Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....

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-Richard-

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Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
« Reply #20 on: 5 May 2005, 06:47 pm »
Hi Mike,

For anyone interested Mike is using the
ClariT and a tubed preamp to drive his
new Druid's...and I wish I could have Captain
Kirk beam me and Deb to his house for
a chance to hear the magic that he is hearing...

Where is the Enterprise when you need it!

Question: have you ever tried a full tube
pre and amp...with your Druid's?

And...could you describe what the tube pre
does that the stand alone ClariT does not do?

Scott F., spoke to Tony at  Hand Made Electronics...
seems they are not about to make an amp anytime
soon...problems with the metal enclosure paint...
nice guy...laid back...interesting to chat with...
the Delux is out of the picture...since Black Gate
went out of business they can no longer get the
caps that made the Delux "sound"

Warm regards -Richard-

miklorsmith

Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
« Reply #21 on: 5 May 2005, 08:19 pm »
Straight from the RCA's in my tubed Modwright, the volume-controlled Clari-T paints a detailed and broad picture.  It is sonically impressive.  By comparison, the tubed preamp puts meat on the bones.  By comparison, the straight-wire sound is harmonically thin, as a skeleton.  No parts are missing but the presentation does not breathe as a living thing.

With the pre, rich harmonics are filled in.  Bodies of instruments are portrayed with proper wood.  I don't hear a loss in detail or extension.  There is no obvious loss of objective definition.  Of course, the extra dimensionality tubes bring is there in spades and the end-result is detailed, rich, extended and fast.

Early with the Clari-T I had not plugged the pre in the chain, thinking the amp is integrated, until a friend came over with a Decware tube amp.  It sounded wonderfully saturated on my setup, leaving me shocked and a little embarrassed about my touted (by me) amp.  After he left, I set about figuring the problem out, did so, and now I won't leave the pre out.  

My speculation is that some CDP's are not impedance-matched to the Clari-T.  The simple volume control does not match those players to the amp.  The issues I get without the pre are similar to what I've heard about imperfect passive preamps.  I am not educated in such matters though, and do not cast this as fact.

Who knows?  Many people report the sound to be better without a preamp.  My statement is simply to try it both ways and see what works best for each individual system.  

My dual mono is done and will be en-route tomorrow.  Oh, what fun!

-Richard-

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Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
« Reply #22 on: 6 May 2005, 01:24 am »
Hi Mike,

Thanks for your careful and well thought out
description of what your modwright pre and the ClariT
and doing together to give you the magic you are
currently experiencing with your Druid's...and also for
a bit of the history of how you came to understand
what the Druid's needed to sound their best...

Which modwright pre do you have and has it been
moded?

Please let us know what the new configuration of the
ClariT as separate mono-blocks does to improve/change
the sound.

Also thanks for your suggestion to read the Ishmael books
by David Quinn...I am not familiar with them but I will
certainly look into them based on your recommendation.

Warm regards -Richard-

Scott F.

Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
« Reply #23 on: 6 May 2005, 02:11 am »
Quote from: -Richard-
Hi Scott F.,

Thanks for your suggestion...talk about an
eclectic audio company...I found them on the
web and they appear to no longer make the
"Deluxe" version from their web copy...although
they also appear not to have any of their basic
design available since 2004...hummmmmmmmm!

Feels like they are hiding out!

I'll call however and see if I can untangle their situation...

Incredible positive review of their Deluxe model linked
to their sight...but it is no longer available and that is rather
frustrating...

I'll let you know what I learn.

Warm regards -Richard-


I wrote that review a few years ago when I was writing for TNT. I still feel the same way about the amp, in fact it's my main amp in my Lowther/sub based system (until I get the DRD's done). If you want, you could ask any of the GAS guys about it's sound, they'll let you know I didn't write an overly positive review without good reason. I've compaired the Handmade to the Bottlehead stuff plus a few local 2a3 amps build by some really talented designers and I feel it sounds better. If you surf down to the GAS Circle, you can flip through the picture gallery and see some pics of my SET rig.

