ThomasOK's System

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Post by matthias » 2013-12-08 18:22

ThomasOK wrote:At the same time I tested them with the Tundra stereo I did also test them with the Solos (although not Dynamiked) and still easily preferred the ATCs.
And with the new ATC tweeter they may be even better:

http://atcforums.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6198

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by ThomasOK » 2016-02-26 01:08

As mentioned elsewhere I am playing around with some options on the playback part of my system. It’s all Fredrik’s fault! These blasted Tundra Mono 2s are so good that hearing how musical they were with 25+ year old Isobariks made me doubt my mighty ATCs. So for over a year I’ve been looking for a pair of ATC100 passive crossovers that wouldn’t cost me the $1000 dealer price the importers quoted me. At last I found a pair on eBay that came with the needed aluminum back panels and five-way binding posts for a fair bit less including shipping. So I picked them up and posted a photo of one here.

Well, last weekend I decided it was time to give them an initial listen. So I picked out three quite different tracks to play for the comparisons. The tracks/ musicians /records are: American Idiot by Green Day from the album of the same name, a potent and solid rocker, Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss & Union Station also from the album of the same name which is a somewhat melancholy and mellow bluegrass piece with wonderful vocals, and Clarissa by Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow and Bobbie Previte off The New Standard album - a really bopping jazz piece. All three of these albums are highly recommended and The New Standard is something special as I have mentioned before.

The system is as it has been for a while LP12 Movingui, Radikal A, Keel, Ekos SE/1, Kandid, Urika through Sagatun Mono 1.1s and into the ATC SCM100ASLs. Stands are Harmoni with a Mimer K under the LP12, Tor under all the rest and reference bottoms. Cables are Linn Silvers, Linn Longwell AC and Lejonklou AC and a CablePro outlet strip with a Linn Longwell cable going in. Burned in LLTOK 2.48m K200s were used for passive.

First I played these three tracks, in the order listed, on the active ATCs. Then I stuffed in the passive crossovers and played the same tracks in reverse order. It obviously was not an instantaneous A/B but it turned out it didn’t need to be. That is because, as you likely will have heard, the Tundra Mono 2s passive were easily more musical than the ATC active amps/crossovers. This is what the two audio clips I posted here were about and the finding has been unanimous – including Debbie and myself. In case you didn’t hear them yet, the page where I posted them is here:

http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3172

The darker video doesn’t just show that the system sounds better in the dark – it is the one with the Tundra Mono 2s passive. The lighter video is the ATCs active. As you can hear, even over crummy computer speakers, on the TM2/ATC combo it is easier to follow the instruments, they sound more like real instruments (and voices in the other tracks) and the tracks were just plain more fun. This held true on all three tracks equally.

What is even more surprising (OK maybe more to me than to Fredrik or Ron the Mon) is that the passive crossover setup was at a distinct disadvantage and was still more musical. First off, although I received the passive crossovers and the back panels, I didn’t get any hardware to mount them inside the cabinets. And the cabinets don’t have that hardware as the active amp/crossover packs are mounted directly to the aluminum panel/heat sink as shown in my photo. The passive crossovers are meant to be mounted to the box built inside the cabinet to house it or the amp pack. So when I say above that I “stuffed" the passive crossovers in there I mean exactly that. I plugged them in and stuck them in the back with that 3” tall coil holding them upright and then bolted on the back panel and plugged in the TM2s. Obviously this does allow them to move around a bit which is less than ideal. Secondly the Tundras, as they are US standard 120 Volt units, are plugged into another strip into the same circuit as the rest of the living room. The rest of the system is plugged into a dedicated 240 volt circuit and the CablePro. Third, the Tundras had only been on a couple of hours before I played them. This is probably a more minor consideration as when I checked them after 24 hours one was dead nuts 20.3 volts and the other was 20.1 so pretty close to ideal PS settings. The ATC amp/crossover packs had been powered up for at least a week as I normally always keep them, and the whole system, powered on. So they should have been performing optimally.

