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robert_kc

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  1. Hello Vivek, I suggest that you shop for recordings before you shop for equipment. That way you will know which recording formats your equipment must support. (Sorry if I’m beating this issue to death. It’s not my intent to sound preachy. This might sound like a simple concept, however I think some people skip the important first step: the music. I’m mystified when some hi-fi hobbyists spend a lot of time and money on equipment, and don’t consider modern recording formats.) This afternoon I watched/listened to Sibelius Symphony 4 via this Blu-ray audio/video disc, and the experience was fabulous via my state-of-the-art Oppo UDP-205 universal player, vintage tube amps, Klipsch RF-7II for left, center, and right, a single RF-7 rear speaker, and two powered subwoofers. (This afternoon I listened via two stereo amps equipped with 6L6GC: a Scott 296 driving the main left & right speakers, and an Inspire Fire Bottle single-ended amp driving the center and single rear speaker.) Plasma HDTV. Yesterday I ordered the following Blu-ray audio/video discs from Amazon.com: For classical music, Blu-ray is my favorite format, and I own a number of wonderful Blu-ray recordings. Blu-ray box sets (e.g., all symphonies by a composer) are a good value. Here’s a relevant post regarding classical Blu-ray recordings: SACD is my second choice. I own many classical SACDs. Based on the playlist you posted, I understand that these recordings may not be of interest to you. I just want to make the point that recording technology has come a long way since the CD was introduced to the marketplace more than 30 years ago – i.e., high-definition video, surround-sound, and hi-res audio. I have no experience with the music you like. Looking at your play list, I did a few quick searches and found the following Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, and hi-res downloads (24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz). These are just a few examples that I found in a few minutes by searching amazon.com and hdtracks.com. I know nothing about the following recordings. I’m not recommending these recordings – this music is not my cup of tea. Moreover, I know nothing about the audio quality of these recordings – garbage-in/garbage-out – these recordings may or may not have high quality audio based on how the recording was originally captured, and how it was mastered. Rather, my point is that the relevance of various recording formats other than CD depends on music genre – and when the recording was made. (Candidly, for some genres, CD is the best audio quality that’s available.) Billy Joel: Live at Shea Stadium Blu-ray Billy Joel - Live From the River of Dreams DVD Billy Joel | The Stranger SACD Billy Joel | Glass Houses SACD Billy Joel: 52nd Street 40th Anniversary (Hybrid-SACD) Import HIRES 96kHz/24bit Deluxe Edition Remastered Special Packaging 2018 Release Date 11/2/18 The Essential Billy Joel 24bit/96kHz FLAC download (HDTracks.com) Lionel Ritchie | Just for You SACD Lionel Ritchie (There are at least 6 albums on HDTracks in 24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz) Legend: The Best Of Bob Marley And The Wailers Pure Audio Blu-ray Bob Marley & The Wailers: Exodus - Live at the Rainbow DVD Bob Marley & the Wailers (There are several hi-res downloads available from HDTracks.) Weekend On The Rocks [live CD & DVD] by Dave Matthews (2005-11-29) DVD Michael Bolton: Live at the Royal Albert Hall Blu-ray Michael Bolton - My Secret Passion / Donizetti, Puccini, Massenet, Verdi DVD Again, these are just a few examples that I found in a few minutes by searching amazon.com and hdtracks.com. The issue is whether you want to invest in equipment that will play recordings such as these. How important is audio quality vs. convenience? What sources for recordings are available to you in India? Amazon.com? HDTracks.com? $64k question: For the music that you like, are there enough recordings in hi-res audio formats, and audio/video formats to justify investing in a compatible player? Perhaps you might start a thread asking for recommendations for Blu-ray, SACD, and hi-res downloads for the music you like. If you’re interested in audio/video recordings, you’ll need a universal disc player. (IME, the classical audio/video recordings I like are not available via streaming.) OTOH, if you’re not interested in video, and the music you like is available as a hi-res (or at least 16bit/44.1kHz) download (vs. SACD or Pure Audio Blu-ray disc), you may not need a disc player – you might be satisfied with a “network player” or “music streamer” that plays hi-res files from local NAS, plus Spotify Premium. P.S. Forte III in Distressed Oak looks great. P.P.S. I have no experience with Line Magnetic tube amps. They look very interesting. FWIW, I generally prefer 6L6GC and EL34 – but everyone has different tastes - and the important issue is synergy between amp and speakers.
