David Karmeli’s Bionor/Lamm/AS-2000 Audio System

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Beverly Hills, CA
I just visited David for five days around New Year’s Eve. From music listening and audiophile points of view this effectively was my first experience with David’s audio system.

1) It was very fun to see “my” turntable — a Vintage Audio Specialities (“VAS”) AS-2000— for the first time! Exactly as PeterA has reported, the machining and metal finishing quality looks literally perfect. Despite its weight, it is as simple as a turntable gets.

I am glad that I ordered the VAS Nothing racks with all stainless steel shelves. Combined with the all stainless steel turntable, the whole set-up should be quite a sight. Of course that would not matter if I didn’t love the sound.

2) David showed me how to operate the system, and then he let me listen for hours. These tracks were in heavy rotation:

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, Grace (Columbia)

“Landslide,” “Monday Morning,” “Crystal,” and “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac (MFSL)

“Send in the Clowns" by Bill Henderson, Live at the Times (Jazz Planet Records/Classic Records)

”I've Got the Music in Me" by Thelma Houston, I've Got the Music in Me (Sheffield Lab 2)

“Night on Bald Mountain” and “Pictures at an Exhibition,” The Power of the Orchestra, Rene Leibowitz, RPO (Chesky RC30)

"First We Take Manhattan,” "Bird on a Wire,” “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Song of Bernadette” by Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat (Rock the House Records/Classic Records)

Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby

Van Cliburn Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 Symphony of the Air, Kiril Kondrashin LSC – 2355

Mozart Jupiter Symphony No. 41, George Szell, The Cleveland Orchestra

Mozart Jupiter Symphony No. 41, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra

Mozart Jupiter Symphony No. 41, Collegium Aureum, harmonia mundi

Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, George Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“Refugee,” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Damn the Torpedoes (Backstreet Records)

“Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” by Elton John on a greatest hits album.

“Beat It,” “Billy Jean,” “Human Nature,” and “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, Thriller (Columbia Records)

“Who Can it Be Now” by Men At Work, Business as Usual (Columbia Records)

Musica Nuda “Eleanor Rigby” and “Roxanne” (Fone)

3) The wide mouth horn in front of the Bionors’ dual drivers just throws 500 Hz and down in large, wide and tall waves of sound that make for a very realistic presentation of all acoustic instruments, both brass and string. The Bionors project a huge sound-field that envelops you. I think it is somehow almost planar-like in openness and effortlessness.

I hear this as a contrast to the tightly-wrapped sound of heroically inert box loudspeakers. As with planars I hear the sound emanating from the Bionors as untethered to the speakers. The presentation sounds different to me than trying to squirt most of the frequency range of an orchestra through one or two small, midrange dynamic drivers.

On “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” the long, across-the-keys piano stroke sounds more like a piano than I have ever heard on any other system. I have never before heard the guitar solo in “Beat It” sound this involving, energetic and realistic.

4) I now believe that prior to this visit to David I had never before heard a vdH cartridge set-up properly. I have reported repeatedly based on at least eight listening sessions across at least four systems that I hear unnatural brightness and sibilance and excessive treble energy from the vdH Colibri cartridges. David has said that this means that the cartridges simply are not perfectly aligned. I did not believe David.

David is correct. At David’s the vdH Master Signature cartridge does not exhibit much, if any, of the brightness or sibilance or excess treble energy of which I have accused Colibris repeatedly. Is this impression because the Bionors sound to some listeners rolled off in the high frequencies compared to Magico and YG loudspeakers? That could be a part of it, but that cannot explain away all of the sibilance and edginess I have reported previously, including on vintage (JBL Hartsfield) and vintage-sounding (Tannoy Westminster RG) loudspeakers. Still, out of caution, I personally would not pair a vdH Colibri with a hot-sounding tweeter. For some reason, only David, it appears, knows how to adjust perfectly a vdH Colibri.

5) The Neumann DST sounds more in-the-room-real and “alive” and present than the vdH Master Signature. It’s not a huge difference quantitatively, but, in this hobby, I consider it a significant difference qualitatively. There is a noticeable increase in believability with the DST.

6) “Send in the Clowns” and Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby were head-shakingly remarkable: a greater suspension of disbelief of being in a live jazz club than anything I’ve ever heard in my entire life. You are in the jazz club. Sonically, it is something out of the Star Trek Holodeck. When you stand behind the speakers it sounds like you’re in the hallway next to the jazz club venue room.

