I got a chance to sit down with the Ventus last Friday. I thought the best thing to do would be to compare it to a known DIY design so that people could have a reference. The amp on had for the comparison to the Ventus was the CKKIII. These are both SS designs and available to the DIY community. The test on Friday was with a pair of HD600. I realize that the Ventus is designed more for high-current 'phones, but these are what I currently have on hand. I'll post a follow-up in January once I get a set of Grados in-house. The amps were connected to a Sony DVP-S9000ES SACD player. A little aged, but still a decent performer. Cables were Cardas Audio Golden Cross. I used six tunes of varying styles and from various labels.
Donald Fagen: Morph the Cat: Security Joan
Ray Charles: Ray Sings, Basie Swings: Oh What a Beautiful Morning
Buena Vista Social Club: Buena Vista Social Club: Puebla Nueno
Audioslave: Audioslave: Show Me How to Live
Pink Floyd: DKOTM, SACD: Money
Burmester Demo CD-03: Rimsky-Korsakov: Excerpts from the Sea & Sinbad's Ship
I can hear a clear separation between the piano and the guitar that sometimes gets lost in the mix during the opening. This is a nice view into the studio. The sound is pretty relaxed and has a good feel. I can also hear the trademark vocal doubling that DF enjoys on many of his recordings. The bass is there, but pretty cleaniny in the mix.
Bass is a little more prominent. It lays down a totally different groove, and seems just a touch more musical. I can't take the mix apart quite as much, but I am feelin the funk! The midrange here is nice, but the lyrics sometimes escape me.
Good sound, very smooth. No wicked highs. Can clearly hear the processing changes as the band comes in. Great horn section!
Seems laid back. Ray sounds younger (this is true!). Recording doesnt sound as immediate with his voice, but I seem to hear more of who he is on this recording. Lots of vocal colorations. Sounds very much like a clean studio mix, with panned mono multitrack. Neat.
This track is so open. The venue seems so realistic I can nearly smell the wood floors. The piano sounds elegantly raw and real. The tango feel here is unmistakable. On some systems the piano can sound too overcooked, but the CK2III gets it right, and the musical decorations are not missed. Sweet.
So clean. I'm getting the cadence of this piece of music very clearly, but with less romance. I am much closer to the sheet music, the arrangement. This amp also reveals the musical foibles in the players, which is in a way maybe a better representation of the recording, if this is what you seek. There is definitely no midrange overhang to speak of.
OH YEAHHHHHHHHHH! Ladies and gents, we are in the studio with a high-decibel set of monitors, listening to the mix. I'm believing the rock and roll. Clean and alive.
Commerford is beating my head with the bass lines. Instead of being behind the mixing console, I'm now out in the studio. The band is on fire, my head is movin to the beat, and I can feel the music.
I'm 12 again. Wow. Perfect doubling of the bass and guitar in the opening lines, and a great read on the vocal track. Good feel all around.
The Ventus sounds great here. It has crossed over and sounds really musical, then adds in the clean studio-style presentation. I can very
clearly hear the echo on the sax line. Amazing.
Good hall sound, nice front-hall presentation. The recording sounds really good. I can quite clearly hear each instrument group, and each solo instrument. Very clean. Sounds great.
A few rows back from the Ventus. The lower strings seem to present a bit more authority, and the orchestra seems to have a bit more intensity. What is that, anyway?! Like earlier tests, some of the instrument resolution is not here, but the orchestra as a whole is surprising and strong. And I suppose, this is what I would expect sitting a few rows back, anyway. But it almost sounds like a different condutor!
In the end, here is how it seemed to roll up:
Clean and accurate without being in your face. Not an easy task to accomplish. I liked it's ability to sound almost Dynahi-like, but just without that raw dynamic slam. It certainly had a similar clean representation of the music. With the right tunes, everything fell in place and it became very musical.
Highly musical and with a touch more bass response. Also not easy accomplish! How can you put words to something being "musical"? That's the CKKIII.
As with any test, system synergy could make or break the review. Swapping out cables, headphones, power cables...all that...then subtracting or adding in your own hearing and preferences...could change the outcome and offer some subtle tuning. For me, I'm not letting either amp go for a very long time!
Edited by bhjazz - 10/24/10 at 9:39pm