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My experience of the day with Mr. ravindra Desai and his surround/stereo system.

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tuff

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My day started with a sharp 6:00am phone call from Ravindra Desai, he was outside my building. We settled down with the usual meet and greet and I was wondering if I should go back to bed...LOL! SO after some kadak chai, around 8:00 am we unpacked his system. Simple setup. One odd looking wooden box with a few knobs on it and 5 tiny sattelite size speakers and a 1cube for subwoofer about 1 foot in size.
I dragged out my Sound foundation speaker stands and we placed the speakers and he shoved the sub towards the back-wall, connected an Line In to RCA cable to the line out of my PC (which meant using the internal DAC of my Gigabyte motherboard and amplifying the Analog out) We started with a stereo setup and played a couple of songs that he had brought on a pen drive (MP3's mostly).
1st song was O Paalanhaare by Lata Mangeshkar, with some chorus in the background. Still not one hundred percent awake, I was struggling to understand why I am listening to a pair of home made satellites and an odd looking passive subwoofer and that too an mp3 song I had never heard of. The sound that came out was nothing special.They kind of reminded me of a pair of Harman Kardon computer sat/sub speaker system I had a few years ago.Which meant they were no hi-fi speakers. Then Tracy chapman's fast car played on... again, nothing special. Ravindra asked me I wanted to hear the surround setup. He has a switch in front of the box that flips between stereo and surround speakers. I said lets keep playing stereo and listening for atleast half hour or more for my ears to get used to this new sound.
See i really wanted to like this odd looking system but I also needed to hold my patience to test as I was contemplating how to get through this day. Ravindra was leaving at 9:00pm, So i knew i had a long day .

So about 10:am I thought maybe he can listen to my HT setup. Magnepan MC1's for the front Left/Right and a pair of Polk satellite speakers
Thanks to FM Kane & HIFIVision's unique 'give away' thread). We played Amadeus the movie. There are parts of this movie that I must have seen a thousand times, just to hear the mastery of the mixing artistes and of course, Mozart.
Ravindra's reaction was not the best I had seen, as i was wondering if he liked it or not. We spoke about Magnepans and other stuff for sometime, again listening to his stereo setup. At this point in the day, I was enjoying Ravindra's company more than I cared about listening to music, as by now I had made up my mind that it was nothing special and cannot expect much out of this system.
sensing that i needed something more to keep me interested,I asked Ravindra if his amp could be connected to the MC1's as they were power hungry and were 4 ohm speakers with 86db sensitivity. He said yep, and claimed his amplifier is stable upto zero ohms.(WHAAAAT???) Now I am not a technical guy, but I do know most run of the mill amplifiers from main stream manufacturer's rarely support 4 ohm speakers. Nor do I know that there is such a thing as zero ohms. Well, as predicted the MC1's did play but could barely be played at a usable volume to judge any capabilities of the amp. I asked him what those four buttons were... He said one was to get voice up, the other for ambient sounds and i forget the third button and the last was volume.
Then he asked me if I could play the magnepan 1.7's. So I fired up the Peachtree decco 65 ( used as a preamp) and the Crown XLS 1502 and played some live stage recordings of Suresh wadkar from you tube. Some live recordings of various artists (DTS Music) again some YouTube music. Indian classical and what not. After listening to the maggies we decided it was time for lunch.
3:00 PM ,after lunch(Dal Khichda), we decided to head over to FM Hari Iyer's House, he lives 15 minutes from my house.Lugging the two bags filled with his gothic looking speakers and that odd looking amplifier,sweating, we entered Hari's home.
There they were, the open baffles covered from head to toe. I wanted to hear those open baffles even more now that those satellites had me longing for more....a lot more.

