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Wow factor fading – now looking to upgrade


Boston Chris
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It doesn't matter how good his source or source material is, The amplifier and speaker need to coherently transfer that information into sound pressure. I am not saying all sources are the same so don't get into that argument but reading his gear list the 300b amp will be his bottle neck for producing clean dynamic multi-instrument playback. I of course could be wrong but in my experience as a SET fan I have had plenty of bad experiences with lots of SET amps on the market. They all sounded fantastic with simple arrangement music but when put to the test with a full orchestra at Symphony hall levels it left me longing to get tickets to BSO and get the real thing. This journey over many decades has me spending as much time on my hobby as I do at my day job.

 

Since you are in my neck of the woods I offer to bring an amp to your place for you to audition if you want.

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I'm tempted to suggest bi-amping. Go with something with authority for the woofer and keep the tubes for the squawker and tweeter.  Although lately I'm running a Harman / Kardon 430 on its own with H3s, but I have done the biamping thing with SS / tubes in the past (and could do it today if warranted).

 

FWIW I too am in the Boston metro area.

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For folk/blues music (e.g., Eva Cassidy), my 8wpc single-ended pentode amp sounds great driving my Klipsch RF-7II speakers.


For big-band music (e.g., Tony Bennett), my 8wpc single-ended pentode amp sounds great when powered subwoofers off-load the deep bass from my SEP amp and main RF-7II speakers.   (My Oppo UDP-205 provides “bass management” which off-loads deep bass from the main amp and speakers.)


For the music that I mostly listen to – i.e., large-scale orchestral music and opera, in my basement system I prefer a 6L6GC push/pull stereo tube amp driving the main front left & right Klipsch RF-7II speakers, and a second stereo push/pull amp driving the center (RF-7II) and single rear speaker (RF-7).     My Oppo UDP-205 provides “bass management” which off-loads deep bass from the main amp and speakers to two powered subwoofers.

 
In my living room system where the main left & right speakers are Snell Type CV (less sensitive than Klipsch), my Oppo universal player off-loads the deep bass to a powered subwoofer, and my McIntosh MC275 is able to deliver large-scale classical music via my Snell Type CV.


Bottom line, speaker sensitivity and room size affect amplifier power requirements.   And there’s a big difference in playing an LP of a “little girl with a guitar” (no disrespect to Eva Cassidy) in a small listening room, vs. delivering in a large listening room an experience that approximates the live performance of Mahler Symphony 2.   This is particularly true for a recording that features uncompromised dynamic range and frequency range such as this modern Blu-ray that features an uncompressed DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track:


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If you know how to solder take a look at the Bottlehead Moreplay preamp kit. It uses 6V6 tubes, fun to build and sounds great. There are several other tubes that you can roll such as 6AQ5, 7C7 and 6CM6.

 

Here's a photo of mine:

 

 

Moreplay 1.JPG

Edited by nikon f
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On 11/30/2021 at 10:46 AM, nikon f said:

If you know how to solder take a look at the Bottlehead Moreplay preamp kit. It uses 6V6 tubes, fun to build and sounds great. There are several other tubes that you can roll such as 6AQ5, 7C7 and 6CM6.

 

Here's a photo of mine:

 

 

Moreplay 1.JPG

That was almost cruel posting that the day after the 15% off Cyber Monday sale ended.  🙂  I had been looking at one and decided I didn't need another project.

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I'm tempted to suggest bi-amping. Go with something with authority for the woofer and keep the tubes for the squawker and tweeter.  Although lately I'm running a Harman / Kardon 430 on its own with H3s, but I have done the biamping thing with SS / tubes in the past (and could do it today if warranted).

 

FWIW I too am in the Boston metro area.

 

@BadChile That's an interesting thought. I do have an HK 3490 on hand...

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On 11/27/2021 at 2:05 PM, captainbeefheart said:

Sadly SET amps get a bad rap because 90% or more on the market are not really designed well. They do great with simple music but loose coherence with complex music plus it probably isn't controlling the Heresy woofer all that great.

 

I don't think a Cornwall or any speaker with a normal cone woofer like the heresy will pair well with your SET amp. So you either need to get something like a LaScala with a horn woofer with less mass to have to control, these pair well with your average SET amplifiers. Or, you need to find a different SET amplifier with lower output impedance and possibly one that does A2 operation. People do not realize how much they go into clipping region even if it's for short transient duration the effect will be poor imaging and sound stage since blocking distortion and bias shift throws the amplifier into a tail spin until it recovers.

 

fwiw I am in the Boston area and if your wife gives the green light I have a nice pair of LaScalas that I have been toying around with the idea of selling. I am actually in the same boat with trying to convince the wife to swap the Klipsch reference floor stands in the living room to the LaScalas so we can keep them but she hates the look of them, the reference floor stands have a more contemporary look and are smaller so she is ok with them.

