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About Cafad

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    Brown Belt in Amp Fu
  • Birthday 18/05/1973

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  1. Lavardin IS https://www.stereo.net.au/reviews/lavardin-technologies-model-is-integrated-amplifier SNA’s own audio_file was kind enough to send me his Larvardin IS for me to hear first hand (thanks mate!) and I have to say I can certainly understand why Marc liked it so much in his review. It has a very tube like behaviour (and I mean very) in that it has a soft, calm air to it combined with a clear/clean/smooth presentation that lets vocals out to play and downplays rough edges and harsh sounds. It isn’t just that you could listen to it all day, you could probably listen to it all week, it is unfamiliar with even the concept of listening fatigue. However since reviewing really is picking at straws, it also resembles tube amps in the bass region. It has been said in the past that the IS model is lacking in bass weight. But that is a bit of an oversimplification. The IS has a fair amount of bass weight but it is that smoothed leading edge, middle of the note bass (fans of hard and fast drum solos may not be impressed, the hard and fast bit is important though, more laid back drum solos come across just fine) which is pretty similar to my (admittedly limited) experience with tube amps. This is not to say it is lacking in bass presentation just that it more closely resembles the tube amps it is obviously designed to emulate rather than the transistor amp that it technically is. The bass region is also smooth and very well controlled however it is a much better rumbler than it is a shocker or a puncher. There is a little bit of a veil over the treble but it feels like a veil of smooth breathy air, very light and only rarely it is directly noticeable. As usual I have been using my YBA Heritage cd spinner, Aurealix R1 interconnects, Redgum Audio Pipeline speaker cables and my old faithful Lenehan S2R stand mount speakers. Highs: “soft rasp” trumpets are on display, triangles sort of glittery while lacking their usual twinkle, soft piano is extraordinarily good, softening veil means that maracas and harder brushes on drums are lacking a little snap and crackle. For full on accuracy I’d give it a 7.0 but for listenability it gets an 8.0. Mids: Acoustic strings clear and resolute with excellent hang time and decay, Santana style electric guitar is excellent, woodwinds nice and eerie, there is less softening effect evident in the mids so they feel more honest. 8.0 Bass: Bass guitar excellent, small drums excellent, large drums lacking in initial impact, fine for any music slow-ish like Dire Straits but lacking a little on harder and faster material like Guns and Roses. 7.5 Vocals: Female: 8.0, that soft breathy effect helps the ladies sound a bit more sexy, increasing to 8.5 with serious songstresses who really push their vocal cords. Male: 8.0, interestingly that breathy effect doesn’t seem to come into play with the guys, not sure why but they come across in a more clear and matter-of-factual manner. As an addition to the above while watching my usual TV shows via the Lavardin I noticed that all of the spoken word portions of the shows came across just that bit more emphasised. As if each and every actor was putting in more effort to sound in character. I can’t really describe it any better than that, unfortunately. In the TV watching arena the Lavardin came across as a very vocally focused amp. Soundstaging: Not really a stand out. Stereo effects happen but they just don’t grab your attention as they so often do with other amps. Underemphasised would be a good word to use here. Vocals are placed in the centre between the speakers with most instruments on either side of them but the instruments do not feel like they are fixed in place. Not a tightly focussed sound stage. Overall Performance Integration: Calm and competent with a velvet- like softness that covers the majority of the amps audible frequency range. Yes it does feel tube like in many ways. There is no listening fatigue to be found at any reasonable volume level. Ability to Emote: On slower music, 8.5, on medium to hard rock 7.5, pretty similar to a tube amp actually. Electric Guitar Test: Slow electric guitar is excellent, 8.5, fast and hard electric guitar is not so great, 7.0. It just isn’t as wild and energetic as it needs to be to give me chills with the works of Slash or Joe Satriani. 80’s Rock Test: 7.75, for the most part very good but a little lacking in the imperfections department, a bit too laid back and calm so it glosses over those little imperfections that tent to make older rock sound like older rock. Summary Sentence: I would call the Lavardin IS calm, lightly rich, lightly luscious and a little tranquil. So as to make the picture above more meaningful (and partly because I've been really slack recently) I’ve decided to make this a comparison type review with the amplifier sitting underneath the Lavardin IS, the Sonneteer Orton. They were both under the same roof at the same time and let’s face it, that is all the reason any sane man would need. Comparisons: In contrast to the Lavardin the Sonneteer Orton (mine is the model 3.5) is a less smooth, less velvety performer. But the advantage to this is that it manages a tighter, more punchy bass presentation and a more detailed treble. It also allows the jagged edges of some electric guitar performances to shine through (which is a big thing for me). To illustrate, on Dire Straits (pick an album, I tried 3) the Lavardin would probably be the amp of choice for most but if we change over to Guns and Roses then we find the Lavardin just doesn’t let the guitar of Sweet Child of Mine or the guitar and drums of You Could be Mine pick you up and get you invigorated. Does it sound good, yes, does it sound wild, no. Both are excellent on vocals but the Lavardin is smoother in the extended treble while the Sonneteer feels more honest in that it shows up lesser singers as just that, not as