When it comes to the Handmade site, Tony doesn't update it very often as you can tell. He's still very much in business at last check. Tony goes on kicks, sometimes he's building 2a3's, sometimes its 45's or 300b's, you never know until you give him a call. I see he's finally found the virtues of the DC (direct coupled) 45. Its the same principal as the DRD from Ron Welleborne.

Tony is a good guy. Like you say, he's a bit eclectic (actually I think he's a retired technician who builds amps as a hobby in his retirement years) but he makes a damned fine sounding amp that is very affordable. He provides you the schematic in case problems arise after warranty. Mine has been bullet proof and I've got to have 6-8k hours on it now. The great thing about SET's is there are so few parts. That coupled with the schematic, literally any decent local tech can work on it.

Ron Wellbornes DRD's are worth a serious look. With your Fostex sitting around 96-98dB (or so), the 300B will give you some much needed headroom on big transients. My Lowhters are sitting at 101dB (or so) and my little 2a3 runs out of gas pretty regularly even with using an active crossover and cutting them off at 100-200hz (which gains me quite a few dB of gain).

The sound of the DRD's are (as I mentioned before) stunning. I was so impressed when I heard a pair in my system, I bought a pair for myself. Ron will assemble them for you if you don't feel like building them yourself.

Don't forget, any SET (amp) you end up with, you'll have to mate a decent preamp to it. There really aren't many SET integrateds to choose from out there.

Scott F.

Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
« Reply #24 on: 6 May 2005, 02:19 am »
Quote from: -Richard-

Scott F., spoke to Tony at  Hand Made Electronics...
seems the ...


Guess I should have read this post before I posted that message above  :stupid:  :oops:

I guess Tony hasn't heard that Blackgate is still in business. Maybe I'll give him a buzz. I haven't talked to him in a while.

Good luck in your searches  :D

-Richard-

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Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
« Reply #25 on: 6 May 2005, 07:22 am »
Actually Scott, I thought both of your posts were
extremely interesting...and I deeply appreciate
your sharing of your insights with me...
your review was very well written and I enjoyed
reading it a great deal...very thorough and detailed
with a great deal of information...including insights
into your personal audio evolution...nice!

Thanks so much for your help...I am deeply impressed
with your knowledge of SET's and I trust your insights
based on the depth of your review and your experience
with this very exciting tube based technology...which
brings music to life with the right speaker synergy...

Sorry...I do not know what a DRD is?

It sounds like you think I should seriously consider
the Wellborn 300B as a good candidate for driving
my Omega’s with...

I have heard a great deal of conflicting information about
SET’s...for example I have heard the 300B’s are slow...
and that 2A3’s are faster...also that 300B’s are more
euphonic and 2A3’s more detailed and transparent...
but I have never actually had any experience with
these amplifier designs...

Until the Omega Grand 8R’s I have had very little
experience with single driver wide range
speakers of high sensitivity...and my pentoid amp...
made by a defunct builder called Wright Audio...
not George Wright’s highly esteemed company...
sounds so good with the new JJ/Tesla tubes that I am
in awe of its musical virtues...and Deb is crazy about
it...cannot listen to SS amps again without wincing..
too painful for her...a true convert...

I have another question as well, Scott...this amp is
exhibiting problems with certain connections...
just started 2 days ago...there is a breaking up
at peaks and one channel loses its full signal
and sounds thin...I was able to tweak all
the connections until it sounded OK again but
it is a temporary solution...I think the ceramic
tube receptacles are loose...also I need a more
robust speaker cable connection in the back...
something that would take banana plugs...
Can you recommend someone whom you trust
that can do this kind of work at a reasonable
charge?

I’ll look into the Wellborn 300B...meanwhile any further
insights you can give me about it and any other thoughts
you have would be wonderful to hear...and please think about
someone to “fix” my pentoid integrated amp which I really love
with the Omega’s...

