high-end audio magazine

 

 

Any component in boldface is on loan; items/devices in regular type face belong to the reviewer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAVID ROBINSON'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Evolution Acoustics MM2 loudspeakers with Wave Kinetics isolation feet;
Nova Rendition II loudspeakers outfitted with Walker Audio Reference HDLs on the upper and lower bi-wires, and Townshend Audio Super Tweeters, all contacts treated with Walker Audio Extreme SST Contact Enhancer.

ELECTRONICS
Audionet Pre G2 reference preamplifier; Audionet Max monoblock amplifiers; Audionet Pam G2 reference phono amp with EPX power supply; ALO Studio 6 tubed headphone amp; new Walker Audio Procession Reference Phono Amplifier (06/02/14).

SOURCES
Digital: Playback Designs MPS-5 SACD/CD player and DAC (latest firmware) with USB-X interface for DSD and PCM files via USB, and Toshiba L755 i3 notebook (Windows 7) with multiple external 2, 3 and 4 TB Western Digital or Seagate HDs; Marantz UD9004 Blu Ray/Universal Player; Merging Technologies HAPI Quad DSD ADDA with Pyramix 9.x DAW software
Korg MR-2000S Double DSD-capable digital recorder; eXemplar Audio T105 Oppo 105 universal player with two-box configuration and tubed output.

Analog: Walker Audio Proscenium Black Diamond Level V reference turntable system (upgraded to full Level V as of 06/02/14) with the Black Diamond Arm, Micromagic Magic Diamond MC cartridge, and direct connection to the new Walker Audio Procession Reference Phono Amp (with the new Walker Audio Power Supply for the Procession, as of 06/02/14); Wave Kinetics NVS Turntable with Durand Telos 12" Tonearm and Ortofon Anna MC cartridgeATR Services Ampex ATR-102 open reel tape deck; Technics RS-1700 15ips reel-to-reel tape recorder; Revox B-77 Mk. II 15 ips half-track reel-to-reel tape recorder; Pioneer RT-707 7.5 ips quarter track reel-to-reel tape recorder; Nakamichi Dragon reference cassette deck.

HEADPHONES
Audeze LCD-3 headphones with Audeze balanced and unbalanced cables, and cables by Double Helix (Complement3 balanced and single-ended) and Nordost (Helmdall 2 balanced, single-ended, and 3.5mm); Oppo PM-1 headphones; Sennheiser HD800 headphones (balanced) with Cardas Clear Headphone Cable (2 meter), Cardas Sennheiser connectors, and Cardas Balanced connectors; Cardas Clear Balanced-to-1/4" stereo jack adapter; JH Audio JH16 Pro In-Ear Monitor System; Beyer Dynamic DT-990 headphones.

HEADPHONE AMPS

ALO Studio Six reference tubed headphone amplifier;Oppo Digital HA-1 headphone amplifier and Quad DSD DAC;Ray Samuels SR-71B portable headphone amplifier (balanced and unbalanced connections)

CABLES
Interconnects by Kubala-Sosna Research, Cardas, JENA Labs, Silent Source, Evolution Acoustics, Harmonic Technology, Stereovox, Black Cat, and Linn. Speaker cables by Kubala-Sosna Research,Skogrand, JENA Labs, Cardas, Silent Source, and Linn. Power cables by Kubala-Sosna Research, JENA Labs, Cardas, Evolution Acoustics, First Impression Music, Silent Source, DH Labs, First Impression Music, and VansEvers.

ACCESSORIES
Two (2) Stillpoints ESS Racks with grid shelves and Ultra 5 isolation feet; Ultra 5 speaker isolation feet; Walker Audio Prologue Rack; Walker Audio Prologue Turntable Stand; Walker Audio Prologue Amplifier Stands; Walker Audio Valid Points and Valid Points tuning kits; two Walker Audio Velocitor SS Power Line Enhancers on Velocitor Stands; one Walker Audio Velocitor Power Line Enhancer on a Velocitor Stand (line conditioning for Walker Audio Proscenium turntable system); Furutech DF-2 LP flattener; Furutech DFV-1 LP flattener; AirTight DT-01 Orb Disc (LP) Flattener; Vibraplane turntable isolation platform; Black Diamond Racing "The Shelf" and cones; Gryphon Exorcist system demagnetizer; Dedicated Audio Cable Tower cable supports; additional equipment racks by Michael Green; Shakti Stones and Shakti Onlines; VansEvers Clean Line; VPI 17F LP cleaning system with the latest Walker Prelude Record Cleaning System (11/2011 edition); Walker Audio Extreme SST Contact Enhancer (2011); Walker Audio Ultra Vivid SACD/DVD/CD enhancer (improved formulation, 06/2009); Walker Audio Talisman LP/disc De-static device; Audio Desk Systeme Glass Ultrasonic Vinyl Cleaner: Furutech DeStat II static neutralizer; Furutech RD-2 SACD/DVD/CD demagnetizer; Stein Music DE-3 LP Conditioner; Furutech DeMag LP/SACD/DVD/CD degausser; Furutech SK-II Electrostatic Brush; Audioquest Anti-Static Record Cleaning Brush; Cen-Tech Analog Sound Level Meter; KAB Speed Strobe turntable strobe measurement system; hifi4music Digistrobo turntable strobe measurement system; acoustical treatments by ASC, NuCore, VansEvers, and Michael Green; PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant P10; Stein Music Harmonizer system with tuning stones.

