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Intellectual discussion series 1: Wavac HE833 v1.3 vs Robert Koda Takumi K-70

edited May 2010
The purpose of this thread is to foster quality discussions amongst our forum members on the captioned subject. The objective is not to convince which is better than which, though any one of you can certainly take any view backed by logical arguments. Out of this, we hope to understand more about the issues need to be considered in the area of Amplifier-Speaker Matching.

Let me just throw out a statement to kick off the discussion. Since we are a highly civilized group, I will be transparent on the names. DSo disagrees the comments accusing Cello reproduction from the Wavac 833 sounds like a double bass.

Have Fun.


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    Cool! Very cool! I like debate. I'll wait for the big brothers here to take the first shot. I am not qualified to make objective comments because I only listened to the 833 a few times under show condition; hence my words are heavily biased though my initial judgments are always right.
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    I have both amps. Frankly, both are great amps. The 833 has more driving power in the lower mid range. Wavac/Cessaro fills the entire listening room with lots of energy. I like it very much playing all kinds of opera recording. Modern pops like Pink Floyd and Dire Straits also go well with Wavac/Cessaro combo.

    Though I like the Wavac as much as the Takumi, I have to admit this amp is colorated in the lower mid-range. But this coloration is also sensational on some particular kind of music. For most other classical music, violin, cello and piano, the tonality reproduced by the Takumi is pure. The wavac, in comparison, sounds coarse, lacks transients information and control of micro dynamics. The weakness part of Wavac is piano and violin. The former lacks control. There is only energy but no control on piano. Tonality is wrong at the upper register. Lower mid bass pitch is not speedy too.

    The Takumi is softer on the attack of lower mid-bass. To hard core fans of wavac, this is the weakness part of K-70. On recordings that demand lots of lower mid bass punch, the wavac is more sensational as it pops out the bass with impact. But the longer I stay with the 833, the more I feel 833's control capability is not as good as I used to think. I am not saying it is bad either. But the fact that it never get piano right is the primary reason that prompts me to get antoher pair of amp. I am glad I did.

    I do feel on some cello recordings, the wavac 833 seems to inflate the size of the cello by certain degree, but I don't agree that it has become a double bass.
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    I think you guys should highlight the basis of comparion or impression is formed by using Cessaro speakers. Because the same amp could have very different synergy with another pair of speakers. I have never listened to the 833 but believe it must be something special given 10 pairs of such pricey amps were sold in two years? I did listen to the Takumi once for two hours. It is a very fine amp for classical music. Not sure how it performs in other type of music.
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    I have not owned a pair of 833 and had only one experience listening to Takumi running side by side with 833 in DSo’s place a few months back. I was shocked by the difference in character exhibited by the same Takumi pairing with Wavac preamp PRT1 compared to the Tron Syren Black Label in PT’s Cessaro system. That session certainly helped me to better understand the inter-relationship between the preamp and power amp.

    A lot of discussions have been made in this forum and in particular in this thread, I take respectfully the comments of WChow who owns both but wonder if WChow would also experience the same when he uses PRT1 with Takumi. WChow, can you please share more on this. Obviously there is another forum fellowship, Uncle Raymond who is also the owner of both and could make more back to back comparison.

    Takumi has been in my system since Chinese New Year and I occasionally swap it with the Tidal Impact to pair up with the Tidal Preos preamp. Compared to my previous Wavac805Mk2, Takumi has a bit more ease in driving out the bass eventhough the former is a tube power amp while the latter is not tube based. For 805Mk2, the liveliness and coherence is at macro level, to me, it is a big picture type of liveliness. Takumi depicts a liveliness from individual performer / musical instrument with clear interactions between / among each of the object in the soundstage. It is a more in-depth reproduction of micro-dynamics and control. I always use the ‘White Snow in Early Spring’ as one of my benchmark music. In 805, all performers are playing in harmony but arguably without a clear demarcation or differentiation on who is playing what and at what type of mood. Somehow the mood and rhythm are ‘clocked’ together. In Takumi, I can hear more individualistic type of performance exhibiting the inherent nature of each kind of instrument.

