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Old Audiophile Gear

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by macmrkt, Sep 27, 2005.


  1. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    The 3020 (and 3055) succeeded partly due to NAD's virtual corporation approach a decade before virtual corps were the rage. The sound was magic because Bjorn Evard Evardsen in NAD's London design office combined Tom Holman's (think THX) elegant and simple preamp design with his smart poweramp circuits and had Proton (Fulet of Taiwan) mass build it at a low cost. Proton was a majority owner of NAD and therefore kept costs low. NAD was able to popularize the 'champagne sound on a beer budget' approach due to their unique formula. Today many, many audio companies follow in their wake. Yet NAD certainly did get a lot of the elements right in a big way, first. As mentioned elsewhere, if you like the 3020, you should have heard the Naim Nait, the Creek 4040 or the A&R A60 (now Arcam) - these UK 3020s showed how much ahead the Brits and Scots were in affordable audio as far back as the 60's.

    I'd say that Walter Woods is more akin to champagne on a champagne budget, however. In the audiophile world, there are no shortage of those type of esoteric US companies! Tom?!!
     
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I don't know how much overhead/efficiency figured into the NAD picture but I do know that they had a wonderful discrete-transistor pre-amp design. They were not overbuilt by any means but then again they didn't need to be. Funny you should mention NAD. My NAD 1020 pre-amp that was over 25 years old died just the other day. I replaced it with a used Hafler DH-110.

    NAD also had an interesting power-amp design-- "soft-clipping" they called it. For some applications it was a real plus. Frankly, I did not like those power-amps at all as, if I recall correctly, they also had "soft" power supply rails. IMHO, they never got the bass right. For that, I'm using an Adcom GFA-555. Imagine that behind a bass cabinet. Oh my!!!
     
  3. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    I love that Carver story, but he didn’t make his amp sound better – he made it sound like a tube amp. If I recall right he ended up making his own tube amp to sell to those who only would believe tube amps sounded the best.

    For myself, I think I'm convinced a good sound is any good amp, a good flat speaker system. And then the preamp of my choice. Most of the coloring coming from the preamp.

    I'm still miffed that pro-speakers don't publish frequency graphs. I think most people saying they like a certain sound are really saying they like a certain frequency response.
     
  4. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    DR - You are right on all counts. The 3020 int amp did a lot of things very well but it couldn't do everything. One of the compromises was in the power supply stage for the amp, hence the problems with deep bass. I always found the soft clipping circuit to be more of a gimmick and detrimental to the sound so I shut it off. It probably saved a lot of drivers for high volume listeners though. Please excuse any errors in my memory - these details go back a ways!
     
  5. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Indeed. I, too, tend to find myself leaning towards the British hi-fi gear when it comes to a simple, small system. The Naim Nait is really impressive, but I'm also quite found of the Arcam "Full Metal Jacket" line. My office system is all Arcam FMJ components driving a pair of ProAc Tablette Reference 8 Signatures. Great little system. What amazes me are the number of esoteric tube offerings from US (and Chinese!) manufacturers. Some of it sounds pretty darn good, too.
     
  6. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    NAD 3020. That is a weird choice to come up in this context. I bought one of those when it was new in 70whatever and it's still the main amp of my home Vinyl system with a couple old Klipsch K4's.

    I have a bigger version of all that in the shop, an NAD 2200/1025 amp/preamp set into Klipsch Cornwalls.

    I love that stuff.

    Ok, but I can't still figure out how it fits with Walter's stuff. I just thought it was weird.





    Nevermind....
     
  7. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Correct. I didn't say "better." I said he achieved the transfer function. Hey, PM me if you want to chat about this. I've been at it for a long, long time. By the way, there are reasons that speaker manufacturers don't publish response specs. Here's a hint: Do you really want the anechoic response?

    Also, many "good" amps and many "flat" speakers may not get along at all. The reasons are many. Here are just two. Some fine speakers present difficult loads that even some very fine amps cannot drive effectively. Sometimes the reactive load presented by the speaker produces frequency-response anomalies because of the interaction with the particular design of the output stage. I could go on and on but I won't. Suffice it to say that these considerations apply to bass-amps and speaker cabs as well.
     
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    ...and most of it is overpriced nonsense in my opinion. Okay, shoot me for going way off topic. Some of you may have gathered that I am in "the field" of audio. Some years back I read a review of one of Carey's 10-watt tube amps selling in the thousands. The reviewer, Bascom H. King, showed that the circuit had huge amounts of distortion and was prone to oscillation. Then he said how wonderful it was! I called Carey and spoke to one of their engineers. I asked if the objective measures were representative of their products. He said that they were. I asked then what was there to recommend their high-distortion oscillating circuit over my (then) 45-year-old Bell 2200C push-pull amp that, in comparison, had (and has) vanishingly low distortion. He said, "Well, if you put it that way, nothing-- but something magical happens when you hook our amp up to a speaker." This from an engineer! Watch out, guys!