My listening room is of irregular shape, being 12.5' wide x 13.5' long in the right section, and 18' long in the left (equipment) section, with a ceiling height of 8'. It is cambered left and right, with no perpendicular edge on the sidewalls to ceiling transition. Construction was done with 2" x 6" studs, wall-within-a-wall on the left and right sides (media storage in a room to the left, equipment storage in a room to the right). The room is on the second floor, directly over the garage—no competing sounds. The neighborhood is quiet, being located on top of a hill some 500 feet above the valley below, the listening room faces south, away from the main access road.

Power to components in the listening room is fully dedicated. 10 gauge Romex was pulled directly from the panel, all from the same pole to avoid ground loops. Four 20 amp runs were done, and Tesla Flex and JENA Labs cryo-treated AC receptacles were installed. All lights and peripheral components are on separate circuits. Circuits have been tested for proper ground and polarity.

Robinson's Home Theater System

  • Linn Kisto Controller

  • Linn 5125 5.1 channel amplifiers (x 2, 5 channel bi-amped configuration)

  • Linn Akurate 242 L/R front channel speakers

  • Linn Akurate 225 center channel speaker

  • Linn Akurate 212 L/R rear channel speakers

  • Linn Melodik subwoofer

  • Sony HAP Z1ES Double DSD Music Server with Xperia Pad remote control

  • Paradigm SUB 25 reference subwoofer

  • All HDMI cables by Furutech

  • Mitsubishi SD-HD2000U D-VHS/S-VHS digital HD VCR

  • Panasonic TH-65PX600U 65" plasma HD TV (1080p)

  • Furutech Daytona 303 AC Line Filter (two units)

  • Furutech 20 amp duplex AC receptacles (x2)

  • Cables by Furutech, DH Labs, Cardas, Linn, and JENA Labs

  • Oppo BDP-105 Darbee Edition Blu Ray/Universal Player

  • Oppo HM-31 3x1 Advanced HDMI Switch

  • Walker Audio E-SST Contact Enhancer

  • Walker Audio Ultra Vivid DVD/SACD/CD Enhancer (06/2009 formulation)

The home theater system is housed in our great room. The dimensions are 18' wide by 24' long, with a peaked and vaulted ceiling that's 16' high at the center of the lengthwise room line. The fireplace forces a "shift left" of the High Definition TV and the L/C/R playback, a necessary compromise that skews the sound somewhat, but still allows for a satisfying home theater/surround sound experience.

Robinson's Computer/Internet-based Music System

  • Home Network has been upgraded to 105 mbps for maximum Internet performance via Comcast

  • Dell Precision T7600 workstation, Windows 7 Ultimate, Blu Ray R/W and DVD R/W optical drive, Realtek 192kHz PCM audio, dual Intel 6 Core processors, 64 GB ECC RAM, 3 TB RAID 1 hard drives with multiple external 3 and 4 TB USB 3.0 hard drives

  • Dell Precision T7400 workstation, Windows Vista Ultimate, Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic (D), Intel Xeon Quad Core, 4 GB ECC RAM, 300 GB 15K RPM SAS RAID1

  • HP Pavilion DV8t notebook computer, Windows 7 Ultimate, nVidia+Altec Lansing Sound, Intel i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, 640 GB 7200 RPM SATA HD, 18.4" 16x9 display supporting 1080p (true Blu Ray), Blu Ray, DVD+/-RW, and CD-RW

  • Music Server is HP EX-495 with Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB RAM, running Microsoft Home Server 2003, 1.5 TB HD, with expansion HD bays for three more HDs and up to 17 TB storage space.

  • darTZeel CTH-8550 integrated amplifier

  • MBL C51 integrated amplifier

  • ALO Studio Six tubed headphone amplifier

  • Oppo Digital HA-1 headphone amplifier and Quad DSD DAC

  • Oppo BDP-105 Universal Player with ModWright Tube Modification with Custom MWI Reference and Truth power cable, Power Supply 9.9 with custom large tube chassis opening and Phillips 5R4GYS rectifier tube upgrade, dual Bybee Rail mods, and Audio Magic Pulse Gen ZX.

