I've been pursuing a particular path to audio nirvana for the last couple years, that is to say, the road to musical enlightenment. I'd been, for the most part, shopping the used markets, picking up bargains, and due to my budget, sticking to vintage solid state topologies, really good clean examples on the common market. On rare occasion (two of which I've already chronicled), I'll research a particular newer item, find a consensus of opinion that's of a favorable nature, then commit to purchase the item(s). In these cases, after reading glowing reviews on the XDRF1-HD and the schiit bifrost, I made the purchases knowing that the general agreement was that the pieces synergised easily, and actually took the entire system up a notch or two.
I had a rare opportunity to purchase Klipsch Fortes while auditioning a receiver (which I'll review at a later date), as it was two weeks before Christmas and the seller obviously had to get rid of them. He had an extremely small room that already housed his everyday drivers, a nice pair of Altec 19's, in fact the room was already too small to properly play either pair without actually sitting directly point-blank in front of either, as neither are well-suited to nearfield listening. He was planning to list them for sale, locally, and found the sale the way it went down to be convenient (no shipping, and he could use the extra cash two weeks before Christmas!). I had been angling for some heritage Klipsch (these are from 1986) for some time. I figured they would be out of my price range, but I was happily wrong that day.
I usually go shopping with lots of money so that if I see something that really lights my fire I can go all in and get the item I'm angling for, as well as anything else that seems to be a good deal I encounter along the way. This day was no exception, and the Fortes came home. I did this one time when buying a car. I had $4000 to my name and took off on a buying trip. I saw the car I had wanted all along, a Pontiac Firebird, in a beautiful forest green to match my Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck. Within minutes the deal was struck, the paperwork was complete, and on the spur of the moment the Firebird was coming home. I have lived to appreciate those examples of impulse buying, as I'm still enjoying both immensely. (I digress...)
I've been wanting to pursue a different avenue of amplification, and knowing this, I had different people scoping deals on tube amps for me after hearing for ages that they paired well with efficient speakers (a la Klipsch, at 98dB.) Normally 2 or 3 watts are plenty to drive such a sensitive speaker, and this was my ideal choice to hear the Fortes in their element, singing beautifully. Upon purchasing a highly-touted Decware SE84C-S Zen Triode Select tube integrated amp (built by Steve Deckert, by hand, right here in Peoria, Illinois, back in January 2003) I found my match made in heaven, flea-powered SET topology and super-efficient horn-driven speakers. The combo is indescribably delicious...
So, what this shows you, at the end of the day, is that a few watts goes a long way with the right speakers, timely advice is invaluable, and good deals are hard to find. When pursuing audio, when the right deal comes along it becomes buying time! These beauties are now my daily drivers:
Decware SE84C-S Zen Triode Select tube integrated amp
Heritage Klipsch Forte 3-way loudspeakers
Tomorrow...I'll be reviewing what I consider to be the best LP of 2012 thus far, nearly half over now! So, until then, keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!