I had PRC (Patrick) and Opus (Kevin) over last night to test out some gear and speakers. It was a fun evening – this is the rundown of how it went.
PRC was interested in hearing the 15’s in a 2 channel mode with his cd player and integrated amp. (tube pre – SS amp). He brought over his CD Player, Amp, interconnects and bi-wire speaker cables. I do not remember the model numbers (or even brands) of his amp or cd player, but I am sure he will chime in with what they were if interested)
Opus brought over his new Rotel pre-amp for me to try out. I am currently using an Onkyo 777 AVR as my pre/pro and a Cinepro amp for all channels, so I am ready to upgrade. (unfortunately, I expended all WAF purchase points buying my LSi15’s right after Christmas and a new Hitachi TV on New Years. Lets just say I have plenty of time for research on this one….
Opus had seen/heard my system before, but not with the LSi7’s in the rear positions, or LSi15’s up front. (plus the TV was new) PRC had not been over before so my entire setup was new to him.
We started with the opening scene (track 3?) of master and commander. We all agreed that it sounded very good and set a good baseline for things to come. PRC hooked up his equipment to the LSi15’s and played a number of CD’s (including Pink Floyd, Trans Siberian Orchestra, and a number of other CD’s) His amp is 100watt SS (with an integrated tube pre-amp stage) and it sounded great with the 15’s. The bass was very good, mids and highs were awesome. It sounded better than I had ever really heard my system. (I don’t do a lot of 2 channel listening) The local American store (the only store locally that carries the LSi line) should send me a commission because I think I may have given them a sale…
Next up we hooked up PRC’s cd player to the Rotel pre-amp and compared it to my 3960 with madmax mods. This was very close. The bass was a little better defined with the actual CD player, but the highs could get just a little harsh. (in comparison) The 3960’s bass seemed a little thick and not as well defined, but the highs were more laid back. Almost had a tube like smoothness to them. It was a toss up either way to what you liked, but I was very happy with the way the 3960 sounded in comparison and for my uses – I was glad to see there was no real need to upgrade soon. One note – the CD player did cause a nasty hum with my system that we never did quite sort out so that could have been part of its issues with the highs. (we compensated for the hum by turning it up louder… )
We then hooked my 3960 up to my Onkyo AVR to compare it to the Rotel. (hooked up with Right / Left cables – not a digital cable so decoding was done in the 3960) We were listening to a couple tracks from my Trans-Siberian Christmas CD. There is quite a bit of bass and detail going on making it a good demo disk. Hooked up to the Onkyo AVR it was like there was a heavy blanket thrown over the speakers. Not only was there less detail, but the actual tone of the voices changed. It was not a subtle thing and you didn’t have to strain to listen for the difference. None of our comments started with “I thought” we were all amazed at how bad the Onkyo compared to the Rotel Pre-amp. (not just that it was better, but how much better it was and how obvious the change was.) It was literally as much of a change as I heard moving from my RM6600’s to my LSi speakers. It was that obvious.
Next up was testing out a DTS track. After a frantic search for an optical cable (I normally use Coax, so there was not one hooked up) we played the scene from War of the Worlds in DTS where the first craft comes out from under the street. (as well as the first horn, and people getting vaporized) The Rotel was up first and it sounded incredible. All the sound effects just sounded real. From the bass of the street getting ripped up, to the glass breaking. All channels sounded great and the sound was very detailed and enveloping. It was as 3-D sounding as I have ever heard a 5.1 setup get. (granted I have not heard a lot of other setups that were well setup in a home environment)
Next up was the Onkyo AVR. It was a repeat of the CD performance and was just as dramatic. Most of the sound was still there, but very little of the detail. The 3-D effect was completely gone. We were back to watching a movie rather than experiencing the action. We started the evening agreeing that my entire setup sounded really good, we ended it thinking that I was one component away from converting my sound from crap to awesome. I feel like I should apologize to everyone that has heard my system because now I know how crappy it sounds. It will be a long wait while I research my pre-amp and wait for funds to come together, but there will be much rejoicing when it arrives. I am no longer in the camp of just use your AVR as a pre and get a decent amp. I had no idea of what my system was capable of. Now that I do – I want it to sound like that all the time. I guess I have something to look forward to.
It was a fun evening swapping gear and listening to different equipment, movies and music. PRC mentioned that he might bring his RTi’s over sometime to compare them to the LSi’s and I can’t wait to listen some more. It was truly the best part of being on a board like this. Getting together and sharing experiences and equipment with others passionate about audio is a great way to pass the time. It was great meeting PRC and getting together with Opus again. Next time I will plan on some pizza.