Sorry for the delay Phil, been under the weather this week. it's always nice to have the secretary of your local audio club around for a listen, and to bounce ideas around. Your most welcomed any time. I tood had a great day, and learnt plenty.
Ok! onto the FUN STUFF!! Lets just say that my set up when Phil arrived was very very basic, and very very budget minded. The AR pre amp I've had for a while now, and it's tube output stage imparts a somewhat relaxed sonic presentation to the sound, quite nice in my bright lively room. The behringer power amp just keeps the 'Bloom' of the pre from getting all too 'Gooey' and rolling off at the extremes of the spectrum, not a bad match for my room and my budget. The bad match is my cheap and cheerful JVC DVD player, as the source, but the plan all along was to get use to listening to this combo, so that when the time was right, and a Metrum Octave came up locally for sale (Thanks Phil) I'd be ready to hear far far more improvements. So my Stello Transport has remained idle, it's visual presence mocking me every time I listened to the JVC, I had to show restraint.
Stello -> Metrum -> AR -> Behringer -> Staight 8's = HUGE!! improvements right across the spectrum. The metrum imparts a fuller, richer more detailed sound, but at the same time doesn't draw any attention to itself, it just does what it does. space between instruments and vocals is vastly improved, timing, pace and rythym is also much much better. I always had trouble with piano, especially above middle 'c', with the JVC there was this glare, and it sounded brittle and lean, and poorly textured. In comparison the Metrum is more rounded and complete, the notes above middle 'c' have more weight and better decay and decay detail, the sound is more piano like rather than just a higher end note being played, you can hear more texture and touch, NICE!! The same can be said for vocals and brass as well as guitar, the RAALS are enjoying the far better magnification to the sound the Metrum supplies. I'm impressed with the Metrum, and it's made a very worthy upgrade to the Straight 8's.
Now to the BAD NEWS!! Phil had to do it didn't he? I certainly didn't know he was going to do it. What did Phil Do? he bought along his NAD 390DD for a spin, so the system goes STELLO -> NAD 390DD -> Straight 8's = KICKS THE METRUM TO THE CURB!! Better yet, it crushes the metrum's little 2 box silver carcase with BIG BLACK BRUTE FORCE!! OMG!! this NAD thing is vastly superior in every way, Bass, Mid and treble. It well and truly grabs the straight 8's by the scruff of the neck and through sheer brute force and control comands ultimate grip over the straight 8's, and does so with complete composure and style, I had to lift my jaw from the floor, I think I saw Phil grabbing for his jaw as well. A truly remarkable performance, and one not easily forgotten. I still enjoy the Metrum, but the NAD is still in my thoughts, that's for sure. So glad Phil gave me the chance to listen to this wonderful bit of kit. Thanks Phil, You BUGGER! LOL!
Now to Phil's straight 8's. Phils 8's are using the Altronics drivers, whilst mine use the Jaycar. Phil crosses over to a seas tweeter @ 4000hz and a small inductor on the FR's just to tame the top end a touch. Mine a crossed lower at around 2200hz to my RAALS, with a 0.49Mh inductor on the FR's. The difference in sound was sublte, but noticeable to say the least. I'd say mine sound a bit smoother in their overall presentation, more forgiving on a wider range of music and music genre's and Phil's has a lively 'Bounce', with a touch of 'Shout' on certain tracks, nothing that an inductor change won't fix, easy peasy. What I liked better about Phil's than mine though was that Phil made his 8's from plywood. The plywood has a certain presence in the sound that works so well with FR drivers, the ply imparts a more transparent detail to the music, far better than mine made from MDF. Plywood will be my next prototype that's for sure, I really like the way it sounds. Phil's also had phase plugs inserted, and although I couldn't pick when he removed them and then put them back whilst I had my eyes closed, they did something to the focus of the sound, I can't put my finger on it, but at a guess it did somehow improve time smear in the higher octaves, slightly better focus and better image stability. The SEAS dome tweets also did a great job, the project a nice sound feild, with an increased sweet spot compared to the RAALS, which beam somewhat, but this beaming is due to my baffle being quite a far bit wider than the RAALs, so as an improvement, I'm thinking about having the RAALS without a baffle, just to help with the whole open baffle concept, it will also help me time allign them better to the FR drivers. So I like the smoothness of my 8's, but I also liked the way the plywood of Phil's worked with his 8's, and the sound feild of the SEAS tweets, but the composure of the RAALS is addictive. The Metrum was a great upgrade to my 8's and both sounded WONDERFUL! through the NAD390DD. So where to now? I'm not sure, I'll enjoy my Metrum for a while, and continue improvement on my bass, and probably order some 18mm Plywood LOL! It's all great fun and all about the music. Thanks for reading, til the next installment.