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Integrated Amps: An Addicts Guide.

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#121 bebop

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 01:49 PM

Looking forward to the Brio-R write up :).

Having set a really tight budget for life's luxuries, like audio gear, has really made me appreciate the gear I already own, and to enjoy all the great music I have.


#122 twwen2

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:12 PM

Looking forward to the Brio-R write up :).


Me too. It's my favorite amp and the one that I will not sell for many years to come. I just wish Rega would hurry up and release a "Mira-R" with a few more watts than the little Brio-R.

"Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." - Nelson Pass

 

HiFi) iTunes | Audiophilleo 2 | RWA Isabellina LFP-V | Modwright LS100 | Pass Labs X250 | Dynaudio Confidence C1

HT) Oppo BDP-103 | NAD T748 | Dynaudio Confidence C1, Focus 210-C, Excite X12, SUB-600

Standmount speakers - an addict's guide: http://www.stereo.ne...n-addicts-guide

 

For sale: 

Rega P3-24 + Ortofon 2M Bronze + Rega TT-PSU + Rega Fono MM ($800)


#123 Cafad

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 11:19 PM

I am afraid there will be a slight delay in the Brio R write up. I've spent about 8 hours or so this weekend listening and slowly developing an opinion of the Brio R and I just couldn't work out what was going on in the upper bass and lower mids, it just seemed to be varying a little and I couldn't get a grip on it.
So I fired off a PM to Stu and asked him how many hours were on it, he said 10 to 12, plus my 8 or so makes about 20. That would explain it, it is hard for me to figure out how it sounds when it is not yet sure itself, I've got it running in now so watch this space Wednesday/Thursday because it was sounding pretty damn good even between hours 10 and 20.

Cheers!

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#124 Cafad

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 09:09 PM

Me too. It's my favorite amp and the one that I will not sell for many years to come. I just wish Rega would hurry up and release a "Mira-R" with a few more watts than the little Brio-R.


I am beginning to understand what you mean. This is one very special amp, most amps couldn't sound that smooth if they were triple polished and then dipped in teflon. And if the upper mids were any more fluid I would have to open the door and allow the room to drain after each song. Oh it's good, my word it's good.

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#125 Cafad

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 08:58 PM

I'm going to start this review with a question, Has anyone out there ever heard an amp that sounds quite like the Brio R?

I have to say I have not, and I have been through a fair number in the last 18 months. This little amp sounds warm, firm, controlled, unrushed and most of all smooth, there isn't a sharp edge to be found anywhere in its presentation. And, while it sounds warm it feels even slightly warmer than it sounds, it seems to do this with the most amazing transient vibrations that lie on the edges and between sounds that allow different instruments to blend seemlessly together and all the while these transients are tickling the insides of your auditory cannal and increasing your anticipation of the sounds to follow.
The Brio R gives the most enticing portrayal of Norah Jones that I have ever heard, now I am not really a Norah fan, her music is nice but I am only really using her for her voice and her production values so when evaluating a new amp I tend to listen through the first 2, 3 or 4 songs on her Come Away With Me album. The Brio R sounded so entrancing that I had reached song 7 before I realized that I had got past song 4.
Vocals and single instruments are this amps true strengths, it does rock and multiple instruments very well but it really shines in the details of a slightly sparse musical score.
The highs are, in a word, beautiful. They are soft, sweet and airy and hang forever without being harsh in any way.
The mids are pushed a little forward in the soundstage I think, so that the vocals and most main instruments sound like they are literally in front of the backing instruments.
The bass is smooth, deepish and warm, it doesn't sound tight but does not feel loose in any way either. The upper and mid bass are so smooth, rich and creamy that I could swear that one of the designers was a prestige Belgian Chocolatier. And like good chocolate, the bass makes you want more, and so you listen longer. This is one piece of audio gear that can make entire nights just disappear in a blissful trance of ecstatic sonic presentation.

Now having said all that I have to go back to the first line, the Brio R does not really sound like any other amp and so, while it is mightily impressive, it is very hard to place in my preferences list. I am going to have to have a head to head between it and the Myryad but until that happens I'll give the Myryad the (temporary!) benefit of the doubt and slot the Brio R in at second place, just ahead of the Plessis S1.

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#126 twwen2

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 09:09 PM

I think you've nailed it Cafad. It really has a unique sound that is incredibly enjoyable. On the one hand, you want to call it "warm", "smooth", "soft" and "unoffensive". However, that could leave readers with completely the wrong impression! It's all those things yes, but still manages to sound "open", "airy", "forward" and "dynamic" all at the same time. Who knows how it manages to pull this off, but I'm sure glad it does because the overall sound is simply wonderful.