Warm regards -Richard-

lonewolfny42

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  • Speakers....What Speakers ?
Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
« Reply #26 on: 6 May 2005, 09:44 am »
Scott :
    Quote
    Ron Wellbornes DRD's are worth a serious look.
    [/list:u]
      -Richard- :[/list:u]
      Quote
      Sorry...I do not know what a DRD is?
      [/list:u]
        Some picture's and an ad for sale on Audiogon....
      http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?ampstube&1120527099 [/list:u]
        Looks good.... :dance: [/list:u]

      brady2004

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      which SET to driver single driver Omega
      « Reply #27 on: 6 May 2005, 09:51 am »
      For whatever it's worth ...   I have two : an Audio Note Kit 1,  300B final stage,  using Tamura 5002 OPT,  and a Sun Audio 2A3,  also using Tamura OPT.   Black Gates,  Jensen,  combination of Tantalum and Kiwame resistors in both.

      The 300B definitely sounds better.  Mids and at both ends of freq extremes.   Maybe it's the higher power, maybe it's the OPT...   But YOUR OWN EARS ARE THE FINAL JUDGE.

      lonewolfny42

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #28 on: 6 May 2005, 10:19 am »
      A very..... interesting read...thanks Scott ! :)

      JLM

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #29 on: 6 May 2005, 10:51 am »
      One of the advantages of most single driver speakers is their limited bass output as it relates to synergistic amp pairing.

      With my Fostex F200A driver (rated 30 - 20,000 Hz, 8 ohms, 90 dB/w/m) based speakers I've found bigger tube amps (10 wpc and bigger) to provide bloated, uncontrolled, muddy bass and smaller tube amps lacking in power or any deep bass output.  Conversely I've heard good results from 35 wpc tube amps with smaller single driver designs (that have similar bass output to the Omega speakers).  In my experience many SET/single driver fans have simply accepted lack of deep bass and have grown completely accustomed to a lean sound.

      That's why I'm a Clari-T owner.  A bit more juice might be nice in my 2,000 cu. ft. room but I'm most satisfied to wait and see what Vinnie or others can come up with to take things to the next level.

      Scott F.

      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #30 on: 6 May 2005, 12:45 pm »
      Quote from: JLM
      One of the advantages of most single driver speakers is their limited bass output as it relates to synergistic amp pairing.

      With my Fostex F200A driver (rated 30 - 20,000 Hz, 8 ohms, 90 dB/w/m) based speakers I've found bigger tube amps (10 wpc and bigger) to provide bloated, uncontrolled, muddy bass and smaller tube amps lacking in power or any deep bass output.  Conversely I've heard good results from 35 wpc tube amps with smaller single driver designs (that have similar bass output to the Omega speakers). In my experience many SET/single driver fans have simply accepted lack of deep bass and have grown completely accustomed to a lean sound.

      That's why I'm a Clari-T owner. A bit more juice might be nice in my 2,000 cu. ft. room but I'm most satisfied to wait and see what Vinnie or others can come up with to take things to the next level.


      You're right about most SET's lacking deep bass. When you take a look at a frequency response graph from (say) a 2a3, they start to roll off gently below 30Hz. Coupled with the typical single driver speaker like the Omega, the rolloff is a non-issue because it can't produce 30Hz anyway.

      I haven't found the bloated bass that you mention from the SET's. Even though I use mine to drive the Lowthers (while don't do anything under 60Hz) we've plugged my 2a3 along with Willies PP 45, Handmades basic 45, several 300's, plus some triode strapped EL34's, into a pair of Altec 19's (15" woofer), a pair of Klipsch horns (15" woofers), LaSalla's, and Cornwalls. None of the SET's exhibited the bloated sound. I have to qualify that by saying that we typically rolled the tubes to get the best sound with the speakers.

      Richard,
      The DRD mean Direct Reactance Drive. Essentially, its Ron's terminology to describe a direct coupled design. Direct coupled means that there is no coupling cap between the driver tube and the output tube.  The Handmade utilizes a .22uF coupling cap between the (in the case of the Handmade) 6C45Pi driver tube and the 2a3 output tube. This is 'typical' most SET designs.

      The DRD and Handmade DC designs eliminate that coupling cap. The result is veil after veil are lifted. The veiling comes from that cap. I've only played one (maybe two) caps that don't veil the sound. Both of them are Teflon and very expensive (V-Cap and the Audio Cap used in the Handmade Deluxe design). I haven't installed the V-Cap in the 2a3 to do a side by side so I can't firmly say which is better.

