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  #171  
Old 11-13-2018, 05:28 PM
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I made some time to swap out the Black Diamonds for the Gold Lions last evening, and got in about 1:15 with them as a preliminary.

Last night was a video session, and the requirements are different than audio only. Playing reference tracks from my Moody Blues and Yes DVDs, I came away thinking it sounded good. The biggest takeaway is that the high end is toned down some compared to the BDs; "less aggressive" or "more subdued" may be appropriate. That could come in handy with brighter recordings, though depending upon the DVD it may not serve quite as well. The dynamics were present, though perhaps just a bit less upfront compared to the BDs. It's actually as if I'd turned down the volume a few notches. But the GLs may well be easier to listen to because of the less aggressive highs, which could come off sounding bright with the BDs at times. The BDs sounded real, as in "that's how live music sounds sometimes," but could get annoying at high volume were I to turn the volume up. It may take a few notches more with the GLs in place to get to that point.

I'll see how this goes. I'd like to get acquainted with the sound before making any deep decisions on whether the Gold Lions stay in or I give something else a go. I'll go through more of my reference tracks, video and audio, and see where it takes me.
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  #172  
Old 11-19-2018, 04:58 PM
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Last night I played my first CDs with the GLs in the new setup. It was interesting, and a bit different than what I experienced with DVDs.

I played some Brazilian stuff, Antonio Carlos Jobim's Wave and a Verve compilation, The Best of Bossa Nova. The sound was good overall, the Bossa disc sounded better; it's a better recording, I think. On that one, cymbals had a nice sheen to them and I could detect a bit more realism to most instruments compared to Wave. The GL's smoothness and detail served this type of music very well. And being more laid-back than the BD's presentation, especially in the upper frequencies, it was a perfect fit. The Wave CD sounded a bit muddy and perhaps a little hard on the title track, the piano especially, which also sounded bit muffled at times; again, I think the recording isn't the greatest, but I don't remember it sounding quite like that with the BDs.

This is only two CDs, and of a specific genre at that, so I'm not prepared to say I like one tube better than the other. I'll have to pull out my reference CD tracks to play and see what's up with those. I'll also have to trot out more DVDs/BDs to see if first impressions continue on the video side.
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  #173  
Old 11-24-2018, 07:09 AM
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Further impressions on the GLs:

Last night it was a video session, with tracks from The Moody Blues at the Royal Albert Hall, Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood at Madison Square Garden, and the move Justice League.

I began to get a bit of a headache while listening to the concert discs. That didn't happen with the Black Diamonds or JJ Gold-Plated High Performance tubes on these same discs. The same thing happened when playing the Moody Blues disc previously. It seems to relate to the high frequencies. I hesitate to call the sound "bright;" perhaps "hard" is more descriptive. But at the same time there was, particularly on the Clapton/Winwood disc, a better sense of realism in the sound of instruments over the BDs, though not a dramatic one. I'd have to go back to the BDs to verify that.

Wednesday evening was a CD session while I was cooking. I came into the living room to listen periodically. That session was a Count Basie comp on Verve, Count Basie Plays the Blues, and various tracks from the Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits series. I hadn't played the Basie disc though the BDs so this may be unfair, but I was impressed with how realistic the instruments sounded overall. The Billboard material exposed a complaint I had about the GLs before; that pesky bright-sounding '60s stuff that forces me to turn the volume down, as I did that evening. The JJs are still the best at taming these bright recordings, due most likely to being warmer tubes and with a more forward low end and weight in the mids.

