I've had my C-1 for a little while now, but for the first several days I had little time to meaningfully listen to it, since between work and school, my only listening times were late at night and I live in an apartment. I've also had little time for long winded internetting, which seems to be the only type I am capable of managing. Pre-Preamble done.
Preamble: The seller packed my item so well, that despite not being the stock box, it's a keeper. Custom styrfoam etc. He also shipped it out reasonably fast, and I got it a day or two after my last post. I feel bad for the guy, cause he didn't want to sell, but medical issues forced his hand. I promised him I would take good care of the C-1 at least. End, Preamble.
The Amble begins... Very first thing I noticed when pulling it out of the box (forgot this step once, and have a 16 yr old son now...) was the solid feel. I like that, and even though I'm not picking it up and moving it about much, just knowing it's built like a tank makes my chair just a little bit more comfortable. My unit is very clean, and looks better than it did in the pics. Was not disappoint. Got it plugged in, turned it on and started pushing buttons and twiddling knobs. All felt OK. Put my ear directly to the chassis, and notice a faint, but familiar buzz :/ although not audible without my ear being in contact. I hate buzzing tranny's, and even though my ear is not in contact with it, like ever, it makes my chair slightly less comfortable. I hooked everything up, turned the gain all the way up and got my ears close to the speakers. Damn, this thing is effin quiet. Pushing the SH button makes it a little less so, but only a little and only noticeable with my ear at the speaker and the gain all the way up.
The Amble continiues... With my CD player (Sony SACD/CD/DVD) hooked directly to it, I fed it some music -HOLY BASS RESOLUTION BATMAN! had to dive at my Outlaw ICBM and turn the gain down on the low pass before the plaster cracked. Not really, but still... Ran more music through it, starting with Flanger Midnight Sounds and Templates, since I had listened to those several times recently and honestly it provides quite a dynamic range workout for any system, and is incredibly well recorded. So well, that the SH circuit has very little effect on the sound, but I couldn't stop listening. Incredible. More detail on those CD's than I realized. Lots of tinkly, shimmery, splashy stuff, over smooooooth loooooow deeeep cleeeeaaaan baaasssss. Me gusta. Started digging into my live recording pile of discs, to give the SH a whirl, but first things first. Got out my trusty old Stereophile disc with some test tones on it and pulled out my RS dB meter. Fuck me. Why, why were these things even invented. Without fail, pulling that thing out leads me to wanting to punch myself in the dick. It allowed me to at least get the low pass gain set right, which is why I had it out. It also helped me determine that the tone control circuit is rather noisy, since I spent an inordinate amount of time with test tones playing, and that brought out the worst in the tone controls, adding a faint but noticeable tearing kind of sound to otherwise clean warbletones, so like everyone else that seems to have one of these or one of it's cousins, tone controls are bypassed. Unfortunately it also reminded me that I have serious room response issues, which I had conveniently put out of my mind. At first I thought the C-1 was misbehaving or possibly just kinda sucked, but every configuration of speaker/amp/preamp revealed the same 80Hz boost (+10dB) and a 200Hz dip (-10dB). It should be noted that it may not be as bad once the correction chart for that meter is applied, but I'm kinda scared to do that cause likewise it might be even worse and I'm in no position to nurse a fresh case of upgradeitus. I think my speaker placement (Ohm 2XO) may be kicking me in the nuts here too. More work to do here. I always thought of them as insensitive to placement, however I will investigate further once I'm ready to endure another round of brain hemorrhaging, but I digress...
Continuing... Live music and Sonic Holography. Whoa! That's pretty fucking cool. And now I understand the hiss comments too. It's not so much that the SH itself is hissy (it is, but only minutely) it's that most any recordings that benefit from SH also tend to have their floor hiss brought up some. Not all recordings are created equal, so in some cases it's simply unbearable, while others it's hard to listen without it once you've heard it with it. It's more of a revealing hiss than a circuit hiss, which I'm OK with, as the things it sounds good on, it sounds really good on. The tone shift when switching from Stereo to Stereo+SH reminds me of the shift you get when switching from Mono to Stereo. It's like switching from Stereo to 'SuperStereo'! I feel the need to turn it on and off all too often though, which leads me wanting to be able to do that from my listening position, which means my honeymoon with the C-1 will be cut short. Amble ends.
Conclusion... I'm still gonna go for the C-2. After my positive experience with the C-1 might seem a bit strange, but here's the thing. I do like the SH, in fact I like it a lot. But I can't help longing to make it all look cohesive, and the fact that I want to turn SH on and off so frequently is what sealed the deal. The plan. I got a line on a C-9 locally, which I intend to mount to the wall behind my couch. I will then be able to engage/disengage SH from the shweet spot as desired, and then will also then be able to use those sexy little C-2's, with their perfect match for the rest of the rack (all 17" gear, with similar knobs/arrangement of C-2) without sacrificing SH. Unless the C-2 turns out to be sonically inferior to the C-1 (hence my posting about the comparison earlier), The C-2's will be my keepers.
ps. Unintended benefit: with the second output of the C-1 going directly into my Jolida 502/302, allowing my to quickly switch from bi-amped fullrange (Ohm's+Hsu subs split by Outlaw ICBM), to single amp fullrange (502 has multiple inputs and a selector switch), providing an uncomplicated setup well suited to latenight/ 'simpler times' mode.