I listened to a megabuck turntable... SHOOTOUT! *Part 3 - updated*

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Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #40 on: 15 Aug 2016, 08:10 pm »
Last year I heard a system that had an $18K TT with a $5K tonearm (I forget the cartridge), a $40K Vitus phono preamp, VTL 450 monoblock amps and $50K Rockport speakers and I was way underwhelmed.  My modest analog system sounded better in  many respects.  I think that part of it was the room which was specially designed for audio.  It was too dead.  No life to the music.
Well that just goes to show doesn't it? Money doesn't always guarantee success but in fairness so much is down to installation but more importantly the installer being able to judge when something isn't right, musically. I too have heard many megabuck systems sound less than engaging.

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #41 on: 20 Aug 2016, 11:04 am »
Two weeks in now and what a rollercoaster this one has been. This is because I had no choice but to break rule #1, only change one item at a time. :duh:

Yep, no choice but to use the 400 dedicated table and that has had such a profound influence on the system in general that I've been forced to make other changes to rebalanced the system.

From the outset it's clear to me that the Rega gear on the 400 rack was the issue in much the same way I found when I tried the Quadraspire SVT Bamboo. So I swapped out the Osiris for the DV 200L/HX100 (P75 on standby too). John warned me that: a) the 200 is no 300 and more importantly, b) the HX100 was an early prototype of which cannot be updated and to treat it as a 'flavour' test of the DV sound. Without going into too much detail it wasn't right for me especially when I compared it to the Rega with it on the Isoblue base plonked in front of the 400 table. (zero opportunity for more than one table, ever).

When I read Rob400's comment ''However last week I got chance to hear the Jinru Integrated with the ANE SPE signature speakers £29k retail for the two. I might be persuaded! That SET sound when right is really good'', that really got me thinking. As it happens we have a Tom Evans Linear A in our stock room (don't ask!) and as luck would have it this thing actually fits on the 400 table. Result? PURE MAGIC  :thumb: The most engaging, lifelike sound that has ever graced my room. That's with it partnered with the DV 200L. Now if only there was a DV L301 ready :wink:

The Royale 400, the point of this thread, is sounding nothing short of amazing. Such control and grip that the Versalex lacks, albeit when compared to my normal installation. The problem here is that at 60cmx50cm and 50kg it's impossible to swap the decks unless you just happen to be Geoff Capes. In a way that's a good thing as I've only been listening via the 400 rather than a-b-ing all the time.
Trying to isolate other improvements over the Versalex, I'd say that the 16 inch arm has a benefit for tracking though only for the first track or two. My understanding is that Bill set the geo on the Versalex such that maximum TE was set to the outer rather than the inner grooves on account of the extra linear speed. I've often noticed that the Versalex has a slight forwardness lift for the first track and from there on stays incredibly linear even in the inner groove. Whereas, the 400 is totally constant throughout the side. I haven't heard any other improvements or degradation that I can identify to date regarding the arm.

The Royale 400 clearly achieves it's design goal, to improve on the Versalex's considerable strengths rather than having a different 'voice'. a SUPER Versalex if you will and it obviously took this kind of engineering to achieve it. Now Bill, any chance of a Royale 266? :lol:

So, next week is crunch time. The 400 is returned and the Versalex goes back on the wall (not an option for the 400 of course. Although I have a suspended wooden floor, the shear weight of the combo is such that footfall problems are rare), I'll slot in the Quadraspire SVT Bamboo to accommodate the Linear A. Only then will I know if I have to have one :) The misses is neutral on this which is better than I expected.

ATB

Simon



rob400

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #42 on: 20 Aug 2016, 11:22 am »
Interesting and well articulated post Simon. I'm not surprised that you enjoyed the Tom Evans with the 400. Natural, real and engaging. I now really do believe that the WT sound marries extremely well with a top SET amp and high efficiency speakers.  Not surprised that a lot of the US guys go with Line Magnetic/ DeVore combos. Let us know how you get on going back to the Versalex  :D

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #43 on: 20 Aug 2016, 11:46 am »
Interesting and well articulated post Simon. I'm not surprised that you enjoyed the Tom Evans with the 400. Natural, real and engaging. I now really do believe that the WT sound marries extremely well with a top SET amp and high efficiency speakers.  Not surprised that a lot of the US guys go with Line Magnetic/ DeVore combos. Let us know how you get on going back to the Versalex  :D

Yeah, sure will.

