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Thread: A few hours at Oliver's

  1. #1
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,352
    I'm James.

    Default A few hours at Oliver's

    Although I live 20 minutes from Oliver I still find it difficult to find time to meet up but as so much had changed in Oliver's system I was curious to hear what changes he has made to his system and on a blustery Friday afternoon I managed to pay another visit. Unfortunately we only listened to 50% of Oli's system as he is still painfully building his phono stage and I am not just referring to delayed parts! Frustratingly this was only a toroid away from completion!

    As always Oliver is a great host, enthusiastic and great company and has, as I have mentioned before, a great ear for audio and sound in general. If I was to trust someone to recommend or put a system together for me it would be this man.

    So the 50% that we could listen too was Oliver's newly acquired digital set up which suited me fine because I knew if Oliver was happy with it and it remained in his house for more than a few weeks it must be good. Although we are both massive vinyl fans we keep an interest in digital equipment and I would say we have both dabbled in various digital orientated systems over the years. I believe a fair bit of kit has come and gone very quickly in Oliver's house but at last he has an system which I think maybe a keeper? This is based around the Raspberry Pi which has been configured with an Allo BOSS DAC with a laptop used as a server.

    The Pi is juiced by a nice linear PSU and pumped into his own build preamp and finally into a monster Krell KSA 100 MK2. I know a few folk have heard this amp at Oliver's but what took me by surprise was the size and the heat, it makes a very good radiator! This amp is a beast, a steel hand in a velvet glove. I quickly grasped its ability as a power amp, very muscular and just cruising most of the time like a V8 engine. You only have to blip the throttle and its control, weight and authority are felt as a physical presence in the room. It has a warmth to the sound but handles fine detail in the top end superbly whilst absolutely controlling and defining the bottom end. Bass is not just delivered, it is articulated in a way few amps I have heard can do below 10,000. Ok Oli's speakers don't need that much power but they never sounded too pushed or overawed, they just sounded controlled. Wonderful.

    Back to the Pi. I have heard a few configurations of the Pi but this one was the best. The digital picture it paints is sophisticated and punches way above its price. It does not do anything badly and avoids any of the pitfalls of digital audio I have heard in the past. We listened to some great 'demonstration' tunes and it really was enjoyable. Volumio works very well and there were no glitches, it never fell over. On well ripped material,we only listed to files, it sounded very good indeed and was revealing enough to quickly tell you when you had a poor rip lower down the bit rate scale!

    I was impressed and would only say that compared to the very best digital audio I have heard it sounded a little bit constricted and slightly muddled or thick on some material. The soundstage was not the biggest and it may have lacked a bit of air and ambience in some recordings. But I was impressed and for the money it is a steal. When digital is this cheap there is no argument not too have one. I am sure this would embarrass a lot of more expensive DAC/ renderers!

    As Oliver is a cable man I took round a Chord Epic twin speaker cable. Speaker cables are probably not as sexy as ICs so I though it would be interesting for Oli to hear this cable. I have had it for a few years and it is simply far and away the best speaker cable I have heard. It does everything right and orders everything in a controlled way that allows you to hear the full potential of the material you pump into your speakers. Nothing is exaggerated or emphasised, it is a very well balanced cable. Oli may be able to mention what his thoughts were?

    This time round the biggest impression I took away from Oliver's was the Krell. It is a fabulous power amp and one of the best I have heard. I can't wait to get back round when Oli has finished his latest reiteration of his phono stage and listen to his vinyl rig. I can only imagine it will be spectacular.

    Thanks for a great afternoon, it was certainly warm and cosy next to that amp.
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  2. #2
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 7,887
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Hi Jim,

    Yes, the busy lives do tend to make the distance further but hey, you made it lol.

    Thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and yes, the Krell does make the radiator redundant when there's more than one person in the room. It's definitely a compromise i am happy to live with as the sound quality is right up there with the best pieces i've heard. To better it outright, i think your assessment of a spend of 10k or more is probably spot on in the commercial realm but as we know, the DIY community usually push this SPPV to better returns.

    The tone of the Krell is ever so slightly warmer than neutral BUT i think i know why and as soon as i am physically able, i'll be taking steps to neutralise it! I'll also be putting some other speakers into the mix next week so they will reveal how coloured the amp is or if its the Pioneer Speakers that are to blame!

