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Reviewer's Bio

A. Colin Flood
Biggest bang For The Buck

 

A. Colin Flood  A South Florida business and technical writer by trade, (I create content) with champagne tastes on a beer budget, yet am very proud to say I am a fixture at Enjoy the Music.com for over almost two decades! Have written over eight dozen stereo reviews and love the freedom of expression that my publisher affords me. I find a lot of value in vintage equipment, applied with new modern information. Am not associated or affiliated, in any form or fashion, with any firm of any kind, in the home theater or audio industries, except Enjoy the Music.com.

 

Rooms
The listening room shapes sonics like an echo chamber. My main loudspeakers, Klipsch Khorns, are on the long wall of a 15' by 30' hardwood living room, with a vaulted ceiling rising to 22' at its peak. Floor is wood laminate on slab. I have and love RealTraps acoustic panels, but they are not employed in this room. During the workweek however, I do most of my listening on my office/bedroom system. This room is 13' by 16.5', sheet-rocked with 8' ceiling and carpet runners on parquet wood tiles on slab. Beds, desks, dressers, armoire and low bookshelves fill the room.

The third room I use for evaluation is a dedicated, carpeted, unfortunately square, bedroom-size room. Walls are wood paneled. Floor and 9' high ceiling are wood also. The room opens in the back with windows in the middle of each wall. The acoustics are not hard and bright, but not soft or muted either. There are no RealTraps in this room yet. I listen mostly about low 80dB, on a slow, C-weighted, unadjusted Radio Shack SPL meter.

 

Big Ole Horn Loudspeakers
KlipschornsI am one of the few reviewers to use Big Ole Horns and low-powered tube amplifiers consistently as my 2.1 reference system. My four-foot high, 167-pound, 1989 Khorns are some of the largest home loudspeakers available! The Khorn is a three-way, fully horn loaded, diamond-shaped loudspeaker, which fits snugly into room corners. The 15" woofers in the folded horn bins roll bass down to 25 Hz.

Khorns are fantastically efficient at 104dB/W/m! This makes them incredibly easy-to-drive and very dynamic (see Stereos, As They Relate to Indoor Sport). Despite their gargantuan size, snuggling Khorns into room corners keeps their partner/spousal/wife acceptance factor (WAF) high. Khorns have smooth response, extremely low distortion, sensitivity, out-the-way footprint and enormous dynamics. The Big Ole Horns and tasty tube amplifier combination remains one of the best sounding and most practical combinations available today, especially when backed by solid-state muscle. These beloved babies become the musical instrument. After trading Klipsch Cornwalls, net cost is $500.

The second loudspeakers are vintage Altec Lansing Model Ones ($10 at Goodwill). They weigh 31 pounds, with new 8 Ohm Acoustic 8" mid-bass woofer ($50) and original 4" silver dome tweeter, for 50 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. Another speaker are the Focal 726v towers, which are a three-way design with two 6.5" woofers and a front-port. Stated frequency response is a narrow and high 49 Hz to 29 kHz, within a fairly flat three decibels (±dB). Impedance is the nominal and meaningless 8 Ohms, with higher than average sensitivity at 91.5dB/W/m. Speakers were six feet apart, with the listening spot nine feet away.

Even with two 15" woofers, I still use a solid-state powered subwoofer. The ACI Titan is of the 12" downward-firing variety with a cherry-trimmed enclosure that includes a 250 Watt Class AB amplifier to fill in the lowest lows (like submarine depth charges). The Titan has unique dual crossover controls, continuously variable from 35 to 250 Hz, with a steep 24dB per octave slope. The steep slope allows the 70-pound sub to fill in below 63 Hz, down to 20 Hz, without muddling up the mid-bass from the two 15" woofers.

 

Front-End Equipment
Always swapping equipment in and out, my system is rarely completely tuned. When it is, the Khorns are passively bi-amp'ed, providing the best of both worlds: the sweet delicacies of tubes in the hypercritical mid and treble ranges on über-efficient loudspeakers, with the thunk of solid-state in the energy-hungry bass regions. My $500 classic pre-amplifier holds its own against far more expensive units I have reviewed. It is a vintage Dynaco Series II PAS-3 with ECC83/12AT7/12AU7 tubes. The PAS-3 drives the dual amplifiers without an active crossover.

Bottlehead ParamourPrimary amplifiers are a pair of upgraded Bottlehead Paramour monoblocks with Sovtek 2A3 single end triode tubes. These amps are rated at a mere 3.5 watts, but they easily fill the mid and high-range horns of the Khorns. Clipping is 1% Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) plus noise. Maximum power delivery at clipping is only six class A watts, yet measures 103dB (painfully LOUD) with my Big Ole Horns.

I power my folded horn bass bins with a vintage, Class A Pioneer M-22 ($250). This 48-pound monster has two black 33,000 uF capacitors the size of Foster beer cans. Frequency response is an amazing 2 Hz to 150 kHz (+0dB/-1dB at 1 watt), and the signal-to-noise ratio is 106dB. At clipping, maximum power delivery is 60-watts into 8 Ohms (26.8dBW). THD is 0.005% at 1 watt, below 0.001% at 15 Watts, curving back up to 0.01% at 30 Watts. Below 10 Watts, the M-22 has better THD than $17,000 Krell FBP 350mc! It has better THD, wider frequency response and greater signal-to-noise ratio than a $6,000 Mark Levinson 431. I heard Pass X250 up against it and could not tell obvious differences when they were not being pushed.

The 6 Watts peak of the Paramours on the mid and top end seems to be the ideal power ratio for the 60 Watts peak of the M-22 on the bottom. The ten-to-one wattage ratio seems to be a perfect power match for my bass amplifier. Most listening lately is with charming white Glow Audio Two with EL84 tubes. For solid-state reference, I alternate between a vintage Harmon-Kardon 330B receiver ($5) and Red Wine's Clari T battery-powered amplifier. Behringer digital EQ could reduce peaks, but I rarely use it. Doing double movie and music duty is Oppo 981HD multimedia player. Both units rest on a clear Gingko Audio Cloud 10 isolation platform. I also use Dragonfly DAC, MacBook Air with JRiver app.

 

Bells & Whistles
Bass cables are thick gray Coincident Technologies' CST-1 rattlesnakes, while bare Belkin 4-wire star-crossed cables connect to the passive Khorn crossover. Interconnects are the incredible Dact Dual Connects and Monster Silver.

While I dance to blues and classic rock when out on the town, I am a pop and smooth jazz lover at home. I audition equipment with Pandora.com stream and artists I reviewed, so you know my tastes: Diana Krall, K.D. Lang, Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, Michael Franks, Jack Johnson and orchestral music from Test CDs. Do not think I need to add any more components as have all the ones necessary for ideal 3D imaging in home audio reproduction. I do aspire to better crossovers and horns... someday, but the number one thing I want to add is a huge 4K TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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