      What I have done is listen to the DRD beside the 2a3. The DRD smoked my 2a3. Granted they are two completely different presentations. The 2a3 has a lovely relaxed sound. Tons of detail without the appearance of being veiled. I still haven't figured out the best way to describe the sound of teh DRD other than it just sounded cleaner.

      DRD Schematic

      http://www.welbornelabs.com/drd.htm


      If you notice, the only thing in the signal path is a single resistor, two tubes and the output transformer. This is as close to a 'straight wire' as you can get. Result, little (if any) 'coloration' from passive parts installed in the signal path.

      Typical SET Design


      As you can see with this 2a3 design, this one utilizes a coupling cap between the driver tube and the output tube. Some designs utilize 'chokes' to couple the driver to output tubes.

      Eliminating the coupling cap or choke cleans up the sound dramatically. Thats not to say that a capacitor or choke coupling sounds bad because it doesn't. I love the sound of my 2a3 and will keep it forever. In fact, after listening to Willie's (drummerwill in the GAS circle) PP 45, I'm going to build one of those too.

      Hey Lonewolf, Thanks!
      Here's anonther one of my favs....
      http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/lowtherpm2a_e.html

      brady2004
      The AudioNote gear sounds great too. I've listened to several of their SET's and they are really impressive and the kits are a great value.

      Maybe it's just me, I've played with the little digital amps and found them lacking. Not that they don't sound clean, accurate and all that stuff but when you compare them side by side to quality SET, they fall short. There is something about them that seems to strip the harmonics. I find the same thing with solid state gear too.

      I'm not saying that to slam the digital or solid state gear or start a flame war, it's just my personal opinion. I've got a heavy preference for tubes. With all their quicks, the fact that they are picky about speakers, cables, IC's power quality, brand of tubes, all that negative stuff, I* still prefer them over the best solid state or digital gear. I guess part of it is I'm a cronic tweaker. The simplicity of tube design lets be roll up my sleaves and get dirty.

      On the other hand, if your not into tube rolling or have the patience (sp) to  carefully assemble a tube based system, the digital and solid state amps do a fine job.

      Dmason

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #31 on: 6 May 2005, 12:46 pm »
      I agree with JLM.

      I Love good 300B sound as well. Prefer it to 2A3 for its gutsy, power-freebasing, heat-billowing, meaty in the middle sonic. But when I consider that a good pair of Meshplates is close to the price of a new ClariT, for example, which when burned in sounds waaaay closer to a very good tube amp than SS, and has outstanding bass control, it is a better compromise, IMHO. Unless you want to get into spendy, convoluted tube/digital hybrid biamplification, with active crossovers, and all the rest. I do love good tube amps tho'

      tvyankee

      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #32 on: 6 May 2005, 12:52 pm »
      hey.

      you might want to check this out.i heard it at ces this year and it really was very nice sounding.

      http://www.operaudio.com/Html/Opera-Products-CYBERSERIES.htm

      cyber-10 sig.

      JLM

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #33 on: 6 May 2005, 04:12 pm »
      Scott:

      Just to clarify, the bass bloat I found was from non-SET tube amps.

      Dan:

      One of the most convincing factors for me to try the Clari-T was that most of the recommendations came from SET (versus solid state) lovers.  And that coming from a a guy who has never owned tube gear (just never got into the "romance" of staring at light bulbs).

      -Richard-

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #34 on: 6 May 2005, 05:43 pm »
      The ClariT is definitely moving in the right
      direction...and perhaps with the upgrades that
      DMason has had Vinnie implement, including a
      built-in dac, the sound is fast approaching the
      potential for the digital chip it uses...

      I have owned 3 digital amps so far. From what I heard
      from my own ClariT and from descriptions from serious
      listeners who have upgraded their ClariT to a higher
      level of performance I might take a guess and say that
      the real magic of the digital chip is to present the "inside"
      of the music’s "surface"...as if you were listening to the
      music the way the microphone is hearing it when it was
      recorded...I imagine further iterations of this approach
      will get spookier and spookier...especially with the right
      speakers...

