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In Reply to: Re: My mistake - Re: Fran - I'm in the US (Los Angeles) posted by croft on August 31, 2004 at 11:59:36:
Ian and Fran,
Many thanks for the follow-up. Ian, I do agree with you that Fran's site is fab. Your response is most informative. Just this afternoon I sent an email to Fran, in which I talked about whether there would be reason to upgrade to the SP10 or 11 in the future. For the short while I did get to enjoy the SP6e before it ceased to operate, I was very impressed. The mods you mention sound very worthwhile and I will have to give them some serious thought. I think its best to move forward on Frans initial suggestion and have ARC repair the unit directly. If I was back in the UK I would definitely engage your services.
Funny you should mention the DAC-1. I was seriously considering picking one up. A friend of mine has one, and I was very impressed with it. I'm currently using the Carver SD/A 390t tube stage CD player. In fact I liked this CD player so much I now have two of them. It has very sophisticated circuitry called soft eq that compensates for ambient information deficiency that exists in a lot of PCM media especially earlier CDs. It essentially makes the thing sound more analogue, the LP effect. Along with the two 6dj8s (I replaced with NOS amperex bugle boys), this cd player has bested most everything else I've listened to. The other CD players that Carver made are mediocre at best but this ones a gem. Still I have my eye on the DAC-1, in addition to a Proceed transport.
I'm currently driving an absolutely immaculate pair of very late model KEF Reference 107s that I found by pure luck in the States. I don't think these have ever been used before or if so perhaps in an audio showroom. Even the KUBE looks brand new. I love the KEFs and overall they are truly magnificent, but if pushed to pick an area I'd like to focus on improving, then it would be the bass volume, which can be a wee bit reticent to show itself in all its glory. Its there though, and good for 18hz and below, but things work a little differently with these speakers. The bass is vented upwards and they don't suffer from the ground reenforcement effects that are common in other speakers. The one drawback is that the ground reenforcement effect is an easy way to get volume in the bass although it muddies things up quite a bit. I'm trying to come up with a solution where I can raise the bass volume sufficiently while maintaining the absolute tightness and clarity that these speakers reproduce in the lower frequencies. Perhaps either of you might have a suggestion.
I have heard great things about the Maggies, but have yet to hear them in person (by the way love the picture of Fran sitting in front of the Maggies). May I ask either of you what model of Magnepan would you recommend. I've been thinking seriously about splurging on a pair of Appogee Divas when finances allow, as I've read great things about them. Bottom line, It must be true what they say about electrostatic/planar speakers because there are just so many good reviews that point out the exceptional midrange and imaging.
Anyhow, you guys were hungry, well I'm parched. I'm off down to the King's Head here in Santa Monica CA for a quick pint of Yorkshire's best before closing time.
Best, - and many thanks
Thanks for the post,Much apreshiated.
Your system is very good.
Thanks for reading the input on the Asylum.
I think that with the SP6 O'Shag it would be a good idea to have ARC do the modding.This is beacuse at the same time that the pre is being upgraded the intermittent fault will more than likely be remadid.
Another + is that for the cost of the upgrade it would more than likely not be possible to buy a same pre amp with todays choice and price which has the SP6 abbilitys.
I think ARC really did a great job on the desighn of this pre,The provishion of a dual gain switch,Phono section,Direct mode,Alps volume pot and all valve desighn make it such a bargain on the second hand market.Strangely the SP6 pre is not very well known here in the UK.The common model is the SP9 hybrid which i have also owned.
The fault on the SP6 O'Shag seems to be a problem with the pre amps stabalizing cuircuit on its output stage.The flashing green L.E.D on the front panel is a posative sighn of this section of the pre.
The cost of a straight repair may be quite high in a non ARC repair shop.After the repair i think the issue of "what the pre could have really sounded like at ARC" may arise O'Shag.
Having looked on Frans great website it is very reasssuring to know that the quality in construction still carrys on even after the consumer has made his/her purchase in the form of very good modifications.
The Magneplanners i owned were the SMGB.They were not as tall as the bigger pans and had a "quazi ribbon" element.These speakers were so rewarding O'Shag,I was really amazed when i heard them in the hi fi shop prior to purchase.
I had them running from 2 Leek stereo 20 valve mono blocks which were upgraded by emminentaudio.I got away with running them on 25 whatts a peice,This was beacuse the Croft pre amp i used has a large output impedance.When i switched to the 50 ohms Audio research SP9 the sound leves dropped by 50%.