Having heard a few more powerful amps since moving the Brio-R into a second system, I have to agree that the bass isn't overly tight. But like you say, it's still not sloppy at all and loves to follow a rythm. It goes plenty deep, and if it perhaps doesn't hit quite as hard as it could, it makes up for it by presenting all the nuances in bass lines. I've never heard such tuneful bass from an amp before. I'd also agree that the mids are slightly forward, but that's just the way I like it. I prefer the vocals to be a bit out in front of the music.

The last thing I'll say in confirmation is that you are spot on about the highs. I haven't heard another amp that sounds as sweet as the Brio-R while still giving such treble extension.

Edited by twwen2, 22 August 2012 - 01:23 PM.

"Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." - Nelson Pass

 

HiFi) iTunes | Audiophilleo 2 | RWA Isabellina LFP-V | Modwright LS100 | Pass Labs X250 | Dynaudio Confidence C1

HT) Oppo BDP-103 | NAD T748 | Dynaudio Confidence C1, Focus 210-C, Excite X12, SUB-600

Standmount speakers - an addict's guide: http://www.stereo.ne...n-addicts-guide

 

For sale: 

Rega P3-24 + Ortofon 2M Bronze + Rega TT-PSU + Rega Fono MM ($800)


#127 Batty

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 09:10 PM

Cafad, you need to listen to the Copland, either CSA-14 or 28

#128 twwen2

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 09:10 PM

Cafad, you need to listen to the Copland, either CSA-14 or 28


How so?

Edited by twwen2, 21 August 2012 - 09:12 PM.

"Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." - Nelson Pass

 

HiFi) iTunes | Audiophilleo 2 | RWA Isabellina LFP-V | Modwright LS100 | Pass Labs X250 | Dynaudio Confidence C1

HT) Oppo BDP-103 | NAD T748 | Dynaudio Confidence C1, Focus 210-C, Excite X12, SUB-600

Standmount speakers - an addict's guide: http://www.stereo.ne...n-addicts-guide

 

For sale: 

Rega P3-24 + Ortofon 2M Bronze + Rega TT-PSU + Rega Fono MM ($800)


#129 DAMO 1147

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:43 PM

Thanks again Cafad and Twwen2 - I have only herd the Brio R by itself so i was finding it a little difficult to place against other amps- however I knew one thing I liked it a lot!!

Batty - I am not sure we should add to poor old Cafad’s addiction by bringing hybrids into the line up but certainly it would be interesting.

Thanks also to those that have rated the Brio R in the past - Jonny D, Rantan and others. :)

The Zu Omens need a new partner:

Rega Brio R, Red Wine Sig 15, Coplands – could be many $$ - Decisions!!

#130 Cafad

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:01 PM

Cafad, you need to listen to the Copland, either CSA-14 or 28


Well I certainly won't disagree with you on that Batty, the only trouble is finding one to listen to at the right price. And I am going to (try!) to keep my preference for SS, I own a tube integrated and trott it out every now and then, I like it quite a bit but it has a few things working against it. 1 Heavy, 2 Heat, 3 The need for careful handling of valves, 4 Bias adjustment. SS is more practical and can sound just as good IMO.

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#131 Batty

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:04 PM

The amps I mentioned are both hybrids, Tube sound with SS power, size & weight.
Let me know if you ever plan a trip to Adelaide

#132 Cafad

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 03:08 PM

The amps I mentioned are both hybrids, Tube sound with SS power, size & weight.
Let me know if you ever plan a trip to Adelaide


Will do Batty!

Does everyone remember how I said things would slow down a bit because I was not going to spend any more money? Well it turns out I am very weak willed as opposed to just normally weak willed. I saw an Exposure 2010S on ebay and before you knew it the mouse icon was clicking away wildly on the "buy it now" button. I have also done a swap with Hensa, my Yamaha A-S1000 for his Krell 300i so maybe things won't slow down after all. Oh, almost forgot, Bills NAD390DD has shown up too, so maybe things will actually speed up rather than slow down.

Edit for typo.

Edited by Cafad, 22 August 2012 - 03:09 PM.

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#133 DAMO 1147

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 04:54 PM

'Bills NAD390DD' well well - no rest for the wicked!

You wil have to have a break at some point we dont want you to burn out!!

#134 dor

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 09:07 PM

I was going to suggest the little atc's for sale at the moment might make a interesting addition to the reviewing gear.

But that would only increase the work load with having to retest amps with new speakers and probably cause poor Cafad to have a total melt down.