  • Teac Esoteric DV-60 Universal Player (used mainly for SACD)

  • Astell & Kern AK240 Portable Double DSD/PCM high resolution Player

  • Upgrade Company Oppo BDP 105

  • Korg MR-2 portable DSD recorder”

  • AURALiC VEGA DSD-capable DAC

  • Benchmark DAC2 HGC DSD-Capable DAC

  • Mytek Stereo 192-DSD DSD/Double DSD-capable DAC

  • Furutech GT-40 USB DAC

  • Evolution Acoustics MMMicro One loudspeakers with Wavestream Kinetics isolation feet

  • Skogrand Cables SC Purist Ignis reference loudspeaker cables

  • Nova Audio Ovation (two-way Scanspeak) speakers

  • Furutech Daytona 303 Line Conditioner

  • Furutech GTX-D 20A high-end Duplex AC Receptacle

  • Furutech GTX Wall Plate

  • Furutech Duplex AC Cover Plate 104-D

  • Furutech Fl-20 Power Cable

  • PranaWire Photon USB Cable

  • Audioquest Diamond USB 2.0 cable

  • Nordost Blue Heaven USB 2.0 data cable

  • Cynosure USB reference cable by Locus Design

  • Furutech deStat

  • Three (3) Seagate 3 TB USB 3.0/2.0 hard disc drives; two (2) Seagate 4 TB USB 3.0/2.0 hard disk drives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAVE AND CAROL CLARK'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Reimer Speaker Systems Tetons (with the Hi-Vi Isodynamic Planar tweeters and series crossovers) heavily treated with Marigo VTS Dots, with Townshend Audio super-tweeters.

ELECTRONICS
Clayton Audio M200 monoblock amplifiers (with Hi-Fi Tuning and Furutech fuses), Heed Quasar phonostage and Canamp, and a Cary Audio SLP-05 preamplifier w/Pope 6SN7s (with Hi-Fi Tuning fuses). DEQX PreMate.

SOURCES
Digital: Playback Design MPS-5 player (with a Furutech fuse) and Mytek Stereo192 DSD DAC.
Analog: Transrotor 25/25/60 Leonardo turntable with a Shelter 901 MC cartridge w/Marigo dot. Sennheiser HD600 and Audeze LCD 3 headphones and Heed Audio Canamp headphone amplifier.
Computer Based System (main system): Mac Mini (Quad Core i7/8GB ram with iTunes 11, Pure Music 1.89g, Audirvana, or Amarra ) to a Sonicweld Diverter HR via either the Locus Design Nucleus or Cynosure V2, Cardas Clear, WyWires, Purist Audio, Light Harmonic, or Furutech USB cables (or direct to the DAC via a van den Hul Optocoupler II Toslink cable). Purist Audio Contego S/PDIF RCA or AES/EBU, von Gaylord Chinchilla AES/EBU, Locus Design Core S/PDIF RCA or AES/EBU, or DH Labs D-75 AES/EBU digital cables feeding the digital inputs on the Playback MPS-5. Drobo FS with four WD Green 1TB drives. Shakti Stones and Onlines. Audioquest Carbon Cat7 and Netgear gigabit switch. Atomic Audio isolation platform.

CABLES
Locus Design Vision, Kubala-Sosna Emotion, Purist Audio Proteus Provectus Revised, Skogrand, and/or Soundstring interconnects. Kubala-Sosna Emotion or Purist Audio Proteus Provectus Revised, and Skogrand speaker cables. Kubala-Sosna Emotion, Purist Audio, Kaplan GS MKll, Dynamic Design Spirit-C Digital (CD player), Tel-Wire, Pi Audio (Mac Mini), and Luminous Audio Power Lynx Mega (amps and preamps) AC cords.

ACCESSORIES
Stein H2 Harmonizers, Nordost Qv2, Qx2, and Qx4, Bybee Power Purifier v 2.0 AC Conditioner, Nanotec Nespa #1, Furutech RD-2 demagnitizer, Acoustic Revive RR-77 and R-777 with KingRex DC power supply, Golden Goddess Super Effect Speaker Bullets, Blue Circle BC86 Noise Hound (office system) and Audio Prism QuietLines (throughout the house). Dedicated 20 (amplifiers) and 15 amp (everything else) AC circuits. Tons of Shakti Stones and On-Lines, and Original Cable Jackets (frig's AC and telephone line). Various Marigo VTS Dots used extensively throughout the system and room (window behind listening seat). EchoBuster acoustical treatments and Shakti Hallographs. Black Raviolis under Bybee, Heed, Mac, Playback, Cary, and Claytons, (1, 2, and 3 versions). BDR cones and board (turntable), BDR cones and Jumbos (under speakers), and even more BDR cones and Composite discs under whatever else is left. Mondo racks and stands. Walker Audio Ultimate High Definition Links, Talisman, and SST, and Furutech Nano Liquid. Clever Little Clock. Various hard woods placed here and there along with numerous Peter Belt treatments. audioexcellence az AudioDharma Cable Cooker for all cables.