For this reason i reccomend a good power amplifier for driving Magneplanners with at least 50 whatts output,Or use the SP6A on the "high gain" setting.
Maggies have had a bit of a rep for being difficult to drive,But in my experience O,Shag i found it to be a bit of a mith,Unless your listening room is very large and the sound level is to be very high.
A freind runs a pair of Maggie 2.5R which are "true ribbon".They have a full range ribbon element that runs all the way down the back of the panels,They are powered via a Croft OTL valve power amp and also an ARC VT100.
The OTL puts out 60 whatts per channel and is as clear as water itself.
I found Magnepans to have the uncanny ability to sound free of box restrictions,Female vocal and instruments sound like the real thing and in no way artifishal.The bottom end can also be very good,being a panel the fact is that the bass is more accurate than a cone speaker.
Some people have refered to them as being a touch light in this area,I found them to be the complete oppasite and long term listening had no fatigue what so ever.
The Audio research Dac-1 that i own is a real tour de force in the sonic department,After first listening tests i deliberatly left reading a review in Sterophile untill one week after demoing the unit.
After being truly amazed at its awsome sound i found the review comfirmed my innishial experiences.
Comments such as the Dac being able to compete with units costing 5 times as much,Glare free presentation and alsmost analouge in aproach.
the power supply is quite elaborate,attenshion has been paid to every part of this Dac and the results are "Stellar".
The Dac is 18 bit,With all the hype about dvd audio and sacd i still believe in this type of dac,There is no "falsness" to its presentation.
I am just of to get some fish and chips from the local chippy,
All wrapped up in good old newspaper.
All the best,
Thanks Ian -
The Fish and Chips sound delish. Can't beat 'em wrapped in newspaper with heaps of salt and vinegar.
The SP6e is definitely 'overbuilt'. Recently splurged on a State-of-the-Art receiver, Yamaha's flagship, the RX-Z9 (It might have a different name in the UK). Its highly capable in terms of DSP processing and the multi-channel realm, specially for HT. But it pales in comparison to the obsessive attention to detail and tank like build of the Sp6e, or the SP4 for that matter.
Heard of Croft only briefly before, but on the few short posts I've read, Croft gear seems to be excellent. More research on Croft is in order. What I find interesting Ian is that the Croft preamp you mention can facilitate the use of lower powered amps for more challenging speaker loads.
Magnepan Magneplanars could be my next move for speakers, and I may buy a pair in the next few months, so I amy have to think about some synergistic components.
Ian, you and I are in agreement on the DAC-1. I really enjoyed listening to my friends unit, which he may sell to me along with his Proceed transport(he just got a top of the line Sony transport and DAC combo).
I'll let you know how things progress when I receive the SP6e unit back from repair and perhaps modification. Again can't thank yourself and Fran enough for your outstanding guidance and readiness to help out, very much appreciated.
Thanks for the post,Much apreshiated.
The Croft components are built not to far from where i live in the Uk.
They have no pcb and are all hard wired.
For the price they are extrordinary value and sound very "fast" for an all valve desighn.
Croft made many pre amp desighns and also power amplifiers.
The pre that i have is the Mega micro which is a 2 box desighn with completely seperate channels, A 6 valve regualted power supply, Plus dual volume pots for each channel.
The drive capability of this unit is amazing.
Most of Croft pre amps have dual volume controls O,Shag which have amazing seperation and tracking.
The use of hard wiring has a major leg up over pcb based desighns.
Croft desighns have true valve vurtues and a midband that is "ultra realistic".
Croft and Audio research are the companys which i have always admired.
I think that for the outley they offer extremely good value and to get better would require really large funds.
ARC use double thickness pcbs which also helps.
I hope you go for the Magnepans O.Shag.
They are a lifetimes investment and even people who are not into hi end audio stand amazed at them.
Plus they are usually the talking point when people call round to the house.
I had some female freinds call and they were very impressed "hhhhhhmmmmmmm nuff said"....
The Dac -1 ,Wow'Thats greta O,Shag.
Thinking about it you may end up with exatly the same system as me.
The build quality of the components and the way they sounds extrudes exoticness and i am still getting amazing sonics every night.
I once spent £1700 on Audiolab gear before the ARC units,It amazes me what i could have had if i had known.
The Audiolab gear was the favourite choice in a certain british hi fi magazine.
I got them home and after reading the reviews i was confused at the complete lack of emotion or enjoyment to the music.The "steely edge" of the midband was enough to make you run for the hills,they were dreadfull.