Quickly we decided to have the open baffle's the first go as the system was already connected and I wanted to hear the Vinyl/tube/open baffle combo. Hari warned there is some ground loop problem and a very loud hum came out of the speakers.
O well!! Vinyl hates me. So we switched to the CD player and listened to a couple of songs. Then Ravindra pulled out his speakers, connected to his laptop and we played the same songs we had started out with. This time I had something to do, like watch hari's expression and guess what he was thinking of this system. Hari's expression's were not too revealing. He looked uninterested, so I figured I wasn't far off with my impressions.
Then Ravindra connected his surrounds configuration, flipped the switch in style and played i believe a clip from bajirao mastani. Huh! My head turned as i heard something . Was I hearing the same speakers I have been bored of since 8:00 am? I was sitting with the left surround at my arm's length and the center speaker about 5 feet away sitting on a plastic chait next to the laptop.I got up and stood in the middle of the setup. Now the surrounds were behind me and the center right in the front.The dialogue was firmly anchored and the music/fx was playing from the surrounds.Huh! Tis is interesting...very interesting. So we packed up and got home this time I really wanted to hear the surround system as we had not heard it in my home until now. I fired up my proector, kept the center channel right beneath the edge of the screen and unplugged my surround speakers fromthe yamaha AVR that I use for movies,just to hasten up the processs, as now I felt like we were running out of time.I fired up the same Bajirao mastani scenethis time and WOW.! This tiny dinky speakers were playing magic.The way it seperated the dialogue atnd the ambient sounds was astounding.Then it was AVATAR time. The effects were clear as a summer time day with no smog, But there was something not right. The panning of sound was not as evident as it is with the yamaha amp, so I was wondering what is going on...But it still kept me engaged listening to these gotihic toy like speakers and that odd looking amplifier. Door bell rang. I also had invited a couple of friends who had bookshelf speakers (Rave speakers with Scanspeak drivers). We swapped out the center speaker and attached one of the bookshelf speakers and O MY GOD!!! That was just beautiful. The 5/12 inch woofer and 1 inch tweeter book shelf speaker sounded much fuller and more crisp. So i knew the bottle neck were these tiny speakers. There was something in that wooden box that was the magical stuff. If the speakers were upgraded, this magic box would do wonders for a small home theater, without the Dolby/DTS/codecs this little amplifier really was amazing and just needed a stereo analog signal from a PC or laptop. Ravindra reduced the volume to almost barely hearing levels and still the clarity of the dialogue and clearly distinct surround sound was evident. That i had never really heard on my yamaha setup.Now i thought ,this dude is jus showing off. with a big grin on his face he does the ultimate stunt that we constantlly warn others. He disconnected the center speaker and connected the positive and negative terminals and the amp did nothing . No protection kicked in, no short circuit, no smoke. WHAT!!!! he asked why cant big brands fix this simple issue when I guy from Kolhapur can? I looked at him with a blank expression as i had nothing to say....
Sadly it was time to go for Ravindra and we had to pack up.

The system lasted a lasting impression on me as none ever has. Not because it was the best sounding, nor the loudest with punch, but for what that wooden box had hidden in it which was making the movie watching experience enjoyable with it's own set of challenges with small woofer size and a cubic sealed 8 inch subwoofer, all drawing power from the 20 watts per channel. I really wanted to explore more possibilities of this system. I believe this system works because what it does without any of the hype or seeming necessities that we are plagued with currently,with robust electronics that wouldn't clip under stress or go into stand by mode just because a couple of stray strands of speaker wires fell in love .An experience that might take some time to fade from my memory.
 

Ravindra Desai

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What is a book without a cover?
What is life without a lover?
What is a product without a reviewer?

Thanks for this detailed review, @tuff
This will help the put some substance to my otherwise theoretical babble here on the forum.

Thanks for hosting me and sparing one full day for me! Which Bambaiya does this, today?
Special thanks to @Hari Iyer for initiating this. After cancelling the trip once, I am glad to have made it.

Its a start of sorts for me and I thank the HiFiVision forum for providing me this platform!

Regards,

Ravindra.
 

newlash09

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Wow...iam so glad this happened. And am I not smiling cheek to cheek at the outcome. I've read mr.ravindra's posts on various threads, and it takes but a minute to realise that iam learning from somebody, who's drenched himself in audio. Way to go mr.ravindra :)
 

Hari Iyer

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I very much enjoyed the evening with both Tuff and Ravindra and discovered one more setup possibilities with HT & Music. The HT section was highly involving and I personal got immersed in the movies rather than worrying about how clean the mids and highs was. The dialogue rendering was perfect with all vowels and tongue / throat movements being captured in the sound and made us to watch more. But to limited time we had to packup early. Such a pity.

I would advise FMs to discover the DSP designed by Ravindra himself and check out how it can put setups 10 times the cost to shame. Again this is my personal opinion and others might choose to differ.
 

Ravindra Desai

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Thanks @Hari Iyer for your kind words!! It means a lot to me.