As for GLs versus BDs, the preliminary impression is they are similar in overall sound to my ears, with the GLs having a slight edge in detail on what I've played so far, but giving up just a bit on the bottom to the BDs. Still, the GL's low end is quite satisfying. I've misplaced my Atlanta Symphony CD with my "ultimate " reference track "Fanfare for the Common Man." That will get played when I find it (another important reason to straighten up!).
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  #174  
Old 11-24-2018, 12:57 PM
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Charles.......Remember, too, the Gold Lions benefit from at least 50 to 60 hours of break-in. If you are attempting to identify performance perimeters, you should give the tubes sufficient time to reach their full potential. Passing judgement on new vacuum tubes with low hours yields inaccurate results for the long run.
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  #175  
Old 11-24-2018, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdandy View Post
Charles.......Remember, too, the Gold Lions benefit from at least 50 to 60 hours of break-in. If you are attempting to identify performance perimeters, you should give the tubes sufficient time to reach their full potential. Passing judgement on new vacuum tubes with low hours yields inaccurate results for the long run.
These GLs saw time in the 2300 previously, but that was two years ago. A little over 60 hours. So I shouldn't count them as broken in, since it's been so long since they were fed a signal, right?
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  #176  
Old 11-24-2018, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prepress View Post
These GLs saw time in the 2300 previously, but that was two years ago. A little over 60 hours. So I shouldn't count them as broken in, since it's been so long since they were fed a signal, right?
Charles.......If you have 60 hours on the Gold Lions, they can be considered broken in. I just wanted to make sure you weren't just popping in new tubes expecting the best performance right out of the box.
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  #177  
Old 11-24-2018, 10:48 PM
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I'm thinking of trying out those JJ golds in my line stage for a little warmth over my GLs. For $25/ea, not too much of a risk I suppose.
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  #178  
Old 12-02-2018, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maks View Post
I'm thinking of trying out those JJ golds in my line stage for a little warmth over my GLs. For $25/ea, not too much of a risk I suppose.
I'm thinking of putting the JJs back in to see how they do at some point. What I notice is that the GLs don't have quite the bottom of the BDs and definitely not of the JJs, but they're very good; I like the detail they offer so far. I have only 18 hours on the recently purchased Transparent Premium PCs, so there's not much time with the setup as is; the Premiums may still be maturing for all I know. I haven't tried vinyl yet either, so there's a ways to go, but my guess is the GLs will be more forgiving on vinyl. Perhaps I'd even try the JJs in the line stage and leave the GLs in the phono section of my C2300. But I need to put in time on vinyl first, and play a few more of my reference tracks on CD and DVD/BD as well.

Meantime, I did locate my Atlanta Symphony CD and played Fanfare. This confirmed my earlier comments. The GLs have a nice low end that I could certainly live with, but they come up a bit short in terms of weight compared to the BDs. That would make a difference for the video side to be sure, and I noticed it with earlier DVDs I played, including the Soundgarden track during ciosing credits of The Avengers.
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  #179  
Old 01-31-2019, 03:24 PM
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As a sign that I'm too far down the whole possibly (rabbit or otherwise), I was playing a new blu-ray acquisition, Hans Zimmer Live in Prague this week and as I listened, there were times during the performance that it seemed like the low end was a bit lacking in thump or fullness, while other times it thumped satisfyingly. This could well be the material (it is, probably), but my first thought was to put the Black Diamonds back in my 2300 since they didn't get a fair shake with the Transparent Premium PCs now on my MC501s, and have a somewhat more impactful bottom. Even with the spots having satisfying low end, it occurred the BD could add a bit more.

What this means is I begin to understand all the talk about never being finished with one's system. There's always something, major or minor, that will play at you if you let it. And tubes are less expensive than equipment for the most part, making it easier to mess with them. True, some of the NOS tubes cost as much as a power cord, but I've resisted that call easily thus far. Still, this could become a merry-go-round if I allow it.

UPDATE 2/3: I played the Man of Steel track on this disc yesterday, and the lower-mid/high-low frequencies (whatever they're called) are missing some sound, compared to the same track on YouTube through my iMac! It's subtle but audible. I'll play it on my system again (just played it on YouTube again) to make sure I heard (or didn't hear) what I thought I heard. If I confirm this, it's back to the BDs for comparison.
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Last edited by prepress; 02-03-2019 at 08:39 PM.
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  #180  
Old 04-08-2019, 07:36 AM
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Well, I did it. I removed the Gold Lions and reinstalled the Black Diamonds, wanting to see how they did with the fully broken-in Premium power cords on my 501s. I was pleased with the results on a short sample.

I played my usual Fanfare for the Common Man track by the Atlanta Symphony Orchesra, a Verve Antonio Carlos Jobim CD anthology, then Hans Zimmer Live in Prague, and "Woke up Dreaming" from Joe Bonamassa: An Acoustic Evening at Carnegie Hall, both on blu-ray. To be fair, the ACJ CD was background music, as I was in the kitchen. The primary verdict? There was more weight to the bottom end, which was my initial impression before the Premiums got here. On Fanfare the difference in the bottom end was obvious, as the bass drum was noticeably more powerful than the GLs had offered (though it was more than respectable). Here and there on the Zimmer BD I heard a bass note I didn't remember hearing before, but am not prepared to say the Black Diamonds are more articulate; more listening is in order.

The other thing to note was the lower noise floor, which I'm sure the Premiums have something to do with, but I noticed this a bit more last night. Decay of notes/sounds at the end of some tracks on the Zimmer BD were a bit more obvious, such as the end of Man of Steel. The Black Diamonds may be contributing something there. Again, more listening is in order, but I'm inclined to leave the BDs in for a while because I wanted the extra weight in the bottom anyway. I don't know if I'll want to cycle through all my tubes again; maybe the JJ Gold Pin Hi-Performance tubes, or even give the regular gold pin JJs a shot, as they're supposed to be quieter than the Hi-Performance version, though maybe not as dynamic.
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