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  1. #1481
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt2007 View Post
    SSM have you considered the Dali Mentor Menuet - only 25cm high
    Have to pass on that one. The Tipocan rrp of 999 is quite a big ask for something so tiny.

    I have to say I am at a crossroads which may see the end of my mini-monitor fetish. The SA1 and P3ESR at 1300ish a piece do justify their worth, but I'm also quite aware of the multitude of fabulous multi-driver floorstanders available for the same price. PMC GB1i, KEF XQ700, Dali Ikon mkII 5 or 6, and the upcoming B&W CM8. All of which can create vast scale whilst sacrificing just 3-5% of the SA1's and P3ESR's tonal purity. I had auditioned Arcam's A38 with the CM9 and was struck by the amazing synergy. The new IKON series is exerting a lot of attraction too as I had used the 5 and 6 mkI, and mkII promises improved integration of the hybrid tweeter with the rest of the frequency range. The IKON 5 mkII at 900 could be just perfect for me.



    ^ but it's the slimine CM8 at 1300ish I find most gorgeous. It is the entry point to B&W's FST Kevlar cone. I can really see myself celebrating Xmas 2011 with it tethered to Arcam's A38/P38 bisexual, errr, biamp combo.

    It's a good thing the tennis season has started. I'll be at home this weekend watching the telly rather than traipse around the audio shops looking for excuses to squander my preciouss 3000 snowball.


    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 21-01-2011 at 10:37 AM. Reason: Vanity;-)
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  2. #1482
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  3. #1483
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Hah! That's Testure's Eskimo Pie.

    You can just give up trying to tempt me with those assorted pics. There is only one standmount occupying pole position at the back of solidshead. I had mentioned on the whf forum that I'm looking to Italy for both style and sound.




    ^ OPERA's Prima from the Linea Classica series!!! (Not to be confused with an earlier Prima model) The LC Prima has a tapered arse like Dynaudio's Focus series, and priced in the SA1/P3ESR bracket at 1300ish. All custom Scanspeak drivers.

    As a dedicated Italian opera-lover, it could be time for me own an Italian speaker tuned for such musical ambrosia.

    And so you have just had the 2011 preview for this journal. It's going to be a summer KO match between the Prima and CM8.


    cheerSS
    Last edited by SSM; 21-01-2011 at 11:07 AM. Reason: Vanity;-)
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  4. #1484
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    Yes the Prima is very lovely... we (ok, I) want very detailled reports immediately

  5. #1485
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikedefacto View Post
    Yes the Prima is very lovely... we (ok, I) want very detailled reports immediately
    Well, you hold your breath for that until my birthday comes. I'm Gemini.


    SS
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  6. #1486
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    Lovely looking beasties Solid (the Operas, not the B&Ws - gold kevlar doesn't do it for me). Don't Sonus Faber offer anything suitably petite and stylish (and within budget)?

  7. #1487
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Heard the Toy before I bought the S3/5R last year and the SF sound doesn't sit well with me. Hopefully the Operas will hit closer to home.

    That Kevlar's not gold but canary yellow. Geoff Capes would approve.


    SS
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  8. #1488
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    SPENDOR S3/5R - under sscrutiny
    (moving from solidsstudy to solidsoffice soon; to be replaced by another Spendor or an Opera)

    It was a happy day a year ago when I brought these little cuties home. I was looking for a musically enticing foil for the SCM11 in my main rig. Having been at solidschateau for over two years now, the ATC has proven to be a truly exceptional speaker with excellent dynamics, transparency and bass. It is the best all-round standmount I ever owned and is rather under-priced given its abilities IMO.

    The only caveat is its handling of classical vocal pieces where it sometimes makes the music brawnier than it ought to be. So it was an oppportune time for solidschateau to have its first-ever Spendor Beeb-box. A modern descendant of the hallowed LS3/5a would reproduce vocal music to near perfection, hopefully then...

