I84 is a winner !

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nshawks

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I84 is a winner !
« on: 12 Feb 2008, 02:13 am »
I've had my I84 for a few days now and I have to say it is simply a tremendous performer, regardless of price.   It is exactly what I was looking for, for way less money than I thought I would have to spend.  Thanks Alex for your patience, and thanks Boris for building such a terrific product.  Now, to find the perfect speaker to match up to it......

Audiovista

Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #1 on: 13 Feb 2008, 03:03 am »
Hello and welcome to AudioCircle and Vista-Audio family! :thumb:

You mention Alex, so I'm guessing you are our northern neighbor. I'm happy that you like the i84 and hope to hear more from you on this and many other circles here!

What speakers are you currently using and have you narrowed the choices for a new set?

Best,
Boris


Zero

Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #2 on: 13 Feb 2008, 04:03 am »
Welcome nshawks -   I agree with your assessment.  :thumb:

nshawks

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Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #3 on: 13 Feb 2008, 04:36 pm »
Yes, I'm from north of the border.  Alex was great to deal with.

There are a few speakers I'm considering, but I have limited options to demo in person.  The JM Reynaud "Duets" (or older pair of Twin Signatures) have been recommended to me.  From what I've read, and from talking to a dealer, they would match up well and align with what I'm looking for.  I do not like lean speakers, or anything that's bright at all.  I like rich and transparent, with solid and accurate bass extension.  JMR speakers have a reputation for being very musical and engaging.  Unfortuately, if I go that route it will be a blind leap of faith as they are not available locally.

I am currently using Ascend Acoustics CBM-170's, and the I84 makes them sound way better than I ever thought they could.  So I'm in less of a rush to get new speakers than I thought I'd be.

If anyone has suggestions for speakers I would love to hear them.  And please include WHY you like these speakers.....it helps me decide whether we like the same things.

I also would like to have a spare set of tubes on hand in case something happens to one.  I'd hate to be without my I84.  If anyone has suggestions for what to buy for replacement tubes that would be great.  And the best place to buy them.  This is my first tube amp so I haven't had to shop for tubes before. :scratch:

mcgsxr

Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #4 on: 13 Feb 2008, 05:36 pm »
I don't have the pleasure of one of the Vista amps, but I am running a single ended EL84 amp, and do happen to share your northern location - outside the Toronto area.

I cannot say the BEST place to buy tubes, but in my experience Jim McShane was excellent to deal with.  He recommended some great options for my 12AU7, EL84 and GY3 rectifier tubes for my old Magnavox amp.

I chose the middle price point, and am very happy with the tubes he provided, and his shipping packaging was fantastic.

Good luck with the speaker selection, and have fun with tube rolling!

lonewolfny42

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  • Speakers....What Speakers ?
Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #5 on: 13 Feb 2008, 05:54 pm »
Quote
I also would like to have a spare set of tubes on hand in case something happens to one.  I'd hate to be without my I84.  If anyone has suggestions for what to buy for replacement tubes that would be great.  And the best place to buy them.  This is my first tube amp so I haven't had to shop for tubes before.

http://thetubestore.com/   ..... :thumb:

As for the JM Reynaud "Duets"....I think it would be a good match with the Vista I84. Their nice speakers....and Boris builds a good amp. Enjoy..... :beer:

http://www.jm-reynaud.com/jmr_us/duet.html

Audiovista

Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #6 on: 16 Feb 2008, 04:02 pm »
Your tubes should last for a long time - you're in no rush to get spares. If you want to try tube rolling, see if you can get some NOS signal tubes - 12AX/AU/AT7 will all work with different sonics.

If you have a chance try to listen to Totem Acoustics speakers (Sean from Affordable Audio and people at Totem gave it a "thumbs up"). It should be a great match, the only obstacle may be their lower sensitivity, but it will depend on your space and typical listening volume.

Boris

nshawks

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Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #7 on: 20 Feb 2008, 01:28 am »
Thanks for the advice.  I ordered a set of Mullards last week.  I'll give them a try once I'm content I have a good read on the stock tubes.  The Totems were one speaker I had been thinking about, but had ruled them out due to their sensitivity rating.  Maybe I need to rethink.  Other than the JM Reynauds, the other two speakers I have on my shortlist are the Quad 21L2, and the LSA1 Signature Edition Monitors.  The LSA1 standards are supposed to be very good, and the Signatures a significant step up.  The dealer I have been talking to says they are a quite easy to drive, even with some SET amps.

