Color me puzzled. The Klipsch La Scalas sound bloody marvelous!

godofwealth

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Feb 8, 2022
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Of course. I have bought high end loudspeakers for 35 years, and if there’s a loudspeaker that is not hopelessly colored sounding with reference to live music, I haven’t heard it, and I’ve owned some really expensive loudspeakers. In 1987, I bought a pair of Spendor SP-1s that TAS’ Robert Greene and Hi-Fi Choice’s Martin Colloms and Listener‘s Art Dudley raved about. I also heard for the first time a live symphony concert for the first time — Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony in Sibelius’s majestic Violin Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2. I remember that concert like it was yesterday. No loudspeaker I have owned or heard in the past 35 years has come remotely close to sounding like a great orchestra or chorus in a concert hall. 30 years later, when I moved to the Bay Area, I was lucky enough to again listen to Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony before he retired.

Loudspeakers are all colored, whether you spend $100 or $ 1 million. In my house currently, I have three pairs of Quads (57s, 2805s, 2905s), a Harbeth Monitor 40.1, a Spendor SP1/2E, a Gradient Helsinki, a Martin Logan CLS, and probably half a dozen others (oh, yes, and a Devialet Phantom Gold active loudspeaker with a built in 5000 watt streaming amplifier). They all sound colored to me in different ways.

I’ve been listening to a lot of choral music on the La Scalas, and much to my surprise, I find them far better at voice than even the acclaimed Harbeth Monitor 40.1s that TAS and Stereophile drool over. The Scalas are very low distortion transducers — they can reproduce an orchestra or chorus at 100+ dB at less than 0.1% total harmonic distortion. At that SPL, my Quads would shutdown and the Harbeth’s would go up in smoke. Of course, I don’t generally listen at that volume, but the low distortion characteristic gIves them a sonic purity that escapes 99.99% of other loudspeakers that have 10-20% THD or worse THD at anything approaching live concert volumes. To me, that’s why I like the La Scalas. The only other loudspeaker that I’d like to own now are the Klipschorns, which need a corner to sound their best, yes, even the latest designs. Nothing else interests me. I’m not interested in the flavor of the month models that grace the covers of TAS and Stereophile. These come and go like the leaves in fall. The Klipschorn has been produced for 70 years and will outlast all these others.

Of course, I still prefer live concerts. It’s mathematically impossible to reproduce a live orchestra or chorus in your living room.
 

adrianywu

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Nov 15, 2021
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Keep in mind that both source and electronics have greatly improved over the past 6 decades since the La Scalas were designed. Paul Klipsch once famously said what the world needed was a good 5 watt amplifier. All you read about these days is mega watt transistor and tube models. Simplicity is a lost virtue. I run my La Scalas with two different SET amplifiers, one produces 6 watts per channel with one Western Electric 300B, the other produces 2 watts per channel with one NOS 45 tube. Both sound glorious in different ways, but either produces ample volumes in my large 6000 cubic feet listening room.
Paul Klipsch used Brook 12A amplifiers, which were push-pull 2A3 monoblocks. I have a pair of these, but never heard them on Klipsch speakers.
 

MRJAZZ

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Jan 20, 2014
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The new Klipsch Jubilee looks interesting and doesn't need corners.
Steve Gutenberg ( Sp?) on his YouTube channel went “GAGA” over the Jubilee....
 
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eagle32nd

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Mar 8, 2021
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In his day, Paul Klispch opined that what the world really needed was a high-quality five-watt amplifier. Congrats on the La Scalas. They are gorgeous!! I have owned three different sets of Klipsch speakers over the years, though sadly I could not afford any of the more expensive models. KG 5.2, the Quartet, and finally, the Forte II. And I loved them all.
 

godofwealth

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Steve Gutenberg ( Sp?) on his YouTube channel went “GAGA” over the Jubilee....
Looks interesting. They are 3.5X the price of my La Scalas. Two way design with an active crossover. They are even bigger than the Klipschorns, so they would dominate even a large room. I think I prefer my La Scalas. Height wise, they are not too tall, and since you can position them against a wall, they blend in to the room (to the extent anything this large can blend in). But the visual styling is very attractive with the wood trim and grill cloth. They fit in perfectly with my dark brown and leather furniture. If someone didn’t know the design, they would not consider them speakers. My Quads 2905s in comparison are really ugly black monoliths.
 

cfgardei1

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Nov 8, 2022
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Well, guys: let me tell you a short story. I am technology-challenged -- to the point that I don't know how to move from one forum to the next (other than accidentally, I guess...) I started on the Magnepan forum (these are my 3.7i's) and then saw a sidebar on horns which I jumped onto...

