May I show-off my new website, for those who know (and know of) me? Audio Note at The Audio Home..

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Warren Jarrett, Oct 28, 2017.

  1. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I bet those B&W's are the "bee's Knee's". Those are big boy speakers. Now you are talking my language!
     
  2. lonelysea

    lonelysea Forum Crustacean

    Good news, Warren, my kid got accepted at Occidental! I know next Fall is a ways off, but you know how time flies. Hope you still have those B&Ws installed when I get there!
     
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  3. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Warren - wish I could be there to hear your set-ups - this week I will head down to my big AN dealer hopefully to audition the Empress and CD Two/II.
     
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  4. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Alas... nobody from SH.tv is planning to visit The Audio Home this week or weekend. I am available the days before Christmas. And, hopefully more of you will visit in January. Have you ever, in your life, heard an audio dealer ask so humbly for visitors? I just want more of SH's members to hear this for themselves.

    :shtiphat:
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
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  5. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Merry Christmas from Warren Jarrett at The Audio Home in Fullerton.

    ShowOffCart.jpg
     
  6. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC USA
    Love the site and the whole concept. Too bad I’m across the continent.

    Merry Christmas!
     
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  7. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    And a Merry Christmas to YOU!

    Now, could we please have some photos of your newly acquired B&W Matrix 800 speakers and showing how they are set up in your listening room?
     
  8. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    ArrvdIn6Crates.jpeg LayoutOnFloor.jpeg PutBWsTogether.jpeg AmpsFront.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2017
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

  10. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    What do you think, quite an involved speaker assembly and interesting tri-amp speaker wire connection, huh?

    You might notice, if you look back at the pictures, that for the woofers, I tried two different 4-channel amplifiers. Either way, there is one channel of amplification dedictated to each 12" woofer. The first amp was an Audio Research SDA-1. Then, a Citation 5.1, which was actually designed and made in the Mark Levinson factory, when Harmon International owned the Mark Levinson brand. Somehow, for just the bass (below 380 Hz) the Citation sounded a little better.

    An active crossover is used in the system. Actually, I also had two crossovers to compare: a Marchand, set to 380 Hz; and a Krell, which was built specifically to go with these speakers.

    Now, get this, rather than using the dedicated B&W Bass Alignment Filter, which boosts the bass at frequencies close to 20 Hz, then a subsonic filter below that, I am using a very similar Bass Equalizer that came with my old Theil CS-3.5 speakers. Looking at the specs and frequency response curves for these two bass correction devices, I found that they employ EXACTLY the same bass correction curve. I trust the quality of the electronics in the Theil more than the B&W. Of course, I have the Theil EQ in the bass interconnect signal-path only, AFTER the low-pass crossover.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
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  11. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have never seen these B&W speakers before, and I must say, that I am impressed, VERY IMPRESSED!

    These are my kind of speakers!

    Not forgetting about your equally impressive supporting amplification and crossover systems!
     
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  12. Salectric

    Salectric Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    I was relieved to read you put the Thiel active eq in the woofer path only. Many years ago when a dealer was demonstrating the Thiel 3.5 I asked him to bypass the eq which he was able to do easily. I was shocked by how much better the unequalized signal sounded, although a bit thin in the lows of course. That factor alone was enough to turn me against the 3.5. On the other hand, it encouraged me to buy the 3.6 when it came out since it did not have any active eq.

    Thanks for posting the photos. That is quite a setup!
     
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  13. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    It was fun to set-up a complicated system like this. And I learned a few things, compared to the simplicity of an AN system.

    I believe now that the B&W complexity kills-off, or at least dilutes, some of the important audiophile qualities of an audiophile system, that I appreciate so much in an Audio Note system. Most importantly imaging and soundstage characteristics. The Audio Note E speakers are so much simpler and smaller, yet they can project a very large soundstage that belies their physical location. The Audio Note systems take cues from each individual recording and create a soundstage, in depth, width and image specificity, that varies from recording to recording. This B&W speaker has pretty-much the same soundstage with every recording. Images never emanate from outside a speaker location, and if I close my eyes, I can always identify where each speaker is located. Moving the speakers around to different locations didn't help.

