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Lyrita Experience and some existential questions

Wharfedale Linton Heritage Speakers

srramanujam

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Almost a year back, I started my search for a simple audio system. Neo has a helpful and knowledgeable brother who is my colleague. He steered me away from home theatre and sony towards hi-fi. I was a bit aghast to learn that I may have to spend 60K for a simple system. Still, my initial searches and auditions goaded me to up my budget to close to a lakh (my initial search - http://www.hifivision.com/what-should-i-buy/2705-options-2-channel-system-around-60k-music-2.html ). Since then i have become a little indifferent to the budget, about two lakhs sounds ok and the temptation to spend upto three lakhs without the wife knowing (is there ever such a thing?) is real.

My initial six months were spent sporadically in listening to KEF IQ5, Mezzo 2, B & W 685, MA BR2, MA RS1, Quad, PSB Epos, Marantz 6002 & 7001, I think, CA 640 and NAD. Through the course of it I realized that I pretty much liked all these systems. If I had been given a deadline I may have pretty much settled on one of these. Among these I liked the way CA + Mezzo 2 sounded. I also found Marantz 6002 + MA RS1 very clear, which I later on was told is synonymous with being bright. I listened to it for close to 2 hours though, courtesy Boom a Rang, one of those people who restore your faith in dealers.

One of the things I was clear on was that I would wait till I am sure. The "wait" part has played out for a year, but the "I am sure" part is not yet on the horizon. Towards the end of this post, I may get to asking those questions all over again.

The reviews of Lyrita by Kamal and grubyhalo prompted me to call Viren when I was in Delhi on work. I didnt have any of my own music and Viren played some classical music that he has, and the demo cd. I later on went with my own CDs. The first part of this post is pretty much about that experience. I feel that I should share this experience since Viren has invested about four hours of his time on my experience. To make things objective, I am splitting this into three parts a) My entirely subjective impressions about the interaction, b) the listening environment and c) the listening experience.

The interaction Among the seven or eight auditions that I have been to, this was easily my best experience. I dont want to even remotely sound condescending, but a face to face meeting with Viren redeems faith in commerce. He appeared genuinely interested in giving me a warm listening experience, without any strings (although I started with a rude question about the price just to make sure that I am listening to a system that I can afford to buy). I came back with a feeling that if this gentleman is creating something for you, he also puts in 100% trust into it. With his approach, he could possibly be selling hi-fi range like hot cakes if he chooses to be a distributor, but I guess hearts sing different tunes, and thats really the point.

The listening environment If I forget the thorough welcome his dog gave me (They scare me thoroughly, not entirely their fault), the environment is pretty much similar to what I am likely to find at home. The room has minimum furniture and no acoustic treatments ( I suppose, I cant make out in any case). The fan and the ac replicate the enviro that I would have at home. The CD Player was a Marantz 5001. Listening to the 2A3 SET amp and the harmony speaker together also replicates the experience that I am likely to face at home. In other auditions, I could just not visualize what the speakers will sound with other permutations. Atleast one of the components would be above my budget and therefore I cant figure out what I should attribute the quality of music to. Virens house and the combination atleast gave me a realistic feel of what I can expect at home if I were to settle on the same combination.

The second time I went, I reached at 7.30 and the listening spread over a wonderful dinner, which again brought the experience closer to home. I wasnt lucky enough for the coffee (I declined actually) or the banana cakes.

Listening experience I am pretty ignorant to explain in correct terminology. I will describe it in a way I felt it. The few vinyls he played (L Krishnan, Violin, Neil Diamond Beautiful Noise) sounded realistic and lacked the plastic feel that you get with high treble music. Most importantly, the speakers vanished in almost all instances and when I closed my eyes, I could only feel the music. The demo CD that he played was absolutely fantastic. The vocals, the chorus, various instruments were all life like. Some of it is surely attributable to the choice of high quality recordings. At the end of my first listening session ( about an hour) I felt relaxed. Thats what we should listen to music for, I suppose. The music kept ringing in my ears through the night, and it was a blissful experience.

About two weeks later, I met with Viren with a set of my own CDs. The experience this time was varied. Neil Diamond (Jazz Singer soundtrack) was rich in detail, but I felt it lacked the detail that I was able to notice in MA RS1. Jethro Tull, played by London Symphony Orchestra gave me the same feeling. I felt the detail was a bit lacking. Is it the lack of treble that I am used to (or) is it something inherent in the combination, I am not sure.

Kishore Kumar (finest moments by Music India) is one of the better recordings. I felt the combination exposed the limitations in the CD. A lot of the Hindi music is of similar inferior quality and will it be a pleasant experience listening to it in the combination. I have some questions.

