Integrated Amps: An Addicts Guide Part, The Third.

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@Cafad well if you have and like the DAC 40 then surely you now NEED to get the AD-20 phono board for completeness. :P  

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2 hours ago, Steam said:

@Cafad well if you have and like the DAC 40 then surely you now NEED to get the AD-20 phono board for completeness. :P  

Actually... Galactic's amp came with an AD-20 phono board already in slot 1.  So the E460 is now as complete as it could possibly be.  One of these days I'll have to take it over to Dans so we can try out the phono functionality, until then I'll concentrate on the DAC and amp stuff.

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20 hours ago, Cafad said:

Actually... Galactic's amp came with an AD-20 phono board already in slot 1.  So the E460 is now as complete as it could possibly be.  One of these days I'll have to take it over to Dans so we can try out the phono functionality, until then I'll concentrate on the DAC and amp stuff.

Funny you mention that I got my LP12 here yesterday.. but we need to get a bit more set-up and a few bibs and bobs to get it running properly

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Posted (edited)

No pressure from this direction.  

The Accuphase is actually taking a trip to Brissy tomorrow in order to have it's great big gaping mouth closed so it will be MIA from my listening room for a week or two anyway.  To make up for that I will be getting my Sansui DR back, plus the step down transformer so I can use my Sansui NRA as well, on Monday.  I had to take the step down tranny to Andy so he could test run the DR.


This is a big part of the hold up on the whole Sansui/Accuphase/Luxman issue.  Of course, both the Sansuis and the Luxman have rather good phono stages as well... so maybe there is a bit of pressure from this direction.  

Edited by Cafad

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Posted (edited)

I have an opinion to update.

Some time ago I had my third attempt at making the YBA Passion IA350 sound good to me.  I was unsuccessful. :(  Since I have difficulty giving up in this regard I decided to try again.  I was once again baffled by the Passion Integrated.  It has this overly treble-y performance.  It isn't really bright, or hard, or forward as such but if feels like it is enough of each to give me listening fatigue after about 2 or 3 songs, no matter what I do.  I have tried half a dozen speaker cables, more than half a dozen interconnects, and two other DACs in addition to the one it contains and I can't make it work.

Most recently I hooked up the lower spec line YBA Heritage cd spinner and the Burson Conductor to see which I preferred and, baffling as it may seem, I could not pick the difference between the two.  On almost every other amp I can pick the smoother vocals of the YBA from the sharper instruments of the Burson but not on the Passion.  I tried about 20 times and I could not for the life of me pick any difference at all.  There is just too much treble.


So, what could I do?  My usual test disc is out, no fun to listen to at all.  Nothing I do makes it work for rock music, but maybe that's because it isn't meant for rock music (heresy!).  

So, with nothing else to do until my car is returned from the garage, I conducted a search of my greatest hits collection to see what I could find that might work.

Warrant is out.  Def Leppard is not an option.  Black Sabbath, no, just no! I have to look on the right hand side of the case, the side I usually ignore.  And I found some albums that, thankfully, tell me quite a lot about the Passion and what it is meant to do.



I went left to right on the above pic.  The quality of Enya encouraged me to move on to:

Sheryl Crow - this was a semi success as Sheryl has some deep bass in several of her songs here and that tends to overpower everything else.  The vocals are great though, Every Day is a Winding Road was the stand out song for me.

Cyndi Lauper - not so hot on the pure pop stuff but very good on Time After Time and True Colors.  Really, really good in fact.

Diana Krall - yes, I have her greatest hits, I've only listened to it once before today but desperate times mean desperate measures.  Diana comes across brilliantly on the Passion, that extra detail that makes it so hard to handle on rock music really brings out the vocals and non-powered instruments.  It emphasizes that "Lounge Air" effect that you sometimes get when a largish area is open and empty behind the instruments on stage.  I was really enjoying Diana on the Passion.

Time to branch out a little more perhaps?



Billy Joel - OK, Billy is rock and roll but he isn't hard rock by any means and several of his best songs are only really vocals and a few non-powered instruments and that seems to be the theme developing here so... Piano Man is always good but it is excellent via the Passion.  Still Rock and Roll To Me was beyond excellent, I had all ten toes tapping and my head rolling side to side (full disclosure here, this is one of my favourite songs of all time).  We Didn't Start The Fire came across well too, a bit of a surprise as it is more pop rock than the first two tracks but it worked.  An Innocent Man was also excellent and Only The Good Die Young was so good it was almost as much fun as Still R&R To Me, but not quite.

Sandi Thom - Just about Perfect (yes, with a capital "p").  I've liked this debut album of Sandi's ever since it came out and I like even  more than I thought possible via the Passion.

Freddie Mercury - pretty good and considering the album suffers a bit from being not such a great recording (it's very soft and Freddie's vocals don't separate well from the instruments, if they did I would listen to it more than I do)  pretty good is about as good as it gets.  

Wilson Pickett - pretty good, but again with the full disclosure, I only ripped off the plastic on this album collection this morning so I don't really know how he is meant to sound.  I do like the sound, but not as much as Billy, Sandi or Diana.


So what I seem to have discovered here is that the Passion IA350 (and likely the whole Passion line) is voiced for non-rock music, or at least music that is more soft rock, blues, lounge style.  Basically anything that doesn't contain amplified instruments.  If you feed it the right music it will reward you with a great sense of rhythm, very accurate vocals (not glossed over or extra breathy, you only get what is there so great singers sound great but average ones are not) and, again, very accurate instrumentals.  You can occasionally get away with a little electric guitar in the background but that is as far as it goes.  


