Vincent Audio C-60 CD player Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Spiral Groove SG-2 turntable & Centroid tonearm; VPI HR-X turntable & tonearm; TriPlanar Precision Mk.VII tonearm; Lyra Titan i, Grado Signature Reference cartridges.
Digital Source: Simaudio Moon Evolution Andromeda, Primare CD 31 CD players.
Preamplification: Sutherland PhD phono preamplifier; Sutherland Direct Line Stage, Placette Active Line Stage preamplifiers.
Power Amplifiers: VTL MB750 Signature, Mark Levinson No.20.6 monoblocks.
Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia II.
Cables: Audience Au-24e, Stereovox, Nordost Valhalla, Nirvana SL. AC: Audience Au24 & PowerChord-e.
Accessories: Finite Elemente Reference equipment stand, MusicTools CD-only CD rack; Audience aR-12T & aR-2T power conditioners; Echo Busters room treatments; VPI & Disk Dr. LP cleaning fluids; Audience Auric Illuminator, Disk Dr., Nordost Eco-3 CD-cleaning & treatment systems; VPI HW-16.5 record-cleaning machine; Wally Tools turntable-setup tools.—Brian Damkroger

COMPANY INFO
Vincent Audio
US distributor: WS Distributing
3427 Kraft SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
(616) 885-9809
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COMMENTS
WillWeber's picture

Hello Brian,

Well I’m confused.

You state: “Should an audio component accurately reproduce the signal it's fed, or should it evoke the sound and feel of live music? Accuracy or musicality?”

You suggest that traditionally solid state has claimed to be  “more accurate” (by measurements) while tubes sounded more “musical.” But then you state: “…both camps have eliminated the obvious colorations of their respective technologies, and the levels of performance of today's best tubed and solid-state gear have converged.”

So if these “obvious colorations” are eliminated and the sound quality has “converged” over the years, doesn’t that imply both have become more accurate? (Colorations are an inaccuracy right?) Then where does "Musical" lie in this new terrain?

Then this new CD player has a choice of tube and solid state paths. And you state that is has: ”…a recognizable sonic signature—actually, more than one,…” So is this not a throwback in technology? You even detail how the tube path is sweet and warm (“…a little sweeter and more golden than reality”),  while the solid state path “…more accurate and more tonally neutral...”

So what am I missing here?

Thanks in advance for any helpful explanation,

WillW

PS: Opening Panda’s Box - Tube vs SS. Tubes are sweeter and warmer, my experience too, overall. But I find this sound syrupy and not so accurate. I find (high end) SS more like a live performance. In fact, I can make my synth sound sweeter, more like tubes, by adding a touch of 2nd and 3rd harmonics. That experimental data point suggests that this might be the allure of tubes, for those who prefer a more saccharine sound, albeit less accurate. (OK, all you tube guys get out your guns!) "Musical" might be a subjective term to some, but live performance is musical to me, and tubes (traditionally) don't have as much live character, again to me.

Brian Damkroger's picture

Hi WIll. Thanks for the comment.

First, there's the question of semantics, and how we agree to use the words accurate and musical.  I tried to use the former to refer to the claim made by early solid-state proponents, which was that their gear had a measurably more accurate reproduction of the input waveform. The gear also sounded hard, cold, hazy, and any number of other not so great adjectives.  I used musical, on the other hand, to describe a classic tube sound - harmonically rich but with all the other baggage that plagued the early tube gear.  I didn't use accurate, or musical for that matter, to mean accurately reproducing the original musical event.  In my vernacular, neither accurate nor musical were particularly in this latter regard.

Over time, both tube and solid-state gear dramatically reduced their most obvious audible colorations, both sounding more like music and not coincidentally, more like each other.  Both did, as you note, grow to more nearly approach, or more accurately reproduce, the sound of the original recorded event.  Accurate and musical, as I originally used the terms, became less applicable and less relevant.  

You're right, the Vincent gear is a bit of a throwback in that it offers the two different output stages.

Thanks again for the comment.

Brian

WillWeber's picture

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your clarification, that helps me understand your position much better.

Semantics are often a struggle in communications, as the forums attest to (quite strongly!). To me, as a scientist, "accuracy" has a very specific meaning that is carefully defined to the nth degree in the metrological context. I duly note that you refer to the context of early SS measurements, which were certainly incomplete, dubious even. In fact, these types of measurements have improved, but still I think they are lacking. There is a tendency for the disease that I call mononumerosis, that is trying to present data one dimensionally to allow easy comparisons. Meaningful measurements are much more complicated. And there are undoubtedly parameters that matter but are not measured, or at least not measured well enough.

I agree that many of the early (as well as cheap contemporary) SS designs are harsh and cold sounding, and would not seem to be so accurate, or musical. Some of the modern ‘phile designs though are silky smooth, dynamic, and detailed, and actually measure quite well too. I suspect that manufacturers are using more thorough and accurate measurements to assist in their R&D, which has enabled such progress, both valve and SS gear. Tubes still have more distortion, though of the kinder “musical” low harmonics, and output stages always require that unfortunate tranny output for impedance matching--with the consequential low Q and speaker impedance interaction. I hear these compromises as coloration and lack of control and dynamics (with most speakers). But I do think that good tube designs can be more useful in pre stages and line buffers, just not my preference (yet). There remain the issues of short life, excess heat, warm-up time, energy consumption, and microphonic behavior too.

My musician side, with context of “accuracy” and “musical” being as you describe--reproducing the live event as realistically as possible--still prefers high end SS over the sweetened sound of tubes, which seems to be largely unavoidable.

I appreciate your taking the time to explain your usage of these terms. (Aren’t you busy at the show in Germany?)

Cheers,

Will

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