Vocals are where the combination came into its own. Nityashree (Theeratha Vilayattu Pillai) felt like she was in front of me. The details were missing a bit though. Towards the end of the song, her voice falters in one place and it is sharply noticeable in KEF IQ5 and in Mezzo 2. I couldnt notice it as sharply in this combination. Balamurali Krishna was mesmerizing and in the middle of one of the most captivating songs (sheera sagara sayana) the power went off and I had to close shop reluctantly.

In between I listened to Shiv Kumar Sharma (good recording and a neutral listening experience). The best piece of the day was Journey by L. Subramaniam and Yehudi Menuhin. Its a fantastic composition which sounds lively in the most ordinary systems. In Virens combination, the sharpness was missing, but for the first time I could feel the pressure of the bow on the violin. It sounded magically raw, like both of them were playing two feet from you without microphones. Ditto for a saxophone piece of Kadri Gopalnath (Krishna ne begane from Charsur), I could feel the air blowing through the mouthpiece and I could feel a diaphragm throbbing (do saxophones have one? Or is it the reed). Another fast piece sounded unbearable, truly the fault of the music after the calm flow of Krishna ne Begane.

The second session was almost three hours, interrupted by a fantastic dinner, and again, the music did what its supposed to, soothe the nerves.

So my impressions over these four-five ours were

a) For vocals and wind instruments, a fantastic choice. Nothing I had heard till then, even came remotely close.

b) strings, which I listen to for most of the time, were not perceptibly different

c) the little bit of soft rock sounded better in other systems

I would like feedback on how this system compares with similar or higher priced (lets say speaker + amp combination under 2 lakh), for film, soft rock and pop. I feel that the better experience I had with other systems is part attributable to the listening room condition (careful acoustics I guess and some high priced components).

This is one system you would love in friends place you frequent. Will it cater to all your music tastes, I dont know, and would like some feedback.

Again, is the experience because of the tube amp or because of the single driver. Viren swears by the entire system approach, yet does one of them contribute to the better experience?

Do I have an alternative? Will the amp sound better with other tubes (which I have seen being mentioned in the threads) or with other speakers. Can I invest in this system, and if I still crave for the better experience from other amps, add a different amp for film and English music. Or add a different speaker for them. Maybe I can smuggle two amps into the house. But two sets of speakers, and I may have to find a new home.

I have read about cadence, mini watt and peachtree in other threads. What will they sound like (the logistics of listening to them is a bit far fetched for me right now). Can I listen to Lyrita somewhere in Bombay for an even longer period?

None of the systems I had listened to till then, haunted me. Lyrita does haunt and triggers many questions. The biggest existential question is, if I were to invest in this combination, it may seriously change my listening tastes. Will I be better or worse off with it, i yet dont know.

Independent of how I would decide, these five hours seriously changed how I would listen to music. It also introduced me to a gentleman who I would remember for many years even if dont get to talk or meet him again.
 
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anm

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lot of your interaction and listening experience are common to me, when it comes to Lyrita/ Viren. I even find the system very cool looking besides sound quality. Here is what I have done - built a cheap solid state/ hybrid system with JBL + HK which is decent for rock/ bass. And waiting for that elusive bonus to buy the lyrita system. BTW, I do not find the lyrita system lacking in base for music, but definitely it will not "hit" you with bass, grab your hair and throw you around the room.
I am not sure at what point my wife will throw me out of the living room, but till then, the game is on.

regards
 

srikarkav

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Hi srr,
Thank you for sharing. That is an interesting read. I keep hearing about Mr Viren i would like to meet him one day and share quality time with him and his amps. To quote abba,

I have a dream (to meet him) and a song to play (with his amp)!

cheers,
sri
 

AMITNOIDA

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Hi Ramanuj

Your feelings and questions are very genuine. I have experience of listening Viren's system on two occassions. The last audition was pairing with Tannoy reveal 6 bookshelf speakers (lasted about 3 hours).

I think his tube amp is one of the best choice for my bedroom at its price point. The only issue is accommodating his tall harmony speakers in my bedroom. It will obstruct the switchboards and my room will have choked look. That's why my quest for suitable Bookshelf speakers playable with Viren's tube amp is still on.

I also feel that Viren's amp will gradually mould one's music taste towards vocal and blowing instruments, it is so enjoyable with tube amp! I have young sons and I don't want their music tastes to restrict to this kind of music only. I was once playing Miles Davis Jazz music in my Altec lansing speakers and my sons were waiting when it will end. It was difficult for them to appreciate Jazz music... may be due to their age (they are 19 and 15).

To provide them alternate, I am thinking for SS based floorstander in my drawing room. I am thinking for Cambridge 640A + MS 906i as starting block for the SS combo. I have not listened yet but read about their good combination and at good price point. Used option is also a bright idea.

