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 MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier

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PostSubject: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:11 pm





When a product doesn't even make it out of my front listening areas, into one of the dedicated rooms, you'd better take notice. The first time I laid my hands on the Audolici AP-01 Preamplifier I was hoping this was going to be something special, and for me hoping this would be something highly tunable. I'm so easily disappointed by high end audio preamplifiers I could scream. In fact you might normally see one or two of them around here for the sake of keeping me honest, but that's about it. Many moons ago, for you old timers, you might recall Harry Pearson and myself proclaiming the new standard of ultimate sounding PreAmps. For years the AR SP11 was king until the Classe' Audio and C.A.T. preamps came to challenge. The couple years to follow was an abundance of great sounding preamplifiers springing up at all price ranges and designs, both solid state and tube. There was never a preamp/amplifier mating game like that in the history of the sport, not before and not after. Many preamps after the listening glory years got raves out of necessity of needing something new, to keep that revolving door money wheel turning, but nothing (speaking for myself) grabbed my ears. The listening glory years was special because designers were still keeping it simple. Man, I remember when some of my good friends started to over tweak their signature products and even though the reviews were still there, it was like someone threw a blanket over the music. Heavy shields and dampening, yuk! Still I kept setting up these systems at shows (doing my best) while it was driving my ears nuts. "Was no one else hearing this" I thought. High end audio took a huge step toward a very canned, sterile, boxed in sound, and this boy was not into it at all. You guys know me, when it comes to listening I am brutal, as is expected of me. I grew up being the picky listening "doer" on any of my studio and pro gigs, and it wasn't going to come to an end just because I began to spend more time in high end audio playback.

Yep, for those years I tuned high end for folks, but I wasn't particularly thrilled about it. There were two faces to me and my close listening buddies knew it. There was that side of me that went for the sound period, and that other side who graded high end audio products on a very generous curve. I should repeat "very generous", sometimes to the point of me felling guilty, and leading me to forgetting this over built crap all together. What would bring me back to high end was the fact that the brainwashed audiophiles wouldn't take my chosen electronic components (usually low mass and as a result low cost) serious which meant I would need to stock up on high end audio and go through tuning all levels of good designing practices along with the foolish over built over priced boxes, every time the unaware, not willing to try, doubters flooded my audience. I've been through this cycle several times always coming back to reality. And that is, the audio signal is made up of several parts poured into one flowing channel in motion. When the signal becomes analog the forces of nature (physics) becomes the equilibrium or lack of (if the signal gets out of tune), which causing music to either sound good or bad or somewhere in between. I know audiophiles still believe in these magical metal boxes of wonder and majesty, but what they miss is, the audio signal (audio code) could care less about audiophile componentry looks. The audio signal just wants to get through the pathway "in tune" and intact. It's not just circuitry folks, it's an audio (motion) signal. The world is made up of fields and waves and the frequencies that sound operates in depends on these natural energies. Here's what I'm saying, you can't separate physics from audio, because audio is physics. Think about it, we are listening to "Electronic" componentry. Your not going to isolate your system from nature, that wouldn't be "natural". Sorry, I know so many of you engineers want to defeat what is natural and come up with a mystical formula that magically defies gravity, electromagnetism, atmospheric conditions and motion, but it's never going to happen with our hobby, and why would you want to defeat natures system anyway. When you decrease any of the fundamental forces, your electrical, mechanical and acoustical elements are going to fight to get back to that point of equilibrium. The malfunction of forces is called "going out of tune". Yes, your system goes out of tune. Every living audiophile has heard their recordings go out of tune because their system is struggling with the information and the way it is being affected adversely. These are the facts.

the force is with this one

When I first plugged in this AP-01, I had my fingers crossed like I always do, hoping that the design was going to work. I say going to work meaning mechanically cause I know no designer wants to screw up electrically, that would be silly. Most audio designers in the electronic realm has some sort of sonic result they want to go for and many of these results are fun if being used with the right set of conditions. For me though a true masterpiece is one where I can mechanically find that full signal core that allows me to do my tuning magic. Basic content and boxy sound staging anyone can do. Nope, what I'm talking about is the mating of the recorded code to my room and ears. If you've never experienced this reading the rest of my review won't make a whole lot of sense. If you've been to an audio trade show and listened to that sound stage (even the best of them) we're not talking on the same page yet. When you tune a system in to a recording, you can't find your speakers, anywhere. You can walk right up to the speaker and not hear it. You can walk into another room or hallway and still hear sound stage placement. When a recording is in tune it comes closer to recreating the real size and real space of the actual Code. If the recorded code is super in tune with the room, you can turn your speaker facing any direction and you will get a sound stage. As an experiment I just went into my room and turned the speakers facing to the side. What I'm getting is a room energized with a pretty pure signal, no toe in needed. So, I can move my speakers and get a great stage with many placements. Was this always the case? Nope. If I go in and put the cover back on the AP-01 and the original feet, the stage (I just did it) goes back to boxed sound, nice but boxed. Ok, back now with cover off and my Tuning Blocks in a good position, and OMG that's nice. Not as nice as before so I need to play with my blocks a little and let things settle. I'll take a break here and go do that.