So even with a bit of a handicap the TM2s passive ruled the day (damn Fredrik). ;-) So now I have to get a pair of 240 volt TM2s coming and figure out how to fit my eight components on my six rack spaces! However, the story doesn’t even end there. After doing those two A/Bs it occurred to me to make a comparison with a much longer space between. A couple of weeks ago I was possessed by a need to hear Witch’s Promise off of Living in the Past by Jethro Tull. This is a favorite track of mine, although I also love the Thick as a Brick, Aqualung and Benefit albums. It is track 4 on side one so I just started to play the whole side. Part way through track three Debbie walked in the room and said “You know, this sounds a bit annoying.” Now we don’t always have the same taste in music and I am definitely much more into progressive rock but I had to agree with her that it was annoying so I skipped forward to Witch’s Promise as I still wanted to hear it. It is not as energetic as some of the other tracks so it wasn’t as annoying but it still wasn’t great. Then I decided that I also really wanted to hear Dharma for Once which is on side 3 so I put it on. It was also rather annoying but I listened to the whole 9 minutes plus anyway. I have to say it was more of a chore than a pleasure. The whole thing made me wonder if the stylus was clean (it was) or tracking at the right pressure (yep). So I just put the album away and didn’t think a whole lot about it. (How many can already see where this is going?) You’re right, I pulled out Living in the Past and put on Dharma for One and guess what? It wasn’t annoying! As a matter of fact it was rather enjoyable. The TM2s/passive made a track enjoyable that was annoying on the ATC active amp pack! So I went back and put on Witch’s Promise and that also was quite good.

Then as I’m listening to Witch’s Promise it occurs to me that Fredrik and I had a difference of opinion on the damping of the Harmoni reference shelf. As I posted elsewhere on the forum I had tested the Dacron fiber mat that Anders had sent me but found the Linn Trampolin packaging foam more musical. I even detailed the process of finding the exact dimensions of the foam that were the best. Well I spied the big piece of Dacron fiber and, even though I think it is a bigger piece than what is recommended, I decide to try it again. Guess what?! It was easily more musical with the Dacron than with the plastic foam. The flute in the peace was clearly more tuneful – the notes and the trills clearly better played. I had Debbie come out and give a listen to the same A/B with the same piece of music without telling her what I had changed and she heard the same improvements (and she didn’t find it annoying). Now that the TM2s were driving the speakers the improvement was obvious. So, ya, Fredrik was right again. (Doesn’t it bug you when somebody is always right like that!) ☺ (That would be a big, toothy smile if we still had emoticons on here.)

So there you go. And we haven’t even gotten to the JBLs yet. Fredrik is going to make my system not just more complicated but uglier as well! The nerve of the man insisting on telling me how to get the most musical system!

Anyway, the ATC active amp packs will only go back inside the speakers if and when I decide to sell them. Meanwhile I will be getting some screws and standoffs so I can mount the crossovers properly in the speakers and really hear what this setup can do. That way it will be a fair comparison when the 3677s are ready and have correct stands. And once all that is done it appears I will have to change my signature on the Linn forum and the equipment listing on here.
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Music Lover » 2016-02-26 06:40

Well, we all knew the outcome in advance didn't we *grinning*

Have you compared with the JBL's yet? *grinning like crazy*
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by John » 2016-02-26 16:33

I brought the files into Audacity so that I could sync them up better. I noticed the start of second file was 21 seconds further along into the song than the first file. I also noticed the second file was quite a bit louder than the first.

I'm a big advocate of using needledrops for evaluating turntable changes via the tape out on a preamp but have never tried recording from the loudspeakers as I lack decent recording gear.

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by ThomasOK » 2016-02-26 18:09

Obviously I lack decent recording gear as well since this was recorded on my iPhone 5.

I knew there was a time difference. I hadn't originally planned on doing A/B files, the idea to record it came to me as I was listening to the last track I played on the active ATCs so I just recorded about 45 seconds of it. After I switched over I tried to record another 45 seconds that at least covered some of the same piece, so it appears I met my objective. As to the level that doesn't surprise me at all. Again I didn't think to measure output level as this was more a lighthearted comparison than anything, besides which the level really isn't that critical if you are using the tune method for evaluation IME. The ATC amps are either significantly more sensitive or have more gain than the TM2s as I had to turn up the Lejonklous to get around the same level. Considering there was a good half hour at least involved in swapping the passive crossovers for the amp packs (during which time the sun went down), I'm not surprised I couldn't match the volume levels very well by ear.

Did you feel you found anything interesting in the graphs you made besides the above?
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by ThomasOK » 2016-02-26 18:24

Music Lover wrote:Well, we all knew the outcome in advance didn't we *grinning*

Have you compared with the JBL's yet? *grinning like crazy*
As mentioned in the JBL thread I just gave them a quick listen on poor stands and improperly positioned without any break in. Under those circumstances both Debbie and I felt the 3677s were surprisingly musical for how they appear, but there was no question that the properly positioned ATCs were musically superior. Hardly what I would call a real comparison. That will come when I have them properly burned in, which is currently in process, and can find at least some decent stands to put them on. I expect this to take at least 3 or 4 weeks and I don't know if I can get Linnofil stands by then. But I might rig up something else up as a placeholder.
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by John » 2016-02-26 18:49

ThomasOK wrote:Obviously I lack decent recording gear as well since this was recorded on my iPhone 5.

