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Thread: Black Country bake off at Firebottle towers

  1. #1
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 3,802
    I'm Alan.

    Default Black Country bake off at Firebottle towers

    The bake off has been an intimate affair with myself, Bigman80, Mixc and his partner in attendance.

    A good selection of kit to swap and change about, all of it bar one item including at least one valve (valves rule of course).

    The general set-up



    Already various bits and pieces littering the floor and foot rest


    The whole event was vinyl only with the Lenco GL75 with ZYX R-100 as source and my dual mono hybrid power amp as grunt provider.

    We started by listening to the KIN preamp in MM mode with the Denon AU 320 SUT which had been my 'reference' system before the latest circuit modifications to improve the performance of the JFET MC input.

    A switch was made to the Vivant phono stage which has had the JFET modifications, in place of the phono stage in the KIN. The additional image depth and greater clarity was immediately apparent .




    Bigman80 had brought over his spare pair of Telefunken valves, prior to me replacing them, so they were substituted into the power amp with another worthwhile increase in SQ. This is getting to be a good habit.
    The Mazda valves that were in previously decided to hide themselves behind the clock as I think they realised they were outclassed:




    Up to now we had been using the Quad 57's to shift the air, my own Neat Motive SX2's were substituted for a while to provide a different flavour. For a modern design I like them, excellent top end and good overall performance for a relatively compact floorstander.
    As Oliver had brought over his Pioneer's, at my request, they were plumbed in next.




    One has to say that considering that these are from the early 70's they are stunning performers. I could live with a pair of these as my main speakers if I hadn't got any others.

    Next up was a switch to Oliver's Jolida phono stage, the first point noted was how low the volume control needed to be set, the Jolida has shed-loads of gain.




    An extremely transparent phono stage with the bonus of a valve buffer (with a small gain) on the output. Highly recommended if you can pick up one at a good price. Also highly recommended to fit the best valves you can, in this case more Telefunkens
    Very little to give away but I thought the Vivant (with latest mods) gave greater clarity.

    Some kit now starting to crowd for attention, even though some had already tasted the limelight:




    Mick's very early Croft prototype phono stage and solid state head amp were now connected up:




    The Croft was sporting a remote transformer in another box and the head amp was battery powered and featured nine, yes 9 paralleled transistors on each channel input. To be told both of these were 20+ years old was proof positive that modern kit is certainly not necessarily better because it is modern or new.

    The head amp was exceedingly quiet and transparent and the early Croft did it's usual magic (valves after all). I think the EQ on this early unit was more to my taste than later ones I have head as it was really really good. Full marks for picking these up when you did Mick






    Next up was what I think Oliver was waiting for, to compare the TVC to the Alps pot/valve buffer arrangement in the KIN line stage.
    So the ELEKTRA TVC was connected directly from the Vivant phono stage running into the Dual mono power amplifier:




    It was good, no ...... very good. A bit of denial/ teasing on my behalf, but it did offer greater impact and sparkle.
    See the postscript for what happened afterwards.

    I did have a problem with no output from one channel but I think that was due to poor contact, probably on one of the lesser quality sockets on the power amp. Checking with a multimeter showed the leads to be OK.





    When substituting Oliver's super duper leads on input and output it appears I broke one . Oh dear

    More random kit littering the floor:





    So a cracking day tarting about with interesting kit, most enjoyable

    Postscript.

    After the TVC/KIN comparison I have now fitted a Tesla PCC88 to the line stage with another little jump in performance.
    Can't beat a quality valve doing its job well.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Oct 2008

    Location: Glasgowshire

    Posts: 6,191
    I'm availableforweddingsAndBarmitzvas.

    Default

    Great write up Alan, really enjoyed reading it.

    Always fun trying out different kit in your own setup and from my own experience it’s too easy to get embedded in your own World View , sometimes takes a “different” bit of kit to make you sit up and take notice!

    As ever, the benefit of having the Troops over in person as opposed to just reading about it on a Forum.
    I have hifi 'n stuff.


  3. #3
    Join Date: Aug 2008

    Location: Suffolk, UK

    Posts: 866
    I'm Paul.

    Default

    Nice write up. Always good when you get a chance to try out different kit.
    ~Paul~

  4. #4
    Join Date: May 2015

    Location: Sussex By The Sea

    Posts: 136
    I'm Paul.

    Default

    Nice write up and good pics.
    Turntable - Pioneer PL-90. Cartridge - AT 150MLX. CD Player- Pioneer PD-91. Cassette Player- Pioneer CT-91a. Pre-Amp - Pioneer C-73 Ref. Power Amp - Pioneer M-73 Ref. Tuner- Pioneer F-91.
    Speakers - Pioneer S-2EX standmounts

  5. #5
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 3,781
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    I must say it was a very enjoyable morning!