    Speaking of British-- my office system is the Bell 2200C (Columbus, OH) driving a 1951 15" Tannoy Monitor Silver (the pinnacle of British design).
     
  9. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I've thought about trying to build a rack for my GFA-555II a couple of times! Those were great amps in the day, and I still like the sound of Adcom's older bipolar amps over their newer MOSFET amps. I had two GFA-555II's in bridged mono driving my Thiel CS3.6's, but as you pointed out, some speakers are very hard to drive (like the Thiels), and ultimately, I felt that the Adcoms in bridged mono weren't a good idea, so I switched to Theta Digital Enterprise monoblocks. I really do need to hook one of them up to a bass rig one of these days! :D

    But I am still impressed with those older Adcoms. You can buy them used for a song sometimes, and they still present a good bargain, IMHO. I sold one of the 555II's, but I still have one of them, as well as a 535II and a 2535.

    Tom.
     
  10. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Bought my GFA-555 for $400 with a warranty and one-week, no-questions-asked return policy. I'm very happy. It drives my Polk SRS 1.2 TLs (which have usable output down to 12 Hz-- Really!) very well.
     
  11. 12 Hz?!

    But... but... there's nothing down there!

    (Not on any of my recordings anyway....)
     
  12. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Well, it looks like this thread cloned itself and took on a life of it's own! I was talking to Doug about NAD eariler this week and commenting on the fact that my brother still has the NAD 3020 that I bought a very long time ago and it's running perfectly.
    My own home stereo rig is all NAD and I've had it for quite some time as well. As for Proton, well that would be my 27" Monitor that's still running sweet as a nut.


    Ric
     
  13. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, that's true. Still, it is an interesting fact. When the speakers first came out, there was a reviewer that was impressed with their extended low-end response. He wanted to see what the lowest frequency was where usable output would be produced (no, I don't remember how many dB down defined usable). He got them to hang on down to about 12 Hz.
     
  14. Aleph5

    Aleph5

    Feb 24, 2004
    Tennessee
    I don't think the one Bascom King reviewed was nearly as outrageous as this one . Or how 'bout this one? :D

    Might be interested to know this is where I got my handle around here. Near an ideal design for its wattage, though it necessarily doubles as a 300W heater. :bawl: Might think about upgrading to one of these next spring, at "only" 250W idle*. :smug:

    I also have some nice glass amps around: Quicksilver, Lux, Eico, etc. And still use a NAD 4150 tuner, in fact. It wouldn't be my first tuner choice now, but it still serves me pretty well!

    (*OK, I just looked and this newest .5 version is also 300W, but I would opt for a used X250, which is spec'd at either 250 or 270W idle.)
     
  15. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    Yes - I would like anechoic response - it's a good reference. But then I always wanted the goat that Monty would show behind door number 3 when others thought it was a booby prize. :)

    On the speaker being difficult loads, impedance charts would be nice too, but at least the speaker manu could at least list the amp they used for the frequency chart. Publish some charts and peaky speaker won't sell - which is really why they don't publish charts.
     
  16. Or they publish these damn waterfall charts that nobody can make head nor tail of...
     
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    Well, you know Paul Klipsch did pretty well and never published a frequency-response chart. :)

    I do understand why manufacturers do not publish these, although in the hands of folks who know how to interpret them, they are somewhat useful. That's the problem-- most people don't and it becomes a war of 1-2 dB ripples.

    I could make a fairly convincing argument that anechoic response is an almost useless reference. Yes, if the anechoic response is ragged and ridiculous, the speaker probably will sound pretty bad in a room. On the other hand, one can have a beautiful anechoic response and also produce unacceptable sound in a room. On-axis or off-axis response? Close miked? Want to see cabinet-edge diffraction effects? Shall we put in a floor? Oh, what do those first few reflections do? How does the response change with implied listener height? On and on...
     
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    You're a real Class-A act. Indeed, you are probably toasty in the winter!
     
  19. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004

    I do expect manufacturers to also list the coverage i.e. 90 degrees horizontal 40 degrees verticle.

    Give me a break - you don't need to be a PhD to read charts. And there'll be plenty of experts to point out what they mean.
    If we're given measurements we at least have a chance of equating them to "sound" - no measurements we have nothing. Good news is I do see charts now being published for PA cabs. So I'll stick with my original plan and use clean amps and good flat PA speakers. And derive most my sound from pickup/preamp.

    I don't think we'll ever get the chance to war over ripples. :)