DMA-500 Anniversary Reference Monoblocks

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#41
So Ack

given your experience with 400s and the DAC, were people right when they said the 400s were too bright and there was an issue
Spectral amps are not bright. They can sound bright if not set up right. They have extended highs but don't sound bright
 

ack

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#42
So Ack

given your experience with 400s and the DAC, were people right when they said the 400s were too bright and there was an issue
Exceptional treble resolution and smoothness? Yes. Bright? Utter nonsense. You may have read under my system's thread the reaction Al M and I had about hearing real metallic cymbal crashes that we FELT in front of us, with one of his CDs and my Berkeley. Anyone complaining, they are probably hearing issues upstream. For example, the treble differences between tape-sourced RR LPs vs digital-sourced are remarkable. The 500s are even more resolving in the treble, and everywhere else. with much tighter bass. Remember - when a designer can't get the treble right, he will attenuate it; this is the case with most solid state designs.
 
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Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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#43
Exceptional treble resolution and smoothness? Yes. Bright? Utter nonsense. You may have read under my system's thread the reaction Al M and I had about hearing real metallic cymbal crashes that we FELT in front of us, with one of his CDs and my Berkeley. Anyone complaining, they are probably hearing issues upstream.
That's correct. When I first heard your system, it felt bright, because things were not quite sorted out. Yet the second time and all the times after, no, never bright. Once you solve all the other problems in the chain, the Spectral amps seem to be neutral -- in a good, musical way. Too often people mistake neutral for sterile, which is nonsense. I want neutral, not euphonic. Euphonic may be pleasant, but has nothing to do with real music (unamplified live music, that is).

The treble of the Spectral amps is as 'meaty on the bone' and smooth as that of excellent tube amps (which are also neutral, by the way). Being a tube guy, I cannot give higher praise. I am impressed by the treble each and every time I hear your system. There is none of potential SS thinness or brittleness. None.

I guess many systems are messed up and have problems somewhere. In that case, Spectral is trouble because to exposes the truth.
 

ack

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#44
Glad we agree, Al. The comparison to tubes is right on, as the best of tubes - especially OTLs - that I have heard do treble so well, and it's in fact intoxicating. From my perspective the reality is, without saying too much right now, that the 500s have the treble clarity and completeness of these OTLs I've heard in the past (the name of which escapes me; it's been years); but I can't be too sure until I get my new panels in place. However, to get to this point, as I have posted under my system thread and as you just said, I had to a) go noise-hunting all around, to smooth out the treble among other things; b) find my DAC's best volume setting and further shield its output section. Details, but the amps ain't the perceived problem. Regarding the pairing with the SDR-4000SV that awsmone alluded to, I will go as far as to say this is pure analog, albeit not of the ultimate dynamic extension as other DACs/payers. I believe I said the same thing elsewhere, and the sonic qualities really come through with great tube recordings, like those by Chesky. Having said all this, I do also agree that every system has issues, and perhaps serious issues.
 

awsmone

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Apr 7, 2014
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#45
Glad we agree, Al. The comparison to tubes is right on, as the best of tubes - especially OTLs - that I have heard do treble so well, and it's in fact intoxicating. From my perspective the reality is, without saying too much right now, that the 500s have the treble clarity and completeness of these OTLs I've heard in the past (the name of which escapes me; it's been years); but I can't be too sure until I get my new panels in place. However, to get to this point, as I have posted under my system thread and as you just said, I had to a) go noise-hunting all around, to smooth out the treble among other things; b) find my DAC's best volume setting and further shield its output section. Details, but the amps ain't the perceived problem. Regarding the pairing with the SDR-4000SV that awsmone alluded to, I will go as far as to say this is pure analog, albeit not of the ultimate dynamic extension as other DACs/payers. I believe I said the same thing elsewhere, and the sonic qualities really come through with great tube recordings, like those by Chesky. Having said all this, I do also agree that every system has issues, and perhaps serious issues.
thanks for clarifying, so was a system issue not a 400 issue ...got it :)
 

ack

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#46
thanks for clarifying, so was a system issue not a 400 issue ...got it :)
I don't know what you might have heard, but at the same time, I also understand that some just can't stand a lot of treble information. Nothing wrong with that either.

