Paradise.....more found than lost!

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sq225917
Posts: 1035
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:28 pm

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by sq225917 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:10 pm

How's my Paradise sounding Andy?
One more Paradise left to complete.

REXTON
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:05 am

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by REXTON » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:08 pm

I didn't see this, sorry Si for taking a while to post. Well, errr, it's hard to tell because like a silly bugger I've had my croft pre upgraded and Sondex power amp overhauled. So far everything sounds stunning. I'm in the process of writing a very detailed review. Would you like it posting here?
TT Garrard 401 (Fully Bastin'd)
Phonostage Paradise (4 Box)
Pre Croft Epoch (Heavily modified)
Power Sondex S100 (Heavily modified)
Cabling National Grid

sq225917
Posts: 1035
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:28 pm

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by sq225917 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:17 pm

Yeh go on.
One more Paradise left to complete.

YNWaN
Site Admin
Posts: 3977
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 2:02 pm

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by YNWaN » Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:54 pm

I, and I am sure other forum members, would be very interested in reading your thoughts Andy.

Or, as Si says “yeah, go on” :).
Mark

REXTON
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:05 am

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by REXTON » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:40 pm

Croft Epoch pre amplifier and Sondex S100 power amplifier modifications.

I've been going to get these modifications done now for over a year. It all started when I wanted to push the Croft pre-amp as far as it could go in it's
current iteration. I'd done the usual thing of asking other forum members for suggestions of how the Croft could be improved upon. There were two spheres
of thought. The first was based around sending the machine to Glenn Croft and having another box added to my ever expanding of shelf racks. Two whacking
great big transformers and a load of wires. I'd also wanted the Croft modding to accept 5691 valves and variants. These valves are rather special and widely
sought after but they do place an additional strain in the Croft. You will need your Croft modding to accept them and you still have the added bonus of
being able to use all the various 6SL7's out there as well. The second sphere of thought was provided by Alan at Firebottle audio which consisted of having
improved valve regulation alongside carrying out the 5691 valve modifications. So the Croft went to Alan. The full extent of what Alan has done is still a little
unknown!! The Croft is still a one box affair so my rack stays the same and there is no additional cost for a new tier to accommodate yet another box.

The Sondex is another kettle of fish altogether. It's a dumbed down Radford STA100. My specimen bummed around South London before I found it and had it
shipped, up North! The Sondex has remained stock apart from the fact I fitted top of the range WBT silver RCA's and speaker binding posts. I also rewired the RCA's
with silver instead of tinned copper and removed the flimsy RCA coupling mechanisms. The Sondex had never been checked bias drift during my ownership. The Sondex
had previously had a snubber fitted to lessen speaker thump when it's turned off. The Sondex also suffered from quite bad mechanical transformer hum which could be
easily heard through my sensitive Tannoy 15" Monitor Golds. The Sondex is now virtually silent through the big Tannoy's and boy can you tell the noise floor has been
dropped by quite some way. Low level listening is now silent. No hum through the speakers. Alan sorted all these problems out alongside recapping and changing
resistors where needed.

Overall about £300 was spent on the following components for the Croft and Sondex.

0.1uF 1200Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
0.22uF 1200Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
1uF 800Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
47uF 450V Mundorf M-Lytic HV Radial Capacitor
470uF 25V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
1000uF 10V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
33uF 35V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
10K 10W Ohmite Audio Gold AG10 Resistor
270R 5W Ohmite Audio Gold AG5 Resistor
560R 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
2K7 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
15K 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
39K 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor

Alan kindly wrote back to me explaining what he'd done.

THE CROFT PRE-AMP

The Croft received and Earth lift.
The Croft line stages have been converted to a hybrid 'mu' circuit.
This has given individual supply regulation to L and R channels, much improved supply rejection of noise (PSRR),
lowering of the output impedance and providing greater output drive, linearisation of the valve characteristics and frequency response,
increased open loop gain (helps with the above).
The additional circuit complexity used a Z foil resistor plus Jantzen silver Z Cap.
Correction of the RIAA eq, was down on the treble end,
The regulated voltage was low, should have been 250V but was reading 236V. An out of spec resistor was changed to raise the voltage to 276V for better performance.