      On the other hand, what I hear with my pentoid tube integrated
      amp with the new JJ/Tesla tubes is entirely different...the instrument
      is IN THE ROOM...the air of my room is being vibrated in a way
      that is so visceral, so "present", so real sounding that it erases
      my critical thinking and I am stunned into an immediate "connection"
      with the performance...as if it was being played FOR THE FIRST TIME...

      I cannot emphasis this phenomenon enough...Deb and I will listen
      to the same piece of music everyday for months as we course through
      our limited collection....for example I have 2 solo performances of
      Bach's Cello suites...one by the Russian master Rostropovich and
      another by Yo Yo Ma...we listen to them almost everyday...and each
      daily "performance" sounds totally new...the resonating cello fills our
      room as if they are really siting there and playing...the richness of
      timber, the different attacks of the strings with the bow, the shifting of
      emotion as the pieces unfold are completely revealed...

      It is no longer about the inner structure of the sound...which
      the ClariT has the potential to do better than any amp I have
      ever heard...but about the full, physical "presence" of the
      instrument being performed in my room intact and alive...

      There is a another consideration...because Deb has been such
      an active part of my audio "hobby" she has gained a great deal
      of insight into what she is "hearing" with each component change...
      and she prefers the sound of the pentoid amp hands down...
      the sound soothes her and resonates with her and makes her
      feel "connected" to the performance...

      I friend dropped off a NAD amp he purchased in flea market...
      I played it for a short while until Deb pleaded with me to replace
      it with our pentoid tube amp...too grating for her...like chalk on a
      blackboard...

      I am going to go deeper into where the ClariT is heading...in the
      sense of its potential to replicate what the pick-up mike is hearing...
      that INSIDE THE MUSIC'S surface that is so beguiling...and so
      effective in single driver wide range speakers...

      But the pentoid amp brings the players and the instruments to life
      on my Omega Grand 8R's in a most remarkable way...and Deb seems
      to be entirely taken with it...I admit that I am also presently  addicted to its
      immediacy and the way it SATURATES the musical presentation...

      Just some thoughts for the present on what is most certainly a work
      in progress...

      Thanks everyone for your insights about tube amps and  their
      synergy with single driver speakers...this is a very important part
      of my education in an area of audio that is very new to me and
      full of surprises and much needed information...

      Warm regards -Richard-

      miklorsmith

      1 Possibility
      « Reply #35 on: 6 May 2005, 06:11 pm »
      The Fostex 206E is a very direct, no-nonsense unit, i.e. not inherently "warm".  However, it will convey richness if present upstream.  It's not surprising that tubes are harmonizing your sound considerably.  In fact, your description of what you're hearing parallels my observations of the Clari-T with and without my tubed pre exactly.  I've heard others echo similar sentiments as well.

      Anyone with a good preamp and a Clari-T should do some comparatives and come back here with observations.  I'd bet this will be a recurring, though not universal theme.  My take is Clari-T is not what's limiting the harmonic bloom you're getting with the tube amp, but a mismatch between your source and the Clari-T.  Combining the "inner structure insight" of the Clari-T and instrumental presence of tubes is possible, and on-tap at Chez Smith.  The amp is not witholding texture, life, and bloom.

      My preamp is a Modwright SWL 9.0 SE, stock.  This is the higher-end unit Dan sells but has not been further upgraded.  My unit was the second made, and the present batch of additional upgrades was not available.  It is a truly excellent piece.

      Richard - I'd be very curious to see if you could borrow a nice tubed unit to see if these speculations hold true.

      -Richard-

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #36 on: 6 May 2005, 08:03 pm »
      Hi Mike,

      there seems to be a misunderstanding about the Fostex
      drivers used in the Omega Grand 8R's...it is actually
      a 207E...confirmed by Louie...I only mention this because it
      may effect our collective thinking about the drivers potential
      in certain situations...