Given the opportunity, Genesis were demoing this week at the Thailand show, with what are likely the 500s - there are videos on their facebook page; really curious what the crowd's reaction was.
 

ack

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#48
Looks like you are right - adds another dimension
 
Oct 21, 2012
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#49
Just received my 500’s on Tuesday and they’ve begun to settle in where the 400’s have been for the past many years. Here are my initial reactions:

DMA-500

In general, quieter/lower noise floor. A greater sense of ease and quickness and coherence of all musical elements. More realism than with the already fine DMA-400’s. A more authentic representation of the acoustic space. Vocalists and instruments are more clearly distinguishable from one another. An even greater sense of depth and width of the soundstage. Exposes more sonic layers, especially evident in the lower registers. I think the word “distillation” is appropriate, as the 500 really, clearly separates out all elements of the music with amazing clarity and focus. Most evident is the control, speed and layering of bass elements.

Blood, Sweat & Tears - “Child Is Father to the Man” - “Without Her” smooth, fast, quiet, absolutely on time and precise, percussion instruments are better controlled, as is the bass tight, and did I say fast and absolute control.


Brubeck - “Time Out” more controlled bass and better tighter positioning of instruments; more realistic evocation of instruments; cleaner tighter transitions as well as purity and clarity with lower noise floor; effortless flow of music; greater immediacy and presence; sweeter and more delicate drum kit; clearer and more distinctive overtones and harmonics.

Oscar Peterson “The Jazz Soul of Oscar Peterson” “Con Alma” amazing clarity and distinctiveness of bass line and percussion.

Beatles - “Sgt. Peppers” - newest Giles Martin - really unpacks the often dense passages; greater “depth of field” if I can borrow a visual phrase; controlled layers of bass lines; “When I’m Sixty Four” amazing unpacking of instruments and most realistic evocation of reed instruments as well as percussion; “Good Morning Good Morning” such tight control of Ringo’s kick drumming; flat out more revealing than I would have imagined possible.

H.M.S. Pinafore- D’Oyly Carte - “When I Was a Lad, I Served a Term” - stomping on deck of ship, most realistic, as well as movement of players on stage and relative position of chorus.

Rhapsody in Blue - Earl Wild , Concerto in F along with the Cuban Overture highlight the ability of the 500’s to clearly present the orchestral depth, bringing out each instrument with proper size and location, without collapsing the whole, when things get really cacophonous.

Saint-Saëns - Symphony 3 - Ref. Recordings - the organ is both more distinct and present from other bass instruments than I’ve heard previously with the 400’s. At the lower frequencies, the pedal notes are sustained and felt with maximal control, the 500’s get a grip on the Alexia bass drivers. But never at the expense of the rest of the higher registers.

Judy Collins - Who Knows Where the Time Goes - Story of Isaac - the degree of her vibrato is far more distinct than I recall from the 400’s. In general the leading and trailing edge of vocals and instruments attest to the speed and control the 500’s exhibit. And this album really shows the varied effects of miking and air around Judy’s voice, along with the choices the engineer has made, with the 500’s driving.

Lords - Pure Heroin - Royals - in your face bass that is the tight, body slamming sort, but as clean as can be, without any trace of displacing the vocal or other instruments. Same is true of Ginger Baker’s solo on “Do What You Like” from the Blind Faith album.

Art Blakey title cut from A Night in Tunisia - pick up on small details in the background as well as room acoustics.

Live venues are really revealing of what the 500’s can deliver. Well recorded, these have audience and venue cues that the amps can deliver. Hear this especially with Bob Marley & the Wailers “Live” and Little Feat’s “Waiting for Columbus”.

And well recorded albums e past are given new life, with the 500’s exposing details, warts and all, the sometimes intricate instrumentation and background vocals found on such works as The Jefferson Airplanes’s “Surrealistic Pillow” or a Buddy Holly compilation “From the Master Tapes”.

I’m just scratching the surface as I’ll be spending the coming months/years revisiting my collection...
 

ack

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#50
Wonderful Steve! Funny, it may have been close to 8-10 years now when the dealer and I were talking about some super amps Spectral were working on, when the 360s were current at that time. Back then, I named them "500s" and was subsequently a little disappointed when the 400s came out. I am still waiting for my new panels to really enjoy these super fine amplifiers, and hopefully the wait won't be too much longer. Thanks for your thoughts, and enjoy!
 

ack

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#51
Here's how good the 500AR's are

Here's how good the 500AR's are

The mother, a guest, calls her son up to "listen to this" - and they were only listening to an FM reel-to-reel recording I made of Mahler's 1st by the BSO, broadcast live in 2017. Admittedly, it was one of the best FM broadcasts I have ever heard over 25 years, and obviously all of my tuner mods are at work.

mahler-tape.jpg