In this I like Anm's approach - one SS combo and one valve combo. Then you are spot on to enjoy the wide genre of music.

But all my plans came to a temporary halt. Suddenly my budget has shrinked due to booking of my second flat at Noida. I have to plan my finance carefully with the agony of immediately not fulfilling my dream of listening to good system.
 

grubyhalo

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Glad to know my thoughts were useful. :) Sorry for the OT but could you send me the link to the album featuring Menuhin and L. Subramaniam? I am not able to find that particular album on the Internet. I am trying to find an album featuring both the maestros that was released as a cassette on the erstwhile CBS label in India. This particular album was the singular reason I started listening to western as well as Indian classical and I'd love to get it...
 

vinod_david

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Hi Ramanuj:

Thanks for sharing. Yeah, so far i had only email comm with Mr. Viren, he seems to be a great person indeed, face to face would be more pleasant as well.

I am yet to listen to a tube amp, but slowly inclining towards one. I think with you budget you have plethora of options in front of you, all you have to do is demo, demo, demo all possible combo before taking the plunge.
 

marsilians

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Glad to know my thoughts were useful. :) Sorry for the OT but could you send me the link to the album featuring Menuhin and L. Subramaniam? I am not able to find that particular album on the Internet. I am trying to find an album featuring both the maestros that was released as a cassette on the erstwhile CBS label in India. This particular album was the singular reason I started listening to western as well as Indian classical and I'd love to get it...

The albums are : 'L. Subramaniam and Yehudi Menuhin in New York'
and 'All the Worlds Violins'
 

hemantwaghe

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Hi Ramanuj
It was difficult for them to appreciate Jazz music... may be due to their age (they are 19 and 15).


Sorry for being off topic
I thought you are young chap !!:eek:hyeah::eek:hyeah::eek:hyeah:.You " sound" very young in your posting ( That does not mean immature or w/o knowledge - but young at heart!!)

Sorry 2-3 months back there was a queiry by you which was not answered by me. I was stuck i n something!!

Anyway heard "18 till I Die!" By Bryan Adams???:rolleyes::rolleyes::eek:hyeah:
 

stevieboy

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This is one system you would love in friends place you frequent. Will it cater to all your music tastes, I dont know, and would like some feedback.

Again, is the experience because of the tube amp or because of the single driver. Viren swears by the entire system approach, yet does one of them contribute to the better experience?

Will the amp sound better with other tubes (which I have seen being mentioned in the threads) or with other speakers.

hi srramanujam,

i've been using lyrita gear, the SET amp and harmony one speakers for a couple of years now.

the lack of detail you hear is the tubes more than the single driver. i've put in a pair of 45 tubes and the sound changed completely. much better treble, more clarity and more dynamic. you can research the 45 tube on google. practically everybody says its better than the 2A3. inspite of its 2 watts compared to the 3.5 watts of the 2A3 i rarely feel the need for more power. so if you do get the amp, get a pair of 45 tubes, budget for bout $130 pair average price.

yes its great for vocals being a single driver. you'd probably be surprised to hear that i listen to hard rock :D iron maiden, deep purple, led zep and other 70's staples...

no solid state i've heard comes close to the magic that the SET amp creates. most seventies bands have great vocalists and great guitarists and this is more than adequately covered by the combo. hence i love it. bass is surprisingly tighter with the 45 tube than the 2A3 tube.

more importantly, this combo does not need only high quality recordings to shine, the combo shines with everyday normal recordings and that's a great plus! it also shines at low volumes unlike other equipment that needs to be turned up for it to sound decent.

all the best in your search!

regards
 

apk

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Totally agree with Ramanujam on Viren and his system. I had listened to his system around 6-7 months ago when I was looking for amplifiers & speakers. Viren is a great gentleman and comes across as someone who is genuinely interested in helping you. Spent a good 2 hours with him and his dog (Amigo...if I remember correctly), listening to a wide variety of music. Heard both the 3 watt and 15 watt SET amps. Both were wonderfully lush, smooth and involving. You forget about the equipment and just get immersed in the music. It was the first time I had heard tube amps, and I now understand why some swear by them.

Though I did not buy his speakers and amplifiers, I did pick up a couple of pairs of interconnects and speaker cables from him recently. If you end up buying his system, you should also try out the interconnects and speaker cables. Very high quality and good VFM.

