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linden518
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Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

Drove to Audio Connection in NJ. A fantastic shop! John, the owner, was full of anecdotes, and we spent 2 hours, just listening to beautiful music. Stravinsky, Cream, Radiohead, Brahms, Handel, Mozart... so good. I went there to audition Harbeth Super HL5, but John seemed to steer me away. He said they're well-built, but they're great for near-field monitoring, but somewhat lacking in the bass. (But I STILL wanted to listen to them!)

Jackfish! I FINALLY heard the Vandersteen 2CE!!! They are AMAZING, considering the $! What a freaking value! If they weren't so heavy & big (I'll have to move in May), I'd consider them. Purely based on sound, I'd probably spring for them instead of the Devores. Much warmer-sounding, and has POWER to spare. So good and dynamic.

I also heard Vandersteen Quattro bi-amped w/ Pass. Just mind-blowing. Pin-point accurate, can do loud & soft equally well. Listened to a little bit from Die Walk

rvance
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Re: Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

Good luck...and happy trails!

Elk
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Re: Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

The Audio Connection is indeed a great place.

Random thoughts:

The Vandersteens are not that big. If you really like them, either just get them and plan on moving them (keep the boxes in any event) or simply wait until May to buy them. It appears that you will be (probably should be) shopping until then anyway.

I wouldn't get the Echo Gina3G as a card to listen to unless you are planning on recording with this PC as well. A lot of money has gone into the mic pres, etc. that you don't otherwise need. Also, its A/D is better than its D/A - a good choice given its primary market of beginning home studio enthusiasts. The Lynx card is extremely nice, but again is primarily made for recording - the only bad thing here is that you are putting a lot into features that you don't need. Both sound very good however.

I think you are better off with a solid basic card, like M-Audio's Audiophile 2496 ($100.00). It has good sound if you choose to listen to it directly. Even better, it easily interfaces with any outboard DAC you happen to choose now or later on.

Another option is to get a Squeezebox and to connect it wirelessly or hardwire it. Then get a better DAC later on.

What are you planning on as your music access interface?

linden518
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Re: Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

Hi, Elk. I don't know if you read the article in December 07 issue of TAS. It was on using a custom built PC as source, written by Karl Schuster, who is the President of Empirical Design, maker of award-winning interconnects and speaker cables. He used the Echo Gina3G card, because it allows the D/A conversion, clocking to be done outboard through an external chassis even while it connects to the computer via small internal PCI card.

Schuster writes in the TAS article that this electro-mechanical isolation resulted in gains across the board: "improved linearity and extension at the frequency extremes; a more nuanced rendering of instrumental timbres; startlingly superior reproduction of the decay of notes into a more enveloping ambient space; and a more holographic sense of dimensionality and body."

He finally concludes that the sound through his custom PC config rivalled or surpassed the playback of CD players costing thousands of dollars; he mentions Goldmund, Linn, Ayre, Marantz and Rega. He also seems to have done AB tests on his skeptical friends, who came away impressed. Robert Harley, the Editor-in-Chief of TAS, too, agrees that Karl Schuster's solution of rolling your own custom PC server with no S/PDIF interface via Echo Gina3g is an ideal solution, if done right, that it delivers better sound than optical disc, for sure. I'd say this is a startling comment coming from the editor of a magazine that profits from the advertisement dollars generated from the very makers of such optical drives/players he just compared unfavorably to the PC server! At the very least, Schuster's custom-built PC w/ Echo Gina3G must have sounded awesome.

As for interface, I might go with the super-fancy Zalman case w/ touchscreen LCD which would let me access my music through Foobar.

Elk
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Re: Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

This is interesting.

I did find the Echo to sound very good, but not that good.

I'll have to take another listen, making sure that the computer is set up well.

Cool info.

linden518
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Re: Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

I know. I found it a bit odd that a lot of PC audio enthusiasts haven't used Echo Gina3G, don't talk about it much. Everyone I talked to recommends Lynx L22 over Echo.

BillB
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Re: Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

I've been happy w/ my Vandersteens for a long time so I would recommend them.
Like Elk said, they're not that huge or heavy. If you're moving your household, there will be probably be other things heavier or harder to move than your speakers!
Another .02 on floorstanders: since "bookshelf" or minimonitor speakers require stands, they take about as much actual floor space as floorstanding spkrs. So may as well go for the biggies. IMHO.

Elk
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Re: Primare, ProAc, Pass, Vandersteen

Both the Lynx and Echo cards are great, and there are others as well (RME, etc.) Very few would not be delighted with the sound. If the Gina3G works as well as described in TAS, there would no need to go any further.

I like having the flexibility of separate components and would opt for a straight forward card capable of bit accurate output and then DAC of choice.

This way I could easily upgrade the DAC and use the existing one for a second system, connect other toys to the DAC (such as DVD player, etc. for when I am not listening to music), etc. But I enjoy playing with the hardware and switching DACs at whim appeals to me.

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