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Old 12-29-2011, 04:35 PM
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Thumbs up Kind of a review....Monbrison/VTL

So...a quick update on my recent upgrades. You might remember from my previous postings that after a series of auditions, I decided to purchase a Shindo Monbrison, VTL ST-150 and Ortofon A90 as a new system to support my Verity Parsifal Encore speakers. The gear seems to be relatively burned in now, so I'm ready to comment a bit on the improvements.

First off...it's a bit difficult to call this a detailed review. Why? A few reasons - first off, I've changed 3 major components (amp, preamp, cartridge) essentially at the same time, so it's hard to state in detail what each has done. Second - the change is so dramatic and the upgrade so drastic, that of course the sound is phenomenal and very much to my liking. It gets hard to delineate between my own subjective preferences, and what the equipment is doing from an objective viewpoint.

As a reminder, the gear being replaced is an Ayre AX7e integrated amp (a nice amp, but nowhere near in the same class as Monbrison/ST-150) and a Benz Ruby 3H cartridge. The cartridge upgrade wasn't as dramatic in absolute terms as the pre/amp change, but was done primarily for the purposes of matching the low-impedance phono stage in the Monbrison, which it does wonderfully.

The biggest differences that I'm noticing are...pretty much everything! When using the amp in tetrode mode, the dynamics and frequency extension at the extremes is a huge step up from what I had before, as is the dimensionality and size of the soundstage. Midrange (voices and guitars primarily) just sounds so smooth and detailed, even more so when the amp is in triode mode. The ability of the system to provide space for detail to unravel itself within the soundstage, and to allow the listener to focus in on the slightest detail, is just phenomenal, whether the amp is in tetrode or triode mode.

In trying to allocate the impact of the different pieces of this upgrade, while understanding that the 3 pieces were purchased specifically to work with each other within the context of my turntable/arm/speakers, I think I have an idea at least. The cartridge is clearly very balanced and dynamic, given that the improved dynamics are more evident on records than on CD's, as is the balanced tonality of the setup. The ability to focus in on the smallest detail within a recording (in a well-defined space on the soundstage) seems to emanate from the preamp, whereas the size and scale of the soundstage and large-scale dynamics seems to be largely a product of the amplification. As for the great timbre and tonality across the frequency range - I suspect that's a mix of everything.

I find the Parsifals to be a great speaker whose performance belies their size. Their detailed and alluring full-range performance in a package that easily fits into my small-ish room was a key element in my choosing them last year. And now, driven by proper amplification, they are sounding better than ever. But...the Parsifals are not exactly your standard Shindo speakers, and need a fair bit of drive from an amp in order to open up, so I doubt if I'll head down the path of a full-on Shindo system as long as the Parsifals are in my system. And they might well be in my system for quite a while the way things are sounding.

So...my first Shindo component is certainly a winner, as is my first VTL component. And as a nice bonus, both are really fantastic looking pieces as well! I feel truly lucky to be able to listen to such wonderful music on a daily basis.
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Verity Parsifal Encore-Shindo Corton Charlemagne Q-Shindo Monbrison-Michell Orbe SE Mk.2-Graham 2.2-Ortofon A90-Audience AU24 speaker cables-Shindo Silver interconnect-Wavelength Cosecant (Denominator)-Amarra-Audeze LCD3-Woo Audio WA6SE-Rock & Roll!
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:01 PM
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Great stuff Ken!

I am glad the combo is working well for you. I can't wait to see the full system photos.

BTW - I will update you soon - My amp have arrived in Canada and I should get it today or tomorrow!
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:03 PM
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countingbackwards, congrats! Love it when a plan comes together.
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:36 PM
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Thumbs up

Congratulations, countingbackwards, for having found the proper supporting cast for your Parsifals !

VA speakers love tubes and I only hear good things about Shindo and VTL, so it appears you have made wise choices.

Happy listening !
Guy
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Old 12-30-2011, 07:09 AM
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Many congratulations Ken,

Shindo, Verity and VTL just sounds very lush... may it bring you a loving dose of long term happiness

cheers
Graham
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:22 AM
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Ken... Congrads on getting some Primo gear!
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 12-30-2011, 11:38 PM
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Master Lu,

I just want to simply compliment you on your consistent complimentary views on everything people do and share here about their approaches to systems. Kudos to you for being so encouraging!
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cucumber_Jones View Post
Great stuff Ken!

I am glad the combo is working well for you. I can't wait to see the full system photos.

BTW - I will update you soon - My amp have arrived in Canada and I should get it today or tomorrow!
Hi Cucumber,

What shindo amp did you purchase? Any shindo piece is a very nice Xmas gift!
I see you already have a Shindo preamp, so you are all set.

Larry
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Old 01-01-2012, 02:31 PM
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Thanks for the thumbs up guys...it's fun to have a few people on the planet who understand the enjoyment I've been having with my system recently...while my wife appreciates the nice sound of the tunes, her enjoyment is somewhat limited by the fact that she's deaf in one ear - it kind of ruins the impact of a 3D-layered soundstage when everything sounds like it's coming from the right sidewall!

I'll need to get used to having a tube system though - I just walked into the room and realized that I accidentally left the pre and amp on last night! Doh! Talk about a waste of tube life and electricity. That's right, they've been on since last year! On the plus side, there wasn't any wait for them to warm up today, so 5 minutes more of tunes.
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Old 01-01-2012, 03:57 PM
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Sounds like you have a great system there.
I have heard the VTL ST-150 amp and it sounded very nice.
Congratulations!

Think of the money you saved on the heat bill when you left the amps on.
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