  2. Hello Vivek, FWIW, I think that you're taking a very sensible approach. Following are a few of my quick thoughts. I have no experience with “network streamers”. I have Chromecast Audio ($35US) gizmos installed in several of my hi-fi systems, and I use them for the rare occasions when I want to listen to internet radio (e.g., kusc.org, which is an excellent commercial-free classical radio station). I tried Spotify Premium and Tidal for a while, and found that I rarely used them, so I cancelled. I can control Chromecast Audio via an Android tablet (e.g., Tunein radio app, apps for Spotify and Tidal, Hi-Fi Cast, etc.). I can also cast from a Chrome browser on my Windows 10 PC. As you described, the apps function as a remote control only – the audio stream does not “hairpin” through the tablet or PC. I wouldn’t assume that an external DAC is necessarily better - unless you want to have “DAC rolling” as a hobby (i.e., experimenting with different DACs). (My Oppo UDP-205 universal player has two ESS Technology ES9038PRO DACs built in. These are state-of-the-art DACs. No one has been able to explain why using an external DAC would be better. In fact, there are limitations to TOSLINK and coax interfaces (e.g., playing the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD, and playing uncompromised (i.e., not downgraded) DTS HD MA audio). The Oppo’s internal DACs can handle more “hi-res” formats than most external DACs – and these hi-res formats are important to me based on the music I enjoy.) My limited understanding is that most network streamers have a DAC built in, and often these appliances allow their DAC to be used by other sources. Based on your needs, is an external DAC beneficial – or not? And I wouldn’t assume that having a separate preamp and power amp is necessarily better. Because Klipsch speakers don’t need a lot of power, a separate power amp isn’t necessarily beneficial, vs. an integrated amp. (OTOH, separates give you more flexibility for future upgrades.) As I said before, I suggest that you get an amplifier with tone controls. Moreover, you may not need a pre-amp at all, if you acquire a network streamer with remote volume control - and if you don’t want tone controls. (I can connect 1950s era McIntosh MC30 tube power amps directly to an Oppo UDP-205, and as long as I don’t need to adjust the tonal balance via tone controls, it works great. I use the UDP-205’s remote volume control. OTOH, I find KT88s to be too bright sounding with Klipsch speakers, so I’ll always use a pre-amp with tone controls when I use a KT88 amp such as my McIntosh MC275 or Scott LK150.) If you buy a disc player that only plays CDs, you will limit your options for the types of discs you can play to one choice: the 30+ year-old CD. OTOH, if you buy a “universal player” (e.g., Sony UBP-X1100ES), then you will have the flexibility to play all types of discs (i.e., CD, SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, DVD, DVD-Audio, etc.). Are there any Blu-ray or DVD concert videos you’re interested in? https://concertsondvd.com/collections/blueray-concerts Any SACDs? Are there any DVD-Audio discs you’re interested in? (Even though DVD and DVD-Audio are older formats, some recordings are only available in these formats.) For the classical music I like, Blu-ray audio/video is by far my favorite way to enjoy music. (For example, there are 4 different modern Blu-ray box sets of all Beethoven symphonies, featuring excellent video and DTS HD MA audio. And many other classical concerts are available on Blu-ray, plus many opera and ballet Blu-ray recordings.) What about Hollywood and Bollywood movies? To me, there is no difference between a “hi-fi” system and a “home theater” system. For streaming, some people think MQA is the “cat’s pajamas” – whereas others think it’s “snake oil”. My dog’s not in that fight. I believe that the $64k question is this: For the music (and movies) that you like, which formats are relevant? I suggest that you investigate for the music genres you like what recordings are available on Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, SACD, DVD, DVD-Audio, hi-res downloads (e.g., HD Tracks) – in addition to CDs and streaming. I suggest that you buy appliance(s) that play the music (and movies) that you like, and I suggest that try to keep your options open for the future. There is a bewildering array of options for bundling vs. unbundling hi-fi components. For example, Marantz claims that their “Marantz ND8006 is the complete digital music source player that delivers world-class sound from unlimited music sources, including online streaming services, HEOS multi-room technology, locally stored high-resolution audio files, CD audio playback, Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth and more.” Does it play SACDs (i.e., the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD, not the CD layer)? Does it play Pure Audio Blu-ray discs? Blu-ray audio/video discs? Ultra HD Blu-ray? For the music I like, this unit is most definitely NOT capable of playing all relevant formats. Same question for Bluesound products. OTOH, for the music you like, perhaps the capabilities provided by one of these products might be adequate. I’ll be interested in reading about what you learn, and what you decide. Please keep us posted. And post some pics of the Forte III once installed. 😊 Good luck.
