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One of the latest arrivals here is Hegel’s new P20 preamp, a lower-cost alternative to their reference-level P30 that is nevertheless one of the most transparent and one of the best sounding preamps I’ve ever had in the store. It’s the first time I’ve had a Hegel preamp to accompany my H20 Hegel power amp (200wpc, fully balanced design), and the combination highlights the benefits of brand synergy. This is not surprising, as manufacturers will naturally use their own products as ancillary equipment when developing new components. What you may find surprising, though, is that the H20 power amp sounded much better with the P20 preamp than it did without ANY analog preamp at all (using the HD25 DAC as a digital preamp). One might think that removing a component and simplifying the signal path would naturally lead to better sound quality. But this did not happen. Wiring the P20 between the HD25 and H20 led to obvious sonic improvements in both dynamics and soundstage. This fact reminds me once again about how important the preamp is in the signal chain from source to speakers.
I’ve often heard it said that the preamp is the most difficult audio component to make. Not only is it switching sources and providing volume control, it is doing so when the signal is at its most vulnerable to noise and distortion. It’s a delicate operation: while the amp is like a power tool, the preamp is like a surgical instrument, gingerly performing its tasks without hurting the health of the “patient” (in this case, the signal that is destined to be transformed into music by the loudspeakers). Since every model of preamp is unique in its design and construction, the results from brand-to-brand (and even between different models of the same brand) vary significantly. All other variables being equal, it’s amazing how different a system sounds when swapping preamps. Detail, transparency, dynamic range, soundstage and imaging: all these areas (and more) are deeply effected by the choice of preamp. But don’t take my word for it: come in for a listen and let your ears convince you.
Adirondack Audio & Video is now a dealer for Clearaudio turntables from Germany. Clearaudio is one of the most respected names in turntables, with models ranging from $1500 to $170,000! All are hand-crafted in Germany and feature the latest in turntable design. Yes, Clearaudio’s engineers are still perfecting the record player as a fine audiophile instrument for superlative sound reproduction. We have a Clearaudio Concept turntable in our showroom (with moving coil cartridge) that will rival the sound quality of digital sources costing much, much more. There’s nothing quite as sublimely musical as a clean record playing on a good turntable. And Clearaudio makes some of the best in the world. Bring some of your favorite LPs and have a listen!
The current, updated version of the EDGE G3, now $7088.00 is a very nice 115 wpc, which retains all of the accomplished attributes and accolades raved about in the below reviews from other astute sources, of its lower powered predecessors.
I had made an exceptional statement in my FB post just before our Grand Opening in early July that the G3 in my very first listen, was “THE BEST INTEGRATED I’VE EVER HEARD. I would like to say in my own defense of this premature statement, that in all fairness however, that it was amazingly obvious from the moment I unboxed it and plugged it in. Fortunately, our audition copy was Steven Norber’s (Edge National Sales Manager) personal amplifier, so was already broken in, only requiring the typical 20 minute warm up to be fully ready to strut it’s stuff. At this point I would like to try to put that previously unqualified statement into some perspective. Obviously, from the following reviews, everyone who’s ever tested an EDGE Amp, including the G3’s previous editions, have also been extremely impressed.
I feel that at this juncture, it is important to mention that too often people do not fully appreciate just how important an amplifier is to the overall system performance. So when you get a really good one, or in this case, really exceptional, you sort of cannot put a fine enough point on it! For instance, too often I hear the comment that it is the “speakers” which make the biggest difference in a system, almost as if, that’s all that is really important. But to be frank, that is only a half truth. Speakers will certainly “establish the type of sound” you will get, however, the true character, integrity, and by far, its believability, “or likeness live sound” is absolutely up to the “amplifier”. So underestimating this, often results in an under qualified amplifier being paired with the speakers. Sadly this results in your inability to ever put together a true high end/high performance system. Not to mention, you usually NEVER HEAR what your speaker can really do…EVER! One reason for this naturally is that unless you have a particularly abstinent speaker to drive, such as one of very (low efficiency, impedance, stability, or that requires tremendous power), you can get “sound” from almost anything you plug into them, even a cheap AV receiver, especially if they are of the “very efficient” variety. This does not however, in any way, shape or form, let you hear anything close to what a really good speaker can do. You may quite literally be missing up to 50% of what that speaker can do. So knowing exactly “what a given amplifier is doing” if very important for the best speaker matching.
