An evening of glowing SETs, spinning vinyl and wonderful music!

Audiolab 6000CDT CD Transport

grubyhalo

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Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of visiting Rajivs home to audition his sound system, specifically his 2A3 SETs and would like to post a few of my thoughts here in case itd be helpful to others. Please forgive me if its long-winded and non-audiophilic as this is a first for me. Also, if there is an aspect of the system or the music that you find missing in my musings, please ask me about it and Ill try answering you. For people who dont have too much time to waste, you can scroll right down to My final thoughts.

First off, Ive never been to a persons home whom I did not know for awhile and definitely not just to check out his music system and hence I was a tad apprehensive. Also, I had to take someone alongwith and was a little nervous at the prospect of spoiling someones Sunday afternoon. Well, it turned out that I need not have worried at all. Rajiv and his wife were extremely friendly and gracious and put us completely at ease enough for us to feel like we were with long-time friends.

The following are the components of the system we listened to:

DIY speakers (Custom Tractrix horn with an Altec 15 woofer in a DIY cab linked by a home-brew crossover)
Linn LP12 / Ittok with the Akiva MC cart (I think!)
Lyrita Tube Phono stage with a step up transformer
Lyrita 2A3 SET integrated amp (3 Watts)
Phillips DVD player for the CDs (Not sure what the model was but I think it was pretty low-end)

Please note that the above list is from memory and may not be 100% right. Ill let Rajiv chime in if anything was different.

The following is a partial list of the music used during the audition:

LPs:

Simon & Garfunkel: Live at Central Park
Billy Joel - The Stranger
Oscar Peterson Trio ( I think)
Janice Ian Between The Lines
Carpenters
Kris Kristofferson & Willie Nelson (Forgot the name of the album)

CDs:

Elton John Goodbye Yellowbrick Road
The Police Regatta de Blanc
Best Audiophile Voices 1 and 2
Dave Brubeck - Double Live from the U.S.A. and U.K. [LIVE]

Most of the listening (about 2.5 hours) was done with the LP12 as the source with the CD player being used for about 40 minutes towards the end. The biggest caveat that you should remember here is that this is a description of what I heard during the 3+ hours I listened to the system and that my point of reference is live music. Some may not agree that live music could be the standard of reference but I dont have anything else.

The thing that hit me the moment the first LP was played is that the music sounded startlingly real and it was flowing in gushes rather than being squirted out of a box. Ive rarely experienced music so real from a recording. I have heard recorded music sound more clearer but never so real with so much of information. I could close my eyes and place each instrument in its place in the soundstage. I believe its the magic of the SETs that paint this unbelievable sonic image. The voices had this immediacy to them like the singer was in the room with us, standing slightly in-front of the band, bang in the center.

The second thing that was impressive about the system is the way wind instruments were reproduced. Trumpets and sax had this life-like quality with the breaths and the blemishes coming right through. I am not sure but this could be the horns doing their magic with help from the SETs. The decay and shimmer of the cymbals were as real as one can hope to get from a recording, with absolutely no overhang. One of the criteria I use as a reference to gauge a music system is its ability to reproduce the upright bass. If you can get the upright bass sounding right without it being strangled, chances are that the rest of the music is pretty safe too. This was the case here as well, the upright bass sounded scaringly real both when bowed and plucked. It was hard to believe that the bass sounded so good, clean and fast, especially with the woofers rolling off at 50 Hz. It did not sound to me like I was missing anything in the music. Tried as I did, it was extremely hard to listen critically and most often than not, I was just plain enjoying the music instead of trying to figure out what I was hearing. Apparently, for most part of the session, I was sitting there with a stupid smile on my face and blurting out with laughter frequently!

After about two and a half hours of spinning vinyl, we switched to CDs. I know we were not using the best CD spinner on the planet, but boy, what a difference! It was like the band suddenly decided to go back into the speakers cabinets and play like they are not being paid! I guess this is where a good DAC would be of immense help, breathing more life into the music. Things did get better on recordings like Telarcs Double Live from the U.S.A. and U.K. Take Five had me laughing like an idiot once again (like it always does). Though I had a bunch of SACDs, DVD-As and my universal player at hand, we could not listen to them as I had forgotten to pack in the power cable for the player! We had to be content with playing just the redbook layer on the SACDs. Irrespective of the medium, one thing the SETs seemed to excel at is painting a very vivid sonic picture (if thats the phrase to use) and giving recordings a sense of realism. If there was anything in the music that did not come through, I was not aware of it. Also, I was surprised at how smooth the horns sounded and how it made voices and instruments sound life-like than a normal dome tweeter. Im thinking this is greatly being helped by the SETs powering them. The only drawback I was able to perceive in the system was that everytime the volume was turned way down to aid conversation, a part of the music did not come through. Ofcourse, Im talking about levels that are way low for anyone to be used to.

