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  1. #1

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    Default B&K or Adcom or Emotiva or Carver

    How do you rank these amps and why if you may? I figure some of you may be tired of my amp questions but I'm at the mercy of the used market so I have time to contemplate till that great deal lands in my lap

    Ok throw Carver into this mix but I'm still a bit concerned on the ease of repair.
    Last edited by stangjason; 02-25-2011 at 09:06 AM.
    Pioneer vsx-1120k, B&K Sonata series video-5 amplifier, Polk Rti8, Fxi3, Csi5, and HSU VTF-1

  2. #2

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    B&K, Carver, Adcom, and Emotiva comes up the rear in a very distant last place. The first three, depending on the amp in question, are interchangeable. The Carvers have excellent repair/service support, thanks to Mr. Carver stepping in and opening a repair shop with long time Carver employee, Rita Helm. The other brands also have excellent repair support out there.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living." Brad Shurett

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by nooshinjohn View Post
    B&K, Carver, Adcom, and Emotiva comes up the rear in a very distant last place. The first three, depending on the amp in question, are interchangeable. The Carvers have excellent repair/service support, thanks to Mr. Carver stepping in and opening a repair shop with long time Carver employee, Rita Helm. The other brands also have excellent repair support out there.
    Very informative.
    Thank You
    Pioneer vsx-1120k, B&K Sonata series video-5 amplifier, Polk Rti8, Fxi3, Csi5, and HSU VTF-1

  4. #4

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    I only have experience with the first three and have to say they all have their own "sound." In general, this is how I would describe them in regards to the mean experience:

    B&K:
    Clean, detailed, ever so slightly rolled off highs, and the warm side of neutral in presentation. It's been my experience that with my friends who are sensitive to bright presentations, they prefer B&K. I've enjoyed them most on speakers with a more forward sounding presentation.

    Carver (SS, not tubes):
    Very forceful amps, generally speaking. Typically, I've experienced very present bass and mid bass. Sometimes a bit of a midbass hump, depending on the model - the problem could've been caused somewhere else, too - would creep in, but generally very dynamic. But, in my experience, the sound signatures vary greatly from different model lines. In my system I found them a bit cold on the upper end, lively mids, and stout bottom end. The main issue I've had is with clarity and accuracy. They just felt loose, if that makes sense to you. There was a great deal of quantity of sound , it just was blurred into eachother slightly. Could be a result of needing new caps, etc, but it was my experience with a number of models.

    Adcom:
    For the money, they may be as precise an amp (second hand) as you can get, however i've owned a couple that came off as cold, or anemic in the bass/midbass area. Also, in demoing some at my house, some friends found a couple of the Adcoms (namely, my GFA-2535 and GFA-5300) slightly strident, and overly bright. The best amp I've owned of these three brands, happens to be an Adcom, the GFA-555 original. I owned two, as well as A 555 mkII which was good, but not as good, in my opinion. EDIT: it must be noted that I feel the bass response of Adcoms is less than what you will notice in the other two. Most of the time I feel this is due to the precise nature of it rather than being bloated or "flubby"

    As far as consistency through a brand, B&K, in my experience, wins out. Every one I've heard was very good and exhibited very similar characteristics. But that is not to dicredit the other two, they've both produced some great amps, but they've both produced a few that I wouldn't care t hear again as well. This is just my opinion based on my experience, and there are some here that will agree and disagree.
    Last edited by newrival; 02-25-2011 at 10:38 AM. Reason: added to adcom
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Jason, not trying to be a douche, but how many threads on amps do you need? :tongue: Best advice is to try to get your ears on some; one of the things I have enjoyed is buying and selling gear to figure out what I like. Some gear I have kept for a couple of days; other gear I have had for a lot of years. The beauty of this hobby is to find out what works for YOU. IMHO, you won't know what you like until you actually try it. So 3 or 4 threads on the same topic are not going to make a difference.

