Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Warren Jarrett, Oct 28, 2017.
He's awake for six months out of the year, he sleeps the other six months.
You are right, I am asleep and awake at totally irregular times. The reason is that I had open-heart surgery 2 years ago, and have not been able to sleep well since that. The whole story is that at 20 years old, I had a little cancer in my neck, Hodgkins Disease, which would spread and cause death if I did not have radiation applied to my neck. At that time, about 1980, being able to cure Hodgkins Disease was brand new, using only radiation (chemo-therapy was not develpoed yet) so I survived and felt GREAT for the next 25 years -- SCUBA diving, off-road motorcycles, motocross, travel around the world, worked as an electro-mechanical design engineer. But it was a lot more radiation than is used now. So, 30 years later, the radiation started to have an effect on my heart valves. They started to get stiff, and not open-and-close properly. Finally 2 years ago, I would have died again, if not for replacement of the valves. Now I have new valves from a pig, and my heart works PERFECTLY, like a teenager again. I feel fine, but the surgery itself, has had some serious side-effects. One is that I cannot sleep for more that 3 to 4 hours at a time.
I was one of the very earliest cures of Hodgkin's Disease in history. And, I am so young now, compared to other people that get open-heart surgery due to radiation damage, that I am a test case for the doctors. They check me regularly and take detailed notes, which they share with their colleagues. In the meantime, since about 2 years before the surgery until now, I cannot take a regular engineering job anymore. So, since then, I have focused on representing Audio Note (UK) in the Los Angeles area, and LOVE IT.
An interesting thing is that I sleep SO WELL, during my 3 to 4 hour periods, that there is none of the problems with lack-of-sleep that might be expected. I get to listen to high-end audio in the middle of the night, when the household electric power is obviously consistent and stable, an obvious sonic benefit. And, I get to answer questions on SH.tv, from all over the world, within the questioners' real-time schedule.
Thanks for the pictures. This amp looks like a solid performer. No more blue resistors, but no volume attenuator or silver anything either. Kind of MOR. I said it before: I do not know of anyone making hi-end EL84 amps. Manufactures simply do not consider EL84 worthy of expensive implementation.
No, I do know of another current high-end amplifier, that is competitive with the Oto and P1, and also very-well reviewed and loved. But it is push-pull, not SET. That is the Music Reference RM-10, designed and built by Roger Modjeski. It is wonderful too. I have one, and have played it into my AN speakers with great success. It doesn't have the magic and subtle detail retrieval of a SET design, though.
And, from the 1960's, The Heathkit mono amps used EL-84 output tubes, which to this day are heavily collected and updated for use in high-end audio systems.
EL84 power tubes are extremely revered and respected in the high-end audio industry. The reason few manufacturer's use them is that the NOS tubes from USA and Germany are so vastly superior to the Chinese and Russian copies, that mass-production of these amps is prohibitive.
@warren, thank you for your reply. I have never heard of the Hodgkin's disease before, but it sounds like a terrible thing. I hope you will be fine for a very long time and enjoy your great audio gear. Werner
I'd add all that to your website: "With 35 years of experience in high-end audio, I decide to buy a million dollar home to demo gear as the gear will be used in a home, not in a commercial bldg, etc."
Any random body could happen across the web site - maybe a rich guy who hasn't even thought about sound systems...
Warren, I think you misunderstood Ralf. I think what he meant is that it may not be clear to all how professional your approach is. From a quick glance at the front page, it isn't immediately clear that you have dedicated the house to your business and do not live in it, and the hard shadow from the flash in the photo on the front page makes it clear (subconsciously to people who aren't photographers) that it isn't a photo taken by a pro and again may lend a false impression. Some may get the impression that they have arrived at a sort of backdoor sales place. I work in communication, and if one can misunderstand the message, you can be almost certain that others will too.
Please take this in the constructive spirit that it is written, Warren. I wish I lived close by, then I would offer to photograph your rooms. Would be just a small favor in return for all that you contribute with on this forum.
I understand, and I deeply appreciate all constructive criticism..
I want people "in the know", who know me by this website or other referrals, to see my website and understand what I do. But I want more casual observers to think that I am just displaying my hobby from home. Thus the delicate balance of not looking too professional, but obviously knowing what I am talking about and doing.
Oh, and regarding the pictures, there is one more thing to consider. Almost all of my pictures were special opportunity shots that are now not the same. Only a few are pictures of The Audio Home today. The pictures of Room 1, 2 and 3 are the only pictures that could now be taken professionally. I would rather not have MOST pictures look home-shot, mixed with just a FEW pictures that look professional. I think the website would look worse instead of better.
Maybe just that first picture should be re-done by a professional. Are there any local volunteers available to help me with a replacement for this one picture?
Please do not quote me and than discuss my words in a wrong context. It is becoming a disease.
