Time To Say Goodbye

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#1
View attachment DSC01749.jpg

For months now I have been babysitting these beauties. They belong to a good friend who started out as one of my big brother's elementary school buddies and later became my colleague from 2001 to 2004 and again in 2016. COC is a fun guy and we share manny interests. We're both big foodies, like to travel to the same cities, annd are both petrol heads albeit he takes it a lot further as he still races in various cups. Obviously, listeninng to music is also something we have in common.

These 3 ways are made by Victor Sierra formerly of Sierra Brooks. Brooks being Kevin Brooks. Between the late 90's and early 2000's Vic and Kevin who he calls his mentor, did a bunch of crazy horn systems. Vic came home to the Philippines in I think 2004 and it was in 2005 that I got to meet him when I delivered some Lamm gear to a mutual friend in Cebu, the Princess City of the South. Beautiful place, wonderful people. My friend took me to Vic's place and there I lost my horn virginity. Not only was I shocked at the sheer size of his all ALE'D out personal speakers, I was shocked at how cohesive he had made it all. It was my first time to see a lot of things from Duelund caps to crazy looking tubes throughout the chain. Soft spoken for the most part but a real hoot when he gets going, Keith and I felt the visit all too brief.

Vic came home to take care of their family businesses and so he sold his then fledgling dynamic speaker company out of Utah to a South Korean concern and had to end his partnership with Kevin who he tells me has retired to Florida. I lost touch with Vic but I would hear that he was up to more of his crazy stuff like accidentally miscalculating his property lines thereby ending up with the ends of his built in horns in his cousin's property LOL Yes he did those out of the house built in horns in the US and he did that for himself too eventually. I bumped into him at the local show three Novembers ago and it was quite the reunion. We got to talking. He decided to join the next show and that is where the prototypes of the speakers above made their Manila debut. The next year he went big, (These speakers are currently his smallest creations) no he didn't go all out as that would have meant busting through the walls of the Dusit-Thani Makati but he did go plenty big with Field Coils. Make a long story short my buddy COC fell in love with them and had this pair built.

COC is still in the process of building his new house which will have two dedicated rooms. These will be in his mid-sized room which will be around 50sqm and the other loft type space will be around 85sqm and will have his pair of Ultra 11s. Electronics for his horns will be custom built by a builder whose name I can't pronounce from Eastern Europe. The Ultra 11s will have Constellation gear.

Anyway, it has been tough being without a big rig. My bedroom system is IMO very good but my vinyl and turntables are downstairs. Attempts to set up a smaller TechDAS were summarily vetoed by a higher power. As luck would have it COC's speakers were finished and he asked if he could listen to them in my room because he wanted to hear them in an acoustically built room. I said "Hell Yeah!" and Vic flew a couple of his guys to do initial set up and Vic flew in a couple of days later to wire everything up.

The wood work is impeccable. No surprise as Cebu City has a very rich heritage of fine wood working and artisanship and is home to world famous luxury furniture houses such as Kenneth Cobonpue and french owned Dedon. Driver wise the midrange compression drivers are hand built using parts from three different manufacturers, with parts custom machined to Vic's specs. The tweeter is a vintage piece, unmodified and the 10" woofer in the five foot front firing horn likewise minimally tweaked. The midrange horn is a shallow one meant for dispersion optimized for normal listening distances. Painstakingly calculated, built and finished not only is there a complete absence of horn coloration but also the annoying chuff turbulence inaudible from distance but you sometimes get when forced to listen to long throw horns from less than 10 feet. The XO as minimal as can be with just a single duey cap and a graphite resistor in each driver's path and Duey internal wiring.

Vic is full of surprises indeed. At the time the only tube amps I had on hand were a pair of 100 wpc Kronzillas. A bbit overkill for 107dB efficient speakers backed up by a pair of RELs. Well it had to do so I figured, ok, let's tube this whole system out. In came a KR P135 with 45 tubes and what the heck, an Allnic H3000 with Mullard Recti for Phono duty. All set up and we were enjoying spinning the black gold but Vic said he just needed to hear some of his own tracks which he was most familiar with. Just three songs he said, a jazz track, a violin track and a Jose Carreras track. Sure I said with my hand out stretched and he handed me three circuit boards held together with rubber bands. WTF? He asked if I had a SPDIF cable so he could hook that up to the CH C1. I know this guy well enough not to argue so off I went rummaging and I did that for him. He proceeds to plug a phone USB powerbank into his card deck sized, rubber banded boards, hooks up his transport, whips out his phone which turned out to be his remote for said rubber banded contraption and I'll bbe friggin' darned. Fabulous RB sound for what looked like 300 bucks tops.