Our listening room is about 18' long x 14' wide and has 9' coved ceilings. All walls are lathe and plaster with suspended wood floors (construction is 1928 Spanish) which have been reinforced directly under the speakers with concrete pillars. While this is our living room, it has become dedicated more to audio than to casual conversation. As such we have employed a fair amount of room treatments (EchoBuster, Marigo, and Shakti products), as well as two dedicated AC lines. Speakers and equipment have been painstakingly measured and set up to offer the best presentation possible. Our musical tastes are pretty much all over the map, but we do prefer music that is more slanted and "alternative" to the accepted norm—regardless of the genre. I should add that in my room, the Reimer Tetons are pretty much flat to 21Hz.

When we listen to music, Carol and I prefer a full-range sound that places the performers out into the room. We like a more "in-your-face" sound as opposed one where the soundstage sits well behind the speakers. Additionally, we like our music with a bit more "syrup" than most so our current system is slanted towards the richer and warmer side of things. Another thing we do like is detail and imaging. Yes, a well-defined soundfield that offers a well-lit stage is what we are after—though one that stresses musicality over sterile neutrality. Not lush mind you, but a bit perhaps a touch darker than most.

Secondary System

LOUDSPEAKERS
Chario Hyper Reference 2000.

ELECTRONICS
Kora Explorer 90 SI integrated.

SOURCES
EAD T-1000 transport and DSP-1000 II DAC.

CABLES
Interconnects are DH Labs Revelations, Audience, or Kubala-Sosna. Speaker cables are JPS Ultraconductors.

ACCESSORIES
Blue Circle BC86 Noise Hound, dedicated 20 amp circuit, and Vibrapods.

Computer Based System (home office)

  • Dell W7 Desktops (audio is direct out via USB).
  • iTunes, FooBar, JRiver, etc.
  • Benchmark DAC 1, DAC 1 Pre (USB), DAC 1 HDR, Mytek, and Centrance DacPort,.
  • Audioengine P4 and N22 amplifier.
  • Audioengine 2 loudspeakers.
  • Sennhieser HD600 headphones.
  • Drobo FS with three 1TB WD Green drives.
  • Shakti Stones and Onlines.
  • Zu, KImber, Audience interconnects.
  • Kimber, Cardas, Furutech, Wireworld USB cables.
  • DH Labs Power Plus AC cord.
  • Cat 6 and Netgear gigabit switch.

Home Theater System

LOUDSPEAKERS
Paradigm LCR350 fronts and center, 250 surrounds, and a Velodyne DSP12 subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
Pioneer VSX-60TXV receiver.

SOURCES
Samsung 46" LED HDTV television and an Oppo BD105.

CABLES
Luminous Audio speaker cables, Cardas S-video cable, Cardas component video cables, Audioquest Carbon HDMI, Silver Sonic HDMI 1.3 cable, and DH Labs Deluxe Toslink cables. Bybee Golden Goddess TV Enhancer AC tail, Kubala-Sosna, DH Labs Red Wave, Luminous, and JPS AC cords.

ACCESSORIES
Equi-Tech 1.5Q balanced power, Gingko Cloud 10 platform, Shakti Stones and On-lines, and an Electra-Clear EAU-1 parallel AC unit.

 

 

 

MYLES B. ASTOR'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Magico S5.

ELECTRONICS
Conrad-Johnson ART amplifier, conrad-johnson GAT preamplifier, conrad-johnson TEA 1bc, Avid HIFI Pulsare, Doshi Audio and Allnic 3000V phonostages, Bottlehead Repro tape preamplifier (with Telefunken ECC88 and EF806 tubes) and King/Cello tape preamplifier (with Dueland VSF capacitors).

SOURCES
Digital: Altis Audio CDT-III transport and 24/96 Reference DAC (with Telefunken ECC82 tubes) and Sony SCD-1 SACD player. Analog: VPI Classic Direct turntable and 3D arm, ZYX Omega Au Gold LO, Koetsu Azule Blue, Triangle Arts Zeus, Ikeda 9TT, Transfiguration Proteus, and Lyra Atlas cartridges; Reel-to-reel: J-corder/Bottlehead modded Technics RS-1500US/Pro-Nortronics PB heads.

CABLES
Audioquest Amazon interconnects (Bill Low Signatures), Cello Strings speaker cable, Transparent Audio Reference MM2 speaker and interconnect cable, Skogrand Ignis Purist interconnect and speaker cables, Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnect cables, speaker and AC power cords, Kubala-Sosna Elation AC power cord and ESP Reference Essence AC cord.

