Edge NL Reference and Soundlab Ultimate 1

We have decided [actually years ago, but we get attached to things] that equipment that has been on the floor for more than two years should find a new home. We shouldn’t hog things to ourselves for years and years.

The above two items, the 800 watt Edge Reference ‘pyramid’ amps and Soundlab electrostatic ULTIMATE speakers have been on the floor for 5 years.

They are up on Audiogon, in case any of youse is interested.

Otherwise, hopefully you will see things evolve a little more quickly, and see things change a little more frequently here at the house on the hill.

But we do get emotionally attached to things – they give us so much pleasure over the years, It is like seeing one’s youth leaving, bit by bit.

Why oh why does it have to go some part of us whines.

And the other part says the alternative is stagnation, which is worse.

OK, no. Not starting a philosophical thread. Sorry. [though it is that time of year…. :-)]

Jorma 'Prime', Soundlabs, and more Marten Coltrane Supremes

Kharma Mini Exquisite speakers on Audio Note Ongaku, driven by Meitner CDSA CD / SACD player, 100% cabled by Jorma Design Prime cables.

Very small, very exquisite system.

Upstairs we had the player across the room, so always connected it to the system using he 10m Valhalla interconnects. So this was the first time we heard the Kharma speakers, and later the Marten Coltrane speakers, in a 100% Jorma Prime system.


Sonically, it was just more of what we heard upstairs, taken to a higher level. Specifically, more PRESENCE. Voices were just THERE. Bass seemed even tighter as well, though that might be the smaller room.

The chairs are turned away so that people can hear the Soundlab system in this photo.

Later, we put the Martin ‘Coltrane’ speakers in this system. First time we heard the Ongaku on the Coltranes. Compared to the Kegons, the Ongaku seems to control different frequencies, … differently. It is sweeter than the Kegons – but not sweet in the sense of warm, but perhaps in the sense of more color, and a better sense of the ‘right’ note decay.

The Kharma and Marten are worlds apart in this kind of uber-system, and, to generalize, the Marten in a more neutral speaker, more even top to bottom, soundstage behind the speakers, and the Kharma is a more exuberant speaker, very high-resolution in the mids and upper mids, soundstage in front of the speakers, and probably can’t be beat on vocals.

Also, the Kharmas prefer larger rooms and the Coltranes smaller.

Again, just generalizing.

The soundlabs!

Finally, the SoundLabs get a chance to breathe…. Nice to have them back out from behind the Coltrane Supremes…

And speaking of the Supremes… here we see them all nicely polished up by Neli.

The aesthetic of these speakers, tall vertical, wooden, in this room with its tall vertical wooden beams – is striking now that we are getting used to the whole idea that they are FINALLY up here.

The Worl'd Gone Topsy Turvy or…

or “Round ’em up, Head ’em out”

or “We’re just going to pieces”

or “Break in Two Systems, Two Systems, Two Systems in one”

Breaking in Sound Lab Ultimate loudspeakers and Audio Note M10 preamplifier together
Breaking in Sound Lab Ultimate loudspeakers and Audio Note M10 preamplifier together – using the EDGE Signature One amps and Audio Aero Capitole CD player driving them over on the floor to the right [Oh, you can’t see it in this picture, but you can see the Nordost Valhalla interconnects snaking across the floor there].

This is all just a temporary setup. We are breaking in each notch on the M10 volume control. We got up to ‘5’ yesterday, but that was driving the little Kegons pretty hard – and the Coltranes were getting pretty loud.

But over here, on the still somewhat inefficient Sound Lab speakers – with a solid state amp… we are doing ‘6’ today and will do notch ‘7’ tomorrow. That ‘should’ be enough, the Marten Coltrane Supremes (which made it through customs, yay!) are much more efficient than even the Coltranes, so notch ‘7’ should be plenty loud enough for the show…?

Every time we up the volume a notch, the M10 sound is bright and annoying for several hours and the pre lets off another waft of New Electronic Component Smell [Yummmmmm. Is this the only reason we buy TVs and computers and $50K preamps, to be able to experience this smell? Nahhhhhh].

This M10 + Sound Lab speaker-centered system sounds surprisingly good. The Sound Labs really like upstream equipment that errs on the warm side (as opposed to the more icey Parasound or Pass Labs soild-state amps, the former is usually shown witht eh SoundLabs at CES and the latter is to be at this RMAF show in the IsoMike room), and even warmish cables help – like the Pranawire Cosmos speaker cables.

The latest Sound Lab upgrade did seem to tighten the bass quite a bit and increase the midrange dynamics as well – adding perhaps 3dB? of efficiency. Still breaking in, but I noticed that the unfamiliar bluring of images in the soundstage that I heard when we first starting playing the SoundLabs after their upgrade has almost completely gone away.

The old Marten Coltrane system, going to pieces.
The old Marten Coltrane system, going to pieces Time to box up most of this system, and move the Marten Design Coltrane loudspeakers to listening room 3. The Sound Labs are going to go over here, next, after the show – and how we get around them when we go up and down the steps is still to be determined.

The current state of listening room 3
The current state of listening room 3. Most of the system proper is going to the show, including the Acoustic Dreams rack.

We want to put the Marten Coltranes in here after the show – but they sound best with the Lamm ML2.1 amps and the HRS MXR rack. But the Kharma Mini Exquisites sound best with the EDGE amps… it will be hard to build a system that is optimized for two different speakers like this… not to mention the Acoustic Zen Adagio speakers.

And then there is the HRS MXR equipment rack problem, or rather lack of problem: we want a double wide on the Coltrane Supreme speaker system in listening room #2,and another one upstairs so we can play a turntable in listening room #1 (it is the only thing that will work on our very bouncy floor) – but we currently only have one rack….

So little time (and money) and such a long Wish List.