playing now

Ok, I'm back again after warming the tip top of the recording. During my playing around to demonstrate when I went to put the blocks back I must have put the one LTR Block too close to a screw and it shifted the balance upward. No harm though, twas an easy fix. And this brings me to my next topic. The AP-01 has a different shape than many components. It's not quite as wide but still maintains depth, this is exciting for the Tunee. Tapping on the chassis floor there's a fantastic low tone, not one of those dead lifeless chassis floors that I hate trying to tune, their so boring and even though tunable they can't produce the rich tones that I'm hearing with this unit. The AP-01 is gorgeously balanced from a tuning perspective. I'll be having fun playing and tuning to a wide range of music. There's a few things here that makes me wonder if Valeriy (Audolici) is reading my mind again. One thing that I must point out is Valeriy uses my favorite sounding capacitors. I find the ERO cap to be the most musical of all the caps produced. Even though I'm just getting started with the 01 I know what's going to happen in about a month. When the ERO caps start to burn in there's a blossoming that takes place in two regions of the musical spectrum that no other capacitor fulfills. There's a mid bottom rightness and an upper end smooth reality that gives the music a life like quality. It's hard to get stability, size, space and focus at the same time and like I have said if someone masters the use of this cap nothing will sound as "body-rich-real". Now I don't want to give away any secrets, but if one looks inside this preamp take notice of the chassis floor in relationship to the stilted board and the stems of the parts. I got ya Valeriy Wink . As soon as I heard this I immediately went to look at how the parts were layered, brilliant! This is an over looked art form in component designing. I think maybe some designers are going for a look and miss the magic of placement, both vertically and horizontally and most importantly, space. The AP-01 tells me Valeriy knows how electromagnetic fields work together with the audio signal. This might be partially because Valeriy also designs Guitar amps, but I'm thinking Audolici's mastermind has his listening chops down to an art.

Valery also catches my attention with his ability to design based on tonality which is another reason I'm finding the AP-01 irresistible. Tap on the faceplate, yep not metal sounding in the slightest. As a build package it's a Michael Green dream come true. How many times does a client of mine say "really, I have to take off the faceplate". Sorry folks but most faceplates add a sterile quality to the performance. The more you have a metal box, the more your music is going to sound like, come on class, metal. I'm surprised that the high end audio, at large, has not learned this lesson yet. It's very important to apply the old saying "you are what you eat". This is especially true when it comes to anything electrical. And remember what I'm telling you, your components are not just electrical, their electro-mechanical. And while we're glowing over my love for this component from an architectural design, the ports on the faceplate are one of the most ingenious inventions I have seen in faceplate designing. Being a firm believer in the electromagnetic field development due to faceplates being flat and long and usually thick, and someone who empirically practices what I preach, I always thought why do folks not design faceplate vents. Take a component and remove the faceplate and listen to how much the stage progresses. It's quite dramatic most of the time. Once you get use to hearing this effect it sticks with you and there's that thing that bugs you to get rid of that sound. I know faceplates are a main looks factor, but the AP-01 faceplate gets my smart award.

OK, another break cause I can hear the system calling me. Hope your enjoying this review so far.

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PostSubject: Re: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:15 pm

So, is it time to move the Audolici preamplifier into one of the dedicated rooms? Not on your life! What it is time for are the Bowie tests.







I hardly ever start my David tests until I get a basic grip on what is happening. Why? Because I know the David Bowie recorded codes more than almost any listener on the planet, not only in the studio but also in the most extreme playback situations, which my fellow studio engineers have not had a chance to explore this deeply unless they have been with me in the tunable studio and playback room. I have many references to listen to and they range all over the map as far as genres, but sometimes I like to use one that is a part of my life as a string connected from my live, recording, mastering and playback experiences. I've chosen this particular reference because it is a compilation of several of David's studio references, all with different recorded codes and was reengineered into one mix down, and done very well I might add.