So to really put an amplifier through the paces, and establish just how good it really is, a competent tester uses an average of about 20 individual values of comparison. Some of these are, sound stage depth, width, and height(measured individually), dynamics, micro dynamics, detail, imaging, a balanced representation of the frequency response (from ultra low notes to extreme highs), and its ability to place various sounds at points in space(and give those sounds a sense of size). These standards are the most commonly talked about, as they can be easiest to identify without the employment of a test bench. And of course, any tester worth their salt should have a qualified reference system to which standards of measurement can then be authenticated. At ADK AV our reference electronics are a complete McIntosh system, amp, pre, and CD, and reference speakers are Flagship PSB’s (Synchrony One), or Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2’s, both 5K a pair (which speaker used depends on what’s being tested). The Mac amp & pre, which weighs in at a cool 11K. The Edge G3 being tested, at $7088.00, or almost half the price. Try to imagine my amazement when I found that with the right speakers, as the EDGE is 115 w/p/c, compared with the MAC’s 350 w/p/c, the EDGE performed as well as the MAC in EVERY CATEGORY!!! That my friends is such a rare feet, that it is extremely difficult to credit. Normally even with two completely matched amps in terms of overall quality, the one with the most power, will sound better. So how on Earth can I qualify this?. I personally believe, that EDGE (as mentioned in my spoof blog – reverse alien technology) may simply be, the best darn design available today, at ANY PRICE, and is clearly built with equivalent quality as is used by McIntosh. Ironically, both companies “literally hand build their products in house” – another extremely rare quality today, especially in the electronics industry. In summation, the EDGE G3 wins my absolute highest admiration, honor and recommendation. I can unequivocally state, it would be my amplifier of choice for any high quality speaker system appropriate to it’s power output. I might even suggest, depending on your own listening habits, it may be the amplifier of choice even for more difficult to drive speakers, as when I mated it with the extremely difficult Totem Wind’s (9K), which normally require a much more powerful amplifier, like our 350w/p/c MAC, to both my amazement and elation, I could find NO DIFFERENCE IN INTEGRITY between the two, other than “the G3’s inability to reach the same volume level” as the more powerful McIntosh.
I cannot give higher praise for the EDGE G3, it is simply, the best Integrated Amplifier that I have EVER heard.
Finally, Hard Cold PROOF of the use of REVERSE ALIEN ENGINEERING in closely guarded, but advanced US Technology!!!
Here at TheSweetSpot@adkav.com we sometimes get to experiment with the most advanced bleeding edge technologies, in this case, virtually right off the BLACK OPS drawing board! We found evidence from a company calling itself EDGE, which, we believe through no small coincidence, is located in an area of Colorado, not far from a Top Secret underground military instillation, call it NORAD or Area 51, it makes little difference. All of these Top Secret Military Facilities according to the United States Congress, DO NOT EXSIST! We believe however, that proof positive is evidenced by the employment of super advanced technology, specifically found in EDGE, to bias high current electromagnetic power transmissions devices. Edge claims by utilizing a unique method of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation, they’ve engineered a methodology which results in a totally linear simultaneous output of high current electron transmissions. Yet, for some reason, NO OTHER TERRESTRIAL amplifier company has ever even imagined such advanced circuit topologies in amplifier design. How is it that NO ONE has ever conceived of anything like this technology!?! Coincidence? We think NOT! But to cover their tracks, EDGE claims they didn’t actually “invent” the Light Amplification by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation technology, but only developed a unique circuit topology to harness and control such extreme high tech forces. So, here’s an entity mysteriously close to Top Secret underground military instillations, that is actually employing “LASER Beams”, yes “RAY GUN Technology” in the design of their amplification devices, which also I’d like to point out “coincidently” resembles, the suspicious stories about electromagnetic based propulsion systems used in Area 51’s advanced REVERSE ALIEN TECHNOLOGY research, which as we mentioned above, according to official sources, does not exist!
