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Kolkata Audio Meets Q2 2019

haisaikat

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Joined
Dec 12, 2010
Messages
2,847
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113
Location
Kolkata
Hello Everyone, Back again with another meet to kick start the summer. Hopefully there will be more this quarter.

Meet 1 / 7th April 2019
Location
: @pratimbayal 's place
Attendees: Myself, @subhashis_1980 , @Sandip Das ,@Maxprocrj (Pradipto) and of course @pratimbayal
Base Setup:
  • Tannoy Prestige Turnberry SE speakers
  • Tannoy Prestige Supertweeters
  • F5 Turbo Class A power amp with Audio Art power cable and Furutech plugs
  • Benchmark DAC 2
  • RPI-3 with RuneAudio connected via USB to Benchmark DAC and accessed over LAN from a PC browser
  • Technics SL 1200 Mk5 Turntable
  • Nighthawk F117 phono
  • Cardas Golden HexLink speaker cables that are factory terminated
  • A mix of Audio Art interconnects and custom made ones which he said are custom made from alloys of copper with some silver and even RCAs are either Nakamichi or custom moulded ones
  • There were also a pair of PeeCeeBee v4 (henceforth PCB) monoblocks which were his recent acquisitions
There were additional TTs, Preamps, Ayon CD player (another high end stuff from Pratim's stable, no guesswork on his passion and of course affluence :) ), that we did not get a chance to listen due to time limitations

Additional items brought for the meet
  • @subhashis_1980 : Cambridge Audio Aero 2 speakers
  • @Maxprocrj : Soundfoundation Power Cable
  • Me : LD-MK-II preamp, Allo Digione with volumio and TIDAL setup
Objective: To listen to pratim's high end setup and also to compare different sources and speakers and amps.

Summary of observations

I think this outcome would not be appropriate without spending a few words first on @pratimbayal 's setup. The music room is at the loft of a beautiful house with a water body at the front. I assumed its acoustically damped to an extent that listening at higher volumes would not aggravate the neighbors and of course the pratim's family in the floors below :). The room is air-conditioned though to beat the summers and as the host said, heated up adequately by the F5 turbo in the winters.

He has spent a great deal of time experimenting and setting up his current system after owning several previous setups with considerable permutations. The present system is a high end system for sure and something that people will be able to appreciate right away on the capability. The speakers are a mid-lovers dream, the vocals are very airy, free flowing and natural sounding. The imaging and sound stage of the speakers are excellent, in some tracks we felt that as if the vocal artist is exactly sitting in front and at the centre of the setup. Hats off to the placement, we witnessed around 2-3 feet gap from the walls, refer to the picture for details, not everyone has the luxury of leaving that much space behind speakers in their music den. Apart from the speakers his F5 Turbo custom made Class A amp at 25 watts / channel is very good and capable and are just enough for his high sensitive speakers. He uses good speaker and power cables and we found that as a precaution the speaker cables are carried over small wooden blocks type buffers to prevent them from touching floors and inviting interference.

On a wider note I think many a time we build the liking to specific music genres with the starting system of our life and stick to them, some of course take the the time and effort of growing and shifting genres by experimenting with what other compositions have to offer and how they sound on different combination of components. Pratim likes listening to classical, percussion genres a lot and he seemed very passionate about arts and music, note that painting is his hobby too. As such if you are inclined to listening to music genres that demands ground shaking bass or the one that hits you hard with bass, then you should look somewhere else. Does not mean these are devoid of bass but its controlled to an extent may be on purpose by the designers would be my guess. Take for example the track Percussion Medley from album Vikku - 60 Years Celebration. When it was played there is a sound of him playing the Ghatam (basically a matka) , I was able to relate it to the recent live rehearsal episode from AR Rahman's Harmony series (on Amazon Prime Video) and felt that the strike of the palm on the mizhavu (another version of matka) generates similar kind of ambiance and it would be unjust to further"bassify"that without losing its originality. So the Tannnoy's were not exaggerating the output rather keeping it natural. And here we saw Pratim's genres of liking matching exactly with what these monsters have to offer and no doubt he has done the right thing by entrusting these gems. Am sure he seldom gets out of the world in his late evening listening sessions. My best to him, would like to get to listen to his system once again and would like to try various listening positions like on ground vs on chair with ears closer to tweeter level or even try with slightly raised speakers to allow bass to come out better. But that is for another day.