My first listen through I identify the different recorded code styles. They all stick out as clear as can be and I could see listeners getting lost by this. But this is part of the magic of tuning, because I will be tuning not per studio but per the blending together of the final mix down as a whole from the mastering behind this project. Meaning all of these blended into one "new" code. I've also chosen this particular CD because this is a recording that doesn't get good ratings on the Dynamic Range Carts, which is absolutely a bogus falsehood, that is only followed by those who haven't developed advanced listening skills yet, and that's ok, we all have to start somewhere.

My listening starts with the same criteria as any time I review. If the stage doesn't break past the audiophile box, I know it has nothing to do with the recording but my system's settings to this recording. Luckily or maybe revealingly I didn't have to make any adjustment to the system going from Hilary to David to get past the first performance hurdle. The Stage broke past the boundaries of the speakers as if the speakers were not even in the room. Still I've only just begun and can hear places I will be taking the AP-01 into.

Well by now you can tell that I don't review like other folks do. I have no interest in putting on a piece of music and doing my assessment from that one sound limited point of view. That to me isn't really reviewing and is so boring I can hardly believe high end audio reviewers actually practice "one sound" fixed system listening. Sound systems have always suppose to have been used as variable tools for listening and not untouched fixtures. As recordings all have different recorded codes so should the playback system be able to make the necessary adjustment to put the recording into tune. As this is a duh moment for the advanced listener you would be surprised how many reviewers haven't a clue they are to be tuning in recordings, just like any studio does making the recording, only with playback this happens in reverse.

My second listen through "iSelect" I'm able to pick up on many of the songs' stage placement magic and enjoyed the adventures in each song, still making mental notes though of where I want to go back and tune. I want to be cautious though in doing this because I can also hear that the new AP-01 along with the MGA Rev6 Signatures want to mature. Pushing new products into situations that are premature makes no sense unless you are in a quick fix timeline type of thing. For my reviewing, I have no need to rush because I can do updates on my forum anytime I want to revisit. A luxury I enjoy very much.

The AP-01 is no doubt going to be one of my reference preamps, as it already blows past some of the preamps I have brought in over the past several years. Not saying that these other preamps (that have ranged way up over the $10,000.00 mark) did not have their moments. But, the key word here is "moments". Moments and that's all, doesn't go very far with me, as a serious guy who has other "serious guys" depending on me. The folks who come to me are not always your average audiophiles. My clients range from the average all the way to the most extreme listeners in the world. We're talking about guys who have acoustical rooms that you can map out and tune each square inch in the room like a 3D map. These are the most advanced rooms in the world, far different from your audiophile living/listening rooms or your rooms built for trapping and such. These extreme listeners can set a coke can in their rooms, listen, take a drink, and listen again hearing the pressure change. I'm not kidding, that's how advanced this hobby gets. Hopefully some time this coming up year I will have my own tunable room up and running again, to the level I talk about. My last place was just getting where I wanted it, and then like a bad dream, the water line busted flooding the whole first floor. The audio Devils must have been fighting with the audio Gods on that one Laughing but I always liked having the chance to explore new areas, and what better way to do this than house hopping. Just half kidding here God Smile

and during my rambling on I heard it



Two days ahead of schedule I just heard the ERO caps slide into their first break in patterned. I dropped my mouse when I heard this from my writing room and ran to my listening chair in area #2. I am excited Exclamation The wall of warmth washed over the sound like a tsunami and the AP-01 is delivering above and beyond like I was wishing for. The highs have turned into a smooth floating wave hitting my ears' beaches with a gentle flow and then retreat, nice Valeriy, very nice. Now, all my Sss end with a pillowing and my cymbal strikes hit and then drift away into the rest of the room like resting on a Serta Perfect Sleeper. Thank you Jesus, what a treat Exclamation I hate to cut this short and I'll be back, but for now I'm heading back in for another listen through.

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PostSubject: Re: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:22 pm

Lets meet the reviewing system.



Thank you Audolici for supplying some of your pictures, making my reviewing more than simply a home brew looking event. Home brew is what I am about as much as I can possibly be, and it's nice to have friends like Audolici to help fill in the gaps. If Audolici takes care of folks like myself it shows a good Rep for taking care of their family of users. Also lets not forget the US distributor Sound Consultant www.soundconsultant.com . Harold Cooper of Sound Consultant has been helping music lovers for over 25 years to find their perfect system.

While the system awaits my next listening session, I'll introduce you to the rest of the gang.

