I've just bi-wired and I'm thrilled

Stevenj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I decided to bi-wire using my tube amp for mid and treble and solid state for the bass. Wow is all I can say. I've not been so impressed with an "audio tweak" in ages.
Steve
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Funny, I just bought jumpers so I can UN-bi-wire my speakers. 😁 Sounds like you are bi-amping as well. It's a great idea, as you discovered--the solid state portion can provide plenty of cojones for the bass, and the magic tube power goes to the mids and highs.

I previously had Vandersteens and they benefited a lot with bi-wiring from the same amp. (They were also fussy about how they were set on the floor--the bass tightened up a lot once I got the proper stands for them.) But my newer speakers have a powered bass section built in, so there's no real need to bi-wire since there is so little current draw from the bass. That way I can get more of the tube power to the panels. I did the bi-wiring a little differently though--I'm using the braided Kimber cable, so it was just a matter of pulling some of the strands for the highs and others for the lows.

My tube amp is headed over to Music Technology in Virginia to check out a bias issue I'm having (one of the owners worked at C-J as their technical director for a couple of decades, and he'll be working on the amp for me). He's also doing a couple of modifications, like installing an IEC socket to replace the damaged power cord, and doing the "A" revision to the bias LED circuit. Bad thing is, shipping that thing, insured, is going to be about $110 each way, and I may have to ship the tubes separately. (I have the factory shipping carton coming to me in a couple of days.)
 

Stevenj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Funny, I just bought jumpers so I can UN-bi-wire my speakers. 😁 Sounds like you are bi-amping as well. It's a great idea, as you discovered--the solid state portion can provide plenty of cojones for the bass, and the magic tube power goes to the mids and highs.

I previously had Vandersteens and they benefited a lot with bi-wiring from the same amp. (They were also fussy about how they were set on the floor--the bass tightened up a lot once I got the proper stands for them.) But my newer speakers have a powered bass section built in, so there's no real need to bi-wire since there is so little current draw from the bass. That way I can get more of the tube power to the panels. I did the bi-wiring a little differently though--I'm using the braided Kimber cable, so it was just a matter of pulling some of the strands for the highs and others for the lows.

My tube amp is headed over to Music Technology in Virginia to check out a bias issue I'm having (one of the owners worked at C-J as their technical director for a couple of decades, and he'll be working on the amp for me). He's also doing a couple of modifications, like installing an IEC socket to replace the damaged power cord, and doing the "A" revision to the bias LED circuit. Bad thing is, shipping that thing, insured, is going to be about $110 each way, and I may have to ship the tubes separately. (I have the factory shipping carton coming to me in a couple of days.)
Oh, yes. That would be Bill Thalmann, yes? I have 2 sonographe sa250s I was running bi-wired then thought, why not through the CJ MV55 into the mix and it is glory. The only thing is a small background hum so I'm waiting on a iso max.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Oh, yes. That would be Bill Thalmann, yes? I have 2 sonographe sa250s I was running bi-wired then thought, why not through the CJ MV55 into the mix and it is glory. The only thing is a small background hum so I'm waiting on a iso max.
Yep, Bill's the man for this sort of thing, so, off it goes. 👍 And that MV55 is a classic.

I remember I had a weird issue with a couple of other components of mine, and I discovered the ground wire throughout the room was not connected. (The central outlet in the room had three sets of wires attached to it, rather sloppy.)
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Yep, Bill's the man for this sort of thing, so, off it goes. 👍
Took three weeks to get the shipping carton from C-J, but it arrived Thursday and I sent the amp off with plenty of insurance yesterday (Friday) and a list of things to check on. It only has the one issue, but want to upgrade it to the "A" revision, verify 4-ohm wiring (they come from the factory), install the IEC socket and check on a minor channel imbalance.

Given the cost of the shipping carton and the shipping charge, it wouldn't have cost me much more to drive it down there myself.
 

Stevenj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Took three weeks to get the shipping carton from C-J, but it arrived Thursday and I sent the amp off with plenty of insurance yesterday (Friday) and a list of things to check on. It only has the one issue, but want to upgrade it to the "A" revision, verify 4-ohm wiring (they come from the factory), install the IEC socket and check on a minor channel imbalance.

