Audio Note UK Ongaku Kensei 211 SET amplifier w/ silver Sootto XLR & Sogun mains, now up & running!

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Hoffman, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I love how you have used an expensive SRA amp stand in such a novel way. Can't have vibrations ruining your single malts. :)
     
    FashionBoy, Jtycho, DanG and 4 others like this.
  2. Man, amazing what can be crammed into a relatively small space!
     
    SandAndGlass, Tullman and shaizada like this.
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    The light! It burns!!
     
  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yeah, don't show this to Kevin The Craz Man!
     
    shaizada likes this.
  5. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    I looked at the commentary about the Sgt. Pepper album and, while it piqued my interest, I let it go. I didn't follow any of that. Now what's this about Ringo Starr having two of these tubes? Is there an interesting context or back story to this, please?
     
    cobbler likes this.
  6. marka

    marka Active Member

    I had an opportunity today to briefly listen to Steve's beautiful new Audio Note UK Ungaku amp.

    It really sounded great, with incredible detail, lots of bass, and so much more. I'm drooling for the opportunity to hear it more, particularly when it's had time to bed in a bit.

    Aside from sounding great, the thing is just georgeous with all its lovely copper shell.
     
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  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Great seeing you today, Mark. Taco Tuesday!

    Elrogs in the amp change the entire character of the sound. It's really interesting how a simple tube change can do that, but at this price point you wouldn't expect anything less..
     
  8. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I'm rarely jealous of people who live in California. But I must admit that I am just slightly envious of those of you who have or will get the opportunity to hear this setup. If that unit sounds as great as it looks, then my mouth is watering.
     
  9. marka

    marka Active Member

    It would certainly make a nice vacation to take in Disneyland, the museums and...Audio Home.
     
  10. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Maybe THAT explains why Shaizada's scotches tasted so much better than the one I brought to share with him.

    My scotch was aggressive, lacking in fullness, had very limited depth, and was not as multi-dimensional as his. But, I don't think the audio equipment I brought for him (to borrow) will share any of these deficiencies.

    Ok, ok, back to Steve's amplifiers, the purpose of this thread... but I hope Shaizada will share with us his listening experiences with Steve's previous AN amps, the Ginrei monos.
     
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  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    New Old Stock (NOS) German Elrog 211 tubes in the Audio Note UK Ongaku Kensei. They give the amp a nicely balanced presentation. Not as "Drama Queen" exciting as the GE VT-4Cs though. Burn-in continues! elrog one.jpg elrog two.jpg elrog three.jpg
     
  12. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Seriously handsome valves you have there.
     
  13. MATT0404

    MATT0404 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    PA
  14. shaizada

    shaizada Well-Known Member

    As always a pleasure to have you over Warren! The SRA shelf is custom for a preamp that is currently not in use in the system, the Ray Samuels B52. The rest of the scotch is on the second SRA shelf for the power supply ;) Now you know the secret to making whiskey taste smoooooooth :)

    [​IMG]

    Anyhow, back to the Audio Note Ginrei monoblocks. Warren offered and I took him up on it as I wanted to hear them with my speakers. Now, my speakers are 86 dB / 1 m / 2.83V. I KNEW it isn't the best of matches but I wanted to hear that amazing midrange I heard at the Audio Home when @Steve Hoffman came for a talk. THAT was some midrange and abundantly clear that the amps, electronics, sources, speakers were a HEAVENLY match. I could listen to that system all day long, every day if I didn't have to worry about making a living ;)

    The Audio Note Ginrei 211 monoblocks maintained that magical midrange quality even in my system, provided I didn't turn them up too much! The mids were pure silk, detailed, resolving and simply lacking for nothing. The top end was more relaxed than I am used to, but it wove back into the midrange with sufficient air and detail. My speakers have diamond tweeters that go up to 100 Khz + / - 2db, so really, the SET magic was on full display really.

    The only issue I felt was the somewhat loose bottom end. Please understand, a true 3 way speaker at 86 db efficiency is not an ideal candidate for bass performance and simply not done. A fine amplifier like this requires an equal partner in speaker. If I was buying an Audio Note system, I wouldn't have picked the Marten Coltrane Tenor speakers naturally! It would be top of the line Audio Notes or maybe something from the Shindo line of speakers. Thats the direction to go towards realizing what magic truly lurks in these amplifiers and rest of the system. A person buying a $100,000 amplifier would design a system from the ground up to work together....one would hope!

    All in all, at this stage in my life with the system that I currently put together, these would not be the amplifiers. However, the Audio Note magic is so powerful, who knows what I might do one day if / when I can...

    Steve Hoffman, you are one lucky man, and deservedly so.
     