First and foremost we need to start with the Room and Tuning Furniture. To my surprise, the room has had not much changed from my last events that have taken place here. I've been very busy lately and I thought I would start by doing a basic burnin of my new Rev6 Signature speakers, that have not yet been played, and leave my room a mess while this was happening. I figured I would slowly make my voicing changes as things found their place. I had no idea I would be going this deep into a review of any components. I have other speakers sitting around waiting for a home or getting reading for storage or shipping. This includes a set of Tony's latest Tonian Reference speakers and maybe 10 more pair scattered throughout the hall and listening Area #0ne. I even have two pair of speakers sitting in Area #2s corner.


my work never ends

There's no way I would expect this room to do what it is now doing. I know it's not as bad as a store or trade show room, but for me, this is a no go for anything too critical! And trust me I will be doing some moving things out of here, but I must be honest, the sound is pretty spectacular. I can walk into this space from my writing room and get hit with believable soundstaging as soon as I enter at the hall, some 25' + away from the listening position, and that grabs my attention bigtime, cause at that point of view I'm standing among a mound of speakers. My pictures are probably deceiving because my ceiling goes from 8'-11' and the chairs are over sized making the room look smallish, but still for me this is too much to have in a listening area. As you can see in the pictures I have placed an 8' high SAM Wall behind my listening seat. This converts the pressure in the room into a very nice listening oasis. The SAM is a tonal life saver for any listening room and combined with PZC's (which you can see in the corner) and a couple very strategically placed RoomTune, I'm able to pull off an acoustical haven, but still. I'm looking forward to these moves, but there is something special going on here to make this come to life the way it is. I know that Audolici and my speakers get along very nicely but this is going somewhere beyond the norm.

My speakers for this review are my Rev6 Signatures and Proto Viola 12' Sub. I'm crossing things over at 72hz. The Signatures go in the 40's with room to spare, but mating them with one of my subs gives that body all the way up and down the frequency range. My sub designs are somewhat different than other subs as they are made to act as a 3way with the main speakers and not like a start and stop subwoofer. My signal from the CD player (my reference maggies) goes into the AP-01 and then into the cross-over and amps. I mention this because some folks do a bi-pass type of setup, but I don't. I use my out board cross-over to do it's job and only use One (ERO) Cap in the main speakers. As you can see my speakers are tunable so I have a ton of flexibility between my cross-over/amp/speakers. I like this as opposed to big complicated speaker cross-overs that clog up music something terrible. If a speaker requires a cross-over that means there's a problem with the speaker design that needs to be fixed. That's not my style. I build speakers to work with rooms and electronics not against them. In this particular case you can really hear the ERO caps in both the AP-01 and Rev6 working together, it's all music and it's all musical. There's a correctness and you can't hear the electronics getting in the way of the recorded code. I noticed this with Hilary, but am fairly shocked with this and "iSelect". Especially this soon and to this degree. The sound is already big bold and personal, with no digital glare that usually accompanies parts during burn in, but this is as smooth as can be after only one day. I usually give my Revs a good week of burn in before doing my evaluation but it's like both the Signatures and Audolici decided to jump right over that part of the game. BTW if your a reviewer and don't have a set of my Rev6 Signatures, Stands and Platforms, chances are your not hearing what the studio did with the recordings your playing. Not to knock other speakers, but how many of them come tunable with their own stands, platforms and floor rails, and their own tunable subamp and woofer with platform? Sorry but when I'm looking at pictures of speaker setups I kind of shake my head, and think, "where's the rest of the speaker".

The AP-01 has amazing bass, and is possibly the answer for those Solid State guys (of which I am one) that have great Solid State amps but haven't got a preamp mate to bring out the bottom with enough guts, control and musicality. You see, many times it's not the amp that is not able to produce but the preamp not able to allow the signal to thrive. It's a real mess to get caught up in the source/speaker/amp chase. Most audiophiles don't even realize how deep they're in till it's too late and their bank account is dried up. There's no need to get yourself all tangled up in this problem. If you have a free resonant speaker, it's sitting there ready to respond to the room, but if the amp is not "controlled" you will fall flat on your bass face. Doesn't matter if the amp has a good reputation for bass or not, if you don't have a match between the room speaker and amp your not going to get there. For myself, a preamp is not there to select between components, I only use one. Preamps use to be called "controllers" and we need to be reminded of that. Think of it this way, your preamp is like the mixer in the studio. It grabs the source and gets it ready for the next step, in the case of the studio the next step is the storage and in the case of the home it's the room, speaker amp combo. For this reason I rarely enjoy over built heavy preamps. I need that preamp to be able to respond to my tuning. If a preamp is not able to let the audio signal be itself, I'm always tempted to grab an equalizer cause it hardly ever sounds balanced and real space/real size. The AP-01 and it's big brother the AVP-01 are built correctly. Valeriy did not go into this the typical audiophile designer route, but instead, understands the value of keeping that preamp acting as a controller (a signal controller).