Astute researchers, like Erich Von Daniken, proved that not only have aliens been visiting Earth for the past 12,000 years, or more likely, 70,000 years (evidenced recently in the 70,000 year old mining operations discovered in South America & South Africa). But, very recently, hard evidence has been unearthed that shows they have bestowed vast engineering knowledge to early man, like the Sumerians and Native Americans, then later, the Egyptians, allowing them to not only fashion batteries to light the interior of the pyramids, but to build the pyramids, and other megalithic structures themselves. New evidence suggests, these pyramids were NOT burial chambers, but HUGE ANCIENT POWER GENERATORS, capable of powering an entire city. Which of course helps explain how you can have 50,000 people thriving in a DESERT! I find it hard to believe that not only is EDGE’s most advanced amplifiers Laser biased, but their “super amplifiers”, actually emulate those ancient “pyramids” themselves (see photo). Is all this just a coincidence? Just how many “coincidences” are we to believe in these mysterious yet amazing super power generation devices?
Clearly, EDGE’s most mysterious, and closely guarded technological triumphs are deployed only in their Signature Amps (very limited distribution). Scientific scrutiny of the totally unique circuit design utilized in the their Laser Optical Bias Circuitry deployed in this MEGA 400 WATT Audio Engine, is suspiciously similar to the Laser guided electromagnets used to stabilize the Super Advanced Magneto-hydrodynamic Hyper Drive System (a.k.a. Inertial Drive) that was discovered aboard the captured Alien Flying Saucer under guard at Area 51. Yes, the very one that crashed at Roswell New Mexico, in 1947. According to EDGE, this advanced circuit incorporates a 630nm wavelength laser in each channel operating directly on the silicon substrate of the bias transistors. The laser bias circuit in turn is part of a servo feedback network. As the signal rises, the output of the laser increases, and as the signal decreases the laser output falls. This keeps the bias at the optimum operating point allowing a tenfold increase in gain. The additional gain is achieved while maintaining signal integrity (linearity) — at light speed – “another first ever”. The result is the clear musical nature of the NL Series as observed by well-informed reviewers and buyers. Well informed? Informed by who? MIB???
Unfortunately, EDGE has left no evidence of REVERSE ALIEN TECHNOLOGY in the black box technology I have the pleasure of testing here at The Sweet Spot. Though not one of the Pyramid power amplifiers, it’s still a MUST AUDITION. No Earthly born technology that I have ever encountered comes close to the surreal experience this power amplifier is capable of! It could well be a life changing experience in the appreciation of just how amazingly authentic, a reproduced musical experience can be! Or at least, that’s what a Gray recently imparted to me, as he claimed that when you have to travel 38 bazillion miles to get home, you have to have an OUT OF THIS WORLD SOUND SYSTEM ONBOARD…
Well, we’ve had quite a busy and exciting summer here at ADK AV, with our very successful Power of Music Art Show, and of course, the official Grand Opening of the Hi-End Audio store, AKA the “Sweet Spot” on July 9th. (Please see comments from some of our guests, previous blog). It’s been a busy seven months since our initial “soft open” just after Thanksgiving last year, and we’ve had the pleasure of auditioning several fine brands of electronics and speakers. It’s been quite a process, as many of the brands we tested are very, very good. My objective was to find not only the best brands, but of those, to cherry pick their best offerings to compliment our particular product mix, and to allow us to offer price points to suite virtually any budget. Of course, we already had many fine brands to start with, which we had brought over from custom, such as Sony ES, Marantz, Sherbourn Klipsch and PSB.
So, I would like to welcome our new additions by naming them; they are, Hegel of Norway – DAC’s and Amps, NAD, Jolida Tube Audio, Nordost Cables, Teac and Marantz Reference, Music Hall turntables, Grado & Schiit Headphones (USA), Golden Ear, Totem, Revel, and Fidelity Acoustics speakers, and as of this week, one of my all time favorites and most esteemed, McIntosh Labs, U.S.A.