The A drives my SBLs brilliantly which did surprise me somewhat and a great sonic match, for me. Tom recommends speakers of 87dB+, check. He also claims it to be linear in output between 5-10 ohms which I don't think the SBLs fall outside of hence its evenness top to bottom. Drives like a bastard too :lol:

ATB

Simon

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #44 on: 20 Aug 2016, 12:21 pm »
Hi Rob

Assuming you have:


 
Have you tried?:




If not do give it a go and let me know what you think.

ATB

Simon

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #45 on: 20 Aug 2016, 01:04 pm »
In situ.




Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #46 on: 28 Aug 2016, 01:33 pm »
Interesting and well articulated post Simon. I'm not surprised that you enjoyed the Tom Evans with the 400. Natural, real and engaging. I now really do believe that the WT sound marries extremely well with a top SET amp and high efficiency speakers.  Not surprised that a lot of the US guys go with Line Magnetic/ DeVore combos. Let us know how you get on going back to the Versalex  :D
Holy cow Rob, I've just noticed your profile update!!!

Yesterday morning saw the return of the 400 and last night I reinstalled the Rega gear and Versalex (all kept on for the 2 weeks I had other gear).

First shock, how small the Versalex seams after 2 weeks with the 400 and I always considered it a bit big after 29 years of LP. A very odd sensation.

Second shock. The Linear A driven by the L200 and back to the Osiris. OMG! Good night transistors

rob400

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #47 on: 28 Aug 2016, 04:53 pm »
The 400 looks great Simon. The custom rack also. I love BBP though. You must buy a 400 at trade rates mate! It's a no brainer if you have the funds surely!

Yep my DV's and Obs 2 are sold. All the Audio Note gear is on a 8 week build time so just listening to a pair of Larcs driven by a Densen B130 that I normally use with the tele so will leave the counterweight position until the new gear arrives and is run in. Interestingly the sound now is more compressed and not as controlled as before but a little sweeter. The latest HX100 mods are an improvement in detail resolution and control but I found that it's gone backwards regarding hardness a la HX1.2. It took a few weeks and a second pair of ears to gain full realisation. After your latest experiences and new found preference be warned!

The less good valve gear equates to a lumpy bass and shy top end ..... but.... When I heard the Jinro driving AN-E SPe/HE's with ISIS cable it was the beginning of a new phase for me. Same retail as the DV/SH combo I was using by the way. The sound is more immediate without being forced. More 'real' and less hard. A 400 is still on my radar though.

Best

Rob



Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #48 on: 28 Aug 2016, 07:08 pm »
The 400 looks great Simon. The custom rack also. I love BBP though. You must buy a 400 at trade rates mate! It's a no brainer if you have the funds surely!

Yep my DV's and Obs 2 are sold. All the Audio Note gear is on a 8 week build time so just listening to a pair of Larcs driven by a Densen B130 that I normally use with the tele so will leave the counterweight position until the new gear arrives and is run in. Interestingly the sound now is more compressed and not as controlled as before but a little sweeter. The latest HX100 mods are an improvement in detail resolution and control but I found that it's gone backwards regarding hardness a la HX1.2. It took a few weeks and a second pair of ears to gain full realisation. After your latest experiences and new found preference be warned!


The less good valve gear equates to a lumpy bass and shy top end ..... but.... When I heard the Jinro driving AN-E SPe/HE's with ISIS cable it was the beginning of a new phase for me. Same retail as the DV/SH combo I was using by the way. The sound is more immediate without being forced. More 'real' and less hard. A 400 is still on my radar though.

Best

Rob

Well many congratulations on your new system, it's not that often I see anyone change everything in one go, such a wholesale change.
The problem for me is the rack with only 2 usable shelves for a top loading CD player, full size Phonostage and a pre and the Linear A which gobbles up the whole of the lower shelf. It posses as many questions as it solves.