The first time i saw an ARC pre amp i was hooked,Like you say the build quality,Rock solid feel,Silver nobs,Rack handles and those six valves glowing in a chassie that could have been built for Lamborghini.
The new items on the marketplace here in the Uk just dont have the "zest" that the earlier units have.Everybody is dvd audio or sacd hooked,Which to us audiophiles is great as we get some awsome components and meet like minded people worldwide.
Great to hear from you,Shag and Fran.
The SP6 is currently looking at me as if to say "hey switch me on"And i cant resist.
Although those fish and chips are calling me back again,Its a tough one.
You've peaked my interest in the Croft Mega Micro preamp. I'm going to check out what pricing is like on the used market. I'm keen on having an alternative tube preamp so as not to overuse my ARC SP6, and it certainly makes sense if I go forward with Magnepans given the Crofts ability to make the relatively difficult load easier for my hybrid tube amps. Talking of amps, what is your preferred amp? Are you using tube amps or all SS? I'm sure you've spent a good deal of time figuring out a good synergistic match for the SP6, Croft and Magnepans.
Ditto, my system does tend to be a talking point when I've had young (in my case young-ish) ladies over. Plus the right music does the job of setting the right mood. Of course a little Champagne or some well prepared cocktails help too! And if you cook em a meal as well, they're usually a lot more open to suggestions that will inevitably follow interest in the stereo.
You mentioned the increased opportunity given the interest in SACD and DVD-A. And your right. Some real audio gems are up for grabs at good prices. Its allowed me to get into some gear that would otherwise not be too practical to buy.
I must own up to investing in DVD-A and SACD though, but its definitely hit and miss and quite a few of the remasters I've gotten have left me a little disappointed. A lot depends on the quality of the recording, and if the original master was created with multi-channel in mind. I don't think multi-channel works that well when the original is stereo and then remastered and mixed to 5.1 channels. Example being I recently got Sting's Sumners Tales album remastered in DTS 5.1 surround, and his Brand New Day remastered in SACD multi-channel. I have have both these on redbook CD so I can compare each by switching from one player to another. Both the DTS Surround and SACD multi-channel version's sound takes some getting used to. To my ears, the impression is that they almost seem diluted in the front channel and the impact definitely looses some oomph. Although I was able to compensate the hollow-ish midrange to a point by adding some bass DB which filled out the midband and upper bass to acceptable levels. The SACD on the other hand was not good, which is surprising, because I usually have good luck with SACD (eg Diana Kralls albums). But your right, in this early stage of the development of SACD/DVD-A, redbook CD and HDCD 96/24 bit played on the right system, still has a slight edge. I don't thinks it'll stay that way though. My take is that they will get these new multi-channel formats sorted, where the rear and surround channels will be used primarily for generating ambient information as in real life rather than putting instruments behind the listener, which should expand and uncompress the whole performance and soundstage. On the other hand I absolutely love HDCD and 96/24 bit. It sounds great. If you can upgrade your DAC for HDCD, I highly recommend it. Otherwise, look out for the Denon DVD-5000, only about $400.00 - $500.00 on the used market. Yes its a DVD player, but it also happens to be a first rate HDCD decoder and player, The thing weighs almost twice as much as the SP6! All copper chassis and descrete componentry. Similar build quality to the ARC products. Forget about the DVD part although it happens to be a very fine DVD player as it was Denon's flagship three or four years ago and cost almost $3,000.00. Really recommend checking this one out.
Time to turn in.
Thanks Again Ian.
Thanks for the reply,
The mega micro is an amazing pre amp O'Shag.
Its desighn is ones mans pashion turned into reality.
I think i do know wheres theres one for sale at this very minuite at £500.
All croft pre amps bar the very first desighn use dual volume controls.In the desighn each channel normally has a dedicated stage aswell.
The mega is deffiantly one of Crofts most ouetrages pre amps,I have never ever heard such a large soundstage,Its massive.
The only thing which seperates Croft from becoming tottaly immense is that in the days that the earlier products were built the manufacturer chose cases that where less than asthetically pleasing.
Also the caps and resistors were not necceseraly audiophile.
The wiring is first rate.
For this reason a lot of people pass the Crofts and go for a more impresive looking line of kit.This is a major disadvantage beacuse i have yet to hear a bad Croft component and the openess to the soundstage on his items is jawdropping.
On the eminent audio website (the very first one)there is a complete rundown and history of Croft components.
