So after last weeks jolly good Bake Off in Stoke I popped over to hear Alans system in situ as it were at Firebottle Towers. I would like to say a big thank you to Alan and Shirley for their hospitality and a viewing of Alans UK residence which after some alterations is now a great home with a very nice music room!
I did not take any pics but I am sure most of what we looked at and heard has already been posted by Alan. I am sure Alan would not mind popping a few in later in the post.
We started by listening to Alans Quad ESL speakers driven by the new Firebottle mono blocks and the KIN preamp. Hooked on the front end was Alans GL75 Lenco with an Ortofon Salsa MC cartridge. Alan mentioned he has not touched the Lenco yet so it probably needs a bit of servicing although it ran very smooth and quiet, however on investigation the V blocks appeared to be shot but this did not seem to affect the SQ. I am sure when Alan gets to pop in some Desmo blocks he is in for a surprise as this is one of the biggest improvements that can be made to the stock Lenco.
We kicked off with a bit of Yello (The Race ) from the Flag album. Dynamics and pace was handled superbly by the Quad speakers which hitched up their skirts and delivered a full, rich, controlled and transparent sound. There was plenty of oomph from the ESL's and effortless controlled power. Alan has them hung from the ceiling which I found a very good set up to listen too although the bass was a tiny bit fruity which Alan is going to address. They sounded better than any ESL I have ever heard especially with Alans own amps. The Monoblocks really are a step up from the AIR with an effortless open sound, very transparent and dynamic with the Quads.
Next up was a track from Duke Ellington with Ray Brown playing double bass ( This Ones's for Blanton) Sound was perfection and showed amazing detail and layering of information in the sound. Electrostatic really are fabulous for acoustic airy detail and don't seem to suffer the distortion and blurring of some of the recorded information like conventional speakers. We then swapped the Ortofon MC cartridge for the M55e with Jico SAS and played Yello again, in fact we left this cartridge on the Lenco for the remainder of the session as it did such a good job. I think like myself Alan was amazed at the size of the stylus JICO have created. The Boron cantilever is the thickness of a hair! I must admit everything sounded wonderful with this on the Lenco and better than I have heard it in my own system. The KIN really does have a superb MM phono stage.
More Jazz from Basie and Glenn Millar and a very very good Lightening Hopkins Mono album which was superb.
Just remembered we did listen to Alans Magnepan speakers for a short while which sounded very airy and much lighter than the Quads but had a magic of their own. These are detailed speakers with a less dynamic presentation than the Quads but never the less very easy to listen too and very musical and LARGE! We soon switched back to the Quad ESl's and had a listen to a small prototype preamp Alan is working on which i am sure he will reveal sometime in the future. It was very good for what it was but I will let Alan write about this when he has it sorted.
Back to Alans KIN / Monoblocks / Quads / lento and a few more albums including Crossroads by Tracey Chapman. Vocals and dynamics again stunning.
I am very impressed with what Alan has achieved driving the Quads with his own amps, they really do make them sing and it is hard to imagine anything sound much better even with the humble Lenco on the front. We discussed this and the conclusion was all the equipment including the TT simply got out of the way and imposed no noticeable sonic signature on the system but simply left you with the music which is after all is the ultimate goal with a HIFI system! Extremely transparent and informative system with great detail, dynamics and huge listening pleasure.