    Spendor's S3/5R and SA1 both offered that kind of finesse within the same 305x165x190mm dimension. The SA1's timing had extra zip and its wide-surround tweeter design gave immense airiness to the treble. Otherwise the hallmark Spendor sound was shared by both. I decided to try the S3/5R first as its presentation was more 'classic' in the sense that it had the sonic poise and elegance I was familiar with from the older Spendor standmounts my local HMV store used. The SA1 was like a souped-up, modernist take on the LS3/5a.

    The S3/5R's build is decent enough but if I were to be frank this made-in-Britain box, like its compatriot the Leema Xero, suffers from minor lapses in production quality compared to the Dynaudio and DALI speakers I had. While the Danes were perfectly made in every aspect, the Xero has rattly screwcaps on its binding posts while the wood on its grille covers smelt musty. On the S3/5R's grilles, a couple of the plastic pegs were wobbly and its veneer's varnish is nowhere near as thick and shiny as a Dyn's. The binding posts at the rear were remarkably sturdy though. There is much patriotism on british audio forums for Made-in-Blighty products. Members often equate them with top quality, but my own experience doesn't predispose me to such a rose-tinted view. Made-in-Europe or China is just as good, if not better. The China-made Epos and Quad L speakers I once had were immaculately produced and finished as were the Cambridge Audio components.

    Well, it is a lucky thing for Spendor and Leema that their speakers are assessed primarily for sound quality, nor do I need to use their so-so grilles. On this count, their musicality quotient is collectively higher than their Danish counterparts or Epos/Quad. These LS3/5a-inspired minis sing. The S3/5R's simple front appearance makes it liable to be mistaken for a Tannoy Mercury standmount that has a cut-off treble and bland, flat midrange. Performance-wise, the S3/5R is no budget Tannoy for sure. Once sited properly, it produces wonderful out-of-the-box imaging coupled with a lovely smooth sound that is unmistakably LS3/5a-ish.


    Watch the positioning...

    It has to be noted that the S3/5R's positioning and the size of the room it is used in is of paramount importance to how its finalized presentation is perceived. When I demoed it along withe SA1 at the Spendor dealer's, the room was just too large with no closed boundaries. Both speakers sounded bass-light and I had to make mental estimations as to how much more balanced the speaker would actually sound in my 4x4m study. Ideally, these Spendor mini monitors should not be used in spaces that are larger than 5x5m IMO.

    I also took inspiration from speaker-god Paul Messenger's HFC review of the SA1 that included a box with tips on positioning. He found that moving the SA1 closer to the back walls boosted the 50-125Hz region thereby strengthening the bass response to 50Hz. I also achieved that effect when I put the S3/5R about 25cm away from the rear wall. Sited thus, its bass (although officially specified as 70Hz at -6dB) achieved the same weight as the Epos 12.2 standmount I had which is specified as 55Hz.

    The supposed trade-off of this near-to-wall positioning, according to Messenger, was it made the presence zone less smooth. I didn't hear this effect with most of my music collection. Vocals retained the Spendorian fluidity whether 25 or 50cm away from the rear wall. I may be lucky on this count due to helpful room acoustics. The only exception was string quartet music where a slight lumpiness is evidently when the cello and viola meet each other at the octave around middle C. Pulling the S3/5R out away from the walls brought the smoothness back, but I rarely needed to resort to this as classical chamber music is usually delegated to the ATC.

    Positioned thus within my study, I don't find the S3/5R bass-light at all. It is actually more extended in this region compared to my rear-ported Leema Xeros whose official specs say 58Hz. There are a couple of old pro reviews that looked at the S3/5R's predecessors the S3/5 and S3/5se. The former could sound a 40Hz test tone CD while the latter was audible at that region too (HFW, Oct 2004). Spendor boss Mr Swift claims the S3/5R's bass is improved from its predecessors (TAS, Jun 2008) and my ears hear no reason to disbelieve him. The S3/5R has good bass extension and manages to pick up low notes from cello and bass guitar. This bass extension needs to be qualified though; the S3/5R's LF extension is audible but not propulsively powered out like ATC SCM11's or Dynaudio's Focus 110.

