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    proudly presenting my Dynaco ST-120



    Posts : 81
    Join date : 2013-12-06
    Age : 63
    Location : Antwerp, BELGIUM

    proudly presenting my Dynaco ST-120

    Post by MarcVBelgium on Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:11 pm

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks.  My audio history is probably not unlike many others. It all started in 1969 at the age of 16.
    My first Philips ‘gramophone’ with large speakers containing the now legendary Philips 9710 driver . That was a good start…… Followed by a Pioneer SA-8500 and a Thorens TD-150….in the early seventies. The rest is history.
    A list of all equipment that passed in my home would take me too far. Things “cooled” down in 1991 when I acquired a pair of Acoustat 1+1, a Krell PAM-7 preamp and a pair of Michell Alecto Mono Power amps. Source was a Michell Gyrodec/SMEV/Kiseki Blackheart , a Rotel CD player (CD was not important to me) and a Revox FM-tuner.   This kept me going until 2010 (!). But then the Krell started to have “issues”, the mono’s needed repair, etc…… The Gyrodec is still with me today (with a Benz Wood cartridge). As we moved to another house, the Acoustats were no longer an option (they have given me lots of musical pleasure and they are now still going on somewhere in Germany).
    Then I went for a “system” approach and as I am sitting quite close to my speakers (2,7 m) I opted for a “pointsource” main speaker. Tannoy was an obvious choice (Kef could have been  another possibility, but my heart is with Tannoy). The amplification chosen is by Lyngdorf Audio, which offers a large array of tuning possibilities. There is Roomperfect ® (which compensates – digitally- for room acoustics), a digital cross-over with a choice of 6 filter slopes (Butterworth or Linkwitz-Riley), delay correction, etc.. leading to the use of main speakers above 250 Hz (Tannoy Mini Autograph – a miniature wonder of precision and sound) and Lyngdorf corner woofers (now 2 on each side, each containing 2   10” woofers – totaling 8 woofers in my room).  Each pair of speakers has its own dedicated power amplifier by Lyngdorf . The roomperfect processor controls the system, resulting in extreme high quality of music reproduction (very thight, deep,articulate and tunefull bass). I must admit that it took me almost 3 years to reach the level of performance that I have today. (small tweaks, getting to know the room and optimizing the system to play with the room and not against does make a difference as to where in the room you place the measuring microphone)
    The fact that both speakers are used in their optimum range results in no strain at any level, unbelievable dynamics, the 4 cornerwoofers practically don’t move, leading to extremely low distortion. Very (very!) high listening levels are possible without a trace of strain (except on my ears )
    Even when a system is perfected, the urge to go on, compare and learn, never ends. On a certain moment last year, I was able to buy a beautiful McIntosh in new condition for some 35% of its original price (C-38 & MC-150)… I could not resist…..This was integrated in the room, with a (2nd hand) roomperfect ® processor between them and a pair of (2nd hand) Tannoy Glenair 10 (the big speakers). Goal was to tune this system’s sound  as close as possible to the main system… the coarse of doing this, I wanted to know what tubes could do and then came in…. the ST-120 Bob Latino amp…. leading to more research to optimally integrate a tube amplifier in the system.
    Today, I can use either system separately, the digital outputs of an Oppo BD 105 or a Lyngdorf CD-1 feeding the digital Lyngdorf preamp (which also has analogue line inputs for the phono section), while both their analog outputs are connected to the C-38/MC-150, where I can easily change the power amp into the ST-120  (or a rebuild of the solid state ST-120 by Dan Joffe or a very old 1974 MC-2100) .  As you can see, I like to fool around with different gear. (I am also rebuilding 2 1960’s Dynaco MKIV’s).
    It is however very interesting to do this, as I now can easily study the differences between Solid State, Digital/PWM and Tubes.  The fact that there is acoustic roomcompensation + an acoustic damping panel behind the listening position, reveals the differences between amplifiers much more uncoloured and pure, because there is far less “sound” from the room itself. Very interesting comparisons can be made this way.
    All systems being optimally tuned to the room, I can honestly say that either digital, solidstate or tubes can give me many hours of non-fatiguing listening pleasure. However, tubes (ST-120) do have that “magic” with voices, that no other technology can deliver.
    Therefore, the Dynaco is my favourite for (mostly female) vocal jazz. It does have perfect control over the low frequency and for me ….. is a perfect, extremely musical amplifier !  (I use KT-120 and I am listening to different rectifiers, my latest addition being an original Mullard GZ-37 from NATO stock). I still have to figure out what’s best (I am passed GZ-34/5AR4, using 5U4G NOS Sylvania at this moment….. the GZ-37 still to be tested.)

    I admit that I have always been partly professionally engaged in the HiFi scene in Belgium/Holland, 44 years of activity in this field gave me a very large people’s network . Otherwise I could never afford to do all this. And there is a lot of (perfectly sound) second hand equipment…

    May 1 coming, I am officially “retired” from a 40 year banking career and then I will be fulltime professionally engaged as an audio adviser, working with a local dealer (distributor of Lyngdorf and Steinway-Lyngdorf) who is one of my best friends since 1985. Emphasis on roomacoustics, roomprocessors and acoustic panels.  I know that you can build a very satisfying audio system with limited budget, if you know how to “play” the room.  And whether you use SS or tubes or digital… depending of the favours of the client 
    Will keep you posted on experiences with different rectifier tubes.

    BTW in the pictures there is a cage on the Dynaco…. I remove this when playing….. gets far too hot otherwise…

    All the best


    Posts : 130
    Join date : 2009-01-20
    Age : 68

    Re: proudly presenting my Dynaco ST-120

    Post by pmarcin on Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:13 pm


    Very thorough analysis.

    I tend to agree with your analysis of SS vs tubes vs digital, because I maintain a SS and a tube system.
    I have found the following SS units to be very pleasing: Monarchy, Chord, Aksa and Odyssey.

    MarcVBelgium wrote:or a rebuild of the solid state ST-120 by Dan Joffe
    It isn't really a rebuild, since it's based on the tripath LM3886. It is excellent sounding.

    ST-120 by Dan Joffe
    I suspect your feeling about tubes might be enhanced by listening to the Aikido preamps (tubes4hifi or John Broskie) or some vintage 6bq5(el84) amp(eico,scott,grommes,heath,harmon kardon,etc.)

    BTW: Harmon Kardon's can still be had reasonably in the US: HK 500 ~$500 USD--I wish this had a Euro transformer. Excellent sounding.

    And there are th SETs...GSG,Budgie SE ...SETs



    Posts : 12
    Join date : 2015-02-07
    Location : Chicago

    Re: proudly presenting my Dynaco ST-120

    Post by tajanes on Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:00 pm

    Yea, I can see you got the audio bug, very early on (16) and in a big way. Great pieces in your collection.


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