7) David’s Bionors confirm my long-held view that there is something about the way that horn loudspeakers, especially large horn loudspeakers, move air that is consonant with the way that musical instruments themselves propagate their sounds to the air surrounding them.

This is why I believe, pursuant to my speaker prediction theory (that with enough live music experience, and with enough stereo auditioning experience, musical genre preference eventually drives loudspeaker preference) that many jazz aficionados and chamber music aficionados eventually find their way to horn loudspeakers
.
8) The entire system together is wholly less electronic-sounding than the contemporary high-end systems to which many of us are accustomed and which many audiophiles use as their references.

9) On vocals and rock and pop I sometimes preferred the closer listening position of David’s coffee table rather than the primary listening chair.

10) I’ve been moving in this philosophical and preference direction for a while, but I am just done with most of the low-sensitivity, multi-way, complex-crossover, heavily-damped, heroically inert cabinet box speakers driven by most solid-state electronics. These speaker/amplifier combinations simply don’t produce sound that I find emotionally-engaging. There are just too many better and easier and often less expensive ways to get closer to the sound I hear at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

11) I heard no steely resonance from the AS-2000. I listened for this on the Bionors, and I listened for this on another of David’s speakers, which are very neutral in perceived frequency response and which have a very contemporary sound.

12) On jazz music and on classical symphony orchestra music David’s system affords me the greatest suspension of disbelief, the closest to what I hear at Walt Disney Concert Hall, that I have ever heard.

13) The system also is amazing on rock music. Drums and electric guitar are very engaging. It is not terribly difficult to imagine lead singers and guitarists and drummers stepping out from behind the speakers.

14) Transparency of vocals, as compared to transparency of vocals on Magnepans and Martin-Logans, remains an open question for me.

15) It’s as if we learn, and become accustomed to, not only the sonic attributes of modern loudspeakers and modern systems, but also the concept of the sound of modern loudspeakers and modern systems. And I think it’s a little bit hard for some people to unlearn that sonic “language” and expected sonic attributes.

I continue to feel, for my ears and subjective sonic references, that “black backgrounds” and “clearly delineated sonic images” and “pin-point imaging” are not things I hear at Walt Disney Concert Hall. I think these are hi-fi artifacts, often generated conscientiously by electronics, that we have learned to listen for. I don’t hear these sonic attributes on David‘s system.

I also don’t hear these sonic attributes on my temporary Magnepan + subwoofers system. The Magnepans, to me, exhibit the more diffuse sound and the more natural tonal balance of vintage, and the driver continuity of two-way speakers, without hi-fi attributes. Unfortunately, Magnepans are not high sensitivity, and so they don’t exhibit the lightning quick dynamics and jump factor I hear from most horn loudspeakers. Also, I think sometimes Magnepans create exaggerated image sizes.

16) We spent the afternoon yesterday hiking in Bryce Canyon in the snow. It was a beautiful winter wonderland! David said that it hasn’t snowed like this in a couple of years. See photos below.

17) A huge thanks to David and Kana for hosting me for five days. But “hosting me” doesn’t begin to describe the incredibly gracious and generous and hospitable manner in which they cooked every meal and made me feel totally like a member of the family. It’s like a gourmet restaurant at the Karmeli household!

18) This trip proved, yet again, that, for me, the most important aspect of this hobby is the lifelong friendships this hobby places us in a position to cultivate and to cherish. Thank you, David.


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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Nice report Ron

as to set up of Vdh I agree. I flew David down to set mine up. I’m not hearing sibilance There’s no way I could even come close to his dexterity and expertise

I also visited Bryce Canyon with David except it was summer and great fun

couldn’t agree more about the Neumann DST. Best cartridge I’ve ever heard
 
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LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
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What a great read! And I could absolutely believe it. There is something about the combination of:
1. all out scale (in this case really all out)
2. exceptional source/amplification purity
3 extraordinary setup

Very few have any 1 of these 3...some have 2, others 3...rarely 2 and 3 combined. But adding 1 into that mix is something I 'think' I have heard once which was the big Genesis 1s...but I am not sure even those might be able to match the magnificent (and magnificently huge) Bionors.