    And therein lies the S3/5R's sole weakness IMO. This is really not a speaker for a young man who's into the latest rock and pop music, an aspect Alan Sircom smartly realized in his review (HFC May 2008). The S3/5R's immense treble refinement can vaporize those dissonant HF spikes in brash rock music and thus tone down this music's visceral aspect. Its extended bass doesn't have the unrelenting clout and interesting 'granite' textures of the SCM11 or Focus 110 to make the most of pounding dance-techno. Play one continuous hour of this music through the S3/5R and the repetitious drum program takes on a monotonal thud-thud-thud quality. If you are really into these kinds of music only, I can count a dozen sub-500 standmounters that will service such needs better, foremost of them is the Epos M12.2 or M12i. Don't spend the extra 250 on this Spendor.


    A ssuperb ssinger of the first rank...

    Perversely, the abovementioned quality of the S3/5R that made it a bit boring with adrenaline-fueled music made it supremely exciting with my favoured music genres. I would say this S3/5R is the most thrilling mini monitor I've owned so far - surpassing the Leema Xero and AVI Neutron IV. The S3/5R has an immaculate smoothness that simply draws me into music that is full of long lines like bel canto opera. You could say it excels at doing legato than sharp staccati (which is probably why pop and rock have comparatively less snap than on the ATC or Leema).

    If the timing of the SCM11 is marked as neutral, comparatively the SA1's timing would be 2% brisker while the S3/5R is 2% behind. This laidback quality allows one's ears to truly luxuriate in vocal and acoustic music. Many times in the past with my previous speakers whenever an opera singer holds a long note, that moment seems too fleeting and has me wishing it would last longer ("Please sir, can I have a lttle more?") With the S3/5R, there is indeed a little more to such held notes. Not so much as to suggest timing distortion but just that infinitesimal extra to indulge the ears. Dame Joan Sutherland's amazing trills and runs in her highest register retain their rapidity but gain an expansive breadth of tone that is amazing. Ditto Maria Calla's lustrous middle register and Monserrat Caballe's famous pianissimi - they hang in the air with ravishing beauty!

    This indulgent ability of the S3/5R has practically stolen the entire opera workload away from the SCM11 (and the ATC is no slouch here either). Add to that its LS3/5a-inherited genes for tonal accuracy, and you get one of the best reproducers of the human voice around. The S3/5R's other strengths are the airy spaciousness of its treble and the uncongested quality of its midrange. It can capture the swelling crescendo of a choir in full flight and impart good definition to its inner dynamics. The choir is heard as a body of singers, yet each singer seems to be operating within his/her individual envelope of dynamics. This is quite amazing given the size of the S3/5R's woofers. As for that airy spaciousness, nothing else shows it off beautifully like plucked notes on acoustic guitar. They are incredibly realistic.


    Thundering MFing ssymphonic greatness...


    The first amp tethered to the S3/5R when it came in was the NAD C326(50W). While it elicited 80% of the S3/5R's potential, musicality shot up a few notches when a vintage MF X-A2 arrived at solidschateau mid-year. The high-current X-A2 is rated at 75W but capable of 95W according to one mag. It really kicked the S3/5R into action and its incisive open treble added brilliance to the S3/5R's arsenal. The X-A2's big bass also helped the S3/5R to sound weightier. The result was a mini monitor that could muster a formidable wall of sound in my study without cracking. With Romantic symphonies it went head to head with my X-T100/SCM11 duo for scale and force.


    A ssuper ssmooth operator enters the arena...

    There is one more twist in the tale. Just when I thought the X-A2 showed off the S3/5R as it was supposed to be appreciated, Arcam's FMJ A28 turned up at solidschateau in the last week of 2010. This was an unpremeditated purchase brought about by the evil eggings on of Arcamites Gsrai, Nsherin and Jammy. I was planning to have a NAIT XS in by mid-Jan. Oh, the perils of membership on a hifi forum!

