Associated Equipment:
Digital Front End
Amplification
Loudspeakers
Cabling
Power Conditioning
 
 
The Reimyo PAT 777 and Krell Resolution Subwoofer
Summer Fling

 

February 2006



              


Many years ago, 20 to be exact, I spent my summers doing the thing that has inspired men to great music, art and the occasional poem. That’s right, the timeless art of chasing girls. There are few times in ones life that, when unattached, match the joy, excitement and more often than not, the terror of approaching a glistening bronzed beach babe. With the gut all sucked in, armed with the hopes of making her breakfast the following morning, the approach is made. If you were really lucky, a sizzling relationship could blossom throughout the summer, only to end in beer soaked tears as described in Don Henley’s’ song Boys of Summer.

Alas, 20 years later, my life barely resembles those bygone days. Screaming infants, a four year old that seems to believe that asking the same question thirty-thousand times will yield different results and my impossibly patient wife, the lucky winner in the great “Who Gets Stuck With Greg Petan For The Rest Of Their Life Sweepstakes,” keeps me pretty well occupied 24/7.

With the life long commitments firmly in place, I have postulated that among other reasons, we men trade out gear so often because we can no longer trade out our relationships. So when I found myself unattached to a reference speaker and amplifier this spring, I sucked in the gut, spiked up the flock of seagulls hairdo and cruised the audio shores in the hopes of capturing just a bit of that old summer magic.

Since I have spent the last several years with high-powered, solid-state amplifiers and large full-range speakers, I thought I would try something different. I have always wanted to give a low powered single-ended tube amp a try so when I found my self ogling the Reimyo PAT 777 7-watt tube amp at the High End show in New York last spring, I put in a request and the quite cordial Lance VanShoonhoven got the ball rolling. Clement Perry was then kind enough to let me spend some time with the Escalante Pinyon speakers and Irv Gross from Krell sent along a couple of the new Resolution Subwoofers.

It is pretty tough to simultaneously evaluate different components in the context of one review, but I feel I have a pretty good handle on the contribution to the whole each piece makes. Since the speakers and digital front-end have been previously reviewed by Stereotimes, the bulk of the review will focus on the amp and the Sub-woofers.

I’ll start with the PAT 777. It is as mentioned before, a single-ended design sporting a 300B output tube. There are no fancy varnished endangered Rain Forest timber side panels, no glowing blue backlit logos that some amps sport to show where the money went. The PAT 777 is entirely about circuit design, transformer construction, and chassis damping with the solitary aim of providing the most pure, most musically engaging sound $24,995 dollars can provide. Like I said, I have never, with the exception of a few months spent with a Sonic Frontiers tube amp many years ago, lived with a tube amp. Would all the preconceived notions and clichés, both positive and negative, about tube amps apply to the PAT 777? I can start to answer that by saying when warmed up, say a good hour or so, the PAT 777 presented music in a fundamentally different way than I have ever experienced. There is a liquidity and grainless nature to the sound, a flow of both color and texture that is of a single piece moved along by a gentle ebb and flow of the dynamic scale that is unsettling to one that is used to larger scale forces dominating the presentation. The sonic picture particularly the dynamic ladder with which the music ascends and descends is broken down into smaller steps, which seem to fill the gaps left exposed by the leaps and bounds taken by higher-powered solid-state amps. Moments often overlooked become more meaningful. Subtle inflective clues take on greater importance. The experience becomes a bit more introspective and reflective rather than visceral. That is not to say that the music rolls over and plays dead, quite to the contrary. In a way that nearly universally escapes high-powered solid-state amplifiers, the PAT 777 moves the music along by way of a seamless continuity of the very fabric of an instrument’s inherently organic being. Wood resonating, air escaping valves, percussive attacks all reproduced with such little editorial, the illusion of the real thing is passed along in a way that requires much less effort by the listener to filter out the subtle distortions that distract and collapse the illusion under it’s own contaminated weight.