Given the cost of the shipping carton and the shipping charge, it wouldn't have cost me much more to drive it down there myself.
I really love the Conrad Johnson sound. Let us know how good the restore/upgrade goes.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I really love the Conrad Johnson sound. Let us know how good the restore/upgrade goes.
It will probably be a few weeks if not a couple of months, depending on their backlog. I'll be happy when Bill fixes whatever component failed and gives it a clean bill of health. (I'm guessing a power supply component, since all four tubes cannot be biased properly.) The "A" revision was only a capacitor across the zener diode for each of the bias LEDs--it was supposed to be a slight reduction in background noise (which is nearly silent anyway), but I'm thinking with that, and a verification of everything else being adjusted properly, it should be in good shape once it returns.

A local seller up in Clarkston has a pair of Premier 12s, but his have no cages, and the asking price is too high without them. I haven't used my tube cage, but if I move things around and have to run the amp in a more exposed location, I want the option of being able to use the cage to prevent anything from falling right onto the tubes. I would have to make a modification so the cage will fit, though--the KT120s I run are taller than 6550s, so I'd need to get something like circuit board standoffs to raise the cage about 3/4". I inquired a few years ago with C-J about metal parts for a pair of Premier 12s (cages, and front faceplates--I found a good running but cosmetically challenged pair down in North Carolina that I almost bought), and they have nothing available.

I'll keep you posted!
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I really love the Conrad Johnson sound. Let us know how good the restore/upgrade goes.
I emailed and my amp is one back from the front of the queue now. I'd figured three months, and I'm pretty near being right.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
The anticipation must be EPIC!
I'll be honest--with so much going on, it feels like I dropped it off at FedEx just two weeks ago! But yes, I'm ready for it to come back home. I miss that liquid sound the tubes were giving me.

I've since been swapping phono stages and tonearm interconnects, trying to track down a very faint noise issue. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the C-J phono stage in the system--I swapped in the Phonomena II+ and noise dropped a slight amount. I already have new low-noise tubes in the C-J, so I don't know if that's just an inherent issue with the EV1 or if it might need to be dropped off at Music Technology for a once-over.

One thing I don't like about it is that it is a higher-gain phono stage with 49dB of gain, whereas most phono stages with high output cartridges (moving magnet, or moving iron like my Nagaoka) have a 40dB gain. With 49dB, I can barely use the preamp--the volume control won't lower the sound level enough. Plus it also overloads the SugarCube. I do have some 10dB attenuators (from one of the local audio club members) but they are not really an ideal way to handle too much gain. Music Tech might have a way to lower the gain internally via a modification--it only has internal DIP switches for cartridge loading, and I keep it at the standard 47kΩ setting. (The others are more for medium or high output moving coils.)
 

Stevenj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I'll be honest--with so much going on, it feels like I dropped it off at FedEx just two weeks ago! But yes, I'm ready for it to come back home. I miss that liquid sound the tubes were giving me.

I've since been swapping phono stages and tonearm interconnects, trying to track down a very faint noise issue. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the C-J phono stage in the system--I swapped in the Phonomena II+ and noise dropped a slight amount. I already have new low-noise tubes in the C-J, so I don't know if that's just an inherent issue with the EV1 or if it might need to be dropped off at Music Technology for a once-over.

One thing I don't like about it is that it is a higher-gain phono stage with 49dB of gain, whereas most phono stages with high output cartridges (moving magnet, or moving iron like my Nagaoka) have a 40dB gain. With 49dB, I can barely use the preamp--the volume control won't lower the sound level enough. Plus it also overloads the SugarCube. I do have some 10dB attenuators (from one of the local audio club members) but they are not really an ideal way to handle too much gain. Music Tech might have a way to lower the gain internally via a modification--it only has internal DIP switches for cartridge loading, and I keep it at the standard 47kΩ setting. (The others are more for medium or high output moving coils.)
I get it. It is frustrating and the amount of money is staggering. I only have one phono input on my Audible Illusions, but 3 tts, so I pulled the APT Holman pre out of retirement. Two tt are hooked up and there are 2 tape loops and an ext processor loop, so it works fine. Audible illusions is a good phono stage but also high-gain enough to make it difficult. I went with a low output denon cartridge and a step up transformer and it has helped.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I seem to remember seeing Audible Illusions at one of the hi-fi stores on Woodward, back in the mid 80s. Maybe at Audio Dimensions? I know they are still a Magnepan dealer all these decades later.
 