 The system as a whole with the 400 was revelatory with none of the soggy lumpy bass you mentioned, far from it although the bass was huge, 500 style but far more textural. The top end has real bite, Led Zep 3 'Since  I've been loving you', guitar sounded so right, taught and biting but not ear fatiguing. All the space only a tube can do to and Plant's sultry voice warm and rich, until he screams of course. The Linear A really can rock as well as be beautiful. Dusty in Memphis was gorgeous, best ever. The big surprise was the match with the SBLs with NACA5! Cables like Chord Odyssey killed it dead. May look at A23 Green sometime, are you still using them?

Interesting comment you made regarding the HX100 mods, I'll keep a guarded ear out if and when Jonathon ever gets the production running. I have to say how impressed I am with the L200 though, can't wait to hear the 300/301 though Jon warned me that unlike the 200, the 300's volume rises fast a la Naim which pisses me off greatly as I like to,listen at very low levels late at night. Was that the case for you though? Rega is the same, a stab on the remote and bam, it's too loud. The 200 has all the gain from 1pm so it's perfect.

This week I'll try the amp combo on an SVT Bamboo with the Versalex and hope I get most of what I had but doubt I will. 400 on a floor mounted rack vs Versalex on the wall, could be interesting.

Most interesting was my long suffering wife's reaction stating it was the largest difference she'd ever experienced and that from someone who never listens with me and has no HiFi interests. The 2 slow numbers on Paul Weller's Stanley Rd is her benchmark, gutterally emotional.
If the 400 is a must then she's also not adverse to redoing the room (she's always hated that big piece of furniture so a win win all round).

Do let me know how you get on, it's a long wait but I'm sure it will be worth it.

ATB

Simon

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #49 on: 10 Sep 2016, 09:22 am »
I finally got around to collecting my thoughts and taking some more detailed images of the 400 and its construction and posted them on my blog page. To save the chore of repeating it all, here'a a link.

http://blog.audiot.co.uk/blog/2016/9/9/the-well-tempered-royale-400-turntable-50kg-of-sheer-musical-joy

Simon

rob400

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #50 on: 10 Sep 2016, 11:39 am »
Good work Simon!

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #51 on: 10 Sep 2016, 02:39 pm »
Good work Simon!
Thanks Rob. You can't be too far away from your new system?

FTR I have the system at home on the Quadraspire Bamboo and it sounds dandy but the construction is such that it sways back and forth like a spring due to footfall with the Isis on the top.

I will try the 400 next weekend after a customer home demo with it next Thursday. He had a short listen vs the Versalex which he's been considering for some time, we were both shocked when going back to the Versalex.

I suspect the pendulum effect will be even worse. If so I'll consider the 400 rack. John says one can be made with differing spacing and shelf numbers but will cost more. It took quite a lot to disturb the deck when using this rack when I had it home and my wife actually prefers the overall system appearance with it, lucky me. :D

I guess you'll be making new supports for your 26'' deep Jinro? Due let us know how you get on.

ATB

Simon


rob400

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #52 on: 10 Sep 2016, 03:12 pm »
Hi Simon

The 400 stand does look the part but that's a 'helluva' retail price! With you acquiring at trade it seems a no brainer to me though even if you go for custom dimensions. My Versalex sounds great sat on Baltic Birch Ply. I am going to make a BBP one tier rack for the Jinro (3 months to wait still) so you obviously won't regret it if you can make it work for you.

Interestingly I picked up a Puresound P10 phono stage with step up last week and that lovely valve sound comes through with it. I prefer it to the DVP75 that I loaned form Audio Councel after the sale of my L300 even with the Densen B130/ Larc combi that I'm using whilst waiting on the new gear.. I was obviously a 'valve guy' without knowing it. It took the Jinro to covert me though. The bass was the biggest surprise. Partnered with ANE SPe HE  speakers it's the most 'realistic' bass that I've yet heard.

I love the Well Tempered turntables though and although my dealer is pushing the soon to be released Audio Note TT3 a 400 is the most likely choice for me. Hopefully the reliability will be good. I know John had some issues with earthing on his 400 and I have had a couple of hiccups with the Versalex (poor plinth finish and leaking arm cup). I feel that the guys in China let Firebaugh down somewhat. But there's no denying the decks are LP12/Rega munchers in my humble estimation!!