      I would love to try several possibilities with tube amps and
      ClariT with a tubed preamp like you are using...incidentally
      thanks for the information about your pre...I will check into it
      very soon...sounds like it might be a perfect match...

      What you said about the CD source not being entirely compatible
      with the ClariT may be correct...Vinnie seems to think so also...
      I was using the Scott Nixon Tubedacplus with my cheap Pioneer
      563A univeral CD player and Vinnie told me that he thinks the
      SN dact may not be entirely compatible with what the ClariT likes
      in the way of an incoming signal...sorry forgot the details of that
      conversation which Vinnie went into in depth...

      I am no longer using the SN dact...even with my Pentoid amp...
      the direct signal from the Pioneer is much more alive and dimensional
      in this particular application...synergy being the active principle here...

      Warm regards -Richard-

      Scott F.

      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #37 on: 6 May 2005, 09:01 pm »
      Quote from: JLM
      Scott:

      Just to clarify, the bass bloat I found was from non-SET tube amps.



      That wound make sense. Mating a PP with the wrong speakers will definately do that.

      Dan,

      Since you mentioned the YoYo Ma piece, I take it you are a fan. If you don't have it already, get YoYo Ma and Emmanuel Axe playing Brahms concertos. That one is to die for. Another great one is Ma and Isaac Stern playing playing Brahms Double Concerto. It's another great one.

      Dmason

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #38 on: 6 May 2005, 09:37 pm »
      Richard,

      Do you still have Albert's triode pre amp? That thing is one of the best tube pre amps around for less than 10X its price. It may well be the ticket.

      With the obvious synergy between the Monica DAC and Ultimate ClariT, having an impedance match between the two makes it come together. As much as I have been searching for a reason to add tubes over the last six months, I cannot find one. Everything, including the bloom is there. In fact, I have noticed that the Reali-T takes about a half hour to really come to life, exactly like a tube amp. It actually needs to warm up somehow. Once it gets going, with good source material, it sounds reminiscent of the sound I got with Art Audio PX-25 and a Theta Miles as a source, with that warm, bottom-y sound of Theta, with the speed and crunch of the PX-25 tubes. A sort of digital representation of that. For about 10% the price of admission, I might add.

      -Richard-

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      Looking for a 2A3 SET amp for my Omega 8R's....
      « Reply #39 on: 6 May 2005, 11:39 pm »
      Ahhh DMason, no one can describe their audio
      experiences with the flare and precision that
      you seem to conjure up every time...and I suspect
      it is your wide and deep experience with other amp
      topologies that allows you to pull your comparisons
      together so easily...

      Yes...I still have Albert's triod pre...and your are right that
      it may be the key here to get things sounding the way I seem to
      now be interested in hearing...

      Vinnie feels that the ClariT sounds best when a preamp is being
      used when it does not have the "volume" control on the front...
      as a stand-alone amp...

      Although Mike's experience with his pre and his ClariT used to drive
      his Druid's seems to work perfectly for him...

      Dan...I think my feeling for electronics parallels yours...which is to say
      I imagine that if one carries any amplifier topology far enough...assuming
      the designer is moving ever closer to the source of where the magic
      can take place...that something extraordinary may happen...as opposed
      to going the root of the hybrid design BEFORE the designer has carried
      out every possible experiment and hunch that might get him "there"...

      I think that is what Vinnie is doing with your help...not to take anything away
      from Vinnie's genius...but you are willing to push your highly educated
      hunches as far as you know how...and Vinnie seems to be resilient enough
      to put things together as his audience dreams them up...to his credit...
      here is a rare person whose enthusiasm is matched by his inventiveness...

      And you know very well what you want to be hearing...or perhaps more to
      the point...what you should not be hearing...and you have a keen sense of
      what is possible...a good dose of Sherlock Holmes resides in your nature to
      be certain...

      So I am seriously considering going the route that you have established
      with your Ultimate ClariT...with its emphasis on synergy of all the parts and
      batteries to by-pass the entire issue of "cleaning" the AC crap that seems
      to plague all of our efforts toward the refinement of sound...

      I just wish it was all a bit less expensive...yes I know...it is all relative isn't it?

      Warm regards -Richard-