You too are doing some fine work, in audio, in areas that are considered difficult and complicated.
Transmission line and Open baffle design is not everyone's cup of tea! Keep up the good work and your passion for audio.
Let us take it further from here.....

Thanks again for initiating it!

Regards,

Ravindra.
 

arunkvivek

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Wow, feels good to hear. Can you add a bit on how it sounded compared to auto caliberated sound from AVRs? Did you experience any audible difference?
 

tuff

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The biggest difference between the calibrated Yamaha and Ravindras system, was perhaps the separation of the voices and the ambient/ SFX part that made the movie engaging. One common problem I read about on the forum is how the dialogues get muffled or blend too much into the music/ SFX and what not. Never felt like that at any time during the whole process. Ravindra also mentioned that he had programmed the DSP in tune with the speakers he had brought.( Something he can perhaps elaborate more upon..). His system had no calibration buttons so that in itself was a huge plus for me. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I felt better speakers would really make this system shine for home theater.
Wow, feels good to hear. Can you add a bit on how it sounded compared to auto caliberated sound from AVRs? Did you experience any audible difference?
 

newlash09

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Thanks tuff..your feed back is exciting indeed. Atleast for me. Ive recently junked my 2 channel setup, and iam all into surround sound these days...and anything that promises better than dts neutral x sound is most welcome :)
 

arunkvivek

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The biggest difference between the calibrated Yamaha and Ravindras system, was perhaps the separation of the voices and the ambient/ SFX part that made the movie engaging. One common problem I read about on the forum is how the dialogues get muffled or blend too much into the music/ SFX and what not. Never felt like that at any time during the whole process. Ravindra also mentioned that he had programmed the DSP in tune with the speakers he had brought.( Something he can perhaps elaborate more upon..). His system had no calibration buttons so that in itself was a huge plus for me. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I felt better speakers would really make this system shine for home theater.
Thank, @tuff. Looking fwd to understand the DSP more.
 

tuff

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Let me elaborate a bit on this. This is NOT a system for you if you are a tinkerer with electronics, like 50 DSP programs, loves to see DTS/DOLBY etc. light up the led panel. Not a system if you want shiny knobs and a densely packed back panel.
This is a system that simplifies the entire setup that people don't care for the above technicalities, want something that even children who know how to turn on a TV and watch shows can use. Great for late night movie watching as the dialog separation is just great.
 

tuff

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Thanks @tuff , @Hari Iyer and @Ravindra Desai for spending a day.

@tuff - How do you rate this for Stereo listening ? I understand that the system has impressed you with its surround capabilities but would like to hear more about its Stereo capabilities.
I think Stereo listening is a much more mature industry with some of the most brilliant minds working in it. Home theater on the other hand is dominated by a handful of companies. Robust electronics can be found on stereo gear, but home theater AVR's always seem flimsy. HDMI boards blowing up is perhaps the most common problems we face on this forum. Good luck with that if you are out of warranty. I think Indian companies have always made robust electronics before the Chinese invasion. Just look at Norge, what a great example that is for the Indian audio industry. people have used those amplifiers for decades and they still perform at their best. How many companies can claim that? No wonder if you want great electronics you have to get European/ American made gear, but at a price.
Coming back to stereo listening, perhaps the most important part starts with what speakers you use, followed by the right amplifier match. As his speakers were the weakest link, it was hard for me to really get excited, but my ears are used to listening to Magnepan 1.7's and that is a big negative for me when judging any other box speaker. I accept I am biased towards my maggies.
What I am looking for is to see how his electronics with DSP will perform with the Magnepans, and he has promised to put his brilliance to it. Let's see what other magic tricks he has under his sleeve.;)
 

drkrack

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At this point in the day, I was enjoying Ravindra's company more than I cared about listening to music, as by now I had made up my mind that it was nothing special and cannot expect much out of this system.
That is a good compliment for any audiophile !
So i knew the bottle neck were these tiny speakers.
This Clarifies most of the things, Simply Remarkable in spite of the shortcomings.
No protection kicked in, no short circuit, no smoke. WHAT!!!! he asked why cant big brands fix this simple issue when I guy from Kolhapur can?
Big brands ? well eventually they will ! Bring it as 2019 update with a never before feature ! (on a hind sight how would you know the wire is short, if the protection circuit doesn't kick off ?)