    Now back to the subject - B&K is my favorite amp brand for the cost to benefit ratio. Adcom is just OK; it has some very solid performers, but some are not so good (just my opinion). Carver is not my cup of tea and I wouldn't own an Emotiva unless I couldn't find a comporable used piece of another brand in really good condition.l

  6. #6

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    What Shawn Said^^^^ I agree 1,000,000%.
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post
    WOW!

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

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    I've owned all four of these (B&K St202+, Emotiva XPA-3, Adcom GFA 545 and 555 originals, and a Carver TFM-35). The others have given you great advice. My pecking order for these is B&K by a good margin, then really the Carver, Emotiva, and the Adcom to me are all really really close.

    As the others have stated, the B&K leans to the warm side of things and I love that warm sound. The bass is nice and tight without being boomy or muddy, and mids and higs are excellent. The imaging and soundstage of this amp is excellent also. It's a nice sounding amp.

    I like my XPA-3 and think it stacks up well with the others (blasphemy I know, but you need to here it in my setup before making that judgement). It is slightly bright for music, and is better suited for home theater, but I have experimented with running it in my two channel rig and it sounded surprisingly good. Ran with a tube pre and slightly warm sounding cables and speaker wire (Audioquest diamondbacks ICs and CV-4 speaker cable), the Emotiva actually sounded the second best behind the B&K and my current main amp an Anthem Amp 2 tube/solid state hybrid. It has very strong and detailed bass, good mids, and slightly forward highs when paired with a tube pre. Detail, soundstage, and imaging are all very good as well.

    The TFM-35 Carver I had had good bass, and had a nice slightly warm overall tone. I like the bass and tone of the amp, but like Newrival said, it just lacked clarity and detail to me. Soundstage and imaging were not in the same league as the B&K either.

    I never really could come to terms with the two Adcoms. I know lots on here love them and think they are great, but I had a different experience with them. Bass was quite good. Midrange was good also. Detail, imaging, and soundstage were good, but not in the same league as the B&K. I could never get used to the highs on the Adcoms. They were just too shrill to me. To my ears in my system they were overly bright, even when paired with a tube pre and tubed sources running NOS Mullard tubes. I just never really liked their sound. They are very well built amps however and will run forever if taking care off and serviced from time to time.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Dawgfish; 02-25-2011 at 12:40 PM.

  8. #8

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    Personally, I would only look at B&K and Adcom.

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    I own a 35 and 45 and agree, mostly, with the comments regarding the Carver sound. However, I really like the diffuse soundstage of the 35. The 45 has some similar characteristics, but imaging is quite a bit more precise and is much more dynamic than the 35. I've tried the GFA555 and liked it, but it was just too forward for my taste. Somewhere between the TFM35 and the Adcom, I ran a Luxman M-117 and that was a sweet amp. From the description of the BKs above, it was probably close. Slightly rolled off, but detailed. It was better than the 35, but not the 45 for various personal preferences(mostly dynamics).

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  10. #10

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    That's why I've been repeating that newbies shouldn't ask our CP members to help choose anything, it'll make the OP even more confused Most of the guys haven't even listened to a particular brand but kept jumping in to bash it just because their comrades said so. Some would do anything to defend whatever brand they're using to the last breath. Some would even choose a product due to it being produced in the U.S., not China, Singapore, India, Mexico, or Peru
    Just use your d@mn ears, go to a local store to demo some, ask friends or forum members who live close by to allow you to come listen, or even utilize the trial period offered from manufacturers such as Emotiva. It's not that hard to gain your own experience.
    I myself decide not to buy an old amp because I'm scared of it already being abused by its previous owner(s) as well as part depreciation over time. At first, I chose Emotiva because of its ridiculous pricing and its 30-day trial offer. I then had a chance to compare both of my Emo's with my uncle's Sunfire Cinema Grand amp and, lately, his brand spanking new Outlaw 7700 amp after he sold the Sunfire, both times delivering the amp to my house to try with my system. The result: my ears weren't magnificent enough to declare a clear winner. Therefore I've still been sticking with the Emo's until now even though I have upgraded my other devices plenty of times: from Denon AVR-2808ci to Denon AVR-4810ci, from Panasonic DMP-BD35 to Oppo BDP-83 to Oppo BDP-83SE to Oppo BDP-93 and now Oppo BDP-95, from Bose Acoustimass 10 to Polk Audio LSi's, from Polk Audio microPro 1000 to microPro 4000 to dual JL Audio F113's, all changes which had made apparent tremendous improvement. I've tried, I've spent to improve my rig, but the Emotiva XPA-5 and XPA-2 are still here just because they've served me well and because I did not experience any dramatic improvement plugging in another amp such as the Outlaw 7700 or the Sunfire Cinema Grand. Of course in the future I will definitely have plenty of chances to experience other amps, so there's no way I'd say the Emo's will stay here forever. But for now, I'm enjoying them. And that's my opinion that you ask for, stangjason Just trust your own ears, build your own experience, man.
    Gears shared to both living room & bedroom:
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by shawn474 View Post
    Jason, not trying to be a douche, but how many threads on amps do you need? :tongue:
    What's the record? I don't regret this thread because it has been very informative.

