Re-imagining "Class A" Amplification

gds7368

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Jan 9, 2015
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Looking great! Once bridged, the headroom is doubled, output impedance is halved and power is quadrupled. You will be amazed as the sum of 1+1 is more than 2! Yamamoto san's from Stereo Sound did a test with single/bi-amp/bridged, and his words are better than mine. Stereo Sound JP
Have you thought of coming out with an amplifier with those characteristics, rather than bridging two units?
 
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gleeds

Industry Expert
May 29, 2018
290
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150
gds738, thanks for your question. It is a good and logical one. Angus is off this weekend so allow me to reply to your question. The short answer is NO.

Part of the design brief was for the amplifiers to have a compact footprint to allow the Rei to fit on traditional equipment rack shelves. Next was to make it easy for users to upgrade their system by simply reconfiguring it. In this approach, one can start with one pair of amplifiers, adding additional ones as their circumstances or loudspeakers require, without concern about selling existing gear before upgrading.

Bridging allows users to scale in quite a few ways, in each case with meaningful performance gains:

- Two pairs in bi-amp mode
- Two pairs two in bridged mode or,
- even four pairs in bi-amp-bridged mode

Similar flexibility is available to owners of the Quest pre-amplifier. To upgrade, a user adds a second Quest and inserts a card into the unit's back panel expansion slot turning the Quest into a single channel, dual mono pre-amplifier. As it is with Rei, reconfiguring the Quest in this way brings system performance to an even higher level without sacrificing the purity and information retrieval that are hallmarks of Westminster Labs.

Although I posted it elsewhere, a photo of Angus's reference set-up with two Quest pre-amplifier, bridged Rei amplifiers, and a complete loom of Westminster Ultra series cabling is below. The speakers are the mighty Vivid Giya G1 loudspeakers, and digital is by MSB and Lumin.

Thanks again for your question.



Angus's Reference System.JPG
 

Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
681
426
475
Jersey Shore- waterside
Some of you may be familiar with some of my posts on WBF and my experience with Westminster Labs products, and their remarkable ability to produce “believable” sound that gets you out of your head and into the music. I now have had experience with three Westminster Labs products in my system during the past almost two months and most recently made a major system change by introducing a pair of Westminster Labs REI class A amps and their Quest preamp into my system during the past 5 days while Gary Leeds, Westminster’s NA distributor, has been staying at my home and helping me upgrade my system by removing some existing top shelf equipment and replacing the pieces with Westminster products.

Let me start with my current global assessment of Westminster Labs and their impact on my considerable system. As time passes with more break-in and possibly the addition of another pair of REI amps for bridging for allegedly significantly more detail, I believe I will have a more complete idea of what these products are and what doorways they can open and power. Although these amps are rated at 200 watts into 4 ohms which will nicely power my Ultra 9's, I am amazed and of course quite pleased that there is still enough reserve power to push my system to true "you are there" levels., while maintaining the incredible sonic attributes of these products. There is so much more power than I need to run my Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 9’s (4 ohms) and two JL F-113 subs in each of my rear corners at “you are there levels” and have you up and dancing around the room.

Put simply they are most powerful 200 watt amps I have ever experienced in my 63 years in high end audio. While I can reach levels that will probably have my neighbors complaining, there is a type of control that goes with the level of output and the quality of output that is astounding. However, what is really remarkable is the sonic presentation, which is quite simply probably the best I have ever heard anywhere, PERIOD. And by the way it passes my ideal design test for amplification products, namely that when you change output levels, the only thing that changes is the level. There absolutely no change in the sound stage or sonic qualities.

It does not hurt that they have the best bass I have ever heard with regard to attack, decay, speed, and most important the integration into the overall sound. My system is a good system for assessing acuity, speed and overall integration of super realistic sonics into the total audio spectrum. Both Gary and I did not stop being awe inspired by the sonic experience with a single pair of amps and I mean it was loud and we were both dancing.

