It is time to talk about my hifi. let's start with the source. I already mentioned I have a Rotel cd player with tubes. in the early 90's a hifi-shop in The Netherlands had a genius plan to modify a Rotel cd player with a tube output stage. Also the chip has been replaced by a TDA1541 Single Crown (S1). It is on the pinacles of the Philips chips. Nowadays much respected, together with the S2 chip. The tubes are the types ecc83 and ecc88 from Philips. Also the original fixed powercord has been replaced by a euro entrance, so a better powercord can be mounted. The cinch connectors are of a better type too.
It was already a great sounding player. My highly respected Meridian 206B was no match for the Rotel. The oversampling has been bypassed by a silvercable and a DIY superclock has been mounted. Orignaly the Rotel has Black Gates(!)condensators in the output stage. One of the best you can get and already out of stock. As the Black Gates were bypassed already, we deciced to replace the original condensators for the chip by the BG.
Also some opamps were bypassed, becaused they were useless. Opamps, are amplifier modules that are needed in almost every electrical circuits. Lot's of them can be replaced by better types. In the case of the Rotel, there were not doing anything except being useless in the circuit. Do not just remove opamps or replace them, if you do not have a technical background! It can do more damage than good!
Sound of the Rotel
So, what does it sound like? Extremely dynamic, lively, open, fluently and musical involving. It is simply the best I have ever had! It can easily compete with the so called 'exotics', costing much much more! Maybe in terms of 'resolution' and 'texture' it will not reach the level of best players around. But , when it comes to the musical presentation, the Rotel is almost unbeatable. And in the end that what its alla bout!
Now the amplification. I have a Meridian 501 pre amplifier. As I am a fan, I saw the Meridian appear on the second hand market. I bought and I am still convinced it is a good buy. It just do its job and is neutral in sound and reliable. And, the less important, the looks is very appealing! For now, it is joining my hifi family, but later I want to replace it for a tube pre amp. Why? Just, because tubes sound better. How much I respect the Meridian, It just will never sound like tubes.
Now, my power amp is a stranger in high-end land. It’s is a Russian made Prioboi or Prioboj tube amplifier. Again, this one I discovered on the second hand market, from a man from my town. He travelled to Russia several times and bought these amps. Back home, he modified them. I bought one, it has never been played. But, it was worth the risk. Oh my dear Lord, this amp, totally suprised me! I was totally captured by its magic! I knew for sure, tubes for live! I was a bit sceptical, when the the former owner claimed that it would sound better than a Audio Research amplifier. But, now I am convinced this Russian beauty, will beat a lot of highly respected American valve amps!
In the pre amp section it uses 4 ecc88 tubes and the power amp section 4 Russian GP3C-1 military aproved tubes. Gladly, still available on the market. It delivers 2x50 Watts, but It really has no difficulties driving my DIY kit loudspeakers wich are only 84db. Oh yes, I have sold my Linn Ninka loudspeakers. I liked them a lot and I have really enjoyed listening tot hem. But, I knew there was ‘more’.
My speakers are the transmissionline types and it uses a magnetostatic tweeter and only a 10cm midrange/woofer. It sound really detailed and the bass goes deep. But it is never sloppy. Fair enough, it really sounds much better than the Linn’s. No bad words for the Linn, but this is just another league. The drawback is that you need a beefy amp to drive it tand get it ‘alive’. Or a tube amp will do the trick. But of course, first try ! Luckily the Soundcare superspikes fitted under my new speakers! They need some attention for a right ‘positioning’, but once finding the sweet spot they sound excellent!
And last, but not least my cables. The interlink I use between my cd player and pre amplifier is a Van Medevoort SC1 with WBT plugs. I really like the neutral balance and musical performance. For me the best money could buy. The interlink between the Meridian pre and Priboi poweramp is a van den Hul integration. It’s highly respected and just does what it should do. It is a great allround performer. The connector box is from Supra. They really make good stuff, for fair prices. Then I use handmade powercords, for my cd player and poweramp. The Meridian gets its electrical juices from a Xindak PC-03 powercord. For me, there isn’t much difference between very expensive ones or handmade. Or at least, the difference just doesn’t cover the money! My speakers get their signals through a pair of QED XT350 cables. The sound is very 'airy' and ít seems a tad of 'tube' is added. Very smooth and highly musical involving. This pair has the famous airlocks, so corrosion will have no chance.
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