upgrading my system from Denon & Elac, to Aria Audio & Meadowlark

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by CraigVC, Jul 10, 2021.

  1. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    This week, my partner Sara and I went on a road trip to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary.

    Through a series of fortunate events, we ended up meeting Michael Elliott (retired electronics designer) and buying some used equipment from him.

    This is really exciting because, after 40+ years of collecting music and owning modest systems, my best system to-date has been Denon AVR-3801 receiver and Elac Debut B6 bookshelf speakers.

    In the span of just a few hours of time with Michael, demoing the Aria electronics and Meadowlark speakers and hearing how magic they sound in combination, that "my best system to-date" statement has been transformed significantly.

    It's going to be at least a few weeks before I get this equipment set up in our home. First we are going to re-arrange our living room to accommodate and showcase the new system, as the current configuration isn't sufficient.

    There's also a significant learning curve for me to acquire knowledge and understanding, because this will be my first system that uses:
    • tubes
    • XLR balanced cables
    • separate preamp/line stage and monoblock power amplifiers
    • outboard power supply for the preamp
    • three-way speakers

    My requests of this community:
    • Does anyone have PDFs of manuals for any of this equipment? Or if you have paper manuals, could you scan as PDFs or make paper photocopies and mail to me? (Michael offered to put me in touch with some people to help me track those down, but I thought I'd check here first.)
    • Any configuration, setup, usage, or positioning advice is appreciated. I will take it all into consideration, but will be working within the limitations of the room, and our desire that the room will have good "flow" and will remain inviting and a livable space. So there will inevitably be compromises and limitations.

    So, here's what I have (photos below):
    • Aria Audio WV5 XL line stage and phono stage (MM/MC)
    • Aria Audio WT350 LS monoblock power amplifiers, tube hybrid design (350 watts per channel)
    • Meadowlark Audio Heron i speakers

    Michael said that these particular Aria Audio components were used during research and development back in the day, so the insides are almost certainly not standard "stock." But they likely are what he wanted them to contain and sound like for his personal system. So they may be even more "advanced" or experimental than the gear he was designing and servicing before Aria Audio shut down. All speculation, of course. (I didn't ask too many details, being so transfixed by what I was hearing, and enjoying our conversation aside from talking about the gear.) What matters most to me right now is that they sounded so transparent and revealing and holographic.

    He said Pat McGinty gave him the Meadowlark Heron i speakers, and they were his main system speakers for years, so they're well-used and well-loved, with some superficial bruises and dings, but at 120 pounds each, these are well-built speakers that still seem to have a lot of enjoyment left in them.

  2. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
  3. dcottrell6

    dcottrell6 Forum Resident

    Eastampton, NJ
    Sorry but no info for you,but it looks like some really nice gear. Congratulations and enjoy!
    CraigVC likes this.
  4. Acapella48

    Acapella48 Forum Resident

    Elk Grove, CA.
    It's been years since I heard a pair of Meadowlark's. They are very nice sounding speakers. Congratulations! Might want to contact them: Meadowlark Audio Homepage

    Sorry, but never heard Aria Audio gear
    CraigVC likes this.
  5. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR

    Sara and I both got teary-eyed when we listened to a variety of FLAC files from our phones, on this system while Michael had it set up for us. It was so cool to share that experience of hearing such astonishingly-good sound reproduction, sitting side-by-side with Sara (and on our anniversary, no less).

    Standout moments from our listening session with this equipment included the palpably-present "skronk" of Sonny Rollins' saxophone when he hit the lower notes on "Dearly Beloved," the air and room presence around the bass solo and the drums on that same Rollins track, the nuances of the several acoustic instruments interplaying in the bridge of Silkworm's "Something Hyper," Vince Guaraldi's piano on "Cast to the Wind" from the Black Orpheus album, the vocals and harmonies and acoustic guitars on the Hoffman-mastered Heart's "Dog and Butterfly," the interplay of all the complex layers of OutKast's "Bombs over Baghdad," and the vocals and acoustic guitar of Seu Jorge's cover of Bowie's "Life on Mars."