ACCESSORIES
KLaudio and Audio Deske RCM, Silver Circle Audio Pure Power 5se power line conditioner, Furutech GTX-D (Au) AC outlets, Goldmund cones, Silent Running Audio VR Series IsoBases under amplifiers, phono section and turntable, Silent Running audio Ohio Class XL+2 base under VPI turntable, Silent Running Audio Craz equipment stand, Symposium Acoustics Isis Stand for Technics reel-to-reel, Audio Physics cartridge demagnetizer, Thor Audio Phono burn-in, audiodharma cable burn-in, Lyra SPT, Kontak, Clearaudio Stylus cleaning fluid, Onzow stylus cleaner, Marigo Labs Window damping dots, Dedicated Audio Cable Towers, Darklab hubs, Cathedral Sound panels and Hi-Fi Tuning fuses/Quantum chips (for cj amplifiers)

Room: Although my new city listening room is similar in size to my old listening room, (19 x 12 x 8 vs the previous 19 x 13 x 8 ft.), the speakers now fire along the long instead of short wall resulting in a significantly different presentation. Instead of the verrrryyy…. wide soundstage and musically rich sound of yesteryear, my current listening room remains musical but is significantly less colored and more transparent with a ever-so-slightly narrower but deeper soundstage.

Software: My musical library currently numbers approximately 8000 LPs, 100 15-ips tapes and 700 SACDs, DVDs and CDs. Musically this breaks down into roughly 80% classical (Consisting of the original Mercury, RCA, Lyrita, Harmonia Mundi, EMI, Decca/London, Argo and many other wonderful labels), 10% jazz, 5% rock and 5% assorted (world music, soundtracks, country, etc.).

Select Stereo Spectaculars

  • Yasukaza Amemiya: Summer Prayer RCA RVC-2154
  • Malcolm Arnold: Sarabande and Polka EMI ASD 3823
  • Benjamin Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb Argo ZRG 5440
  • Kimio Eto: Art of the Koto Elektra EKS-734
  • Bill Evans Trio at Shelly's Manne-Hole OJC 263
  • Gil Evans: Out of the Cool Impulse Stereo A4 (or Alto Edition)
  • Picaflor: Latin American Music for Guitar and Mandolin Titanic Mn-5
  • Rashomon Carlton Deluxe Stereo STLPX 5000
  • Songs from the Fayrfax Manuscript Musical Heritage Society MHS 4649
  • Mel Torme: I Dig the Duke, I Dig the Count Verve V6 8491
  • Edgar Varese: Arcana, Integrales, Ionisation Decca SXL 6550
  • Sarah Vaughn: Send in the Clowns Pablo 2312-130
  • Charles Wuorinen: Percussion Symphony Nonesuch H-71353

Listening habits: In a nutshell, the system must first and foremost, sound musical, not mechanical. The system should in those oh-so-rare rare, but precious moments, transcend the mechanical and recreate the illusion of the real event. At the same time, this musicality shouldn't result from gross colorations or distortions, such as that displayed by bad single-ended amplifier designs.

Though I can appreciate the diversity of approaches and paths to attaining audio nirvana, I absolutely loathe upper midrange aberrations. Specifically, that upper midrange brightness (note that what many think is a rising top end is in actuality traceable to problems in the upper midrange area as defined by HP). This upper midrange brightness results in part from non-linearity, not the frequency domain distortions (for more on this, see the early seminal papers on capacitor design by Curl and Marsh.) Another reason for this upper midrange distortion(s), although far less common in current equipment, is the presence of ferromagnetic leads/material in the signal path.

Other than that, I'm highly partial to systems that create a realistic soundstage (in other words, a quartet sounds like a quartet and not a symphony or vice versa) and imaging (I've never heard an orchestra sound, even in the worst musical venue, err Avery Fisher Hall, sound like amorphous, ill-defined blobs of sound), a wide frequency response, and musically consonant, not over-etched, low-level resolution.

That said, I'm probably a bit more tolerant than some to a slight loss of macrodynamics (the type one might have to sacrifice with the best electrostatic, though not anemic like early Quad speakers, that despite all their attributes, just couldn't overcome one of their most significant weaknesses). Maybe I'd be less tolerant of this flaw if large symphonic works were a listening staple in the Astor musical repertoire. Or possibly it's because I place more value on microdynamics (damn those tradeoffs!), or what musicians term dynamic shadings. Dynamics shading, along with the unspoken element, musical silence, are probably two of the most important components of music that receive little or no attention from many audiophiles.

Listening Panel: Tiger (a 2½ year old, male Tawny Spotted Bengal cat) and Sweet Pea (a 1 year old, female, Snow Bengal cat).

 

 

 

 

DR. SARDONICUS' SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Piega P-10, VMPS, and ACI Sapphire XL w\subs

ELECTRONICS
BAT VK-600-SE power amplifier, BAT VK-P-10 SE tube phonostage and a BAT VK-51-SE (modified) tube line stage.

SOURCES
EMM Labs CDSA SE. Custom made Jena Labs/Technics SP-10 turntable with SME-10 arm, and a Cardas Heart MC Cartridge.

CABLES
Mostly Jena Labs Pathfinder, Dream Dancer, and Valkyrie level interconnect, speaker, and AC cables.

ACCESSORIES
Critical Mass Racks, Critical Mass Grand Master, Reference and Amplifier Filters (update review pending), Billy Bags Pro 23 Amplifier Stands (under review), and Jena Labs Ez One, and The One, power conditioners.