    So what did the A28 bring to the party? Both had several shared attributes, a spacious top end that never gets aggressive, immense cleanliness and superb reproduction of vocals. Combined, they reinforce each other to create the most refined and fluid sound I have ever had in my domicile. Vocal reproduction took on an intoxicating quality as did acoustic and jazz music. I have been drowning in this sonic beauty eversince and already acquired a half dozen new jazz titles.

    The MF-Spendor pairing holds the advantage for dynamic force with symphonies. Arcam-Spendor doesn't whack as hard but its sound is more sophisticated, transparent and involving. I often come across MF-Spendor recommendations in hifi fora but hardly any for Arcam-Spendor and despite being a MF loyalist, I reckon the S3/5R shines in the company of Arcam. The X-A2 gave it slam but the FMJ A28 transformed it into a jewel.

    The S3/5R's stint at solidschateau has earned Spendor enough goodwill to warrant me taking the SA1 onboard (over Harbeth) when the S3/5R is moved to my new office. I am already aware of its charms but holding out for the possibility of hearing better sound from an Opera rival - the Linea Classica Prima. Time will tell...

    As of now, S3/5R's second honeymoon with its new groom the FMJ A28 is keeping me enthralled with its beautiful sonic creaminess!


    SS



    ^ solidsSpendor S3/5R, one Smooth Operator
    (no, those mandarins aren't the same as the ones on my SCM11)

    SPENDOR S3/5R
    : refined and smooth with excellent imaging
    : tonal accuracy and good bass extension
    : magical with jazz and vocal music (esp.with Arcam wattage)
    : very insensitive; needs a powerful amp
    : must be used within sympathetic room dimensions and boundaries
    : don't buy it to play Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up"


    Addendum: the S3/5R is due to be replaced by the S3/5R2 this year. I'm going to give a listen when the opportunity avails to hear how much of an improvement Philip Swift's design team has brought to the successor.



    Last edited by SSM; 25-01-2011 at 01:17 PM. Reason: Vanity;-)
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  9. #1489
    Super Wammer Sheva's Avatar
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    I'd always considered that the Arcam-Spendor combo would be far too laid back (although our musical tastes do tend to differ and i prefer a bit of Prodigy to Sade any day of the week ).

    What's the power rating of the A28, i guess that may contribute a great deal in this case wrt to the MF?

  10. #1490
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheva View Post
    I'd always considered that the Arcam-Spendor combo would be far too laid back (although our musical tastes do tend to differ and i prefer a bit of Prodigy to Sade any day of the week ).

    What's the power rating of the A28, i guess that may contribute a great deal in this case wrt to the MF?
    The A28 official spec is 75 watts but a measurement in HFC revealed 102 watts instead. Its siblings the A38 and A18 have also exceeded their official ratings in other mags' lab tests.

    And errrm, I don't find the A28 laid-back at all. Like Jammy informed me before I bought mine, it is rather good at the rhythmic stuff. The (unmodified) X-A2 is second to it in this respect. X-A2'SE' closes the gap.

    Despite the Prodigy dig, "Smack My Bitch Up" positively bounced through the A28-S3/5R duo.
    Still, I don't recommend the S3/5R if one listens to hours of Rammstein or Pet Shop Boys.


    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 25-01-2011 at 11:28 AM. Reason: Vanity;-)
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  11. #1491
    Wammer nsherin's Avatar
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    Arcam seems to have a gorgeous synergy with Wharfedale too, from my experiences with the FMJ A18 and Diamond 10.3 floorstanders. Deep, punchy bass that does not overwhelm. Plenty of detail, layers of sounds and transparency but without getting too bright or fatiguing. Vocals bring out real soul and emotion in the music. The FMJ can also party too - feed it some dance/electronica and it grooves along nicely. It does laid back when required but there is plenty of drive and slam with rock too!