I LOVE my Maggies: the detail, the accuracy, the soundstage, the "tightness".

Guess what, I also LOVE my LaScalas!

What the LaScalas won't do: present a realistic soundstage and present such fine details that "I never heard that before" is a common phrase (on listening to recordings I'd heard a hundred times!)

What the "Maggies" won't do: blow-dry your hair, stun small animals and put out candles. When I'm in my "trying to maintain my youth through heavy-metal" moods, there is NOTHING better than the LaScalas. (Wish I had kept my Altec Model 19's - or my EV Interface:D's, or, or, or... (Fortunately, you can still buy - brand new - LaScalas)

Enjoy!
 
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godofwealth

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Feb 8, 2022
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Well, guys: let me tell you a short story. I am technology-challenged -- to the point that I don't know how to move from one forum to the next (other than accidentally, I guess...) I started on the Magnepan forum (these are my 3.7i's) and then saw a sidebar on horns which I jumped onto...

I LOVE my Maggies: the detail, the accuracy, the soundstage, the "tightness".

Guess what, I also LOVE my LaScalas!

What the LaScalas won't do: present a realistic soundstage and present such fine details that "I never heard that before" is a common phrase (on listening to recordings I'd heard a hundred times!)

What the "Maggies" won't do: blow-dry your hair, stun small animals and put out candles. When I'm in my "trying to maintain my youth through heavy-metal" moods, there is NOTHING better than the LaScalas. (Wish I had kept my Altec Model 19's - or my EV Interface:D's, or, or, or... (Fortunately, you can still buy - brand new - LaScalas)

Enjoy!
I had Magneplanar 3.6s for several years and liked them. But they are incredibly inefficient. I needed a massive boat anchor Krell amplifier to wake them up. I ended up selling them as I liked my Quads better, which are considerably more linear and less colored sounding. But the 3.6s could take a huge amount of power, unlike the Quads which start to distort much sooner.

I still have three pairs of Quads (57s, 2805s, 2812s), as well as a Harbeth Monitor 40.1. But my La Scalas are my primary reference now. I listen to a lot of choral music through them. In my set up, they image incredibly well, with wall to wall soundstagjng that goes far beyond the width between the speakers. They also have ample depth. I don’t miss the Maggie’s at all.

For La Scalas to shine, you have to use the very best single ended triode amplifiers you can buy. They easily resolve differences between my 45 based SET and my 300B based SET. The Western Electric 300Bs produce a lush luxuriant sound with gorgeous midrange. The 45s are highly resolving and a bit more clinical. I’m getting another SET amp using the Western Electric 421a dual triode — one output tube for both channels!

The huge advantage of the La Scalas is efficiency. Paul Klipsch was a genius. To make loudspeakers linear and low in distortion, he was the first to pioneer horn loaded woofers. The La Scala uses a large 15” woofer, but barely reproduces anything below 40 Hz. The reason is horn loading. The woofer is designed not to fire into the surrounding air — a tragic error made by almost all dynamic loudspeaker designers — but into a complex cabinet that equalizes the air pressure to make the 15” woofer highly linear and efficient. The La Scala will comfortably produce 105 dB at 40 Hz with 0.1 % harmonic distortion. And it needs barely a watt of SET power! Don’t try that with your loudspeaker— it might blow up.

The flip side is you don’t get ultra low bass. The speakers are huge, not the dainty slim Kef Blade type design. But the Kef Blade has 1000 times higher distortion than the La Scalas. I think I prefer the chunky look of my Scala. It’s a small price to pay. And I can run it with a tube amp that runs cooler than my Oppo Blu Ray player!