I knew there was a time difference.

Did you feel you found anything interesting in the graphs you made besides the above?
I was kinda figuring it was from an iPhone or some such.

I downloaded the files and opened them up in Audacity so as to sort out if the same passage of music appeared in both files.

The waveform is the default view that appears when listening to music files. They do provide a visual indication of the relative levels of each file which confirms the second file being louder.

Audacity is a great tool for comparing files as you can create start cursors at any point in a file so when you hit play it begins at that point in the song.

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by lejonklou » 2016-02-26 19:24

ThomasOK wrote:the level really isn't that critical if you are using the tune method for evaluation IME
i agree.

It's easy to learn how to compare with differences in volume. I got a lot of practice when working on the Sagatun preamps, as I needed to check performance at different volume settings. And there was no way of equalizing the levels without affecting quality.

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Charlie1 » 2016-02-26 20:01

Glad it went well. Passive will certainly make your life easier when it comes to comparing the ATCs against the JBLs.

I like passive in terms of its cohesiveness. The music seems less pulled apart when I've compared it to a well set-up aktiv system. That's not to say passive is always better.

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by John » 2016-02-26 20:36

lejonklou wrote:
ThomasOK wrote:the level really isn't that critical if you are using the tune method for evaluation IME
i agree.

It's easy to learn how to compare with differences in volume. I got a lot of practice when working on the Sagatun preamps, as I needed to check performance at different volume settings. And there was no way of equalizing the levels without affecting quality.
I agree as well regarding volume. I was just pointing out a few things about the recordings that I figured out when downloading them into Audacity.

I think there is something wrong with the first file as the piano sounds all warbley (wow & flutter) which I have a hard time attributing to the hi-fi or loudspeakers used.

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by ThomasOK » 2016-03-16 22:17

Just a slight update. It took a couple of attempts to get the right hardware together, along with a few scraped knuckles, but I now have the passive crossovers properly mounted inside the cabinets of the ATCs instead of them just sitting in there. I did one speaker first and then went back and forth between it and the other one with a mono record and there was a definite improvement with the crossover mounted, as I would expect since otherwise speaker vibrations would make it likely move around more. It was not a big difference but the one with the mounted crossover just was a little easier to follow and a bit more solid sounding.

So once I had installed the crossover in the second speaker I sat down of an hour or so of listening and I am very happy with the results. The Jethro Tull track still sounds fine without the aggression of the active amp/crossover setup. Whatever ATC did in the design of the passive crossovers they seem to have done well as they still have that pretty seamless blend of the drivers that Fredrik noted when he was here. Indeed I think it may be even better, or maybe it is the cohesiveness Charlie1 mentioned above. I imagine there is great difficulty in getting six amps to all sound equally good and that is probably multiplied when the amps have three different power outputs. By the way Fredrik, now that I hear the system passive with the Tundra Mono2s, I get what you were talking about with the bass sounding over-damped. With the Tundras it is no longer that way. The bass is now more potent, more extended and most importantly more nuanced than before - easier to follow and with the musicians appearing to have made a step up in ability.

These upgraded ATCs are sounding really good now. It is going to take some doing for the JBLs to unseat them but we shall see. It looks like I am going to have to rig something up for stands for the 3677s as I imagine it might be a while before a pair can wend their way here from Linnofil. Another week of burn in and I should be ready for the comparison. To make everything fair (and to make resale of the JBLs easier if I like the ATCs better) I am keeping the crossovers in them as is for now. I made up a set of Deletion banana socket to spade adaptors to connect them for now. But if I prefer the JBLs I have the wooden boxes and the speaker cables ready to go for the transformation. On the other hand, if I prefer the ATCs I would instead get some bigger wood boxes and move their crossovers external as well as rewiring the speaker with K600. Either way I will end up with the speaker I choose performing even better. It should be interesting!
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by ThomasOK » 2017-11-22 21:52

It has obviously been some time since I have updated this thread and my system has certainly undergone several changes. As most know from posts in other threads I sold my much loved ATCs two weeks after giving a serious listen to the broken-in JBL 3677s, even though they were on relatively flimsy stands. Music just sounded more real and present to me through the JBLs, although without the bass extension of the ATCs. This was done after comparing the two speakers both driven passively by Tundra Mono 2s. A customer who was there when I did the initial comparison said "Well, the JBLs don't embarrass the ATCs TOO badly." I then had to point out that the JBLs were $1766 a pair whereas the ATCs were over $10,000 passive (and about $20,000 active).