My final thoughts on the system were that they excelled in reproducing jazz, acoustic, country and small ensembles amazingly well. Though I did not listen extensively to any rock records, my guess would be that, unless you listen to hard-rock bordering on heavy metal, the SETs should be just fine, provided your speakers are sensitive enough. It was shocking to hear how much of magic that a 3 Watt SET can enchant you with. However, if your tastes include hard-rock, heavy metal, reggae, bass-heavy and synthesized hip-hop the SETs may not be your cup of tea. Ofcourse that shouldnt prevent you from auditioning these SETs first. As for me, I definitely see these SETs in my future, given the humongous value for money that they represent and more so for the magic that theyre capable of. Ofcourse, I might still have a solid-state amp to back me up when I feel like playing Gojira or Royksopp.

When I managed to tear myself away from Rajivs place, I realized that the 3+ hours just flew, though my original plan was just to spend just about an hour. I had also discovered so much good music that I had not known all my life, discovered the magic of SETs and the realism that a good vinyl setup brings. My sincere thanks to Rajiv and his family for sharing with us a slice of their time and music.
 

Kamal

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Thats a good write up; that you were emotionally very involved in the experience comes thru clearly.
Thanks for sharing.
 

soundsgreat

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Hi,

Gruby nicely done :)! Enjoyed reading it !

What you have missed though is,the IC that Rajiv has cooked thats in use and the price of the this SET Amp :p (would be a great addition,as many are very very curious to know including myself )!!

Rest as I said Enjoyed very much ! Hope to see you in action at my place soon ;) !

Regards.
 

gobble

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Hi GrubyHalo

In your review you give all the credit to SETs. I've never heard an SET so I can't say for sure, but I can't help thinking that a large part of the magic must have also been due to the Vinyl LPs.

Comments??

Regards
 

viren bakhshi

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Hi grubyhalo,

A very eloquent writeup of your listening experience!

The reference has to be live music - what else could it be?

The music reproduction system has to convey some of the emotion, the dynamism, the immediacy, of the music making event. If it doesn't, it ain't a true music system.

We audiophiles get carried away with notions of "accuracy". Accuracy should be to the experience of involvment, of being emotionally swept away with the music. Without this, accuracy only to frequency response, and dynamic range, is meaningless.

As Michael Lavorgna puts it:
"Since Art is inherent in the mechanics of the listening experience, the act of listening is not bound by objective measures. And no matter how expert one becomes in writing or reading (or thinking) about hifi, there's no substitute for listening. Art appreciation lies in the experiencing and the only real credential in terms of Art appreciation that amounts to anything is time. Time spent listening in hifi's case. A Listener. And the artful hifi hobbyist spends his time listening to music. If we focus on the hifi and what it's doing, the art dissipates."

Viren
 

anm

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I agree with Viren, I enjoy listening to music on FM on my not so hifi setup and I really enjoy it.

regards
 

Rajiv

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Hi grubyhalo,


Your welcome.
You are most welcome to visit again.

The double live Brubeck does not seem to be available on vinyl,I have searched the net for it,but no luck so far.

Soundsgreat,the IC's I use are DIY .I use 22ga. silver plated copper wire with Teflon insulation,braided in the Kimber fashion.Speaker cables are Viren's single strand braided cable.You can mail Viren for the price of the SET.I can only say that it is the biggest bargain in Audio.

Regards
Rajiv
 

grubyhalo

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Thanks for all the kind words guys. :)

...In your review you give all the credit to SETs. I've never heard an SET so I can't say for sure, but I can't help thinking that a large part of the magic must have also been due to the Vinyl LPs...