Anand.
 

mahiruha

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Hello SRR,
thanks for sharing your audition experience with Viren. Since I have ordered these products and expecting their delivery in few weeks time so it always feels good to read good things about them. To be very honest I don't know much about amps and never owned a stereo amp before. I have never auditioned any stereo amp including Viren's. I just enjoy my music through my onkyo receiver which I really enjoy. So arrival of this amp in my life is sort of like a blind date with diva ( who has good reviews ;) )
Thanks.
 

mahiruha

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hi srramanujam,

i've been using lyrita gear, the SET amp and harmony one speakers for a couple of years now.

the lack of detail you hear is the tubes more than the single driver. i've put in a pair of 45 tubes and the sound changed completely. much better treble, more clarity and more dynamic. you can research the 45 tube on google. practically everybody says its better than the 2A3. inspite of its 2 watts compared to the 3.5 watts of the 2A3 i rarely feel the need for more power. so if you do get the amp, get a pair of 45 tubes, budget for bout $130 pair average price.

yes its great for vocals being a single driver. you'd probably be surprised to hear that i listen to hard rock :D iron maiden, deep purple, led zep and other 70's staples...

no solid state i've heard comes close to the magic that the SET amp creates. most seventies bands have great vocalists and great guitarists and this is more than adequately covered by the combo. hence i love it. bass is surprisingly tighter with the 45 tube than the 2A3 tube.

more importantly, this combo does not need only high quality recordings to shine, the combo shines with everyday normal recordings and that's a great plus! it also shines at low volumes unlike other equipment that needs to be turned up for it to sound decent.

all the best in your search!

regards

Hello steven,
can you please provide some more info on this 45 tubes. I am getting this 6C33C SET amp so is it possible to put 45 tubes in them or they can only replace 2A3 tubes.what is the best place to source these tubes?
Thanks,
Mahiruha.
 

srramanujam

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Dear Grubyhalo and marisilians

The album is Violin Legends. It has pieces of Subramaniam, Stephane Grappelli and Yehudi Menuhin. The cover also says Brandenburg Orchestra. This is a Sony Music title. Its available in two versions at different price points. This particular piece is a full ten minutes long. Worth its weight in gold, therefore these prices are inconsequential.


Back to Lyrita.

I could buy the Lyrita amp, another SS and choose a speaker that goes with both (if such a thing exists). There are some members in the forum who have done this i suppose (Rajiv?). Would welcome feedback and specific recommendations of speakers that would be suitable.

I could also do it the other way round and buy two sets of speakers and the Lyrita amp (though the wife would settle for one less husband). It will atleast preserve the complete system that Viren has to offer.

I should also ask Viren himself.
 

grubyhalo

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Dear Grubyhalo and marisilians

The album is Violin Legends. It has pieces of Subramaniam, Stephane Grappelli and Yehudi Menuhin. The cover also says Brandenburg Orchestra. This is a Sony Music title. Its available in two versions at different price points. This particular piece is a full ten minutes long. Worth its weight in gold, therefore these prices are inconsequential.

...

Thanks, I think that's the one. I remember the label on the casette having the orange Sony/CBS label.
 

stevieboy

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Hello steven,
can you please provide some more info on this 45 tubes. I am getting this 6C33C SET amp so is it possible to put 45 tubes in them or they can only replace 2A3 tubes.what is the best place to source these tubes?
Thanks,
Mahiruha.

hi mahiruha,

nopes. not possible to put a 45 tube in place of the 6C33C. only replaces the 2A3. lots of websites sell tubes. i got them from ebay. audiogon also has tubes but generally more expensive than 'buy it now' listings on ebay.

if you want the 45 tube, you should be willing to change your speakers and orient your entire system around the 45 tube :) you can always upgrade and exchange your amp later on with viren ;)

regards
 

mahiruha

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hi mahiruha,

if you want the 45 tube, you should be willing to change your speakers and orient your entire system around the 45 tube :) you can always upgrade and exchange your amp later on with viren ;)

regards

Hello Steven,
you mean to say that with 45 tubes in place you need to upgrade your Harmony 1 setup as well ??? Btw I was reading about the 6C33C russian tubes and found they were used in MIG 25 fighter jets. I am delighted to be having a piece of fighter jet in the house although for differet purpose.:yahoo:
Thanks.
 

Rajiv

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Hi Ramanujam,

I use the Lyrita 2A3 SET and Lyrita phono stage.They are superb value for money are better than several high priced name brands.

The Lyrita system sounds like MUSIC and not HIFI.



Regards
Rajiv
 

stevieboy

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hi mahiruha,

what i meant was the 45 tube is only 2 watts so you cant use normal speakers. with the 6C33C amp you could use normal speakers cos they're far more powerful. the harmony one goes loud enough with 2 watts being about 94db sensitivity.

oh i forgot you're getting the harmony 1s right? then no problem. you can get the 2A3 amp later on and put the 45 tubes in the 2A3 amp.

regards
 

stevieboy

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hi rajiv,

did you get your rca 45s yet? if so hows the sound compared to the national unions?

regards
 
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