    It was also interesting and exciting to hear some limitations in some of the recordings. For example, I was surprised that the Wilco track "Impossible Germany" was kind of flat and not as dynamic overall as I'd expected. Likewise for Heart's "Barracuda" from the same Hoffman-mastered greatest hits disc. Not that they sounded "bad" by any means, but they were not the stunners that I was expecting them to be. We only listened at moderate to low volumes, though, so I'm really looking forward to cranking it up more once it's all set up, and see if more volume will make a difference (as I expect will be the case).

    I'm genuinely excited to be able to hear more differences in how different albums and tracks were recorded. It was so thrilling to start to hear nuances in how the vocal recordings sounded between Ann & Nancy Wilson vs. Jeff Tweedy vs. Seu Jorge, and start to wonder which mics were used, if there were any filters applied, etc. Can't wait to pull out the Hoffman-mastered Nat King Cole SACDs and play them through this system!
    bhazen and jupiterboy like this.
  6. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    We are approaching a settled state, with regard to how this equipment is going to be installed in their new home.

    The two amplifiers are going to fit at an angle on either end of the Ikea bookcase used for LPs (final configuration will move the left one all the way to the end of that surface; there's temporarily a power-strip up there right now). The Ikea bookcase isn't deep enough for them to be squarely pointing out, and we think this angled approach will add some visual interest as well as help showcase all the glowing lights inside.

    The preamplifier fits nicely on top of the Can-Am cabinets stack to the left, with 2+ feet between it and ceiling, so plenty of ventilation for all tubed components.

    The preamplifier's power supply - that was momentarily placed on top of one of the ELAC speakers for this photo - will replace the Denon receiver that's currently in the top Can-Am cabinet. We even have an extra pull-out drawer that we're going to install in that cabinet, so that the power supply will rest on that drawer, and not on the Oppo disc player below it. That will also give the Oppo disc player more ventilation space than it's had before.

    The ELAC speakers will be uninstalled and removed from the space (I'm thinking about giving them to a friend, along with the Denon receiver).

    The Meadowlark speakers will get some sort of "furniture glides" solution underneath them, so that they could slide on the carpeting when needed. I think I'll start by putting each speaker in front of the LPs shelves, one on each of the far sides. That will hopefully provide sufficient soundstage/imaging after some toe-in/toe-out experiments, and will help keep the drawers of the Can-Am cabinets on either side freely accessible.

    bluemooze, jonwoody and Ilusndweller like this.
  7. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    I just sent an email to Pat McGinty asking him several questions about the speakers, to help me get the most out of them. Among the questions, I asked for PDF of the owners manual. There's a feature on the connector posts that is labelled "L-M-S" that I'm uncertain how to use, other than trying all three options and listening to decide which one I think sounds better. I found a old for-sale posting for these speakers on Canuck Audio Mart that suggested they are for choosing a crossover point between small, medium, and large rooms, so maybe that's it and the owner's manual will provide guidance on how to decide which one.


    I also have been ordering some cabling to get this new system set up sufficiently well. I've always tried to find "good value" cables that are not too expensive, and that's the strategy I'm starting with here. I am guessing that this new system will be transparent and resolving at a level far exceeding my Denon + ELAC combo, so I am leaving open the possibility that trying different cables will have a more significant effect on the sound than seemed to matter before with my old system.

    I've never had a system that uses balanced/XLR cables before, so I did a little research and Mogami seems to be a "better than generic" option that is well-reviewed, but not too expensive. I also wanted to re-connect my Oppo player to the preamplifier via balanced/XLR, now that I have that option, so I ordered the Monoprice Monolith based on some good reviews and photos of the insulation/soldering that seems premium compared to other XLR options in the same price range.

