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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:15 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, CA
Much like many of you here, I have become an "audio hobbyist"... not just a music enjoyer as I was for decades... but a guy on the search for a (neverending) better audio experience.

I should preface that I have an ear condition that at times makes any music difficult to listen to at any volume... but in the last year medication has helped me to balance the condition to the point that I can really enjoy listening again.

So... I have a couple of thousand albums... most of which I have absolutely no desire to ever listen to again. I also have a few dozen re-purchases of albums that are amongst my favorites... fresh and clean, 180 grams and mostly remastered... I love them all.

I was a Magneplanar man. Bought my first set in 1982. Bought again in 2016 and have always sworn by them.

I have a delicious Accuphase E-302 with A & B and A/B speaker options. For at least a year I have had two sets of maggies running (12's and 1.6's). Bliss. Maybe not.

My mind started to wander....

Sat in an audio showroom and listened to one of my favorite 70's song on tidal on a set of Focal Electra 1008's and got emotional. Never thought speakers could do that to me.

So I started to experiment. My audiologist (not the medical variety) pushed me towards a reasonably affordable set of Elac Adante S-61 Bookshelvers on stands. No easy feat to set up I tell you. but they became the B's in my A/B system.

Verdict still out a couple of weeks later when I came across a Maggie dealer that had one last set of 1.7i's in stock and was discontinuing the brand. I made an offer and it was accepted.

Came home and hooked them up as my A's.

Found myself with 2 sets of maggies to sell and decided to experiment. Sold the 12's outright and did a trade on the 1.6's for a set of B&W CM-9's... the antithesis of what I am used to.

So now I have A's, B's and C's all lined up and I know I can only keep 2 sets. Besides the third set being superfluous, I simply cannot afford to have extras sitting around with no real use.

So I planned a weekend of heavily listening to all three pairs to see what really made me happy... give me direction for the time being. Of course as a hobbyist, I will continue to try and improve of whatever conclusions I come to after the weekend...

Weekend is done. What have I learned? Surprisingly the Elacs without having the same dimmensions and volume RIVAL the overall feeling achieved by the maggies. Yes, they are more expensive, but much of that is in the stands. If you have no room for the giant maggies, these are a great substitute. But like the maggies, they will not rattle the windows. Is that what you need or want?

The B&W's will. That is for sure. They were a bit shocking for me as I am not used to anything like that.

So I pulled out some of my favorite cd's and popped them into my lovely Marantz CD6006.

Played the same songs over and over again with all 3 sets. After a couple of hours I stopped using the maggies. They were very neutral with everything. Always enjoyable... nothing whatsoever unappealing no matter what music I played, whether classical or classic rock.

Then I noticed that the Elacs and B&W's actually had more personality. But switching back and forth between songs I could never find a single "Aha" moment that could let me decide where my future is heading....

Until I stopped my Van Moondance CD and switched to my newly purchased vinyl album re-issue.... and then I had my "Aha" moment finally...

The album (I have both the original Moondance, and the newly released Alternate Moondance) sounded FAR better... I mean FAR FAR better than the cd... (yes, I know that should have been obvious before I started this experiment)... with EITHER the Elac Adantes or the B&W CM-9's or... with both selected at the same time (how wonderful is that Accuphase?!).

I have moved the maggies out of view for the moment.

Listening to Elton's Honky Chateau now, and pleased as punch.

It is really expensive having to re-buy all my old favorite albums, but I guess I have no choice.

I should mention that my TT is a Project Xtension 12 with a Hana MC cart.

I think I should be happy for a while now... or at least until I find a great deal on a set of Focal Electra 1028's.... lol.

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:03 am 
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Location: Granby, QC, CA
Nice write up. Thanks for sharing with us. I am relatively new to this forum but I must admit I am learning a lot in my short stay so far.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:20 am 
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if you thinking that vinyl is your source then OK, but wait again after you find out its limitations...means...it never ends, man.....it is a hobby!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:49 am 
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...as one of my philosophy profs said..."There are no answers...only...more questions..." :D

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:01 am 
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Location: Markham, ON, CA
Thanks for this thoughtful and revealing post. I am really interested in pursuing a non-box speaker to give it a try. Not that some of my speakers are not pleasant and good listening, but (to my ear) they all have a bit of that "boxy" sound..... I am intrigued by both planar and open baffle speakers.....

I have a question for you; are planars sensitive to wall proximity? I am limited in how far I can go in my main floor system. I can go about as far as 26 inches from the wall....will that work?

thanks, Tom


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:14 am 
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libor wrote:
if you thinking that vinyl is your source then OK, but wait again after you find out its limitations...means...it never ends, man.....it is a hobby!


The limitations are legion.

Having dumped thousands into vinyl replay, I am not sure that dumping more into it is all that sensible.

I hate how finicky it is to set up a cartridge. I like the process of cuing up a record.