Best

Rob

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #53 on: 10 Sep 2016, 03:33 pm »
Hi Rob,

Yes John told me about the leaking bowl. That was the old design when it had a drain plug but now that's been removed and the bowl is unbroken it's sorted.

John did have earthing issues and I discovered a new issue when the deck is not partnered to the P75 in that upon start-up or speed change there is some motor noise bleed. Frank sent, via John an arm that has a terminal block just like the Versalex and that fixed it. It seems that routing the signal to the output sockets at the back was the issue. I left out commenting on the Balanced sockets you can see in one of the images as John hopes they'll be deleted in production.

One thing I should mention which John has been pushing for for the Versalex is a single bolt adjuster for arm height and the 400 has this. This was from Johns idea for the same with the Linn which is of course their standard, a scolloped arm collar which in effect is a three point fixing. NO MORE WOBLY ARMS and twin bolts :duh:

No issues on finish and to be honest there's little else at risk other than the electronics due to the designs engineering simplicity. It could/should be the last deck we'll ever need :thumb:

ATB

SImon

G E

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable... SHOOTOUT! *Part 3*
« Reply #54 on: 15 Oct 2016, 12:41 am »
OK....

Next weekend we are doing a shoot out.

In one corner the Transrotor Rondino with Shelter Accord cartridge.

And in the other a Well Tempered Amadeus with Grado Reference Master 1.

And I'll bring along my Hagerman Cornet2 phono preamp (built by yours truly) and two distinctly different sets of vintage tubes: RCA black plate and Amperex Bugle Boys 12ax7/12au7. Late '40's early '50s vintage.

My friend and I have radically different approaches to downstream electronics and speakers. Last weekend he spent some time at my place listening to a wide range of music. Finished up with Sonny Rollins Way out West. A reissue from 7-8 years ago.

I loaned him the record and he reports very little sonic difference.  And of course this begets the question: 

Can a record player made from a golf ball, tinker toy rod, fishing line and sewing thread hold its own against  mass and magnets?

Stay tuned.

« Last Edit: 15 Oct 2016, 01:46 am by G E »

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable... SHOOTOUT! *Part 3*
« Reply #55 on: 11 Nov 2016, 12:25 pm »
Well, how did it go then? Please share.

K

OK....

Next weekend we are doing a shoot out.

In one corner the Transrotor Rondino with Shelter Accord cartridge.

And in the other a Well Tempered Amadeus with Grado Reference Master 1.

And I'll bring along my Hagerman Cornet2 phono preamp (built by yours truly) and two distinctly different sets of vintage tubes: RCA black plate and Amperex Bugle Boys 12ax7/12au7. Late '40's early '50s vintage.

My friend and I have radically different approaches to downstream electronics and speakers. Last weekend he spent some time at my place listening to a wide range of music. Finished up with Sonny Rollins Way out West. A reissue from 7-8 years ago.

I loaned him the record and he reports very little sonic difference.  And of course this begets the question: 

Can a record player made from a golf ball, tinker toy rod, fishing line and sewing thread hold its own against  mass and magnets?

Stay tuned.

G E

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable... SHOOTOUT! *Part 3*
« Reply #56 on: 11 Nov 2016, 02:33 pm »
Comments coming this weekend!

G E

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable... SHOOTOUT! *Part 3*
« Reply #57 on: 13 Nov 2016, 12:41 am »
This update is long overdue.

I unplugged my WTA from my system, put a piece of electricians tape over the tone arm rest slot (i have the older version with the more stout tone arm support) and put it in the trunk of my car and drove 2 doors down to my neighbor's house.

We set the TT next to his Rondino and played a few records on his rig.

Since my last report he made some changes to cartridge (Shelter Accord) loading and it was a much livelier sound than i remembered.  It sounded great!  Lots of detail, excellent extension on both ends of the spectrum. And dead quiet. The magentic drive is something to listen to... But not hear.

WTA is up.  We used my cable since his uses a DIN connector on TT end. My cable is Morrow MA-4.  And my cartridge is the Grado Reference Master which doesnt have many fans here.