When I use a preamp, I'm like the vision of the mechanic standing over the engine and you see parts flying. This is not the case with the AP-01. Earlier I talked about the stand offs lifting the parts carefully from the bottom chassis. Valeriy's designing goes the next step for me. The cables inside of many components are squeezed together, which in turn does the same thing to the sound stage, it squeezes it, drives me crazy. Audolici's AP-01 is smarter than this. The plastic wire standoffs in the unit act like Cable Grounds gently lifting the cable from the surface of the bottom without squeezing the life out of the dielectric. Because of this the audio signal has an explosive quality to the dynamics that brings everything in the stage a beautiful 3D body. Why is this a good thing? Many systems are only able to produce a 2D presentation, even when the review is saying 3D. Microphones pickup pressure, it's like explosions in the live room that happen from the note core and out. The same thing happens with studio produced effects. The actual shape of these sounds are like pulsating (center out) oscillations. All it takes is a little squeeze of a part and the stage will go from 3D moving out, to a 2D sound collapsing. The natural progression of any note structure from a musical instrument is as I am describing. The more intune an instrument is in a room the further the space grows from the core start to the halos end. I'm not talking a loose sound here, but a very tight sound followed by a support system that replayed correctly will create a stage that goes way outside of the listening room. This event is called Real Space, Real Size and it usually takes a lot of de-building of a component to come close to this. The AP-01 does this natural presentation with ease. Another reason this is important in playback is, when your music signal is able to reveal the full stage (or coming close to) your playback becomes far more efficient. It's as if someone turn the dynamic impact up like a gain control. And as a matter of fact if you measure this before and after you will get as much as a 3db gain in your room.

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PostSubject: Re: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:48 pm


Oh the glorious 4th day!

Listening to system burn in is a hobby all on it's own. Ultimately electronics never really stop burning in and if you have good (I'm not talking expensive) parts you will hear them go from very nice to mature. It pains me that audio trade shows are so short in time because 3 days isn't enough to let listeners hear a system begin to blossom. Now, with the absence of audio dealers, and trade shows being so short it pays to have an audio consultant (who is a real listener) to get the hobbyist through the settling stage. Fortunately for AP-01 owners the wait isn't all that long to get to a listenable state. In fact I was enjoying the music within hours. Saying this I wouldn't trade the 3rd and 4th day for anything.

When I burn in a component it doesn't get turned off for at least a week, and I keep it playing at moderate levels constant. You might say who does this? And I smile saying, me. My gain is adjusted through that week to give the component a chance to harmonize at different levels of signal, and my breakins are always done with music, not breakin CD's. Another important thing to remember, if you are a vinyl listener, don't breakin a component through the vinyl input. You need to keep that component in constant play mode for a while. You can always come back and get hours on the phono stage, but during that burning in let the component experience as much playing time as it can on the front end. If you don't let your parts perform at full capacity early on your tube start up time will drag later in the years of that component. Also keep in mind your component parts (from tubes to wire) are creatures of conductance, and your ability to strategize the conductivity will win you performance rewards as the years pass by.

The Rev6 Signature speakers in this reviewing setup have Redwood Basket Frames and the Viola Subs are made from Brazilian Pine, so you can paint your own picture of the sound but let me say, the AP-01 is in it's glory playing Bill Evans. The piano sound board is thick and full of body. You can feel the weight when you walk into the room. Earlier today I moved the extra speakers and such out of the area, and as doing so I could hear the timbre explode with life, so I came back and got in a listen through. Now things can start getting serious. The dynamic range for todays listening is something. The hand clapping for example has turned into hand cupping and the cymbals have gone from the top hit and splash to top hit, then mid cymbal, then roll off the cymbal, then splash, then fill the room. The instruments have entered that center body out stage in the sound. I had this a couple of days ago as an outline and it was impressive, now it is weighty. I find myself nodding (grooving) my head to the pace of the music all the way over here in my writing room. As much as I bragged on the sound at the beginning of this review, the system has now moved from a great sounded HiFi to live music. Rooms away from the system I am being convinced there is a band in the house somewhere. The piano midrange growls at me.