 

You could possibly modify your current amplifier to work better with the Heresy but you need to bring it to more an engineer vs a repair tech, I have done this for people with the same problem. All that is needed was a few resistors and maybe 1 or 2 capacitors, last one went from a damping factor of 5 to a DF of 100 that made a huge improvement.


Please excuse my ignorance, but is your main set up with reference speakers? RF-7? I ask because people like you (obviously pretty hard core audiophile) usually go with some type of top of the line K horn (or La Scalas', as you mention) or similar. I love my reference series speakers because I use them 90% for HT. The ref series are great for HT but usually considered too sharp fo pure music listening. Of course an RF-7 can be modded to be smoother.  

Edited by Dr_jitsu
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On 11/28/2021 at 2:18 PM, robert_kc said:

OP:  I’ll offer a different perspective.


Your hi-fi system will never sound better than the recordings.  I suggest that you consider state-of-the-art recordings.


For classical music I prefer modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last dozen years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD.

  
Here’s one of my posts that provides examples of modern hi-res classical recordings:  

 

https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/202102-classical-recordings/&do=findComment&comment=2658804


For classical music, I enjoy RF-7 II driven by tube amps, and augmented by large subwoofers.  I suggest that you consider the newer RF-7 III for a speaker capable of delivering large-scale orchestral music, while occupying a relatively small footprint.

 

I also suggest that you consider multi-channel.  If you’re interested, I can explain my 4.1 configurations that employ tube amps (i.e., no AVR or pre-processor).
 



Interesting....this would be an un-modded RF-7, yes? Of all the ref series, the RF-7 is the best for music..of course it is top of the line. However, as mentioned, they are still pretty sharp. I have the RF-7ii, and it is my understanding that the iii is less sharp, richer in sound. The profile definitely has a WAF advantage. I am probably one of the least knowledgeable persons on his forum, but I am surprised that some of you hard core audiophiles own reference series speakers.  

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2 hours ago, Dr_jitsu said:


Please excuse my ignorance, but is your main set up with reference speakers? RF-7? I ask because people like you (obviously pretty hard core audiophile) usually go with some type of top of the line K horn (or La Scalas', as you mention) or similar. I love my reference series speakers because I use them 90% for HT. The ref series are great for HT but usually considered too sharp fo pure music listening. Of course an RF-7 can be modded to be smoother.  

 

I have several Klipsch speakers, reference floor stands and bookshelf speakers are great and I do not find them too sharp. I would say my main system is my La Scala system, 2.1 with a self powered sub-woofer. The living room has the RF-7's currently mated to a vintage Sherwood S-7100A good for about 25 watts per channel. I really like the Sherwood receiver, really high build quality inside and it sounds great. Many people overlook these amps and you can scoop them up cheap. The wife doesn't like to fiddle with sources and what not, she mostly enjoys listening to WCRB classical station or the oldies stations on FM air waves which the Sherwood does in spades well. It is also connected to the TV via the AUX input where we can enjoy CD's, Bluray, etc....

 

I have much more modern and expensive receivers that I can hook up but we have been enjoying the Sherwood a lot lately so it is staying for a while. It pairs very well with the reference floor stands and is not "sharp" or "bright" at all. We have very tall ceilings in the living room fwiw, roughly 8,000 cubic foot area.

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On 11/27/2021 at 12:04 PM, Boston Chris said:

I’m a tube and Klipsch guy looking to upgrade. I’m tempted by Cornwall IV, but their size is probably prohibitive (I’m married 😊). Maybe a tube preamp, or a tube DAC, or roll tubes in integrated amplifier…? How to identify the weakest link? Thanks in advance!

 

Equipment: Qobuz to ethernet PC Notebook with Audirvana or ethernet Blusound Node (2021) network streamer to Cambridge DacMagic 100 to Schiit Loki Mini+ EQ to Line Magnetic 210-IA 300B SET integrated amplifier to Klipsch Heresy III + Klipsch R-10SW.

 

Music: 1920-1980 Jazz: Armstrong, be-bop, 1960-80 avant garde jazz. 1950-1980 rock: Classic rock, Zappa, Beefheart, punk, post-punk. Opera: Wagner, Puccini, R, Strauss Janacek, Bartok. Symphonic: Stravinsky, Bartok, Mahler, Dvorak. 1950-1980 Afro-beat, Jamaican, Brazilian

 

The H4's are much better than the H3's. The tractrix mid horn makes a big difference and you will immediately notice it. H-4's and an upgraded sub will make you smile.

I drove H4's with a 2A3 amp and good sub and had no complaints. 