 

 

 

GREG WEAVER'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Von Schweikert Audio VR-5 Anniversary, Von Schweikert Audio Vortex VR-33, B&W Matrix 1, with rare factory upgrade to van den Hul internal wire, Audience 1+1, Audience The ONE Personal Reference Monitors.

ELECTRONICS
ModWright SL 100 Tube Preamplifier (rolled out with a vintage f32 Mullard GZ34 and a matched pair of 6SN7GT CBS/Hytron dual triodes), Channel Islands Audio PLC●1 MkII passive preamplifier with VAC●1 power supply. Channel Islands Audio D●500 MkII Monoblocks (Putzeys based Class D), Channel Islands Audio VMB●1 Monoblocks (gain-clone). DSA Phono ONE phono preamplifier. Benchmark DAC2-HGC DAC, Channel Islands Audio Transient MKII with VDC●5 MKII high current power supply.

SOURCES
Redpoint Audio Design Model D, Tri-Planar Mk VII Precision tonearm, Transfiguration Temper V MC Cartridge, Clearaudio Virtuoso Mk II Moving Magnet Cartridge, Denon 103-D (with vdHul Mods) MC Cartridge, others… McCormack UDP-1 Beyond Deluxe (many more mods—over and above those offered by the factory). Hollis Audio Labs MS-2 Music Server. Magnum Dynalab FT-11 Tuner.

CABLES
Stealth Audio Reverie Biwires, Audience Au24-SE biwires, Von Schweikert Master Built Signature biwires, SoundString Gen II Platinum Edition Biwires. Stealth Śakra V12, Stealth Śakra, Stealth Indra, Stealth Nanofiber, Stealth PGS, Audience Au24-SE (single-ended and balanced), Acoustic Zen Absolute, and Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II. Audience Au24-SE HP and LP powerChords, Acoustic Zen Absolute and Gargantua II power cables, Audience Au 24 powerChords, Soundstring High-Output 30 amp Gen II power cables.

ACCESSORIES
Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation System equipment stand (with Apex Footers and Formula Shelves), Grand Prix Audio Monaco Amp stands, Magico QPods, Grand Prix Audio Apex Footers, Aurios 1.2 MIB, Vibrapods & Vibrapod Cones, Herbie’s UltraSonic SS Tube Dampers, Home Brew Cable Lifters. Audience adeptResponse aR-12-TS with Audience Au24-SE powerChord, Furutech eTP-80, Monster Cable HTS 800, a pair of Quantum Products, Inc. Symphony Pro's, and a liberal application of HiFi-Tuning Supreme3 fuses.
Vinyl Cleaning/Care: VPI HQ-16.5, Nitty Gritty Mini-Pro, Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions, Buggtussel Vinyl-Zime, the full gamut of LAST record care products, Disc Dr. Miracle Record Cleaner and Quick Wash. Furutech RD-2 demagnetizer (now branded Acoustic-Revive), Digital Systems and Solutions UltraBit Platinum-Plus™, Digital Systems and Solutions TruVoice Dampers™, Audience Auric Illuminator. Mint LP Solutions Best Tractor, Onzow ZeroDust, AudioQuest DM-100 demagnetizer, KAB Channel Balancer, KAB Speed Strobe.
Audio Dharma Cable Cooker 2.5 EFS. Shakti Hallographs, CornerTunes.

Room

My music room occupies a dedicated 11' 9" wide X 23' 9" deep x 7' 4" tall space. The walls are block and have been sealed, insulated, then dry walled, and the floor is a poured slab. The ceiling is suspended acoustic tile hung under the sub-flooring and HVAC ducting above it. The center of the ScanSpeak Revelator in my Von Schweikert Audio VR-5 Anniversary is 79" from the rear walls and 24" from their respective sidewalls, positioning them some 7' 8" apart, tweeter center to tweeter center. My listening chair is centered between and roughly 10 feet back from the plane of the tweeters.

Shakti Innovations Hallographs and RoomTunes Corner Tunes lay down the base for room taming. I also have employed two very large plants behind the speakers to afford a very effective diffraction/diffusion field in those rear corners. Further, the floor-to-ceiling shelving situated along the right side wall of the room (housing LPs and optical media) provides a diffraction/diffusion field along that wall to balance the openness native to the left side of the room. The left side boundary of the room is not a solid wall; it is a hanging room divider comprised of hundreds of thin strips, hung together in blind fashion, and suspended from the ceiling.

Power to components in the listening room is fully dedicated, with a pair of 20 amps runs for amplification (one for each monoblock), and another separate single 15 amp circuit for the source components. All other devices in that room (lights, printers, computers, etc.) are on yet another entirely separate circuit. All circuits in the room were set up for proper ground and polarity, and I have provided dedicated grounding for this room.

Those who know me (or have read my work over the years) know that my system MUST be tonally accurate, strikingly neutral, stunningly transparent, and jubilantly musical. However, open, detailed, and layered soundstaging, combined with realistically sized and spatially accurate images, are every bit as important to me as truthful timbre and musical bloom. With the right recording, this system whisks you back to the venue or hall of the original performance for a spooky-real recreation of that event in the here and now.