And I suppose (at least for me), THAT is one of the real reasons that cones exist...size and liveability. I think of our big Wilsons where one can get a good sense of scale, rhythm and other things in a 2' x 2' footprint.

Personally, would love to explore big horns properly, having heard the newest version of the big Avantgarde Trios with big horn subs just a few weeks ago.
 

Salectric

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2012
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“…many jazz aficionados and chamber music aficionados eventually find their way to horn speakers.”

Indeed! You just described my journey over the past 15 years.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
“…many jazz aficionados and chamber music aficionados eventually find their way to horn speakers.”

Indeed! You just described my journey over the past 15 years.
I was never a fan of horns until I visited David. You could sit anywhere in his room and image perfectly
 
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LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,793
2,040
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I was never a fan of horns until I visited David. You could sit anywhere in his room and image perfectly
That's me to date, not having heard David's horns. Not pursued heavily, but only as chance arrived...now heard Avantgarde Trios (new ones), Cessaro Betas + Subs, Cessaro Liszt, plus a few others. While all impressive in their own way, never enough to inspire me to dig further. I have heard the big Arrakis and the big Genesis 1s...both were inspiring to this day. Sounds like David is key in all of this. The only other horns which seem to get oft-transcendental praise are the Vox Olympians and even those not as universal as David's.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
13,097
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Beverly Hills, CA
Any closeup photos of your Nothing Rack?

My racks with stainless steel shelves are still at the fabricator.
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
3,265
4,133
775
I just visited David for five days around New Year’s Eve. From music listening and audiophile points of view this effectively was my first experience with David’s audio system.

1) It was very fun to see “my” turntable — a Vintage Audio Specialities (“VAS”) AS-2000— for the first time! Exactly as PeterA has reported, the machining and metal finishing quality looks literally perfect. Despite its weight, it is as simple as a turntable gets.

I am glad that I ordered the VAS Nothing racks with all stainless steel shelves. Combined with the all stainless steel turntable, the whole set-up should be quite a sight. Of course that would not matter if I didn’t love the sound.

2) David showed me how to operate the system, and then he let me listen for hours. These tracks were in heavy rotation:

Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, Grace (Columbia)

“Landslide,” “Monday Morning,” “Crystal,” and “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac (MFSL)

“Send in the Clowns" by Bill Henderson, Live at the Times (Jazz Planet Records/Classic Records)

”I've Got the Music in Me" by Thelma Houston, I've Got the Music in Me (Sheffield Lab 2)

“Night on Bald Mountain” and “Pictures at an Exhibition,” The Power of the Orchestra, Rene Leibowitz, RPO (Chesky RC30)

"First We Take Manhattan,” "Bird on a Wire,” “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Song of Bernadette” by Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat (Rock the House Records/Classic Records)

Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby

Van Cliburn Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 Symphony of the Air, Kiril Kondrashin LSC – 2355

Mozart Jupiter Symphony No. 41, George Szell, The Cleveland Orchestra

Mozart Jupiter Symphony No. 41, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra

Mozart Jupiter Symphony No. 41, Collegium Aureum, harmonia mundi

Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, George Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“Refugee,” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Damn the Torpedoes (Backstreet Records)

“Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” by Elton John on a greatest hits album.

“Beat It,” “Billy Jean,” “Human Nature,” and “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, Thriller (Columbia Records)

“Who Can it Be Now” by Men At Work, Business as Usual (Columbia Records)

Musica Nuda “Eleanor Rigby” and “Roxanne” (Fone)

3) The wide mouth horn in front of the Bionors’ dual drivers just throws 500 Hz and down in large, wide and tall waves of sound that make for a very realistic presentation of all acoustic instruments, both brass and string. The Bionors project a huge sound-field that envelops you. I think it is somehow almost planar-like in openness and effortlessness.

I hear this as a contrast to the tightly-wrapped sound of heroically inert box loudspeakers. As with planars I hear the sound emanating from the Bionors as untethered to the speakers. The presentation sounds different to me than trying to squirt most of the frequency range of an orchestra through one or two small, midrange dynamic drivers.

On “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” the long, across-the-keys piano stroke sounds more like a piano than I have ever heard on any other system. I have never before heard the guitar solo in “Beat It” sound this involving, energetic and realistic.