#135 Cafad

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:42 AM

Fear not guys, I am prepared to suffer for the cause. I will willingly suffer the comfy embrace of my recliner for as long as is necessary to further the integrated cause. Finger cramps from over use of remote controls and the constant swapping of interconnects shall be ignored completely. I will gladly endure inevitable weight gain from the consumption of large amounts of high energy snack foods necessary to keep my glucose levels up and the nights of restless sleep from the massive amounts of caffiene consumed for its concentration sharpening effects. It's a tough job, but I am completely and utterly dedicated to its completion.

Bring on the amps!

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#136 A J

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 08:34 AM

Fear not guys, I am prepared to suffer for the cause. I will willingly suffer the comfy embrace of my recliner for as long as is necessary to further the integrated cause. Finger cramps from over use of remote controls and the constant swapping of interconnects shall be ignored completely. I will gladly endure inevitable weight gain from the consumption of large amounts of high energy snack foods necessary to keep my glucose levels up and the nights of restless sleep from the massive amounts of caffiene consumed for its concentration sharpening effects. It's a tough job, but I am completely and utterly dedicated to its completion.

Bring on the amps!


Enjoy your journey :)

Listening to stereo & stuff............. :)


#137 Cafad

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:25 PM

A few posts ago I said "This is one very special amp, most amps couldn't sound that smooth if they were triple polished and then dipped in teflon." regarding the Rega Brio R because the Brio R was the smoothest amp I had yet heard at that point. I have now auditioned the Exposure 2010S and I can say that I have written myself into something of a corner because it is, for want of a better word, smoother.
So, to expand on the above speculation, the 2010S has not only been triple polished and dipped in teflon, it has also been rubbed down with duck fat and lightly misted with olive oil. This is the smoothest amp my ears have experienced to date (although smooth is not quite the correct word).

The Exposure 2010S has a passive preamp stage, something I did not realize until I had the amp in my system and was reading the leaflet it came with. When I pulled off the top of the case (my standard procedure) I can see Elna silmic caps throughout and a somewhat sparsely populated circuit board, the Elna caps were a good sign but I was a bit taken aback when I couldn't get to the transistors. The amp is built with the transistors attached to a bar of aluminium that is mounted on the base of the amp chassis, under the circuit board ;) an odd design. As a result of this lack of a traditional heat sink the amp is lighter than expected, a nice bonus.

My 2010S appears to have been a demo model so I only gave it 24 hours of run in prior to testing and from the complete lack of sonic change I suspect it did not even need that.
The highs are not airy or breathy and they are not metallic or damped or convey that sense of hanging in space forever and yet, having said all of that they are the most "real" sounding highs I have even heard. They make me want to listen more often and longer.
The mids are so liquid sounding I feel the term "super fluidic" would best define them. Not fast or slow or biased just some of the most pleasently presented sounds in the history of integrated amps.
The bass is a mild mannered leviathan from the ocean depths, so deep, so strong, an unstoppable behemoth with the strength of a Tsunami and yet so smooth and fluidic it could make liquid helium look warm and lumpy in comparison. Again not warm or cool or damped or tight, just wonderfully pure and unmarred.

Everything about this amps sound is pure delight, if I had to choose one integrated amp to keep and give up all others then I would keep the 2010S.

I seem to have had a series of absolutely awesome sounding amps in quick succession, marvellous ear candy but it does make me a bit wary for the future. I mean all the amps to come have quite a task ahead and they can't all be better than the one before. Maybe I should be bracing myself for the inevitable?

Edit: I just read John Darko's review of the amp and I realized that it is the Exposure 2010S version 2 that I have reviewed, the V1 didn't have a motorized input selector.

Edited by Cafad, 26 August 2012 - 06:47 PM.

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#138 Jventer

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 08:44 AM

Well done Cafad.
I was waiting for this review. Stereophile rates this Exposure amp highly. I reckon you got a bargain and a well sounding amp at the same time.

Recently moved from Alice Springs to Grafton. Looking forward to some GTG's.


#139 Cafad

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 08:28 PM

As an addition to my Exposure review above I can say that this 2010S is very revealing. One of my standard review discs is Big Pigs Bonk album, specifically song 3, Tin Drum. It has some very good surround and stereo effects and quite a range of frequencies, from big drums all the way up to triangles. The Exposure performed excellently on song 3 and so I listened on, on 'Charlie' (one of my top 3 songs on the disc) there is a cymbal stereo effect where the clash starts through one speaker and bounces over to end at the other, not through the Exposure it doesn't. I can now hear it start through the left speaker, bounce over to the right speaker and as it fades an echoe bounces back to end at the left speaker again, an effect I have never noticed before. Also on Charlie there is a sequence of circular drumming where there are two seqences of beats from the right speaker, one seqence from behind the centre of the speakers and then one from the left speaker. Through the Exposure I can clearly hear that the initial two seqences are separate, the first comes from the speaker and the second from directly behind the speaker, another effect I had never noticed before. I am certainly sold on this Exposure 2010S, best amp so far!