My 9’s each have a 1,000 watt plate amp that drives the rear mounted 15” sub and each of my JL’s in the rear corners has its own 2,000 watt amp. I live on the water with four large sliders on the back side of my house which I keep open whenever possible to help release pressure which truly helps tighten the sound. Said another way, I have great bass potential and could really hear the Westminster's bass quality

A tiny bit of history that will help clarify this post. I recently built my bucket list system which started it’s creation when I was 10, 63 years ago. I have owned a lot of equipment during those 63 years, built dedicated and professionally designed listening rooms. Now that I am retired and the market is down so much, I do not have the financial resources I once had, so this had to be a tremendous value proposition. It also had to produce the best sound I have ever heard from an audio system or it was not worth doing, because with my previous (VAC) system I already achieved my lifelong audio goals and could have easily kept all of my VAC gear. However, I so greatly exceeded my sonic goals with these three Westminster Labs products that I bought everything I have auditioned even before I sell the equipment it is replacing, which is quite substantial with regard to their cost (a pair of VAC 452 monoblocks, a VAC preamp and VAC phono preamp about $200,000).

I have noticed that there are three groups on WBF with regard to Westminster Labs, with almost no one having heard any of them because they are so new: 1) the group that like me uses the word “incredible” a lot with regard to these products and upon audition then purchases them due to their superiority; 2) the group that dismisses Westminster Labs as is just one of the latest snake oil companies that are all too common in current high end audio. (this group tends to that get lost in the areas that they do not understand because these amps do not have the standard Class A characteristics of being physically massive, sauna like heat production and incredibly expensive; and 3) those who are content and not interested in experimenting, especially when Westminster Labs remerging reputation sounds to be too good to be true.

For me, when it comes to audio, I am very selfish and really only care about my beliefs and thoughts about the wisdom of the shift. So let me say it again, from my perspective these three Westminster Labs products are by a major magnitude. far and away the best sounding pieces of audio gear I have heard. There are many reasons for their superiority, most of which come from Westminster Labs owner and chief designer, Angus Leung.

Angus is a true believer that the least amount of distortion and lowest noise floor, linked to super fast attacks and equally fast decays are central to great sound. I have had a number of products that claim to have these traits, but I will leave it to you to make your own decision on the Westminster front. It does not hurt that Westminster Labs’s North American distributor, Gary Leeds, is very knowledgable and a true gentleman who has incredibly high personal standards to the point that he and I have been rapidly developing a special friendship. He also cleaned up my system with hours of tweaks to get the last elements of superior sound out. It also does not hurt that VSA Ultra 9’s are one of the best speakers on the market today, and I have all of the requisite cabling and footers to bring out there best.

If you are interested or skeptical about my comments, two of my threads on WBF are My Bucket List System, and High Performance DC cable for MSB DAC by Angus Leung and Westminster Lab Takes My System to Another Level will provide more detail and how I came to make this jump after I thought I was done with new audio purchases. BUT here is the summary in one sentence----- Westminster Labs major superior sonics produce the best and most realistic reproduction of music I have ever heard at levels that way exceed what my VAC 452’s (incredible AB push pull amps and excellent preamps) could output. Sorry, a short second sentence, they are priced so much less than you would expect for their capabilities, that if like me you already have great gear you will make money by replacing them with Westminster Labs components.

Steve Williams is a long-term friend of probably 30 years and audio compadre, asked me to do a favor for Westminster and evaluate their DC umbilicals for connecting the digital and analog power supplies to the audio chassis on my MSB DAC. Because Steve is close friend, I said okay, expecting nothing that would make me a customer of Westminster Labs because after all these are just DC umbilicals for my DAC and not even in the signal path!!!

Boy was I wrong. Angus’ umbilicals transformed the sound of my system from top to bottom and set new reference standards in many areas of the sonic reproduction, especially the bass. I was less than thrilled that the MSB had a bit of digital sound to them, which somehow totally disappeared with the addition of the umbilicals. To achieve this goal, I knew that Angus and Westminster Labs are special and in a way that very much appeals to me.

Adding the amps and preamp clearly have the same DNA as the umbilicals, but in a much more impactful manner and affect the entire sonic output top to bottom and make me listen on average 8-10 hours a day because the sonic improvement is so impressive, not to mention they have an amazing positive impact on my emotional state as I struggle with serious medical problems that should have killed me and may potentially force me to move to a medical facility where my current system would be incompatible, and my medical bills might require me cashing out of my expensive system. My conclusion was simple, since music is a big part of my being and one of the biggest influencers on my current challenged emotional state, I had no choice but to buy this equipment so I could enjoy this level of listening as long as I am able to live at home, even if it is only for another year.