Very Well written review, it was like we are being with You! My Vote for review of the month...
@Ravindra Desai Congratulations for the remarkable feat achieved, We know , a Lot of hard work and experience goes into getting these things into action , Very well done!
a small doubt, if I disconnect my Front Speakers in AVR, and keep only Surrounds and center, and changing the Center speaker to Large with Recaliberating the Audessey will the effect be nearly same ? @elangoas could pitch in ..
 
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arunkvivek

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Let me elaborate a bit on this. This is NOT a system for you if you are a tinkerer with electronics, like 50 DSP programs, loves to see DTS/DOLBY etc. light up the led panel. Not a system if you want shiny knobs and a densely packed back panel.
This is a system that simplifies the entire setup that people don't care for the above technicalities, want something that even children who know how to turn on a TV and watch shows can use. Great for late night movie watching as the dialog separation is just great.

I am currently using an AVR without any calibration. So, it took a lot of iterations for me to get the right gain mix between the front and back speakers. Also, this mix needs to be changed whenever I switch from Indian movies to English movies. Hence I wanted to understand how DSP handled the volume normalization. I am a fan of lesser buttons. Also, the preamp capability question from the other FM opened up an option of pre-power route. So, this system is definitely intriguing. I am glad that you, Hari and Ravindra were able to meet. Thanks for the detailed review and answers to all the questions posted!
 

elangoas

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a small doubt, if I disconnect my Front Speakers in AVR, and keep only Surrounds and center, and changing the Center speaker to Large with Recaliberating the Audessey will the effect be nearly same ?

I think you are trying to re-create a similar experience as @Ravindra Desai system..

Am not so sure on the out-come, but try this.. I suppose you must have calibrated with Audyssey already.. If so, set the front to "None".. I doubt if Audyssey would accept a set-up without Fronts, but only center & surrounds..

I too will try this and update..

Regarding if the effects would be the same, i think there are (will be) some differences in my fair understanding..

With ravindra deasi set-up, a line-in was attached.. So the source system has already decoded >=5.1 (movie) content to 2.0 thru line-out.

But if we were do the above experimentation (which u wanted to try) with our AVR, then our AVR will decode >=5.1 (movie) content and will play them in the 3.1 set-up (minus fronts).. This IMO has some advantages as the LFE (.1) is not altered in this route..

An apple to apple comparison would be Ravindar's system Vs Line-in to our AVR + Fronts removed + Audyssey engaged + DSP modes..

If i am incorrect explaining the above, happy to correct myself..
 

drkrack

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I think you are trying to re-create a similar experience as @Ravindra Desai system..

Am not so sure on the out-come, but try this.. I suppose you must have calibrated with Audyssey already.. If so, set the front to "None".. I doubt if Audyssey would accept a set-up without Fronts, but only center & surrounds..

I too will try this and update..

Regarding if the effects would be the same, i think there are (will be) some differences in my fair understanding..

With ravindra deasi set-up, a line-in was attached.. So the source system has already decoded >=5.1 (movie) content to 2.0 thru line-out.

But if we were do the above experimentation (which u wanted to try) with our AVR, then our AVR will decode >=5.1 (movie) content and will play them in the 3.1 set-up (minus fronts).. This IMO has some advantages as the LFE (.1) is not altered in this route..

An apple to apple comparison would be Ravindar's system Vs Line-in to our AVR + Fronts removed + Audyssey engaged + DSP modes..

If i am incorrect explaining the above, happy to correct myself..
Yes you're right about the problem and intent of my experimentation.
I was thinking of setting up front as None and trying in an already calibrated system or Connecting the Satellite to Front Speakers out instead of Surrounds out on AVR and calibrating Audessey if it doesn't accept Fronts Set to None!
Let's try and experiment. Unfortunately I'm using old Yamaha Satellite speakers from my 7yr old HTIB until I upgrade to 7.2.4 configuration with identical speakers which may be a hindrance producing an unimpressive experience. I should try shifting the Front Speakers to Surrounds position for optimal effect.

Alternatively, we can reduce the level of Front Speakers to negligible volume and set the Surrounds level to higher volume and try if we can achieve something similar ; basic idea being, dialogues and straightforward audio effects from Center speakers and background music /ambient sounds reproduced by surround speakers!
Let's see!
 
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