The only other speaker I would now consider buying is the Klipschorn, which goes deeper but needs a corner wall loading.
 

flm09

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May 1, 2020
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Godofwealth please tell us more about your LaScalas? I currently own Cornwall IVs and want to move up to LaScalas but worried no bass below 50 Hz. How is tonal balance? Does it sound tonally brighter as light on bass? I agree with you about Maggies. I recently sold my Maggie 1.7i and compared to my Cornwalls there was only hifi details but no real music.
 
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godofwealth

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Generally, and I mean no disrespect to anyone, audiophiles focus on the wrong issues with regard to speakers. For some reason, perhaps because these things are easier to measure by audio rags, folks look at frequency response and in particular, frequency range. What they do not look at, and they should, is distortion. If a speaker distorts, it doesn’t matter if it goes down to 20 Hz or whatever, That’s the genius of the La Scala and Klipschorn designs. Paul Klipsch changed the whole way to think about loudspeakers. What matters, above all else, is distortion. He liked to think of loudspeakers as “acoustic amplifiers”. He cared about things like intermodulation distortion, FM (Frequency modulated) distortion etc in addition to total harmonic distortion.

The La Scalas will not give you oodles of high distortion low bass, which of course is easy to get by sticking a large cone in a large resonant box (AKA subwoofers). What they will give you is very low distortion bass at high volumes (e.g.., 0.1% distortion at 100+ dB). The La Scala uses a 15 inch woofer for each speaker. In most speakers, e.g. B&W 801s used to master many recordings at UK Abbey Road studios, a 15 inch woofer gives you 20 Hz or sub-20 Hz bass. You’re thinking ooh, la la, I like that. You shouldn’t,

Why in the world would Paul Klipsch use a 15 inch woofer on the La Scala, and only have bass to around 50 Hz, a little lower with careful room placement. Because what he cared about was getting bass transients right. If you hear a drum kit live, you can get blown away by the bass dynamics, the startling jump factor that you know is characteristic of live sound. That’s what the La Scalas will produce, and do that with a tiny amount of high quality SET amplification. The La Scalas are 105 dB efficient, and use a massive 200 pound cabinet, because the 15 inch woofer is horn loaded. That means you get very high efficiency, but you don’t get 20 Hz bass. To me, that’s a trade off I am happy to live with. With the B&W 800s, you get 20 Hz bass, but high distortion and you need a massive 500 watt amplifier to move that huge cone (yes, I’ve owned these, so I know from experience).

So, to make a long story short, the La Scalas are perfect for a music lover who knows what live music sounds like They are a terrible speaker for audiophiles who care for frequency range, and whether some Stereophile or TAS reviewer thought a loudspeaker is good or bad. Forget the audio rags, and pay attention to the fact that the La Scalas have been produced for over 60 years. They are a true American legend. Beautifully made, and a bargain for the price.

Buy a pair, and never look back. You can stop reading audio rags, like I have done. Get a very high quality SET, and enjoy music again.
 
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EBITDAC

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Jan 21, 2021
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One question @godofwealth , in listening to the La Scala’s, are the lower registers of organ in large orchestral works, or bass drum impacts still satisfactory? Does the transient speed make up for the loss of extension?
 

godofwealth

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Feb 8, 2022
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Generally speaking, the La Scalas are impressive in their ability to sound like ‘live music”, which means they have almost limitless dynamics while producing low levels of distortion. They are also remarkably uncolored. I listen a lot to choral music, which tends to be pretty revealing of loudspeaker colorations. I don’t listen a lot to organ music, but once again, what the La Scalas will do well is reproduce the power of an organ. No loudspeaker on the planet will reproduce the lower registers of a pipe organ like it sounds in a nice church or a large concert hall. Sadly, this point is not well appreciated by many audiophiles.

Using basic physics, one can easily show that the length of a low bass wave is much larger than a standard listening room. You simply cannot reproduce 20 Hz in your listening room like it sounds in a concert hall or a church. What you do hear in your listening room is a pressure zone — kind of like blasting a car stereo chock full of subwoofers. That might sound impressive, but it’s hardly natural.

Moral of the story: do not look at low bass as a measure of loudspeaker high fidelity. It’s simply not in the cards to reproduce low frequency sounds well in a listening room, which is many thousands of times smaller than a concert hall (anymore than a laptop can give you the same effect as an IMAX theater — just can’t happen).