For me believability has always been the holy grail of audio. As someone who has spent his whole life in psychiatry and addiction medicine and consulting to Fortune 500 companies on how to promote sales via driving specific messages about products to encourage the customer to take ownership of the idea and embrace then, and thus feel the joy of great music in their lives. In my opinion, Westminster Labs does believability without peers.

These are truly products that are hard to believe unless you experience them directly. In that scenario, the decision is obvious within seconds because they are that superior, that if you are a true music lover, you conclude you must have them in your system to reach audio nirvana.
 
Last edited:

viola

VIP/Donor
Apr 22, 2021
6
16
150
Connecticut
I completely agree with Mobiusman's observations on the Rei mono blocks. I now have 200+ hours on the pair that I purchased after having had the opportunity to listen to the demos that Gary Leeds graciously made available in June. These amps have a stunning sound, just stunning -- and to my ears sound better than amps costing 5 to 6 times more (although this is based on hearing in different systems). The fact that they sound better than your VAC 452iQ mono blocks speaks volumes, as those are incredible amps, especially when paired with von Schweikert Ultra speakers. I also love the fact that they are so small and efficient.

On a personal note, I hope your medical condition improves and you get to enjoy many more years of listening to music on your glorious system.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
If I were building a system now there is no doubt in my mind that these are the amps and preamp I would buy. I keep telling Gary they are underpriced. Hearing them in my system was nothing short of a revelation .
 

gleeds

Industry Expert
May 29, 2018
290
359
150
Russ, Angus and I so appreciate your words. I do not recall meeting anyone that derives as much pleasure recorded music as you do! Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey as you continue to find and build strength in the things you love most!

PS The boat rides on the bay were incredible!
 
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Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
681
426
475
Jersey Shore- waterside
Russ, Angus and I so appreciate your words. I do not recall meeting anyone that derives as much pleasure recorded music as you do! Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey as you continue to find and build strength in the things you love most!

PS The boat rides on the bay were incredible!
It was truly fantasy level 5 days in so many ways. It flew by and now I already have the best sound I have ever had by a major margin.
 

LampiNA

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2015
261
527
225
I'm beyond excited for you, Russ. Really happy to hear the Westminster gear has really restored and an enhanced your emotional connection to music and love that you true reference has arrived.

For those on the East Coast, I will be updating this thread shortly with an event we are planning on hosting in Princeton,, NJ with a target date of October 1, 2022.

Our event will feature the Westminster Reis and Quest along with some of the other brands in my portfolio (Tobian and LampizatOr). We are definitely looking forward to this one and think those who are able to make it to the presentation will be mightily impressed.

Best,

Fred A.
 

Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
681
426
475
Jersey Shore- waterside
I'm beyond excited for you, Russ. Really happy to hear the Westminster gear has really restored and an enhanced your emotional connection to music and love that you true reference has arrived.

For those on the East Coast, I will be updating this thread shortly with an event we are planning on hosting in Princeton,, NJ with a target date of October 1, 2022.

Our event will feature the Westminster Reis and Quest along with some of the other brands in my portfolio (Tobian and LampizatOr). We are definitely looking forward to this one and think those who are able to make it to the presentation will be mightily impressed.

Best,

Fred A.
Fred,

Count me in for your event.

russ
 
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LampiNA

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2015
261
527
225
Fred,

Count me in for your event.

russ
Excellent, Russ! It will be great catching up again in person!.

Details to come shortly!

Fred A.
 

Fred Crane

Industry Expert
Apr 23, 2020
136
254
70
gds738, thanks for your question. It is a good and logical one. Angus is off this weekend so allow me to reply to your question. The short answer is NO.

Part of the design brief was for the amplifiers to have a compact footprint to allow the Rei to fit on traditional equipment rack shelves. Next was to make it easy for users to upgrade their system by simply reconfiguring it. In this approach, one can start with one pair of amplifiers, adding additional ones as their circumstances or loudspeakers require, without concern about selling existing gear before upgrading.