I can demo the Quads locally, so I'll start there.  No local Totem, JMR, or LSA dealers.

nshawks

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Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #8 on: 22 Mar 2008, 02:42 am »
After some experimentation, the best combination I've found with the I84 is the Harma E84L (cryo'd) with the Tung Sol  ECC83/12AX7 (cryo'd).  It takes about 40 hours or so for the tubes to break in (the Harma's are especially slow) and open up, but it's a whole new game once they do.  Definately a step up from the stock tubes.

Audiovista

Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #9 on: 24 Mar 2008, 02:29 am »
Thanks for sharing!  :thumb:

I've heard Mullard's 12AX7 and that was an improvement, not surprised that Tung Sol  also brings good things to the table (to the ears, actually aa).

I'm looking for good EL84 tubes for my new project and will definitely have to check out Harma.

Best,
Boris

nshawks

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Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #10 on: 24 Mar 2008, 09:55 pm »
I got my Harma's from Watford Valve.  The E84L (as opposed to EL84) are a very sturdy tube, and quite heavy.  This might be why they take a little longer to sound their best.  Watford Valve really packs them beautifully too for transit.  The company I bought my Mullards from just wrapped them in paper and stuffed them in a box.  When I got them home they were rattling around inside the box.  :duh: Not cool.

I should have my new speakers to pair with the I84 tomorrow.  I decided to try a set of the Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1's, since I have enjoyed my CBM-170's so much.  The Sierra's will be a little less efficient, but I'm having no trouble driving the 170's, so I don't think it will be a problem.  The Sierra's are about the same sensitivity as a set of Totem Staff's, and I've read that combination works just fine, so hopefully I'll be in good shape.  I guess we'll see.

Audiovista

Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #11 on: 25 Mar 2008, 12:18 am »
Hey - that's great. Looking forward to hearing your impressions about the new speakers. How long do the speakers need to fully break-in?

Zero

Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #12 on: 25 Mar 2008, 12:19 am »
Cool suggestion nshawks..   :thumb:  As an aside, I tried the Sierra 1 / i84 combo.  I look forward to reading your impressions once you've put some time on the system!


nshawks

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Re: I84 is a winner !
« Reply #13 on: 25 Mar 2008, 01:20 am »
Once I get them broken in I'd be glad to post impressions.  David F. at Ascend suggested about 50 hrs at least for break-in, although he thought they'd sound darn good right out of the box.  I guess we'll see tomorrow night.

nshawks

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I84 with Sierra 1's
« Reply #14 on: 31 Mar 2008, 01:25 pm »
The speakers probably aren't entirely run in yet, but they have at least 40 hours on them so they are far enough along to fairly comment on them I think.

First, let me say that I was a little concerned about the sensitivity rating of 86.5db with a 15W amp.  I've had to go to school a bit to better understand what makes a speaker easy (or not) to drive.  Turns out the Sierra's are very easy to drive, despite their relatively low sensitivity rating.  Very few people would recommend speakers with that rating to a guy with a 15W tube amp.  Well, the I84 drives these speakers very well.  You can drive the speakers to pretty high volumes with no breakdown of the soundstage at all, nor any notable stress.  I'm pretty darned impressed.  I'm sure you could overdrive the amp, but I was able to get to levels above what I would ever listen to, so that's all I needed to accomplish.

The overall sound with this combination is very refined.  Bass is goes deeper than any bookshelf I have ever heard, but it is nicely balanced and not the least out of place.  The I84 controls it nicely.  The midrange is smooth, detailed, and has nice depth.  Treble is extended and not the least bit bright or fatiguing.  I think time will smooth out the tiny bit of brittleness I detected.  The overall tone of the combo is pretty neutral, perhaps a hair to the left, which is good as I enjoy a slightly rich overall presentation.  I might even try to push it a little further that way through tube or cable changes.

Overall, I like the combination very much.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a combination that sounds better for the $1600 (combined) I spent.