That being said.... it sounds alright.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:13 am 
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Location: Stratford, ON, CA
Hi,

Note to mtjbob: Thank you for the superb write-up of your recent experiences. They are very revealing (no pun intended). I think many of us have had the experience of locking into one audio path (the Maggies in your case) and then being quite surprised and even a bit amazed when we have substituted something else and gone 'wow'. This happened to me when a 40 year addiction to a cluster of tube amp sonic biases, that culminated in my use of an Audio Note OTO single ended amp, was completely shattered by a budget grade Exposure 2010 S that I had patched in while the OTO was being repaired.

I read a long time ago that ultimately all audio sources (Vinyl, CD, Tape etc.) and all tonal outputs from reproducers (Amps, Speakers, DACs and so on) do not really intentionally veer towards many audibly different points, but really only veer towards one final ultimate point. This was the operating philosophy of the original Quad designs of Peter Walker, ' a straight wire with gain'. We presently live in the audio equivalent of the wine regions, where different tastes rule the day, but in the end, the engineering and design goal is always ' the closest approach to the original sound'.

Your reactions to the ELACs and other dynamic designs when compared to the Maggies you have loved tells me that, over time, all speaker designs are edging ever closer to the elusive goal of being centered on a common sweet spot.

Which brings me to Van Morrison. We share a taste here. Like Greil Marcus, I consider Astral Weeks and also Moondance to be as close to perfect musically as anything recorded since the end of the second war. I pretty much have a complete collection of Morrison sides and while they are not all great by any means, I can use them to trace the changes in his voice across the decades and this serves as my 'litmus test' for any audio system. His many vocal fingerprints are either there or they are not, and these are very revealing.

Again, my hearty thanks.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:46 am 
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Location: North GTA, ON, CA
brownslane wrote:
Thanks for this thoughtful and revealing post. I am really interested in pursuing a non-box speaker to give it a try. Not that some of my speakers are not pleasant and good listening, but (to my ear) they all have a bit of that "boxy" sound..... I am intrigued by both planar and open baffle speakers.....

I have a question for you; are planars sensitive to wall proximity? I am limited in how far I can go in my main floor system. I can go about as far as 26 inches from the wall....will that work?

thanks, Tom

Tom, for planars like Maggies, 26 inches is plenty on the sides (as dipoles do not generate much in the way of first reflections) but not enough behind the speaker. IME Maggies need at least 36 inches between them and the front wall. Some will say they need even more room and I don't doubt them, depending on the room, model of Maggies, etc.

Perhaps it's less for open baffles, I have no experience with them (yet?).


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:30 am
Posts: 38
Location: Montreal, QC, CA
Thanks for all the follow ups.

Having used Maggies... forever, I can say that 2 feet from the back wall is sufficient to get the overall impression. More would be better, perhaps, but a foot or so. Beyond that they just won't give the proper separation that you may want.

I have high ceilings which help.

If getting "out of the box" is what you are looking for, then maggies are the sure way to experiment. They really provide a sense that you are in the middle of things.

Enjoying my Elac/B&W A/B still. Hot Rocks on right now... Boy that takes me back.

As for Van, I have spent more money travelling the globe to see him live than I will ever spend on audio equipment! I simply feel that he is one of the best all time, whether blues, jazz or rock and roll. And no one commands his troupe better!

When he is on his game he takes a run at whatever fancies him... and if you are sitting close enough you can alternatively feel the spit from his saxe or watch him command the troupes with his hands behind his back. He can decide to groove and take you along and mesmerize you.....

I had the chance to see him do Astral Weeks 3 times... twice at MSG on consecutive nights and then later on in Montreal. Van the Man for 3 solid hours, and I have never ever seen him happier. I have had the chance to meet and celebrate with his most devoted fans worldwide... and even to hang with his beautiful daughter Shana who can and does an amazing "Sweet thing" every chance she can... and in her own beautiful way.

Thanks for letting me vent this all out. I am much happier today than I was a week ago.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:49 am 
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Hi,

Further note to mtjbob: About Van. I am a life-long listener, but have only seen him once. It was a very fortuitous 'one time' though. I was living in Brighton on the south coast of the UK in 1998 and there is a venue there called the 'Corn Exchange' that is just about acoustically perfect. I was walking past it one morning and noticed a hand written notice tacked on the door saying that Van Morrison would be playing the next night. I walked in and bought two tickets. Turns out this is his pattern before touring. He brings the band to the Corn Exchange to work through the set list and get ready and does maybe two nights there - very much an impromptu gig The tour was the one he did with Lonnie Donegan of skiffle and 'Rock Island Line' fame. Anyway, we went and it was terrific - with seating for about 300 and every seat less than 75 feet from the stage. He and Donegan did a version of Mule Skinner Blues that was to die for. He was in his 'Healing Game' period with Ellis on sax and I left higher than a kite. Like Dylan he is an impatient genius and the 'boys' have to be locked on him at all times because he is the unquestioned band leader.

Just thought you might like to know.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:18 pm 
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Nice post!

