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Thanks for the write up Dave. The system pricing certainly seems over the top. I understand that a custom, well-tuned system using top line parts will cost a lot, but I also think much of the magic you heard could be obtained at far lower prices. There are a number of hobbyists who have put together comparable systems, albeit mostly custom/DIY. I can remember a number of them from the day of Sound Practices.From my perspective, we are seeing:1. Tube Preamp (line stage in this case)2. Active Crossover (Accuphase F25 in this case)3. SET Amplification (205/45/300B)4. Multiway, high efficiency speakers.A number of us have experience with SE amps, both triode and pentode. Some of us also have dealt with high efficiency horn systems as well. The major difference is the relatively rare use of active crossovers for each driver. I would argue that the DIY among us could produce a satisfying system that may not approach the AA show system but may give 85%. Such a system may look like this:1. Tube preamp (Inspire LP27a)2. Active Crossover (Pass B4)3. SEP Amplification (Inspire 6V6 SE and KT77 PSE)4. Speakers (Altec 414-C in bass reflex and Altec 802D on 32A horn)Total cost for this system, including cabling and tube upgrades but not including source: about $9-10,000. Not dirt-cheap but not $600k either. If I could use a tube crossover (say, a Marchand) it may be better, but I am not convinced. This system will give very good bass, but not great bass. It will also miss the very top (>17khz) frequencies, but will work extremely well in a small to medium sized room.
"I thought Vaughn's Plasma Signature loudspeakers ($20,000/pair) with their new bamboo cabinets, revised plasma tweeter, and eight Fostex midrange drivers combined to create a most scintillating—better than electrostatics—magic realism. Sourced and powered by Gordon Rankin's spectacular electronics, this system was easily the best sound of the show—maybe the best sound of ANY show—ever!Read more at http://www.stereophile.com/content/rmaf-2016-assessment#yx6O6AuyGSzc4Yho.99
Drivers are by ALE and they need a lot of crossover work to correct. I can understand how something like this is very impressive in the short term, no way would I be able to live with them as the primary set of speakers for day in day out listening. I played a recording I made of my friend's mother (former violionist Cleveland Orchestra) and it was very far from sounding like real life. Most acquaintances I know in Japan that start on the ALE/GOTO journey and try and tame it over decades eventually give up.
Stereophile said this about Jim Vaughn's new 20K plasma speakers.
I play a string quartet cover of Massive Attack's "Sly".
The second time that i went to listen i was sitting in pole position had a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend to the left and right of me. I play a string quartet cover of Massive Attack's "Sly". Something that i knew well but something that was completely unfamiliar to my new friends sitting on either side. For little over 4 minutes we sat transfixed and motionless. at the conclusion he said that we felt as if he was going to cry, his girlfriend / wife left the room an emotional wreck. I knew that what we were listening to was special but to have it confirmed is such dramatic form only showed what reproduced sound can REALLY be like. She returned with red circles under her eyes to say that she had never heard reproduced sound like that. It happened to be the her first show and her first room.
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