Stevenj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I think Galen Carol Audio sells them. Most of their sales are online and they are a pain in the ass. I traded my second hand M3A for the newer M3B some years ago and it took a long time. It was long enough to make me consider calling the police in Ormond Beach, FL, where AI is located. I love my pre-amp though and when said and done, I'm glad I bought it. Yes, Audio Dimensions still has Magnepan and Vandersteen, or at least last time I went there. I enjoyed Magnepan MMGs and still have them, but I bought a used pair of TDL Monitor transmission line speakers from the eighties. They are heavy sucker and I never want to move them. LOL.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Yeah, moving speakers is not my favorite job either. And it's worse when they are bulky and heavy. I had enough of a time moving the old Vandersteen 2CEs around since they don't even really have a cabinet--much of it is just speaker cloth stretched around four fat wood dowels, so there's no good way to get a grip on it. My stats are a bit awkward to move, but only due to the weight distribution--the panels, which are at least 80% of the height, are lighter weight, where the bass cabinet is small and heavy.

One company I remember making transmission lines was the British (?) company IMF. I don't even know if a local dealer carried them back in the day. I also thought that if I ever built my own system, I would probably have done them as a transmission line.
 

Stevenj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
TDLs were an IMF product. They have the transmission line with the Elac racetrack woofers.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
No progress on the amp yet, but I did get in touch again. Only because I had a strange phone call about an amplifier in for repair on one of my phone numbers, from a Colorado area code. (Music Tech is in Virginia.) It was a wrong number.

I had an odd item come up in my HiFi Shark search today--a set of Premier 12 monoblocks for $1,200. With a catch. The owner has only one of the monoblocks, with the other being at Backert Labs for repair, with the company telling the owner the price tag for the repair might be as high as $1,500. Even $2,700 for the pair is a steal, BUT, the amps were modified by Backert Labs. In my mind, that makes the amps less than desirable--any modification by a third party is just one person's opinion on how the amps should sound. It's not the original designers' work, in other words. If I were getting a pair of these, I want them all original, just as thousands of others have heard them over the years.

And if they needed repair in the future, CJ wouldn't even touch them...or if they did (or any other shop that worked on CJ products), they would charge to undo the modifications before beginning the repair work.

So...no sale. At least from me. They sold within hours this morning to someone else.

 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Got "the call" today--the amp is done, and should be here at the end of the week. Much relieved! It's been gone nearly four months. But in emailing Bill back and forth, he not only knows the amp, he also knows what it should sound like (having worked at C-J for 25 years will do that for a person), and he recommended replacing the Brimar 6CG7 tubes with some NOS RCAs. (He had a NOS set there for the same price as any reputable online seller, so I had him send me those with the amp.)
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
So I've had the amp back a week now and all is good. I had Bill replace the damaged power cord with a Furutech IEC socket, so I can use one of the power cords I have on hand. He also upgraded the Premier 11 to the 11A by adding a bypass zener diode to the LED bias circuit. I don't know if it's the repair, any adjustments or the RCA 6CG7 tubes, but the amp has more solid bass now. Granted, the bass is largely handled by the powered woofer sections in the speakers, but it's only amplifying what arrives at the input posts from the amp. It's an amp I can listen to for hours and not get fatigued from.

It does sound much more musical than the Nelson Pass-designed Nakamichi (PA-7, which uses the same Stasis design as the Threshold amps from back in the day) I used as a spare, but in its defense, the Nak is tired and needs a full replacement of all the electrolytic caps and a bias adjustment. Plus, there was a small modification recommended to one of the capacitor values that would flesh out the bass more fully (the value would then mirror what was in an amp like the Threshold S/500). I will say that of all the amps I've heard at AXPONA, my favorite solid state amp was anything from Pass Labs. (Perhaps the most tube-like?) If I had to go back to solid state, I'd probably find a pair of the Pass Labs Aleph monoblocks, like the Aleph 2--class A, very few gain stages, and very well reviewed at the time. Basically a cube covered in heat sinks!
 
Top Bottom