    One of the other factors here is the speaker cable. I have known this for some time but at 2pm, its too good to just throw out. They are slightly "rounded" in their presentation and contribute to the "warm" feel. However, just how much was brought to my attention like a slap in the face when we put the Chord Epic Twin in, in place of the Fisual S-Flex.

    Clean lines with excellent delineation replaced what now sounded like Bleeding edges from the Fisual. I asked instantly if they were silver plated (they are) but Jim wasn't sure. I heard that mix of metal immediately but it worked rather better than other cables that use this combination. Vocals felt free and clear and the soundstage was definitely bigger and better. Nils Lofgrens guitar was resonant and the fret buzz from his frantic picking stood out. The cables really pulled out the detail with a really sweet balance to the sound. I was impressed and that is rare for me. I'd happily use these.........if i didn't have a cable of my own in mind

    Speaker cables are something i am currently investigating and this has given me the impetus to get it higher up the priority list.

    The Pi really ha been a revelation here. I played Gypsy Woman - Rory Gallagher and my god, it sounded absolutely stunning. Harmonica and guitar just hit a 3D level i haven't had from anything digital here. And a lot more expensive stuff has passed through and failed. I decided a while back that the reason i love vinyl is that every now and again, it convinces my brain that what i am hearing is "The real thing". Digital hasnt done that with any regularity. I then thought "why am i comparing digital to vinyl?"

    The benchmark should be the same. If a digital piece can trick me into forgetting i am listening to a recording, then that should suffice. The Pi does this quite often so therefore it stays. For 150 it will relegate CD permanently IMO.

    The phonostage will be up and running by the end of the week thanks to an able bodied friend so the next meeting (25/03/19) should be 100% vinyl. Awesome

    A really good day was had and held in the right spirit. What it's all about.

    If you REALLY want more pics, let me know but C'mon, theres loads here already!!!!
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  3. #3
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,352
    I'm James.

    Default

    Your gear must be the most photographed on the site and your listening room maybe the most frequented!
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  4. #4
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 7,887
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Your gear must be the most photographed on the site and your listening room maybe the most frequented!
    Lol, that's very true mate.

    Another couple of welcome guests next week!

    It's good to participate I. The HiFi community. I got to hear some cables I'd never have tried. It's the best way to hear stuff.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  5. #5
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 24,133
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    What speakers are you getting in then Ollie?
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SLP1200 CD Player * Nelson Pass DCB1 Pre amp / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *


    'You fool! To think that your ape-brain could contain the full knowledge of the Krell!'

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 7,887
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    What speakers are you getting in then Ollie?
    I'm loaning some Missions mate. They are floor standers. Same as RobbieGong had.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  7. #7
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 24,133
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    Right. 752? Should be interesting.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SLP1200 CD Player * Nelson Pass DCB1 Pre amp / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *


    'You fool! To think that your ape-brain could contain the full knowledge of the Krell!'

  8. #8
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 7,887
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    Right. 752? Should be interesting.
    I can't remember the model number but I want to see what effect a narrow speaker will have in my listening room. There is some suggestion I can improve the size of the soundstage with slimmer speakers rather than wide ones like the pioneers.

    You've seen the limited space I have so I'm willing to have a look. Also gives s little insight into what the JMLabs might do if you ever get your Tannoys!
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  9. #9
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 24,133
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigman80 View Post
    I can't remember the model number but I want to see what effect a narrow speaker will have in my listening room. There is some suggestion I can improve the size of the soundstage with slimmer speakers rather than wide ones like the pioneers.

    You've seen the limited space I have so I'm willing to have a look. Also gives s little insight into what the JMLabs might do if you ever get your Tannoys!
    The Tannoys won't be long now.


    You need to get that garage sorted. Plenty of space, no early reflections. You could get a pearling listening room in there, probably cost you a monkey tops with some ducking and diving. You're going to need it if I want the JM Labs back and you're stuck with the Ardens
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SLP1200 CD Player * Nelson Pass DCB1 Pre amp / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *


    'You fool! To think that your ape-brain could contain the full knowledge of the Krell!'

  10. #10
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 7,887
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    The Tannoys won't be long now.


    You need to get that garage sorted. Plenty of space, no early reflections. You could get a pearling listening room in there, probably cost you a monkey tops with some ducking and diving. You're going to need it if I want the JM Labs back and you're stuck with the Ardens


    Yep. I know. Not sure the timing is right to do the garage but it is in the long term plan.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

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