    I also only had speaker wires with banana plugs, but Michael Elliott said that spades are far superior (and maybe these binding posts wouldn't even accept banana plugs?). So I ordered some of those, which I'll install on whatever semi-generic brand of 12-14 gauge speaker wires I have on a spool in my closet.

    Finally, I ordered some "better than generic" power cords. Michael gave me some generic computer cables, but I need a longer run for at least the right amplifier, so I figured might as well try to modestly upgrade all three power cords at once.

    Here's what I ordered from Amazon:
    • 2 x Monolith XLR Balanced M/F Audio Cable - 2 Meter, 24K Gold Plated Auxiliary Cord, Oxygen Free Copper, Professional, Premium Home Audio (Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC) $41.19
    • 1 x Mediabridge Ultra Series Fast-Lock 45° Spade Plugs - 6 Pair Per Package - (Part# SPC-ST2-6) (Sold by: Mediabridge) $20.84
    • 2 x Mogami Gold STUDIO-10 XLR Microphone Cable, XLR-Female to XLR-Male, 3-Pin, Gold Contacts, Straight Connectors, 10 Foot (Sold by: Zorro Sounds) $55.95
    • 2 x WAudio 3.3FT AC Power Cable 10AWG HiFi Audiophile Power Cord with US Plug IEC Connector (Sold by: Full Tat) $29.99
    • 1 x WAudio Hi-End HiFi Audio AC Power Cable Power Cord US Plug - 10FT (3M) (Sold by: Full Tat) $89.99
    bluemooze likes this.
  8. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    Oh wow! Amazon delivery just this moment arrived. :goodie: Now to see if I can push off a scheduled meeting coming up soon, so that I can see about making progress on getting this new system hooked up!
  9. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    It's all hooked up!

    Impressions so far:

    Even the lowest notches of the volume (it's 48 step, if I remember correctly) are relatively loud, compared to my Denon receivers, each of which has more like 100 or more steps. I'll need to be more careful with volume whenever I'm listening early in the morning before Sara gets up ...

    Dynamics are amazing, soundstage/imaging is awesome.

    Instruments and vocals sound way more lifelike and 3-dimensional than my old systems.

    There is a little bit of what sounds like rustling papers occasionally, when there is nothing playing and all components are on. I suspect it might be a tube(s) that need to be reseated or is possibly needing to be replaced. (We did drive this system 130 miles in the back of our SUV through curvy forest-land highways after we bought it, so some vibrations and bumps in the journey might have caused some issue.)

    Vinyl sounds WAY better than optical discs, so far. This really surprised me, as I thought that connecting my Oppo 205 via XLR/balanced would have really shined. But most of the discs I've sampled so far have a "flat-ness" quality. I've sampled Queen News of the World MFSL gold CD, Billy Squier Don't Say No on Intervention Records SACD, and Charles Mingus Black Saint and Sinner Lady Analogue Productions SACD. The Mingus SACD was the best of that trio.

    I've actually only played one LP so far through this new system, and it wasn't anything known as "world's best sounding vinyl LP" or anything -- it is a first US pressing of Feelies Crazy Rhythms on Stiff Records. But wow, it sounded incredible - popping out of the speakers in technicolor sound. Absolutely stunning.

    It's all the more surprising because my turntable is located too far away to plug directly into the preamplifier and use its internal tubed phono amp, so I'm instead routing the turntable signal first through a Musical Fidelity external phono preamp, then sending that signal on through several more feet of Audioquest RCA interconnects to one of the preamp's RCA line inputs.

    Is it possible that my $1,500 Marantz (Clearaudio) turntable is so significantly outperforming my $1,500 Oppo universal disc player? I look forward to sampling more media in the days and weeks ahead, to further test that question (including comparing the Billy Squier Don't Say No LP on Intervention Records versus the SACD, since I have the same album mastered by the same engineer, on both formats).
    bluemooze, jonwoody and toddrhodes like this.
  10. Ecjjr

    Ecjjr Well-Known Member

    Chicago area
    I had the Meadowlark Herons for almost 20 years. Excellent speakers. Congratulations.
  11. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Sincere congrats on your new, and beautiful system. I also used Meadowlark speakers for years; such a sweet and natural sound. Hope you enjoy this for years.:righton:
  12. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    Thanks for the congratulations! It's really fun getting to know this system, and to pull recordings from my collection to hear them in a new way like I've never heard them before.