My listening up till now has been mid-field, but the stage is coming out to greet me as if I was listening near-field. Soon I will be going near-field and then extreme near, which near-field to extreme near-field are my favorite speaker positions. You might be thinking, wait a minute what is optimal? This is where you separate the men from the boys. Having a speaker where you are only able to play one position tells you the system is not very flexible nor will you be able to play a wide range of music types. Speakers designed to be against the wall or corners only, are cool in their own right (if you know your acoustics 101) but I have always preferred speakers that are built to enjoy the rooms attributes more than speakers that only get along with the walls. For one reason, how do you know what wall type you are going to have and does that wall sound good. Some walls do and other walls sound horrible. Many times listeners have systems that just can't play music. Maybe once in a while the music is great but then they put on the next piece of music and it's dreadful, you can't even believe it is the same system. I have noticed with the Audolici line that the music is more forgiving than many other ultra component brands, so one shouldn't be shy about using the Audolici products stock. I however do not enjoy the sound of anything stock, at least not for long. Plus when I see a component designed like the AP-01 how can I refuse myself the music. Taking off the cover for me only makes a product look sexier, and since I use Musical Platforms to set my equipment on you can bet there is no way I'm going to use stock feet. I need flexibility when I play this sport. If folks want to play the same sound with every recording God bless them and their friends and family, but not this set of ears. I'm in the hobby for music and cheating this beautiful music machine by keeping it in first gear makes no sense to this camper. Audiophiles not understanding the tune can go on about their debates, but when I sit down to listen that's exactly what I do. I wouldn't play a guitar partially tuned, so I'll be darned if the AP-01 gets any such treatment from me.

I can hardly wait for my next recording. I have no idea at this point what I am going to choose but I do know I will be playing it with confidence and delight, not only because it will be a great piece of studio engineering hopefully, but because my confidence in the flexibility of tuning the AP-01 keeps growing by the sound stage space reliability I'm experiencing.

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PostSubject: Re: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:22 pm

I can remember previewing Kenny Rogers in the studio for the first time. I had heard his music on country FM stations as a kid, and of course his earlier work. I never really gave it much thought till an engineer buddy of mine put on a fresh master tape of a few songs from what was going to be a new LP of Kenny's called "The Gambler". I remember thinking "is this Country music or some kind of crossover Pop". I think the songs he had were The Gambler, King of oak street, hoodo and I wish. Maybe one or two more, but whatever, it grabbed my attention. Of course at that time I had no idea I was about to meet Kenny for another project some guys were working on. When The Gambler was officially narrowed down to the final songs I got my first copy on Reel to Reel. It wasn't exactly the same as the produced recording but had enough of the goods that it stuck in my brain while I worked on other things (BeeGees Greatest). When I got my finished copy on vinyl I was star struck at how good this LP was. Later when I opened up my first stereo store in the early 80's The Gambler was one of my reference demo recordings. When Mo Fi came out with their copies I bought tons of them and sold them out of my store.



Playing The Gambler with the AP-01 & Rev speaker combo is perhaps the best, or very close to, presentation of the microphone patterns I have heard on this recording. What's surprising me is the fact that I have not yet went near-field. The warmth of this CD from the AP-01 is staggering. The strings are so in the room real I'm tip toeing around the system not wanting to make the coming up changes in fear that something might become un balanced (ever have one of those moments). That's kind of silly "I tune" but still the listening session is so good. I think I'm at what day 6 or 7 with the burning in and there hasn't been any weird burn in sidetracks like usually happen when parts are starting to develop. I noticed this as well with the A25M (Audolici Integrated). Most high end audio products I bring in have strange sonic events that take place where everything will go out of balance and get phase-y sounding. This can happen up till the first few months of listening on other products but I have made a mental note of this with both the AP-01 and A25M, nothing goes out of whack during the first stages of breakin. I find this refreshingly odd, and maybe even fun for those who enjoy listening to the process of breakin. I believe some of this is due again to Valeriy's expertise of parts matching. I'm pretty good at hearing when the circuitry parts get hung up and start causing signal blockage. The AP-01 just keeps opening up The Gambler more and more and it's been playing straight through for over 18hrs now. It truly does seem like the parts are breaking in in unison.

those CDs Laughing

In todays listening world CD's have received a bad rap. I've always claimed and showed that it isn't the CD's as much as it is systems not being able to play them. Remember when CD's came out there was that warning for speakers (Digital Ready). A little marketing goofy but it pointed to a new age in sources. CD's came on so big & fast the snobby audiophile refused to take CD's as serious as Vinyl, or even tape decks. Both vinyl and tape require an equalization, but the CD never caught that same break. This has always bugged me, because almost right from the beginning I tuned the CD Players with great results. It wasn't long before My own personal preference became the CD. I also never enjoyed the sound of overbuilt CD players and transports. When I went to demos and brought players into my store I thought the sound was terrible, but every time I turned around there was a new player coming out built like a boat anchor. This was a huge mistake for high end audio never to look at the CD player as it's own person. Designers took what they learned from Turntables and tried to force this designing onto this new, more advanced, format.