    Mick's phonostage (The croft) was a superb performer. Whilst I don't quite agree with Alan's assesment of the Vivant being superior in clarity over the Jolida or croft, I would suggest the difference was instead, the tone. The Jolida has a more SS perspective than the Vivant (opamps will do that) while the Vivant has that beautiful sweetness. To my ears, the Croft was as good as either and sat somewhere in the middle with the valve rich tone and excellent top end sparkle. It really does come down to a matter of personal preference between the 3. I could happily own any of the three and not feel like I was missing out on anything. The mods have undoubtedly lifted the performance of the Vivant quite significantly. The Addition of the Telefunken valves into the Dual mono really raised its game too.

    The Slagle AVC, imo was ahead in terms of resolution and transparency. It really is a great buy, if you can find one. The KIN had its admirers but the fact a mod was carried out instantly tells its own story!!! I have no doubt that the KIN can be as good with the removal of the Alps blue pot and a significant other in its place.

    The Pioneers are a class act. Superb imaging and really good scale for a speaker its size and age. (circa 1971)

    Overall a good day. Nice to meet Mick & Jen too!




    Sent from my EVA-L09 using Tapatalk
    Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 tonearm > Decca Gold > Jolida JD9 MKII (Telefunken Valves) & Wizard MM Valve Phonostage (Telsa Valves)> Firebottle Monoblocks (Telefunken Valves) > IXOS Speaker Cables > Pioneer CS-77A Speakers

  6. #6
    Join Date: Oct 2017

    Location: Coventry

    Posts: 13
    I'm Mick.

    Default

    I would like to say a BIG thanks to Alan for hosting, I enjoyed meeting him and Oliver. Both me and Jen had a really interesting day.
    Hearing Alan's kit for the first time WOW!!!
    Alan's system has a lovely front end, the cartridge sang, The deck was unobtrusive as it should be, The Hybrid power amp (his own design), I could not fault, the ceiling mounted Quads, sounded great. Getting used to the sound stage 8 ft up in the air was a strange experience and took some getting used to.
    When my early 80s Crimson (transistor) head amp was plumbed in, we had a listen again WOW!!. The sound now had more of a touch of home, then another piece of my kit what i know as a prototype Croft Epoch, And another step towards the sound and tonality that I am used to.
    We then proceed on a swift change through the other pieces of kit that Alan's write up covers, each one had its strengths.
    I would have to spend more time with each of them if i had to choose which i liked more, they all sounded top notch.

    Thanks again,
    Last edited by Mixc; 26-11-2017 at 05:11.

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 3,225
    I'm James.

    Default

    Sorry I could not make it chaps as new car had to be sorted and the round trip was rather long.

    Anyway it looks like you had a good day with great kit and a strange fascination with valves!

    Oliver I will be in touch regarding the acoustic isolation stuff and Decca.
    VPI Scout 1.1 / JMW 9T Tonearm / 2M Black /Croft 25R+ / Croft 7 / Spendor SP2

  8. #8
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 3,781
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Sorry I could not make it chaps as new car had to be sorted and the round trip was rather long.

    Anyway it looks like you had a good day with great kit and a strange fascination with valves!

    Oliver I will be in touch regarding the acoustic isolation stuff and Decca.
    No worries, Jim. The Decca is safe and sound.

    Sent from my EVA-L09 using Tapatalk
    Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 tonearm > Decca Gold > Jolida JD9 MKII (Telefunken Valves) & Wizard MM Valve Phonostage (Telsa Valves)> Firebottle Monoblocks (Telefunken Valves) > IXOS Speaker Cables > Pioneer CS-77A Speakers

  9. #9
    Join Date: Mar 2016

    Location: West Bromwich

    Posts: 70
    I'm Neil.

    Default

    Shit!!!!
    Alan kindly invited me to this and I totally forgot all about it, damn!!

    Sounds like a good day was had by all, great write up lads
    Gutted I missed it

  10. #10
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 73,942
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

    Default

    Excellent write-up (and pics), guys. Always good putting faces to forum names and growing the AoS community. Glad you had a good time and learned some new stuff too, which for me is what these meets are all about - that and discovering new music!

    When I was building my current system and 'voicing' the Croft, for example, I'd often have to modify it further (as Alan has just done with his KIN) after someone had visited and had let me hear something that I considered exposed a weak area in it.

    However, that's the advantage of having others round with good kit (and ears) because you can end up advancing the sound of your own equipment (and system), as a result, which is why it's always good to test your kit against as much other stuff as possible, and go and hear other people's systems, as it all acts as a valuable learning curve, which ultimately YOU will gain from.

    Anyway, I hope to be at the next get together, should Alan wish to expose his home to more reprobates in future lol, when I will bring my Croft down for perhaps some useful comparison purposes. It would be good to meet Oliver too, and other forum members, such as Mick and Neil, from that part of the country.

    Onwards and upwards, chaps!

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

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