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Ray Garrison

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  1. I have a suggestion for anyone curious about what effect "placing tubes in the signal chain" will have on their system. I have (heavily modified) sort of KHorns [edit - Converted to 2-way, ALK ES400 crossover, B&C DE750TN 2" compression driver, Fastlane Audio Eliptrac 400 Tractrix horn, Bob Crites woofers]. I've been using a laptop with JRiver 20, a Teac UD-501 D/A, Pass XP-10 pre and Pass XA30.5 amp. Sounds great. I recently bought a Schiit Valhalla 2 headphone amp for my Sennheisers. Just for the heck of it, I tried placing it between the UD-501 and the XP-10, using the line outs on the Valhalla 2. I'm running the balanced outs from the 501 to the XP-10, and the unbalanced outs from the 501 to the Valhalla 2 and unbalanced outs from the Valhalla 2 to the XP-10, so I can flip back and forth between the direct UD-501 input and the "tubed" Valhalla 2 input. (Yeah, have to adjust gain, and one is balanced and one is unbalanced, but read on...) Now, obviously (I think?) the only thing the insertion of the Valhalla 2 into the chain can do is either ( a ) nothing, or ( b )add distortion of some sort. There's no way (I think?) it can do anything else. I suppose if there was some sort of massive impedance mis-match in the original chain, and the Valhalla 2 just happened to have exactly the right input and output impedances to "fix" that mis-match it could possibly, uh, "fix" something, but that seems pretty far fetched. So I'm totally discounting that possibility. I prefer the way the system sounds with the Valhalla 2 between the DAC and the preamp. I suppose I could try to analyze why I like it better - more "jump factor" on transients? More "fleshed out" voices? - but I think that's pretty pointless. I just like it better. My point is, this is a relatively inexpensive and pretty safe way to see what happens when you insert tubes into your system. The Valhalla 2 (6N1P dual triode input, 6N6P dual triode output, OTL) is $350 and comes with a money back guarantee. My guess is it's adding low order harmonics (primarily either 2nd or 3rd) and that, particularly on transients, the additional distortion adds a touch of "jump factor" by increasing the amplitude / slope / peak duration of the initial attack. Also moderate amounts of low order distortion tend to "add body" or "flesh out" voices and, particularly, acoustic instruments. No I can't site specific references to support that... Art Dudley has written about it in Stereophile to some extent, and I remember some Audio articles from back in the 80's that talked about it (Richard Heyser?), but God knows where or when. Anyway, that's not my point. If you have a system configuration that allows you to insert something like the Valhalla 2 into the chain someplace, and you're curious about "tube sound", it's kind of a no-lose way to see what happens. [edit] - One note that might be important. This 2-way setup has virtually NO response over about 15kHz (according to my MiniDSP UMIK-1 and Room EQ Wizard). This doesn't impact me at all, as I can't heat anything over roughly 13 to 14kHz anyway, but if I COULD hear more, I might not like it as much.