It was also a very strange time for high end in general. Compact disc performance is about simplicity, and in order to play them back correctly you have to keep in mind that a line input from a heavy duty RtR or a phono stage has a different language to convert to analog. Both the Phono and Tape are hardy signals in their conversion. The digital language is less mechanical (talking about the conversion) as it is converted to analog. All of these sources are analog as soon as there is motion, so there is no such thing as a digital "signal" only a "digital" language. For some reason it seems to me that the designers in high end missed this. Why would you want an over built CDP? At my store during the 80's I obviously had all the high end CDP's, however many times I sold a system I would run down to Circuit City (remember them?) and I would pick up a Multispec or some other low mass player and use it. Low mass players out perform the huge massive ones by a large margin, if you understand the physics and don't set them on glass audio furniture and some of this other crazy bad sounding furniture out there. The Audolici AP-01 mechanically is the perfect Tuning Mate for my Magnavox 2100 CDP. The highs that so many can't figure out with CDP's, with the AP-01 are magical. Between these two Units and the solid state amps I'm using for this review there is practically no recorded code that I can't dial in. The Tuning Platform, Maggie Player, AP-01 and Tuning Blocks as a team is unstoppable for EQing the different dynamic ranges of the CDs. A lot of this is the AP-01's ability to separate, and make musical, the mid to extreme high frequencies. You can't call this a Tube sound necessarily. It's more like an ultimate definition of cleanliness with body instead of tiny tinkling sounds. These highs have a lot of clarity but the musical harmonics are spread out and not gathered in that stuck tanky sound so many get. Also I should say, that rolled off thing that highenders do isn't there. You know what I'm saying, if an high end listener doesn't know how to refine the highs they roll the heck out of the upper range. Like look at these Gilford Cloth covered acoustical products. When you walk in those rooms your ears pressurize (you can feel the dullness). What a funky sound that is, like throwing a blanket over the sound. The Audolici sound is live, detail and listenable, the perfect starting point for the serious CD listener.

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PostSubject: Re: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:20 pm

Michael,

Your post brought memories from college days for me as I hosted Kenny Rodgers and John Denver. I took John Denver out to dinner as Country Roads was just taking off and Kenny was with the First Edition. I was involved in student government in college and helped book music groups for music events at school. We also booked the Box Tops during that period time plus other groups.

I exclusively use the Magnavox 2100 CDP which continues to play without problem. I purchased four thinking each would not last a year and I am still using the original many years later with a platform built for me by Michael. I sometimes demo the 2100 for friends against more expensive CDPs and the 2100's performance amazes my friends. They cannot believe an under $30 CDP equals or rivals the sonics of $1000 plus players. Dacs, been there done that and still want to keep it simple KISS!


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PostSubject: Re: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:11 pm

Hi Garp

That's very hip Exclamation  I've always enjoyed staying a fan of the people I either worked with or for, plus all the countless folks who made this huge contribution to our generation. I know people say this all the time about their generation, but ours was truly something special. I must include my age group and the one before me that allowed me to be a studio brat and tag along. I think I would have to say John Denver was my mom's favorite on the guy side and Karen Carpenter on the girl side.

John Denver, First Edition and the Box Tops. That's some serious music history Exclamation

Yep, out of all the audio products that have helped me learn the magic of the CD, the Magnavox 2100 (and associated models) is the Master. I doubt that CD would have become my favorite over all source if not for finding this gem. Referencing recordings and systems has become a breeze thanks to a player no one would have ever guessed would be the top of the food chain. And what is interesting, is that people think they'll just pick up any super cheap low mass player. Nope, not even close.


the Maggie Top Tuned

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PostSubject: Re: MG reviews the Audolici AP-01 preamplifier   Yesterday at 7:02 pm



Early this morning I made my move to nearfield listening. For me this is still mid-near field but I know for readers this is more of the nearfield position they are use to. It took all of a few seconds for me to realize the Audolici AP-01 had taken the system into a new reference of listening for area#2 at TuneLand. The layering simply happened, and I am now in that zone of staging I love so well. Area #2 has officially become a soundstage monster. I needed to go back after this placement and re-greet the music I had previously played. A New Ballgame Exclamation Like my great setups from the past the new placement with the Rev6 brings me to that emotional "headphone" type stage that moves far beyond the typical high end audio soundstaging. Unless you have experienced this you will not understand what I call the "float" . The float moves beyond any audiophile terminology that high end throws your way. It is a real size/real space experience of a recording (lines and boundaries do not apply). Listening at this level goes past looking at a soundstage directly in front of you, with some nice cues to the left right, forward back with limited up down. The float puts you inside of the recording itself, kind of like headphones only much bigger and none of the image is in your head or confusing in the slightest. My listening now is being a part of the recording in motion yet with perfect clarity, able to look into any part of the recorded code I wish, I "am" inside that space relating to every mechanical notion that took place in the live room as well as the recording console.