  13. Glfrancis2

    Glfrancis2 Overworked and underpaid state employee

    Birmingham al
    Awesome gear, but HAPPY 11TH ANNIVERSARY! I didn't want to blow past that part. I love testing out audio gear with my wife. She has good ears for it and puts up with me
    CraigVC likes this.
  14. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    Congrats and thanks for sharing Craig! Everything looks fantastic and Im sure it sounds fantastic as well. You might consider joining HiFi Haven where Pat is active and has his own Meadowlark sub-forum Meadowlark Audio Forum. Looks like you already did. :)

    Prior to Aria, Michael's company was Counterpoint Electronics in San Diego. From what I have gathered, it was very, very close (maybe a stone's throw, literally?) to where Meadowlark used to be (in upstate N.Y. now) and Pat helped Michael evaluate the sound of his amps. He also ran a Counterpoint NPS-100A (hybrid tube/MOSFET) and really liked that amp. Despite being just 65 W@8 Ohm/100@4, it can definitely play clean and loud and low (Dark Side anyone?) and sounds fantastic. Those 350W monos are beasts! If you ever have any of the Aria gear opened up, please take and post pics. Here is what the Counterpoint looks like on the inside. Enjoy!
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
    bluemooze and jonwoody like this.
  15. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    Thanks for the tip on HiFiHaven, and you're right ... I'm already there as of yesterday. :p Pat's long-running thread describing and showing photographs of Meadowlark's latest speaker creations, with crazy specs like 4,000 watts (!!) and sub-20Hz response, are thrilling to read and see.

    Great idea for me to share photos of the insides.

    Here are several photos I hastily took when I had the case of the WV5 XL preamplifier open. I mainly did that to see if I could capture some insignia on the tubes that would help me identify what Michael had given to me, already installed in this equipment.

    I haven't yet taken the case covers off the WT350 amps yet, but I did finally locate an allen wrench of compatible size yesterday, so I'll be taking those covers off in the near future, whenever I feel up to doing some troubleshooting of that "rustling papers" sound that I think is probably some tube(s) issue. I'll try to remember to take photos when I do.

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
  16. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    I would appreciate any identification such as: "hey, that photo shows ______ device/tube/resistor/capacitor/etc." and any commentary/knowledge/opinions you have about the thing would be appreciated as well.

    bluemooze, jonwoody and Ilusndweller like this.
  17. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    Does the rustling paper sound go away after awhile? It could just be everything warming up

    And thanks for all the posts. Your enthusiasm has made for some enjoyable reading.
  18. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    I wish I could answer your question, but I've not had too much time to focus on pinpointing or tracking down this issue since Wednesday. I'm hoping life will settle back down again in the next couple of weeks so I can spend more dedicated time with this system. I hope you're right about it being the system warming up.

    Thanks for the compliment; glad you've enjoyed the reading. I'll try to post more updates when I them.
    timind likes this.
  19. jonwoody

    jonwoody Tragically Unhip

    Washington DC
    Craig congratulations on your anniversary and also your wonderful new system! One thing however is puzzling me you bought the gear from Michael Elliot who founded Aria and designed the gear couldn't he give you the skinny on all of it? And maybe copies of whatever Aria's last manuals were? Or barring that maybe cobble a manual together for you?
  20. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    I have a standing invitation to contact Michael with any questions. I'm just trying to gather all the information that I can first, on my own. He's retired and I don't want to be a nuisance if I can help myself for some of the more basic questions. Plus, I like getting some community help and conversation going.