  2. Update for anyone who's interested... I have the KHorns set up in my living room. Current setup - using my laptop with JRiver 20 as a source, and a TEAC UD-501 DAC. Using the TEAC because I wanted a DAC that did every format, had balanced outputs, and didn't include volume control or other stuff I didn't need. TEAC is the best sounding DAC that I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. TEAC feeds a Pass XP-10 preamp using balanced connection. XP-10 then goes to Pass XA30.5 amp (again, balanced interconnects). The XA30.5 is by FAR the best amp I've ever heard matched to KHorns, and that includes rather a lot of solid state and tubed amps. The room is much too small. Width 13 feet, depth 19 feet. Speakers are on the short wall, only corners that work. Having said that... in this configuration, I either have to have the listening position very (VERY) far forward so I'm on axis with the horns, or sacrifice on axis position to move well back into the room. After experimenting with several positions, I wound up putting my couch on axis with the horns, so I'm sitting pretty d**n close to the KHorns. Which is quite the experience... listening to KHorns in what is, for all practical purposes, a near field environment is actually pretty cool. We're definitely talking more of a "they are here" rather than "you are there" experience, but the feeling I get when I have the lights out and the volume set to "sounds real" levels (not ridiculously loud, but realistic levels) is unbeLIVEable. I have never, Ever, EVER had a system that could bring music to life like this. There's an REL Stadium sub in the picture. I have it adjusted so the low pass comes in at the lowest possible frequency. It doesn't really change the timbre of most music (thank goodness) but does help reinforce the lowest octaves... larger room, I might not need it. But here, I do. KHorns just can't dig any deeper than mid to high 30's as I have them set up. This is, by far, the most amazing sounding system I've ever had. Those of you who've read my posts over the past 15 years or so know I've had a *LOT* of different setups. None of them could hold a candle to this. If I put on Amy LaVere singing Rabbit, I feel like I could reach out and touch her, and the rest of the band is arrayed beside and behind her... drums are simply HERE, live, it's not like I'm listening to a recording of someone playing drums, it's that I have someone playing drums in my room... a room where the walls have simply disappeared, the whole front end of the room is not there, there's just music. Sometimes when a song ends and I open my eyes, it's quite jarring... a second ago I was - uh - someplace else, with a singer and a band, and all of a sudden walls spring up a few feet in front of me and the band disappears... Next steps: I have Al's extreme slope crossovers on order, along with Dave's (Fastlane Audio) Eliptrac midrange horns and the B&C DE750TN drivers. I'll be converting to a two-way system, because (a) my hearing is pretty much shot above 13kHz, and ( I figure the simplification of going from a 3 way crossover to a 2 way with the midrange driver covering a wider range will offset whatever I lose in high frequency dispersion and extension given my restricted ability to hear high frequency sound. Will post again in a few weeks when I've gotten the system updates in place. By the way, the panels on the wall between the speakers are Acoustimac sound absorbing panels... 2 ft X 4 ft panels, 2 inches thick. Work excellent, killed slap echo and standing wave problems completely. Also, the blue chair in front of the right channel KHorn is small enough that it doesn't interfere with the output in any way - pretty cool..
  3. Ray Garrison


    Pictures of Ray Garrison's Klipschorns and upgrading process
  4. I have my (new to me) 1986 KHorns up and running, I am planning upgrades to the midrange and a change to a two way system with the Eliptrac and one of the 2" drivers, and trying to decide about an amp (FirstWatt M2, Pass XA30.5, etc. etc.) and I came across this. http://www.firstwatt.com/pdf/art_beast.pdf I am really, really proud to be a member of a species that has such certifiably insane, creative geniuses. I thinks a couple of these as wall hangings with Roger Corman posters covering them would be awesome.
  5. I have to think some of the folks commenting on this thread have, at most, skimmed a few issues of Stereophile and come to a rather undeserved conclusion. Sam Tellig reviewed a pair of La Scalas, raved about them, and bought the review pair. Art Dudly LOVED the Volti Vittora, which they rated a "class A" speaker. One of their reviewers uses an Avantgarde Uno as his main reference. J. Gordon Holt thought Klipschorns were probably the most accurate and honest reproducers of the human voice and raved about their low distortion. They mostly love SET's, although Atkinson has raised an eyebrow or two at some of the measurements. They have, on occasion, called a pair of speakers they reviewed "vile transducers". I've been a subscriber since sometime around 1985, and I've found a lot of really useful stuff in their pages. Also a lot of crap, but that's true of pretty much anything.
  6. ...after years of carefully considered purchases, hours of evaluations, and sacrifices of friends, money and time, you finally think you've got your system exactly right... then you go to a concert at Woolsey Hall and realize you haven't gotten anywhere... You know you've gone straight to Hell when...
  7. Thanks for this! My new (to me) Klipschorns (first pair since my wife died and I sold my original pair) are KB-WO h/f and 8640839, so now I know they're 1986 models produced someplace between September 29th and October 5th, which is (really weird twist of fate) the EXACT SAME TIME that I started my job with United Illuminating in New Haven, CT., my pension from which is what allowed me to buy this pair of KHorns. Quick question, which I guess I'll post in another place on this forum just in the hopes that someone sees it... I see that the change from the AK-4 to the AK-5 network was partly to address the "...improvement in low frequency response resulting from the addition of a horizontal wall seal to the top of the low frequency cabinet..." Should I take this to mean that if I add a "pipe-insulation sealer" along the edges of the top of the low frequency cabinet to lock them to the wall that I will mess up the overall response of the KHorns using the AK-2 networks? If it simply winds up with a bit of an emphasis in the low to mid bass relative to not using the pipe insulation, well, nothing succeeds like excess... any thoughts?