Going back to "The Gambler" dynamic range no longer has a footprint, but each fundamental and it's harmonic structure is a solo within a totality picture. Not a polaroid, or series of polaroids taped together, but a musical hologram that moves freely as well as having pin point stability within that movement. You can not only see the instruments and artist but you can also see their relationship to their microphones as they move closer to and further away.

If you've never been a studio engineer, you may never know the sound of blending takes as unique spaces. I can now hear those spaces and the differences in mood between them. This is key with a recording like The Gambler because of Rogers voice textures changing during a recording session. Yep, you can hear the punchins and fades. Now we are in my world and having fun.

As much as I love my listening to Kenny Rogers, it was time to go deep, and that's exactly where the AP-01 wanted to go as well. With the soundstage the way it is there are a few names that started running through my ears and when I got to Glenn I knew I needed to stop and take a Gould journey.


SMK 52626

Now I'm thinking with this big of a move I might need to do some further fine tuning. Well if there is fining tuning to be done it sure didn't stop me from my listen through with the system setup the same way as with my previous selection. Glenn Gould on Sony SMK 52626 sounds excellent with the current tuning. The piano's sound board is explosive and as well the notes are harmonious and rich, to the point of riveting. "Someone poured that blasted listening glue all over my chair and I can't move" Smile . The AP-01 loves my Rev6 Combo, and together they both are loving Mr. Gould.

In the nearfield speaker placement I have no horseshoe, in the speaker, black holes, range shifting negatives going on at all. Everything is completely smooth sailing without any hint of empty space anywhere. It's so nice to be able to listen to a real space sound, and it makes me think about all the high end audiophile excuse phrasing that so many folks use to cover up what is obviously flaws in their systems. Like for example black holes, or like some say "quiet noise floor" Laughing . I clear my throat when people start going off in those directions. The last time I made a recording, there was no such thing as recorded code holes. I have to wonder what planet someone is from if they think recordings are made of magical blank spaces. Hello this is stereo, stereo as in stereophonic. In the last 20 years high end audio has lost it's way in "discreteland" so badly that it has tried to replace the very meaning of the hobby. Example stereophonic: "(of sound recording and reproduction) using two or more channels of transmission and reproduction so that the reproduced sound seems to surround the listener and to come from more than one source.". True stereo, with two channels, is a surround effect. If you are listening to your preamp and the sound is "not" flowing around you, it's time for you to find a different audiophile club, cause that isn't stereo. There's nothing about "stereo" that says a frontal stage only, and only in between the speakers. My friends if your listening to a system that is frontal only, you might be listening to part of the stereo effect, but in truth that's a very small portion to what a recording really has to give you. Read some of my writings on system blockage to help you understand what is going on. When the audio code starts to become blocked somewhere along the audio chain the sound stage is affected by shrinking. I guess if one wishes to tune the AP-01 to shrink the stage that's fine, one can certainly do this by adding dampening, but for my own listening I'm glad the Audolici gives me the option to listen to my soundstage full and big. I like a big stage Very Happy if not I will get bored easily and my mind will drift to something else, and that's not me. I like to listen to Glenn in a way that allows me to hang onto his notes yes, but, also I want to hear what Gould does with the weight or the way only he can barely touch the key and bring forth that weeping type of mood out of one single slightest strike. That to me is the magic of a great artist on a great system. On a stage locked in a tiny box I would never get to hear the expression in it's full meaning.

My second listen through with SMK 52626 I turned off all the lights except for my one candle and in the darkness I adjusted my speaker placement. I recommend doing this with classical recordings especially. Seems like an odd thing till you voice your classical hall perception by ear. All of us have different sounding ears, left and right, and if our system is producing the stage without much signal blockage we can dial in each hall effect by letting the recording guide our placement. If you haven't tried this while listening to classical do so and be ready for a pleasant surprise. At the end of the performance you might be shocked to see where your left and right speaker ended up but this is a fun way to get to know each hall perception as an unique piece. If your preamp is of reference quality you will find that your speaker placement (doing the lights out placement) will change slightly per recording. The AP-01 is a wonderful tool that allows my ears/speakers/room to find all the hall I want and bring each recording into that space specific balance. I make my classical concert list as I write.

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