Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

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Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:09 am

Just decided to bite the bullet and have my DS Grazified with new ribbons by Rich Murry. I've modified my DS with latest audiophile grade components (caps, coils, resistors, wiring, etc.) and very happy with the results.

My big issue with my speakers is that they occasionally buzz depending on the bass frequency content and output level. I just cannot tolerate this anymore. I invested quite a chunk of money over the last 3 years to bring my audio system to a respectable status (Krell monoblocks, moded Benchmark DAC, audio server, Acoustic Zen interconnects/speaker cables, dedicated AC outlets + Shunyata AC receptacles, etc.) and I just cannot hear that gazoo sound anymore.

These babies suffer from poor mechanical design to start with. The way the front covers are assembled to the chassis, the MRT U-frame assembly screwed to the bass panel, lousy speaker support racks and aging ribbon damping foam material have contributed to my decision.

Before plunging into this refurbishing project, I listened to the Magnepan 3.7 which I thought would be a contender for the DS. Big disappointment, the bass of the 3.7 does not even come close to my DS. So this made the decision even easier. I have professionally built crates coming in tomorrow and will ship my babies to Rich next week.

I will keep you guys posted when I receive my 'new' DS and provide comments on their evolving sound once they start opening up. In the meantime, I will have to live with my old pair of JPW AP-3 bookshelf speakers for the next 3-4 weeks. This will be a long wait..... :cry:

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Ralph on Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:38 am

This will be the most dramatic and exciting mod you will ever have done.

Keep us posted
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Vansloneker on Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:46 am

Best way to start off a new year.
poor guy
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Zardoz on Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:07 pm

Sounds great!! :D Do keep us informed of what you think of them afterwards.

Happy New Year,
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby ChrisH on Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:58 pm

Is it Grazified or Grazzled ??

Good luck with the project...am awaiting funds to see what Jon can do for my occasionally buzzing Scintillas, which have already been Grazzled

Whilst my Wilson 5.1s have been away to be refurbished, I bought a new pair of XTZ 99 mk2 speakers (£900 incl stands) and have been astonished how good they are...might be an option for you?

regrds
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby artm on Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:23 pm

Why did you send them to Rich instead of the closer installer, Bill?
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:13 am

artm wrote:Why did you send them to Rich instead of the closer installer, Bill?

I saw an advertising by True Sound Works (Rich Murry) in the Audiogon regarding Apogee refurbishing. I had a few discussion with Rich and we kind of agreed on the virtues and flaws of the Apogee design. The fact that Rich proposed sensible solutions to these flaws rang a bell with me. I have a background in electronics and Rich knows what he is talking about.

I have also seen many positive feedback from satisfied customers that have dealt with Rich. That's the only reason why I took the 'long road', I had confidence in this guy.

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:16 am

ChrisH wrote:Is it Grazified or Grazzled ??


Hello Chris, both sound good to me :lol:
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Vansloneker on Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:37 am

or just Grazzed
poor guy
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:45 pm

Since this will be a collaborative work using Rich Murry and Graz talent, guess my refurbished DS will have a Rich and Grazious sound when they come back! :D
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby christoph on Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:39 pm

dasign wrote:Since this will be a collaborative work using Rich Murry and Graz talent, guess my refurbished DS will have a Rich and Grazious sound when they come back! :D


nice pun :lol:
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Shibui on Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:12 pm

Dasign,

You will LOVE the result if the wait doesn't kill you! Rich made mine sound superb, and they are still getting better a year later! (But don't worry, you will be floored right away, too!) :shock:
I chose Rich for the most mundane of reasons - the transport was much easier and cheaper and the roads better, if needed, even though further in miles. However, I really came to appreciate his friendship and his work and know-how, and the supreme quality of his execution and its end products. After visiting Rich in Nevada, I feel lucky to count him as a friend and to have heard his superb collection of restored/rebuilt Apogees and Nelson Pass Labs kit. Graz really selected some fine installers for his team! :D

:idea:
BTW, Rich has created some IMHO stellar cables called 'Appassionado' that work really well with my rig and the 'new' DSigs. They really opened up the soundstage even further, and allowed micro details to shine through and give a real feeling of 'air' to the performances.
Glen

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:20 am

Shibui wrote:Dasign,

You will LOVE the result if the wait doesn't kill you! Rich made mine sound superb, and they are still getting better a year later! [/i]


Shibui,

It's been a week without my DS and dearly miss them. I understand that from your experience, the wait will be worth. Beside the ribbon replacement, did you ask for other upgrade work? On my side, beside the ribbon job, I've asked to have the frames strengthened. I've been listening to my old bookshelf JPW AP-3 which practically have no bass and poor midrange and basically lost interest in listening music through them.

