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NON-VINTAGE, warm-textured ss amp for Cornwall III???


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Hello All,

I'm kinda new to the audio field and to this forum, so bare with me.

Personally, I prefer tonal accuracy, musicality and smooth texture of sound over spaciousness. Thus, I sold my previous yamaha surround system for a 2 channel w/ sub.

I currently have Paradigm atoms powered by a NAD C325BEE (integrated) with a discontinued Yamaha YST-SW150 (dual-driver, with a tall enclosure). I have the treble turned ALL the way down (according to my taste, this sounds best). I love the sound - thick detailed bass - full-bodied midrange, and easy treble. It does however get a little harsh at times (yes, even with the treble all the way down). I guess it's mostly in the upper mids.

I also use this for movies, and love the rich mids. Since this amp is only 50 watts, and the atoms are only 90db/m/w, I have the DRC set to high on my DVD player (yep, I also prefer warm, rich, full-bodied sound on movies as well - more than dynamics, which on a budget system like this, introduce harshness).

I have been looking for a major upgrade for my new place for two years now.

I have heard and auditioned a wide variety and types of speakers (ranging from $10,000 to $500) with several different types of amps. Regarding the amps, I've heard a few tubes (Manley, Yarland, Mcintosh,... etc) and numerous solid states (Anthem, NAD Master Series, Heed, Cambridge Audio, Bryston, Rotel Classe, Marantz... etc). Regarding speakers, I have heard several different brands and types (i.e. Wilson Audio bookshelves, Thiel, PSB Image, PSB Synchrony, Paradigm Signatures, Paradigm Studios, Martin Logan's electrostatics, Klipsch reference, and many others). The loudspeakers I've auditioned all sounded very well, but still I felt that that there was something missing - liveliness, fullness and realism, without being harsh.

I loved the gentle, warm-textured sound of tubes (not so much Yarland, as they tend to be slightly bright), however, do not wish to deal with all the hassle in their maintenance (frequent biasing and replacing of tubes, etc). The warmest sounding SS amplifier I've tried so far is probably the M3 from NAD.Given my taste for warm, refined, laid-back sound, you're probably wondering what I'm doing here on Klipsch's forum (with Klipsch's horn tweeters and all). Well, about a month and a half ago, my search for the right loudspeaker has finally ENDED.

I was re-auditioning the Studio 100's using the Cambridge audio's 840A and comparing it with the Anthem 225 integrated, at a store near my house. This store also carried the entire Klipsch Heritage series. The staff knew me and knew what kind of sound I was looking for and suggested that the Klipsch Heritage series probably, may not, be suitable for me. Thus, I had stayed away from them.... until now. I just wanted to give them a shot; started with the Khorns.

Khorns were very nice speakers indeed, very real and lively sounding, but the top end was a little harsh and the mid bass was missing; although the horn woofer seemed to integrated very well with the horn mid. I did feel a sense of realism from these speakers that I've NEVER felt with any others I've previously auditioned!

Next I tried the La Scalas. Same sound, except bass was significantly reduced and was extremely directional. Then Finally I Tried The Cornwalls. The music was much much more refined and the mid bass was EXCELLENT! The bass was absolutely tight and accurate, but not too deep, which is a good thing since that's what a sub is for. (IMO a loudspeaker should concentrate more on tight and accurate bass, and shouldn't interfere too much with the sub's job).

The more I listened to it, the more I fell in love with it. The instruments sounded so real (not as real as the Khorns did, but real enough). I felt that the beautiful mid bass gave the instruments and gave the overall sound a nice kick. The sound wasn't punchy in a deep sense, but was punchy in a more real, accurate and beautiful sense. The delay of instruments was perfect. Although the top end was not as refined as I had hoped, the horn midrange's integration with the cone woofer was just stunning to my ears.

Now, I don't care what anybody says, no matter what speaker or amp (or in which room) you listen to, they WILL add color to the sound. It's just a matter of what color one prefers. The midrange and bass of the Cornwall colored the sound JUST PERFECTLY to my ears (I tried the Cornwalls with different amps to be sure that it wasn't just the amp - which I knew it wasn't). I felt that I could listen to them for hours... only if the top end wasn't slightly bright (although it still was beautiful). That said, my search for the perfect loud has definitely ended with the Cornwalls. Now, I just need to find the right amp that would settle the highs down.

So based on my past auditions and online comments, here is what I have decided (although have not auditioned it yet).

Mains - Cornwall III (Of Course)

Amp - NAD M3

Subwoofer -

JL Audio F113CD Player -

Cambridge Audio Azur 840C

Does anybody have any have any experience with NAD Master Series and Klipsch Heritage before I audition (all components are located at different stores, thus would probably take some time to setup for the audition).

Any input and/or critique on my comments above would be appreciated. However please don't suggest a different loudspeaker since I have already made my final decision.

If anyone knows a more tube-like, warm-textured sounding solid state amp, with the highs rolled off, then please do suggest - NO TUBE AMPS PLEASE!!!

If anyone knows a better integratable sub, then please suggest as well, preferably a sealed enclosure.

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Shame about not desiring early vintage ss amps; some of the early Sansui and Marantz would surely fit that description of need. If the NAD does not do it for you, and you get a chance, listen to early Sansui (pre-1979 era, specifically the AU-9900/11000, or AU-999 series). Cannot recommend a particular Marantz as I don't specialize in those, but they generally are very high quality.

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Class D amplifiers (sometimes wrongly called digital amplifiers) have a reputation for sounding incredibly tube like. Two of the most highly regarded of these come from Red Wine Audio (which are battery powered) and Nu-Force Audio, these may be worth auditioning fi you're after a tube like sound.

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You are correct, that vintage amps would probably match my needs (from what I've read on line). Well, the reason I'm trying to stay way from vintage amps is because it is nearly impossible to audition them (I've visited several stores that have used equipment, but didn't fine any vintage amps from 70-80s).

If there is another, better way I can audition vintage amps, then pardon my ignorance. Obviously, I'm not gonna buy and return repeatedly from online sources

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Thanks for your input. I auditioned Audio refinement's Complete with the Cornwalls. Although the highs were smooth, they were still extended, which didn't fit well with the horn tweeters. I've also heard Audio Refinement with Classe (on Thiel). Although overall sound was much much better with Classe, i believe the highs did not change by much (it did sound beautiful on the Thiels, but I didn't think it might go well with the cornwalls).

NAD M3 on the other hand appears to have smooth AND rolled of highs. I've heard the NAD on PSB Images and Joseph Audio (Thiels were not available for a direct comparsion though). Hopefully, with the Cornwalls, the NAD M3 will be a match!

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Yeah, the mid-bass bump of the Cornwalls is quite enticing.

Loved it for a decade.

Jonathon Valin in The Absolute Sound (September 09) gave a

rave review to the $800 Odyssey Khartago Power Amplifier comparing it very

favorably to much more expensive amplifiers.

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Yea, I've read good reviews/comments on Carvers, unfortunately, they're no longer made as you stated above.

It's hard for me to think of them as being vintage when I bought them new Embarrassed.

I guess you are now.........

Vintage!!!! Cool

1957 WAS a good year.[Y]

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Where are you located? Maybe someone on the forum with vintage SS gear that lives in your general area would be willing to let you demo your CIII's with their setup. If you are anywhere near the Orlando, FL area, I have a 70's Marantz 2252b receiver and an early 80's NAD setup(pre,amp,tuner). Both are very warm sounding with my Forte's and Quartet's. If you are near me, drop on by for a test drive.


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