Mating LIO amp with sensitve speakers and low volume listening. Any impressions?

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Vlad_Bath

A question to the happy LIO owners - anyone with high sensitivity speakers or Audio Note owners?
How does the combination sound at low volume? Please share your impressions.
Here is some history - why I am asking about this particular combination (pardon me for being a little bit off topic).
I switched from the wonderful ProAc Response One SC (84dB) to Audio Note AN-E SPe HE (98dB).
So far I am delighted with the AN speakers' musicality, naturalness, and sense of scale (compared to mini-monitors), but only at mid to high volume.
I very often listen at whisper-levels, and with ProAc I grew accustomed to hearing full-spectrum music with good dynamics at very low volume.
Not so with Audio Note, quite contrary to my expectations, until I go relatively loud the sound seems muffled and I hear no HF info.
First I thought that the AN speakers were to blame, to the point of damaged HF drivers. But hearing them playing loud changed my opinion.
May be it's the amplifiers that have their first half-watt not up to the task. Even low volume on 84dB sensitive ProAcs would require some good juice.
It is a known fact that a great many amps are not suited for low-level listening - they don't open up until they are kicked well.
I wouldn't think that my amps are of this variety (Berning ZH-270, Wavac MD-811, VTL TT-25), but ability to deliver good current at low voltage may not be their best side.
On the other hand, the super-capacitor based LIO amp (transistors are more high current able devices compared to tubes) may be the answer to my case.
Sharing your impressions and advice will be highly appreciated  :)   Thanks!

Vlad

Srajan Ebaen

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A friend and I recently swapped gear for a week. I got his Schiit Yggdrasil, he my LIO. He's got 100dB speakers. I asked how LIO worked out on those. "Fantastic, and absolutely zero noise." My LIO has the Slageformer module installed...

aumacoustics

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    • Vinnie Rossi LIO
I own a pair of Rethm speakers (97db) and have a new LIO coming in August. As soon as Vinnie can ship it, I plan on finding out exactly how well the LIO compares to my current reference system. I'm using my own built all Hashimoto (w/20w output transformer) 2A3 amp (4w/ch), my own LDR based preamp (w/Tortuga controller board), and a Metrum Pavane DAC. It will be interesting to find out exactly how well Vinnie's new LIO works compared to that system.

The LIO Vinnie is building for me will have the MOSFET amp, DAC, and Slagle/Tube Stage Vol Control so I should be able to provide some really good input. If you can hang on until August sometime, I plan on providing my honest input. Personally, I suspect the LIO will sound better than my own system but time will tell.

Richard

Vinnie R.

A friend and I recently swapped gear for a week. I got his Schiit Yggdrasil, he my LIO. He's got 100dB speakers. I asked how LIO worked out on those. "Fantastic, and absolutely zero noise." My LIO has the Slageformer module installed...

Hi Srajan,

Thanks for your post!


Hi Vlad,

I do believe that you will find LIO does very well with low-level listening, but the speakers used and room
acoustics also play a big role with that.  :wink:


Hi Richard,

Welcome to the VR forum!  The LIO should really sing with the Rethm's!

Looking forward to your posts here!

Vinnie

dpatters

A friend and I recently swapped gear for a week. I got his Schiit Yggdrasil, he my LIO. He's got 100dB speakers. I asked how LIO worked out on those. "Fantastic, and absolutely zero noise." My LIO has the Slageformer module installed...
[/quote

I certainly don't mean to hijack the thread but can you offer any impressions of the Schiit Yggy?

Don P.

Vinnie R.

quote author=Srajan Ebaen link=topic=135930.msg1444725#msg1444725 date=1436804606]
A friend and I recently swapped gear for a week. I got his Schiit Yggdrasil, he my LIO. He's got 100dB speakers. I asked how LIO worked out on those. "Fantastic, and absolutely zero noise." My LIO has the Slageformer module installed...


I certainly don't mean to hijack the thread but can you offer any impressions of the Schiit Yggy?

Don P.

Hi Don,

It will be best if you email Srajan: Srajan [at] 6moons.com to discuss the Schiit Yggdrasil.  Thank you for your understanding.

Vinnie

dpatters

No problem.  My apologies.

Vlad_Bath

A friend and I recently swapped gear for a week. I got his Schiit Yggdrasil, he my LIO. He's got 100dB speakers. I asked how LIO worked out on those. "Fantastic, and absolutely zero noise." My LIO has the Slageformer module installed...