The DS are in a truck as we speak and will reach Rich's house by end of next week. Hope they are going to arrive with no damage....Yes the wait is killing me, I'm even dreaming that I'm hooking up my refurbished DS with a big smile on my face :D . Isn't this a crazy hobby! Just love it! ;)

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Shibui on Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:24 pm

Dasign,

Oh Yes, I had Rich do as much as he could do, which included installing Graz's best ribbons, panels and also Graz's Return Replacement Kit so that all innerds are new and tightly spec'd. Ask Rich for a rundown, if you like. My DSigs are almost Rich DSig 'Ultimates' that he sold for 14K, missing only the new-made magnets.

While I was visiting, Rich was burning in that Maple pair of custom 'Ultimate' DSigs for the buyer, George in Arizona. George called for an update while I was there and asked for my opinion and feedback re the speakers. Next to my just-refurbished DSigs George's custom jobbies were better, outstanding, clearly a step above, with exceptionally flat and deep bass response and very tight and sharper imaging IMHO, which I relayed to a very happy and proud George. So I had Rich do as much of the same to mine as could be managed after the repanelling. :ugeek:

The results floored me and continue to do so. Now, with the Kronzillas in my system, I am amazed daily and can hardly peel myself away from the glorious sounds that I am so fortunate to enjoy. As I said, you will not be disappointed with Graz's and Rich's work products. Get ready to be floored when they come home, and it will continue as the break-in matures.

Enjoy! :mrgreen:
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:52 am

Gents,

Finally my refurbished DS have arrived 2 days ago. First, when I picked these babies up to install them, I could feel that they were no more wobbling pieces attached together but I was moving a monolithic piece (frame redone).

Second, everything worked perfectly on first install (no bad surprise).

Third, they just sounded marvelous the first moment they started playing. They just sounded much better than the originals right upfront.

Fourth, no more buzz or other distortions coming from the cover, grid or ribbons. Just clean sound.

The Sound

I played a few of my favorite tracks on Angus and Julia Stone 'Down the Way' album which includes acoustic guitars, acoustic /electric bass and string/wind ensemble on certain tracks. The music style is indie/acoustic rock. The recording is of reference quality. Played the second track 'Black Crow' which just sounded out of this world with its bass drum smack, 3 D imaging and voices so natural.

Also tried the track 'Rimshot (Intro)' by Erykah Badu from the album 'Baduism'. The synthesized bass part of this track has never played well on the original DS because of the bass ribbons buzzing, now the buzz is gone and can now hear bass line correctly for the first time.

Another track that never played well on the original DS is PJ Harvey's 'Electric Light' from her album 'Is this Desire'. This track contains a synthesized bass that made my DS freak. I had bass panel buzzing + front cover/front grid rattling. With the new DS, just music coming out.

The speaker sounded as if cut out of a one piece cloth (or ribbon ;) ) with seamless integration of MRT and bass ribbon. Also perceived an increase in overall sound resolution and dimensionality. The only really minor negative comment would be that cymbals when hit with a stick sound a little damped, missing some clarity/dynamics and a bit laid back. This is specially true on well recorded Jazz albums (Joshua Redman's 'Compass' as an example), But I guess this will clear up in a few listening hours.

These refurbished DS done by Rich Murry are simply reference speaker killers. I have heard the latest Magnepan 3.7 and I can tell you that my refurbished DS are far superior to them in every aspects. Probably the closest challenger would be the Martin Logan CLX ($25K) for its clean midrange/tweeter, but the DS kills it in the bass department. You may arrive in the DS territory if you add 2 ML Descent i subwoofers at $3,5K each to the CLX, which brings the ML kit at a whopping $32K. That's the price you will have to pay for a new speaker pair to challenge a pair of refurbished Duettas Signature with Xover rebuilt.

I understand that the rebuild cost may be prohibitive to some, but for those who can afford it, I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed. I can now listen to the full audio capability of these marvels.