I have had any number of audiophile and musician visitors' remark on the power of the listening experience as witnessed from my chair. Musicians from any number of genres of music, from Salsa to Rock 'n' Roll to Classical, have actually wept after or during a listening session. Audiophiles of many years have remarked things like, "What more could you ask for," and "I've never heard a rig sound ANY BETTER than this."

While that is encouraging to hear, and seems to indicate that I'm doing the right things with component and cable selection and room set up, my system (every system? ;-D) must be seen as an ongoing project. Every once in a while, the addition of some new piece, be it a source, a cable, or an accessory, allows me to move just a little closer to that actual musical event. The journey continues…

Multi-channel music and Home Theatre system

Housed in a separate dedicated 12' x 22" by 7' 4" space, the theater has two dedicated rows of seating, with the second row elevated. For times when I really need more than 5 or 6 seats, as there is some 12 plus feet of open space behind the second row of seats, extra temporary seating is easily added.

MONITORS
Mitsubishi WD-62527 1080p/720p 62" HDTV, Samsung FH6200 60" 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV.

LOUDSPEAKERS
Von Schweikert Vortex VR-33, Mirage MC-3 center, Optimus LX-4 rears, Mirage FRx-S10 subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
Emotiva LMC-1 7 channel preamp/processor, Emotiva LPA-1 seven-channel amplifier.

SOURCES
McCormack UDP-1 Beyond Deluxe Universal player, Samsung BD-P1590 BluRay Player, DirecTV R-10 HD receiver, Hughes HDVR2 DirecTV TiVo Digital Receiver, JVC HR-S3600U S-VHS.

CABLES
Audience Au24 speaker cables, Audience Au24e interconnects, SoundString Gen II Platinum Edition HDMI v1.4 cables.

ACCESSORIES
DIY Equipment Stands, Monster Cable HTS 800, Quantum Symphony Pro, Aurios 1.2 MIB, Furutech RD-2 demagnetizer (now branded Acoustic-Revive), Digital Systems and Solutions UltraBit Platinum-Plus™, Digital Systems and Solutions UltraBit Diamond-Plus™, Digital Systems and Solutions TruVoice Dampers™, Audience Auric Illuminator optical disc treatments.

 

 

 

CHIP STERN'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Dynaudio Confidence C1, Acoustic Zen Adagio, Meadowlark Swallows, Epos ELS-3, Audioengine 2.

ELECTRONICS
Rogue Audio Medusa Vacuum Tube/Class D Hybrid Amplifier, Rogue Audio M180 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks [with KT-120 Tubes]Rogue Audio Hera II Two-Chassis Vacuum Tube Pre-Amp, Manley Massive Passive Vacuum Tube Parametric Equalizer, VTL 5.5 Vacuum Tube Preamp, Rogue Audio Triton Phono Preamp, Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum Integrated Amp, Music Hall Trio CD Receiver, Furutech GT40 24Bit/96KHz USB Audio Interface.

SOURCES
Oppo BDP-105 Blu-Ray Universal Upgrade Company Signature Edition, Oppo BDP-95 Blu-Ray Universal, Alesis ML-9600 Masterlink Mastering CD Recorder, Upscale Audio Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 Vacuum Tube CD Player (in 24/192 Super Tjoeb configuration), Rega Planar 25 turntable with Rega RB600 tone-arm and Grado Statement Master cartridge, Kyocera D-801 Cassette Deck, Marantz PMD430 Portable Cassette Recorder, Korg MR-1000 Digital Mobile Recorder, Zoom H1 Digital Recorder, Zoom Q3HD Digital Audio/Video Recorder, Panasonic Viera TC-P42G25 1080p Plasma HDTV.

CABLES
Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II interconnects, Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper Balanced Interconnects, Monster Cable Sigma Retro Gold interconnects and speaker cables, JPS Labs Superconductor 3 interconnects and speaker cables, JPS Labs Aluminata Interconnects, JPS Labs Aluminata, Kaptovator, Digital and Analog AC, Acoustic Zen Gargantua II and Absolute AC.

ACCESSORIES
Two PolyCrystal equipment racks, a PolyCrystal amp stand and PolyCrystal speaker stands. Power line conditioning: Equi=Tech Q650 and 2Q Balanced Power Isolation Transformers, Monster Cable AVS 2000 Automatic Voltage Stabilizer. JPS Labs Kaptovator outlet centers, Ringmat 330 and Signal Guard II isolation stand (turntable), Shakti Stones (electromagnetic stabilizers), PolyCrystal cones, Argent Room Lens, Echo Busters' Bass Busters absorptive and diffusive panels, Grado RS-1 Stereo Headphones, Grado iGrado Headphones, Grado SR80 Headphones.