Initial impressions were not great. Sound was on the dull side, the sparkle factor was missing in action.  As the afternoon wore on, it improved somewhat but never matched the presentation of the Shelter. PRAT was good, not outstanding. The WTA is also very quiet. My friend mentioned it was significant quieter in this system than the VPI he had before the Transrotor. The WTA is a very quiet table, its remarkable how well it compared to the magntic drive

Some observations:  we did not follow good scientific process- to change only one parameter keeping the rest constant. We used different cables and different cartridges, one costing significantly more than the other. Neither of us was interested in swapping around cartridges  -it can be challeging to dial in a cart although much less so with the WTA  We also could not instantly swap sources although that was not problematic, the sonic signatures being so different. I wish i broughtbalong my Cornet2 phono pre. Would have been interesting to compare to the VAC phono section and let us do instant comparisons. We has some duplicate elpees.

Takeaways:  in my system the WTA /Grado / Hagerman Cornet2 is incredibly synergistic with the rest of my system (Bel Canto Pre 6, Bryston 28 bsst2, VMPS RM 30 speakers, morrow wires)  Lots of sparkle, excellen extension on both ends and PRAT in spades. I also have a glorious 3 dimensional soundfield that extends well beyond the speakers with images that present as if listening to surround sound sacd.  Timbrely my system and that of my friend is similar. But his soundfield is speaker plane bound and he comments often on my system's ability to throw a 3d soundstage.

Its all about how the components interact with each other to create the overall sonic abilities of the gear. Its amazing how one part can impact the whole.

Kimiimacman

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Re: I listened to a megabuck turntable this weekend *Part 2*
« Reply #58 on: 19 Nov 2016, 10:39 am »
The 400 looks great Simon. The custom rack also. I love BBP though. You must buy a 400 at trade rates mate! It's a no brainer if you have the funds surely!

Yep my DV's and Obs 2 are sold. All the Audio Note gear is on a 8 week build time so just listening to a pair of Larcs driven by a Densen B130 that I normally use with the tele so will leave the counterweight position until the new gear arrives and is run in. Interestingly the sound now is more compressed and not as controlled as before but a little sweeter. The latest HX100 mods are an improvement in detail resolution and control but I found that it's gone backwards regarding hardness a la HX1.2. It took a few weeks and a second pair of ears to gain full realisation. After your latest experiences and new found preference be warned!

The less good valve gear equates to a lumpy bass and shy top end ..... but.... When I heard the Jinro driving AN-E SPe/HE's with ISIS cable it was the beginning of a new phase for me. Same retail as the DV/SH combo I was using by the way. The sound is more immediate without being forced. More 'real' and less hard. A 400 is still on my radar though.


Best

Rob

Hey Rob,

Long time, no hear.

I'm assuming you have your AN gear now? How is it and how well does the Versalex integrate?

I bought the Linear A and have sent it back to upgrade to MK11. Should be back next Tuesday, Tom insists it will blow my mind :lol:

I've held off on the 400 for now, as since my counterweight configuration change I'm getting fantastic results with the Versalex/XV-1t. Maybe when the £ recovers.

Cheers

K

rob400

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Hi Simon.

Actually still waiting. I guess the October Audio Note 10% price increase (first in 7 years) has overloaded production. Speakers were supposed to arrive last week so imminent. Jinro hopefully not far behind. The Audio Note CD player is excellent. Bridges the gap between Densen 440xs and my turntable by around half. Very "vinyl" like sound wise.

Interestingly I took my BBP rack to Audio Councel to compare with his Ikea rack and guess what?  The Ikea sounded better  :o. Clearly as well! I was pretty humbled. I subsequently bought several Lack coffee and standard tables, added extra legs and reduced their size etc. The result is a rack that cost 50 quid and has improved my system sound. The Versalex seems to have benefited the most. More open with less surface noise and better noise floor. Sadly the Densen integrated and Shahinian Larcs aren't L300/HX100/ Obs to realise the full effect but it's a clear improvement after several weeks listening.

I will post a pic once the amp arrives. 400 Royale is definitely the next deck for me after establishing the Audio note gear into my system.

So are you still using SBL's with the Linear A?

Rob