4) I now believe that prior to this visit to David I had never before heard a vdH cartridge set-up properly. I have reported repeatedly based on at least eight listening sessions across at least four systems that I hear unnatural brightness and sibilance and excessive treble energy from the vdH Colibri cartridges. David has said that this means that the cartridges simply are not perfectly aligned. I did not believe David.

David is correct. At David’s the vdH Master Signature cartridge does not exhibit much, if any, of the brightness or sibilance or excess treble energy of which I have accused Colibris repeatedly. Is this impression because the Bionors sound to some listeners rolled off in the high frequencies compared to Magico and YG loudspeakers? That could be a part of it, but that cannot explain away all of the sibilance and edginess I have reported previously, including on vintage (JBL Hartsfield) and vintage-sounding (Tannoy Westminster RG) loudspeakers. Still, out of caution, I personally would not pair a vdH Colibri with a hot-sounding tweeter. For some reason, only David, it appears, knows how to adjust perfectly a vdH Colibri.

5) The Neumann DST sounds more in-the-room-real and “alive” and present than the vdH Master Signature. It’s not a huge difference quantitatively, but, in this hobby, I consider it a significant difference qualitatively. There is a noticeable increase in believability with the DST.

6) “Send in the Clowns” and Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby were head-shakingly remarkable: a greater suspension of disbelief of being in a live jazz club than anything I’ve ever heard in my entire life. You are in the jazz club. Sonically, it is something out of the Star Trek Holodeck. When you stand behind the speakers it sounds like you’re in the hallway next to the jazz club venue room.

7) David’s Bionors confirm my long-held view that there is something about the way that horn loudspeakers, especially large horn loudspeakers, move air that is consonant with the way that musical instruments themselves propagate their sounds to the air surrounding them.

This is why I believe, pursuant to my speaker prediction theory (that with enough live music experience, and with enough stereo auditioning experience, musical genre preference eventually drives loudspeaker preference) that many jazz aficionados and chamber muaic afficianados eventually find their way to horn loudspeakers
.
8) The entire system together is wholly less electronic-sounding than the contemporary high-end systems to which many of us are accustomed and which many audiophiles use as their references.

9) On vocals and rock and pop I sometimes preferred the closer listening position of David’s coffee table rather than the primary listening chair.

10) I’ve been moving in this philosophical and preference direction for a while, but I am just done with most of the low-sensitivity, multi-way, complex-crossover, heavily-damped, heroically inert cabinet box speakers driven by most solid-state electronics. These speaker/amplifier combinations simply don’t produce sound that I find emotionally-engaging. There are just too many better and easier and often less expensive ways to get closer to the sound I hear at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

11) I heard no steely resonance from the AS-2000. I listened for this on the Bionors, and I listened for this on another of David’s speakers, which are very neutral in perceived frequency response and which have a very contemporary sound.

12) On jazz music and on classical symphony orchestra music David’s system affords me the greatest suspension of disbelief, the closest to what I hear at Walt Disney Concert Hall, that I have ever heard.

13) The system also is amazing on rock music. Drums and electric guitar are very engaging. It is not terribly difficult to imagine lead singers and guitarists and drummers stepping out from behind the speakers.

14) Transparency on vocals, as compared to vocals on Magnepans and Martin-Logans, remain an open question for me.

15) It’s as if we learn, and become accustomed to, not only the sonic attributes of modern loudspeakers and modern systems, but also the concept of the sound of modern loudspeakers and modern systems. And I think it’s a little bit hard for some people to unlearn that sonic “language” and expected sonic attributes.

I continue to feel, for my ears and subjective sonic references, that “black backgrounds” and “clearly delineated sonic images” and “pin-point imaging” are not things I hear at Walt Disney Concert Hall. I think these are hi-fi artifacts, often generated conscientiously by electronics, that we have learned to listen for. I don’t hear these sonic attributes on David‘s system.

I also don’t hear these sonic attributes on my temporary Magnepan + subwoofers system. The Magnepans, to me, exhibit the more diffuse sound and the more natural tonal balance of vintage, and the driver continuity of two-way speakers, without hi-fi attributes. Unfortunately, Magnepans are not high sensitivity, and so they don’t exhibit the lightning quick dynamics and jump factor I hear from most horn loudspeakers.

16) We spent the afternoon yesterday hiking in Bryce Canyon in the snow. It was a beautiful winter wonderland! David said that it hasn’t snowed like this in a couple of years. See photos below.

