I'm sure Jesse didn't intend to offend, but it's kinduv like calling someone's Rolls Royce a Geo Metro  :lol:

I mention the concert grand because it provides me with a continuous reference of what real music should sound like - at least when a piano is concerned, and also about percussiveness, tonality, and timbral complexity.

Jesse stressed the importance of a system sounding realistic and like live music. I agree. But I think we differ on what qualities of music reproduction are most critical to making it seem realistic and live. Jesse felt it was important to replay tracks such as the opening bells from Dark Side at high volume to judge the dynamics of our amps and how each recreated the event by comparing the shock or startle effect, I believe. In
retrospect, I think we should have used an spl meter to make sure each unit played the passage back at the same volume setting. There is no question that the RAM had the greatest shock or impact. But why? Was it played back at a higher volume? I think partially that is true. Did the RAM assault the senses to a greater extent? I think that it definitely did.

But the thing that troubles me is that I and at least two others commented that the RAM was easier to listen to when the volume levels were lower. At the same time, I know I can tolerate a live musical event with acoustic instruments at much higher volume levels without the discomfort that I experienced with the RAM. To me, this suggests distortion, smearing, and compression might be the causes of the shock effect. I would also venture to suggest that the ARC and the EA could play at higher volume levels without the aural discomfort. Does this make them less dynamic? I think I know what live musical dynamics and percussion is supposed to sound like.  

However, Jesse understands musical concepts and the elements that make up a musical event, and Jesse finds the RAM an extremely convincing music reproduction component. How can each of us have such different expectations and interpretation of a system's criteria?

audiojerry

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« Reply #17 on: 21 Sep 2004, 03:13 am »
And btw, Steve, I would most definitely like to take you up on your offer to try your preamp, as soon as you've got one available. I will PM you.

Fellow AC'ers - I'm not kidding, this may be a revelation!

Mad DOg

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« Reply #18 on: 21 Sep 2004, 06:09 am »
Quote from: hibuckhobby
I've been waiting to read the results of this listening session because Eric and I had to leave by 3:45 in the afternoon to get back to Roscoe, Illinois.
First a couple of comments on the gathering.  Jerry was a most gracious host and I want to thank him again for putting this session on.

My opinion is that Jerry's system has been very carefully tuned with a view toward a synergy that provides a very natural timbre of instrument and voice.  It is a near-field listening environment where the listener is  ...


hibuckhobby,

great point about system synergy...i've always known about it and am always learning more and more about it each and every day i mess around w/ new gear in my system.   8)

Eric

Shootout at audiojerry's place
« Reply #19 on: 21 Sep 2004, 04:36 pm »
Just wanted to chime in that Jerry and his wife were wonderful hosts, and I enjoyed meeting the guys in person. All were great guys. As Jerry stated, I only heard the Arc and JCC's modded amp:

1. JCC"s amp was very dynamic and live sounding. There was no "cloud" or haze over the instruments. My time in the sweet spot was with Norah Jones. With JCC's amp, the bass was articulate and strong and the high-end was very extended. The one glaring weakness for me was in the area of imaging. Norah's voice seemed to float around the room, but was not centered in the middle of the stage as I am used to hearing. The mids were also slightly receeded. For JCC's taste in music and his system, I am sure his amp has wonderful synergy. Very live and dynamic, thought not the best in imaging.

2. The Arc was an imaging champ. With Norah Jones her image was palpable and three dimensional. Her voice was very smooth sounding and musical. There was no harshness or glare. However I felt that there was a coloring towards the midrange. I also felt that when the Arc was inserted there was a slight haze compared to JCC's amp (it sounded less "live"). I also felt the bass was more rounded and less defined. Jerry's system seems to be tuned for Jazz and smaller blues and classical works. It is very much of a "chamber" feeling system. Great at imaging and musicality but not quite as dynamic.