Bridging allows users to scale in quite a few ways, in each case with meaningful performance gains:

- Two pairs in bi-amp mode
- Two pairs two in bridged mode or,
- even four pairs in bi-amp-bridged mode

Similar flexibility is available to owners of the Quest pre-amplifier. To upgrade, a user adds a second Quest and inserts a card into the unit's back panel expansion slot turning the Quest into a single channel, dual mono pre-amplifier. As it is with Rei, reconfiguring the Quest in this way brings system performance to an even higher level without sacrificing the purity and information retrieval that are hallmarks of Westminster Labs.

Although I posted it elsewhere, a photo of Angus's reference set-up with two Quest pre-amplifier, bridged Rei amplifiers, and a complete loom of Westminster Ultra series cabling is below. The speakers are the mighty Vivid Giya G1 loudspeakers, and digital is by MSB and Lumin.

Thanks again for your question.



View attachment 96815
That's a very sexy bunch of electronics.
 

Fred Crane

Industry Expert
Apr 23, 2020
136
254
70
Some of you may be familiar with some of my posts on WBF and my experience with Westminster Labs products, and their remarkable ability to produce “believable” sound that gets you out of your head and into the music. I now have had experience with three Westminster Labs products in my system during the past almost two months and most recently made a major system change by introducing a pair of Westminster Labs REI class A amps and their Quest preamp into my system during the past 5 days while Gary Leeds, Westminster’s NA distributor, has been staying at my home and helping me upgrade my system by removing some existing top shelf equipment and replacing the pieces with Westminster products.

Let me start with my current global assessment of Westminster Labs and their impact on my considerable system. As time passes with more break-in and possibly the addition of another pair of REI amps for bridging for allegedly significantly more detail, I believe I will have a more complete idea of what these products are and what doorways they can open and power. Although these amps are rated at 200 watts into 4 ohms which will nicely power my Ultra 9's, I am amazed and of course quite pleased that there is still enough reserve power to push my system to true "you are there" levels., while maintaining the incredible sonic attributes of these products. There is so much more power than I need to run my Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 9’s (4 ohms) and two JL F-113 subs in each of my rear corners at “you are there levels” and have you up and dancing around the room.

Put simply they are most powerful 200 watt amps I have ever experienced in my 63 years in high end audio. While I can reach levels that will probably have my neighbors complaining, there is a type of control that goes with the level of output and the quality of output that is astounding. However, what is really remarkable is the sonic presentation, which is quite simply probably the best I have ever heard anywhere, PERIOD. And by the way it passes my ideal design test for amplification products, namely that when you change output levels, the only thing that changes is the level. There absolutely no change in the sound stage or sonic qualities.

It does not hurt that they have the best bass I have ever heard with regard to attack, decay, speed, and most important the integration into the overall sound. My system is a good system for assessing acuity, speed and overall integration of super realistic sonics into the total audio spectrum. Both Gary and I did not stop being awe inspired by the sonic experience with a single pair of amps and I mean it was loud and we were both dancing.

My 9’s each have a 1,000 watt plate amp that drives the rear mounted 15” sub and each of my JL’s in the rear corners has its own 2,000 watt amp. I live on the water with four large sliders on the back side of my house which I keep open whenever possible to help release pressure which truly helps tighten the sound. Said another way, I have great bass potential and could really hear the Westminster's bass quality

A tiny bit of history that will help clarify this post. I recently built my bucket list system which started it’s creation when I was 10, 63 years ago. I have owned a lot of equipment during those 63 years, built dedicated and professionally designed listening rooms. Now that I am retired and the market is down so much, I do not have the financial resources I once had, so this had to be a tremendous value proposition. It also had to produce the best sound I have ever heard from an audio system or it was not worth doing, because with my previous (VAC) system I already achieved my lifelong audio goals and could have easily kept all of my VAC gear. However, I so greatly exceeded my sonic goals with these three Westminster Labs products that I bought everything I have auditioned even before I sell the equipment it is replacing, which is quite substantial with regard to their cost (a pair of VAC 452 monoblocks, a VAC preamp and VAC phono preamp about $200,000).