  8. Almost that much. Phil tells me they're at the shippers now being prepped, should be en route next Monday / Tuesday. I'll post some pics of the way they company handled them when they get here in case any of you ever need to ship something and are curious. Excited... this'll be the first time I've had KHorns since 1992...
  9. I'm not sure I agree that the folks really into well set up home theaters overlap much with folks into high fidelity music reproduction. Of the circle of audio guys I'm part of, none of us has anything that would remotely be considered a halfway decent home theater setup (not even talking dedicated "movie room", just multi channel sound with big screen.) Me, for example, the only teevee I watch is a 27" flat screen hanging on the wall in my kitchen. If you did a Venn Diagram of the multi-channel video guys and the high end audio guys, I expect the overlapping area would be really really small. I know there are some - a sizeable percentage of them are members of this forum - but out of the general population, not so much. I know some people who're really into watching movies with impressive surround sound setups (one of them has a system built around P-39F fronts and the Oppo BDP-105D), and a couple of times I've brought something with me (DSOTM SACD, GBYBR, etc.) and when I play it, I'm sitting there totally mesmerized and they're like "...yeah, that sounds good, thanks, but can we get back to a movie now Please..." Course, I could be totally wrong... that's why I'm not in marketing...
  10. When Sony launched the first CD player in 1982 (CDP-101, http://web.archive.org/web/20080802133849/http://www.sony.net/Fun/SH/1-20/h5.html) this was a new format, positioned as an alternative to the LP. I bought my first player in 1983. At the time, I had a Dual 1219 turntable, Shure M91-ED cartridge, a big Nikko receiver and Ohm C2 speakers. I thought the first CD's I bought didn't sound as good as my records, but the convenience was so much more offsetting than the difference in sound quality I was hearing that it wasn't even a close call. All my friends, who already thought I was nuts because of the money I'd spent on a "record player," thought the CD's were really cool, but the players were too expensive. Now keep in mind that almost everyone I knew, if they had a stereo, had something they'd bought from Sears, or the college student union bookstore, or Korvettes or something. These were all-in-one systems that sort of looked like a "rack mount" stereo, with a tuner, cassette deck, equalizer, amplifier and turntable in plastic box maybe 2 feet high, with two speakers connected with 24 gauge wire. The friends that more or less cared about sound bought separate speakers, most just used the "speakers" (a little larger than a shoebox, made out of 1/8" particle board with a woofer and tweeter) that came with the system. If you looked behind the front panel of the stereo, you'd find there were no separate components, just one big, mostly empty box with a faceplate moulded to look like separate components. Total cost maybe $299 on the high end, usually less. By 1985, CD players were getting cheap enough that my friends started to buy them. The difference in sound quality between the "record player" that came with their stereo and even the worst sounding CD players on the market, was so great (in favor of the CD player) that there was absolutely no contest. Add to that the lack of care required by CD's, the lack of pops and ticks and "stuck records" caused by scratches, the smaller size and the general "cool" factor, and it's no wonder that CD took the world by storm. Sure, if you had a good turntable set up and a good system, the sound of records, particularly compared to the earliest CD's on the earliest players, was better. Sometimes a whole lot better, depending upon what sorts of things were important to you. But for most people I knew, the sound from their new CD player was just light years ahead of the sound they'd been listening to from their record players. (Here's a thought... how many people under 30 do you think know what the phrase "you sound like a broken record" means?) SACD never offered that kind of dramatic, Oh my God degree of change for the average user (let's leave multi channel out for the moment.) It was a physical media that looked the same, cost more, and wouldn't play on the CD player they had, except for hybrid discs, and of course hybrid discs didn't sound any different that regular CD's, because you were listening to a CD. Add to that the competeing DVD-A format, which originally required a different player, and the fact that salespeople typically had no clue what you were talking about if you went to Circuit City and said "SACD?" The only people that cared were us (audiophiles) and early adopters of multi channel music systems (as opposed to video.) Not enough to make it a success. BUT... the times they are a changin'... Now, physical media is pretty much passe. DACs with chipsets that'll decode every known format, even 4X DSD, are less than $300, and will plug into your iPhone or Android and your laptop. I think SACD has the potential to be resurrected in the form of DSD downloads. More and more online retailers offer PCM up to 24/192 or higher, and they're starting to offer DSD. I just bought a Geek Out USB DAC and I'm using an old Toshiba laptop running AP Linux with the DeadBeef player, total investment maybe $600 between both, and the sound quality is FAR better than my not-so-old universal player (Cambridge Audio.) I think the future for the poor old SACD looks pretty bright, actually... in spirit, anyway. Just as the ghosts of CD's live on as 16/44 files on hard disks and SSDs and thumb drives, DSD files will rise from the polycarbonate ashes of the SACD to take their place in the boundless musical future just beginning to open before us.