    Soundstaging and energy wise, Takumi can pair up with Preos to fill up my tiny listening area. I recall DSo explained to us that 833 has more than enough power to fill up his vast listening area which not a lot of amps of this class can do the job better than 833. With my better understanding on the impedance matching between preamp and power amp, I would debate the ultimate energy fulfillment is only partly done by the power amp, the rest is on the 1st stage amplification by the preamp plus the impedance (exchange gateway) match from preamp to power amp. The 2nd stage amplification done by the power amp is undoubtedly important but arguably it is not ‘the most’ important. On this, I would like to welcome more interesting thoughts and sharing.

    In PT’s system, he uses Tron Syren + Takumi with Cessaro Beta 0.5 speaker system. Whilst Beta 0.5 has a much bigger breathing capability than Affascinate that DSo and myself are using, the overall driving power of Syren+Takumi should not be underestimated should they pair up with Affascinate. Would it better than PRT1+833? I think this is a question I want to find answer to. Given that we all have an acquired taste after so many years in our hifi journeys, I think we should have a wider selection of music including pop, jazz, live concert, classical A to Z (ie chamber, opera, symphonies, …). Unless we are doing this comparison systematically (not scientifically as ultimately the scoring is still subjective to individual no matter how the process is so structured), we can never achieve a reasoned result.

    PT, my apology if my comments above is not 'quality' enough to stand the challenge.

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    I sold my PR-T1 in exchange for Tidal Preos long time ago. The Preos can save me a substantial cost of buying another phono. We all know the level of Tidal phono is crazy.

    The PR-T1 did not gel well with the 833. I was skeptical about using a solid state driving the 833. I was wrong. The T1 can be described as straight forward in and out. A lot of micro details are missing but energy is very abundant. The Preos on the other hand has much higher transparency and control on all frequency. It actualy helps to control the lower mid bass of the 833 better.

    I'd say the Takumi plays classical music for me in a very involving manner with lots of details and shading that are not available from the 833. Should I want more excitement, swapping back to 833 is simply sensational.
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    What I meant to say is the PR-T1 did not gel well with the Takumi
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    Both Takumi and 833 are great amps with their own strength and weakness. KingPuyi did bring up a good question, are we listening to our complete system or just the amp? For my listening area I don’t think Takumi can have enough power to drive my little Cesaro which I believe is very power demanding. When I listen to horn speaker, it should sound like a horn. But when Takumi pairs with Cesaro, though with a better top end the sound is a bit too recessive for me. I did bring some LPs to PT’s place to validate my judgment.

    WChow, the problem you mentioned can be improved substantially by replacing the stock tubes by 802s in PRT1 and BIT Genelax KT88. You will be shocked by the improvement. Since our little Cesaro is back loaded horn type, positing the speaker can significantly change the sound. I re-position mine incrementally until the sound can achieve the best balance even when I hook up a new ic or pc. Gabriel + Zanden phono combo are really incredible and can help to bring out the full potential of my PRT1 and 833. No matter what kind of music I spin now, I can easily feel the musicians perform with great passion and therefore indulge in the music without thinking any technical term. From my limited cello recordings, I cannot sense any inflated cello problem. If it does exist it should be very minimal and not noticeable.

    Marvel bro, I am not saying 833 outperform Takumi, I only feel 833 fit my system, place and taste better. A rematch with more experience AE fellows in my place can find out which amp will have more votes. Unfortunately my Gabriel is still under run-in because of the tone arm problem. Anyway, my new platter and magnetic bearing will arrive soon, please wait for a few weeks so we can have a better source for the rematch.

    P.S. I won’t compare any of my gear with Tidal. If I like the Tidal sound I should dump my amp and speaker and join the Tidal camp, why should I want to have tidal sound coming from my Cesaro.
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    I guess you guys miss the whole point of the discussion. It is the issue of MATCHING between speakers and the amplifier.