Since then I have added the Ofil stands, which made a huge improvement and which I consider mandatory for the JBLs, a JBL 4645C subwoofer, a third Tundra Mono 2 amp and a Marchand XM44 electronic crossover. This is the same system used at RMAF this year which Fredrik and Rafe Arnott both waxed enthusiastically about, with the exception that my system at home runs at 240 volts and the equipment is even a little more optimally placed.

I also purchased a Klimax Radikal a while back which so far seems to be an improvement, although that awaits more substantial testing to confirm first impressions. Something I plan to do as I have time.

So the system now is as follows: Klimax LP12 with Klimax Radikal, Woodsong Audio Movingui plinth, Keel, Ekos SE/1, Kandid, Urika as the main source along with a KRDS/0 and a Kremlin. These feed a pair of Sagatun Mono 1.3s, a Marchand XM44 crossover for the sub and three Tundra Mono 2.2As into the JBL 3677s and 4645C sub. The electronics are all on Harmoni racks, the LP12 on a NOKTable stand and the speakers on Ofil stands. The digital feed is an LS-NAS through a Netgear 108T v2 on a Harmoni Yggdrasil. As before all cabling is Linn: Longwell AC cables, Silver interconnects with original RCAs, K400 and black K200 with original Knekt bananas and a CablePro AC distribution strip.

I plan to update this further with photos and some clips, as well as some additional information on how the system is set up as I have time. Watch this space!
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Music Lover » 2017-11-22 23:12

ThomasOK wrote:These feed a pair of Sagatun Mono 1.3s, a Marchand XM44 crossover for the sub and three Tundra Mono 2.2As into the JBL 3677s and 4645C sub.
Did you compare the Marchand with the old crossover? Dahlquist...
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by ThomasOK » 2017-11-24 18:24

Music Lover wrote:
ThomasOK wrote:These feed a pair of Sagatun Mono 1.3s, a Marchand XM44 crossover for the sub and three Tundra Mono 2.2As into the JBL 3677s and 4645C sub.
Did you compare the Marchand with the old crossover? Dahlquist...
Yes, I did. I feel the Marchand is more musical than the Dahlquist. I found the only way to really compare them was with the 3677s running. I tried just using the sub but the different crossover curves, 24dB per octave vs. a compound 6/12/18dB per octave of the Dahlquist, made too big a difference in what came through the sub to allow a good comparison. I still own the Dahlquist as the adjustability would allow me to try out the 4645C with other speakers if desired and change the crossover frequency if needed. With the 4645C and the 3677s it was most musical at 80Hz.
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2017-11-28 04:24, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Music Lover » 2017-11-24 22:29

Thanks!
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Discodave » 2018-02-03 21:37

Just looking at JBLs for the first time...are they the cinema speaker?

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Linnofil » 2018-02-05 17:12

Discodave wrote:are they the cinema speaker?
Yes! But they work extremy well for music! See the dedicated thread here:
http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3163

Need really good stands for them? Read this:
http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3400

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Discodave » 2018-02-05 17:23

Thanks! Just wanted to be sure I hadn't made a mistake

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by ThomasOK » 2018-02-22 17:30

There are some more updates coming but I thought I'd start with a couple of clips.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/c3fsx9b3bi3r2 ... 7.MP4?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/u6evgrtnkxzn5 ... 8.MP4?dl=0

Interesting to see what you think!
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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Matteo » 2018-02-22 18:17

what record is played in your clips?

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by lejonklou » 2018-02-22 19:37

I like the music!

Have you got a CD12?

I think I prefer the second clip. It seems better coordinated and more intimate. But the difference wasn't easy to hear, I thought both sounded really good.

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by beck » 2018-02-22 19:39

ThomasOK wrote:There are some more updates coming but I thought I'd start with a couple of clips.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/c3fsx9b3bi3r2 ... 7.MP4?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/u6evgrtnkxzn5 ... 8.MP4?dl=0

Interesting to see what you think!
I like your clips a lot. Singing together with the bass I hear a light squeeze of the intervals in the first clip. The last clip is my absolute favorite.
I do not know what you are doing (can only guess) but I like it a lot! Like the reel to reel clips I have been listening to lately details are part of a whole. Just up my alley. :-)

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Tendaberry » 2018-02-23 11:45

I like the second clip better, too. The music just "gels" better.

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by tokenbrit » 2018-02-23 13:49

+1 for #2 - something seems less 'connected' in the first clip ;)

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Re: ThomasOK's System

Post by Charlie1 » 2018-02-23 15:03

+1 for clip 2. Same impressions as other comments, i.e. gels better, more connected.

Clip 2 is my idea of what a typical 'audiophile' would prefer to hear. Only in comparison to clip 2, of course.

I like the track too.

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