On The Feeding And Care Of Vienna Mahlers

As already you may have gleaned from several threads, I have fallen in love with the Vienna Mahlers during the 2006 RMAF, where I listened to them repeatedly and at length in the excellent Rowland / Soundings / Sumiko suite. At the time, they were driven by a Primare CD21 CD player, Rowland Concerto preamp, Rowland 312 stereo amp.

No longer able to resist, I decided to retire my Maggies IIIAs, and ordered a pair of Mahlers in Rosewood livery during late August, and have received them a couple of weeks ago, crated in their coffins. Soon after, they were hoisted up the stairs to the loft with the help of a stout hand-cart and of a 'few good men'--you know who you are. . . and thanks a bunch guys! Why is it that anything good has to weigh almost 200lbs?

Well, now they are all connected, via a set of emergency Monster speaker wires, while my trusted Cardas Golden Refs are awaiting to be shipped to Cardas for retermination. They are at the end of a fully balanced chain consisting of TEAC Esoteric X-01, ARC Ref 3, Rowland model 7M balanced (latest series made 1989 with trans-impedance modules and rear primary power switches). ICs are Audioquest Skys. Temporarily, I am running the Mahlers with woofers facing outward, speakers cantered in by perhaps 7 degrees. Speakers are approximately 22 inches from a half wall behind them, and are standing about 77 inches apart center to center. Because of the shape of the listening loft -- which has a passage on its right leading to the stairs -- i cannot center them evenly from the side walls: the front of the left speaker is 28 inches from the wall, while the right speaker sits 60 inches from the right wall. The listening loft is a carpeted area having stippled walls approximately 17 feet x 19 feet with a half wall along the long side where the system is situated. The ceiling is coffered with a max height of perhaps 12 ft. The half wall opens to an even larger area that extends downstairs to the house entrance. The carpeted floor of the loft is in turn covered by an extremely thick 9 X 12 ft wool rug. A couch sits close to the windows opposite the stereo.

At approx 60 hours of break in, the Mahlers were already making wonderful music; the treble opening nicely; midrange already solid and textured; the bass deepening; staging and imaging fleshing out. At 68 hrs some -- I trust temporary -- excessive warmth sat in. I can only guess about their sound once they stabilize, and only then I will write a full review. In the meantime I'd like to hear from other audiophiles about their experiences/opinions of the Mahlers.

Here are some possible topics for discussion:

Any experiences connecting speaker wires to Mahlers via maggie Pins? The socket on the 5-way binding post of my Mahlers is marginally too narrow for the Maggie Pins on my Cardas Golden Ref speaker wires. . . I can fit 1 connector out of 4 only.

Total speaker break in time, and expected performance/sonic fluctuations during break in.

The eternal debate. . . woofers out or woofers in?

Experiments with bass and treble management dip-switches?

Effect of front grilles on/off?

Ideal distance from back wall / side walls?

Ideal angling?

Amplifiers and speaker wires that in your experience match well or do not match well with Mahlers.

Things that in your view Mahlers excell at, and areas they may not do so well.

That's it from my end. . . . 'tis your turn now guys & girls!

Thank you Downunder, I definitely concur about sounding even better with front grilles removed. I am still running with woofers facing out. Tonight I'll try to reduce toein to just a couple of degrees: with about 7 or 8 degrees staging is very good, but speakers do not quite disappear from imaging. Does anyone know if woofer grilles are removable as well?
I finally have my Strausses home and in place and have been spending the weekend playing with them. I'm able to let them run 24 hours per day so I'm already well along the break-in curve. I think the main difference between the Strauss and the Mahler is that the latter has two woofers per side while I have only one. That seems to be plenty for my small room.
I am liking them better with the woofers outward facing. With them inward, I thought the bass was more extended, but not quite so controlled. With the outward facing woofers, I think the room is carrying the bass better and what I hear is a bit less deep, but definitely more musical. I've also tried, and think I like, an arrangement whereby I have my Hsu subwoofer set at a very low filter point, probably about 25 Hertz and am using minimal gain on the subwoofer amplifier. I think it's picking up that bottom half octave just right where the Strauss rolls off.
I'm not sure how far from the side walls to have the speakers. My room is only 15 feet long. Rig and 13 feet wide. I have them about 1.5 feet from the back walls and about 8 inches from the side walls. I think they're imaging well, but it can always be better!
When Rod from Soundings set up my Mahlers he told me that whether the woofers face in or out is very room dependent. He ended up setting mine up facing out, and doing a few things differently than the way I had set them up. They sounded very good when I first got them but much better after he set them up. I add another recommendation for the Sumiko set up if that is at all possible.

In my case, the speakers are toed in to the pt where you see just a sliver of the sides from the listening position -- a fairly classic speaker set up. The main thing I remember about the set-up discussions we had was the idea that everything is very room dependent.

FWIW, I have a very large hexagonaolly shapred room with high ceilings. Speakers are about 3 ' out into the room centered, which leaves no real sidewalls due to the hexagonal sloping of the sides away from the back wall. The rest of my system is Linn with their 2250 200 watt amp.
Few days ago I swapped my mahlers sideways for curiosity. I have a cluttered living room, large enough but L shaped. Not an easy task for the mahlers. However, with the woofers facing each other, i can clearly notice an increase in output in the region 100hz - 80hz. Not
exactly a good thing but its a matter of personal opinion. It make the sound bold. I enjoy them either ways. However I will return them to the original place. I also have a rel stadium iii to complement the very last octave, crossed at 22hz. I set the mahlers without spikes on the wood floor. The amp is a. Bryston 4bsst.
" Does anyone know if woofer grilles are removable as well? "

Yes you can, you need to pull on the material a litle bit as from memory they are stuck on with valcro. I just pulled one off to look at the woofer, then put it back on.