With the help of the Krell Resolution Subwoofers, the PAT 777s were relieved of driving the lower frequencies. While this allowed those seven watts to perform optimally, the 777 is not the amplifier for the hard rocking among us. The inherent limitations of the seven watts cannot be overcome in all but the most efficient speakers in a room with low-wattage friendly dimensions. Beyond a certain volume level the PAT 777 simply runs out of steam and stops getting louder. I will not dwell on this point as those truly interested in this amplifier will have likely come to terms with this issue long before proceeding in this direction.

The soundstage and image thrown by the PAT 777 struck me as intimate rather than panoramic. Left to right spread while leaving little to want, was not quite as dramatic as my old Gryphon Encore or my new Boz amplifier. Rather, there is a depth of stage and dimension of the image that makes listening to this amp such a exorcise in musical communication first and foremost. Rimsky’s Scheherazade [BMG09026] was redefined through the PAT 777. Instrumental timbre filled the more intimate proportions of the stage where the solid-state predecessors emphasized dynamic propulsion, the PAT 777 allowed a more colorful textured palate. I would imagine that placing this amp in a system and room of more modest proportions would play to its own strength in this area by not being burdened with filling such a large room.

Those who are able to audition this amplifier will find the blend from the midband into the treble its greatest strength. I addressed the continuity this amp is capable of in previous paragraphs, but the midband and treble, so organic, so devoid of electronic haze, edge or hardness, is singular in its contribution to what makes this amp so special. The harmonic reaches of woodwinds; strings and the upper reaches of the human voice give absolutely no clue that the sound has passed through an electronic device. Aaron Neville singing “Louisiana 1927” from Warm Your Heart [AM75021] became a source of great emotion, particularly given the events of Katrina and the subsequent failures of our public servants, the sadness was almost unbearable. It is true that solid-state and digital amplifiers have come a country mile and then some in the direction of this type of presentation, but the 300B triode equipped Reimyo has reached the destination. If this aspect of music reproduction is your holly grail, start saving your pennies yesterday.

Bottoms Up! The Krell Resolution Subwoofer
As for the pair of Krell Resolution subwoofers that make up the lower half of this unlikely tandem, let’s dispense with the obvious. A 15” polypropylene long throw driver coupled to 700 watts of Krell Current Mode amplification creates such an enormous sonic wave launch, a tidal wave which can be sustained for indefinite periods of time can do nothing if not impress by it’s sheer quantity. There is a saying “Quantity has a quality all its own.” It is as if that saying had been inspired by the Resolution subwoofer. A 1000-watt transformer and 55,000 microfarads of filter capacitance contributes to the inner workings. I have always hated having to make qualifications for high-end speakers lacking of low-end heft and power. Unless your musical tastes rarely stray beyond the small scale jazz or classical that is so well served by the likes of, well, the Reimyo PAT 777 for instance, then most high-end speaker systems will leave you wanting in the lower registers. When mated to my TacT 2.2x, the room corrected bass response could first and foremost be described as sinister. Sustained low bass energy pressurized every square inch of my 3800 square ft loft. Listening to Joe Satriani’s “Devils Slide” from Engines of Creation [EpicES67860], the machine gun low bass notes positively pummel the senses into some kind of stunned paralysis. Until you have experienced such an assault, you have no idea what you are missing. For those not employing outboard crossovers, the Krell Resolution offers user configurable independent low and high pass Butterworth filters with selectable frequencies of 40, 60,80, and 100Hz. Both balanced and single ended inputs are provided as is a signal sensing 12 VDC trigger.

That’s the good news. The equally good news is that while as hard-hitting as the Resolution subwoofers are, they are quite nimble and discreet when necessary. When properly dialed in, in my case running the room correction software of the TacT2.2x, followed up by some judicious parametric equalization allowing for the blending with the outstanding Escalante Pinyon monitors, the tandem of Resolution subs were nearly undetectable. The ability to sync through the midbass was very impressive. Stand up bass in particular can expose frequency related anomalies as well as shifts in timbre or the obfuscation of detail and air as the instrument shifts from midbass notes down into the lower reaches. The Resolution subs showed off their high-end aspirations by remaining pretty linear and of one piece. How such large subs can remain so anonymous is a trick all of its own.