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  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    I'm starting to get a handle on the sound of the Ongaku. Time to install the Audio Note UK silver Sootto XLR interconnects. A 2 meter pair is around $15,900.00 or so I've been told. A lot of silver, twice as much as the Sogon wire. Expensive stuff.. I've been told it needs more break in than the Ongaku. Maybe 300 hours! I've never noticed any difference in the sound of wire before or after using for a while but I guess it's possible. audio note sootto.jpg
     
    Rob Hume likes this.
  16. Rob Hume

    Rob Hume Member

    Location:
    England.
    I decided to upgrade the 211's in my Jinro a few months ago so asked PQ if Elrog's were the best option. He said no and sold me a pair of GE's. I trust his judgement and advise which has been excellent to date. However PQ had a 'fall out' with the guy at Elrog over 211 sales exclusivity. There had also been issues with inconsistent quality so AN severed ties.

    I don't follow the AN rule book in all aspects of set up though. My listening room has a suspended floor covered with oak hardwood strip flooring. I spike the the bottom of my speaker stands onto discs but prefer hard rubber isolation pads to blu tak (which acts as a coupler not decoupler) between stand and speaker. It's not even close. Decoupling removes an unwanted 'glare' with my arrangement. Kudos to my dealer for advising this. A concrete floor may well change recommendations. Anyway it's something that maybe a few of you guys with similar listening room floors might consider if you haven't already.
     
  17. Claus

    Claus Foodie

    Location:
    Germany
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  18. Mo0g

    Mo0g Active Member

    Location:
    London
    I dread to think what you guys pay for home insurance!
     
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yeah, in the past most silver wire for me sounded thin and shrill. The Audio Note silver stuff really made me change my mind. It truly is wonderful. It had no sound but is like a clear window that you are seeing out of for the first time. It also costs crazy money.
     
  20. Claus

    Claus Foodie

    Location:
    Germany
    I will never return to copper in my audio system. I used MIT, Transparent Cables, XLO a long time ago... I also heard Audioquest, Nordost, Straight Wire and other premium brands.

    When I heard Siltech silver cables the first time, my first thought... something wrong in my chain. I was used to the copper sound I owned more than 20 years. Siltech gives me more ”air” around voices and instruments, especially when I hear small classical and jazz ensembles. The noisefloor is lower than any other 30 k voodoo copper cable, I have ever heard. And micro details are much easier to hear .... unbelievable! Reminds me to the best Spectral amplifiers, but that is another story.
     
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  21. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    I like the AN silver stuff too. But, the price of Sootto stuff is just too much for me. My 4-meter run of Sogon interconnect is a small fortune; AN prices its wire by the meter, with no per meter discounting for longer lengths. I think the same holds true for their speaker wire (I use a 2-meter run of Sogon).

    I know someone who auditioned various interconnects and ended up buying a pair of unbalanced (RCA jack) Sootto in what is otherwise a not extremely expensive system. He heard the difference, and thought the difference justified the price.


    Steve Hoffman,

    I noticed from the picture you posted that the Sootto wire appears to have 3 XLR connectors, is the "missing" one just hidden from view, or this some kind of unusual arrangement? Also, is this a balanced wire/connection, or just the use of XLR connectors?
     
  22. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Regarding the 211 valves, The GEs will function and keep their characteristics stable for many years. Elrog 211 owners reported reliability problems, as you know. As a manufacturer, this is of extreme importance to AN. Steve reports that the GE 211s are more revealing in the highs and more dramatic overall, whereas the Elrog 211s are more smooth and romantic. I believe there is so much importance to equipment synergy and personal preference, that there is no one set of rules or one quality of sound for all to follow.

    So, even AN's "rule book" (as you called it) is completely breakable. These are only a set of factory recommended starting points. Personal experimentation and preference is the game that we must play (and hopefully enjoy) to get our sound the way we like it best.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  23. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    It's balanced wire. The system is fully balanced.
     
  24. Rob Hume

    Rob Hume Member

    Location:
    England.
    I'll consider myself told Warren Jarrett :). My referance to the "rule book" was linked to the AN recommended use of blu tak between E speakers and stands only and the fact that it isn't the best choice in my listening room. Interestingly I have found Ikea's Lack tables to be the best sounding equipment support (although cosmetically challenging) which AN use a lot at shows etc. I'm a Carpenter by trade and have made racks out of Oak and Baltic Birch Ply as well as a custom made rack but the 'cheap as chips' Lack comes up trumps (pardon the pun) sonically. Regarding valves the time I heard PQ's incredible system he had Psvane's 211's in his Gaku On's and the sound was off the chart good! As you wisely wrote it's more about flavouring and good system matching....
     
    Warren Jarrett likes this.
  25. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Piss-vaughns are good tubes. Elrogs are better imo. Elrogs are NOS though. Once they are gone, they are gone. The Chinese are still being made.
     

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