I have noticed that there are three groups on WBF with regard to Westminster Labs, with almost no one having heard any of them because they are so new: 1) the group that like me uses the word “incredible” a lot with regard to these products and upon audition then purchases them due to their superiority; 2) the group that dismisses Westminster Labs as is just one of the latest snake oil companies that are all too common in current high end audio. (this group tends to that get lost in the areas that they do not understand because these amps do not have the standard Class A characteristics of being physically massive, sauna like heat production and incredibly expensive; and 3) those who are content and not interested in experimenting, especially when Westminster Labs remerging reputation sounds to be too good to be true.

For me, when it comes to audio, I am very selfish and really only care about my beliefs and thoughts about the wisdom of the shift. So let me say it again, from my perspective these three Westminster Labs products are by a major magnitude. far and away the best sounding pieces of audio gear I have heard. There are many reasons for their superiority, most of which come from Westminster Labs owner and chief designer, Angus Leung.

Angus is a true believer that the least amount of distortion and lowest noise floor, linked to super fast attacks and equally fast decays are central to great sound. I have had a number of products that claim to have these traits, but I will leave it to you to make your own decision on the Westminster front. It does not hurt that Westminster Labs’s North American distributor, Gary Leeds, is very knowledgable and a true gentleman who has incredibly high personal standards to the point that he and I have been rapidly developing a special friendship. He also cleaned up my system with hours of tweaks to get the last elements of superior sound out. It also does not hurt that VSA Ultra 9’s are one of the best speakers on the market today, and I have all of the requisite cabling and footers to bring out there best.

If you are interested or skeptical about my comments, two of my threads on WBF are My Bucket List System, and High Performance DC cable for MSB DAC by Angus Leung and Westminster Lab Takes My System to Another Level will provide more detail and how I came to make this jump after I thought I was done with new audio purchases. BUT here is the summary in one sentence----- Westminster Labs major superior sonics produce the best and most realistic reproduction of music I have ever heard at levels that way exceed what my VAC 452’s (incredible AB push pull amps and excellent preamps) could output. Sorry, a short second sentence, they are priced so much less than you would expect for their capabilities, that if like me you already have great gear you will make money by replacing them with Westminster Labs components.

Steve Williams is a long-term friend of probably 30 years and audio compadre, asked me to do a favor for Westminster and evaluate their DC umbilicals for connecting the digital and analog power supplies to the audio chassis on my MSB DAC. Because Steve is close friend, I said okay, expecting nothing that would make me a customer of Westminster Labs because after all these are just DC umbilicals for my DAC and not even in the signal path!!!

Boy was I wrong. Angus’ umbilicals transformed the sound of my system from top to bottom and set new reference standards in many areas of the sonic reproduction, especially the bass. I was less than thrilled that the MSB had a bit of digital sound to them, which somehow totally disappeared with the addition of the umbilicals. To achieve this goal, I knew that Angus and Westminster Labs are special and in a way that very much appeals to me.

Adding the amps and preamp clearly have the same DNA as the umbilicals, but in a much more impactful manner and affect the entire sonic output top to bottom and make me listen on average 8-10 hours a day because the sonic improvement is so impressive, not to mention they have an amazing positive impact on my emotional state as I struggle with serious medical problems that should have killed me and may potentially force me to move to a medical facility where my current system would be incompatible, and my medical bills might require me cashing out of my expensive system. My conclusion was simple, since music is a big part of my being and one of the biggest influencers on my current challenged emotional state, I had no choice but to buy this equipment so I could enjoy this level of listening as long as I am able to live at home, even if it is only for another year.

For me believability has always been the holy grail of audio. As someone who has spent his whole life in psychiatry and addiction medicine and consulting to Fortune 500 companies on how to promote sales via driving specific messages about products to encourage the customer to take ownership of the idea and embrace then, and thus feel the joy of great music in their lives. In my opinion, Westminster Labs does believability without peers.

