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Mickstuh

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About Mickstuh

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    Australia

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  1. Lightspeed Attenuator

    Yes @niss–man, it gets even cheaper when you get into DIY territory. Pity I have no skills... So as not to mislead, I should make it clear that a price I mentioned in the original post was the price in the US at the time. It's cheaper here now. And as it happens @georgehifi, I have one of those lithium ion batteries to try. Also George, I'll give the Attenuator a go on some other power amps I have lying around, which are a better impedance match. But they are no match for the Halcro...
  2. Lightspeed Attenuator

    (PS I grabbed that pic from the Net - ignore the markings pls, they mean nothing in this context.)
  3. Lightspeed Attenuator

    I’ve been searching for a preamp, so for a Google giggle I searched for “best preamp ever audiogon” to see what would happen. I thought the Americans would have tackled the subject that way, and I wasn’t wrong. The top hit was for tube preamps, but I didn’t want to limit my search to tubes. The second-top hit was not it either – just preamps for sale. But the third and fourth hits were more like it. They came from the same thread, which began in in 2010 and – 36 pages later – is still going (just). I started reading. My reading extended over two nights. My interest had turned to intrigue when I twigged that the preamp they were talking about was Australian. Users were claiming that the Lightspeed Attenuator, a US$450 passive preamp was the best they had heard. They were saying this little preamp had bested the likes of Cary, a bunch of Audio Research (SP22, SP10, LS3, LS8, LS2), Mark Levison 380S, NuForce P8, Gryphon MKII. The names went on. Now besting another amp in a get-together is one thing – but actually getting rid of a very expensive/very good/very respected preamp and replacing it with something cheap (by comparison) and (at the time) unknown is an altogether different thing. And that’s what some of them were claiming to have done. Like ditching a Supratek hand-made triode tube amp. (Which also happens to be Australian.) The Lightspeed Attenuator, which will be well familiar to some people here on stereonet. My intrigue turned to astonishment when it became apparent that the creator/manufacturer is someone active in this forum – @georgehifi. So what is this thing? The Lightspeed Attenuator is, as the name suggests, an attenuator. A passive preamp. All it does is transfer the signal – and give you the capacity to turn the volume down (attenuate). Also as the name suggests, attenuation is done by the use of light. Turning the volume control up or down decreases or increases the resistance of the internal light-dependent resistor (LDR). All I had ever heard about passive preamps was that they ultimately lack bass punch, transient attack and big soundstage – three vital elements of music IMHO. I’d always thought no, I don’t want a passive. But I kept reading this thread. Users kept saying the same thing – that this thing was as close to the proverbial straight wire with gain as you can get. Except there is no gain – and no wire either. And they kept saying that the common complaints about passive amplifiers (see above) did not apply. What made this especially intriguing was that some of these users were big fans of tube preamps. Now I like tubes too, but tubes are as far as you can get from the ‘straight wire with gain’ aesthetic. All of that was impressive, but the clincher for me was that the thread had gone on for years – and some of the users were still using the Lightspeed. Now we all know how people who are interested in this stuff will turn over components, either out of curiosity, the desire for a change, FOMO, because the grass is always greener, or just for the hell of it. So the fact that they had stuck with the same preamp for years… So I had to try, didn’t I? Now, the OP in that thread had made it clear that the Lightspeed needs the right environment in which to work. A source ouputting 2V or more, which is pretty much everything these days I believe, a short interconnect to the power amp (three metres or less), low capacitance interconnects – and a power amp whose input is preferably the industry standard of 47K ohms or more. Hmmm. I checked the specs on my Halcro DM38. Only 10K ohms on the RCA input. The Lightspeed outputs RCA only. That might be a problem. Theroetically, it really should be problem. But I wasn’t going to stop now, was I? Just to test before shelling out, I plugged my passive Schiit Sys into the Halcro. The Schiit ouputs up to 5K ohm. So we are a long way from the ideal 1:10 ratio, which would have us up around the 47K standard on the power amp. But the Schiit provided enough bass and volume to make me push ahead. It worked, at least. But I thought I was probably going to need a buffer, so as to fix the impedance mismatch between the Lightspeed and the Halcro. While I think of it, it’s worth adding that as well as having only one output, the Lightspeed also has only one input – and no remote control. It runs from a supplied wall wart. And I should detail contextualise the rest of the system. Speakers