    And, all recordings sound BIG, basically just because these speakers are BIG. There is a relatively flat plane of soundstage that is just behind the speakers. But, in an Audio Note system, some recordings have sounds coming from forward of the speakers, some from behind the speakers, some from WAY behind the speakers, and it is refreshing to hear a variety of this depth that depends ON THE RECORDING, not on THE SPEAKER.

    But the POWER of these B&W speakers and the linearity of their frequency response is consistently spot-on perfect. In this way, the Audio Note system can impose its character on every recording. The Audio Notes have to be detailed, clear, delicate, and refined. So for Rap music, well, they just don't sound like a disco.

    Another difference is that a full Audio Note system always has a few of kinds of "Magic". #1 "Magic", is that every voice and acoustic instrument is so amazingly realistic in tone and timbre. The AN speaker and amp combinations makes everything sound so real, with very fine dynamics galore. #2 "Magic" is that little sounds, like a triangle or a little percussion instrument, burst out from a real place. The B&W speakers don't do this. Everything from the B&Ws is big, and small things get bowled over, by comparison. #3 "Magic" is the subterranean bass quality that the AN speakers can provide. It is sometimes astonishing where it comes from. But I know it is because the cabinet is tuned to resonate at just the right frequencies (to work together with the driver's non-linearities), and the acoustics of the room itself (instead of being an impediment to linearity) are utilized in the AN designs. The B&Ws ALWAYS have plenty of bass -- mid-bass, low-bass, punchy bass --, so that it doesn't even seem like bass is recording dependant. But this does not mean the B&Ws ever have TOO MUCH bass. No, it is always just right and impressive, most likely because I had the flexibility to balance the bass myself with the active crossover. One setting, and I have to admit, only rarely, I am tempted to go over there and tweek the bass loudness a bit up or down. The AN speakers NEVER encourage me to wish I had a bass level control. They are just always balanced just right on their own.

    So, do I like AN speakers more than B&W speakers? Nope, I like them both. I just note here the differences.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
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  14. marka

    marka Forum Resident

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  15. stonedhenge

    stonedhenge Forum Resident

    That's a wonderful post, Warren. I'm in Australia, so unfortunately can't visit your audio home (at present), but I would dearly love to. Having heard audio note on several occasions, a pair of AN/E speakers are in my future, once I've finished building the room that will house them. All the best and Seasons Greetings from the antipodes.
     
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  16. Salectric

    Salectric Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Warren, your comments on the Audio Note "Magic" qualities and the contrast with the B&W qualities are very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to put your impressions into words. It's almost like being there!
     
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  17. marka

    marka Forum Resident

    I was pretty surprised (and disappointed) when we listened to the RtR of Pink Floyd's Echoes. The B&Ws just couldn't hack it compared to the supposedly lesser ANs in room 2. The B&Ws didn't sound bad, but were fairly pedantic (if that's the right word) compared to the magic we heard with the ANs.
     
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  18. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    When we played the Pink Floyd tape in Room 1 through the B&Ws and it sounded horrible compared to what we had heard through the considerably less expensive full Audio Note system in Room 2, I had to really think about why. After more comparisons between the two systems, I figured it out, and explained it by my description of "magic".

    The B&W speakers are an analytical tool, that sound WONDERFUL with many recordings. As I wrote, their expression of power and accuracy/linearity are extremely impressive. But every recording sounds very different through them, and there is an adjustment period, from record to record, as the listener has to get used to the changes in recording quality. When a fine performance just happens to have some problems in the recording itself, the B&W forces you to notice these problems.

    The Audio Note speakers don't analyze a recording. They play the music. They find the "magic" in the music: emphasize the timbre of individual voices and instruments, express the fine dynamics that breath life into each performer, clearly reproduce the subtle details in each recording, and when a deep bass note appears, they amaze, without emphasizing the problems (too much this, too little that) in bass so prominent in many recordings.

    Basically, it is obvious that Audio Note equipment is designed by listening, not by specifications or technical correctness. I have become more-and-more aware of this "design culture" in every audio manufacturer's business model, that has an important effect on how we enjoy our audio equipment. Are we more impressed by technical accuracy or by subjective musicality?

    Again, I repeat, I have both, one in Room 1 and the other in Room 2. And I enjoy both.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
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  19. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    ... and, Happy New Year.
     
  20. Claus

    Claus Restaurant Critic

    Location:
    Germany
    I agree... same here.