Now the observations for the meet
  • Majority of the tracks played were through Raspberry Bi / Volumio with USB / LAN connected Lossless files as source. The F5 Turbo was fired first with the Tannoys and we felt that the volume needs to be cranked up a bit in order to get a appealing details and imaging. This may be attributed to the fact that the inbuilt pre-amp of the Benchmark DAC was used and a separate dedicated pre-amp was not used which could have upped the gain of the output signal but would also be one more device in the signal path
  • High end chains are not usually forgiving with any problems in the chains and tend to bring out them amplified very easily. When we hooked up the Allo Digione / TIDAL setup outright the low volume was evident and subdued details were clearly felt by everyone in the room. This is the 2nd time in a meet we have observed this. Track was the Percussion Medley from Vikku Vinayakram 's album Vikku - 60 Years Celebration. A put down for TIDAL. For some time I thought this may be due to the TIDAL plugin / Volumio but recently @jai1611 also confirmed that he has observed similar for the windows application too. So its a TIDAL issue definitely, although per @pratimbayal the USB implementation of Benchmark DAC 2 is better than the Coaxial.
  • Also on previous lines, for a moment when LD MkII was hooked (with DAC interconnects and the Sound foundation power cord) as pre-amp the immediate subdued details were evident which were also observed in previous meets and it was switched back to SS chain once again. @pratimbayal was very quick in pointing out and we all agreed.
  • We then switched from F5 to PCB monoblocks, and listened to similar tracks to do A/B and our thoughts were
    • The F5 sounded more open and airy in the mids although the PCB monoblocks were quite close
    • The PCB monoblocks faired in churning out more deep bass out of the Tannoys and were obviously better than the F5. Is this probably because inspite of its AB design with initial 10 Watts in Class A but overall its 50 watts was helping here over the F5's 25 watts of pure class A? Not sure.
    • in PCB, Channel separation was felt better in the limited tracks we heard, pointed out by @Sandip Das and agreed by all, as if the percussion instruments in each channel were more distinct and felt individually
    • Considering current prices where the PCB monoblocks cost les than 1/3rd of the F5 Turbos, I would definitely recommend considering them, especially monoblocks at this price point. Also to judge and compare two amps more critical listening is required and recommended.
  • We played the Dil Padosi Hai / Umeed song from its LP using the PCB monoblocks and hooking up the CA Aero 2 speakers of @subhashis_1980 , played very nicely and showed what kind of capable speakers were these at the price point of their offering. There is a video recorded for this and linked at the bottom. This led @subhashis_1980 to think back on how his system can be improved without changing his speakers as he is now convinced these are indeed capable and does not need a change at this time.
  • We also heard very beautiful mono tracks from a hindi movie with excellent Kishore Kumar vocals, unable to recall the name.
  • Some regular power cuts reduced actual listening time to half but Pratim made sure to fill those duration being hospitable :) with sweets and snacks, we also took tour of his attached terrace :) loved it
Pictures from the meet

A closeup of the man's gears. Note the racks on the right are just 10% of his entire collection of vinyls and CDs. The protruding hairy bulges at the bottom of the pic are the front seater's heads (@subhashis_1980 and @Sandip Das )
IMG_20190415_010703.jpg

Pics from the rear of the Tannoy speaker and the super tweeter
35039 35040

An important debate in the process while the session is full on.
IMG_20190415_010723.jpg

Towards the end the CA Aero 2 BS were placed in the front as seen here on the chairs
IMG_20190415_010603.jpg

The final groupfie before departing our ways, from left to right @pratimbayal , @haisaikat (Me), @Sandip Das , @Maxprocrj , @subhashis_1980
35041

Some paintings of @pratimbayal below
IMG-20190415-WA0002.jpg IMG-20190415-WA0001.jpg

Two videos from the sessions

Video 1: PCB / Tannoy

Video 2: LP / PCB / CA Aero 2

Closing notes, we followed @subhashis_1980 car as he led the road during the onward journey, but I had the better time with @Maxprocrj taking up the role of a MJ playing gems from the lossless collection on his phone, thoroughly enjoyed the 1 hr journey.
 
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Joined
Apr 16, 2009
Messages
93
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8
Location
kolkata
@haisaikat a very well written account of what happened musically. Unmusically,
- We will reach in next 10 mins, meant half an hour triggering a new timing unit. Courtesy @haisaikat @Maxprocrj
- "My 15 year old hyundai cannot match the volkswagen polo". So the polo went @30kmph, triggering another hilarious debate.
- @Sandip Das planned an royal end to end robbery @pratimbayal residence when he is away on vacation using a couple of cranes.
- prices of gears in future meets and posts will be provided in mcd* currency.

One thing is for sure inspite of power cuts, the food and hospitability of @pratimbayal was awesome.

*1 MCD - 1 Mohra CD. Indicating the price at which our premier member @Sandip Das bought the UK version CD once from a reseller.
 

Sandip Das

New Member
Joined
May 19, 2018
Messages
15
Points
3
Location
Howrah
@haisaikat a very well written account of what happened musically. Unmusically,
- We will reach in next 10 mins, meant half an hour triggering a new timing unit. Courtesy @haisaikat @Maxprocrj
- "My 15 year old hyundai cannot match the volkswagen polo". So the polo went @30kmph, triggering another hilarious debate.
- @Sandip Das planned an royal end to end robbery @pratimbayal residence when he is away on vacation using a couple of cranes.
- prices of gears in future meets and posts will be provided in mcd* currency.