Thanks, Srajan! That's inspiring some hope  :)  Buy the way, it has been a great pleasure reading your articles on 6moons. Actually that's how I found out about LIO, and before that I was considering primarily SE tube amps like Sun Audio SV-2A3, Berning Siegfried, Shindo Cortese, and PP EL84 Leben and Air Tight models.

...The LIO Vinnie is building for me will have the MOSFET amp, DAC, and Slagle/Tube Stage Vol Control so I should be able to provide some really good input. If you can hang on until August sometime, I plan on providing my honest input. Personally, I suspect the LIO will sound better than my own system but time will tell.

Richard

Thanks, Richard! I don't think I'll hold for that long))) Planning to order LIO soon in the very same configuration.
It will be an epic fight - the DAC module fighting NAD M51 and analogue outs of Oppo BD-105D, tube preamp module - Shindo Auriges, and the power amp module will face the mentioned above tube amps (Wavac, Berning and VTL) and a DIY Hypex class D amp with transformer type choke filtration and Silmic II in the PS section. The base, amp and AVC will stay, and I will think about DAC and tube module based on their performance.
I have my hopes high to get rid of many boxes and leave only LIO and Mac Mini running Windows 7+J.River+IK Multimedia ARC2 plugin (Audissey XT32 at 24/192) with J.River set to DSD DOP USB output to LIO (I prefer to have everything resampled to DSD, it sounds a bit more natural to my ears).

Vlad

Srajan Ebaen

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Inspiring hope was the ticket.   :lol:

Since I currently don't own any hi-eff speakers, I was very curious how LIO would fare in a system usually driven by a Berning Siegfried or Thomas Mayer 300B amps. I was pleased as punch to be told that it came off a treat. I have the Voxativ Pi 9.87 system due for review later this year which will be 99dB. I'll be sure to throw LIO into that mix when the time comes and report back with personal impressions.

Incidentally, my friend used Rethm Saadhana 3 on the LIO...

Vinnie R.

Inspiring hope was the ticket.   :lol:

Since I currently don't own any hi-eff speakers, I was very curious how LIO would fare in a system usually driven by a Berning Siegfried or Thomas Mayer 300B amps. I was pleased as punch to be told that it came off a treat. I have the Voxativ Pi 9.87 system due for review later this year which will be 99dB. I'll be sure to throw LIO into that mix when the time comes and report back with personal impressions.

Incidentally, my friend used Rethm Saadhana 3 on the LIO...

Thanks, Srajan!

I'm looking forward to your Voxativ / LIO impressions, as well as Richard's feedback with his LIO / Rethm combo. 

Any other high efficiency speaker users out there with LIO?  Omega, Zu, Tekton, Audio Note?   :)

Vinnie

genjamon

I have an LIO coming in August as well - fully outfitted with the DAC, AVC/Tube pre module, and amp.

Main system that I'll be comparing runs Spatial M1 speakers - 95db, 4ohm.  Probably not as high sensitivity as others, and the 4ohm load will test the amp more than an upper 90'sdb  8ohm load, but will be able to share how it fares on those.  I also have original Tekton Lores that I have upgraded crossover capacitors/resistors and internal wiring to all silver, bypassing the binding posts.  Those are in the TV system, but I might swap them into the main system just for kicks.  Those are 98dB and 8ohm, I believe.

Other electronics I'll be comparing to: Lampizator level 4.5 (level 5 board with a level 4 power supply and chassis).  Tube Research Labs Dude pre.  Richard's Aum LDR pre.  Line Magnetic 518 integrated SET amp (22 wpc, 845 tubes).  Job 225 solid state amp (120 wpc, I think).

To give the supercapacitors a run for their money, I have a Pi Audio Uberbuss fully outfitted with Furutech GTX(R) outlets.  And all power cables are Zenwaves very very excellent PL cables with Furutech rhodium carbon fiber connectors.  All of these investments have been pricey, but have paid massive dividends in lowering the noise floor of my system and bringing out details, nuance, and musicality I didn't realize was possible.  I'm really curious how the supercapacitors will fare against this competition.  I assume they will not be worse, but will they be that much better.  We'll see!

Nocturne79

Hello,  I wanted to comment that I had the lio with dac/amp and tubesteage combo for a little while and I used it with Omega Outlaw RS5/8" sub with great results.  Very clear and musical along with more volume than I would ever use.  I did not have the lio for very long but it was a good match, dead quiet and nothing coming from the speakers when the music was off. 