    I regret to say testing these amps would be too costly for me since no one in Alabama either owns one or they all hoarde them never to sale them. Check Alabama Craigslist if you don't believe me plus we have zero stores around here.

    Thanks,
    All
    Pioneer vsx-1120k, B&K Sonata series video-5 amplifier, Polk Rti8, Fxi3, Csi5, and HSU VTF-1

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by stangjason View Post
    What's the record? I don't regret this thread because it has been very informative.

    I regret to say testing these amps would be too costly for me since no one in Alabama either owns one or they all hoarde them never to sale them. Check Alabama Craigslist if you don't believe me plus we have zero stores around here.

    Thanks,
    All
    Why didn't you tell us you lived in Alabama, not that anyone would actually claim living there:tongue:...
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living." Brad Shurett

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by stangjason View Post
    What's the record? I don't regret this thread because it has been very informative.

    I regret to say testing these amps would be too costly for me since no one in Alabama either owns one or they all hoarde them never to sale them. Check Alabama Craigslist if you don't believe me plus we have zero stores around here.

    Thanks,
    All
    Hahahahaha.....not saying you should regret it, but all of these topics could have been covered in one thread instead of four is all. If that's the case in Alabama, you may just have to make a decision, buy one and audition it. If it isn't what you like, then flip it and get another one. I went through about 7 set-ups before I settled with what I have now. It's a fun process.
    Shawn
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by nooshinjohn View Post
    Why didn't you tell us you lived in Alabama, not that anyone would actually claim living there:tongue:...
    touche
    Pioneer vsx-1120k, B&K Sonata series video-5 amplifier, Polk Rti8, Fxi3, Csi5, and HSU VTF-1

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by shawn474 View Post
    Hahahahaha.....not saying you should regret it, but all of these topics could have been covered in one thread instead of four is all. If that's the case in Alabama, you may just have to make a decision, buy one and audition it. If it isn't what you like, then flip it and get another one. I went through about 7 set-ups before I settled with what I have now. It's a fun process.
    Topics tend to start getting ignored once they get a certain size plus the titles of each of my threads are I believe different enough to not get my intended answers. If I can recall what all of them were about . I believe one was about 5 channel amps at a certain price point, another was about Carver amps, and this one was about all of the brands I accumulated information about from the previous two or ten other threads . I really do think each one has served me well and I do appreciate the info and even the constructive criticism.

    With that said I'm going to seek out a B&K amp first but I will not shy away from ADCOM or Carver if the price is right. I might even go Emo if I'm desperate.