I find the ability of the La Scalas to reproduce large orchestral pieces and organ music perfectly satisfactory, but then, I am not looking to reproduce sub 20Hz bass notes. FWIW, I do have a pair of Rel G1 Mk2 subwoofers in my listening room. Whenever I feel the urge to add some high distortion low bass rumbles to my music, I fire up my Rel’s. These are truly sub bass, since they go down to 15 Hz or so. But I find they add little in the way of musical realism to reproduced sound.

Once upon a time, Harry Pearson of TAS used to evaluate components based on whether he could hear the subway train that used to run under Kingsway Hall, a famous recording venue in London. He wrote gobs of reviews about which components would let him tell whether the trains were running south bound or north bound. If that’s the kind of thing you care about, the La Scalas are not for you. Get the biggest baddest subwoofers you can find, and enjoy the roar of subway trains. I prefer to listen to music.

To celebrate the life and legacy of Harry Belafonte, who sadly passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 96, I played the high rez Qobuz album of his famous Carnegie Hall concert. Recorded in the late 1950s, this is a masterpiece of the RCA Living Stereo recordings. Stunning dynamics, beautifully captured ambience of Carnegie Hall. This is the type of recording the La Scalas excel at. The huge dynamic range of Belafonte’s voice, from whisper to roar, is reproduced beautifully. The applause, the brass, the orchestra, all sound magnificent. You are taken back in time 60+ years. That’s what the La Scalas can do. They sound like “live music”.
 

PeterA

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Dec 6, 2011
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Generally speaking, the La Scalas are impressive in their ability to sound like ‘live music”, which means they have almost limitless dynamics while producing low levels of distortion. They are also remarkably uncolored. I listen a lot to choral music, which tends to be pretty revealing of loudspeaker colorations. I don’t listen a lot to organ music, but once again, what the La Scalas will do well is reproduce the power of an organ. No loudspeaker on the planet will reproduce the lower registers of a pipe organ like it sounds in a nice church or a large concert hall. Sadly, this point is not well appreciated by many audiophiles.

Using basic physics, one can easily show that the length of a low bass wave is much larger than a standard listening room. You simply cannot reproduce 20 Hz in your listening room like it sounds in a concert hall or a church. What you do hear in your listening room is a pressure zone — kind of like blasting a car stereo chock full of subwoofers. That might sound impressive, but it’s hardly natural.

Moral of the story: do not look at low bass as a measure of loudspeaker high fidelity. It’s simply not in the cards to reproduce low frequency sounds well in a listening room, which is many thousands of times smaller than a concert hall (anymore than a laptop can give you the same effect as an IMAX theater — just can’t happen).

I find the ability of the La Scalas to reproduce large orchestral pieces and organ music perfectly satisfactory, but then, I am not looking to reproduce sub 20Hz bass notes. FWIW, I do have a pair of Rel G1 Mk2 subwoofers in my listening room. Whenever I feel the urge to add some high distortion low bass rumbles to my music, I fire up my Rel’s. These are truly sub bass, since they go down to 15 Hz or so. But I find they add little in the way of musical realism to reproduced sound.

Once upon a time, Harry Pearson of TAS used to evaluate components based on whether he could hear the subway train that used to run under Kingsway Hall, a famous recording venue in London. He wrote gobs of reviews about which components would let him tell whether the trains were running south bound or north bound. If that’s the kind of thing you care about, the La Scalas are not for you. Get the biggest baddest subwoofers you can find, and enjoy the roar of subway trains. I prefer to listen to music.

To celebrate the life and legacy of Harry Belafonte, who sadly passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 96, I played the high rez Qobuz album of his famous Carnegie Hall concert. Recorded in the late 1950s, this is a masterpiece of the RCA Living Stereo recordings. Stunning dynamics, beautifully captured ambience of Carnegie Hall. This is the type of recording the La Scalas excel at. The huge dynamic range of Belafonte’s voice, from whisper to roar, is reproduced beautifully. The applause, the brass, the orchestra, all sound magnificent. You are taken back in time 60+ years. That’s what the La Scalas can do. They sound like “live music”.

this is a fantastic post for both the information about audio and the importance of reproducing music for enjoyment. You describe very well your values and goals for your listening experience in your living room. What a great example. Thank you
 

steve59

Well-Known Member
Jan 7, 2018
356
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Congrats on your new Lascala’s. I haven’t heard anything new from Klipsch, but my buddy owned both the lascala’s and the big corner horns. I remember having to build him a 4’ wall to make the 2nd corner in his living room when he bought the K-horns
 

Jägerst.