I will see if i can get this on the pc asap.
They still manufacture items aswell.
Croft items on the second hand market are such amazing value,The standard super micro pre amp(about £250) can very easilly strip the competition away at pre amps costing around £2000.
They are also ideal for modding beacuse the use of no pcbs aids in getting to this or that part.
I think the mega micro does have a large output drive capability beacuse of the seperate valve regulated power supply and dual 100 ohm volume pots.If you ever end up with this pre amp O'Shag i can guarantee you that it will surpass all conseption as to just how good a bohemath of a pre such as this can sound.
In todays money i think the closest price for it would easily be £7000+.
But i hear you ask the question "If the Crofts are so good why use ARC" ?
One thing i do like O'Shag is pride of ownership and ARC are exemplary,Specifically the choice of caps and resistors ARC use are hi end, Earlier Crofts used standard RS components.
The mega micro is such an "attention grabbing" pre amp that it verges on the edge of total perfection in realistic tone,But at the other end i can hear the "Wondercaps" and other good parts in ARCs products.
I have heard Crofts components when they have been modded and are jiant killers.
Another thing i like about ARC is the fact that you can listen for hours on end with no listener fatigue what so ever and sometimes think to myself that my ears must be right next to the cd playing'the resolution is so good.
Its weird beacuse the mega micros soundtage blasts many pre amps i have ever heard including the ref 2 right out of the water,yet there is still room for improvement(mods) and the ARC gear is a great companion for it.
Its kind of a double edged knife,You have this amazing peice of kit that has an eternal majick yet i can just about hear those bog standard caps at work under its bonnet.ARC gives me resolution and pressishion - Croft gives me openess and complete freedom.
The ARC SP10 is very close in desighn to the Mega micro but in sound they are quite different.
I remember when i had 2 leek amps running aswell as the mega micro,the mega has 13 valves in total and the Leeks had 9 on each,This meant there was 31 valves on the go at one time.
I could have fried one of Frans eggs on the hi fi?
Thanks for the question on valve or solid state.
This was something i explored for about 7 years O'shag.
If i had to choose it would always be valve based gear,Solid state i think is good but highly dependant on what your tastes in music are.
I find valves far more "forgiving" and the soundstage from those bouncing atoms is always welcoming.
Plus i still think theres something rewarding about valve based gear,Like kind of having a light show all to his/her self.
I did try ARC hybrid gear and i did find it good.
I did keep comparing it to the mega micro though and wanted more of the valve majick.I have used solid state powers with valve pres and these work great for Maggies,Only thing i noticed was that if the power is high rating and the pre high output the difference between a listenable volume level and something thht is slightly too loud is quite small.
The ARC SP6 seems to have the best of both worlds,In many respects it represents both solid state and valve more than the 9 does but manages to keep a tight check on its sonic properties without becoming loose or bloated.
P.S. I did have an SP9 modded with "KIMBER CAPS" and this ruined the pre to an extent where i sold it,It tottaly dragged the pre amp wright down in all respects(shame).
Thanks for the info on the hi fi and the ladys,Great combo.
I do know a guy whos wife is also into hi fi and the kids usually run and hide when the THX system is fired up,Its great.
Cool info on the sacd and hdcd.
Very good point about the rear effects O'Shag.
I had a listen to about 6 SACD players and this was through the REf 2 and also Convergent audio cat SL-1 pre amp.
I found them to be very hard,almost brittle and the "high resolution" seemed to be the dominant feature and kind of robbed the performace to an extent.
No doubt there are some great sacd albums etc and i think its a great attempt at changing the recording process.
yet i feel more inclined to go for red book cd or like you say HDCD.
through the DAC-1 most albums sound almost remasterd but retain there intended emotion.
I think a component that makes you question the sonics whilst in use is a bad desighn.
One that makes you forget they are on is a great achievement and this is where ARC and Croft stand head and shoulders above many desighns.
Am just of to make an early morning cup of tea,It is very clear outside and there is agreat view of the night sky.
Just right for taking the Stax headphones and battery energiser out for a workout.
2 sugars O'Shag?.
The only ones I have experience with are the two panel and three panel, none of which are made any more. I have heard some of the other models, but not familiar enough with model numbers or how they'd sound in your system to make a recommendation. I can say that when mine die, I'll either have them rebuilt by Magnepan or get a newer model. I'd never go back to cones, horns or electrostatics. Maybe I'm just and old dinosaur! Fran
"The truth is out there"
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