  3. Hello Vivek, Based on my understanding of your current methods for acquiring and playing recordings, perhaps the “low hanging fruit” in terms of upgrading the audio quality of your hi-fi system is the quality of your recordings. Are you using Spotify or Spotify Premium? If you are listening to Spotify, downloaded MP3, and music downloaded to your phone, you are not experiencing the best possible audio quality (unless you’re listening to really old recordings that will have poor quality regardless of bit rate and depth). Additionally, Bluetooth connectivity may be limiting the quality of the audio. (I don’t know the limitations of the latest Bluetooth technology, or the version you’re using.) The availability of high-resolution (“hi-res”) recordings depends on the genre of music – and when the music was originally recorded. Is HDTracks.com available in India? If so, I suggest a simple, low-cost experiment if you haven’t already done so. Download a hi-res FLAC recording from HDTracks.com. Preferably something with higher bit rate than CD’s 16bit/44.1kHz, such as a recording in 24bit/192kHz or 24bit/96kHz. (However, even 16bit/44.1kHz will be better than compressed downloads such as MP3.) Ideally, the recording should be less than 10 years old. (An old recording will not be magically improved by converting its format to 24bit/192kHz.) I could recommend a classical recording, but I understand that might not be the music you like. After downloading the FLAC file to your PC, copy it to a USB memory stick or USB external hard drive. Eject the USB drive from your PC, and then plug the USB drive into your Denon AVR-X4500H. (This is sometimes referred to as “sneakerware” – i.e., a low-tech method of walking the files over to your hi-fi system. You could employ DLNA networking – but I suggest you keep things simple for this test.) Play the FLAC files via your Denon AVR-X4500H’s USB input. Please report back your assessment of the audio quality. If you realize a significant improvement in audio quality compared to your current method for acquiring and playing music, you know where to focus your efforts – i.e., better quality recordings, and better-quality playback methodology. If this proof-of-concept test shows that downloaded hi-res files sound better to you, then consider the following two possible implementations for downloaded files going forward. (There are other solutions.) A USB hard drive (e.g. 2TB) is cheap, and can serve double-duty for PC backup. You can employ the “sneakerware” methodology to download hi-res music, and play it from the USB port of your Denon receiver. This methodology delivers top quality audio, is inexpensive, reliable, with no hassles associated with networking, and no potential compromises associated with Bluetooth. If you don’t want to have to carry a USB drive back and forth between your PC and Onkyo receiver each time you download a music file, you can use DLNA networking between your Onkyo receiver and music stored on your PC. (I would NOT use Bluetooth.) Another option for top-quality audio is to use modern hi-res discs (e.g., Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, SACD), and the 30+ year-old CD. For the classical music that I love, the ability to play Blu-ray and SACD is extremely valuable – however I recognize that the music you like may not be available in these formats. If you’re not interested in discs, then hi-res (or at least 16bit/44.1kHz) stereo downloads may be a good solution for you. Of course, another option is to try a streaming service that claims to deliver higher-quality audio. (There is a heated debate about MQA.) If you’re still dissatisfied with the sound quality when playing a hi-res file, perhaps try experimenting with the Denon’s graphic equalizer. From the Denon AVR-X4500H user manual: Adjust tonal balance for each frequency band. Select the speaker. Select the adjustment frequency band. 63 Hz / 125 Hz / 250 Hz / 500 Hz / 1 kHz / 2 kHz / 4 kHz / 8 kHz / 16 kHz Adjust the level. –20.0 dB – +6.0 dB (Default: 0.0 dB) I’m not trying to dissuade you from getting new speakers. FWIW, based on the photos I’ve seen, I think the Forte III is a handsome speaker. What finish would you get? Will you sell your existing RP-8000F? I know you said that you’re only interested in stereo, not multi-channel. However, if you can’t get a good price selling the RP-8000F, you might consider using one RP-8000F as a center channel, and the other as a single rear speaker, using the Forte III for the front left & right speakers. This of course assumes that the music you like is available in modern hi-res surround-sound (i.e., 5.0) recordings. Or, perhaps try some classical music. 🙂 If you buy Forte III, I suggest that you experiment with and without the Klipsch R-115SW subwoofer and decide which you like best. Please keep us posted. Robert
  4. Please describe the 4.2 configuration. Left, center, right with a single rear speaker, and 2 subwoofers? How far apart are the main left & right La Scala speakers? What are the other speakers? What subwoofers? Is this system used for movies and/or music? If music, what genre(s)? What types of recordings do you use? Blu-ray? SACD? Streaming for audio? Streaming for movies? Size of room? How loud do you listen? Does the Denon AVR have analog line-level pre-amp outputs for the front left & right channels?
