VdH Mainstream

 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto ..., Ontario Canada

Post Number: 406
Registered: Jun-08
Hi Art,

This is all prepped for your weekend post/review on your cable. I'd like to hear about the vdH on your Apollo, as well. Want to get an understanding of what these cable can really do...how much of a difference do they make? Thanks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 8443
Registered: Feb-05
Gosh George what can I say. There are so many variables...let me start by saying that by the time I put the vdH Mainstream in the system I had already improved the performance by such a large degree that I was very satisfied.

The Mainstream, per the good folks I bought it from takes a very long time to break in. They say 500-1000 hrs. That seems like a lot to me but I can attest to the fact that it does take a long time and typical of van den Hul the ride to get there is a bit bumpy.

The first day I put the Mainstream in I was struck by how smooth the system sounded...too smooth, almost lifeless. I was considering putting the Kimber PK10 back...keep in mind that I told my wife before I installed the Mainstream that I would likely have to tweak speaker placement as many aspects of the sound were likely to change..well it would take a couple of weeks before I listened to my own advice.

Two weeks into the audition the sound started to liven up a bit and I was satisfied enough to try a couple of reference discs...such as Patricia Barber's Café Blue and a couple of the Norah Jones discs...so far so good, just a bit lifeless but timbre was outstanding. The sound was a bit muffled and yet detailed, hard to explain but I can say that I was not yet completely convinced. Now it was time for a special evening of listening. A couple of times a year my wife and I bust out some good liquor and put on our favorite rock band Wilco..we usually play three or four of their cd's. We started with Sky Blue Sky and we were both appalled. I looked at her about two thirds through the cd and said "I have never hear that cd sound so dead and lifeless...WOW that sucks". So I put the Kimber back in and said that's better, more life....but the timbre sounds just a bit artificial and it's missing some of the detail, but I can live that if I can have the life back in my music..

Then the light bulb turned on and I said to my wife...wait a sec...I changed the power cord back to the vdH and just stared at the system and the room. Here we go, I moved the speakers about 6 inches further apart and about one inch closer to the wall and decreased what was already very little toe in. Sat back in my chair and the wife and I were slack jawed the rest of the night. The life was back and all of the other advantages of the vdH over the Kimber, more three dimensional soundstage, better timbre were all still there, and now considerably less muffled...it was coming together very nicely. I maging was still a bit diffuse.

Over the last couple of weeks every aspect of the sound has improved. What little bit of a haze or muffled sound was there is now completely gone, soundstage is excellent providing both depth and width, imaging is outstanding. With well recorded discs I can hear where everyone is, both in regard to how forward and to which side of the recording venue they are. Timbre, already a strength is now so good that I doubt anyone who has heard this Rega would even recognize it as Rega, detail being stunning for this gear. At this point I couldn't be more satisfied.

Every weekend it sounds better than the last now George. I really can't believe this is the same Rega system that I started out with a couple of years ago...it's been that transformed by the right combination of cables.

Cable Loom by van den Hul

Mainstream Power cord for amp
Mainserver Power cord for the cd player
Waterfall IC's between the cd player and the amp
D352 speaker cable
 

Silver Member
Username: Wattsssup

Barrie, ON Canada

Post Number: 290
Registered: Aug-06
Good read. I like happy stories :-).
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 8446
Registered: Feb-05
Thanks Marc...the happy ending just keeps gettin' happier...damn near giddy!
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto ..., Ontario Canada

Post Number: 412
Registered: Jun-08
Thanks for sharing Art.
This is a very good testimony to the fact that cables can make a difference and a positive one at that. I've experience a clear improvement from switching from no-name 14g speaker cabels to Kimber 4pr.
It sounds like you're getting everything and more out of them and if anything it's only getting better (you need to update this review once you've got a 1000hrs on them - don't forget).
I personally don't think I'm ready to take the investement in cable to your level given that I haven't yet settled on the 2-ch system.
I think you've really taken a staged approach to building a hearty system. You've found a brand and core components that met your core preferences (talk about synergy)and have then tweaked the system up with the cable. It makes sense to get the components right and then customize the sound with the cables.
Really appreciate you sharing your experience.
Cheers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto ..., Ontario Canada

Post Number: 495
Registered: Jun-08
Art,

Now that you've got such high quality loom in your kit, have you installed an isolated and upgraded power line? In other words, is your system pluged into an upgrade receptical that is connected to an high quality power line that feeds into your hydro box on a separate and dedicated breaker? I would think to get anywhere near the full benefit out of those power cords, everything from the wall to the breaker box would need to be dedicated and upgraded. I have read that this is the first place to start and have thought about putting in one for myself for awhile now.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3135
Registered: May-05
If this helps George...