Hi gobble,
You're absolutely right, vinyl did play a major part in the overall feel of the music. My impressions were predominantly of the entire system and not just the SETs or the TT. The problem is, I have not listened to SETs or LPs this extensively before to explain which part of the magic was offered by the SETs and which belonged to vinyl. However, I think I can safely say that irrespective of the source, the musical canvas is outlined by the SETs and that vinyl gives it more realism (smoothness? flow? I don't know). Even while listening to CD, I could still perceive excellent imaging and detail retrieval, but it's just that vinyl made it a little bit more 'attractive' to me. I suspect that the feel of vinyl could be achieved to a great extent if we had used a decent DAC or used SACD/DVD-A as a source. At the end of the day, I'd think I'll still find vinyl slightly more preferable than other media, albeit by a very small margin. But it's going to take a lot of listening and A-B'ing by me between digital and analog to be able to define exactly the quality that makes vinyl more attractive. I know my answer may not answer your question completely but maybe after I get my own vinyl rig and a few hundred hours of usage I'd be able to explain better. :D
 

grubyhalo

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The double live Brubeck does not seem to be available on vinyl,I have searched the net for it,but no luck so far...

Hi Rajiv,
It appears that you might need a digital player after all. :D I think there's an SACD version of the album from Telarc...
 

soundsgreat

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Hi,

Soundsgreat,the IC's I use are DIY .I use 22ga. silver plated copper wire with Teflon insulation,braided in the Kimber fashion.Speaker cables are Viren's single strand braided cable.

Rajiv I knew that ( from the SET thread where you had posted the pics of it ) ! Thats the reason I wanted Gruby to post the info ;)! I don't know whether you remember or not but I very well remember the conversations we had on your SET thread and also in Gmail ! what I didn't knew was bout the Viren's speaker cable !

You can mail Viren for the price of the SET.I can only say that it is the biggest bargain in Audio.

Now Pardon me if I sound rude :p! But I don't know whats whole fuss is about ?? I mean is there some kind of ban in place for publishing the price details ?? or is it so secret that one cannot ask or talk bout it in public forum ?? I for one Am not able to figure out ! I asked bout the price even in the SET thread but never got any reply :p!

On one hand we are fighting with these used resellers (well known con artists ) to post the price so that we are aware of it and they play fair with all ! on the other we have this,A well reputed (as reputed as it can it get for being honest and customer friendly) brand whose pricing is not discussed for god knows what reason :rolleyes:!!

Anways Mr Viren is the forum,so I'll shoot this question straight to him !

Sir Viren, Is there indeed such ban on users of your products discussing the pricing on the forums ?? do you practice double pricing (as outrageous and preposterous as it sounds ) ?? if not why is that every time I ask for pricing the users come with evasive answers (perhaps you are the wrong person to ask this particular question but still ) ??

I seriously want to consider Lyrita's products but such secretiveness worries me that may be there is a catch :p!!

Hope my comments are taken in right spirit :D!!


I think there's an SACD version of the album from Telarc...


Gruby and other who don't know the news ! Telrac shut shop recently (or on the verge of it ) so guys better pickup all that you can lay your hands on !! as there's gona be a mad rush for the same :p!

You can read more bout this here :The Last Days of Telarc


Regards.
 
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viren bakhshi

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Hi soundsgreat,

No, there are no issues about disclosing prices of Lyrita Audio's products.

Here's the pricing for 2009 for the SET amps:

EL84 SET integrated amplifier Rs. 24,000
Single-ended stereo amplifier, 1.5/3 watts/channel

2A3 SET integrated amplifier Rs. 45,000
Single-ended stereo amplifier, 3 watts/channel

6C33C SET integrated amplifier Rs. 45,000
Single-ended stereo amplifier, 15 watts/channel

The prices have been revised each year because of the volatility of copper prices. Over the last three years, copper prices have quadrupled. And, transformer heavy that all the SET amps are, with kilometres of copper wire, their prices have been affected.

Regards,
Viren
 

Kamal

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Soundsgreat wrote-
..."do you practice double pricing (as outrageous and preposterous as it sounds ) ??
Don't you think this is bit of a rough comment to make?
Just Email/call up Viren direct if you want prices.
 

soundsgreat

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Hi,

Sir Viren Very much obliged ! we all do know bout the rising prices of copper ! for that matter prices of all the damn thing in India is rising alarmingly (which in itself is another debate and out of scope of this post) ! its perfectly understandable if you increase the prices ! that's natural for any manufacturer to do it !


Don't you think this is bit of a rough comment to make?

Kamal Although you quoted my question along with the words in bracket,but have failed to ( I think ) understand it in its entirety ! the very purpose of the bracketed words are to avoid the main question from being Rude or rough commnet !

Just Email/call up Viren direct if you want prices.

Sir its not bout me knowing the price :p!! if it were, I'dve mailed or called Mr Viren ages ago and probably bought whatever I wanted !