    In short, the combination is addictive, toe-tapping and engaging and you'll be coming back for more! I've had too many late nights of late, as I'm up listening to music!
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  12. #1492
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    I reckon it has to do with the Kevlar woofers. I am not partial to this material for speaker cones (owned the Quad 12L, Diamond 8.2 and 9.0) as I have heard it sounding overly rich and woolly with other amplification in the past, but I demoed the A38 with B&W's CM9 and was taken with the quality of the sound coming off those Kevlars. The FMJ amps' taut and crisp control in the nether regions is probably just the right attribute that draws out Kevlar's richness without dragging it into morass.

    I liked the Diamond 9.1's sound and thought the treble had unusual refinement for such an affordable standmount. Its designer had defnitely taken cues from the Beeb-box sound when he implemented the 9 series. The 10s probably continue the influence. A 10.1 could find its way into solidschateau for some fun with the A28 when time avails. It's such a good-looking and curvaceous little speaker.

    As for the FMJ's seemingly laid-back nature, it can shift into a faster gear when the music requires it. I am surprised as Arcam often gets saddled with pipe 'n slippers tag on forums. The A28 doesn't attack brutally like a Nait XS but neither is it waffly (like a Marantz), nor shouty (like a Nait 5i...)

    Keep listening!

    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 06-02-2011 at 02:24 AM.
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  13. #1493
    Wammer nsherin's Avatar
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    Playing 'World in my Eyes' off Depeche Mode's 'Violator' album right now - this is a fast pace song and the FMJ and Wharfe's are grooving along nicely to this. I keep reaching for the remote to crank the volume up There is plenty of attack, bass and detail here.

    Agree with you on the qualities of the Arcam versus the Marantz - the PM6003 was wallowy, wooley and just lacking in much enthusiasm and detail. The Arcam was the complete opposite and well worth double the asking price of the Marantz (especially as I got 145 off as it was on offer).

    I reckon you'll love the combination of the 10.1s with the A28. The 10.3s use exactly the same size drivers, but are the floorstanding option. Build and sound quality of these are way higher than the very decent asking price.

    Enjoy the music too, SSM
    Sony RCD-W100/MDS-JB980JE480/RDR-HXD560/PS3 Slim 250GB, Denon AVR-2308/TU-1800, Rega P1, Arcam DiVA DV79/FMJ A18/rDAC, Pioneer BDP-140, Ultramatch Pro, Mac Mini, Wharfedale Diamond 10.3/10CM/10.0/10MX, Samsung UE40D5520

  14. #1494
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    very insensitive; needs a powerful amp

    Splid, I don't think the second part of that statement is true. There is a limit as to how loud you can play the S3/5R. In addition, they are also intended for smaller rooms. And they are a very easy load. I run them with a 60 watt amp, and there's more than enough power for the loudest level I would ever listen to. They are a beautifully balanced speaker for classical music in smaller rooms, and a bargain compared with the Harbeth P3ESR
    I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.

  15. #1495
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Sure, it is possible to get usable sound levels out of the S3/5R with lesser-powered amps. My S3/5R's first partner, a 50W NAD C326BEE, drove it fine. But things changed when the MF-XT100-X-170PSU and X-A2 were pressed into service. The maximum continuous wattage of both units' veered around the 100 mark. The extra wattage definitely opened the throttles further. Leonard Bernstein's no-holds-barred live recording of Mahler's 9th with the Royal Concertgebouw was just okay with the NAD, but with the MFs the climaxes were massively powerful. The sheer wall of roiling orchestral power was beyond what the NAD's 50W could muster.

    So that statement is better qualified by a further expansion: "needs a powerful amp to truly impress with large-scale music"


    SS
    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
    GENESIS M60 & I60, ELICIT, A38, X-T100, X-A2, TA-F246E, K-5xeMP, QUAD 909

    TANNOY PRECISION 6.2, ELAC BS244, ATC SCM11, S3/5R, DM 2/6, XERO, Q 2020i

  16. #1496
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    Some of those old MF amps were great. I've got an unmolested XA2 driving some Epos ES12s in another room. Luvly. I picked up the amp, speakers and the matching stands three years ago for 250! Amazingly good sound for so little money. Have never tried it with my S3/5Rs though. They seem happy enough with my Bryston B60 (also from another Wammer).
    I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.