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May 5, 2020
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Using basic physics, one can easily show that the length of a low bass wave is much larger than a standard listening room. You simply cannot reproduce 20 Hz in your listening room like it sounds in a concert hall or a church. What you do hear in your listening room is a pressure zone — kind of like blasting a car stereo chock full of subwoofers. That might sound impressive, but it’s hardly natural.

As half or even quarter waves very low frequencies can be audibly realized in smaller spaces that don't carry their full wave lengths, but as you point to they're likely modes, and as such more or less controllable - be that with either or a combination of proper placement of more that one bass source (some would say no less than 3), DSP/room correction and acoustic absorption. Which is to say, and nonetheless: to my ears around an octave more than what the La Scala's are capable of (they start rolling off below ~60Hz) is definitely in the cards in a moderately sized listening with some care an effort. I know we can argue about whether it's natural or not, but in my view what I've achieved and heard others do as well, it can certainly sound natural here, not to mention what a fittingly larger (mid)bass horn would do to the range from 50Hz on up and actually loading as a horn within its entire range of use.

Moral of the story: do not look at low bass as a measure of loudspeaker high fidelity. It’s simply not in the cards to reproduce low frequency sounds well in a listening room, which is many thousands of times smaller than a concert hall (anymore than a laptop can give you the same effect as an IMAX theater — just can’t happen).

I agree on your first sentence, but again, with what you eventually choose to make of it it's not out of the realm of possibility to achieve great results with low frequency reproduction (i.e.: lower than what the La Scalas can do on their own) in a variety of domestic listening spaces. I've owned a pair of Simon Mears Audio Uccello's, beautifully crafted homages to the Klipsch Belle, and they very much share the overall characteristics of the La Scala bass horn section, including the ~125Hz peak/resonance; I cherished their bass reproduction (and loved the mids) but eventually couldn't get my head/ears around the pronounced character in the upper bass.

I find the ability of the La Scalas to reproduce large orchestral pieces and organ music perfectly satisfactory, but then, I am not looking to reproduce sub 20Hz bass notes. FWIW, I do have a pair of Rel G1 Mk2 subwoofers in my listening room. Whenever I feel the urge to add some high distortion low bass rumbles to my music, I fire up my Rel’s. These are truly sub bass, since they go down to 15 Hz or so. But I find they add little in the way of musical realism to reproduced sound.

Maybe that's because a direct radiating, rather low eff. sub solution typically doesn't gel ideally with the La Scalas. I tried augmenting my Uccello's with SVS SB16-Ultra subs, but while impressive with movies it was less successful with music. That is, until I implemented a pair of tapped horn subs fitted with 15" B&C woofers tuned at ~23Hz (and 20cf. volume per cab) - now that was a different beast altogether.

Once upon a time, Harry Pearson of TAS used to evaluate components based on whether he could hear the subway train that used to run under Kingsway Hall, a famous recording venue in London. He wrote gobs of reviews about which components would let him tell whether the trains were running south bound or north bound. If that’s the kind of thing you care about, the La Scalas are not for you. Get the biggest baddest subwoofers you can find, and enjoy the roar of subway trains. I prefer to listen to music.

I get what you're saying, but one thing doesn't necessarily exclude the other as an effect only; the spaciousness and overall realism that can be achieved with low frequencies, properly implemented, is something that can turn, say, an organ recording from sounding like a rather flat experience into a sensation of grasping the actual church environment, with all that entails and the musical chills this can provide as something approaching actual, mere realism. The La Scala's, certainly going by my knowledge of the Uccello's, are no doubt lovely speakers, but the world of horn speakers doesn't end exhaustively with them; horns can be made bigger and (even) better, and with an octave more in the lower range to boot.