These are truly products that are hard to believe unless you experience them directly. In that scenario, the decision is obvious within seconds because they are that superior, that if you are a true music lover, you conclude you must have them in your system to reach audio nirvana.
Thank you for the detailed description of your experience and subsequent purchase. Kudos to Gary Leeds for providing the kind of service that one hopes for...
 

CDC77

Active Member
May 27, 2021
55
104
35
Chicago
www.cdcaruso.com
100% agree with Russ. Before the REI’s came along, I was very content with a premium, highly regarded integrated amp, thinking I would not have room for monoblocks and a preamp. Then I discovered I didn‘t need a preamp because our new Lampizator Horizon was outperforming my integrated amp in the preamp function. That was my first big discovery this year. Then, thanks to this Forum, I discovered the REIs, and teamed with the Horizon we are so far ahead of where we were with the integrated, which had cost more than the REIs, it is truly remarkable. PS, the quality of the Westminster REIs is so impressive we quickly decided to replace our power cords, speaker cables, and balanced interconnect with the Westminster offerings that should be arriving soon. I am far from the most experienced member of this group (we got a late start making our first serious purchase about 4 years ago) but hearing is believing. I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that,
 

Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
681
426
475
Jersey Shore- waterside
100% agree with Russ. Before the REI’s came along, I was very content with a premium, highly regarded integrated amp, thinking I would not have room for monoblocks and a preamp. Then I discovered I didn‘t need a preamp because our new Lampizator Horizon was outperforming my integrated amp in the preamp function. That was my first big discovery this year. Then, thanks to this Forum, I discovered the REIs, and teamed with the Horizon we are so far ahead of where we were with the integrated, which had cost more than the REIs, it is truly remarkable. PS, the quality of the Westminster REIs is so impressive we quickly decided to replace our power cords, speaker cables, and balanced interconnect with the Westminster offerings that should be arriving soon. I am far from the most experienced member of this group (we got a late start making our first serious purchase about 4 years ago) but hearing is believing. I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that,
Also pay attention to how listening to the REI's makes you feel. I find it very energizing and mood up lifting because it so effectively removes obsessive thoughts from my brain. I do not know if you have Westminster Labs Quest preamp, but it is cut from the same fabric and advanced my sound considerably compared to driving the amps with my excellent former tube preamp. Congratulations on your newest additions to your system.
 

LampiNA

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2015
261
527
225
Also pay attention to how listening to the REI's makes you feel. I find it very energizing and mood up lifting because it so effectively removes obsessive thoughts from my brain. I do not know if you have Westminster Labs Quest preamp, but it is cut from the same fabric and advanced my sound considerably compared to driving the amps with my excellent former tube preamp. Congratulations on your newest additions to your system.
This is a very good point and observation, Russ. One of the things I've loved about the Westminter duo and a big reason why I am getting involved with this brand is that it really brings the whole package. In addition to the audiophile adjectives, which speak for themselves, they have an ability to really connect you with the music and keep you glued.

The emotional connection is the tough part for equipment and Westminter (and the very select portfolio I carry) all achieve this common ground.
 

LampiNA

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2015
261
527
225
Private event announcement!

We are very excited to invite our friends at WBF to a private event we will be hosting in Princeton, NJ on October 1, 2022. The Westminster REI amplifiers and Quest preamp will be in attendance with the exquisite LampizatOr Horizon as will several other pieces from our portfolio (LampizatOr, Tobian, Westminster, Final Touch Audio). The event will take place in a private residence (shadowlight's home) and will be setup to host several systems and is always a fantastic time.


Please message us for further details and RSVP, but the particulars are as follows:

Start Time: 1pm (As usual, I will have snacks ready with lunch around 2pm or so)
End Time: 6/7pm (will confirm as we get closer)

Family Room Setup: Tobian12FH, Westminster REI Amplifier and Quest Preamplifier, Lampizator Horizon DAC,
Basement Setup: Pure Audio Project Trio15 Horn (working on getting hold of Voxativ drive, baffle and crossover), Lampizator GG2, Vinnie Rossie LIO Integrated
Spare Bedroom Setup: Pure Audio Project Trio10, Onix Integrated amp, Amber4 DAC (this maybe interchanged with LampizatOr's AmberAmp integrated).