THE SONDEX POWER AMP

All secondary power supply capacitors, electrolytic plus the film bypass caps.
(I didn't replace the main 4 caps on the output supply as they are quality and tested perfect).
Input and valve grid foil coupling caps,
Feedback bypass electrolytic caps,
Cathode bypass caps and cathode resistors on output valves,
Screen resistors on output valves,
Gain and feedback resistors to Z foils.
Plus lastly the supply resistors to the driver transistors as they were running hot.


Alan was giving complete free range for parts selection. Several weeks later both myself and a good friend of mine spent a pleasant couple of hours travelling
down to Alan's house where he and his wife Shirley put up with us for 45 minutes or so whilst we heard the partnership of the Croft and the Sondex go through
their paces. Alan has an amazing system of suspended Quad ESL 57's, Supertweeters, an immaculate replinthed Lenco L75 partnered with a Lyra Clavis and finally his
amazing Vivant valve/hybrid phonostage. I was staggered by what I heard and also a little saddened because I realised that I probably needed to go down the route
of Supertweeters for my Tannoys and my Quad ESL 57's, and because my journey is still not over! Alan's system has an extremely impressive mid band. The
Supertweeters extend the ESL 57's soundstage wider than I've heard before. Accordions and Saxophones were so solid and fulsome with exquisite timbrel decay.
The whole system throw out a very immersive, ambient soundstage. Overall extremely impressive. So, if the Croft and Sondex sounded that good on Alan's system
how would they sound back home with a Garrard 301 and freshly modded Paradise phonostage? Well here goes.

The Croft and Sondex need to be heard together and synergistically, they just work together. My system had decent resolution before the modifications but now
we can add another layer. The treble is a little brighter than before but that's no bad thing as the Tannoy's can sound a little muffled with some recordings.
I now have a smidge more bite and this really opens up the clarity in the detail with Saxophone and such instruments. The treble has a little more resolution,
definition and timbrel decay has been improved no end. Listening to the Mobile Fidelity 45RPM pressing of Kind of Blue reveals more detail than ever. The snare
drums on Nefertiti have more snap and attack than before the modifications. The soundstage on this partnership appears to gel better than before with more cohesion
than before. I get the eerie sense of hearing greater echo and reverb whenever I hear saxophone solo's in fact the Tannoy's are to some extent reproducing some of
the magic I heard in Alan's 57's, I'm hearing a fuller, richer tone.

Switching over to some 45rpm recordings of The Planets and Ride of the Valkries revealed more pomp and drama than ever before. I would have to say that
the greatest attribute of this pairing has to be resolution. Virtually every recording has yielded fresh detail that previously remained hidden or lost in the mix.
Listening to The beautiful voices of Chris Connor and Ernistine Anderson on Cal Tjaders Session's Live album reveals more soul in their voices than I've heard before.
This record is a warts 'n all recording of a live presentation and as such you can hear individuals talking to each other and squeaking floors as people walk
between tables. I have never heard the squeaky shoes bit and I've played the records hundreds of times.

The accoustic guitar on Here Comes the Sun on Abbey road are so fresh and crisp that it's a delight to hear.
My interest was piqued so I decided to dig out my Classic Records Super 200g Quiex SV-P pressing of Leo Kottke of 6 and 12 string guitars. WOW o WOW I was
treated to a cascade of timbral sonic attack I'd never heard this pressing sound so good and it's been played in some pretty high end systems. The transient attack
was immediate and it was extremely easy to pick out ever single guitar pick and strum as Kottke played. Slow tunes just oozed timbrel decay, he could have been
sat no more than six feet away playing, such was the resolution. I came to a startling conclusion when listening to Kottke's music in that the Tannoy's all
800 litres of speaker cabinet (or two very small wardrobes) just buggered off into thin air, they did a disappearing act worthy of Houdini. This must be because of
the improved soundstage width and stereo imaging. So the addiction continued for a wee while longer and I decided to try some rock music, traditionally this system's
failure. I could go on but my general consensus of opinion is that the Croft and Sondex have been massively improved.

Some Thoughts....