  5. Hello Vivek Batra, As I said earlier, I have no experience with the Forte, so I’m afraid that I cannot offer any advice about it. You said that you don't like the sound of your RP -8000F. And you weren't enthused after listening to the RF-7III. FWIW, I think it would be foolish to buy a speaker that you know you don't like. Do you ever travel to other cities where you might have the opportunity to audition the Forte III? Have you listened to speakers that are not horn based? It is not my intent to dissuade you from Klipsch speakers – I’m a Klipsch fan. Klipsch’s high sensitivity rating affords much more flexibility in choosing an amp, because Klipsch speakers don’t require much power. And, Klipsch speakers generally are capable of significant dynamics, which is important for the large-scale classical music and opera that I love. Do you have a preference for the appearance of the Forte III vs. RF-7III? While I understand your reluctance to buy a speaker without auditioning it, if it were me, I’d “roll the dice” rather than buy a speaker that I’ve heard that I know that I don’t like. As you’ve pointed out, the Forte III is a fundamentally different design (e.g., 3 way vs. 2 way), and undoubtedly sounds different than the RF-7III. If the Forte III appeals to you, I imagine that with the right amp you could achieve good sound quality. As I suggested earlier, I strongly encourage you to get an amp with tone controls. There's another important topic that we haven't discussed: the source. Garbage-in/garbage-out – you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear - you’ll never realize better audio quality than the quality of the recording and source component. Music is deeply personal, and I respect the fact that different people like different music. For some music genres (e.g., classical music) there are modern recordings that employ newer audio recording technologies (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM or DSD) compared with decades-old recordings. And, for the classical music that I love, such modern recordings are available to the consumer via newer technologies (i.e., newer consumer deliverables) compared with the decades-old consumer deliverable known as Redbook CD (16 bit/44.1khz), or comparable bit-rate audio delivered via streaming. If a recording was captured and mastered in 24bit/192kHz, it can be made available to the consumer at 24bit/192kHz (or 24bit/96kHz) via a download (e.g., FLAC download from HDTracks), or on a Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. (Moreover, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray feature other advances that are important to the music that I love, including surround-sound (i.e., 5.1), hi-def video (which is particularly important for visual art forms such as opera and ballet – but IMO also enjoyable for classical orchestral music), and display of an opera’s libretto (in one of several languages) on the HDTV screen.) SACD is another hi-res multi-channel audio format (no video) that is very common for classical music. Both Blu-ray and SACD discs provide a stereo audio track in addition to the surround-sound audio track, and therefore Blu-ray and SACD can have value even if you’re not interested in surround-sound. (FLAC downloads from HDTracks are stereo.) Provenance of a recording is critical. Modern recordings that were captured and mastered in hi-res (i.e., 24bit/192kHz, or DSD) are capable of the best audio quality when delivered to the consumer in a hi-res format. (An old recording can’t be magically transformed by converting it to a different format, or encapsulating it in a different container (such as FLAC). A few top-quality vintage analog master tapes (e.g., some RCA Living Stereo) have been digitized and mastered in hi-res, and delivered on SACD, with fairly good results, but they pale in comparison with state-of-the-art modern recordings.) Older recordings (including LPs) can deliver significant enjoyment, and are of course the only choice for historically significant performances - in all genres of music. (Classical music lovers sometimes must decide which is more important: performance quality (which might be a decades-old performance), or audio quality of a recording.) With that said, if you only listen to decades-old recordings, you are limited to what was state-of-the-art recording technology decades ago. And if you listen to relatively low bit rate digital music, you won’t realize the best possible audio quality. (A high-quality hi-fi system might make a low-quality recording’s shortcomings more apparent). There are numerous web sites that catalog hi-res recordings. Here’s a few: https://www.hraudio.net/ lists some, but certainly not all hi-res recordings. https://www.prestomusic.com/classical https://www.nativedsd.com/ http://store.acousticsounds.com/superhirez https://concertsondvd.com/collections/blueray-concerts https://www.hdtracks.com/ If you only want stereo (i.e., 2 channel), and you’re interested in a “universal player” with analog audio outputs (so that you can use a traditional hi-fi amp vs. an AVR that uses an HDMI connection), then I suggest that you research a universal player such as the Sony UBP-X1100ES: https://www.sony.com/electronics/blu-ray-disc-players/ubp-x1100es. (I have no experience with this Sony unit. I use Oppo universal players, but they are no longer manufactured.) Bottom line, FWIW my advice: Read as much as you can about the speakers you are considering Be patient. If you will be traveling to other cities where you can audition the Forte III, it may be prudent to wait Get an amp with tone controls Consider state-of-the-art recordings, and consider a compatible appliance that can play hi-res recordings Once installed, fine-tune the sound quality of your system via tone controls, speaker placement, and basic room treatments such as rugs and draperies I hope this helps. Please keep us posted.