We can swap equipment around as we used to during the RAVE hay days after 5pm in basement and spare room setup. So if you are attending and would like to bring equipment around to swap in and out feel free to bring it with you. Basement and spare room setup is mostly my setup with Amber 4 in the spare room provided by Lampizator America team who will be using the family room to show case their offering.

Covid Protocol: I will have mask available for folks who would like to wear one but anyone attending the event is attending at their own risk. I am not responsible for anyone catching Covid or any thing else.

The usual rules about taking shoes off (house slippers are ok), no alcohol or meat applies.

Gary, myself and my partner Robert will be in attendance and we look forward to meeting many of you!

- Fred A.
 

Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
681
426
475
Jersey Shore- waterside
Westminster labs REI amps and quest preamp. I

t has been several weeks since I posted my initial impressions of this new line of amazing products when substituted into my system to replace my already amazingly good VAC 452 Musicblocs, VAC Master preamp and Renaissance phone stage in it’s own chassis.

While all of my initial impressions still stand, I think I have better understanding of what is going on after several weeks. I have always said that the top line VAC equipment has a bit of VAC sound to it. Since I love this slight sonic bias I was totally happy to make the amps my final amps and possibly upgrade the front end via a better preamp with a phono card at some point.

What was an adjustment for me was switching from tubes KT88’s in the amps, and an assortment of tubes in the preamp and phono-pre (8416’s, 7308’s, 6922’s, E88CC’s, and 6 DJ8’s) all tubes I have used in different capacities in previous system components. I was also very familiar with fundamental sonic traits of tube gear vs. solid state and did not expect them to be the same. All I wanted was to be excellent in some way and something I could listen to for 6-10 hours at a time. I also wanted a fair amount of RMS power because I frequently like to listen at “you are there levels”.

Like everyone on this forum, I have my sonic preferences, which have shifted over the last 10 years from a very lush sound with great articulation, to a faster sound with rapid rise and decay times, and for me, the all critical low noise floor for revealing more information, that was once hidden in the noise.

My newly acquired preference for fast sound with super high articulation going to black after every sound component, pretty much meant I would have to look to solid state for my amps and either tube or SS on the pre and phono pre. In the world of SS audio I have always loved Class A because it has an integrity that you do not get in AB and class D products, BUT on the negative front it is usually large, very expensive and a super BTU generator.

When I first formulated my plan for a bucket list System when I was 10, I knew that it would be likely some new technologies would become available that I would lust for during the 60 plus years before I would build my ultimate system. In fact, I was so sure that this would happen, I set up an audio slush fund that I would use only if I felt it was necessary on the financial front to achieve my final goals. If this did not happen then I would have an extra $250,000.00 for my retirement funds.,

Under my screen name Mobiusman, I started a thread on WBF about building my bucket list system, if any one is interested. I had financial safeguards in place should the unexpected occur, which included totally owning my system and having it completed by my retirement age so that it would be a source of pleasure and not a monthly drain against my markedly reduced annual income. AND, if necessary, (as expected) I could dip into the slush fund to complete my project in the way I might desire, a high likelihood based on past performance.

I was really thrilled with my system since I have wonderful speakers, Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 9’s (I think one of the best speakers currently made provided one has all of the fine-tuning accessories). Pretty quickly I realized I needed/wanted more power than my VAC IQ450 S stereo amp could produce. So I turned to my slush fund and took out some money to pay for the VAC 452 musicblocs and to cover the gap in the MSRP’s that I did could not recoup from selling my VAC IQ450 S stereo amp.

I think that the 452’s and VAC front end equipment is amongst the best audio equipment available and truly thought I was finished with my ultimate system, BUT my life was turned upside down a year ago, by a series of lethal medical problems, that have changed every aspect of my life, including how I listened to music and the reasons I choose to listen.

After 7 months in hospitals and assisted living facilities, it was clear that the stroke I had following a quadruple bypass while in a coma, would totally change how I would live my daily life. What I did not initially realize was how it would change EVERY aspect of my life, possibly including having to move from my home with its pretty good sound room to an independent living facility with a much smaller apartment, and the communal aspect of the facility would not tolerate the kind of noise I regularly produce because I like listening loud and I live on the water.