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Graz on Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:40 am

Hello Dasign

Pleased you are having fun! This will actually improve as the MR will become more mechanically able over the first 70-80 hours. Your bass will actually improve still further up to about 300 hours in normal play. Rich has probably said but I will say it - avoid the use of crazy burn-in cd's and enjoy the experience as they burn in. The change over the 300 hours (particularly the first 80) is not subtle...


Take care - Graz
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby User211 on Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:54 am

Hi Dasign,

Graz is right wait for a while as presumably KLM5 breaks in. KLM5 is spookily real sounding sometimes and has terrific resolution & clarity when it calms down. Young KLM5 can sound smeared and pretty coloured when new - it just sounds odd in this state, IMHO.

That said I used MLs for 20 years and new panels on those can sound pretty odd for the first few months, so no better there, really.

I didn't take Graz's advice and put KLM5 on the run in with a solid state amp for 12-14 hours a day for about ten days That was after I realised I just couldn't wait for things to settle down after a few weeks!. Just played standard music though, no burn in disks.

Have confidence & trust in what Graz and I say, though. They will improve a lot - probably a lot more than you are expecting. If you are happy now, I have no doubt you'll be sitting there with the system cranked up and KLM5 run in in a state of disbelief!!!:)

I consistently think about the DS versus the CLX. The CLX gets pulverised by the DS in the bass dept for extension. It is also far more convincing with rock than the CLX is, IMHO - more subjective speed and attack. Try LuLu by Metallica\Lou Reed at high volume as a fine example of the DS rocking to extremity!!!!

The CLX is physically a bit bigger so has a bit more scale. It does also have an excellent mid-range with is quite different in nature to the Apogee. But it is cursed by the need for subwoofers, and it will never, ever sound as seemless and integrated as the DS does as it has to employ an inherently different technology here with different dispersion characteristics.

I actually still own an ML Descent, but I very seldom use it - usually only when I'm drinking and feeling insane TBH!!. The x-over point of the Descent is actually not suitable for use with DS's in my opinion - it starts at 40Hz - not low enough!!!

Anyway, enjoy! If you have some pics I'd love to see them.

Regards,

Justin
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:08 pm

Justin,

Just for the record, I'm using the KLM2 ribbon following Rich Murry's advice on differences between KLM2/KLM5. The KLM2 sound is closer to the original stock MRT ribbon, which I liked very much. I guess it is a matter of taste, I'm pretty sure that both ribbon have different qualities and sound extraordinary. I'm not downplaying the KLM5 sound since I have not heard it. I just went with my gut feeling and what I liked about the MRT sound. If the KLM2 sound is closer to the stock MRT ribbon, that's good enough for me :) .

Like you, I had no intent to play any burn-in CD or play music while absent. The sound that I am currently getting is sooooooo much better than what I had previously, why not enjoy it and have a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon? ;) .

I have listened to the CLX at the Montreal audio show with a pair of Bryston 1 Kw monoblocks. The resolution in the midrange/high frequencies is very good, and possibly equal or better than the DS. However, the stock DS just kills it the bass department. Like you, I truly believe that a dynamic sub is very difficult to match with a planar speaker. You will lose the transient reproduction capacity of a panel and the seamless integration to the midrange section by using a dynamic sub.

I listen to all kinds of music, but with a preference on the various rock flavors (Indie, hard, classic and alternative), acoustic jazz and world music. I recently start purchasing Electronica music form Europe (Apparat, Modeselektor, Panta du Prince, Shackelton, etc.) which requires some 'oomph' and resolution in the bass department. This is when I decided to have my speakers refurbished since Electronica will highlight deficiencies of any speakers in the bass department. My stock DS could not play these CDs without buzzing every now and then.

I will put some pics online in a few days, but there ain't much to see that's really extraordinary, since I have kept the original cosmetics of the panels that are a great match with my Krell monoblocks. I'll put them online anyhow.

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby User211 on Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:12 pm

Dasign,

I originally had KLM2 but never witnessed it breaking in - I think Jon said they had aboout 70 hours on them. But they didn't change much after I got them. KLM5 definately takes longer to break in than 70 hours - quite a bit longer - and changes radically for the better.

If you asked me which I prefered then I'd have to say KLM5 for its extra apparent resolution. But it was a difficult journey for me due to break-in time and an x-over change was made to accomodate them i.e. calm them down a little. Without the x-over change, there was literally too much detail - beyond anything I have ever heard before!

