I could not hear this through the crossover and it did not realize how dominant the sound of the Audible Illusions preamp was in this system. The choice I am making for the moment is to accept the euphony of the preamp because it makes so much of the music more exciting and natural sounding and renders otherwise unlistenable recordings (particularly on CD) easily enjoyable.
Sound wise, there is no speaker I heard that reveals so much (for better or for worse), without the crossover interfering with the midrange it reveals differences among components very readily and brought me to better understand the deficiencies in my various components and made it easy to decide which compromise I prefer. Lush sounding recordings sounded as such. CD was easy to listen to with the tube preamp. The Audible Illusions Dual Mono gave a wall to wall and slightly shallow soundstage detail was preserved, but a slight bit of its sharpness was smoothed (lost its "etch"), this with the Musical Fidelity HTP DAC/pre feeding it, while the HTP feeding the amps without the preamp provided more detail, but gave a much narrower but noticeably deeper soundstage limited to the space between the midrange line arrays. Through the tube pre, you could not hear where the speakers were and the slight grain in the HTP's output was partially smoothed out. The broad soundstage and harmonic correctness in the tube preamp's rendition were clearly "editorial" enhancements. Maybe they just undo some of the effects of solid state ICs stripping harmonic information - but that is still an editing job.
Technics 1600 MkII suspended DD turntable rebuilt, with rewired and damped arm, Garrott FGS MM (has no damping whatsoever - quietest cartridge I ever heard - very dynamic and musical). Soundsmith retip AT OC9
Backups, Oracle Alexandria II, Oracle Delphi MkI, Sansui 929, Lenco L-75 (undergoing mods now). The Technics sounds better than them all. On par with normal VPI scoutmaster - not as nice as the rim drive version. (01/10)
Bass amp: Crown 5002VZ - 2500 W/channel - yes, the bass panels need (nearly) that much to deliver the right bass crack.
Mid amps (alternates):
Dynaco MkIII Triode, musicaps, relcaps RTX (PS) Vampire gold jacks and posts. KT 90EH
Classe DR-9 solid state
NuForce 8.5 modified by Ric Schutz of Tweakaudio. - Class D (wonderful transparent clean and neutral but must be used with an inductor in line with the output - or it gets "crazy" sharp sounding)
Fosgate 4125 bridged. (a Strickland design, based on the Acoustat Transnova amps)
Tweeter: Classe DR-9 or Nuforce, DR-9 does better.
BTW, the Tympani woofer should not be mounted flat forward, the panels should have an angle between them for time coherence at the listening seat and to help in canceling out stray transverse creeping waves. The granite and other heavy plinths have a problem with trapping large amounts of energy and radiating it back to the tympani drivers. They suffer from a broad cavity resonance at 800 hz and suffer from transverse waves going across the mylar. By mounting them in a heavy plinth they are indeed carried into it and spread into a large mass but they are also reflected back and at additional frequencies. A lighter and highly transmissive metal or wood frame anchored to a solid floor to drain energy would do better, as would a stiff but reverberant hardwood frame that dissipates energy into the room and transmits it to the floor as well - the more modes for dissipation the better. Damping the magnet board with Dynamat strips helps too. with all this done, the woofers perform well into the 500 hz range before they start getting "thick" and losing significant detail.
This step will move the other speaker into place and be adjusted to match the sound pressure of the "anchor" speaker. Move the speaker out from the wall about 6 inches, toeing the speaker directly in to the listening position. Now begin moving the speaker out at very small increments, no more than 1/8th in. or 2-3 mm. at a time, and only listen to the bass line. Continue to move the speaker out at these small increments until you hear a lessening of the bass resonances. Once you find a lessening in the bass make a small movement or two of 1/16th in, or 1-2 mm. and listen for the best response. You will also tend to notice that all of the music tends to smooth out and become much more clean and clear sounding as the two speakers equalize.
NOTE: You may be able to feel the bass resonance in your feet. This makes finding the best bass spot quite easy as the resonance will disappear in your feet.
The best part of Master Set is that it is virtually free. It merely requires a setup song and your time. Even if you do not understand anything I have written, or fail to believe any of it, it will cost you virtually nothing in order to try it. It's worth a go! And then you can evaluate the results. Lastly, words simply do not describe the improvement to the sound of a music system from setting up the speakers with Master Set.!!!!!
The music will sound the same from any seat in the listening room, to the right of the right speaker, to the left of the left speaker, in the middle, or anywhere else in the room. This is not really subjective as it is very easy to hear. The elimination of "inter-speaker distortion", I'm using this term for lack of a better one, results in music that will sound quite clean and natural, especially vocals. This is always a bit subjective, as everyone tends to think their system sounds this way. But with Master Set, all the veils and distortions just seem to disappear. It's easy to hear. I have heard Master Set in 2 quite different music systems - a very expensive system at RMAF with Rowland Class D amplification and Vienna Acoustics Die Musik speaker, and my own very modest system with a 60 watt Class A/B Aspen Lifeforce amplifier and Osborn Titan Reference speakers - with similar overall results.
I first heard speakers set up with Master Set at RMAF 2007. I was quite impressed by the sound, which was the same at any seat in the listening room, as well as the clean natural sound of the music, especially vocals. At RMAF 2008 I revisited Master Set and learned enough information about the procedure to be able to do a DIY of Master Set on my own system in my own listening room.
You can call me an "Apogee man", as I have owned and tweaked Apogee Diva, Scintilla, Stages (I even stacked two pairs), Duetta, and Fullrange. I have improved their crossovers and driven them with a wide range of SS and tube amps including the Krells, Jadis, Lamms, VTL, Bryston, Musical Fidelity to name a few. So I know the Apogee sound well and also the "Krell sound" (which I totally dislike). I know hundreds of people around the world who own Apogee speakers, but I have not met anyone quite like myself, who has explored so much with these speakers. I agree with you the Fullrange is the best Apogee. However, even the Fullrange did not quite satisfy me, until I created "My own Apogee spekaer" by combining the MR/TW of hybrid Apogee (Centaur Major) and the Fullrange bass panel as a 2-way speaker driven by passive crossover (deisgned by myself). I am driving it with four Tube Research Lab GT-400 monoblocks and I have been fully satisfied with the sound for 2 years now. For my taste, I have not found a better sound and that includes several top systems at audiogon that I visited and listened. I also believe the TRL amp is in much higher league than Jadis, VTL, Lamm and others (Krell is not even in the reckoning). (10/07)
What is more interesting is that I had the chance to compare several different bassystems with these speakers.
- The 231 sub (like the ones used in Duo Grosso) does give some more physical bass than the normal 225 subs, but can not in any way compare soundwise with any of the basshorns (IMHO).
- The "small" basshorns are fast and tight and are very good on PRaT and the "champ" on rhythmical music.
- The big basshorns are more like a soundstage champ that gives a warm and very big soundstage, but not just as fast and tight as the smaller ones.
All in all, my conclusions are:
- You have to decide what to write about my (and others) comments about the Avantgardes.
- I am going to Germany and listen to ALL the actual models this winter.
The date is not settled yet, but I believe it will be in February.
And even if Avantgarde only have solid-state amps in their showroom, I am pretty sure that I know these speakers so well now, that I will be able to decide how the different models sound compare to each other.......)
- All in all, my personal feelings are that for classical music there is nothing better than the Trio Omegas w/basshorns, but for other kind of music, Duo Omegas (and especially Duo Mezzos) can be just as good (or better).