    Quote Originally Posted by shawn474 View Post
    It's a fun process.
    Oh yeah I do also enjoy making these threads because otherwise I would get bored and forget about this site and really do like it...I suppose it's the A.D.H.D
    Pioneer vsx-1120k, B&K Sonata series video-5 amplifier, Polk Rti8, Fxi3, Csi5, and HSU VTF-1

  16. #16

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    I own B&K Ref 2220 2 channel amp and B&K Red 7250 5 channel amp. I also own Adcom GFA 555 the origianl and the mkII version. I have a friend that owns every Emotiva XPA series amp except the XPA1's. We did a small 2 channel shoutout with my adcom's, my 2 chanel b&k, and his xpa2. We are by no means audiophiles, but here is what I conclusion was. We used signal cable interconnects and spaker cables, and my martin logans Prefaces and Kef IQ9's were the speakers used. B&K was definitely the best amp of the pack. Adcom and Emotiva were neck and neck. Emo suprised me with how close it was to the adcom. The adcoms are alot older and maybe need some new caps but the emo definitely held its own. Just my findings from 3 of those brands.

  17. #17

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    Out of these options

    b&k, adcom, carver (hit & miss with them), emotiva i beleive are not at par for music with the other choices, good enough for ht.

    Another option would be rotel. I own the rb990bx (which is around 325-350 in the used market) and i like the sound and reliability very much.

    Good luck,

    eduardo
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    KEF R300 THREE WAY BOOKSHELF GLOSS PIANO BLACK
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by EDUBAG View Post
    Out of these options

    b&k, adcom, carver (hit & miss with them), emotiva i beleive are not at par for music with the other choices, good enough for ht.

    Another option would be rotel. I own the rb990bx (which is around 325-350 in the used market) and i like the sound and reliability very much.

    Good luck,

    eduardo
    I tend to forget about Rotel but I've looked for a few of those but haven't found one in my price range just yet.
    Pioneer vsx-1120k, B&K Sonata series video-5 amplifier, Polk Rti8, Fxi3, Csi5, and HSU VTF-1

  19. #19

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    Depending on your budget, one of the best amps you can grab for the money is the Nelson Pass designed Nakamichi STASIS PA7. They pop up on Ebay and Audiogon from time to time. If I were in the market for a two channel amp, this would be the one I would get, hands down.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by stangjason View Post
    I regret to say testing these amps would be too costly for me since no one in Alabama either owns one or they all hoarde them never to sale them. Check Alabama Craigslist if you don't believe me plus we have zero stores around here.
    www.audiogon.com is your friend.

    Personally, I would never buy anything from CL.
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  21. #21

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    I have owned a B&K ST1400 II and a B&K ST2140. I found both amp to be very smooth all around and very quite. Unfortunately I purchased both used online and BOTH ended up having distortion present when you drove them anywhere past half. It was very frustrating, but even at lower volumes both models sounded very sweet when paired with the LSI15's (I was using a DENON DCM-460 for a source). My plan is to treat myself to a brand spanking new B&K REF200.2 when I graduate to make these LSI's sing.
    -------------[The Ever-Evolving System -------------

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMara View Post
    Just use your d@mn ears, go to a local store to demo some, ask friends or forum members who live close by to allow you to come listen, or even utilize the trial period offered from manufacturers such as Emotiva. It's not that hard to gain your own experience.

    what store should he go to to listen to second hand B&K's, Carver's, and Adcoms?

    There's nothing wrong with asking peoples' opinions. Even if the opinions don't settle the issue, it at least gives a point of reference that they didn't previously have. And not everyone likes spending years hunting good matches for components, and would like to simply get to the music by way of suggestions.
    Last edited by newrival; 02-25-2011 at 11:24 PM. Reason: unnecessary
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jer.War View Post
    I have owned a B&K ST1400 II and a B&K ST2140. I found both amp to be very smooth all around and very quite. Unfortunately I purchased both used online and BOTH ended up having distortion present when you drove them anywhere past half. It was very frustrating, but even at lower volumes both models sounded very sweet when paired with the LSI15's (I was using a DENON DCM-460 for a source). My plan is to treat myself to a brand spanking new B&K REF200.2 when I graduate to make these LSI's sing.
    I think that "smooth" is perhaps the adjective I hear most about B&K. I tend to agree with it. But sometimes it's just TOO "smooth" for me.

