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Luckily, many of the concerts I went to in High School ('67-70) were outdoors in Central Park or the Flushing NYS Pavilion.  Some of those I went to at the Fillmore East were brutal.  Lee Michaels had

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I'm actually very curious about what you're going to get and how you'll make the decision. I replaced my system in January and it was very difficult.

I have a feeling that my neighbors would be jealous of your neighbors if they knew.

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I'm planning to replace my amp and preamp with a PrimaLuna EVO 400 Integrated Amp.

Because of course at this point all that's left for me is to go off the deep end into tubes.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So the PrimaLuna EVO 400 Integrated Amplifier.

When I got that external power supply for my CD player last year, it did what I hoped -- but it didn't transform my system.  It just made it better in a way I expected (even if it did the very best job of it I could have hoped for).  Transformation is what we audio enthusiasts always hope for from new equipment, but it almost never happens.  You usually get incremental improvements:  sure, things are better, but they aren't totally transformed.

THIS, at last, was the transformation.  It didn't start out that way.  After getting everything hooked up, I put in a CD and sat down to listen, having given the amp about a 15 minute warm-up.  It sounded nice enough -- certainly better than what it was replacing -- but there wasn't the magic I was hoping for.  I kept feeding it discs while I went about cleaning my apartment (a Herculean task at this point), not listening closely.  About four hours later, my chores took me back into my listening room.  Pet Sounds was on (an album I must have listened to about a million times since it came out in 1966).  HOLY SHIT I HAVE NEVER HEARD RECORDED SOUND REPRODUCED SO BEAUTIFULLY.  The music glistened, it gleamed.  The presence was palpable:  it felt like there was music-making going on right in that room.  Voices and instruments hung in the air, festooned across the room like a string of Chinese lanterns. I had to stop working and sit down and listen -- and remained there, enthralled, until the end of the album.  I put on something else and tore myself back to my cleaning.  But it was hard.  I really wanted to listen to the music.  It sounded like it was happening right there in front of me.

So tubes.  There's a break-in period:  this will only continue to get better for a while.  But there's also a warm-up period for each listening session.  At least with this amp, though, once you get there (after an hour or two), it's MAGIC.  The question isn't whether this amplifier is worth $5000.  It's whether, if you love music (and have $5000), you can afford not to spend it.  (Believe me, until now amps of anywhere NEAR this quality cost A LOT more.)

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@Sneakeater - do you still listen to vinyl? And how, for example, would Pet Sounds on vinyl sound compared to Pet Sounds on CD, on your new system? Would you be able to tell the difference?

See, my problem is twofold. Okay, multifold, like the paper towels I use.

I don't have a dedicated listening room. I barely have room at this point. So if I (or anyone) were to buy this gorgeous amp, I'd still (obviously) have to upgrade every other component in my system, because isn't an audio system only as good as its weakest link? I think we're talking upper middle class now...do they still exist?

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1.  Don't let my pretentious language fool you.  My listening room is my living room.  And it isn't set up to maximize listening; it's set up to maximize being a living room.  I recently read some audio engineer saying that if your listening room isn't set up to maximize acoustics, it's not worth buying excellent audio equipment.  I think I have disproved that.

2.  As for having to upgrade your other equipment, depends on what you have now, right?  For me, my amplification equipment was the weak link.

3.  I prefer vinyl, but I rarely listen to it:  too much work.  So yeah, you can tell the difference between Pet Sounds on vinyl and Pet Sounds on CD just like you can tell the difference between anything on vinyl and on CD.  (I once long ago spent an afternoon at a stereo store comparing CDs and LPs of the same albums.  It was amazing how much better the LPs were.)  I do have to check to make sure the phono stage of this new integrated amp is working (and to see how it sounds).  Guess what LP I'll use?

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