Listening Adventures With the Wonderful SPEC Amps!
By Siedy Abee
I am one of those guys who is a regular reader of Jeff’s Place. It is always a great pleasure to open up Jeff’s website and to read about his newest adventures. This year Jeff reported about a new amp from SPEC (here).
I had never heard about the SPEC RSA-M3EX before, and I started reading with interest about Jeff’s first listening experience with the SPEC RSA-M3EX. This is the middle model in the range of SPEC amps. See the website for more detailed information.
Wow, Jeff was really impressed by this amp. It performed very impressively on his big Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers. Based on his review I informed one of my best friends, Piet de Vries. I knew Piet was thinking about starting a company who is specialized in selling very nice audio equipment. In line of what Mr. Yazaki-san (of the SPEC company) calls ‘Real Sound’. I told Piet about the SPEC amps. To put a long story in short words: Piet is now importing the SPEC amps! Wow! He started immediately with the whole range, including the RSA-F33EX!
Yes, this was all inspired by Jeff!
Piet is also now the importer for the Netherlands for Telos Audio Cables & accessories, and he is the dealer for Harbeth loudspeakers, Pennaudio loudspeakers and network-players from Lumin.
See Piet’s nice website (in Dutch).
Piet invited us to have a listen at his place. He lives very nice.
He lives nearby the German border in a very rural area. Very quiet & lovely. The equipment we did the listening to and with:
- Tannoy 15 DMT Mk2
- Linn LP 12 – full Linn version!
- Telos BRANDA speaker cables
- Interlinks: Telos BRANDA
- Power cables: Telos Branda
- Lumin S1 Network Player
- ASR Emitter 2 Exclusive version blue, with Accupower
- SPEC RSA-F33EX
- SPEC RSA-M3EX
- Tannoy 215 DMT Mk2
- Telos GOLD Reference cable
- Interlinks: homemade interlinks (copper/gold/cotton isolation)
- Lumin D1 Network Player
- SPEC RSA-M3EX
- Penaudio Sara SE
- Western Electric loudspeaker cable en interlinks
- Lumin D1 Network Player
- SPEC RSA-717EX
Together with Jan Hut (the designer and maker of my Chaos mk2 integrated tube amp, cables, interlinks and who modified my beloved Philips CD 104 player) and Stefan we started listening to set 1.
We started with the mighty ASR Emitter 2 Exclusive amp. The sound was fine and we liked the way the Emitter was controlling the Tannoy 15 DMT. It was just the way an Emitter should sound, with a huge soundstage combined with lovely voices and an non-aggressive sound. As always it was as if we were listening to an nice tube amp with real-world power and slam.
After this Piet installed the SPEC RSA-F33EX. It is a bit strange to put an amp on the huge Emitter but there was no other place. After a short time of warming up for the SPEC Piet hit the play button for the Lumin, and we were all quite shocked! This SPEC amp sounded very different compared to the Emitter. It sounded more spacious and holographic and at the same time very transparent & open, and it brought into the room a new sense of energy and musicality. How is this possible? We don’t know.
In a certain way I was sad about this. I do really love the sound and the looks of the Emitter, and now here was just a 1-box integrated amp (the Emitter has four boxes) that was outperforming the Emitter. After some discussion we concluded that the bass of the Emitter was perhaps somehow a bit more dominant, but only slightly. After listening to this awesome good sounding SPEC we turned it off and installed the SPEC RSA-M3EX.
After a nice cup of coffee and some delicious cake Piet turned up the volume and hit the play button. Immediately we could hear that this amp had the ‘SPEC family sound’. The same energetic, dynamic and tubelike sound as his bigger brother. The difference where not all that big! Be sure, when you have heard the F33EX you know that it is the way to go – end of story. But the F33EX is almost double the price of the M3EX. Is that worth the money? If you can live with 95% of the performance of his bigger brother than is the answer NO, if you want to have it than you have to buy the ‘bigga brotha’.
So, after these amazing listening experiences Piet brought us a nice beer. It tasted good!
Than we changed over to set 2. The sound was very nice and very like the sound of set 1. Although a bit less dynamic and holographic. Note: in later listening sessions we discovered that the 215 DMT Mk2 was not as precise as the 15 DMT Mk2. The soundstage was more diffuse compared to the 15 DMT, and not so pin-point in imaging. Overall we could hear also now the same fine musical sound as with set 1: very lifelike, organic, holographic and very musical! We really could hear what Yazaki-san means with “Real Sound’ reproduction.
After this Piet invited us to change our chairs again, so we could listen to set 3. A set with a lot of ‘Real Sound’ components! The cables were all from Western Electric. Piet did not warn us when he let the music play! WOW! What a nice sound! How was this possible! How could such a fine bass be produced by such a little speaker? It really sounded very musical and muscular! The sound was almost around us, as if were listening to 3D sound produced by a 2D set. The combination of this very nice speaker, little SPEC amp (the ‘717’), and the WE cables blew our minds! The big Tannoys produced a really big sound, and the sound of the Dual Concentric tulip wave unit was very precise and holographic, but listening to this more room friendly set-up was really nice.
This listening session was very involving, and we all want to thank Jeff that he inspired Piet to contact Yazaki-san of the SPEC Corporation! (You are welcome! Yazaki-san is a treasure! – Jeff)
In a later session Piet brought the SPEC RSA-F33EX with him to my house. Also on the Westminster Royal SE the sound was very involving. A very precise and controlled sound with spades of musicality and lifelike dynamics and again a very holographic sound. Although I do prefer the sound of my Chaos Mk2 tube amp, I could happily live with the SPEC amp! Note: the Chaos Mk2 amp was specially built by Jan to get the best out of a Tannoy loudspeaker, and Jan fine tuned the Chaos Mk2 to complement my Westminster. Also we did not experimented with cables and so on. So, we put no special effort in the SPEC to get the best out of it. I do believe there is even more to the SPEC than I heard that evening at my place.
Based on what I heard at Piet’s place, and at my house, I can only state that I heard a Class D amp that really sounds life-like, organic, and especially holographic. This is a sound I like very much!
I must state to every music lover who wants to achieve ‘Real Sound’ in their room, please listen to these very nice SPEC amps. The build quality is excellent, and the sound is excellent too!
Many thanks to Siedy Abee for sharing his hi-fi adventures with the SPEC Corporation Real Sound Amplifiers with all of us here at Jeff’s Place.
I would like to congratulate Piet de Vries on becoming the distributor for SPEC Corporation Real Sound products in the Netherlands. Please stop in and visit with Piet when you get the chance, and be sure to check out Piet’s website (in Dutch).
I also just found out the Piet de Vries is having a very successful showing right now at the Hi-Fi Show in Veldhoven!
In Piet’s Facebook post he said, “We are ready! Everything prepared and tuned in Veldhoven for the X-fi show. With many thanks to Siedy Abee, Arjen van der Schaaf, and Wessel de Vries. Thanks guys !
Here’s some more images Siedy sent me from the Veldhoven show:
Note: Siedy just sent me a message and said, “The ‘iPhone’ in the piece of wood (Piet his Son calls it the ‘Apple tree’) is actually an iPad. We use it as a remote control for the S1 Lumin network player.”
It looks like you’re having fun – I wish I was there with you!
Best wishes to you all from Jeff’s Place!