Yesterday David Berning and I went over to Walt's house to listen to his system. We had a great time and heard some really good sounds. When we got there we started with vinyl and then moved to digital files that I brought on my PC. At first the sound was very good. I did noticed that the upper bass was too prominent and not well controlled. Although the mids and highs were quite good I felt they were slightly lacking.
After many pieces and much scotch being consumed by Walt and David ( I abstained because I was driving) we switched from Walt's single ended Cary amps to one of Davids 300B ZOTL amps. The difference was huge. The bloated upper bass was almost entirely tamed. BTW the sub that Walt had was doing a yeoman's job on the low bass. In addition, the increase in detail, space, and transient response was dramatic. The Carys were really holding back the speakers. I can't say why but I have never been a fan of iron in the signal path. The Carys have both interstage and output transformers, a double hit. Also since they are single ended there is a substantial DC current flowing through the primary of the output transformer making the design of that kind of transformer even more difficult. The rest of the system was excellent and then really shined except for some hum in the phono stage. I just heard from Walt that he found the problem and the hum is no more and the cause was NOT that the phono stage did not know the words.
Without a doubt this was not only an exceptionally good sounding system with David's amp but the best iteration of a horn loaded system I have ever heard. That is no small tribute and it shows how much time and effort Walt has put into taming the idiosyncrasies of stock horn loaded systems. The takeaway is what I have said many times. There is no one road to good sound. Any technology implemented by someone who understands what is happening and spends the effort (and also many times the money) to properly implement that particular approach will be far ahead. There is no single silver bullet to be had.
So kudos to Walt for a job well done. The day also showed that people who often argue over the different paths to good sound can get together and appreciate good results. I'm sure Walt and I will continue to have arguments over the merits of the different approaches but as long as we can recognize the results the arguments are only a means to drive to higher achievements. It takes work to get good results and you have to be willing to take a few hits to your preconceived notions along the way. So if you want to hear what a lot of understanding and sweat equity can bring to good sound try to finagle a listen at Walt's assuming the the Carys are replaced by something better.