One thing is for sure inspite of power cuts, the food and hospitability of @pratimbayal was awesome.

*1 MCD - 1 Mohra CD. Indicating the price at which our premier member @Sandip Das bought the UK version CD once from a reseller.
uff.. ab ruk bhi jao..
 

Kannan

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Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
1,434
Points
113
Location
Chennai
@haisaikat I looked up the specs of the Benchmark DAC 2. It has good preamp outputs. The fixed XLR output is +23dbu with an additional clean gain of around 6dbu in variable preamp mode, with clipping max at +30dbu.
In unbalanced mode (RCA), the fixed output is +8.2dbu with gain of around 4dbu in variable preamp mode with clipping at +13dbu.

The F5 turbo has a max gain of 22db, though I could not find the input sensitivity, I doubt it will be more than 1.5. So the Benchmark DAC should easily drive the F5 Turbo, more so in XLR more (provided F5 has balanced inputs) without going into clipping,
Also the volume control position is a misnomer. As long as the output does not distort and you have enough gain with uniform increase in resolution with volume, your preamp is good enough.
 

haisaikat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2010
Messages
2,847
Points
113
Location
Kolkata
So the Benchmark DAC should easily drive the F5 Turbo, more so in XLR more (provided F5 has balanced inputs) without going into clipping,
Per my memory, everything was unbalanced. May be @pratimbayal can reconfirm.

Also the volume control position is a misnomer. As long as the output does not distort and you have enough gain with uniform increase in resolution with volume, your preamp is good enough.
I agree, however my Point was for 10 inch drivers to show their true color listening at comparatively higher volume is recommended. Again this may be a debate but just my thoughts.

The F5 turbo has a max gain of 22db, though I could not find the input sensitivity, I doubt it will be more than 1.5.
I wonder what would be the specs of PeeCeeBee monoblocks, may be @shaan can throw some light here.
 

Nikhil

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Staff member
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Dec 8, 2007
Messages
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Congratulations guys! This is what this hobby is all about.
A bunch of like minded folks getting together for a good time discussing about audio.

Thanks @haisaikat for the wonderful write up giving a blow by blow account of the meet.
Kolkata has always been at the forefront of the arts and performance scene.
Great to see that the audio following is not very far behind.

Look forward to seeing more events like these organised.

Regards.



.
 

haisaikat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2010
Messages
2,847
Points
113
Location
Kolkata
Congratulations guys! This is what this hobby is all about.
A bunch of like minded folks getting together for a good time discussing about audio.

Thanks @haisaikat for the wonderful write up giving a blow by blow account of the meet.
Kolkata has always been at the forefront of the arts and performance scene.
Great to see that the audio following is not very far behind.

Look forward to seeing more events like these organised.

Regards.



.
As always thanks for the support and encouragement Nikhil. We have plans to have another one in May, will keep this thread updated for certain.
 

shaan

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Joined
Oct 5, 2012
Messages
249
Points
63
Location
Kolkata
Also the volume control position is a misnomer. As long as the output does not distort and you have enough gain with uniform increase in resolution with volume, your preamp is good enough.
Hi Kannan.

Not entirely true. Nearly every amp has a RC lowpass filter at input to filter out RF from input signal. If the volume control is placed between preamp and amp then the HF response will directly depend on pot position as part or full of the volume control's resistance will be in series with the RC filter's R, resulting into variable gain in the highs. That said, F5T doesn't seem to have an RC filter at input (which is a bit dangerous). But this also means the effect of a volume control at its input will have much lower HF attenuation than usual. So in F5T's case what you said does stand true.

PeeCeeBee V4 has a 1K+100pF input filter so a volume control at its input is a no go if a volume-independent high freq performance is desired. This means the preamp should directly see the amp's input. Now, the DAC2L at @pratimbayal 's home has a specified unbalanced output impedance of 30ohm, which means the pot is placed before the preamp section and its output buffer/preamp section has direct control of V4's(or any other amp's) input. So all is well.

...I wonder what would be the specs of PeeCeeBee monoblocks, may be @shaan can throw some light here.
Hi Saikat.

V4 specs:

Power - 50WRMS/90WRMS into 8R/4R load with +/-35V PSU
Frequency response - ~2Hz to ~800KHz (-3dB)
AC gain - 23 (27dB)
DC gain - Unity
Input level for 50WRMS into 8R - 1VRMS
THD
100Hz 10W - 0.0005%
1KHz 10W - 0.001%
10KHz 10W - 0.002%
Slew Rate - 100V/uS
SNR - >110dB
Offset variation - +/-10mV

_________________


The better bass from the Tannoys with v4 is due to its lower output impedance (~10milliohm) and higher peak current capability by virtue of its aggressive use of global feedback, keeping the cone inertia under tight control at lower frequencies. The output impedance is not static and increases gradually with frequency, which is a good thing for HF performance as the smaller transducers have lower moving mass/inertia and don't need a high damping factor (i.e. low output impedance) to sound good.

Thanks
shaan
 
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