Timbana

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To give the supercapacitors a run for their money, I have a Pi Audio Uberbuss fully outfitted with Furutech GTX(R) outlets.  And all power cables are Zenwaves very very excellent PL cables with Furutech rhodium carbon fiber connectors.  All of these investments have been pricey, but have paid massive dividends in lowering the noise floor of my system and bringing out details, nuance, and musicality I didn't realize was possible.  I'm really curious how the supercapacitors will fare against this competition.  I assume they will not be worse, but will they be that much better.  We'll see!

Before getting my LIO, the power supply in my previous system was: LessLoss DFPC Signature to Bybee Stealth Power Purifier (which bested all others in my experience) and LessLoss DFPC Reference cords to an Ayon Orion II and an Ayre QB-9 DSD. Because there are more changes in going to the LIO than just replacing the previous power supply with supercapacitors, I can't say for sure that the supercapacitors are better . . . but I think they are . . . I can't hear the slightest hint of noise, just PURE music with the most subtle details floating on an absolutely black background!

And it doesn't hurt a bit that you could buy two LIO's, each with a few modules, for less than the cost of the cords and power conditioner I was using. No, I'm not a shill for Vinnie . . . just a very happy customer. Of course, now I need to see how much improvement I can get out of an AVC/tube module . . . I'm waiting with my drool bib on!
« Last Edit: 17 Jul 2015, 10:41 pm by Timbana »

Vlad_Bath

...
Other electronics I'll be comparing to: Lampizator level 4.5 (level 5 board with a level 4 power supply and chassis).  Tube Research Labs Dude pre.  Richard's Aum LDR pre.  Line Magnetic 518 integrated SET amp (22 wpc, 845 tubes).  Job 225 solid state amp (120 wpc, I think).
...

Thanks, genjamon!
It will be extremely interesting, Line Magnetic 518 has been very high on my shopping list - there were many raves declaring it to be the much expected arrival of a universal SE DHT amp, equally capable of all music genres, and combining classic SE DHT warmth, presence and magic with the transparency and iron-fisted control of the best solid state. So comparison with LIO is a kind of technology test - how well a supercapacitor/battery powered PP AB SS amp (which was reported to be unusually liquid and warm) can fare against such a beast of a tube amp, and how much of the subjective SE DHT magic is lost as a result. It is such a pity I can't compare them in my system without buying both amps(((   
And comparing LIO DAC module to the fabulous Lampizator is very interesting as well. Please share your impressions when you get the unit.

Cheers
Vlad

Vinnie R.

I can't hear the slightest hint of noise, just PURE music with the most subtle details floating on an absolutely black background!

And it doesn't hurt a bit that you could buy two LIO's, each with a few modules, for less than the cost of the cords and power conditioner I was using. No, I'm not a shill for Vinnie . . . just a very happy customer. Of course, now I need to see how much improvement I can get out of an AVC/tube module . . . I'm waiting with my drool bib on!

Thanks, Timbana!

Getting the rest of the parts for the AVC/Tubestage modules this week, and then we'll be building away morning, day, and night! :hyper:
You'll definitely want that drool bib in place!  :green:


Hi genjamon,

Looking forward to your impressions once you receive your LIO and put it through its paces - thank you!


Hi Nocturne79 - thanks for your post!

Quote
So comparison with LIO is a kind of technology test - how well a supercapacitor/battery powered PP AB SS amp (which was reported to be unusually liquid and warm) can fare against such a beast of a tube amp, and how much of the subjective SE DHT magic is lost as a result.

Hi Vlad_Bath,

It's more of a comparison of two products - through the ears of one customer listening with his particular parameters:

- His speakers
- His room
- His music preference
- His tastes in sonic presentation, etc. 

These all get mixed into the very complex equation, and your outcome could be completely different with your own parameters. 

"Technology test" might not be the right term for it.  LIO is just one particular, unique iteration of an ultracap powered Class AB SS amp, with its own unique design.  Line Magnetic is just one unique iteration of a SE, DHT topology, correct?   Let's say one prefers LIO, but then tries a different SE, DHT amp and prefers that one... I think you get my point.  :wink:   I just try not to generalize.

For instance, some Class AB amps sound better to me than some Class A amps.  Some Class D amps sound better to me than some Class A or AB.  Some bass reflex speakers sound better to me than some open baffle, or sealed box speakers.  Same idea with different dac implementations, preamp implementations, measurements (sounding that measures better but subjectively sounds worse than something that doesn't measure as well) etc. etc. etc.   
 