  11. Okey dokey, I just executed a transaction with Phil and the KHorns will be en route to me sometime early next week. If any of you folks are curious about the shipping company we used, I'd be happy to photograph the delivery so you can see how (well, hopefully) they were packed and prepped for shipping. I originally thought the quote of $1,500 to pack and ship them from down there to up here was pretty pricey, but I contacted the company (Wrap Right Shipping, http://www.wraprightlr.com/ ) and not only did they respond to my questions immediately, they actually had some file photos of previous KHorn shipments they'd done so I could see what was involved in the process. Color me impressed. At the moment I'm using a Cambridge Audio Azur 640A V2 integrated. I have no idea how well - or poorly - it'll match with the KHorns. It's happy enough with the Epic CF4 that are being superceded by the KHorns, but we shall see what we shall see... http://archive.cambridgeaudio.com/summary.php?PID=105&Title=Azur+640A+%28Version+2%29+amplifier
  12. Hi guys and gals. Been way too long since I've been here. Been trying to get a new business up and running the past few years, haven't had the time to do much else. Dust is somewhat settling, and as a present to myself for the past 1,000 days of 3 hours of sleep, I've bought myself a gorgeous pair of mid 80's KHorns in dark walnut, with some Bob Crites mods to the crossovers. Phil in Arkansas was the previous happy owner. However, my speakers are sitting in Phil's house in Little Rock, and I'm happy ensconced in my domicile in picturesque Northford, Connecticut. I need to get them from there to here. Phil spoke with a trucking / freight company he's used with good success in the past, but they quoted approximately $1,500 to pack and ship the KHorns. Which seems a bit on the "What???????" side to me. Does anyone have any suggestions / experience / helpful tips on how to ship or whom to use to ship the KHorns? No, Phil does not have any of the original packaging. Nice to be back... Ray Garrison
  13. I'm running Xubuntu (varient of the Ubuntu [Debian-based] distro) using the Xfce desktop instead of Unity. I have tried: FireFox Chromium (open source behind Chrome) Opera Arora Konqueror Midori Rekonq Of all of them, Midori gives me the best compromise between supporting most widgets, sloppy Javascript and imperfect CSS coding while providing the least system overhead, both in terms of CPU and memory usage. I'm running a (very) old Dell Optiplex based on an older Pentium something-or-other... system was almost unusable under Windoze 7 (never tried 8). Firefox, Chromium and Opera all suck up more resources than Midori. I tend to wind up with a bunch of open tabs with stuff like phpMyAdmin running on several hosts in different tabs, so the lightweight footprint makes a big difference. Don't know offhand which would be available for Windoze.
  14. Mine came with (rather long) spikes from Klipsch in addition to the rubber foots, think threads are 1/4-20 (anybody?) you should be able to put something like a 1/4-20 X 2 round or pan head machine screw in there to couple to floor... wouldn't use hex or flat head, you want a point contact...
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