Finally, the Resolution Subwoofers are beautifully constructed, as the $5,500 price would suggest. My subs came in a cherry veneer and were constructed with 1” thick MDF and 2” thick front and rear baffles. They sported the same stretch banded speaker grills found on the Resolution 1 floor-standing speakers I reviewed some months back. As a matter of fact, the nature of the bass from the Resolution sub is much like that of the Resolution 1 tower. The Resolution provides a throughput for instances like mine where an outboard digital crossover was used or in the case of a home theater, where a surround processor is utilized. In the end, the Resolution subwoofer is massive, unflappable and surprisingly capable of providing the audiophile niceties most subs do not.

Is there any down side? Beside it’s rather Rubenesque proportions, not much was made obvious sonically. There were times when the Resolution gave itself away, making its presence known once or twice. Granted I had two of these beasts pointed straight at me from between the monitors. I also tended to push the limits of what the Resolution could do in an effort to gain insight into their capabilities, not to mention for sheer cheap thrills. I would imagine one whom buys one or two of these will go through the “let’s see what these babies can do” faze, and settle into a more permanent, finely tuned arrangement.

Conclusion
Starting with the PAT 777, anyone seriously interested in this amp, and you know who you are, have resolved certain issues all audiophiles must come to grips with. What really matters musically to you? If what I described fills the bill, the PAT 777 is for you. Yes, the PAT 777 costs what it costs, that is a reality you must come to terms with as well. But sometimes dollars and cents make no sense at all in the pursuit of art and emotion. I can think of no better example of that principal than the PAT 777.

The Krell Resolution subwoofer on the other hand is a real world product for the bass lusty audiophile with a few bucks to spare. The resolution sub delivers both carpet curling sub sonic antics and more than a fare share of finesse and invisibility, despite its generous proportions. Built to some seriously high standards and packed with great user flexibility, the Resolution package is a great high-end value and will satisfy both the audiophile and the habitual bottom feeder in all of you with equal measure.

Greg Petan

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Specifications
Krell Resolution Subwoofer
System Type: Powered Subwoofer
Enclosure Type: Sealed
Driver: One 15" woofer with polypropylene cone
Power Amplifier: Purpose-built 800 W Krell amplifier
Frequency Response: 25-200 Hz, +/- 3 dB
Peak Output: 116 dB@ 1 M
Finish: Cherry
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 20.5 x22.5 x23.8 in. 52.0 x 57.0 x 60.5 cm
Weight 110 lb. (49.8 kg)

Reimyo PAT 777 Control Amplifier
Type: Vacuum Tube Control Amplifier
Circuitry: NON-NFB. Complete Discrete Construction.
Tubes: Output: 12AU7 x 2, 12BH7A x 2 Rectify: 6x4WA x 2
Power Consumption: 45W
Power Requirements: AC 117V or 220-230V, 50/60Hz
Whole Unit Size: 430(W) x 139.5(H) x 411(D) mm (Include feet, screw)
Weight: 14.0kgs
Accessory: Not included (AC Power Cord not included) We suggest Harmonix X-DC Studio Master AC Cord

Krell Resolution Subwoofer
Krell Industries
45 Connair Road
Orange, CT 06477-3650
Phone: (203) 799-9954
Fax: (203)-891-2028
Internet: www.Krellonline.com
Price: $6,000

Reimyo PAT 777
Combak Corporation
U.S. Importer/Distributor
May Audio Marketing, Inc.
2150 Liberty Drive, Unit 7
NIAGARA FALLS, NY 14304-4517
Phone: (800) 554-4517
Fax:(716) 283-4434
Internet: www.mayaudio.com
Internet: www.combak.net
Price: $24,995