KLM2 is fine, though. It's more laid back and it possibly harmonizes very fractionally better with the bass panel. Arguably it is a bit more "musical" whatever that means - less hi-fi I guess. But it doesn't resolve quite as well and track the input signal quite as accurately IMHO.

Some have been fine with KLM5 without x-over changes as far as I can deduce. I guess it just depends on the x-over you have, and whether you still have the 3 position switch in place.

Anyway, if you ever feel like trying KLM5 in a year or two (if Graz will sling you some for self-install) I'd recommend it as being worth a shot - because you can always revert to a new set of KLM2s if you don't like them for not too much money.

If you like electronic music then that is a DS mega strong point. The bass panels just love it!

I've had a lot of amps running on my DS's including Krells. I think they do best with tube amps so if you can I'd give some meaty ones a try sometime. You may not agree, however.

Anyway, enjoy:)

Justin
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:26 pm

Justin,

Thanks for sharing your KLM5 experience. I have rebuilt my DS Xover myself about 2 years ago using latest audiophile grade components. The MRT switch at the back of the DS were taken off and the Xover modified to play in the 'Normal' position. The Mundorf Supreme capacitors I used did take a few weeks to get to their best. So maybe that was the case with your ribbon/Xover upgrade, you had many variables working at the same time. So rigth now, I'm only waiting on the ribbons to open up.

I may try the KLM5 one day, but I really need to experience the KLM2 first. Regarding the use of tubes, I guess I would need at least 150/200 W per channel tube amp to drive my babies. My purchase criteria for tube would be that bass content should be rendered as good as solid state amps, which is not always the case depending on tube amps used I guess. Many audio equipment reviewers have indicated that spatial cues is best reproduced by tube amps even if the margin between quality tubes/SS amps is narrowing down with latest designs. Assuming my finance will permit someday, I may try some Audio Research monoblock or VTL amp gear.

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby mike on Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:27 am

Design: If you do get the urge to try some burly tube amps, one I would put on your short list is a CAT JL2-signature (or just a "plain" JL-2. The most muscular 100 WPC of class A triode tube power I've ever heard. I am, of course, biased since I have one, but it is definitely worth a listen.
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby christoph on Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:39 am

hi dasign

i second justins recommendation (once more) regarding KLM5 ribbons and i also think that (apogee) ribbons and (very good) tubes are a match in heaven :mrgreen:

i also have to second mikes recommedation regarding CAT amps. everytime i entered a room at the last high end fair i attended and it sounded better than the rest, the speakers were driven by CAT amps or KR audio amps.

give (very good) tubes a try. i'm pretty confident you will like it a lot 8-)

@mike
what speakers are you driving with your wonderful CAT amp?


cheers, christoph
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:54 pm

Hello Christoph, Mike and Justin,

Thanks again for your suggestions. I was somewhat familiar with the CAT preamp that has enjoyed great press reviews but unfamiliar with their amps which look great. They are expensive beauties even on the used market!

My DS are improving hour by hour, especially the MRT which sound a little sweeter, natural and more upfront than laid back. The 'palpability' of the music is also increasing which is also scary sometimes depending on the music content. Just listen to Anouar Brahem 'The Astounding Eyes of Rita' on ECM records and you will understand. Great acoustic music with incredible tone color, soundstage and immediate presence of instruments.

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby mike on Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:18 am

Dasign, Christoph:

The CAT is currently driving some stock Diva's. The bass diaphragms are a bit tired, and I'm hoping to get enough funds together to get them "Grazified" by Rich Murray at True Sound Works in the not too distant future. As much as I love the amp, it is on the market at this point because I anticipate my livng/financial situation changing in the not too distant future and want to get out of the tube replacement cycle, which is not an inexpensive proposition with that amp. If you are willing to put up with the common tube rituals, however, it is a tough act to follow.
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby christoph on Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:10 am

hello mike

i'm sorry to hear about your upcoming financial situation.

what amp are you planning to replace your cat with?

how many hours does a set of tubes last and how expensive is a complete replacement of the tubes? ar cat amps universal voltage (110v - 240v, switchable) or are they either 110v OR 240v?


cheers, christoph
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby Flaudio on Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:02 am

dasign wrote:Hello Christoph, Mike and Justin,

Thanks again for your suggestions. I was somewhat familiar with the CAT preamp that has enjoyed great press reviews but unfamiliar with their amps which look great. They are expensive beauties even on the used market!