Moving along, we were having issues with the Kronzillas because we had so little wiggle room with the P135's volume control. At 10 o'clock you could be plastered against the back wall. Still when dialed in we were awash with triode goodness. The Kronzillas had absolute control of the woofers. The room was energized fully despite the fact that these speakers were made for a room with much less volume. COC would come by on his way home and we would just chill out.. Not being one to leave well enough alone, it was time to victimize Keith. That meant kidnapping his Lamm ML2.1s which were gain and power wise the better fit. Nice guy that he is, we swapped amps and that is how I listened to these for the last few months.

Was I enamored with the Horn and SET life? Yes I was but not because of the jump factor. Truth be told the VR-9s were every bit their equal in that regard as confirmed by a 3 minute drive to the nearest VR-9 owner the next gated community over. I didn't measure but I think I jumped exactly as high with For Duke's A-Trainn blatt LOL What it was was a purity of tone, a sweetness and truthfulness one might only hope to find by spending a TON of money more with other topologies and still have no guaranntees. The coverage was plenty wide for a party of 4 meaning those from the wing chairs could enjoy too. No head in a vice problem here. A full party was a different story however as the hot and cold spots of the listening room in underground club mode was quite apparent.

They could play anything and by that I never felt they felt restricted. If they suffered at all it was with heavily processed studio recordings where the saccharin was just that much more bitter as the directionality concentrated the artifice.

At the end of the day, I thought to myself that when the time comes and I just want to knock back all by myself and stop listening to fun but honestly nutter young fella music, this is a system I could certainly be happy with.

I see why COC is building up two systems and I do have that twinge of jealousy. I've said over and over that I plan to build a rest house out on a cliff overlooking Laguna Lake and that I want to have a vintage system there. Listen to some Coltrane while taking in the view. Gotta save, save, save then give Vic a call. For now however, it is time to say goodbye. Big Blues are almost home.

Many thanks to COC, Vic and Keith for the opportunity to have walked the horny side of life :)
 
Last edited:

cjfrbw

Active Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,155
2
38
Pleasanton, CA
#3
Very entertaining read, thanks, Jack.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#4
Many thanks to you too Carl. I'm glad you enjoyed :)
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#7
I have no doubt Stevie.

At the end of the day I believe we all choose our gear based on different criteria as well as different circumstances. In my case I built that room to be a place for blissful solitude AND as a place to congregate and celebrate. Chairs don't all face the same direction here LOL Part of it is teenage fantasy. In it's most extreme use the Lair has been used as a club chairs and tables removed with dancing until dawn one New Year's eve. Crazy fun. You should have seen Jim :D While an outlier, it happened only once in our 7 years here, groups of 10 or 12 are not uncommon and neither is spontaneous dancing hence the shift to a tight knit Merino Wool carpet LOL

That's where large format, wide dispersion speakers come in for me. Aside from the fact that I like to move around, a lot more now since I hurt my ITB and sitting can be quite the enemy, the types of speakers I mentioned have less hot and cold spots in my room.

The latest generation of VSAs are as you know no slouches in the purity of tone department and this is from both the latest XO developments in-house as well as developments at Accuton, well the wiring too. The older generation has the potential for sure but needed more fine tuning and more system matching to get them closer to that potential. I've come to attribute this to micro resonances in the old drivers that could be excited by certain input signals. For an extreme example think of bluetooth speakers which are rife with this driver breakup distortion. Horns compression drivers sidestep this because excursion is so small. The older drivers could then get peaky when amplification is substandard. We all have recordings where all is good for the most part but has nasty instances. Ultimate test is when the system resolves through that difficult passage instead of jolting us out of our bliss. The thing is, we all have new music coming in all the time. Inn my case there is that little bit of subconscious apprehension on first listening that goes beyond "how well has this been recorded?". Listening to the 55s which no doubt will inherit the now latest U11 changes, it is clear to me that the composure was improved by increasing the resolution inn large part by dealing with micro breakups. Knowing that yet another nasty has been dealt with adds a piece of mind that simply makes it easier to settle inn and just enjoy.