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On 12/9/2021 at 2:07 PM, captainbeefheart said:

 

I have several Klipsch speakers, reference floor stands and bookshelf speakers are great and I do not find them too sharp. I would say my main system is my La Scala system, 2.1 with a self powered sub-woofer. The living room has the RF-7's currently mated to a vintage Sherwood S-7100A good for about 25 watts per channel. I really like the Sherwood receiver, really high build quality inside and it sounds great. Many people overlook these amps and you can scoop them up cheap. The wife doesn't like to fiddle with sources and what not, she mostly enjoys listening to WCRB classical station or the oldies stations on FM air waves which the Sherwood does in spades well. It is also connected to the TV via the AUX input where we can enjoy CD's, Bluray, etc....

 

I have much more modern and expensive receivers that I can hook up but we have been enjoying the Sherwood a lot lately so it is staying for a while. It pairs very well with the reference floor stands and is not "sharp" or "bright" at all. We have very tall ceilings in the living room fwiw, roughly 8,000 cubic foot area.

Been tempted to add the Sherwood S-7100A to my collection but was hesitant because of how it would sound with those transformers on the output stage. I will look at them more closely now. 

 

After saying the S-7100A has transformers on the output circuit I checked the service manual I have and it is for the S-7100 which has the transformers. HiFiengine does only has manual for S-7100 but does show schematic for S7100A which does not have transformers in the output stage. Totally different schematic from the S-7100. Same site says the A model has less power. Does not seem right being most of the time when Manufactorers have A-B etc later models power increases and so does improvements. All this does not matter as long as S-7100A sound nice. Except when one plans on refurbishing one. 

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8 hours ago, henry4841 said:

Been tempted to add the Sherwood S-7100A to my collection but was hesitant because of how it would sound with those transformers on the output stage. I will look at them more closely now. 

 

After saying the S-7100A has transformers on the output circuit I checked the service manual I have and it is for the S-7100 which has the transformers. HiFiengine does only has manual for S-7100 but does show schematic for S7100A which does not have transformers in the output stage. Totally different schematic from the S-7100. Same site says the A model has less power. Does not seem right being most of the time when Manufactorers have A-B etc later models power increases and so does improvements. All this does not matter as long as S-7100A sound nice. Except when one plans on refurbishing one. 

 

The S-7100a definitely does not have output transformers which will make repairs much easier in the future if one of the output transistors decide to die. I doubt I will have any issues since I went through the whole amp when I got it and made sure to set bias where there is not crossover distortion and harmonic distortion was under the rating of .25% @ 2v across an 8 ohm load. Some guys like to go and crank up the bias for more Class A operation and that's when you run into issues.

 

 

I just dug out the service manual for the S-7100a and the confusion about output power might be because of the way they rated the amplifier. At 1kHz into 8 ohms it is rated at 22 watts which is more than the S-7100. So yes the later S-7100a version is more powerful but they then go and rate it for only 14 watts into 8 ohms @ 20Hz-20kHz and 18 watts 40Hz-20kHz. There are no transformers in the signal path so that can't be the issue with low frequency de-rating, it must have higher distortion at low frequencies so the de-rate the power to get good distortion figures. When I finish up unpacking all my audio stuff I plan to pop it back on the test bench and take distortion reading at different frequencies. Since I am no longer into vintage tube amplifiers I am getting rid of all my tubes I will never use. I rigorously test any devices I sell, especially tubes that will go into hifi equipment. I do not just pop into a transconductance tester and call it a day, I prefer to use a mocked up real circuit with a real load and match gain and distortion specs and obviously only sell low noise/microphonic tubes. That way there the end user can confidently install the tubes and have close matching gain and distortion figures for each channel. The vast majority of vendors do not take this amount of care into your gear, they just sell you tubes and hope for the best but being an engineer I know not all tubes will be the same and so I take the extra time, I and I mean it is a lot of time to make sure someone gets the best possible outcome from their purchase, not a roll of the dice.

 

You can easily get these Sherwood amps for under $100 and they match very well with efficient Klipsch speakers, I have gotten more compliments from the sound of this Sherwood and RF-7 combo than using much more expensive receivers and power amps. We played cards with another couple last night where my friend once managed many bands along the North Shore and he was blown away with the setup, he was like a little kid asking to play his favorite songs. Something about some of these older SS amps that don't quite measure great on paper but just sound so life like, almost like a good tube amp really. My plan was to go through it and refinish the wood cabinet and pass it along to a friend that is in need of a good amplifier but the wife and myself ended up putting it in the keeper column. It was hideous when I first got it, someone spray painted a fake aluminum color on the veneered wood cabinet!! A quick strip and a very light sanding then a couple coats of tung-oil finish and it looks gorgeous again. Highly underrated amplifiers even though they are very well built internally and sound amazing. My guess, it hasn't enough power for the majority of people with power hungry speakers out there. Their loss.