    For example, he was the one who recommended that I use Archive.org Wayback Machine to get the manuals, which I have done (it took some exploring to find a snapshot of the old website that included the PDF of the power amplifiers to download, but eventually I got it). For the line stage/preamplifier, Michael said he intentionally didn't create a PDF or printed manual, so that he could keep updating the HTML web page as often as he improved the design or added new upgrade options. It was easy enough to download the HTML and print a PDF of one of the last available snapshots on Wayback Machine for the line stage info/specs.

    I am going to reach back out to him eventually with a few questions and requests for advice, after I've had some time to get more familiar with everything.
    jonwoody likes this.
  21. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    Also, I have been in contact with Pat McGinty about the Meadowlark speakers. He provided me with a PDF of the owner's manual for the Heron i speakers, and expressed happiness that the speakers he made for Mr. Elliott are still working and now have a new home. Plus, he's very active on a forums site (HiFi Haven, I think?) that has a dedicated forum just for Meadowlark speakers, which has attracted a community of Meadowlark speaker owners who also can help me when I need it.

    The "funny" part about all this: My initial attraction to the online advertisement for Heron i speakers that were listed for sale by Michael was to replace a pair of Polk RT1000i speakers that have internal amplifiers that are failing (i.e., left speaker amp still works, right speaker amp doesn't). The Polk speakers are part of our TV/home theater/surround system, powered by Denon 4311 receiver.

    But with this package deal of Aria electronics + Meadowlark speakers, no way in hell was I going to use this high-end equipment to watch television and streaming video. :laugh:

    So the only solution was to replace my old Denon 3801 receiver and Elac speakers with the Aria + Meadowlark combo, allowing me to listen to turntable and Oppo digital through it. And leave the TV/home theater system intact, with those failing Polks.

    That means the "funny" part is I'm still going to be on the lookout for a pair of tower speakers to eventually replace the Polks in the TV/home theater system. It's just that now Meadowlark's newest generation speakers are much higher up on my "want list" - specifically the Kingfisher model which is narrow and relatively small (which we need to fit in our space) but powered by an internal amplifier for deep bass, just like the old Polk speakers I have now.

    Anyway, it's really helpful and I feel fortunate to have some direct access to the creators of these fine pieces of audio equipment.
    jonwoody likes this.
  22. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    I was able to listen to the Billy Squier Don't Say No LP on Intervention Records versus the SACD, and the vinyl LP sounds noticeably better on my system, compared to the SACD. I just continue to be surprised how "digital" any optical discs sound on this system, compared to LPs. I know that sounds like a silly statement, but with my old Elac + Denon system (same turntable, same Oppo player), the output of both of those components were very pleasing to me, and I felt that SACDs were roughly "analog-sounding" for a digital source.

    Now, though, playing vinyl through this new-to-me system has dramatically and significantly improved - it's staggeringly good now - but the Oppo is probably sounding no worse than with the old system, but no better either. It's like the potential of the Oppo player was already being fully realized with my old Denon + Elac system, but my Marantz/ClearAudio turntable was being held back by the old system.

    There are still some experiments I can try, whenever I'm in the mood to do some rewiring activity, such as switching from balanced/XLR to a known-good pair of unbalanced/RCA cables between Oppo and line stage. In fact, I have an extra input (RCA) on the line stage, so I could simply add RCA cable (in addition to XLR, not instead of) and do some switching between inputs to see if one sounds more pleasing (more "analog") than the other.

    It may reveal that I have a faulty pair of XLR cables, for example. According to documentation of Aria and Oppo, both components have the same polarity throughout the balanced pathway, so I think I can rule that out.
    timind likes this.
  23. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    Here are the specifications that I've gathered for these electronics and speakers:

    Aria Audio WT350 LS Amp specifications

    Output Power
    8 ohms: 350W
    4 ohms: 500W

    Input Sensitivity
    RCA inputs to 1W/8 ohm: 200mVrms (LS); 30mVrms (HS)
    XLR inputs to 1W/8 ohm: 200mVrms per signal phase (LS), 15mVrms per signal phase (HS)
    RCA inputs to rated power: 4Vrms (LS); 0.6Vrms (HS)
    XLR inputs to rated power: 2Vrms per signal phase (LS); 300mVrms per signal phase (HS)