:deadhorse:   :wink:

Vinnie

genjamon



Hi Vlad_Bath,

It's more of a comparison of two products - through the ears of one customer listening with his particular parameters:

- His speakers
- His room
- His music preference
- His tastes in sonic presentation, etc. 

These all get mixed into the very complex equation, and your outcome could be completely different with your own parameters. 

"Technology test" might not be the right term for it.  LIO is just one particular, unique iteration of an ultracap powered Class AB SS amp, with its own unique design.  Line Magnetic is just one unique iteration of a SE, DHT topology, correct?   Let's say one prefers LIO, but then tries a different SE, DHT amp and prefers that one... I think you get my point.  :wink:   I just try not to generalize.

For instance, some Class AB amps sound better to me than some Class A amps.  Some Class D amps sound better to me than some Class A or AB.  Some bass reflex speakers sound better to me than some open baffle, or sealed box speakers.  Same idea with different dac implementations, preamp implementations, measurements (sounding that measures better but subjectively sounds worse than something that doesn't measure as well) etc. etc. etc.   
 
:deadhorse:   :wink:

Vinnie

I agree with all of this, Vinnie.  And I was being overly simplistic when I implied I might be able to assess the noise level of the supercapacitor power supply compared with the traditional power supplies of the other equipment.  That, of course is impossible to do directly through subjective listening sessions.  You could measure their relative characteristics, but of course those objective measures don't tell 100% of the story either about how the power supplies interact with the various signal circuits or how it affects my subjective impressions. 

Also, I would say that I've noticed quite a few times with my local audio group get-togethers that some of us will hear things VERY differently than others of us in terms how we like one setup or another, or one tweak or another.  Part of it is lack of familiarity - listening to a change in someone else's system that you've only been listening to for an hour is more difficult to gauge than in your own system that you know intimately.  But part of it is definitely different preferences, and also quite different ways that people hear, what they listen for, and what stands out to them.  I can never predict what some of my buddies will like or not, and often enough it differs significantly from my impressions!

Timbana

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Thanks, Timbana!

Getting the rest of the parts for the AVC/Tubestage modules this week, and then we'll be building away morning, day, and night! :hyper:
You'll definitely want that drool bib in place!  :green:

Great to hear Vinnie . . . drool bib is at the ready! And, thanks for offering the trade-in deal to make the upgrade easier.

Best,
Charlie

Srajan Ebaen

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As promised, a quick heads up on LIO driving Voxativ's Pi. This is at least 99dB efficient. My friend bought a version with a 104dB driver. I still have to inquire what version is in my review loaners. But even the 'lowliest' Voxativ driver is 99dB. With LIO, there's absolutely *zero" noise - as in , can't tell the bloody amp is even on doing a Van Gogh (ear clapped directly atop the widebander). So yes, LIO is ideal for such applications. Sonically it's not as lucid as the FirstWatt SIT1 or SIT2 and a bit warmer - but for most, it'd be a matter of taste, not quality.  So LIO is a bona fide solution for such high-eff speakers. :icon_lol:




Jonathon Janusz

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I got a chance to hear LIO integrated with tube/autoformer at CAF with Volti 104db horns.  It completely changed my mind about what horns can be, for the better. 

In particular with a setup like this, I think the magic in low level listening is a combination of the current delivery (ability to produce all the detail/nuance in the music at low volume) and the very low noise floor (key with a high efficiency setup, particularly at low volume - the ability to actually hear the detail/nuance in the music produced above the ambient noise in the system).  As a wiser man than I once said to me, it is the space between the notes where the music happens.  Before hearing this setup, I understood the concept.  Now, with an example so blatant even a non-golden eared listener like me can't miss it, I get it.

Anyone going to the New York show needs to put this setup on their list of rooms to hear.

The (next?) step for someone running this kind of system is going to be, in my opinion, is really going all in on dropping the noise floor of the room the system is in, as I think in many cases the noise floor of the room might be problematically higher than that of the system at low volume.

Srajan Ebaen

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Shy of moving deep into the country side, there's not much you can do about a room's noise floor. During the day, 40dB is normal and good. If you can hit 30dB at night, you're doing a-okay. You can buy a quieter refrigerator if an open floor plan bleeds that in; and similar stuff...  and listen at night when there's no or little outside traffic noise... but other than that, where you live sets your noise floor and it is what it is.