good as they could be. Both are excellent amplifiers and both are in the same price bracket, they just play to slightly different strengths. Also, they are both single transistor pair designs (per channel, obviously) which is also a big thing for me as every single pair amp I’ve heard so far on this journey of mine has sounded damn good. Sonneteer Orton 3.5 A big, big stand out for the Orton is its performance in the bass. 33 watts per channel and you would swear it was an 80 watt design if you listened to it blind. It doesn’t quite manage to sound like a super heavy weight but it does do a very convincing performance of a heavy weight. I haven’t tried it side by side with a Sansui yet but I’m pretty sure it will match the 907MR for bass weight and that is serious stuff. I wrote all of the above prior to listening to my test disc on the Orton but now that I have I have a few things I feel I need to say before I continue. I am not a tube man, most people familiar with my reviews and personal musical preferences would be aware of that. I feel that tube amps gloss over detail and resolution and that makes certain aspects of the music sound better (vocals, soft piano, woodwinds) for it but many instruments suffer badly from this (electric guitar, trumpets, triangle, hard played drums, harmonica). I would much rather listen to a decent transistor amp than a decent tube amp. Tubes are good for older, slower, music. Classical, R&B, slower country, jazz, all of these styles suit tubes but I have yet to hear a good tube amp do a great job on hard rock. So there you go, keep those preferences of mine in mind while reading this particular comparison. I felt the need to write the previous paragraph as the Orton is one of those amps that, while I really liked it before I ran through my test disc, I now think it is far better than I first thought because it impressed me greatly on my test disc. The resolution it has is just astounding. Highs: Trumpets are refreshingly raspy, triangles really sparkle, twinkle and tickle the ear too, stick taps and maracas sound so crisp and alive. Piano sounds strong, fluent and mobile, as if it is really going somewhere, not soft and sultry as so many amps try to make it sound, I have never heard it sound quite like that before. 9.0 Mids: The mid range has so much space in it, the instruments feel so open and free, as if they have unlimited room to move. Strings have a high ‘zing’ factor. There is also the feeling of constant motion while the instruments are playing, almost as if the instruments are jostling each other in a constant effort to get the attention of the listener. The effect is very engaging and holds the listeners attention. See soundstaging below for more info. Bass: Small drum hits are crisp and tight, lots of punch and presence on display, sounds much bigger and more powerful than its wattage would suggest, drums are impactful, deep and energetic, bass guitar is strong and deep. 8.75 Vocals: This is difficult as the resolution of the Orton is evident in the vocals as well, when a singer is just “idling along” their voice really shows it through the Orton. There is no smooth holding of a note, you can hear all the little warbles and fluctuations while they try to hold the note, but when they open up and really make those vocal cords work for a living the effect is just magical. The problem is that the difference between the two is so large that parts of some songs are not as engaging via the vocals as they have been in the past. I think the payoff is worth it but some may not. The Orton does not suffer poor singers well, it holds the singers to a much higher standard than most amps do. I’m going to give a combined rating of 8.0 but that will rise and fall depending on the song, from as high as 9.0 to as low as 7.0. Sound Stage: The Orton projects one of the best sound stages I have come across. Vocals hold the centre but vocal effects do not, for example, on Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” Freddie’s main vocal track is held in the centre but the repeated vocals (which include all of the band members but Freddie’s tend to dominate the mix) come from both sides and the effect of hearing the same singer sing the same words from the centre and both speakers at once is a bit disorientating, but in a good way. In an “impressively separated” way. Instruments come and go from within the 2D stage and sometimes move around within it. This motion within the music brings with it an added dimension of engagement, as if the music is working harder to entertain you more effectively. There are a few 3D effects, but the 3D sound stage doesn’t move too far in front of or behind the speakers so the 2D effects dominate. This motion within allows the listener to focus on any one or two instruments at any time so you can focus on a different part of the song and appreciate it from a slightly different direction. This is both technically impressive and a ton of fun at the same time. Ability to Emote: Instrumental engagement is through the roof, the combination of sonic resolution and positional resolution really lets instrumentals take the listener on a journey. 9.0 Electric Guitar Test: I have both chills and goose bumps, at the same time as shivers ran up and down my spine. How is it that an absolutely shredded guitar can sound so energetic, invigorating and alive and yet so relaxing at the same time? 9.0 80’s Rock Test: Nailed it! That resolution without any smoothing keeps all those little imperfections that make older recordings sound the way they do (and should). 9.0 Summary Sentence: The most resolving and engaging amplifier I have heard to date but do not feed it poorly recorded music unless you want to listen to music that sounds like it was poorly recorded. I haven't forgotten the little NAD, I was just distracted by that shiny Sonneteer face plate. The NAD will be coming along soon, well... soon-ish at any rate.
  2. Bought it... included original purchase receipt! Seriously such a good amp ... Original purchase receipt from 1976? Wow, just... Wow!
  3. Amp, DAC, CD choices.