So, although it was a very painful process I believe I have finally managed to understand what YBA were trying to do with the Passion range.  I should have made the connection sooner really, I mean what sort of music would older white guys be thinking of when they name an amp "Passion"?  That's my child of the 80's upbringing working against me.  

Integrated Amp number 77 has finally been finished.  A pity I couldn't make use of my usual test disc or scoring method but all's well that ends well.


Now, I'm settling in for an afternoon of Billy, Sandi and Diana.  I hope your Monday afternoon is as enjoyable as mine is. 

Edited by Cafad
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Up next, more Sansui Goodness!




Pictures just don't do it justice.  My latest Sansui, an Alpha 907DR.  

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Posted (edited)

Ahem, due to a slight slip in mental acuity the Sansui DR will have to wait until later.  I was really enjoying what I heard but then I went and made what is becoming 'my usual' mistake in that I powered it up at near on max volume and caused it to ever so slightly crackle on the left channel at high-ish volume.  The volume pot also crackles at low-ish volume so I'm afraid at least one of those crackles has to go.  I've discussed volume pots with Pete-mac via PM and forwarded the info on to Andy and I'm going to take the opportunity to have Andy replace the standard binding posts with new ones, not being able to use banana plugs is a a bit of a pain.  Anyway, bit of a hold on the Sansui front but it will be back.  Hell yes it will be back!


Until then I have decided to give the Bladelius Thor Mk 2 another try, Andy has replaced 2 of its internal fuses so it is running well but it still manages to sound not so great.  It is big and bold and desperately in need of a larger room, about 20 times larger would be a good start I think.  It is not that the Thor is bright or forward or hard as such (though I would say it is just a little of each) it is more that it throws the music at you in a way that is just too overpowering.  Sounds great for a few minutes but then my ears start pleading with me to turn the volume down.


So in an effort to control this I started swapping ICs, from Aurealis to Redgum showed very little change.  Then to Little Blue Penguin's offerings which was a slight improvement but still hard to take.  On to Ribbonflex and another slight improvement but again still showing too much of everything in the mids and top end.  On to Furutech Alphas and suddenly things are not too bad, still a little bit top end-y but only about 30% of what I was hearing through the other ICs.  Bit of a bugger when you have to use thousand buck ICs to tame an amp but that seems to be what it took.

Without the Furutech Alphas I think it would take a very laid back, dark or mellow speaker to work well with the Bladelius, or... maybe I shouldn't be trying to combine it with a YBA player (although I believe the YBA Heritage to be a nicely voiced player with slightly warm undertones and not bright at all).  Maybe I need to warm up a Scandinavian cd player.


OK, in with the Thule cd100.  The Thule with Redgum ICs is about as good as the YBA with the Furutechs, OK but still not a great idea for long term listening.  It's almost as if the contrast on the Thor is turned up too high, my ears just can't handle the shine on the end of piano notes, and the fade of higher vocals.  

If you find most amps to be dull or dark I can certainly recommend the Bladelius Thor.


I tried changing speaker cables as well, very little difference.  Even combining the Thule, Furutech Alpha ICs and Aurealis speaker cable I still find the Thor too top end-y to really enjoy.  It just isn't a good mix with my Lenehan S2Rs, not matter what I do.  I didn't mind it at all on the ML3s and even on Dans ML2 Ltds it came across fairly well but it does not like my S2Rs.  And I'm keeping my S2Rs.

Maybe my progress with the YBA Passion got my hopes up, I think I'll just have to let the Bladelius go.

Here's to hoping that the next amp will be less frustrating and more enjoyable.



Not a great pic but since it is said that without one it may not have happened I thought I'd better throw one in.


Edited by Cafad
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Posted (edited)

I took my Luxman to Brisbane and I came back with one of these.


It is something of a looker isn't it?


Just in case the engraving isn't readable, here's another one.



It's a little fussy with ancillary equipment, I wouldn't go pairing it with anything bright (it is not a fan of my YBA player, still working on reasons as to why, until I do the Thule has stepped up to the plate), but with just a little effort it is sounding pretty good.  With just a little more who knows what could happen.



It took some doing, I went through 4 cd players and a stand alone DAC but I have found that my Consonance cd120 works very well with the Modwright.  I'm a bit surprised by this as both the Thule and the Densen are nice and smooth but the Modwright still puts an edge on some of the treble that (while it does wonders for electric guitar) doesn't work with everything.  The Consonance somehow pushes that edge out into the sound stage and warms it up and fills it out, it's still there but it's part of the sound signature rather than a stand out effect.  


I can still see listening fatigue being an issue with the Modwright but it will take 2 or 3 albums to really hit home and beyond about 2 albums I don't see listening fatigue as that much of an issue.


What makes this even more intriguing is that the previous owner was using it with a pair of B&W 800 series bookshelf speakers in a room with a tiled floor and many glass windows so the edge I am hearing could not possibly have been a problem for him or it would have rendered the whole system unlistenable.  I am guessing that his Chord DAC had a lot to do with keeping that hard edge at bay.

Anyway, I'm set up and sorted out now so let the listening begin!  On drums and guitar alone this Modwright is showing a great deal of promise.  


Edited by Cafad
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hello cafad, i have a leema pulse lll, wondering if you would be interested in reviewing it, i have read and reread this thread and enjoyed it immensely

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8 hours ago, wen said:

hello cafad, i have a leema pulse lll, wondering if you would be interested in reviewing it, i have read and reread this thread and enjoyed it immensely

I'd love to hear a Leema Pulse 3 Wen.  The Pulse 1 was an excellent amp.  

Thank you very much for the offer.

I'm up north on hols at the moment (I'm in between fishing and crabbing trips today), I'll fire you off a PM when I get back home and we can work out the details.

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I'll wait for your contact, thanks

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