My DS are improving hour by hour, especially the MRT which sound a little sweeter, natural and more upfront than laid back. The 'palpability' of the music is also increasing which is also scary sometimes depending on the music content. Just listen to Anouar Brahem 'The Astounding Eyes of Rita' on ECM records and you will understand. Great acoustic music with incredible tone color, soundstage and immediate presence of instruments.

Dasign


Hello,
I am in Montreal and almost ready to grazidied Duetta Sig. I would like to contact you. My email is
flemay (at) ei.ca, 514-582-3469..
Francois , je parle francais

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:53 am

Francois,

I will give you a call this weekend. Je suis francophone aussi.

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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby mike on Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:43 pm

christoph wrote:hello mike

i'm sorry to hear about your upcoming financial situation.

what amp are you planning to replace your cat with?

how many hours does a set of tubes last and how expensive is a complete replacement of the tubes? ar cat amps universal voltage (110v - 240v, switchable) or are they either 110v OR 240v?


cheers, christoph


Hi Christoph

I got the amp in November 2008 (I am the second owner). I couldn't find the receipts or exact dates, but I replaced the outputs with some new Winged C 6550's (recommended at the time) sometime in 2009. I ran those through mid 2011, and had gotten a new set of Winged C's to replace them but waited too long and a tube failure took out a resistor and damaged one of the boards - that necessitated return trip to CAT, and while it was there I decided to do the Signature MK2 upgrade. The new boards have a many improvements for sound quality, but also one for reliability - the outputs are now "fused" with a smaller resistor that is designed to protect things in the event of a future tube failure. There is a lot more to the story than that. In theory, the KT120's should last quite a bit longer because they are both a higher plate power rated tube and CAT now recommends a lower bias setting (for better sound, not tube life). According to Ken Stevens, you do tube replacement when the bias drops to about 20 mA average from the new tube 30 mA setting. He expects 2 to 3 years of "normal" service. The amp needs well matched tubes. You can get these either from CAT (~ $2500 with the small signal tubes) or RAM labs (~ $1500 for 16 KT120's). It is possible to get tubes for less from many other sources, but in general, you are getting a lot less care with the matching and results may vary. The prices above are for the new KT120's, which are the current best tube for the application. Something has happened to the quality and supply of the winged C 6550's, and many manufacturers, including CAT and ARC have switched to the KT120's. They are much more rugged and better overall.

The amp has no switch for changing voltages, but comes in both 110 and 220 V versions. I am guessing that it is just a matter of switching the power tranny primaries from parallel to serial, but would have to check with CAT to be sure.

My situation is not that bad, but is in flux - again it is a long story, but to summarize have considered going to different speakers (due to size, not sound), and the new speakers I'm considering require 6 channels of amplification. No way I can do that with CAT's. The amp I am considering is a Pass XA.5 series - the smallest I can comfortably get away with on the current Apogees. The sale is to free up a little money, move to something smaller, get away from the tube replacement, and (hopefully) not give up too much in sound quality.

As I've said before, there is a lot more to many of the stories above. If you want to correspond outside this forum, my e-mail address is mbhintz (at) fastmail.us. Not sure if the moderator will allow that to be posted, but worth a try.

Admin - edited your email address, purely because bots scan these pages looking for valid email addresses that get passed on to people who will spam you - Jon
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Re: Getting my Duetta Signature Grazified!!!

Postby dasign on Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:21 pm

Gents,

My DS are getting better and better. I've listened to Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' SACD last Saturday which I thought I knew every note... On the start-up track 'Breathe' the heartbeat has such an solid impact when compared to my original DS. The bass quality is such an improvement on the refurbished DS that it improves overall presentation by creating a solid foundation for the music. Overall resolution, imaging and palpability has also improved greatly, that I am not listening to music anymore but feel like I'm inside it (well not exactly, but you know what I mean 8-) ).

I've also listened to the Portico Quartet's 'Isla' CD which is a new jazz album recorded at the Abbey Road studio. The band seems to have been recorded in a large studio venue which imaging is truly rendered by the rebuilt DS. This record is worth to have in your collection from a musical and quality recording standpoint.

I still have some minor reservations about the treble quality which varies greatly between recordings. However, this problem is diminishing the more I listen to my DS. The KLM2 ribbon has better resolution than the original ribbon and probably hearing a mix of poor quality treble recording because of the KLM2's added resolution. I'm probably not done yet with the burn-in period and probably worrying for nothing.

More to come

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