17) A huge thanks to David and Kana for hosting me for five days. But “hosting me” doesn’t begin to describe the incredibly gracious and generous and hospitable manner in which they cooked every meal and made me feel totally like a member of the family. It’s like a gourmet restaurant at the Karmeli household!

18) This trip proved, yet again, that, for me, the most important aspect of this hobby is the lifelong friendships this hobby places us in a position to cultivate and to cherish. Thank you, David.


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Great write up thanks Ron, really easy to read and great observations throughout.
 
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bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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4) At David’s the vdH Master Signature cartridge does not exhibit much, if any, of the brightness or sibilance or excess treble energy of which I have accused Colibris repeatedly. Is this impression because the Bionors sound to some listeners rolled off in the high frequencies compared to Magico and YG loudspeakers? That could be a part of it, but that cannot explain away all of the sibilance and edginess I have reported previously, including on vintage (JBL Hartsfield) and vintage-sounding (Tannoy Westminster RG) loudspeakers. Still, out of caution, I personally would not pair a vdH Colibri with a hot-sounding tweeter. For some reason, only David, it appears, knows how to adjust perfectly a vdH Colibri.

Thanks for a nice write up, Ron. Lots of points you covered.

On your question that is the impression of vdh sound here because Bionors are rolled off compared to Magico, YG, etc...

1. Myles ran a vdh on his Magico. It has been reviewed in PF.
2. The Allnic H5000 vs Aesthetix IO Eclipse report on my blog with multiple carts has VDH strad on Magico Q7 Mk2
3. The TAD drivers, with the TAD tweeter, have a much better high than modern speakers. .Tang and Jeroen run the vdh in such a combination with the TAD drivers in their Cessaro, and The Vox Palladian that ran it at Munich has TAD 2002 above the vitavox midrange plus the TAD tweeter on top. The TAD tweeter goes to 40k or such.
4. The western electrics at Munich that have been running vdh since 2016 are probably going to 15k, but in Munich they add a GIP tweeter.

None of these sound edgy. You heard it sound edgy with JBL hartsfield (I did not like the vdh in that system either, but it did not sound like the vdh I am used to set up well, (and keep in mind it was being run through a SUT that suited the SPU), and Tannoy Westiminster. These are definitely set up issues and I have heard it sound great through Tannoy Kensington. So, nothing to do with highs of the speaker.

Bill was extremely critical of the vdh stradivarius on this forum, repeatedly trashing it, after hearing it on a Bergmann Sindre. It sounded awful on it, and Gian many moons ago when he had the Sindre, also sold off his coibri after listening to it for 10 minutes.

However, Gian now loves the vdh sound at his, he has both Grand Cru and the Master Sig, and now that Bill has a different TT and tonearm, I arranged for Bill to try out the same cartridge sample that he had previously hated. Bill loves it on his SME V (though it was only ok on his dynavector arm). The same cartridge sample, and the one where it sounded edgy had the same driver as he does now, where it doesn't.

In short, the etchiness has nothing to do with generalizing vdh sound. Each of his carts are slightly different so those who align it well do it to that specific needle rather than following some general alignment principle.

I also repeatedly have said to you, Bill, and possibly to kodomo too, that the etchy sound of the vdh, no one can possibly like that. Yes tastes can differ, but no one, however different from you, is going to even think they want to listen to vdh when it is making that etchy sound. So if you hear that sound, you should just dismiss that as bad set up instead of reporting it as a sonic attribute.

7)

This is why I believe, pursuant to my speaker prediction theory (that with enough live music experience, and with enough stereo auditioning experience, musical genre preference eventually drives loudspeaker preference) that many jazz aficionados and chamber music aficionados eventually find their way to horn loudspeakers
.

