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Ziggurat

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  1. Hi Chris - your experience echos my own. The settings for the 1133's needed to be smoothed for the Faitals. I have a more resolute sound now, less smearing (not that I noticed it before) - the images are pinpoint and the stereo effect is more noticable. Soundstage widened and grew. All in all a more coherent driver, it seems. The only thing I noticed early on was slightly reduced mid dynamic 'weight' - "pah" sounds of lips and other such noises don't carry quite the same impact. Early days. I left them running all night and a quick listen this morning suggest further gains. I chose 8 ohm Faitals so the F1J sees a nominal 8, which I was told it "likes", but not exclusively. We will see how things develop.
  2. I have switched out the OEM drivers for 8 ohm Faital HF200s. Early indications and PEQ adjustments suggest these are far superior to the 1133's. Will report back...
  3. Yes, and now I find myself navigating those waters - I don't want to sound like a loon advancing the Jube/Xilica cause. The reality is we should be shouting this stuff from the rooftops, because they are THAT good. But I hope that circumspect and careful comments are useful in themselves 🙂
  4. Speaking for myself, I was concerned about several things: * Additional components in the system - both the cost of this and the perception / misconception that 'simple is better' * Fear of my own lack of knowledge - I was worried that the water would be too deep at the deep end with the Xilica stuff. * Fear that I was being influenced by a very small (and likely insane) group of isolated audio enthusiasts. I will expand on this a little in an effort to show the bridges I have been able to cross towards a sound quality I would not have previously considered available in the home for less than hundreds of thousands of dollars... My previous 'best' system was Khorns powered by a beautiful type 45 SET amp, directly out of Sony XA7ES cd player. How could you get simpler than that? And it sounded really good. Most people who heard this setup were astounded. The simple effectiveness of this system certainly clouded my judgement. It sounded far better than complex systems I heard in the shop I worked at, and at various audipohile dens I visited. Before I took the plunge and bought the Xilica, I was extremely biased against these complicated setups. What I was missing was that I had lucked onto a good combination, but that this was only one way of achieving a great result, and in fairness, the result was limited compared to my current setup. For me, I was terrified I would not be able to operate the Xilica correctly. It is a learning curve, no doubt, and I really only have my toes wet at this point, but even with my limited testing equipment, a couple of ok ears, and help from the forum here, I have been able to muddle my way through the Xilica to reach greater heights than anything I have heard before in passive setups. Like switching from Android to Apple, it takes a bit to get your head around what does what, but a couple of months in and I am able to make effective adjustments on the fly. Lots more to learn. Finding the likes of Coytee, ChrisA etc on here and reading their posts stirred something in me - but I was very wary . I have heard some pretty astounding claims from people that own Lowther drivers and other fabulously isolated products that ALMOST steered me down those paths. In this case, I believe that trusting the writings here are a very worthwhile exercise in faith. The OP is on the right path buying the Jub setup - keep the faith going, Friend, and trust what these boys say about the Xilica etc. Lastly, I have a friend who is mad keen on the "analogue sound" - he is really only interested in systems that sound warm and romantic, tubey, vinyl-ey etc. I have a Xilica program set up to his taste, and switch to that before he comes over. He loves the system and the warm, open glowing sound on these settings. When he leaves, I switch back to my own preference, which is a bit more analytical and sharper. The Xilica, and learning how to drive it, gives me the ability to scratch many itches in this respect. I am learning that with great amplification, the PEQ can be adjusted to make the system sound like just about anything you may want. With lesser amplifiers, the same cannot quite be said - you can only go so far to PEQ "up" the signal enough to beat the bad amplifier. For my money, starting fresh I would consider Jubilee and Xilica as the essential components, then a nice Class A amp for up top, and something with a bit of curry down below. That will put you 90% of the way to Nirvana, then tweaking the xilica and other things from there. I'm still using $2 cables on everything...... Best of luck to the OP.
