Thursday, March 22, 2012
Numbers Don't Necessarily Tell the Whole Story...
Today I set up what I'm calling my interim system, and it's an unlikely one. As you can see from above, I have the new Simply Italy integrated amplifier in from Unison Research, and I have it hooked up to my Trenner & Friedl ART Monitors. The problem here is that the Simply Italy is relatively low-powered tube amplifier--12 watts per channel--and the ARTs are fairly inefficient speakers at 85 dB. (They do have an 8 ohm impedance, however, which is the only reason why I would try such a match.)
The Simply Italy is going to be one hot little amp, and the Unison factory is already working overtime to fill orders. I got ten of them in today and five went right back out the door to waiting customers. But many of those customers had questions about whether or not this amp could power their speakers. Almost every speaker mentioned was far more efficient than the ARTs. Yet this system here is making music, beautiful music. I started off with "Rise" from the Flobots' Fight with Tools just to see if the Simply Italy and the ARTs could make that gorgeous bass guitar sing, and the answer is an absolute yes.
I'm not going to rock out to Tool or System of a Down with this set-up, but the deep bass is solid and the soundstage is hefty and organic. I'm probably going to swap out the ARTs in the next day or so with the far more efficient and far more sizeable Opera Grand Callas, and we'll see what the Simply Italy can really do. But for now I'm pretty pleased with the overall sound of this match-up.
When I was into low-powered SET amps (remember that I used a two watt per channel Yamamoto Sound Craft A-08 for a few years), speaker matching was always a question. With two watts per channel, you'd better stick with speakers with efficiencies greater than 96 or 97 dB. I used 101 dB Zu Audio Druids with the A-08 and was very happy for some time. But by the time you get to 10 or 15 watts per channel, you can be surprised what actually works. As long as your room is on the small side (mine is) and you aren't cranking it to 11 (I usually don't) and you aren't using Magnepans, ATCs, Apogees or other hard-to-drive speakers, anything goes.