I don't have a dedicated power line because I don't own the house. If it were mine, that would be my first priority. I've heard a few systems with dedicated power lines. The difference was never subtle. Everything plugged into a dedicated line showed a difference - Amps, sources, and TVs. One dealer I used to frequent where I grew up had a few dedicated lines in different rooms where he'd demo the differences. Its not component nor brand dependent. The benefits are across the board and a there's no trade-offs that I've ever heard - ie better bass at the expense of soundstage.

From what I hear, they're not very expensive nor difficult to do. My father is a whiz with the stuff (completely remodeled/renovated 2 houses/4units apartments by himself over the years) and will install a couple when I buy a house.
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto ..., Ontario Canada

Post Number: 497
Registered: Jun-08
Good to hear Stu.

I'm pretty confident I could do myself but have a couple friend who are electricians and could help me out for a beer. The question is what type of power line to use. Would you use the standard Home Depot wire that meets building specs or go with something a little more exotic? Would you install a whole separate electrical panel that would be dedicated to AV, if so you would need an electrican for sure and Hydro to shut off and then turn on the power? Then comes the receptacle - probaby an upgrade from standard stock would be worth it. When it comes to power I would think you want to address the weakest link, which is what's behind the wall. That would only enhance everything on the inside of the wall.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3137
Registered: May-05
Very good questions, George. I'm not sure about the specifics. Frank has commented on it before, as has Jan and a few others. I'm sure they'll have more insight to it.

I think the biggest thing in it is having a seperate ground, connected to your main water pipe or something similar. Frank was saying something like that a while back.

As far as the receptical goes, get something better than the standard outlet. Hopsital grade of some sort. The cheaper PS Audio power outlet is supposedly pretty good. Some people somewhere (Audio Circle maybe?) were talking about a hopsital grade outlet commonly available at Home Depot that they had very good results with.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 8551
Registered: Feb-05
"Now that you've got such high quality loom in your kit, have you installed an isolated and upgraded power line? In other words, is your system pluged into an upgrade receptical that is connected to an high quality power line that feeds into your hydro box on a separate and dedicated breaker? I would think to get anywhere near the full benefit out of those power cords, everything from the wall to the breaker box would need to be dedicated and upgraded. I have read that this is the first place to start and have thought about putting in one for myself for awhile now."

No no and no. Perhaps all of that will be a worthwhile upgrade once I get around to doing it and I will, when I decide whether or not I will be moving from here in a year or two. However as I stated, pretty clearly I thought, my system benefitted greatly from the vdH power cord. When I move I can take that upgrade with me.
 

Silver Member
Username: Soundgame

Richmond Hill Toronto ..., Ontario Canada

Post Number: 502
Registered: Jun-08
Yes Art, that's understood. If your roots are not permanent in your current dwelling then investing in to such more permanent upgrades to wiring may not be worthwhile. However, if you've got those great benefits from the vdH cords, just think how much greater they could be with the wiring upgrade.
Think of your vdH cords as being an F1 racecar but with the wiring you now have behind the wall, you're only got "regular" fuel in the tank. With the wiring you'll be running on high octane.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 8557
Registered: Feb-05
Yep George I know that...however after a kitchen remodel a couple of years ago I don't want contractors or construction guys (of any sort) around for awhile...at least until I decide whether to get into a bigger place.

However as stated even with regular fuel the improvements are not small.
 

Silver Member
Username: Jazzman71

Phoenix, AZ USA

Post Number: 485
Registered: Dec-07
Art, you may have covered this in another thread, but which cable upgrade do you think made the most significant difference along the way (I assume you did this sequentially)? Did you do the ICs first and the power cable last?
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 8562
Registered: Feb-05
They all made a significant difference. In the last 2 years with this system I've been through 10 sets of interconnects, 3 sets of speaker cables and 4 power cords for the Mira 3 and 3 for the Apollo, including the stock ones ofcourse. I'm one of those folks who hears a significant difference in cables so I may not be the one to ask.

I recommend a balanced loom from the same manufatcurer for any system (balanced not in the hifi sense but balanced as in of equal quality in the manufacturer's range). Whether you buy Chord or Cardas, Analysis Plus or Kimber putting together a full loom seems to get you the most from that manufacturer's philosophy for sound.
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