  5. I can't comment on the analogue systems you are talking about, but I can tell you that my K402s driven by a First Watt F1J via a Xilica sound far superior to anything I have heard ever. I am sitting here drenched in sound as I write, totally immersed, wondering why I was initially scared of going down the Xilica route. I would never consider anything else now. If you can find an F1 or similar, buy a xilica and never look back. I've thrown out my CD player and exclusively use Tidal premium. Anyhow, best of luck, please take this for what it's worth 🙂
  6. No, but hey, its balanced, and Nelson is God. I read somewhere that Bakoon Amp 13r is a Transconductance amp - as an (expensive) alternative. @babadono https://6moons.com/audioreview_articles/bakoon6/
  7. @Chris A @babadono F1 DIY kits are available as I understand, but the JFETs are unobtainium. My understanding is that a new source of JFETs has sprung up and Nelson is in testing phases with these. Perhaps an F1J DIY possibility is back on the cards? The circuits suitable for the original Semisouth JFETs are readily available - maybe they can be adapted? All I can say is that if it cost you $500-1000 USD to put together one of these amps, there is not question in my mind that I would go ahead and invest the coin.
  8. NOT my problem 🙂 - but DO start looking! I would seriously like to to try the First Watt J2 - available new. Why not buy one of them and report back to us babadono? 🙂
  9. Hi Chris I had looked into the First Watt stuff some years ago but due to an absence of units to trial, and the seemingly narrow band of system suitability for each the First Watt amplifiers, I moved away from them. Luckily I now have two friends with different models to sample as noted above. I think I should preface the following comments by saying that I have now tried several amplifiers on the K402 section - in all cases, the amplifiers with balanced inputs from the Xilica have sounded 'more right' with less noise. This is to be expected I guess. Nonetheless, the personalities of all amps were easily determinable, and I have been able to adjust the PEQ settings to sound somewhat 'optimal' to my ear for each. The sample size is not great enough to draw sweeping conclusions - but here is what I have. Crown MacroTech 2400: (balanced) MASSIVE sound stage, tall, wide and deep. Super detailed. Very clean sound, but almost laser-like at times on the 402's. Icy, ruthless, not necessarily relaxing, but truly fascinating. Ultimately, whilst it is amazing to hear so much detail and sound overall, it is a bit too much - like everything is there in your face and there is no opportunity to just relax back into to the music. This is the OCD mad scientist amplifier of the bunch. If I had to keep it on top, I would PEQ the heat right out of it and be pretty happy. Better off though as a bass amp, I am certain. Other Crown amps, Powertech, etc. (balanced) I have three other older Crown amps also, lower down the range the Macro. In all cases they, sound 'wooly' by comparison to the Macro - sound stage diminishes in vastness. Ok, but lacking the hyper-detail of the Macro also, therefore uninteresting. Primaluna Dialogue Premium HP (unbalanced) A great amp hitherto, but requiring huge PEQ boosts on 7000 + hz to sound anything other than rolled off and boring on the 402's through the Xilica. Just not right at all for them. Prosaic, unremarkable and uninteresting. A real shift from the excellent, smooth, involving response it offered on the Altec 19's. I tried running it in standard integrated mode and via the HT Bypass mode. HT Bypass sounded better, but comparatively high noise floor. Switching back to the Macro always yielded a big sigh - right, so there is all the sound back. Musical Paradise MP301 MkII (unbalanced) Neat little KT77 SET amp. Sounded lovely in the mids, if a fraction 'bloomy'. Sound stage and scale were diminished, but a nice clean, listenable sound. I didn't get the impression it had the guts to make the 402's really sing. First Watt F3 (unbalanced) The F3 is tonally beautiful and presents a real ambient, involving sound through the 402's. I really like it, and in some aspects, it is amazing. I really loved the airiness and mystical sound that filled the room. Sometimes I found this too much though, like some voices, instruments lacked solidity. This was only very slight, and only when comparing it to the F1J First Watt F1J (balanced) Totally dead quiet - black when necessary. Check out the specs on noise levels for this amp - it truly is uncanny. You sometimes find yourself wondering what is happening, hard to describe - but when a track goes quiet you are left with this sense that something is missing - because you are used to hearing something all the time I am guessing (ie amp noise.) This is the first spectacular aspect of this amp. Second is it's detail. Whilst it is not as ruthless as the Macro, there is tonnes of detail, and where the Macro beams this out to you, the F1J presents it to you to inspect and an indulge upon - each piece of detail is accompanied with all the little details that go along with it. The Macro is grainy and unrefined by comparison. Dynamics and verve. Now here is where it gets really interesting. comparing this 10wpc (likely +/-15 into the 16ohm drivers - yes) to 250-500wpc available from the Macro sounds like asymmetrical warfare, but the F1J cleans up. The dynamic swings this amp is capable of are nothing short of amazing. Coupled to the 402's ability to produce palpable, visceral sound, the F1J has the ability to relax you into the soft section of track and then leap out and scare the crap out of you. Feeling the skin of a drum, plucking of a string etc - these things have such WEIGHT through the little First Watt - enough to shoot little jets of adrenaline into your body. Overall presentation is large, spaced out and ambient. Imaging is pinpoint, vocals are 'real'. The sound manages to be super detailed without being fatiguing, ever, and without sounding rolled off. This amp just works so well with the 402's. Everyone who has listened so far agrees. It just seems to get a hold of the drivers and instruct them perfectly. Hey, its early days yet - but I am keeping the F1J and it will be the new 'amp to beat' as opportunities come up to try others. I doubt there are many people out there that wouldn't be astounded by the combo. I realize there is a certain pointlessness to writing this stuff, and I am no expert, but I try to be accurate with describing my observations - for what they are worth.