Maybe the stereo auditioning experience is not enough yet :) - as if enough you will realize that they are the best for rock and orchestra. In fact, I started liking horns first for orchestra, then with more auditioning realized they were best for rock after initially thinking they were not (there are comments on this forum from me that horns aren't good for rock, that has changed to they are unbeatable for rock). They are the best for chamber, but so are Quads and Martin Logans. And I don't know any horn available at electrostat prices, to justfiy listening to it for chamber or vocals only.
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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Avantgarde Trios (new ones), Cessaro Betas + Subs, Cessaro Liszt, plus a few others.
what were the positives across these? You might not have found the ideal one package speaker across those 3 (I don't think any of them is), but did they have attributes that could have made a great speaker? If so, it is just a matter of auditioning more? Like Ron said, with sufficient stereo experience ( which he could have said as sufficient horn stereo experience). It is easy to audition cones, you have to go out of your way and make an effort to audition horns. You are lucky to be in London from where many are accessible.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Thanks for a nice write up, Ron. Lots of points you covered.

On your question that is the impression of vdh sound here because Bionors are rolled off compared to Magico, YG, etc...

1. Myles ran a vdh on his Magico. It has been reviewed in PF.
2. The Allnic H5000 vs Aesthetix IO Eclipse report on my blog with multiple carts has VDH strad on Magico Q7 Mk2
3. The TAD drivers, with the TAD tweeter, have a much better high than modern speakers. .Tang and Jeroen run the vdh in such a combination with the TAD drivers in their Cessaro, and The Vox Palladian that ran it at Munich has TAD 2002 above the vitavox midrange plus the TAD tweeter on top. The TAD tweeter goes to 40k or such.
4. The western electrics at Munich that have been running vdh since 2016 are probably going to 15k, but in Munich they add a GIP tweeter.

None of these sound edgy. You heard it sound edgy with JBL hartsfield (I did not like the vdh in that system either, but it did not sound like the vdh I am used to set up well, (and keep in mind it was being run through a SUT that suited the SPU), and Tannoy Westiminster. These are definitely set up issues and I have heard it sound great through Tannoy Kensington. So, nothing to do with highs of the speaker.

Bill was extremely critical of the vdh stradivarius on this forum, repeatedly trashing it, after hearing it on a Bergmann Sindre. It sounded awful on it, and Gian many moons ago when he had the Sindre, also sold off his coibri after listening to it for 10 minutes.

However, Gian now loves the vdh sound at his, he has both Grand Cru and the Master Sig, and now that Bill has a different TT and tonearm, I arranged for Bill to try out the same cartridge sample that he had previously hated. Bill loves it on his SME V (though it was only ok on his dynavector arm). The same cartridge sample, and the one where it sounded edgy had the same driver as he does now, where it doesn't.

In short, the etchiness has nothing to do with generalizing vdh sound. Each of his carts are slightly different so those who align it well do it to that specific needle rather than following some general alignment principle.

I also repeatedly have said you, Bill, and possibly to kodomo too, that the etchy sound of the vdh, no one can possibly like that. Yes tastes can differ, but no one, however different from you, is going to even think they want to listen to vdh when it is making that etchy sound. So if you hear that sound, you should just dismiss that as bad set up instead of reporting it as a sonic attribute.



Maybe the stereo auditioning experience is not enough yet :) - as if enough you will realize that they are the best for rock and orchestra. In fact, I started liking horns first for orchestra, then with more auditioning realized they were best for rock after initially thinking they were not (there are comments on this forum from me that horns aren't good for rock, that has changed to they are unbeatable for rock). They are the best for chamber, but so are Quads and Martin Logans. And I don't know any horn available at electrostat prices, to justfiy listening to it for chamber or vocals only.
I now have a VdH Frog in my setup, which I know is not in the same league as these other VdH carts, but it doesn't sound the least bit edgy but very lively and dynamic yet with very nice tone.
 
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morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Thanks for a nice write up, Ron. Lots of points you covered.

On your question that is the impression of vdh sound here because Bionors are rolled off compared to Magico, YG, etc...

1. Myles ran a vdh on his Magico. It has been reviewed in PF.
2. The Allnic H5000 vs Aesthetix IO Eclipse report on my blog with multiple carts has VDH strad on Magico Q7 Mk2
3. The TAD drivers, with the TAD tweeter, have a much better high than modern speakers. .Tang and Jeroen run the vdh in such a combination with the TAD drivers in their Cessaro, and The Vox Palladian that ran it at Munich has TAD 2002 above the vitavox midrange plus the TAD tweeter on top. The TAD tweeter goes to 40k or such.
4. The western electrics at Munich that have been running vdh since 2016 are probably going to 15k, but in Munich they add a GIP tweeter.