We very much wanted to have a “reference” level system, so from Mac we went with separates, MC302 Amp and C48 Preamp. I must say, that with the Mac gear driving the “Wind” Speakers (on loan from Totem Acoustics of Montreal, pictured in the below blog), the caliber of sound, be it Symphonic, Jazz, Vocal, or what-have-you, is nothing short of absolutely awe inspiring. I’ve been in this business for quite some time, and I must admit, I was extremely impressed! While listening to a very robust symphony for instance, I felt I was actually transported to the very place I had first heard it live, the Power Symphony Hall, St. Louis, Missouri. Every nuance of detail was there in its proper place, and even the secondary harmonics were absolutely filling the room, making the sound stage to my ears as if it was HUDGE’A. I had to remind myself I was sitting in an ordinary retail space!?!
Please, I invite you to come in soon (even if you are not in the market for anything) and give your favorite music a spin on this system, it is utterly mind bending. You owe it to yourself to hear your beloved music, on a system of this caliber, at least once in your lifetime. To appreciate what the “High-End” has to offer today, compared with even ten years ago, is simply stunning. It could even be a life changing experience!
Here are some comments from Saturday eve;
Listening to the Fidelity Acoustic Speakers with the Edge Integrated amplifier, via the Moon CD player: …from a male customer (who already has a partially updated high end audio system) “I’ve never heard anything like this before ever! …I think I’m in heaven”
Listening to the Totem Wind’s, via the Edge Integrated and Moon CD player: …comment from a woman… “OMG I can’t believe it! It sounds like they are playing right in front of us”
Listening to the PSB Synchrony One via the Edge separates and Sony ES Flagship CD Player: from a female guest… “I think I had an out of body experience listening to his voice” “actual comment altered for PC/PG rating”
Listening to the PSB T6 Speakers on the Hegel Integrated & DAC (Direct digital music files from our Network hard drive): …comment from a young couple… “wow this is totally awesome”
Listening to the Totem Mites (tiny bookshelf speakers) with all NAD electronics: …from a male guest… “where’s the sub? It’s got to be hidden here somewhere…I can’t believe your don’t have a subwoofer going, these speakers are amazing!?!”
Listening to the same system as above, Mites & NAD, this time from another female guest: “I don’t think I have ever heard such beautiful sound before, it just fills the room!
Once again, thanks to everyone who attended our show, and for all the heart felt comments!
We have the honor of hosting international artists works, from paintings and sculptures to functional “audio art”, which will be on display here for the duration of our show July 9th – August 27th.
And of course, we have works of real audio art, “high-end audio” from Totem, Edge, Hegel, Moon, Fidelity Acoustics, Luxman, and more, also graciously on lone for our event. Come soon, and enjoy some of the finest, most musical equipment, artistically designed by the industries very best artisans!
This awesome state of the art offering from Totem, is there Flag Ship “Wind”, in special gloss ‘Fire” finish!
Audio Zen it seems is a lesser known state, and surprisingly elusive. However, I firmly believe it is the true goal worth striving for when building a system for the pleasure of music!
Robert Reina’s May 2011 Stereophile review of our Totem Dreamcatcher speaker is a good example of Audio Zen, achieved. I’ve gleaned this from an occasional article at different times over the years, but ironically, the very authors themselves seldom comment on it? For example, in Robert’s review, he states that he enters into a state of utter musical delight every time he connects the Dreamcatchers to his system, then drops out again when swapping back to his old speakers. And though he admits knowing that the Dreamcatchers are not doing everything as accurately or as well, as his old “reference speakers” (four times the price), he admits that he doesn’t care because he can’t believe how much he “really gets into” his music with the Dreamcatchers. Obviously, his system mated with the these Dreamcatchers, (happens to comprise an ideal combination). Allowing him to achieve this rare plateau of complete and utter musical satisfaction, or, Audio Zen!
Now, in the current (July issue) of Stereophile Stephen Mejias writes what he thinks about two, (or actually three when counting his Klipsch Syn-B20), more components we feature here at the Sweet Spot, the Jolida FX10 and NAD C316BEE. The first thing I would like to point out, is how he compares the two integrated’s to each other making good points about the differences in sound. If you read his entire review, it becomes obvious that though he finds the Jolida “huggable and adorable” he feels the sound of the NAD is more detailed, accurate, and therefore better. This is where I have to disagree. Additionally, it should be noted these amplifiers take care of business very differently, as one is “tube”, and the other “transistor”, so the fact of the matter is, that they are absolutely going to sound “very differently”. Just as the sound of vinyl is “very different” from CD, and though CD is known to have more accurate attributes, rarely will you find anyone claiming it is “better” when comparing the two!