Add to this the instability of the financial markets hit my retirement funds very hard, making me more concerned about the expense of my system, especially if I could not give up my life-long tendency to continually tweak my system with new additions.

There were two camps advising me on which path to take: 1) accept my medical limits and give up my independent life of having a boat, living on the water and a great sound system and go to a facility to await my death; and 2) do whatever I could to make the most out of the balance of my life, whatever that might be!

Then the twist I somewhat expected when I was 10 came along and ironically turned out to be part of my path to rehabilitation. I shifted to home based medical care provided in my home with my main toys available.

This is where I switch back to my updated thoughts on the Westminster Labs equipment once inserted into my system to help the company assess a pair of umbilicals from Westminster Labs to connect the analog and digital power supplies for my MSB DAC to its audio chassis. Needless to say I expected nothing and proceeded to do my evaluation.

Bottom line, I started a thread on WBF called High Performance DC cable for MSB DAC by Angus Leung and Westminster Lab Takes My System to Another Level because the emotional aspect of this change was so dramatic that I was totally not ready for the sonic and emotional changes that would result from this insertion in the DC circuitry. What I quickly concluded was that the man behind Westminster Labs was an electrical circuit design genius and was producing a killer class A amp and matching preamp that all had the same sonic signature.

This signature is a byproduct of the products’ designs which all had a central emphasis on ultra-low distortion and noise. The net result was Angus’ designs are totally novel and somehow seem to do the impossible-produce the most articulate and accurate sound with the blackest noise floor I have ever heard. In addition, although only rated at 200 watts into my speakers 4 ohm load, these amps and preamp can rock my system at “you are there levels” with power to spare.

There has been some dispute amongst some on WBF about whether the amps are truly Class A, because they run cool, are not as expensive as other Class A offerings and they are small, all good for a medical facility if that is in my future. Whether they are truly Class A, as Angus strongly supports, I do not care because they sound so good on any music, have sufficient punch and power to feel like you are there and as an added benefit is that they are small and actually less expensive than what they are replacing in my system. (an important consideration for me since in the past year my medical bills have exceeded $3 million.

But the most important thing is that I listen to music between 7-10 hours a day every day and this listening experience makes me very happy and joyous, well beyond what any of my previous systems could produce.

One cannot pass judgement on these products until they hear them in a top notch system that hopefully does not choke their capabilities. I live half way between NYC and Philadelphia, just off of the NJ Parkway and NJ Turnpike. If you would like hear this equipment, give me a call and we can set up a visit. Although right at this moment, I can only play digital, but will be getting the phono card for the preamp, which will enable my new replacement turntable after having some problems with the salinity and humidity of where I live and cause some friction on very low tolerance aspects of the TT’s design for its spindle air bearing and air bearing tone arm.

The turntable upgrade should be completed within the next 6-8 weeks, along with another Westminster Labs enhancement in the form of the phono card for my Quest Preamp, which Angus states sounds exactly the same as his preamp and amps,

This post would not be a typical Mobiusman post unless I brought in some of the emotional benefits of this equipment. It is my belief that these benefits come from how believable the sonic image of this equipment is that it somewhat captivates what you are thinking about and promotes listening to music. This in turn helps diminish negative thoughts, which in my professional psychiatric thinking helps promote a better and more positive state of mind. Also, the experience in working with Gary and the amazing sound we were able to produce, just adds to my overall joy of owning Westminster Labs equipment.

While we were getting this set up with the help of Westminster Labs North American importer and distributor, Gary Leeds who spent 5 days at my house to help with optimizing my system and help foster the development of our emerging friendship, the sound kept on improving to previously unknown levels of audio perfection.

Here comes the emotional part---I absolutely love listening to my system now more than ever and my overall healing seems to have increased incredibly, to the point that people find it hard to believe I have healed as much as I have after such a severe illness that rightfully should have me 6 feet under.

Oh yeah, most important, I truly believe that I have reached audio bliss and have access to the machine that makes this bliss possible 24/7.

Thank you so much, Steve, Gary and Angus. You have all seriously alterred the path of my life and greatly added to my joy as I pass through
 
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