  6. I own RF-7II and Palladium, but have never heard Forte. I listen mostly to classical music. In my experience with using Klipsch speakers, a tube amp helps to get the timbre of a natural instrument such as the human voice right. I specifically like 6L6GC amps with my Klipsch speakers, but other tube amps can sound good via use of tone controls. (For example, IME KT88s can sound bright - turning down the treble helps.) Bottom line, synergy between amps and speakers is important. I love my RF-7II. I’m certain the RF-7III is a great speaker. I suggest that you consider driving them with a tube amp, and as others have suggested, use tone controls. (All vintage tube integrated amps have tone controls.) I’m not saying that you can’t achieve good sound quality with a solid-state amp – I just prefer tubes. Whether tube or solid-state, I strongly encourage you to get an amp with tone controls. The RF-7II have strong bass, nonetheless I use 2 subwoofers with my RF-7II (SVS SB16-Ultra, Klipsch R-115SW) because I listen to large-scale orchestral music. My Oppo UDP-205 universal player includes a crossover that off-loads the power-hungry bass from the main amp and speakers, increasing overall dynamic range. For folk music, this isn’t a factor. In deciding between the RF-7III and the Forte III, I suggest that you also consider the dimensions of each, and how each interacts with the room. Which will fit your space better in terms of footprint, and where it must be placed relative to the walls? I suggest that you google something like: “klipsch forte placement site:audiokarma.org”. (My RF-7IIs are far away from walls.) Which speaker will put the high frequency driver at ear level, based on your listening position? I think you are asking the right question by asking people who listen to similar music (and have similar room size and listening habits) which speaker they prefer. I suggest that the amp is also important, and if you have restrictions regarding where the speakers must be placed (particularly distance from walls), that may also be a factor. I’ll be interested in reading others’ comments. Good luck, and please keep us posted.
  7. The recording of Beethoven Symphony No. 6 you are referencing reportedly was recorded in 1983 from a radio broadcast onto a cassette tape. I listened to this recording for a few minutes via youtube. Of course, youtube isn’t a good way to assess the audio quality of a recording – nonetheless it is clear that this recording has poor quality audio. Recordings such as this may be of interest to music scholars because of their interest in the unique nature of the historic performance, however this is not my cup of tea. I have no tolerance for poor audio quality. It seems to me that there are plenty of choices for modern recordings of Beethoven symphonies. I know of at least 3 Blu-ray audio/video box sets of modern performances of all Beethoven symphonies that feature excellent audio/video quality. There are at least 4 SACD box sets of modern performances of all Beethoven symphonies. There are at least two Pure Audio Blu-ray box sets of modern performances of all Beethoven box symphonies. In addition to the box sets that include all Beethoven symphonies, there are many modern recordings of individual Beethoven symphonies in various hi-res formats. My point is this: For the person who wants digital recordings of Beethoven symphonies that have top-quality audio, there are many choices.
  8. Most modern SACDs are “hybrid SACDs”, meaning they contain an SACD layer, and a CD layer that will play on a CD player. IMO these discs potentially can be a good investment, because you can play them today as a CD, and then if in the future you acquire a player that will play SACDs (whether stereo or multi-channel), then you can play the SACD layer. I suggest that on amazon.com you select the category “CDs & Vinyl” (upper left), then search for “SACD”, then in the upper right select “Sort by Release Date”. If you see an SACD you’re interested in, you can click on the back cover, then enlarge it to see if the disc will play on a CD player in addition to an SACD player, what SACD tracks are included (e.g., stereo and 5.0), and the recording date. (If the recording date is not known, an obvious clue is provided by the principal performers – i.e., the conductor and named musicians. When was their heyday – i.e., when did they record? Setting aside performance quality, and focusing instead on audio quality, if a classical recording was conducted by a conductor whose discography is mostly from the 1950s, how do you think the audio quality of the recording will compare with a modern state-of-the-art recording?) As I suggested earlier, you can also look for SACDs on these sites: https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/formats/sacd https://www.hraudio.net/ I searched my amazon orders for “SACD”. In random order (i.e., not prioritized), here’s some SACDs in my collection that are hybrid SACDs: I’ll stop flooding this thread with examples. I own many more SACDs, and there are countless other modern hybrid SACDs available. I hope this helps. P.S. Just to be clear, my favorite formats are currently Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray audio/video. My next choices are Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACD that include a 5.0 or 5.1 track. Provenance of the recording is extremely important.
