Hales System Two loudspeaker Review System
The dedicated listening room has optimum dimensional ratios for room-mode distribution. Amplification was my standard reference, the VTL 225W Deluxe monoblocks, but a new version employing KT90 output tubes instead of EL34s (footnote 1). The collective experience of some Stereophile reviewersJA, DO, and mehas been that tube amplification seems to work best with the MB tweeter found in the System Two and other loudspeakers. JA found both the VTL 500s and the Audio Research Classic 60 to be a synergistic combination with the Avalon Eclipse, and DO liked the Air Tight ATM-2 with his DIY Black Dahlia design. I concur, finding the VTLs a good match with the System Two. Another amplifier that works well with both Hales models is the Krell KSA-250. Besides the VTLs, I auditioned the System Two with the excellent Threshold S/550e reviewed in December. A pair of Snell Type C/IV loudspeakers ($2190/pair), also reviewed in this issue, was used as a basis for comparison.
Speaker cable was 3' runs of bi-wired AudioQuest Clear Hyperlitz or 10' runs of bi-wired AudioQuest Green Hyperlitz. The preamp was an Audio Research SP-11 Mk.II, driving the VTLs through AudioQuest Lapis interconnect. Digital sources included, at one time or another, the VTL D/A converter, Meridian 203, MAS DCC-1, Melior Bitstream D/A, PS Audio Super Link, and a Proceed PDP 2, all driven by an Esoteric P-2 transport via 3' runs of Aural Symphonics Digital Standard.
The analog front end was a Well-Tempered Turntable with a WT Tonearm modified by LP Research and Development Lab fitted with a Signet AT-OC9 moving-coil. An Expressive Technologies SU-1 stepped up the moving-coil output before driving the SP-11's phono input. Expressive's IC-1 interconnect was used throughout the phono path, while AudioQuest Diamond connected the digital processors to the preamp. All power to the system, except the power amplifiers, was conditioned by the magazine-owned Tice Power Block and Titan.Robert Harley
Footnote 1: See the interview with VTL's David Manley in Vol.14 No.5.