BC3000 MK II, BC22 MK II Impressions

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bjh
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Post by bjh » Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:49 pm

Well I've had my BC stuff a solid week now and thought a few impressions would be in order. So what's it like? ... it's like Yin and Yang singing in perfect two part harmony.

On the one hand what happens in your room is (this seems more fitting than saying ... the sound is) composed, calm, refined, relaxed, etc., on the other it's arresting, captivating, breathtaking, etc. And it's not so much a question getting one or the other it's that both happen at the same time, all the time! Even with a full orchestra going all out, each and every instrument still has complete integrity, stands alone from the mix, yet the mix is still also a completely blended entity, pure power!

Actually I got the BC3000 one evening before the BC22 and started by playing a Tony Bennett CD, one that has takes from two different setting, one intimate with soft guitars, bass and drums, the other Big Band arrangements. I was riveted in place, the sheer realism along with effortless composure nearly paralyzed me. I really wanted to move to other material, I'd just gotten the BC3000 after all, but I couldn't do it!, I had to listen to the entire CD, all 20 odd tracks. So it was with CD right from the get-go, and my CDP is the modestly priced Jolida JD100! I still can't get over the sheer shock of how CD replay has been transformed, it's nearly beyond belief!

Things didn't go so well with LP. I noticed all sort of objective improvements immediately but it just wasn't right, in fact no where near the quality of CD! First I had to adjust Jolida JD9 phono stages' cartridge loading to 100 ohm; I had it at 300 ohm, which surprised me, I must have tuned by ear at some point, typically I arrive at 100 ohm for the Denon DL103?

This brought back a good deal of missing richness but the sound was still somewhat rough and ragged. In with low noise Sovtek 12ax7LPS tubes replacing the stock JD9 tubes (which I actually preferred over the Sovtek in the previous setup). Ah better! My guess is that the given the ultra quiet (scary!) of the BC gear that the noisy tubes in the JD9 made for a mismatch, yet the JD100 CDP has the same Chinese 12ax7, i.e. the noisy ones! Go figure.

The BC22 showed up a day after the BC3000. When it first came up it sounded soggy but I ignored that and let it run in for a few hours, came to life in no time. Yet, I have high respect for the previous amplifiers I was using, late 70's vintage Kenwood L07M monoblocks, I had a Bryston 4BSST at home that sounded near unlistenable in comparison (guess what kind of sound I don't like!), and through the week I never lost the anxiety that maybe they were better than the BC22. I had already resolved to listen to the BC22 for a week and swap back to check.

Well today was the day, I had done a little careful listening on Fri. evening to set some items into memory, put the L07Ms in the system today and preceded to investigate. It ended nearly as soon as it started. It was clear for the first movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 41 (Harnoncourt/Concertgebouw Orchestra, Telefunken DMM Digital LP, 6.42846 AZ) that the L07Ms were outclassed, and in every possible way. Those L07M may be great amplifiers, but the BC22 is clearly greater. I confirmed with other selections but it was beyond obvious.

The L07Ms have great bass (and not the beat the speakers into submission variety, thank you very much) but even here the BC22 excelled and by a huge margin. In fact taking the BC22 out to a great extent removed the magic, although I'll freely admit that the first evening with the BC3000/L07M pair was in its own way magical.

So it was all done, I would be keeping the BC22, the system was put back together, and I threw on Paul Hoffert's Concerto for Contemporary Violin (UltraFi label, Special Limited Edition ULDD12 - Direct to Disc LP). This simply incredible LP, music and sound, was one I had selected for the BC22/L07M showdown (which BTW I thought the L07M would win, silly me!). I didn't even notice the change, but clearly the analytic portion of getting the system sorted out (the week was full of other details such as tweaking power cords and interconnects, getting the right cables in the right places, etc.) was over and I would be just relaxing and enjoying the music. Well the experience was a near repeat of the first hello BC3000 event, I was just taken away, it was just me, the music, and last but not least Yin and Yang singing in perfect two part harmony.

Zero
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Post by Zero » Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:34 pm

Congratulations. You've discovered the Blue Circle magic, and described very well the difficulties of assessing new gear. Throw into the mix the fact that new gear in this hobby can be expensive, and you've got a volatile mix, nearly guaranteed to cause dissatisfaction if you get too analytical about it.

I think your strategy of living with a setup for a while then changing out a component for review is a good one -- much better than trying to A/B components yb switching around so quickly that before long you can't tell what the hell's going on.

Your experience matches mine pretty well. I added a Blue Circle preamp after a year or more of owning Blue Circle BC8 amps. The amps were great -- better than anything I'd heard in my setup -- but I really wasn't prepared for the additional benefits of a GREAT active preamp. Adding the BC3000 mk I stunned me. I'd gone from driving my amps directly via my CD player and frankly had read so much about the benefits of passive preamps that I really wasn't sure I'd be making an upgrade so much as adding switching capability. I wanted to add switching capability and perhaps some of that tube magic I love so much, but not at the expense of the incisiveness of good solid state. What I got was better soundstaging, better bass, better ability to float notes and a whole lot more enjoyable listening experience, without any seeming loss of detail or dynamic impact.

You're in for another treat, should you choose to experiment with tube rolling. Six months after putting the BC3000 into service I replaced the Sovtek 6922s with some Amperex tubes. A startlingly good upgrade for relatively little money. In my experience the best bang-for-buck upgrade I've made, but that's assuming good quality gear as a foundation. Here's my notes on the tube rolling from AudioAsylum:


http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?for ... =&session=
Cheers. And welcome to the club.

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bjh
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Post by bjh » Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:12 pm

Thanks Zero,

Nice to read about your experiences.

In the AA thread you provided a link to your AudiogoN source for tubes. That link appears to be dead, do you know if the fellow is atill active, perhaops his goN Id?

Thanks, Bernard

Zero
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Post by Zero » Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:18 pm

Sure. Sam1104 is the user name of the fellow I ordered from. Here's a link to his current offerings:

http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/search2 ... &zzSam1104

Very active seller, and may have some recs for you.

Good luck and report back anything you find....


Zero
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Post by Zero » Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:24 pm

One other thing. I see as I read that old AudioAsylum thred that I may have made the Amperex 6DJ8s sound less than desirable. They're not. The 6922s were remarkable for their soundstage, but the 6DJ8s are a cleaner, faster sounding tube, if that makes any sense.

Don't know how experienced you are with tube rolling but remember that many of these characteristics are model specific. Not all 6922s will have the soundstaging I describe, just that particular Amperex model. It can be maddening to track down just the tube your looking for.

Joe's Tube lore is one of the best at comparing large numbers of tubes:

http://www.audioasylum.com/scripts/d.pl ... tubes.html

Again, cheers.




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