  9. For any classical music fans in the USA who want to try Blu-ray audio/video classical recordings, and want to acquire a “universal player” for a modest amount of money, and who only need stereo analog audio connections to a traditional hi-fi amp (i.e., no 5.1 analog connections), then I suggest that you investigate eBay item # 312383606733, which offers a “manufacturer refurbished” Sony UBP-X1000ES for $280 including shipping. I have no experience with this unit, but I’ve read good reviews on another hi-fi forum. I have no affiliation with the seller. If you want the latest Sony universal player that is equipped with stereo analog audio output, I suggest that you investigate the newer Sony UBP-X1100ES. My understanding is that in addition to Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray, the Sony UBP-X1000ES and UBP-X1100ES also play SACD, DVD, DVD-Audio, and CD. (I use Oppo UDP-205 universal players, but they’re discontinued.) Then, I suggest that you consider this Blu-ray box set, which I think has excellent quality, and is a great value: https://www.amazon.com/Ludwig-van-Beethoven-Symphonies-2110433-35BD/dp/B071JBXWC6/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=beethoven+Rafael+Frühbeck+de+Burgos+and+the+Danish+National+Symphony+Orchestra&qid=1566575825&s=movies-tv&sr=1-1 IMO, this would provide a reasonably priced way to try classical Blu-ray recordings, and decide if they’re “your cup of tea”.
  10. Congratulations – I’m glad you are happy with your purchase.
  11. I am not a technician. There are a number of people, including “tube fanatic”, who know 1000 times what I know about electronics. I am a classical music lover, hi-fi enthusiast, and tube amp collector. IME, output tubes affect the sound of an amp less than the input tubes, assuming they’re functioning properly – e.g., not worn out. If you’re wanting to try different output tubes, I suggest that you investigate the 6P14P-EV that I mentioned. You can google how to set bias on the 299B. Again, I’m not a tech. The only time I adjust bias is for amps that have test points installed on top of the chassis. (Craig / NOS Valves installed test points for some of my amps.) Several years ago, I did extensive listening tests of the sound quality of various 12AX7s. FWIW, two new production 12AX7s that I like are the Tung-Sol (for a warm, rich sound), and the new production Genalex Gold Lion 12AX7 / ECC83 / B759 gold-pin tubes (Russia). (The non-gold-pin Gold Lion 12AX7 is a completely different tube - made in China, short plate – and doesn’t sound as good, IMO.) One thing I’ve learned, is that tube sockets can become worn, and loose. This can cause problems. Be careful regarding how many times you’re swapping tubes in a vintage amp. There is a product called a “socket saver”, but I’ve never tried them. Good luck.
  12. What substitution did you google? 7189 is the correct output tube for a Scott 299B. You might want to read about Russian surplus 6P14P-EV . (6П14П-ЕВ) EL84 might be OK. Google these tubes - you'll find lots to read. 7591 is NOT the correct tube for a 299B. (7591 is a completely different tube. It is used in the 299C.) Here's a good reference site: http://hhscott.com/integrated_amps_stereo.htm
  13. Unfortunately, John Q. Public apparently is more interested in the convenience of video streaming vs. the superior video quality that is often available via Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. And John Q. Public is more interested in the convenience of audio streaming vs. the superior audio quality often available via high-resolution audio discs such as SACD and Blu-ray, or hi-res downloads. My guess is that’s why Oppo ceased manufacturing. This is unfortunate for audiophiles, because Oppo’s UDP-205 is a fantastic product IMO. The UDP-205 will play all discs, plus I can connect a Chromecast Audio via TOSLINK (i.e., using the Oppo’s DAC) for streaming services such as internet radio (e.g., kusc.org) and Spotify Premium, and it has analog audio connections for 5.1 (and 7.1) including configurable bass crossover, and variable output (which adds convenience to my vintage tube amps). The UDP-205 sold in the USA for $1299, which I think was a great value, considering what it does. (When Oppo announced that they were ceasing manufacturing, I bought a second UDP-205.) Sellers are now asking inflated prices for used UDP-205 players. I also own an Oppo BDP-105 and BDP-95, which play all discs except Ultra HD Blu-ray. Are any used Oppo universal players available in Belgium for a reasonable price? A universal player with analog audio outputs affords the flexibility to use any traditional hi-fi amp(s) you want – which to many hi-fi enthusiasts is a significant advantage. (In other words, you are not forced to buy an AVR, or stereo HDMI receiver, or HDMI DAC.) An important question is whether you have interest in surround-sound (e.g., 5.1). How large is your listening room? How far apart are your stereo speakers? IME, surround sound is useful in large rooms, and/or when the main speakers must be far apart. I have 5 hi-fi systems, and only one has surround-sound (the system in my basement). The surround-sound system in my basement sounds awesome playing classical Blu-ray and SACD via tube amps and large Klipsch speakers. I have several other stereo systems (2.1 and 2.0) that also sound great. My stereo systems are in smaller listening rooms, and the stereo speakers are only approximately 5 feet apart, and there simply isn’t much need for a center channel. IME/IMO stereo is adequate for smaller rooms; surround-sound excels in larger rooms. If you have no need for surround-sound, then