  17. #1497
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    Excellent blog Solid.
    The Chinese stuff is very good speaker wise. Of course at the heart
    of loads of those Chinese drive units in wharfies quad etc is Stan Curtis.

    He is a Brit who is at the head of one of the biggest speaker manufactures in the World.
    Peter Commeau is also there.

    The British influence is everywhere.

    How are ya?
    Men who never get carried away should be

  18. #1498
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Hi Lexi(ps: I think you wandered off to the wrong solidsblog)

    I am fine. mid-2010 to now is shaping up to be my most prosperous era in my working life. The tragedy is I have less time for leisure compared to 2006-2009. Just came back from work and despite downing 500ml of chocolate milk in a bid to get to sleep (because I have to be back at HQ in five hours' time!) I'm still awake. And having my Arcam-Spendor seduce me with soft jazz isn't helping any...

    Your mention of Peter Comeau is eerie; sickeningly eerie and coincidental I may add, and it's accidentally forcing my hand here.

    The brand of speaker that I have used and owned for the longest spell (over 40 months) is Castle's Harlech S2 and it didn't escape my notice that Knight 2 standmount from the new Castle line has nabbed HFC award for Best Speaker up to 2000. I have been surveying the Castle line and the Knight 4 and 5 floorstanders have been intriguing me. They use an improved version of the QuarterWave bass transmission system whose predecessor was first implemented in the Harlech S2 and Howard S3. I was thinking this bass system could be a good compromise between the ported and sealed box design. I do love sealed boxes but the inefficiency can drive me and my amps up the wall sometimes.

    The Tipocan Epos dealer had become a good friend during my Epos speaker period. He stocks the Knight line too and I could have a dual -listen too when the Epos Epic range rolls in to Tipoca. The Knight 4 is particularly tempting for its ridiculously affordable* price (850). Its dimensions are basically a Spendor S3/5's width and depth extended to the floor.

    * compared with the precious Harbeths and ProAcs I'd been surveying



    What spoils the new Castle range is the IAG affiliation. The last IAG speaker I had was the Quad 12L (I rate it five turds) and I'm dreading the Knights are a variation on the Quad L theme. There is a sliver of hope, though, that the old Castle sound survives in the Knights thanks to Mr Comeau's designs and I'm sure my curiosity will compel me to have a listen... for old times' sake.

    cheerSS for now, off to bed
    Last edited by SSM; 13-02-2011 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Vanity;-)
    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
    GENESIS M60 & I60, ELICIT, A38, X-T100, X-A2, TA-F246E, K-5xeMP, QUAD 909

    TANNOY PRECISION 6.2, ELAC BS244, ATC SCM11, S3/5R, DM 2/6, XERO, Q 2020i

  19. #1499
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    Excellent news with work'nall dude...........best take the money while it lasts. Leisure etc will come again.

    Comeau's old Heybrook were excellent speakers moons ago.

    The guys that started Castle speakers in UK were ex Wharfedale employess.

    I couldnt' get logged into Wam for yonks........since the new format.

    Good to see your are still dabbling in the old stereo stuff.
    Men who never get carried away should be

  20. #1500
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexi View Post
    The guys that started Castle speakers in UK were ex Wharfedale employess.
    I didn't know that! Wow, so some ex-Wharfies got together to make even better speakers than their own company's (sorta like Q Acoustics and Mission). Cool!

    Yeah, I got some ancient scotch blood in me too and will ssquirrel some of this year's money away. You never know what next year will bringbut once you have a nice pair of fresh beautiful speakers, you can face anything life throws at 'cha.


    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 14-02-2011 at 11:28 AM.
    CONRAD-JOHNSON ET3SE, ICON AUDIO LA4 MKIII, NAIM NAP 100, 7 DACs
    GENESIS M60 & I60, ELICIT, A38, X-T100, X-A2, TA-F246E, K-5xeMP, QUAD 909

    TANNOY PRECISION 6.2, ELAC BS244, ATC SCM11, S3/5R, DM 2/6, XERO, Q 2020i

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