I said "no expensive implementation of EL84 tube". To make it understandable, I will use examples from Audio Note extensive catalog. Expensive AN amps use:
- £300 worth of the "Vienna Prater wheel" volume attenuator, currently with tantalum resistors, likely to be replaced with silver resistors in the future (for integrated amps, naturally);
- silver input transformer (or two);
- silver output transformers;
- silver wiring;
- silver signal capacitors (or similar from Duelund, or Jensen);
- Black Gate or similar electrolitic capacitors;
- silver resistors (or similar from Texas Instruments).
Do you think Heathkit or Music Reference qualify?
These two will compete with the AN EL84 amps, though. Because the AN EL84 amps use cheap parts.
Btw, I don't really care if hi-end manufacturers converse with extreme respect about EL84 tubes over dinner and wine. That does not count.
You have had the most amazingly interesting and challenging life! It sounds like you appreciated your 'second chance' at life after the initial success of the radiation treatments. I hope that you keep that great attitude up until your final days. It sounds like you have by doing things like buying this house and setting up a very cool high end hifi shop for people to come and enjoy.
I look forward to hearing your and other people's impressions of the B&W Matrix 800s once they are setup properly. I will definitely be in touch the next time that I visit southern California. It would be great to come for a visit and a chat about all things hifi : )
Why do you care about "expensive"? In this forum we talk about what sounds good. That is what "hi-fi" and "high-end" means in this forum.
You guys should ask about getting an Audio Note coffee cup - my coffee has more body and richness than ever before
I sort of get what you're saying about parts quality but it has a related end retail price. For Example - and this is nothing against Prima Luna but they go on and on and on about the ALPS Blue pot used in their $4500 - the same pot that was in the $799 Audio Note zero preamp that Peter doesn't like but when you are selling an $800 preamp you have to use lower end parts. This was the same pot in my $7,500 US list 219IA.
It's easy to make cost no object but harder when costs become a factor. The great thing about tube amps and Audio Note in particular is that because you are often placing and order for them to build it for you - you can ask the dealer to have Audio Note make upgrades for you. So if you want the new Kasei caps in your OTO or you want a better volume pot - you can have that done (of course for more money) but lots of people seem to get all sorts of stuff the way they want it.
The OTO SE Signature came about from all the numerous AN fans badgering Audio Note for years and years to make a higher end unit. And I suppose if people keep badgering then you might see a hib C core with all black gates etc. The EL 84 is so underrated and perhaps if AN put the absolute best parts into making a balls to the wall OTO it could be truly ridiculous. Another project for Andy Grove?
Too late to wish for, because it already exists. One of my customers did buy a standard OTO-SE, then he wanted to hear an OTO-SE-SIGNATURE for comparison. He liked the improvement so much that instead of asking to exchange-up that one step, he asked to upgrade-up two steps. Thus the factory charged him thousands-of-dollars more for an OTO-SE-SILVER-SIGNATURE, with the hib-C-core and Black Gates. The customer loves the results and tells me it is a gigantic sonic upgrade from the lesser OTO-SE models he had heard before.
Internal parts quality do make a dramatic improvement in sound for any audio component. It is absolutely astonishing and ridiculous that Audio Note is the only manufacturer (well, that I have ever heard of) that offers at least 3 levels of internal parts quality for any product that they make.
I asked another manufacturer (a personal friend) why he doesn't offer a choice of internal parts quality for his amplifiers, preamps and phono stages. He told me he wants his customers to be confident that for the price he charges, his product is the best it can be, perfect just the way it is. Offering more advanced design and materials, for a higher price, will just confuse the customers, and send them to buy a different product manufacturer, within the same product price range, that they CAN feel is perfect, just the way it is.
Only just looked properly at this Warren - what a great site and environment. I now see a niche for music-based retreat centres.
Like the fact there's a dog in the house and people seem to have their shoes off. Properly homely.
Some MFA pres in there too?
Wow a silver signature SE forr the OTO. I'd love to hear that.
Oddysey amplifiers on their website do let you choose a beefier option on their amps. So some others pick up on it at lesst a little. I like ANs approach but it does require patience and withholding gratification. Which in this day and age is a more difficult sell. Still the divorce rate is really high so sometimes being patient and selective is more rewarding and less costly in the end.
I bet he doesn't have 41 silver tantalum resistors on the pre and power out boards and silver foil caps with SPx internal mains cabling. The factory wont do it but some individuals can get a bit obsessive when it comes to AN. It's generally not a recommended approach as some parts substitutions can really screw the overall sound up and you can loose the wholistic sense of sound that AN try to build in to their products.
My impressions of the B&W Matrix 800 speakers, with Audio Note Ginrei amps on the mids/highs, and ARC solid-state on the woofers is:
Wow, amazingly good sound. The bass is detailed and delicate, clean and respectful to every recording. Then I played rap music, and the bass was PERFECTLY over-blown, just like it should be in a nightclub. The mids and highs are so clearly and smoothly revealed that I could understand EVERY word from the rapper's mouth, even through all that LOUD bass. And I could make out subtle orchestral instruments that J Cole used, in the production of his predominantly electronic music.