    WT100 and WT350 Specifications

    Amplifier Polarity

    XLR Wiring
    Per IEC 268, AES14.1992: Pin 1 - Ground, Pin 2 - HOT (+), Pin 3 - COLD (-)

    Frequency Response
    1Hz to 120kHz (LS); 1Hz to 30Khz (HS)

    Reference to 1W: 96dB (LS); 90dB (HS)

    Residual Hum and Noise
    nuVrms (LS), nuVrms (HS)

    Damping Factor
    Ref 8 ohm: 44

    Maximum Output Current

    DC Offset
    Less than 100mV, typical. Note: this amplifier does not use a high-gain servo. Some woofer movement is expected, but it will be far below normal signal levels.

    Power Requirements
    Standby: less than 50W, Operate 80W

    Rail Fuses (located on main circuit board): 6-amp fast type
    (four places); Speaker Fuses (located on main circuit board): 6-amp fast type (two places); AM Mains Fuse: (located inside AC Inlet receptacle on rear) 10-amp slow type. All fuses are 5mm x 20mm size.

    Available Voltages
    The WT100 and WT350 can be ordered to operate in 100VAC, 120VAC, 220VAC and 240VAC environments. Detachable IEC Mains receptacle accepts all power cords. Unless other arrangements have been made, units destined for sale in 120V countries will be shipped with standard-grade AC Mains cord. Units destined for other countries will not be shipped with a Mains cord. All Aria products are built to meet or exceed UL/CSA safety standards.

    Dimensions (W x L x H)
    Amplifier Only: 8'' x 17'' x 13'', 20cm x 43cm x 33cm
    Shipping Crate: 14'' x 23'' x 19'', 35cm x 58cm x 48cm

    Amplifier Only: 50lbs, 23kg
    Shipping Weight: 63lbs, 29kg

    Aria Audio WV5 XL pre-amplifier specifications

    Phono Stage (present in WV5 & WV9)

    Gain (when using 6922/6DJ8 type tubes in phono stage and 1:10 MC transformer):
    MC: 55dB (will raise .4mV MC cartridge to .22 volt),
    MM: 36dB (will raise standard 4.7mV MM cartridge to .3 volts).
    Note that vinyl usually has peaks reaching 12dB above these levels, so output from phono stage will be around 1 volt on peaks.

    Input Impedance:
    MC: 1K ohm with no cartridge loading plugs installed, can be lowered with loading plugs per customer order.
    MM: 47K ohm (standard moving magnet).

    Overload Margin (per EIA RS-490):
    MC: 30mV (37dB headroom ref .4mV),
    MM: 300mV (36dB headroom ref 4.7mV).

    Signal To Noise:
    MC: all noise 74dB below 1kHz 0.4mV input signal, 20Hz-20kHz, input shorted; MM: all noise 75dB below 1kHz 4.7mV input signal 20Hz-20kHz, input shorted. These figures are the theoretically quietest possible from a tube phono stage, indicating that the design provides the greatest dynamic range possible.

    Greater than 70dB channel separation, 20-20kHz.

    Line Stage (present in WV5 & WV11)
    Depends on tube type. Some tubes (but not all) below.
    (gain is shown in dB, balanced in to balanced out / RCA in to RCA out)
    6414, 6829, 7062: 33/25dB
    12AV7: 29dB/21dB
    6922, 6922(WA), 7308, 8223, CV5231, CV5354, CV5358, CCa, CV2492, CV2493, CV8065, CV10320, ECC86, ECC88,E88CC, E88CC/01, ECC868, E188CC, E288CC, 6N1P, 6829, 7062/E180CC: 28dB/20dB
    12AV7, 12AY7, 12BH7, 5965, 6414, 6913: 26dB/18dB.
    6CG7, 6GM8, ECC86, ECC99, : 24dB/16dB.
    12AU7/5963/ECC82, 12AU7A/6680/7730, 12AU7WA/6189, 6067, 6680, 7489, B529, ECC82, ECC802S, & more types: 20dB/12dB.
    6H30Pi (AKA "6N30"): 18dB/10dB.