    One of the reasons I stay away from horn is the problem of bass integration. I am trying to offend horn users, just facts. You need a tremendous horn loading beginning at the lower mid bass section. The Beta 0.5 is a great horn system but the compromise is lower mid bass speed. That is the nature of the speaker, not due to the driving power of the Takumi at all. Even if we put in a pair of Tidal Mono Block with 200VA class A for both channels, the result is still the same. In fact, even if a pair of Tidal mono block will not drive Marvel/Dso speakers well but that does not conclude this pair of amp lacks the beef. But what bothers me is, if it is true that this horn that Marvel used is too power-demanding as much as 150watt class A, are we still talk about high efficiency horn speakers?

    When PT later on added the big horn at the lower mid bass, I speculate a pair of Zanden 300B push pull will be enough to crack his house.

    For argument sake, if we drop a pair of 833 to drive the Beta 0.5 now, all of you will easily conclude the 833 has more driving power than the Takumi in this particular setup because the lower mid bass is fatter than normal with +9db beginning at 120hz. That will somehow fill the "hole". I am never skeptical of Wavac's driving power.

    In the case of Marvel and DSo's speaker, there are no subwoofers at an amplifier like 833 actually will create more bass. Even though they are likely to be colorations, but damn it! Who cares if it makes up the deficiency!!! I loved the 833 so much before.

    My comments on 833 playing cello like double bass still holds. Try to play Jano Starker's close range cello recording by Mercury records, it is very muddy even under the transparency of the Sunray. The strings of double bass are very thick. But on cello recordings like those by Maurice Gendron, Pierre Fournier, Safran, it sounds reasonably realistic in physical size but the trouble is I cannot identify this group anymore because all the transient subtleties and their respective tone color are washed out. It is also record-dependent. There are just too many variables in the chain to reach a consensus conclusion.

    The Gabriel is capable of extremely fine details. For this group of violinists, Erica Morini, Nathan Milstein, Elman, Krisler etc, the presence of 833 in the chain arrests their tonal authenticity crudely. The strength of their strength of the Gabriel is String. Isn’t it?

    Did I just fan the flame further from behind? Well, guys you know me well.
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    I am NOT trying to offend horn users. Don't get me wrong. Just intellectural discussions.
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    To DSo,

    Instead of hammering on the cons of the 833, I am trying to provide you constructive suggestions to improve your sound. I see that you have 6 pillars of Tidal diffusors at the back. The one in the center is absolutely necessary. Instead of using 4 in the corners, may I suggest you to try the following:

    Use diffusors at the first reflection points. Don't do absorption at the first reflection point in your setup because (1) you may not have enough reflection at the 1st reflection point, thereby taking away the high frequency extension and details; (2) Horn is all about direct sound (too much to my taste), diffsion at the 1st reflection point will give you back 2nd order harmonic details.

    Since you have 4 diffusor, you can try to use two in the 1st reflection points. Keep two diffusors at the corner, though I think they are wrong applications. If I am not mistaken, your room belongs to the bright side just like mine, you should definitely use those super bass traps that Tidal applied in Munich show. They are made after 4 years of intensive research - yes, just spend 4 years on bass trap. I am damn..

    The bass traps clean up the whole frequency range, you will have much more speed and dimensinality in the lower mid bass. Let the diffusion at 1st reflection point to re-vitalize the finesse of high frequency.
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    Uncle Ray,

    I don't get what you meant. What do you mean by not enough reflection at the 1st reflection point? The holy audio bibles all over the world tells us to treat it to reduce reflection. Can you elaborate?

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    Why applying diffusors at the corner behind the speakers are wrong applications?
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    The improvement of the Takumi over the earlier version stunned me. The lower mid bass is now richer, more punch, and the overall resolution is even higher than before with clearly reduction in noise floor. Robert, great job!
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    You will be shocked if you change to use FMR XLR interconnect if your preamp has a XLR output! I run my Tidal Preos into the Takumi and actually it outperforms the Impact Stereo even under Tidal speaker. I believe only Impact Mono would rival it!

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