My new-to-me amplifier, a Bedini 200/200

Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by toddrhodes, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    [​IMG]

    Warning - this got longer than I thought it might. Typical.

    There she is. She won't win any beauty contests, she's old, and she does need a little TLC. Not much, but I actually like that I kind of have to work at this thing a little bit. Because in my somewhat-limited amplifier auditioning experience, I've not met a gal like her before. Thought I had, but, well there was a reason I went shopping.

    Backstory - based on the positive reviews of the Schiit Aegir mono setup, I tried a pair along with a Freya S. I was enchanted by the sound - poised, good inner detail, good sense of space, powerful, but unfortunately just not quite powerful enough for my listening style + my appreciation of loud, dynamic music with 4-ohm Dynaudio speakers. I was a jilted lover. I can't overstate this - I was honestly sad I had to send them back. But I talked it over with a buddy who suggested I look at some old Pass/Threshold stuff, Krell, basically old-school Class A amps. And then he threw out the name "Bedini" which I'd never heard of. I researched, thought hey, that could work but they don't pop up used often. And then this one did.

    So I bought it from a very nice man in Idaho who I still talk back and forth with. Something I love about this hobby; if you're so inclined, just buying a used piece of gear introduces you to a like-minded individual with which you can share triumphs, defeats, and all that. He was very open about the condition of the amp, and we decided to move forward and I'd buy it.

    It arrived safely, but immediately upon hookup, I didn't have a right channel. Turns out the RCA jacks on this amp are every bit of 30 years old and in need of replacement. The innards were shot. No biggie, I can do that. After a few days, while repairing that, I had also popped out the inline speaker fuses (yes, this amp has fuses for each speaker lead, panel mount cartridge style jobs) and introduced another issue - those, too, are old and don't make perfect contact even if you think they have. So I fixed the RCA jack but still had no sound in that channel. Figured out the fuse situation I unwittingly created and I was off and running. Mind you this was after 4 days of listening to this amp, and was already witness to something pretty special. And personally, I just want to breathe a little fresh life into this thing, up to my capabilities to do so. It had all of its main caps, even the huge ones in the center of the amp recently replaced with ones exceeding the stock spec. They're from Mouser, so we're not talking about caps made with Griffin urine and regurgitated truffle moss, but I'm thinking that doesn't matter...

    So it's a little odd describing this amp. For one thing, there aren't many of these floating around. Also, the Aegirs are the closest I've heard to a true Class A amp, but I knew I really enjoyed them, moreso than the upgraded Odyssey Stratos Extreme I've been using for two years. And IMO, the Odyssey is no slouch, I was genuinely happy with it until I heard what I didn't know existed with the Aegirs. So anyway, I don't write this to get people to go out and buy up Bedini amps. There are real risks associated with an amp like this - lack of service, parts, and just general information about them. It's an uneasy feeling, but it's so damn worth it.

    The amp has a hand-wound transformer. It is fed directly from the wall. No IEC plug, no power switch. You unplug it when you're done. When you plug it in, you can see the plug arc inside the wall outlet. The 200/200 don't play.

    The sound? I can only describe it as authoritative. Grip and speed and detail in abundance. It draws a convincing image. It also makes music SO MUCH FUCKING FUN to listen to. Seriously, I'm looking for any of the best recordings I can find; I feel like it's going to deliver them with honesty, authority, and not break a sweat. Shitty, compressed recordings? While it doesn't magically transform them, it does seem to breathe a little life into them.

    Upon hooking it up and listening to a few reference tracks, it was apparent I had way too much bass. I turned down the crossover on each sub, and turned down the gain 3 clicks each. I run my Dyns at full range, and the subs crossed over at 42 Hz, now about 39 Hz. That brought everything together, but I still had more bass than before. But it's not muddy or bloated. It has weight and definition and speed. Playing the Sheffield Drum Record down here now is an experience, not just an album. The sounds of the Final Fantasy game series played by an Orchestra on Distant Worlds? Glorious, fun, with excellent realism. I've got a Chinese Drum album coming in the mail. I'm an "album listener" but as I acclimate to gear, I tend to focus on just certain tracks. But I find myself still listening to all the stuff in between because it just has this liveliness and character to it. It's absolutely startling in the midrange and with a well-recorded tom.

    If it has any fault, I'd say the lower midrange is a little hot. That's it, it's all I can think of. And unfortunately I'm not a musician so I can't give specifics, but a Lee Rittenour disc I just finished up got a little bloomy on the lower strings of an electric guitar. But, for all I know, that's probably just how it is supposed to sound on that recording.

    Most importantly, this amp never runs out of steam. Turn up the volume and every frequency range rises accordingly and as expected. With the Odyssey, it was excellent at about 60-75% listening levels but as the night wore on and the volume rose, it sort of collapsed in on itself. Midrange popped out, but the foundation never came with it. The stage shrunk and flattened. Not with the Bedini. It just does what it does at 50%, at 100%. And I would place a hefty wager on the fact that changing out the old, worn RCA jacks to a nice set of WBT jacks helped in the dynamics department. I mean, the one jack just literally fell apart as I took it out, can't imagine that was doing this thing any favors.