None of these sound edgy. You heard it sound edgy with JBL hartsfield (I did not like the vdh in that system either, but it did not sound like the vdh I am used to set up well, (and keep in mind it was being run through a SUT that suited the SPU), and Tannoy Westiminster. These are definitely set up issues and I have heard it sound great through Tannoy Kensington. So, nothing to do with highs of the speaker.

Bill was extremely critical of the vdh stradivarius on this forum, repeatedly trashing it, after hearing it on a Bergmann Sindre. It sounded awful on it, and Gian many moons ago when he had the Sindre, also sold off his coibri after listening to it for 10 minutes.

However, Gian now loves the vdh sound at his, he has both Grand Cru and the Master Sig, and now that Bill has a different TT and tonearm, I arranged for Bill to try out the same cartridge sample that he had previously hated. Bill loves it on his SME V (though it was only ok on his dynavector arm). The same cartridge sample, and the one where it sounded edgy had the same driver as he does now, where it doesn't.

In short, the etchiness has nothing to do with generalizing vdh sound. Each of his carts are slightly different so those who align it well do it to that specific needle rather than following some general alignment principle.

I also repeatedly have said you, Bill, and possibly to kodomo too, that the etchy sound of the vdh, no one can possibly like that. Yes tastes can differ, but no one, however different from you, is going to even think they want to listen to vdh when it is making that etchy sound. So if you hear that sound, you should just dismiss that as bad set up instead of reporting it as a sonic attribute.



Maybe the stereo auditioning experience is not enough yet :) - as if enough you will realize that they are the best for rock and orchestra. In fact, I started liking horns first for orchestra, then with more auditioning realized they were best for rock after initially thinking they were not (there are comments on this forum from me that horns aren't good for rock, that has changed to they are unbeatable for rock). They are the best for chamber, but so are Quads and Martin Logans. And I don't know any horn available at electrostat prices, to justfiy listening to it for chamber or vocals only.
I think for people coming from planar speakers (Apogees, various electrostats etc.) the issue with horns was often tonal colorations that are largely absent in planar speakers (some do have a "plasticky" coloration but not all of them) can be quite strong with older horn designs (thinking of Klipsch, some Altecs and some JBLs) and this undercut the advantages of the high sensitivity speakers in terms of realism in dynamics where planars struggle. The other strong advantage of planars (particularly some electrostats like STAX ELS-F81s) was microdynamics that cone/dome/box speakers cannot really replicate but horns can. Horns that are low in coloration exist and once heard then often sway people towards horns as they also do the micro/macro dynamics very well compared to all other speaker tech. I still very much enjoy the sound of a big ribbon or electrostatic panel...they can do some of the macro well and they do the micro and tonality (electronics permitting) very well.

I have heard Cessaros sound not tonally well balanced too many times that I thought it was simply the voice of those speakers...except a couple of times now that I heard them sound brilliant...so it is setup apparently that is difficult to get right for them.

The holy grail is still the big boy LV system but then again I haven't heard Bionors, so....
 
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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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What a great trip and wonderful report Ron. One goes to Utah to hear this system. Most leave with a new understanding of what is possible from a stereo. That system shatters a lot of myths as you describe so clearly. I have been there twice and your post brings it all back to me. Thank you.

There are now quite a few reports from Steve, Marty, cdk84, Tim, you, and me which all suggest that this visit changed us. David’s love for the hobby and deep knowledge and experience are a gift to all who have gone to visit him and heard his system. He is fond of reminding us that the friendships made are the best part of the hobby. It is so true. Also valuable is what we take with us when we leave.
 

KeithR

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I also repeatedly have said to you, Bill, and possibly to kodomo too, that the etchy sound of the vdh, no one can possibly like that. Yes tastes can differ, but no one, however different from you, is going to even think they want to listen to vdh when it is making that etchy sound. So if you hear that sound, you should just dismiss that as bad set up instead of reporting it as a sonic attribute.
we also have several friends who have sold vdh cartridges because of sibilance issues. if it's an AJ/qc issue, that's on the manufacturer not the customer. do better.
 

crosswind

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Jun 6, 2021
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Thank You for the great report Ron. A true pleasure to read from over here in Norway, with similar winter looks as Utah.
 
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Joe Cohen

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Jun 10, 2012
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Very interesting report, Ron. Would love to hear the Bionors someday. What was the amplification?
 

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