    Input Impedance: 100K ohm (higher is ALWAYS better, never accept a line stage with less than 50K).

    Line Stage Output Impedance: This is not a fixed number, it varies according to the tube type used. You can assume it never goes higher than 5k ohm, and is closer to 3k typically. This is plenty good for driving cables with no more than 1200pF capacitance, and power amps with no less than 50K ohm input impedance (higher is always better -- see "Associated Components" below).

    Signal To Noise: -91dB (14uV noise) below 0.5V output reference, IHF weighted, 20Hz-20kHz, volume control at minimum.

    Crosstalk: Greater than 68dB channel separation, 20-20kHz.

    Power requirements.
    Available in 100V (87Vac to 118Vac), 115V (100Vac to 136Vac), and 230V (200 to 270Vac), all 50/60Hz. 75W.

    Physical Specifications
    Audio chassis: 19'' (48cm) wide x 17.5'' (45cm) fore-to-aft x 5.5'' (14cm) tall; allow at least 2'' (5cm) at rear for interconnects and at least 4''(10cm) above for ventilation.

    Power supply chassis: 10'' (25cm) wide x 10.5'' (26cm) fore-to-aft, by 5.5'' (14cm) tall; allow 4'' at rear for interconnects.

    Audio chassis: 30lbs (14kg);
    Power supply chassis: 8lbs (3.6kg).
    Shipping weight approx. 65lbs (30kg) in wood crate. APHIS-approved wood used for overseas destinations.

    The Standard WVs use parts like you'd find in the very best electronics. In some cases, certain parts, like resistors and capacitors that are responsible for the "Classic Counterpoint" sound (e.g., as found in the Counterpoint SA-5.1) have been deliberately selected. Roederstein resistors, Reliable Capacitors, and Continental Capacitor Inc.'s Type A audio-grade capacitors are used in the Standards. The part types chosen have all proven themselves in Counterpoint products which are still in operation more than 25 years after having been manufactured.

    The premium-build XL versions (WV5 XL, WV11 XL, and WV9 XL), like the Aria WT XL amplifiers, use the best-sounding highest-quality parts, period. Those familiar with my Alta Vista Audio upgrades for Counterpoint gear know that I am very picky about the parts we use. These are parts which are too expensive to be used by manufacturers who sell through retailers.

    As an example, the premium parts used in the WV5 XL include: a DACT CT2 balanced stereo (quad) stepped 24-position volume control; "Naked" Vishay TX2352 bulk metal foil resistors in 28 locations; Mills wirewound resistors in 13 critical locations; Caddock Tetrinox resistors in 4 locations; a Plitron power supply input choke; Dynamicap foil coupling and bypass capacitors in 15 locations; Continental Capacitor Inc.'s Type A capacitors; Van den Hul CC-18 carbon wire with WBT crimp-on solderable gold tips in all signal path connections (40 wires); Cardas GRFA RCA jacks in all 20 locations (other types available on special order, see Note 1, below); Cardas wire power supply umbilical cord (6 feet standard, custom lengths available); and a Silent Source IEC inlet (See Note 2). (Precise component count details for the WV11 XL and WV 9 XL is different because these products don't have, respectively, a phono stage or a line stage.) NB: These are the part that I've found to be the best-sounding to my ear. If you have some other parts you'd like us to use in an XL, please contact me and we can discuss a customized WV for you.

    Meadowlark Heron i speakers specifications

    Designer's Notes

    3/4" fabric dome tweeter from Scan Speak has less than half the moving mass of the usual 1" designs. This is a distinct advantage since a tweeter’s job is moving to and fro 20,000 times each second.