This has been a lot of work to get what is tantamount to getting the most flexibility in both program material and use. The freedom to play what I want, how and with whom is very important to me at this point and that includes being able to have a positive vibe with conversation while really grooving. Understand that I am a little younger than most here and this is part of our generational culture. Socialization was done in a combination of rock venues, clubs and lounges. That is what I mean when I say should I be at a point in time where my listening is solitary I could very well be happy with non-wide dispersion loudspeakers like horns and including some planars.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#8
Too bad you missed all of us Ding. You came in that narrow window where those of us with kids in the traditional and international school schedule are on break at the same time. You would have seriously enjoyed Vic's sound as well as his company. His cousins are really cool too!
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#9
Jack

You get the Blues Brothers and everything else broken in and send me the invite as I’m coming.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#10
You got it! Hey, wanna meet in Tokyo? Hehehehe!
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#12
Tokyo show in November. Bring Cathy and I'll bring Marge :D They can do all sorts of stuff while we nerd out over.....ZERO :cool:
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#13
Tokyo show in November. Bring Cathy and I'll bring Marge :D They can do all sorts of stuff while we nerd out over.....ZERO :cool:
you've caught my interest
 

Dimfer

Member Sponsor
May 8, 2010
451
0
16
Canada
#14
Too bad you missed all of us Ding. You came in that narrow window where those of us with kids in the traditional and international school schedule are on break at the same time. You would have seriously enjoyed Vic's sound as well as his company. His cousins are really cool too!
yup, it was a short notice and with not much choice on dates, we stayed in Manila for less than a week.

hopefully next time, with the Blue Blue as well :cool:
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,937
0
36
#15
Jack,
Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience. And thank you for taking the time to write it up so well.

Out of curiosity, when you go between horn and non-horn systems, is there a time of mental adjustment or re-calibration you go through? Or are you able to move seamlessly from one type of technology to another, snapping right back into the music?

In my case, after I have listened to a high-efficient, uber dynamic, and tonally dense system, it takes me a little time to adjust to regular box speakers or stats.
Thanks
 
Oct 6, 2015
75
0
6
#16
Jack, thank you very much for sharing your impressions, it was a good read! I see two Stromtank S 5000 HP in the picture, can you comment on their performance? Have you had a chance to compare them to the other Stromtank models? TIA.
'
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#17
Hi Caesar

I wouldn't say I need much time adjusting between technologies or topologies anymore. I think it is because I always focus on the positives before moving on to potential deficiencies to address instead of the other way around. There is usually always something good to hear.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#18
Jack, thank you very much for sharing your impressions, it was a good read! I see two Stromtank S 5000 HP in the picture, can you comment on their performance? Have you had a chance to compare them to the other Stromtank models? TIA.
'
Hi Narayan

I found no difference in tone between the 2500 and 5000 HP powering the front end electronics. I've never gotten close to peak draw because the HPs don't run out with any of the amps tried. Right now a single HP is powering a pair of CH M1s and dynamics are as "limitless" as the wall.

On the sound, the obvious difference is in the small stuff. It removes graininess most obvious in pppp and ppp passages that we typically have gotten used to or just accepted.

Big picture wise, I call it the ultimate luxury. I call it so because I get the best sound any time of day. When Hansen was here setting these up......

fullsizeoutput_d5f.jpg

....we ended at 2AM. When I switched back to grid mode to charge, it was pretty obvious that the sound was still much better than witching hours.

HTH
 
May 30, 2010
14,101
72
48
Portugal
#19
(...) I wouldn't say I need much time adjusting between technologies or topologies anymore. I think it is because I always focus on the positives before moving on to potential deficiencies to address instead of the other way around. There is usually always something good to hear.
+1! You are a true leader of the "positive" school of though!
 

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