    I won't comment on the DAC side of things, not really my area, but I will say that they amps you mention sound pretty different to each other. Yamahas have plenty of punch and snap with a crisp feel. Audiolab sound more laid back and calm, haven't heard the new Cambridges so can't comment on those. On the older Azur range the mid level models were a bit like a more shouty Yamaha while the top of the range was a warmer, much more capable amp. The Rega elex has a great clean and sweet mid range, excellent for classical and probably the pick of the amps mentioned for most classical music. Just my 2c worth, hope it helps with your choice.
  4. Country Music and Subwoofers

    Nothing that would need a sub, at least in my opinion.
  5. Country Music and Subwoofers

    The point to the question, or at least the reason behind it, is that my new neighbours have a sub and a few afternoons ago I heard it making its subby sounds. Sounds that were not recognizable as being associated with any music at all. I put up with it for a few minutes (that felt like hours) and then, out of curiosity, decided to take out my trash to have a listen to what they were playing. The song was "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers. The use of a sub with it made me shake my head in dismay.
  6. I realize that there are people (perhaps even many) who use subwoofers for listening to music. I'm not a fan of this idea but that isn't important, it is a growing trend. However... is there anyone out there, anyone at all, who listens to Country and Western music with a subwoofer? I just have to know.
  7. Altered Carbon (Netflix)

    It was good. Looking forward to seeing how they adapt the second and third books.
  8. Rolled off highs?

    Not really something to worry about there Martin, a lot of people like their high end rolled off to at least some degree. If they didn't Onkyo and Perreaux wouldn't sell so many amps (I'm thinking of the 9070 and the Audiant specifically). I am curious as to which part of your set up may be responsible though, I am not familiar with any of it so I'll be sticking around to see what others say.
  9. Some very basic questions.

    Don't let some posts put you off mate, this is the internet so about 20% of posts should be ignored as a general rule. The fault is not yours, you posted a genuine question in the correct forum.
  10. Trying to ... stay... strong...
  11. Break/Burn in. Is it Real?

    OK, now I'm even more curious, how would you go about measuring such a difference?
  12. Break/Burn in. Is it Real?

    If the supposed burn in is actually a dielectric (or oxidation) effect then we would expect it be more pronounced with litz wire, yes? Since litz wire has a higher surface to volume ratio than other wires.
  13. Well my suspicions were correct, using the Sansui cd917XR through the 907 NRA I found I much preferred the cd direct input over the regular cd input. It came across as more relaxed and open, the regular cd input was a bit bland by comparison so it was, as I suspected, source dependent. This is good to know in advance, no good me getting all the way through my Sansui-a-thon and then finding out I was using the wrong input.
  14. Linx Nebula Integrated Amp

    Nothing serious, it just needed re-biasing. Interestingly the right hand side heat sink still runs warmer than the left but now I can actually hold my hand on it, no time limit needed.
  15. Linx Nebula Integrated Amp

    Thanks for those details ZB, I was not aware of the origin of the PRAT term. I also can understand why it is still in use, because, as I continue to discover, finding ways to describe how things sound is pretty damn hard. Back when I was starting the Linx review I found this magazine on ebay. It contains reviews, from 1989, of the Linx Nebula amp and Theta tuner. While interesting to read I liked the Nebula more than the reviewer did. We agree on the nice mid range and the bass but while he thought that the top end contained to much grain. I guess his speakers were more fussy in the top end than mine.