    Triangular midrange subenclosure traps backwave, eliminates internal reflections for great clarity and complete lack of coloration.

    Audax Aerogel midrange sports a cone material composed of acrylic microspheres - half the mass of paper but twice as stiff. It retains the natural sound of paper, but is remarkably fast, transparent and open. The unique symmetrical suspension behaves identically on the outstroke and instroke. This driver's transient performance
    is the best we've yet measured.

    Dual 7" paper coned woofers from Vifa’s Premium Line have about the same working area as a single 10" woofer, but since there are two huge motors instead of just one, twice the force is generated for superior control and extension.

    Transmission line bass loading completes the concept of an accurate, tight and brawny bass system that loads the drivers resistively rather than reactively like typical vented speakers. Well damped and easy for your amplifier to control, dynamic bass extends down into the twenties.

    A triumph of simplicity - the true first order crossover circuit contains just four reactive elements - two coils and two capacitors. Your amplifier will find this to be a very easy load. We use the finest parts in the world: Caddock Power Resistors, Auricaps, Perfect Lay inductors, Tara RSC internal wiring and Cardas solid copper binding posts. All connections are point to point, the number of connections is kept to an absolute minimum, and each joint is hand soldered with top grade silver solder
    for excellent conductivity The entire assembly has extensive vibrational damping and isolated in a special chamber at the Heroni’s base.

    Segmented baffle eliminates energy transfer between midrange and woofers. Baffle sections are elastically decoupled from the main cabinet. Drivers are elastically decoupled from the baffles. This 'triple decoupling’' technique greatly reduces energy transfer between the drivers and the cabinet. Areas on each side of midrange/tweeter array are isolated to reduce radiating area. Black lacquered baffle is 2" thick.

    Frameless grille is the best of both worlds. Sonically excellent on or off. Cosmetically excellent on or off.

    ‘Extra’ binding posts allow the user to address three discrete voicings, for large, medium and small rooms.

    90.5dB sensitivity means lower power amps will do the job nicely. Oversized port is heavily flared to greatly attenuate port noise. A clever and elegant system of ‘port pucks’ allow the user to control low bass output in three steps, further aiding in room integration flexibility.

    The Heron is not mass produced. Each pair is carefully handmade and tested. The designer personally signs each speaker once it passes a rigorous, full power testing sequence

    Standard finishes are Natural Cherry, Classic Mahogany, Straight Grained Ash, Rosewood and Ebony.

    Dimensions are 44"H x 10"W x 15"D. Weight 93 lbs.
    jonwoody, timind and aorecords like this.
  24. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    By the way, for whatever reason, SACDs sound really good on my system today. I've been happy with the sound from these SACDs over the last few hours:

    • Mission of Burma - ONoffON - this disc had always sounded harsh and congested before, but now everything has room and space to shine and sounds great.
    • Midori ‎– Mendelssohn & Bruch: Violin Concertos - Michael is a classical music fan, so perhaps he fine-tuned this gear to make this type of music sound its best for him. Or maybe this gear is just naturally a good match for the genre. The strings on this disc are drool-worthy. I just kinda sank into my listening chair during this Sony Classical SACD, incapacitated by the beauty.
    • Oscar Peterson ‎– Action (Exclusively For My Friends – Vol. I) - For this SACD, the highlight is hearing the air of the room (it was recorded live in someone's living room) and the perceived distance of the mics from the instruments. Being able to sense/imagine the mood of the room, the state of relaxation of the musicians, the energy of the performance ... all by listening to a recording from over 50 years ago.
    • The Police - Ghost In The Machine - The stereo-spread cymbals, the drums, the bass, the sound effects, the horns. Wonderful!
    bhazen and aorecords like this.
  25. CraigVC

    CraigVC Senior Member Thread Starter

    Portland, OR
    Some recent mis-adventures with newbie tube owner errors gave me the opportunity to take some photos of the interior of the WT350LS amplifier.

    bluemooze likes this.

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