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#140 DAMO 1147

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 04:44 PM

Big Pig - ha ha that is going back -I think i saw them at the Byron art factory or something like that - i used to have that one- lost now - will have to see if i can chase it up.

New king of the Cafad amp pile by the looks.

How close the Rega and the Exposure?

#141 Cafad

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 07:15 PM

They're fairly close (which is not to say they sound the same, just that I like both of them quite a lot). If you dialed down the warmth of the Rega by about 40% and upped the stereo imaging and detail by 10% and power available by about 30% you'd be pretty close to the Exposure 2010S. With the Rega it has that signature warmth to its sound, with the Exposure it has this chameleon effect where it simply seems to take on the signature that most suits the music at the time. It likes to be relaxed but it has no problem at all being fast, energetic and deep and/or powerful if that is what is required. The 2010S is a keeper, when we get to that GTG of yours I think I'll bring it along.
Cheers!

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#142 Luc

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 08:03 PM

Yep, need to get that GTG happening.

Line of Fire     fav song and slightly disturbing video.

 

Equipment:  A whole heap of stuff,mostly black. No idea what to do with it. Hit play does it for me.


#143 DAMO 1147

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 03:34 PM

On the GTG - My first choice warehouse - which was near the Gabba has fallen through - so looking/thinking on a Brisbane venue for that leg. Gold Coast leg is no worries. Details should come soonish - target mid /late October.

Edited by DAMO 1147, 10 September 2012 - 11:45 AM.


#144 Cafad

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:37 PM

Well, Bill told me it would be good, in fact he told me that my search for the best integrated amp might just stop with the NAD C390 because it was that good! What I didn't realize at the time was that he was not only correct but that he was actually under selling the NAD. It is not only good it is completely out of sight, better than every integrated I have tried in the past in every way bar 2. The two exceptions are only small really, the first is that the Myryad Z142 has a nicer fluid midrange presentation and feels faster in that area and the second is that the Exposure 2010S has smoother and deeper bass, however in every other way the NAD trounces them. This amp is a serious game changer, if direct digital amplification is the way of the future then the future is going to sound bloody marvellous.
At a retail of $3K it is more expensive than everything I have trialed except the Krell but since it contains both a high quality DAC and 160W of power it may just be better value for money than most of the amps already mentioned on this thread.

I'll get into the nitty gritty details tomorrow, I have to print out a copy of the manual and see what options I can try out.

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#145 Luc

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 07:12 AM

Cafad is that the C390DD? Sounds like it, 160w,32bit,192Hz DAC, analogue+digital inputs. Just read about it in the latest hifi mag on Munich hi end show.

Line of Fire     fav song and slightly disturbing video.

 

Equipment:  A whole heap of stuff,mostly black. No idea what to do with it. Hit play does it for me.


#146 Cafad

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 10:01 AM

Yep, that's the one Luc. Bills has the optional phono and HDMI modules installed. In some ways this is not a fair comparison since all the previous amps were using the DAC that is internal to my cd player (a CS 24/192 chip) but it is the final result that counts.

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#147 Braddles 63

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 10:10 AM

So is this it Cafad? Case closed? Have you found "the one" or will you continue this great thread for the rest of our entertainment?



#148 Cafad

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 10:35 AM

Well if I was going to stop this would be a good place to do it.
But then what would I do with the Krell 300i, the MF 220 and the HK that I have sitting on the sidelines just waiting for their turn. Then there is the Myryad MI120 that I found on ebay last week and Trevor Lees has emailed me to tell me he will have some stock of the Myryad MX series arriving shortly and would I be interested (what a question, of course I would be!).
No, I don't think it will be the end, this thread has built up far too much inertia to stop any time soon.

Full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes!

Pre and/or Power Amps 4 Sale:

Exposure Classic pre/pwr    http://www.stereo.ne...mp/?hl=exposure

Perreaux SX60M  mono's     http://www.stereo.ne...60m-monoblocks/

Burson 160 Series pre/pwr  http://www.stereo.ne...s-prepwr-combo/


#149 Braddles 63

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 11:18 AM

Good news!


#150 Batty

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 01:28 PM

You didn't go for the Copland then.