I originally chose the Jantzen silvercaps after assessing their effects in an old pair Celestion Ditton 15 XR speakers that I recapped. They gave a slight
bite and edge to the presentation which would hopefully counter the slightly muffled presentation of the Tannoy Monitor Golds. Initially I thought the improved
treble could be down to the Jantzen's but Alan's description of his modifications tallies with what I now hear through the Tannoys and why heavy rock sounds better
through the Tannoys. The RIAA eq was out on the Croft which meant treble sounded a little muffled, which is exactly what I heard and instantly picked up when
I listened to treble heavy tracks. This whole exercise has taught me that you really need to get any second hand equipment full checked out. Both the Croft
and Sondex worked very well without Alan's work but now they work exceptionally well and to their full potential.

Positives
---------
+ Cost. Alan charges sensible prices for his time, advice, experience, and skills
+ The Croft remaining a one box solution.
+ Resolution, resolution and more resolution. Lots of new detail heard from lots of old vinyl!
+ Soundstage. Opened up the Tannoys no end. Soundstage now fills the full width of my listening room. Better depth in some recordings.
+ Improved timbral decay, echo, and reverb.
+ Improved stereo imaging.


Negatives
---------
- Why didn't I do this earlier?
- Takes an hour or so before the Croft/Sondex come "on song", but then again they always have taken that amount of time.
- Errr, nowt else.

The Future
----------
There are still a couple of things that I think need to be done with this combination and some of the ancillaries which make up the system. Firstly I need to fettle
the cartridge alignment and loading. I've built a special platform to ensure that the tracking weight is properly set on the Royal N SPU that I use. I'm borrowing a
paradise phonostage at the moment. The borrowed paradise is superior in specification but has several differences to my own, mainly :-

Mine Borrowed
Hardwired screened mains cable with gold plated MS HD plugs Unscreened umbilical cables between PSU and phonostage boxes.
No IEC's IEC's in PSU
PCB resistor loading for cartridge (Charcroft resistor loading) External RCA loading plugs for cartridge loading (not sure what brand resistor)
Silver plated Audionote RCA's Gold plated RCA's (I think, not sure of brand)
Unimproved PSU modifications Improved PSU modifications



So I presume I should get a further lift up the sonic ladder when my Paradise arrives. I've ordered some Belden 19364 so I can make a couple of mains leads for the
Croft and Sondex which will be going into the back of the PS Audio P10.Lastly my Garrard 401 will be fully tricked out with Martin Bastin mods and plinth, which will
be coupled upto a Phoenix Engineering PSU/Tachometer. I intend to do a Part II listening session to see if these further mods improve things further. Stay tuned....
TT Garrard 401 (Fully Bastin'd)
Phonostage Paradise (4 Box)
Pre Croft Epoch (Heavily modified)
Power Sondex S100 (Heavily modified)
Cabling National Grid

sq225917
Posts: 1035
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:28 pm

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by sq225917 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:10 pm

You should pop over to Sheffield and hear Paul's 989s plus ribbon and dual subs, paradise Orton black, mod96p and bpbp. Itll be an eye opener, and ears.
One more Paradise left to complete.

REXTON
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:05 am

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by REXTON » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:28 pm

sq225917 wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:10 pm
You should pop over to Sheffield and hear Paul's 989s plus ribbon and dual subs, paradise Orton black, mod96p and bpbp. Itll be an eye opener, and ears.
One too many abbreviations Si. Mod96p?, bpbp?, 989's? Sorry mate, I'm a bit behind the times with these abbreviations.
TT Garrard 401 (Fully Bastin'd)
Phonostage Paradise (4 Box)
Pre Croft Epoch (Heavily modified)
Power Sondex S100 (Heavily modified)
Cabling National Grid

YNWaN
Site Admin
Posts: 3977
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 2:02 pm

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by YNWaN » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:43 pm

I think, but I could easily be wrong, that the latter code refers to DAC and streaming options - if not then I don’t know....

You should definitely make a pilgrimage to hear Paul’s system because it is quite remarkable - at the same time you could hear Si’s and my own. These are three very different systems.... certainly my own is very differentt to Paul’s
Mark

sq225917
Posts: 1035
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:28 pm

Re: Paradise.....more found than lost!

Post by sq225917 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:00 pm

Sorry, mod86p, my bridged power amps.
One more Paradise left to complete.

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