Its bout being transparent and open ;)! when I ask the price of a product in the forum and people hesitate to answer and evade such questions will only hurt the Brand Image not mine !!

I have great respect for the brand and the owner ( for striving to serve the folks with some awesome quality products at reasonable prices ) Hence its almost natural for anyone who think like to me to raise the issue and get it clarified !

Now Mr Viren has published the prices right ? and I have no reason to believe to that its sold to different prices for different people (never had the thought initially as well ) !! Its crystal clear ! the same if it had been done earlier by the folks who own them this whole thing wouldn't have been existed now doesn't it ?? It was merely to reflect the seriousness of the matter and nothing else :sad:!

Anyways thats also one of the reasons why I had already asked pardon for commenting ! so again if any one is hurt by the post it was not the intention ! All my intention was to clear some doubts (that of my own and others in general )

Hope I've cleared the doubts !

Regards.
 

anm

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Great to get the prices here. Can we get prices of other products as well? For reference monoblocks, higher power amps, pre-amp listed on site?
 

Rajiv

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Soundsgreat,

I do not want to get into a slanging match with you, but your posts about the pricing of Lyrita's products, to me appear to be totally unwarranted.

Lighten up:)

The price I bought the amp for is personal and I choose not to disclose it on a public forum .If you had contacted me through e.mail or a PM I would have told you the price as I have told others, instead of alluding to conspiracy theories of dual pricing .

Your allusions and statements however seem to belie the fact that you respect the brand and owner.

Viren, is only a phone call or e.mail away and would have promptly responded to your question as he has done.

If one finds that the price quoted, reflects the perceived value of the product , one does not hesitate to acquire it - otherwise one walks away. One does not buy a product based on the price someone else has paid for it.

Regards
Rajiv

:)
 

soundsgreat

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Hi,

I do not want to get into a slanging match with you

Thanks for the compliments ! when you have declared me the winner let me continue the winning streak !

The price I bought the amp for is personal and I choose not to disclose it on a public forum

Sir no one has forced you to do so !! I only asked generally as you are the only or one of the owners of this product !! if you didn't want to tell, all you had to do was post ONE LINE saying "I don't want to or Am not comfortable with disclosing the price" !! but instead you chose other methods !

If you had contacted me through e.mail or a PM I would have told you the price as I have told others, instead of alluding to conspiracy theories of dual pricing .

Viren, is only a phone call or e.mail away and would have promptly responded to your question as he has done.

Well how many times do I need to emphasis on the damn fact that it is not about me knowing the price !! its about the availability of information to all the forum members publically and openly !!

We have tonnes of threads discussing the pricing and stuff ! in many of the threads people have complained bout the non availability of such pricing to them !

I brought one such issue to help other forum members and suddenly "AM THE ENEMY OF THE STATE" :eek: !

Your allusions and statements however seem to belie the fact that you respect the brand and owner.

Also I guess you have not read my posts properly ! how much more should I highlight that it was just to show the importance of the matter and nothing else !

Am not in this forum to be a show off or spoiler !! Am here to learn and share the info and knowledge that I have !

That was the primary reason for me to join this and dozen of other such forums ! I've maintained my dignity from day one and till date ! I take amost care of the words used in all my posts and not make any ludicrous and rude comments or hurt someone's feelings ! anyone or everyone who knows me here will vouch for it,inspite of all this if one feels Am the culprit then so be it I don't care :rolleyes:!!

I can go on and on ! but thats not the point !

Gruby Am sorry if I have gate crashed your party and spoiled it :sad: ! as it seems here that people are more interested in different stuff !

Please let me know if I need un-subscribe from this thread ? as I shall do it ......

Regards.
 
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anm

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you are not the enemy of the state, you are caught in friendly fire! :yahoo:
I think it is fair to demand the pricing (at least the MRP) to be in open domain. Each person may get different discounts, may be based on copper price of the day!

regards
 

stevieboy

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sorry to catch this thread so late, its so low down the list!!! :mad: and i generally only scroll to phono tables hehe.

great to hear you loved the SET and vinyl magic. rajiv's got some great speakers too so all in all a really good combo to experience music.

inspite of copper prices, viren's pricing is almost half of any other similar product, and in one case an amp that's double the price performed at less than half the performance of the lyrita SET. the other amp was a hybrid design not a SET amp but i found it ridiculously overpriced. and it was an indian offering.
 
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