UPDATE: My New Prime Rig

UPDATE: My New Prime Rig

Postby 529proaudio » Fri May 01, 2020 12:42 am

Hi everyone, excited to be back in the VPI owner's circle with a new Prime!

My last setup was a Scout Prime, Ortofon MM Bronze, Rega Brio integrated amp, and ELAC Uni-Fi speakers, so this is a definite step-up in all areas.

I went with the Hana SL cart based on the glowing reviews, and it sounds pretty incredible right out of the box. I probably don't have more than 10 hours on it, so I expect it will continue to break-in for another few weeks. I'm using a Schiit Mani phono stage, which is pretty amazing for the money, but I would love to hear it with a SUT and/or through a higher-end phono stage just to make sure I'm wringing the most out of the Hana.

I also got a new pair of brand new factory sealed KEF LS50s on sale for $700 that I'm also breaking in. These are a little small for my listening room, but I can't imagine anything coming close to them for that price. I tried them with a Musical Fidelity M2Si as well as a Schiit Ragnarok integrated. To my surprise, the Musical Fidelity amp was the clear winner of that matchup. The Ragnarok definitely sounded warmer with a fuller low-end, but it wasn't a nice, clear, controlled tight low-end, but rather a mushy, hazy, mess. This especially surprised me since Stereophile specifically mentioned the KEF LS50s and the Ragnarok as an unbeatable combo.

Best,
Chris
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Last edited by 529proaudio on Fri May 08, 2020 11:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
529proaudio
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Re: My New Prime Rig

Postby tom collins » Fri May 01, 2020 7:15 am

That looks grand. I have always loved those Kef's. Your experience just proves that you can't believe everything you read, but it is a good place to start. The reviewer's taste was different than yours or possibly, those speakers come out of the box real tight and the rag might sound better after they are broken in. anyway, have fun breaking everything in, something to do during the virus.
TNT6HR, rim drive, superplat, outer ring, weight, 12.0, 12.7, 3d arms, SDS, SRA platform; Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, SS Gold Denon, Grado ME+ carts; Cary PH302/2 phono-pre; Cary 30i EL34 int. amp; Coincident Franks and preamp; Devore 88 speakers; PSB sub.
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Re: My New Prime Rig

Postby vienna acoustics » Fri May 01, 2020 10:15 am

Your space looks great
I have a pair of KEF LS50W (the active version ) installed in a secondary system and I am impressed with their performance.
Their performance took off the moment I added a KEF active subwoofer (the Reference 8B model)
!
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Re: My New Prime Rig

Postby mreeter » Sat May 02, 2020 8:28 am

Congrats on your new Prime! Looks like a very nice set-up and a pleasant spot as well. I've always enjoyed the look of the Black Kef's with the Copper Drivers. I'm sure their performance is equal to their appearance.
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Re: My New Prime Rig

Postby 529proaudio » Sat May 02, 2020 10:26 am

Thanks guys! I’m still tweaking the speaker placement so, out of curiosity, I took another listen to the Schiit Ragnarok amp last night. Not sure if my mind is playing tricks on me, but I had a much better impression so I’m going to give it another trial over the weekend. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD650 headphones on order and am also anxious to hear what the headphone amp can do with a decent set of cans. The lack of a remote may be a dealbreaker though, lol.

I started a rambling thread in the General Audio section that is pending approval, but would I be better served by upgrading to a nice SUT (e.g. Bobs Devices) feeding a phonostage like the Mani or should I just upgrade to a nicer phonostage and worry about a SUT later?

Best,
Chris
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Re: V2: My New Prime Rig

Postby 529proaudio » Fri May 08, 2020 10:37 pm

Did a lot of experimenting this week and tried a few upgrades to boot. The Schiit Ragnarok was sold as it paled in comparison to the Musical Fidelity M2Si...maybe the Ragnarok 2 is better, but I was pretty disappointed considering this is supposed to be a great match for the KEF LS50s.

I got a deal I couldn't refuse on a Bob’s Devices SKY20 integrated VPI SUT and decided to give it a shot. Install was super easy and forced me to get some experience with the turntable components as I had to remove the VTA base, reconfigure anti-skate using the wire twist method, and double check the tracking force, azimuth, etc...only thing I couldn’t quite figure out is why the cartridge stylus that was installed by Upscale Audio doesn’t actually reach to the white dot on the alignment jig; it’s just a hair behind it. But it looks like the cartridge is installed as far forward as can be on the head shell so maybe that is why?

In any case, I was quite amazed at the sonic improvement from the SUT! Even though I’m still running through the Schiit Mani MM stage, I noticed a definite improvement in low-end heft, detail, smoothness, and just increased depth and width of the soundstage in general. The KEF LS50s almost sounded like different speakers, and I liked it so much that I decided to order the Don Sachs tube phonostage that Bob said is the best he has ever heard. Should be finished in 3-4 weeks.

The detail on the KEF LS50s is quite amazing but I'm not convinced they are the best fit for such a large room so I decided to try these Tannoy XT 8F speakers that Upscale swears by. I figured I could return them in 60 days if I don’t love them...that is, until two boxes, each the size of a refrigerator showed up today. Guessing it will be a fortune to return these and have to eat the shipping both ways so I’m really hoping these blow me away at some point.

First few hours listening were quite interesting. The low end sounds utterly monstrous compared to the little KEFs but I’m missing some of the detail of the LS50s. Initially the bass felt very loose and boomy which was definitely interfering with the low-mids. I moved them around a fair amount and think I’ve got them more balanced and the low-end seems to be tightening up a bit. Toe-in is very important on these if you want to make sure the highs don’t get lost in the bass.
If you made it this far you deserve a few pics :)
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Best,
Chris
VPI Prime | Hana SL MC | Bob's Devices SKY20 Integrated VPI SUT | Don Sachs Tube Phonostage | Schiit Mani Phonostage | Mapleshade Clearview Interconnect | Musical Fidelity M2Si Amp | Tannoy XT 8F | Audioquest Rocket 11
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Re: UPDATE: My New Prime Rig

Postby mreeter » Sat May 09, 2020 4:41 pm

Chris, You've certainly made some very nice improvements in a short time. I would imagine after the Tannoy's get some more time on them, they will really open up.

N'joy!
VPI Classic Signature SE
VPI SDS
VPI 16.5
ModWright LS-100 Linestage Preamp
ModWright PH 9.0 Phono Preamp
Parasound Halo A-21
VAS Audio Citation II Monoblock Amps
Polk Audio SDA SRS 2.3TL
Dual Rythmik F8 Subs
MIT S1 Shotgun/Audio Sensibility Wires
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