    As I'm sure you can tell, I'm quite happy. And for all I know, maybe it doesn't sound "right" or "perfect." I just know it sounds really, really great to me.

    Thanks for reading, sorry this got so long!
     
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  2. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Glad to hear you found an amp you're happy with! I'll get there eventually ;)
     
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  3. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    It would appear that the adage about Dyns and current is really true. I thought the Odyssey could serve up some current... I was wrong. I just hope this amp holds up for awhile. I've no idea where I go from here if it doesn't.
     
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  4. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Yep. I've been looking at DIY First Watt designs on diyaudio lately. I might end up going that route and building monoblocks.

    My first pair of Dyns were Audience 62s and at the time I was living in Europe so I bought a pair of Quad 99 SS monoblocks. Great amps, I still miss them to this day and they really made the Dyns sing. I think eventually I will get a second Vidar first, and see how I like that before diving into the DIY power amp world.
     
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  5. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    I think I've turned a bit of a corner here... I decided to do the unthinkable and play my torture track (as in, torture to me, not on the system) - Chesky Jazz Sampler Vol 1, Stereo Imaging Test. My room is damn near impossible to set up where all seven stereo positions sound perfect in space. But I did it anyway and, to my complete lack of surprise, the extreme positions were off. Ugh. So I moved the speakers. And again, ad nauseum, until I found a good balance at my listening position. Mind you the speakers moved all of about 3 inches in this process, but nevertheless, it's all much more balanced now. This came about after listening a LOT last night and realizing the left side was just overpowering the right side on a variety of material. It wasn't horrible, but it stood out, so I fixed it.

    In so doing, I decided to switch off the subwoofers just to take a variable out of the setup process. And so I left them off. And I've listened to hifi recorded drums, rock, classical, and female vocal recordings and by god, I actually prefer the system now with the subs completely switched off. There are some tracks where I miss a little bit of slam, but the precision, imaging, and speed of the system without them in place is not subtle. So I'm going to completely unhook them for awhile, clean up the setup a bit, and come back to them in a bit. To me that's the best method for evaluation, at least for me.

    Anyway, thanks for reading :)
     
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  6. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    That's funny, I recently got 12" SVS subs to pair with my F260s and for me in my room they help alot. Older Grand Funk Railroad albums finally have the slam they were missing.

    Maybe that will change if I buy a second Vidar and use them as monoblocks. Thanks for sharing your experience though, it helps me a bunch :)
     
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  7. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

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    It's a pity these beasts are so heavy and potentially run the risk of shipping damage. I would love to send out a posse of Class A slingers to establish new order ;) . Perhaps a somewhat centralized midwest fest is in order to bring some class A action
     
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  8. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    I'd say your fears are well-founded. I'm convinced a lot of the "trouble" I've had with this is from it being shipped. I do trust the gentleman I bought it from and he never had issues like this, but a trip across the country in a flimsy box (he had UPS pack it) along with the weight, and I'm guessing it just finished off a few brittle components.

    I have new fuse holders on the way for the speaker leads. Just trying to "restore" this thing without actually getting too far into it. Haven't decided if I'm going to ditch the quick-connectors used originally and solder those leads, or what.
     
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  9. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    Pics of the inside. Cleaned it up a little with some DeoxIt spray and a bit of air from my compressor to blow out the dust and dry off the D5. Cleaned up pretty nice. Still haven't figured out a good way to get the fuses out, my fingers are a little too big. Probably best if I just leave them alone, but wanted to at least clean up the contacts a little.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Transistors, or at least I think the bottom of them
    [​IMG]

    I don't know amp design, but this thing seems almost too simple. There's a lot going on behind the boards on each side at the back of the amp but otherwise, it's not really a complex layout.
     
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  10. yonson

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    Nice!

    This is when you know your 2 channel setup is really starting to mesh! The F260's have an amazing bottom end and IMHO are one of Dynaudio's best towers ever built, especially for a small to medium size room.

    The internals of this amp look QUITE beefy, especially those bars connecting the caps, are those aluminum?
     
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  11. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    Totally agreed; kinda hard to believe I haven't even been hearing the F260s at their full potential before. I actually put one of my subs back in yesterday, just to see - it wasn't out of place on thinner metal recordings or rock records that just don't have much thump to them, but I mostly listened to the system with it switched off, and that's how it still sits. I do like that I can "tune" things a tiny bit if I just want to rock out and not worry that some studio recording isn't being pushed out with 100% accuracy. A little fun mixed in, if you will. Definitely don't need to even consider going back to two. And if I were ever so inclined to move to something like a Confidence C1 down the road, I think I could get along great even with those, and mix in a sub when necessary, with this amp driving monitors like those.

    I believe those bars are aluminum, at least they look like it to me. Those caps are brand new. Just hoping the rest of the internals remain as durable as they have been because this thing continues to impress me with highlighting details I never heard before (or at least never realized; much like I found with mono Aegirs), but doing so in a very musical and energetic way. There is no facet of this amp that is clinical. It's a beast. And I have absolutely no idea what I'd replace it with if it were to fail.
     