there is currently one option that I know of for a new “universal player” with analog audio outputs. Have you investigated the new Sony UBP-X1100ES 4K UHD Blu-ray Player? I have no experience with this unit, but I’ve read positive reports about its predecessor, the UBP-X1000ES. My understanding is that these machines will play almost any disc: Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray (presumably including Pure Audio Blu-ray), SACD, DVD, DVD-Audio, and CD. It has analog stereo connections (no analog connections for 5.1 or 7.1, and no subwoofer connection). Based on a brief look at the Owner’s manual, the UBP-X1100ES appears to play most audio file types including FLAC, and can play audio files via its USB connection, and via networking (presumably DLNA). If the Sony UBP-X1100ES 4K UHD Blu-ray Player exceeds your budget, is the predecessor UBP-X1000ES available in Belgium for a discounted price? (In the USA, eBay item # 312383606733 offers a “manufacturer refurbished” Sony UBP-X1000ES for $280US including shipping in the USA. On another hi-fi discussion forum, a member bought one of these “manufacturer refurbished” Sony UBP-X1000ES and is very happy with the unit – he thinks it sounds better than his Oppo in a 2-channel installation.) The Panasonic DP-UB9000 has 7.1 multi-channel analogue outputs. However, the DP-UB9000 doesn’t play SACD, which IMO is a disadvantage for classical music lovers. (It also doesn’t play DVD-Audio, which to me isn’t as important.) There are many classical SACDs available. Most (but not all) SACDs are “hybrid SACDs” that have an SACD layer and a CD layer. The biggest benefit IMO to the SACD track is 5.1 surround-sound. Assuming a high-quality recording, the CD layer of an SACD would undoubtedly offer good stereo audio quality, and presumably the CD layer of an SACD would play on the Panasonic DP-UB9000. OTOH, if you get a universal player such as the Sony UBP-X700 which has only an HDMI connection (no analog audio output), then you must buy an AVR that has an HDMI input, or buy an HDMI DAC. It appears that this external DAC might work, but I have no experience with it: https://www.essenceelectrostatic.com/product/evolve-ii-4k-hdmi-v2-0-7-1-channel-dac/ FWIW, this configuration doesn’t appeal to me, vs. buying a universal player with DACs built in – but it might appeal to you. Of course, there are countless AVRs available, and there are a few “stereo HDMI receivers” (i.e., 2 channel AVR) such as the Onkyo TX-8270, Pioneer SX-S30, and Denon DRA-800H. However, I’m a tube guy, so these aren’t my cup of tea. Again, this might appeal to you. There are probably other options for playing Blu-ray and SACD – these are the ones that I know about off the top of my head. (Ripping Blu-ray and SACD discs is reportedly possible, but not straightforward.) Bottom line, I strongly suggest that you consider a universal player, in light of the wealth of classical recordings available on Blu-ray and SACD, as well as CD and DVD. As I said earlier, I’m reluctant to get into the contentious debate about whether hi-res recordings sound better than CDs. IME modern best-in-class CDs can sound good. IME modern best-in-class hi-res recordings generally sound excellent – and I particularly like surround-sound, and I like hi-def video. I recently conducted very brief, informal listening assessments of the digital recordings that I own of Beethoven Symphony 9: CD (Archipel) of a 1942 performance by Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Berliner Philharmoniker SACD (tahra) of a 1954 performance by Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Philharmonia Orchestra London CD (Testament | EMI) of a 1957 performance by Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra CD (Chesky) of a 1961 performance by Rene Leibowitz and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra SACD (DG) of a 1962 performance by Herbert Von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker CD (Penguin Classics) of a 1972 performance by Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra CD (Seraphim Classics) of a 1988 performance by Riccardo Muti and The Philadelphia Orchestra With my hi-fi systems and my ears, the difference in audio quality between these older recordings is immediately apparent. Following are more modern recordings of Beethoven Symphony 9 that I own. With my hi-fi systems and my ears, the difference in audio quality is significant between the older recordings listed above, and the modern recordings listed below: DVD (Euroarts) of a 2000 performance by Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker (PCM stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks) 24bit/96kHz FLAC download (DG) from HDTracks.com of a 2002 performance by Claudio Abbado (stereo only) SACD (BIS) of a 2006 performance by Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra (stereo and 5.1 tracks) Blu-ray (DRS | Dacapo Records) of a 2013 performance by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (DTS-HD MA 5.0 and PCM Stereo). IMO, of the recordings listed above, this is the overall most enjoyable recording, with the best audio quality, and best quality video. I have ordered two more Blu-ray box sets of all Beethoven symphonies: a Blu-ray box set by Christian Thielemann and the Wiener Philharmoniker recorded at the Goldener Saal der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, plus a Blu-ray box set by Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra recorded in Tokyo Suntory Hall. I’m anxious to see/hear these recordings. I have a thread on talkclassical.com about Blu-ray classical recordings, if you’re