When it comes to us audio-nuts, it's always hard to tell if we've moved to new components due to having learned something more about what we like, or simply out of boredom or scratching some new itch.

I'll throw in a bit of my own story:

I started long ago with Quad ESL 63s. Then added subwoofers (Gradient dipoles). It sounded incredible and kept me happy for a couple of years. But I had an itch that wasn't being scratched and it only became apparent what it was when I occasionally dragged out my old, Thiel 02 speakers. The O2s were a modest sized monitor speaker, fairly neutral, designed before Jim Thiel started producing time/phase coherent speakers.

When I'd play these speakers I found myself so effortlessly engaged and excited, and the two things that stuck out where tone and palpability. They had a warmth of tone that made wood bodied instruments sound so authentically organic, acoustic guitar, woodwinds...most acoustic sounds. The other big one was the dynamics, solidity and palpability of the sound. If I played something like the exotic and dynamic Enter The Dragon soundtrack (I love soundtracks) that wildly played percussion instruments and bursts of horns etc appear in the room in a very physical manner, like someone really whapping a bongo right in front of me. When I'd go back to the Quads, I couldn't help notice this lack of density and air-moving palpable quality - the images from the quads were clear and detailed, but ghostly in weight, more like viewing the music from behind a window, where I don't share the room with the musicians and can't "feel" the music.

So that started my move away from panel speakers to dynamic.

But of course having lived with Quads spoils you for that lack of box, and the oppeness, richness of mids and detail. I replaced them with Von Shcweikert VR Gen 2 speakers which had a wonderfully rich yet boxless sound, with a huge soundstage. They satisfied me for a couple years...but then I found myself yearning for a bit more organic, warmer timbre (they were a tad darkish and dull tonally). So I swung towards some speakers that were incredible for instrumental/vocal timbre (Hales Transcendence)...but...lost some palpability.

So I've been zeroing in over the years on what I like, trying to find that combination of timbral warmth, richness, density of sound and dynamics.

I won't mention all the speakers I've gone through, but the closest I've come so far to combining all of these have been my Thiel speakers - first the big 3.7 flagships which proved a bit too big aesthetically for my room, and then the slightly smaller 2.7s that replaced them. They are as close to a home run as I've had so far: a wide timbral pallete, yet "neutral" sounding, smooth, image like mad, dynamic, and a fantastic sense of density to the sound. Instruments in the soundfield seem solid, and moving the air in that space.

And still, being an audiophile to my very DNA, I keep an eye open for others. I've currently been smitten by the Devore O/93 and O/96 speakers, which have a warm, open yet detailed sound, yet with a heft and richness that leave many other speakers sounding threadbare. Also Joseph Audio, which to me are perhaps the most tonally ravishing speakers I've ever heard, and pretty dynamic to boot.

I'll have to see where I am a few years down the road.

But even if I get a new pair of speakers, I can't see myself parting with my Thiel 2.7s - they just do so much of what I want I'd kick myself if I ever gave them up (and they are very rare on the market these days).


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:07 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, CA
buybye88 wrote:
Hi,

Further note to mtjbob: About Van. I am a life-long listener, but have only seen him once. It was a very fortuitous 'one time' though. I was living in Brighton on the south coast of the UK in 1998 and there is a venue there called the 'Corn Exchange' that is just about acoustically perfect. I was walking past it one morning and noticed a hand written notice tacked on the door saying that Van Morrison would be playing the next night. I walked in and bought two tickets. Turns out this is his pattern before touring. He brings the band to the Corn Exchange to work through the set list and get ready and does maybe two nights there - very much an impromptu gig The tour was the one he did with Lonnie Donegan of skiffle and 'Rock Island Line' fame. Anyway, we went and it was terrific - with seating for about 300 and every seat less than 75 feet from the stage. He and Donegan did a version of Mule Skinner Blues that was to die for. He was in his 'Healing Game' period with Ellis on sax and I left higher than a kite. Like Dylan he is an impatient genius and the 'boys' have to be locked on him at all times because he is the unquestioned band leader.

Just thought you might like to know.

Cheers,
David Neice


Hi David,

What an amazing opportunity! Van actually likes to do small venues, and in recent years has been know to do dinner clubs in the UK.

I have seen him now at least a dozen times... from as far west as Winnipeg, to as far east as Ireland. I actually saw him on consecutive nights in Belfast and then Dublin. Went with about 30-40 fans much crazier than myself... did some amazing things right down to visiting childhood home and roaming the streets of his youth.

We hired a guide to co-ordinate all of our events and he became such a fan that he reached out to Van's people and before long he was promoting his 70th birthday concert on Cyprus Avenue outdoors!

Sadly I couldn't attend that one.

I have met fans that have seen HUNDREDS of his shows on every continent!

He still has a bad boy rap, but he is really misunderstood. He is very serious about his music... and he gives everything he has every gig. He just doesn't suffer well the "brown Eyed Girl" hecklers... lol.

Cheers!


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