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  12. yonson

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    While they are an amazing sounding speaker, I don't think you would be happy with the C1's. They are well known to "bottom out" when you are really pushing them. If you were going to keep them under 80dB you would be fine but much over that especially on bass heavy stuff they do seem to struggle. Now days there are better options available such as the Contour 20's which do not have the same low end problem however now have the Esotar 2 tweeter, and are IMHO dead sexy!
     
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  13. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    That's a good thought, I appreciate it. I've given some thought to seeing if I could upgrade the tweeters in the F260s but my guess is there's just a lot more going on there with crossovers and such than a simple driver upgrade. Either way, this is all just pie in the sky, I have zero complaints about what I'm hearing. I appreciate the perspective!
     
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  14. yonson

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    There have been some guys that have updated them to the Esotar2 tweeters, however since Dynaudio quit selling raw drivers (other than as replacements through dealers which must return the originals) The only option you would have (other than sourcing pre-owned drivers of course) is to use the automotive line Esotar2 tweeters which are not a drop in solution.

    If down the road you still find yourself wanting to get into something with an Esotar2 there are a couple great pre-owned options available. Staying in the Focus line there's the F380, and then there is the older Contour S 5.4 both of which are a 3 way design and a bit larger than the F260. For something more current there's the Contour 30 which is basically the same size/configuration as your F260 however with quite a few improvements. Then there is the Confidence C2 which could possible be your endgame tower :)
     
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  15. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    OK so I'm pretty sure you're in my head by now :D The C2 is basically my endgame speaker, at least in this room (and probably the bigger room I might eventually finish). Hadn't given much thought to the Contour 5.4 but that's because of... wait for it... the Contour 30. But still, the 5.4 will likely become a hell of a deal on the used market (the C2 already seems to be; there's a set for sale an hour and a half away for $3900 that if I had the money, I'd be on the road right now).

    In any case, I see an upgrade path. But if I'm being honest and pragmatic, this amp, these speakers, and this room? I'm not sure I could create a better match for my listening tastes.
     
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  16. yonson

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    Hehe, nahhh it's just the obvious upgrade path for someone with F260's and a small to medium sized room. I know of a few guys that have upgraded to the C2's and feel this way about them.

    Much like how I've always felt with the C4's in my larger room. I would love to have a set of Evidence Masters however they don't come up for sale often, but it could definitely happen, which is how I lucked up and found an Evidence Center for less than I could even find a Confidence center, PLUS it was less than 20 miles away! In the meantime the C4's are my endgame :)
     
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  17. toddrhodes

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    It was several years ago, but I once saw a set of the lower end, but still Evidences come up for sale overseas for like $8500 plus shipping. I could in no way afford them, but almost broke out a credit card to get them - I've not seen another set anywhere close to that since. I don't have the room for those anyway but still, was an amazing deal at the time. Hell I just saw a set of C4s sold for like $5500 recently. WTF? But if I'm being completely honest, I think the F260s are perfect in this room and I just need to stop tempting myself with upgrade thoughts :)

    I did make a little tweak/update to the amp today. Since i have to unplug it to shut it off, I noticed the last few times, the 30+ year-old male plug was just not going into my recept well and, depending, I was actually getting a pretty violent arc off it. So I lopped off the male end and wired in a rhodium Chi-Fi end to it.

    +5 SQ points for your party, Bedini
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. yonson

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    Wow, I haven't seen any that inexpensive! Lowest I've seen C4's is $7500, but they were ROUGH and I honestly wouldn't have given $3500 for them...

    I've seen some decent deals on Evidence Temptations but having heard them I don't feel they are a big enough step up to deal with the hassle of upgrading, it's pretty much Masters or nothing, although now that I've finally heard the Consequences I probably wouldn't pass up a good deal on those either... Then there's always the possibility of jumping ship to Raidho, but holy crap are they pricey!

    Instead of having to yank the plug from the wall every time to turn the amp off have you looked into running a power conditioner or management unit that you could just switch off? I don't ever turn my amps off however I do have them running through a Panamax M-5300-PM that allows me to turn them all of with the push of 1 button. If you don't mind spending a bit more there's always solutions like the Audioquest Niagra 1000 etc...
     
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  19. toddrhodes

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    I've thought about a good power strip or something. My room runs on a dedicated 20A circuit and has no issues with noise - electrical or ambient - so I've just tried to keep it simple. But, if I had the amp and preamp plugged into the same "strip" I could save myself a flick of a power switch and turn both off at the same time. My fear is that I'd nervosa myself into an expensive unit, even if I don't fully believe it's necessary.

    As for me and speakers; last night was yet another night of almost disbelief at what mostly the same components do with the Bedini running the show now. I honestly think I got lucky as hell finding this amp, and getting the chance to restore some of her former glory. And the F260s really leave me wanting for nothing, but I know they won't last forever. Without any near-term plans to finish my larger space in the basement outside the room I'm in now, I would say that if a great deal came up on either Confidence C2s or old Contour 3.0s reconditioned, I'd be tempted. Otherwise if the other, bigger space comes into play before then, it'll be C4s or bust.
     
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  20. elmoe

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    @toddrhodes have you revisited the subs? Just curious if you are still happy without them
     
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