  10. I played more with the First Watt amps and found that I was able to get the F1 in particular to sound amazing - so much so that I plan to purchase it and run it as my reference amp. It turns out it is an F1J too, so I get the JFETs... nice. With the Crowns on the bass and the F1J on top, I'm riveted by the 402's. Only bad news is the Jub bass bins were delayed and won't be with me until end of November now... good things take time huh. 🙂
  11. For those who may be interested - I had the opportunity to try First Watt F1 and F3 amplifiers on the K402's last night... What contrasts to the Macro Tech! Super laid-back and smooth. I can see why people love them. Reminded me of the sound I used to get with my Khorns and Type 45 SET valve amps. It was really special to hear such refined and 'cruisy' sound coming out of the Frankenstein speakers. I had to play with the PEQ a bit to get them sounding right - using the Crown settings they sounded too rolled off, lifeless. Once I sorted that, they were fabulous. They lacked the scale and dynamics of the Crown - the "wall of sound" was more like a glowing ball of sound. Certainly they have opened my eyes to just how important it will be to find the right amp for the 402's. I imagine that wherever I land, it will be halfway between the Macro Techs and something like the First Watts. Anyhow, if you get the chance to listen to a First Watt amp driving your K402's, take it. What a treat.
  12. It's nice to see my logic/evil propagating, @rockhound 🙂
  13. Thanks for the response. Yes, I have looked into quieter fan-blades, and will continue to do so. It could be a cheap solution, no doubt. The Macro fan runs constantly, by design. It is not disconnectable in that it is actually a "Fan-Former" - and forms the power supply for parts of the amplifier. If the fan stops, the amp stops. Another fail-safe system. I will report back as the journey continues, but right now I am in Fiji - where the sun is shining, the flowers are blossoming, and the stereo systems are ghastly... I did find this frangipani tree that appears to offering up the skeletal hand of homage to some axeman-god of Rock who has just busted out a mind-bending riff.... (Its the little things that please me, really...)
  14. The Macro Tech is doing a phenomenal job with the K402s. Open, super clear, precise imaging, freakish dynamics and utterly engaging. When I swap it out for the Primaluna (which I had expected to be far better), I am immediately disappointed. It sounds like a toy by comparison. This is very interesting. I have had friends borrow the Primaluna who report that it is better in most ways to most of their gear. The answer is though that I most certainly have not abandoned hi-fi amps for pro audio gear. The Crowns were cheap, nearby and made for a good starting point for me. Luck has meant the Macro has inadvertently become a staunch benchmark on the 402's. As time and opportunity permits I will try different amps on them. No hurry, but I would like to get the noisy fans of the pro gear outside of my system. The Crowns take a solid hour to reach critical listening warmth too... My friend has an F3 and another First Watt amp to try, and I think I might get to hear a SIT 3 and F7 also.... I am sure they will be phenomenal, but I will put money on them not having the palpable dynamics of the Crown. We will see! I am always happy to be proved wrong!
  15. Well I am really pleased I made the jump into this world of active crossovers and Klipsch monsters. I have been playing around with the Xilica and have things sounding amazing - better than they have before. I have ordered a Umik which will be with me next week so I can be a bit more scientific about the setup with REW, but even just tuning by ear has yielded fantastic results. Initially I had the Macro-Tech driving the bass and the Power Tech up top, but the sound was forever trapped in a narrow band between the K402s. Swapped them over and now so the MT is doing the highs. No comparison, it far superior to its cheaper stable-mate. Once again I have a 3-d wall of sound, with super clarity. I can't wait to get this all set up properly when the Jubilee bins arrive... Now, what do we all think of this....? https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/amplifiers/MI254 Could be nice one-box Jubilee solution? Being new out there are no reviews to soak up..
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