are a massive pair – Be-One, The One. Five drivers per cabinet, about 100 kgs each, sensitivity 89db. Streaming via an Auralic Aries Mini, listening to 320 MPs, CR rips, hi-res files and DSD. Switching between DACs – the Aries, an Emotiva and an R2R Audio-GD 11. Preamps on hand for comparison were the Aries Mini again, a Xindak XB 8250, and the Geiseler preamp, also made by someone active here. (There were two tube preamps, an Audile using Jan Philips 5814a tubes tubes, and a SoundMaster Mk 23 using 2A3, but the tubes were so different, I didn’t make comparisons.) And I listen to most genres of music (except opera). So the Lightspeed arrived. One great thing about it – no burn-in. Because there really is nothing to burn it. That’s a relief. Just give it one minute to get warm. We’re off. First impressions: this is good. It was clear. Like water. There was no shortage of bass. Or slam. Highs were clear. Volume – more than enough. I had it playing around 2 o’clock to play it loud (90db, sitting four to five metres from the speakers.) There is no sweet spot on the volume dial – the sound is the same all the way. That’s what it sounded like – which is to say, it had little sound of its own. It was dead silent – which I suppose is a function of no gain and no mechanical parts to speak of. I really like a silent preamp. Whenever I get a new component, I make a point of listening to it. By which I mean, not comparing, but just listening to it. (And I only change one thing at a time – so I can be sure where the difference is coming from.) But it sounded not quite right. Hard to pinpoint, but it just felt like it was struggling. There was nothing i disliked, and what was there was good – but it just felt a bit lifleless. So after a few days I compared. Yep, the Lightspeed was approaching the weaknesses commonly attributed to passive preamps. The attack on notes wasn’t quite there. That one thing meantthe music losing life and shine. But what was there was all good – it just felt it was pushing the music uphill. But it was good enough that it deserved a proper chance – so let’s get a buffer. I got a Musical Fidelity X10v3. (not XD.) It puts out just 33 ohms. It deploys two military-spec tubes – which Musical Fidelity says are designed to withstand the radiation of a nuclear war. Pity the rest of the system won’t. And, voila. Now we’re talking. If the taste was water before, it was water that wasn't quite flowing freely from the cup. Now it’s water out of a perfect glass. Transparent. Delicious and pure, as water can be. Absolutely none of the usual criticisms generally aimed at passives apply. All the life and dynamics were there. Transients had zing. Slam had slam. It just sounded like I was hearing the music. So, there you go. This will be old news to some – George apparently made his first version as far back as the 70s. And that Audiogon thread where this journey began started back in 2010. But I wanted to share it – this thing really is ingenious. I like the fact that theoretically, it’s the ideal preamp. As far as I can see, adding nothing, subtracting nothing. (Used in an appropriate context, as explained.)
  4. Great amps. Dead silent. Endless power. Smooth power.
  5. FWIW, I've been listening to an Audio-GD R2R DAC I got recently, the R2R11. It's probably the cheapest R2R DAC going around. (Please correct me if it's not – but I did say 'probably'.) Sounds impressive to me – and yes, I did read the reviews of their Singularity19 via links in this very thread. For context, other DACs in the house are an Emotiva XDA-1, Auralic Aries Mini and the digital side of a Harman Kardon 990 amp. It competes with and maybe bests them. I've only recently tried its pre-puts to a power amp. It was meant to be just an experiment, but I haven't rushed to put the standing preamp ( a very handy Xindak) back in the chain. Btw, I'm no Audio-GD fanboy. This is the only piece of their equipment I've ever heard. But it's good enough to have piqued my interest in their preamps.
  6. I can vouch for these too. Gorgeous amp – lots of power, tube-esque smoothness (as the specs seem to indicate), and pre-out capability too. GLWTS
  7. Neil Young, Peaceful Valley Boulevard - acoustic guitar! Thanks producer Daniel Lanois.
  8. By this River and Microon III, on Summvs, by Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto. (The whole album is a great system tester, highs, lows, space, depth, height, timing, and piano, piano, piano.)
  9. Oops ....

    Tripping over cables… it'll happen Marc. Hey, nice pix from last night. Cheers, Mick
  10. FS: whatmough opus 30, opus 1

    Hi. Can I take one pair? And the centre? Thanks, Mick 0439 392 208 Can pick up this week (I take it it's the floorstanders for sale, not the standmounts? If it was the standmounts, I'd prefer them. Gotta go to work, so little time for me to check online. Cheers.)
  11. FS: Exposure 2010s Power Amplifier

    @bebop @bebop Hi. I'll take the amp. Mick 0439 392 208. I can come around this evening (Sunday) if that suits.
  12. Hi. Can I audition today? PM sent. Mick
  13. FS: Beresford TC-7220MKII speaker/amp switch

    @OZ_SMOKEY Hi. I'll take it, at the price you are asking. Can pick up this weekend if convenient. Maybe even Friday if you want. Cheers, Mick.
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