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On 11/27/2021 at 12:04 PM, Boston Chris said:

I’m a tube and Klipsch guy looking to upgrade. I’m tempted by Cornwall IV, but their size is probably prohibitive (I’m married 😊).

You cant beat the price of used Cornwall speakers or even Forte  or Chorus speakers , the Forte is bigger than a  Heresy , but smaller than a  Cornwall , and the Chorus is bigger than a Forte and still smaller than a Cornwall -

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4 hours ago, captainbeefheart said:

 

The S-7100a definitely does not have output transformers which will make repairs much easier in the future if one of the output transistors decide to die. I doubt I will have any issues since I went through the whole amp when I got it and made sure to set bias where there is not crossover distortion and harmonic distortion was under the rating of .25% @ 2v across an 8 ohm load. Some guys like to go and crank up the bias for more Class A operation and that's when you run into issues.

 

 

I just dug out the service manual for the S-7100a and the confusion about output power might be because of the way they rated the amplifier. At 1kHz into 8 ohms it is rated at 22 watts which is more than the S-7100. So yes the later S-7100a version is more powerful but they then go and rate it for only 14 watts into 8 ohms @ 20Hz-20kHz and 18 watts 40Hz-20kHz. There are no transformers in the signal path so that can't be the issue with low frequency de-rating, it must have higher distortion at low frequencies so the de-rate the power to get good distortion figures. When I finish up unpacking all my audio stuff I plan to pop it back on the test bench and take distortion reading at different frequencies. Since I am no longer into vintage tube amplifiers I am getting rid of all my tubes I will never use. I rigorously test any devices I sell, especially tubes that will go into hifi equipment. I do not just pop into a transconductance tester and call it a day, I prefer to use a mocked up real circuit with a real load and match gain and distortion specs and obviously only sell low noise/microphonic tubes. That way there the end user can confidently install the tubes and have close matching gain and distortion figures for each channel. The vast majority of vendors do not take this amount of care into your gear, they just sell you tubes and hope for the best but being an engineer I know not all tubes will be the same and so I take the extra time, I and I mean it is a lot of time to make sure someone gets the best possible outcome from their purchase, not a roll of the dice.

 

You can easily get these Sherwood amps for under $100 and they match very well with efficient Klipsch speakers, I have gotten more compliments from the sound of this Sherwood and RF-7 combo than using much more expensive receivers and power amps. We played cards with another couple last night where my friend once managed many bands along the North Shore and he was blown away with the setup, he was like a little kid asking to play his favorite songs. Something about some of these older SS amps that don't quite measure great on paper but just sound so life like, almost like a good tube amp really. My plan was to go through it and refinish the wood cabinet and pass it along to a friend that is in need of a good amplifier but the wife and myself ended up putting it in the keeper column. It was hideous when I first got it, someone spray painted a fake aluminum color on the veneered wood cabinet!! A quick strip and a very light sanding then a couple coats of tung-oil finish and it looks gorgeous again. Highly underrated amplifiers even though they are very well built internally and sound amazing. My guess, it hasn't enough power for the majority of people with power hungry speakers out there. Their loss.

Just bought one for $90 which includes shipping. Why not. I just love the looks of the wood cases and shining chrome from years ago. I believe the case is wood veneer but could be wrong. Case looks excellent along with unit looking clean. Missing some knobs but that is no big deal. Nothing special about those knobs anyway. Supposedly runs but we'll see. Bought as parts not working but that is what I am looking for when shopping for another receiver for my collection. Any of those low powered great looking receivers will please those that listen mostly as background music. Certainly will rock with our speakers but not so much with the popular conventional speakers that like more oomf. 

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1 hour ago, henry4841 said:

Just bought one for $90 which includes shipping. Why not. I just love the looks of the wood cases and shining chrome from years ago. I believe the case is wood veneer but could be wrong. Case looks excellent along with unit looking clean. Missing some knobs but that is no big deal. Nothing special about those knobs anyway. Supposedly runs but we'll see. Bought as parts not working but that is what I am looking for when shopping for another receiver for my collection. Any of those low powered great looking receivers will please those that listen mostly as background music. Certainly will rock with our speakers but not so much with the popular conventional speakers that like more oomf. 

 

Wow that is just fantastic! I am so happy you got one too. If you need the service manual for it I can email it to you. My unit didn't work when I got also and I forget what it was but it was something really stupid like the preamp to power amp jumpers or something, I just remember it was a real easy fix except for the cabinet I had to refinish. Yes it is vaneer on the cabinet but looks really nice. Fabulous unit for the price, you will be happy when you get inside and have a look at the guts.

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