    But as I stated, B&K's are great amps. And their sound is consistent.
    By the way, you'll really enjoy stepping up to the Reference line ;)
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    Personally, I would never buy anything from CL.
    why is that?

    I buy stuff from CL all the time, and am just curious.
    I actually just got back from picking up 30 free moving boxes from CL!
    design is where science and art break even.

  25. #25
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    None of the brands of universal remotes that I have looked at on line list B&K components.
    These worked with my B&K (both ref 20 and 30).
    All funtions worked.

    I took the battery cover off and this is the model # (listed on this ebay auction, no affiliation):
    http://compare.ebay.com/like/2507697...sort=BestMatch

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    what store should he go to to listen to second hand B&K's, Carver's, and Adcoms?
    Hell if I know, he's just now told everyone he's in Alabama. Why are you asking me? I knew my area got some stores, and that was why I suggested him to look for one around his.


    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    There's nothing wrong with asking peoples' opinions. Even if the opinions don't settle the issue, it at least gives a point of reference that they didn't previously have. And not everyone likes spending years hunting good matches for components, and would like to simply get to the music by way of suggestions.
    Well that's your own opinion. There's always something wrong with asking everybody's opinions since some opinions are just bullsh!t, and one might fall into that stinking pile. I didn't want the OP to blindly buy anything due only to some suggestions in a forum thread since his critical listening level might be way way different to others including me. I simply warned the OP that there were some that gave suggestions without even experiencing the items by themselves, and that he should try by his own. Not everyone likes listening to others blindly, you know :tongue:
    Gears shared to both living room & bedroom:
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  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMara View Post
    I simply warned the OP that there were some that gave suggestions without even experiencing the items by themselves, and that he should try by his own.
    Well, I think your advice was something like, "use your damn ears."

    If the OP is asking for suggestions, then why not give them suggestions?
    design is where science and art break even.

  28. #28

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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    Well, I think your advice was something like, "use your damn ears."

    If the OP is asking for suggestions, then why not give them suggestions?
    I did. You should see that some bashed a brand, then others said they liked it. That was why I suggested the OP to use his own ears; I didn't tell him to go for a particular brand.
    And by the way, I also shared my own experience as a suggestion on how to gain one's own experience. What's wrong with that?
    Last edited by DMara; 02-26-2011 at 02:40 AM.
    Gears shared to both living room & bedroom:
    Integra DHC-80.3 / Oppo BDP-105 / DirecTV HR24 DVR /APC S15blk PC-UPS
    Living room:
    LSiM707's / LSiM706c / LSiM702 F/X's / dual JL Audio Fathom F113's / Parasound Halo A51 / Panasonic 65" TC-P65VT50
    Bedroom:
    Usher Dancer Mini 2 Diamond DMD's / Logitech SB Touch / W4S STP-SE / W4S DAC-2 / W4S ST-1000 / Samsung 52" LN52B750
    Other rooms:
    Audioengine AP4's / GLOW Audio Sub One / audio-gd NFB-3 DAC / Audioengine N22
    audio-gd NFB-10.2 / Denon AH-D7000

  29. #29

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    Where does Parasound fit into these amps usually?

    Also I'm a bit interested in the Sonance brands?

    Any models to avoid out of those two brands?
    Pioneer vsx-1120k, B&K Sonata series video-5 amplifier, Polk Rti8, Fxi3, Csi5, and HSU VTF-1

  30. #30

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    I've run my adcom 5800 and b&K 7270 II side by side a few times on the Lsi's and I prefer the B&K over the adcom... to me it simply sounded better across the board... but the difference was subtle. If I was walking through the room and didn't know which was was plugged in, I would be hard pressed to know which amp it was.

    If I were you, I'd pick a price range, check Audiogon, and when something comes up at a decent price, pick it up. I doubt you'd be disappointed, and worse case, you sell it. You'll never really know how anything sounds until it's in your system.
    Last edited by cokewithvanilla; 02-28-2011 at 02:55 AM.

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