    The B&W Matrix 800 are ugly and sound poor compared to the best speakers today. I have heard this pair a few times at my dealer.
     
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  21. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Nice write-up Warren. Accuracy arguments never persuade me that much since there is no reference example that anyone can point to as an accurate loudspeaker. Said speaker would need to have perfect polar response, zero distortion, perfect phase, etc. No speaker is even REMOTELY close to this. 2+2=5. So you may as well, as a manufacture, choose what you want. I Like Peter's comparison by contrast approach to a complete system approach. And Peter actually listens to music all around the world in tje best symphonies and has a vast music collection and actually auditions his competition. I may find stuff I like better and certainly stuff I like now that I could live with. But, usually it comes with some sort of issue. Too expensive, low sensitive, too big, too heavy. The AN E is basically the perfect sensible speaker. Easy to cary. Basically a great single driver sound but with big bass and dynamics. All day enjoyable and happy with 7 watts. Very nicely finished and made.
     
  22. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I strongly disagree. It must depend VERY much on what electronics are used with them. Because my pair of B&W Matrix 800 has been listened to now by about 15 very critical listeners, including myself, and ALL loved what they heard. A few of the listeners proclaimed it is the best sound they have ever heard, including recent audio show and CES listening experiences that were also first-class. It is too bad you live so far away, because I wish you could hear them with the proper electronics that make them sound amazingly good.

    From my personal experience, they are NOT the "best I've ever heard". But with the AN Ginrei amplifiers and the 4 channels of bass amplification, tri-amped with a dedicated Krell crossover designed specifically for these speakers, they are close. Steve's full AN system sounds better over-all, but not necessarily for EVERY recording we've played. And the combination of Vandersteen speakers with Audio Research at the recent Los Angeles Audio Show sounded better to me, but only in some very specific characteristics.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  23. marka

    marka Forum Resident

    I'm not an experienced listener, with only a modest setup. I have heard some of the best speakers around, and some high-priced ones that made my ears hurt at various audio shows, and have heard Warren's various systems as well as our host's system.

    But one thing that I can say without hesitation is that the B&Ws in this system do NOT sound poor. No way, never. Period.
     
  24. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Warren raises a point perhaps unknowingly though that most audiophiles put so SO much focus on the speakers that we forget about the source and amplifiers.

    Through the 90s I heard, as did many, a LOT of speakers but a lot of speakers connected to utter rubbish (almost every class A/B Solid State amp available regardless of price - yuck). Plenty of possibly very nice speakers may have been getting the blame for merely being the messenger.

    Every B&W/Magnepan/Quad/Martin Logan/Paradigm/Castle/ProAc/Spendor/Wharfedale/Klipsch/Monitor Audio/Totem/Gershman Acoustics/Tannoy/Mordaunt Short/Vandersteen/PMC/ and on and on were connected to some sort of A/B SS amp with a torroid transformer. (Yuck).

    Putting the AN gear Warren has on some of those above speakers could really be significantly better. I have not heard this B&W at any length but I did heard the fat B&W N801 with an OTO Phono SE and it was the best sound I've heard from the N801. There was also a CD player but I forget which AN model. The big problem of course is volume. If you're paying $15k+ for the B&W and $4k for the OTO and $3k for the CD player or whatever - well you need to be able play loud.

    Problem is the B&W N801 sounded pretty poor in my experience with Bryston, Pass, Naim, Parasound, and Krell. Just need a 200 watt OTO - maybe make a 60 EL84 tube amp with rows and rows of EL84. :)
     
  25. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I remember, many years ago, I suggested my friend buy a pair of Acoustat 2+2 speakers, that were advertised locally in a newspaper. We went to the owner's home, to listen, and they sounded terrible. I told my friend, "it is that Adcom amplifier that is making these speakers sound terrible. Buy them anyway." Luckily, he believed me, because when we got to his home with the speakers, and we hooked them up to his Spectral electronics, the sound was wonderful.

    So my experience is that the amplifier chosen to play into a pair of speakers exposes more about those speakers' sound than the speakers themselves (admittedly a round-about way to say that the amplifier/speaker relationship is VERY important.) Even a particular GREAT amplifier might not sound "great" with a particular GREAT pair of speakers. One must home audition various amplifiers into a pair of speakers to confirm a good (synergistic) combination.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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