To celebrate the life and legacy of Harry Belafonte, who sadly passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 96, I played the high rez Qobuz album of his famous Carnegie Hall concert. Recorded in the late 1950s, this is a masterpiece of the RCA Living Stereo recordings. Stunning dynamics, beautifully captured ambience of Carnegie Hall. This is the type of recording the La Scalas excel at. The huge dynamic range of Belafonte’s voice, from whisper to roar, is reproduced beautifully. The applause, the brass, the orchestra, all sound magnificent. You are taken back in time 60+ years. That’s what the La Scalas can do. They sound like “live music”.

Thanks for the music tip. I'll go fetch that Belafonte recording.
 
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godofwealth

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Feb 8, 2022
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My La Scalas sound even more amazing, thanks to two significant upgrades. One was getting the ARC Ref 6SE to replace my aging ARC Ref 3 preamp that was getting long in the tooth. The second was getting a pair of Western Electric 422 rectifier tubes for my Triode Labs 45 mono blocks. I also got a pair of NOS Telefunken 12AX7 smooth plate tubes. Finally, I repositioned my SETs to be very close to my La Scalas so I can use a very short high quality speaker cable.

These changes cumulatively have transformed an already great sounding system to an exceptional one. Familiar recordings are unraveled with ease revealing layers of spatial detail without any harshness. Truly a magical experience for a grizzled old audiophile.

IMG_5376.jpeg
 

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Fishfood

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My La Scalas sound even more amazing, thanks to two significant upgrades. One was getting the ARC Ref 6SE to replace my aging ARC Ref 3 preamp that was getting long in the tooth. The second was getting a pair of Western Electric 422 rectifier tubes for my Triode Labs 45 mono blocks. I also got a pair of NOS Telefunken 12AX7 smooth plate tubes. Finally, I repositioned my SETs to be very close to my La Scalas so I can use a very short high quality speaker cable.

These changes cumulatively have transformed an already great sounding system to an exceptional one. Familiar recordings are unraveled with ease revealing layers of spatial detail without any harshness. Truly a magical experience for a grizzled old audiophile.

View attachment 109289
I love the difference some good tubes can make!
 

godofwealth

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Feb 8, 2022
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Just listening to one of the mist beautiful choral masterpieces of the 20th century: Frank Martin’s Mass for Two Choirs. This high Rez version on Qobuz is by a Danish choir. Recorded in 24-bit 192khz, it sounds absolutely breathtaking on my La Scalas. The soundstage is extremely wide, almost wrap around surround. Every voice is heard distinctly. A desert island album. It’s astonishing how wonderful a one watt SET can sound.
IMG_5388.jpeg
 
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analog2analog

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Mar 1, 2021
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Hi Fi News did a nice review of the AL5 La Scala model about 3 years ago. The reviewer did a stellar analysis of describing its sound.


....They also did measurements, which they described as challenging. As usual, horn loudspeakers are not the flattest measuring, but here’s the real insight into what makes the La Scalas special. Look at the distortion measurements. At 90 dB, the distortion is around 0.1-0.2% across the entire audio band from 100 Hz to 10 kHz. . Take the most expensive pro JBL speaker on the planet, like the JBL M2 or even the huge Everest 6700s that sell for 8 times the price of the La Scalas. They have distortion measurements that are hugely worse by 30-40 dB. Audiophile speakers? Except for Quads, which match the distortion of the La Scalas, but not at 90 dB, but lower volumes, the rest of the you-know-the-models-I’m-referring-to all have terrible distortion performances. It’s no wonder Stereophile never reports on distortion measurements. They all look so dreadful.


View attachment 97333


godofwealth! What facts, figures, graphs, measurements you are using to make such claims against other loudspeakers? Your claim about distortion measurement of JBL DD67000 is false.

You quoted measurements from Hi-Fi News for Klipsch La Scala AL5 but the very same magazine is refuting your claims against JBL Everest DD67000, "bass distortion was extremely low at 0.02% for 90dB SPL".

If you wish to compare distortion measurements to claim any superiority then for THD 100Hz/1kHz/10kHz (for 90dB SPL/1m)
La Scala 0.1% / 0.2% / 0.2%
JBL DD67000 <0.1% / 0.1% / 0.1%

JBL with its direct wiring woofers wins against Horn loudspeaker! And many other loudspeakers also win! Sorry!

JBL DD67000.jpg
 
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