Stephen begins with his description of the Jolida, pointing out several things I’ve found to be true of many tube amplifiers. For example, he’s quick to realize that though the Jolida is rated at only 10 watts per channel, it seems like much more power. Then, when mated to a horn loaded speaker (typically very efficient) like his Klipsch, “in his words” it flat out ROCKS! He also marvels at how well the Jolida defines the various musicians in space, within a very large, yet well focused sound stage. He further notices how well brass instruments bloom effortlessly and cymbals sizzle gently into darkness. He notices that the Jolida out performs not only the NAD in these characteristics, but two other similarly priced competitors, a Cambridge Audio 340A & Exposure 2010. He concludes that the overall sonic characteristics make the Jolida’s presentation very life like, which he compares quite favorably to his experience of a live performance the night before.
Unfortunately, he goes on to point out several attributes common to solid state amplifiers, and how the NAD does these better than the Jolida. He even compares this particular NAD C316BEE to the coveted classic NAD 3020, commenting on how this amplifier may be everything it was, albeit, without quite as much power, and of course, without the cult AMP-GOD status the classic 3020 has earned over time.
I do agree however with his overall assessment of both amplifiers. However, what I disagree with is his claim that the NAD is “better”. He does mention that an idea popped into his head when consider what speaker would make the perfect match for the Jolida, and that is the Klipsch. I too had originally mated the Jolida to the PSB ALPHA B1’s as it made for the “King of bang for the buck systems”($729.00). But remembered the old audiophile fact that “horns excel with tubes” so quickly switch to Klipsch speakers. This took it from a system that sounded really good to “life like” by simply swapping out the PSB’s for Klipsch! In fact, I’ve since mated it to their largest “bookshelf” speaker, the RB8i which has “8 inch woofers.” This further takes you from a nice seat at the back of the hall (Stephen Mejias test Klipsch system) to Front Row Center (ours)! For me, this is a perfect example of Audio Zen! I’ll take front row center live any day of the week!
In summery. Be careful with what reviewers conclude, as what is actually better for them, may not be what’s better for you! If you are say, a classical listener, or perhaps musician, you may decide that hearing a greater amount of low level detail allows you a window into what the musicians are doing, and maybe that’s the sound for you. But if it’s a “you are there” live performance type sound that you’re looking for, than I’d have to go with the Jolida tube amplifier! Personally, the sort of “in the control room-studio sound” of many small solid state type amps has never been quite as attractive to me. But that’s the beauty of choices. Today more than ever before, manufacturers like NAD, Jolida, PSB and Klipsch, are making some just amazingly musical components that are really great in their own right, and seriously affordable! What more can you ask for? Cheers!
Right now we are auditioning a pile of cool new stuff from a number of internationally known brands. DAC’s, Interconnects, Amps, etc. Stop in soon and often so you don’t miss your opportunity to audition something you may otherwise have to go to Los Angeles or Europe to hear!?!
We also welcome our latest addition of the absolutely most flexible, and best made line of Audio Video Furniture, actually MADE IN U.S.A., from a company called “Salamander Designs” We’ve put three of their furniture models on display for your convenience!
Some of the brands we’re currently auditioning are Fidelity Acoustics of Vancouver Canada,
Moon from Montreal Canada, Hegel audio of Norway, and Nordost which sounds Norwegian, but actually hales out of the Far East – Massachusetts New England!
It’s hard to believe just how good some of this stuff is. Even the technology that goes into making the “wires” can, and from what we’ve heard DOES make a huge difference in how well the system can sound. When you pop off the stock wires and put on these the classical music I was listening to sounded as if it went from a Quartet, to a full blown Symphony!?! It’s just amazing what these little old wires can do!!! You have to try this. Heck, I’m so sure you’ll have the same experience that I’ll lend them to you to try it out.