Back to acoustic jazz and orchestral music, and every instrument is easy to independently follow in tone and space. Just beautiful sound.
The magic in the Audio Note SET amps is reproduced beautifully by these speakers.
But, not as impressive as the Audio Note AN/E-AlNiCO speakers that I borrowed from Steve Hoffman for my Audio Home event, earlier this year. The magic of realism, delicacy, and emotional involvment was obviously much better with the Audio Note speakers.
I really love these B&W speakers, and I still have a lot of tweeking, adjusting location, changing toe-in, and experimenting with different electronic crossovers to try before I understand the best that they can be. But the Audio Note speakers sounded obviously right, and VERY easily to position, without any fussing. The bass was lower, more sustained, and more impressive, from the AN speakers, even though they have only a pair of 8" woofers instead of 4 12" woofers. That is AMAZING about the AN/E speakers, because they use the room to reinforce low bass. The AN/E highs are even more delicate, and very subtle details (mids and highs) are more obviously rendered.
Obviously, the B&W's require a gigantic room. That AN/E have sounded the same, in the small, large, and gigantic rooms, in which I have heard them.
I'm loving the mental picture of Warren listening to rap music through the Matrix 800's and single ended amps. A couple years ago I took this photograph as I wondered if the scenario of listening to LA gangster rap on an idler wheel table with an Ortofon SPU had ever taken place before, or if I was making history.
The 20-year old daughter of my Korean friend, visiting from Korea, introduced me to J Cole. Tracks 10 and 17, from The Sideline Story, just get me all charged up.
She also played some Justin Timberlake that I liked.
Im listening NOW to The Room 1 setup at the AudioHome .
Incredible sound, and the tubes aren't even warmed up yet!
AN Kits are no longer associated with AN UK and haven't been for some time. The kits are pretty dissimilar to audio note products nowadays.
Well, now, after the necessary tweeking, my decision about which speakers I like better is much more difficult. Having 4 x 12" woofers is an American boy's dream come true. And I mean, yes, "boy". The sound from the B&Ws now is so powerful and impressive, that just from a pure sense of impact they are GREAT. The tonal balance has become just GREAT now too. They present a sense that plenty of dynamic headroom is waiting to be used. These speakers are like having a big American, finely tuned but 30-year old, V-8 engine waiting for the driver to push the pedal a little harder.
The 45 watts-per-channel SET power, from Audio Note GINREI amps is PLENTY of power for the 93-dB efficient mid/high cabinets, and the 150 watts x 4 solid-state ARC amp for the woofers blends perfectly with the tube-driven highs, given that my electronic crossovers (Marchand and Krell) employ very steep slope filters.
The Audio Note speakers remain more elegant in their ability to bring life to subtle details. More sophisticated in their presentation of a seamless soundstage that belies their location in the room. They are definitely more of a "man's speaker. Logical, correct, and practical. The Audio Note E-AlNiCo speakers, in comparison, remind me of a more recent vintage S-class Mercedes. Everything is just exactly right, not so much "thrilling raw power" as "delicately responsive" with impressive dynamics definitely available, but not so obvious about it. In fact, I was not so motivated to turn the volume up louder, when I played the AN speakers.
Both speakers sound fantastic with ANY kind of music: full orchestra, small jazz combo, electronica, classic rock, rap, country blues, bluegrass; each genre has different requirements and both pairs of speakers deliver whatever is necessary.
During this past week, I have had a few SH.tv members accept my invitation, in this thead, to come and listen with me to Room 1 at The Audio Home. This is the room where I recently installed the B&W Matrix 800 speakers, with Audio Note GINREI amps on the mids/highs. and a 4-channel ARC solid-state amp on the 4 x 12" woofers. Is has really been fun, and everyone has helped me tweek the system a bit further towards perfection. I am not exaggerating; this system is as close to audio perfection as I have ever heard. Unfortunately for me, only the AN amplifiers are a product I sell. Well, its OK, because selling something has never been the purpose of Room 1.
One of my visitors had actually been a dealer for B&W speakers during the time this model of 800 was current. Mostly he sold 801, 802 or smaller models, of course, but he did sell and personally set-up 2 pair of EXACTLY these speakers, during that time. After a 4 hour visit, last weekend, he went home, slept-on his listening experience here, and wrote a private message to me as follows:
I would like to repeat, why am I "tooting my own horn" about how good this Room 1 system sounds. It is not to show-off, and it is not to find a customer to buy it. I hope everyone knows, by now, that I am looking for members of SH.tv to just come and listen, to experience the 3 levels of Audio Note equipment that I have on display, and make-up their own minds about how good or not-so-good AN performs at the cost levels that I have here.
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