interested in joining that discussion. Please keep us posted. P.S. Obviously, if you invest in a universal player, your hi-fi system can also serve as a home theater system for playing Blu-ray and DVD movies. P.P.S. I also want to mention the following DVD box set of 25 concerts by the Berliner Philharmoniker. The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks sound very good. (These DVDs also have a stereo track.) While not Blu-ray quality, when upscaled by my Oppo UDP-205 the video quality varies from good to very good. (These concerts span 25 years: 1991-2015, so the audio and video quality vary.) IMO this DVD audio/video box set of 25 live concerts on 25 DVDs is a good value, and it provides the chance to see 25 European concert halls, which I enjoy. (Again, this provides a fundamentally different experience (IMO more enjoyable) compared with CDs or streaming audio.) https://www.berliner-philharmoniker-recordings.com/25-years-europakonzert.html
  14. This past Spring, I asked Khatia when the Blu-ray of the following performance will be available, and she said “soon”. If you’d rather just listen to audio of this composition (i.e., not see the video), then … OK. Have fun ripping your CDs … If you’d rather just listen to the audio of “La bohème” vs. seeing the acting in stunning Blu-ray quality, then … OK. Have fun with your CDs. To me, “all that extra stuff” (i.e., video, surround-sound) is NOT irrelevant. And, for anyone who’d rather listen to DSOTM, then … OK ... To each their own. P.S. For everyone who is satisfied with what CDs have to offer (i.e., CD level audio quality, no surround-sound, no video), and want convenient access to individual “songs”, why not just subscribe to a streaming service and have access to millions of recordings, vs. investing time and money in ripping CDs? My advice: Enjoy the hobby as you choose to enjoy it. And more important, enjoy your music.
  15. Of course, the assertion that hi-res audio recordings do not often exceed CD audio quality is hotly contested. I won’t beat that dead horse. I think that everyone needs to listen to “true” hi-res recordings for themselves, and decide for themselves. (By “true” hi-res recordings I mean recordings that have hi-res provenance and are delivered in a hi-res format. NOT ripped CDs.) It cannot be disputed that CDs can’t deliver 5.1 surround-sound. IME, surround-sound is particularly useful when the main left and right speakers must be far apart due to room layout. Also, part of the “live-concert-hall experience” for large-scale classical orchestral music is the amount of acoustic power. In your home listening room, if you have a quantity of 3 or 4 or 5 speakers, you’ll have more acoustic power than 2 similar speakers. (In my basement system, the left, center, and right speakers are Klipsch RF-7II. A single rear speaker is an RF-7. Two powered subwoofers.) It cannot be disputed that CDs can’t deliver video. As I said earlier, high-definition video is essential for visual art forms such as opera and ballet, and IMO very enjoyable for classical orchestral music. Moreover, hi-def video can be very useful by displaying an opera’s libretto (in one of several languages) on the HDTV screen (vs. having to turn on bright lights and use strong reading glasses to try to follow the tiny print in a printed libretto). I respect the fact that different people like to enjoy the experience of attending a live classical orchestral concert in different ways. Do you like to close your eyes? Or, do you like to watch the conductor and musicians? What if there is a soloist? FWIW, I prefer to see the performers. Following are excerpts of a few recordings that I own on Blu-ray that feature audio/video. (Except in the case of Yuga Wang, which is DVD.) I own many other Blu-ray classical recordings. Of course, the youtube audio and video quality pales in comparison with the Blu-ray disc. Khatia Buniatishvili https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30jnieVq8Cs Pepe Romero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu0jsqljVe0 Claudio Abbado conducting Mahler Symphony 9 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrJ8e51__yE Angela Gheorghiu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnqa94oeGfw Anna Netrebko https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiGpm56Bi8s Elīna Garanča https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoXqkUZW7do Yuga Wang (I have this recording on DVD – not Blu-ray. When upscaled by my Oppo UDP-205, it looks great, and it sounds great.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GGx8TRWFVA Two ballet excerpts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SKgGF4v8_c https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w7vPLNcsZI Again, the audio and video quality of these youtube videos pales in comparison with the Blu-ray disc. Nonetheless, these excerpts illustrate my point that technology has advanced in the more than 30 years since the Redbook CD entered the market. IMO – for the classical music that I love - Blu-ray’s high-definition-video and hi-res surround-sound significantly enhances the experience of enjoying recorded music in my home. For me, Redbook CD doesn’t hold a candle. (And because I listen to an entire symphony or opera, there is no benefit associated with being able to “shuffle” or randomly select individual tracks via a “ripped” CD.) As I said in an earlier post, the relevance and availability of modern Blu-ray audio/video recordings varies by music genre. For classical music, modern hi-res recordings are plentiful, and highly relevant.
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