 

 

ROBERT H. LEVI'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Marten Bird Loudspeakers, Marten Duke 2 Loudspeakers, and REL Stadium III subwoofer

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R. 324 phono preamplifier, [2] E.A.R. 890 amplifiers (run as monos), E.A.R. 534 Stereo Amplifier, E.A.R. 912 Professional Preamplifier, E.A.R. 834L Tube Line Stage, E.A.R. HP4 Headphone Amplifier, Grado Battery Headphone Amplifier, and KingRex Headphone Amplifier.

SOURCES
Analog: E.A.R. Disk Master Turntable with two Helius Omega Tonearms. Digital: E.A.R. Acute III CD player, E.A.R. Acute 1 CD Player, ModWright Sony 9100ES SACD/CD/DVD Player with Signature Truth Modifications, Mod/Bybee Filters and Revelation Cryo Silver Umbilical. ModWright Sony 999ES CD/SACD/DVD Player with signature Truth Mod and Tube Power Supply, and Alesis Masterlink 24/96 Recorder/Playback Deck. Cartridges: Koetsu Rosewood Signature Phono Cartridge, London Reference Phono Cartridge, and Grado Statement1 Phono Cartridge. LD: Pioneer DVL 919 CD/LD/DVD Player. Tuners: Magnum Dynalab MD-108 Reference Tuner, Marantz 10B FM Tuner, Day Sequerra Reference FM1 Tuner, McIntosh MR71 FM Tuner, Dynaco AF6 FM Tuner, and Marantz ST17 FM Tuner. Headphones: Stax 7t Electrostatic headphones, Grado RS1 headphones, Grado PS 1000 and PS 500 Headphones, Ultrasone Edition 8 Headphones,and Koss ESP950 Electrostatic Headphones.

CABLES
Kubala-Sosna Elation Interconnects, Speaker Cables, and Power Cords. Kubala-Sosna Emotion and Expression Interconnects and power cords, Jorma Design Origo Interconnects and Speaker Cables. Harmonic Technology Magic 2 Interconnects, Magic 1and2 Power Cords, Fantasy Power Cords, Kimber D-60 Digital Interconnects, Kimber Select 3038 Silver and Silver/Copper Interconnects, CRL Silver Interconnects and Custom WyWires Interconnects.

ACCESSORIES
Monster Reference 350 Mark II v2 Power Conditioner, World Power Wing Revised Power Conditioner, Tice Power Block, Tice Clock, and Audio Prism Quiet Line IIs. Anniversary Edition Cable Cooker 2.5, Winds Stylus Pressure Gage, Bedini Ultra Clarifier, VPI Record Cleaning Machine 16.5. Audio Magic's Quantum Physics Noise Disrupters, Marigo Mystery Feet, Townshend Seismic Sinks, Furutech Demag, RSC Sound Panels and 16 inch Bass Trap, and Shunyata Cable Lifters.

Secondary System

LOUDSPEAKERS
JM Labs Cobalt Monitors.

ELECTRONICS
Cary AE-1 300B SET amplifier modified by Dennis Had with EAT 300B tubes, E.A.R. 834L Deluxe preamplifier, and a Dyna Stereo 70 modified by Sam Papadas with RAM KT88s.

SOURCES
ModWright Sony 999 CD/CACD/DVD player, Marantz ST6000 FM tuner, Marantz ST 17 FM tuner, and Parasound Broadcast Reference FM tuner. Denon 2200 DVD/SACD/DVDA Player

CABLES
Kimber Hero, Harmonic Technology Pro Silway 3 and MagicLink 2 interconnects with Kimber Select Silver speaker cables. Harmonic Technology CyberLight interconnects between preamp and amp. Kimber Palladium AC, Harmonic Technology Magic and Fantasy AC, and Soundstring Pro AC cables used throughout system. Tara Decade power cord used on PS9.0 ModWright Power Supply to CD/SACD player. HT Battery Pack 4 for Cyberlights.

 

 

LARRY COX'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
ATC SCM 20-2A powered (active equalization and amplification is built-in) speakers. 2 sealed DIY subwoofers Acoustic Elegance AV15D4 subwoofers, one in a 2.1 cubic foot cabinet the other in a 4.4 cubic foot cabinet, both powered by a QSC RMX2450 amplifier (750 watts a channel stereo) with equalization provided by Minisp 2x4 electronic crossover.

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R. 864 preamplifier both with a mix of NOS tubes. Onkyo PR-SC885(b) preamp/processor for home theater and Wii duties.

SOURCE
Squeezebox Touch as a transport for a Twisted Pear Audio Buffalo 32s DAC. Amazon Model 2 turntable sitting on a Townshend Seismic Sink, with a Moerch DP6 arm and Dynavector XX2MkII cartridge and Kubala Sosna Expression phono cable.

CABLES
Interconnects: AQ Emerald interconnect, Supra Cable Lo-Rad power cords, DIY power cords, Silver Audio interconnects, DIY balanced cables, Canare digital cable, a full complement of Kubala-Sosna Emotion power cords for all equipment requiring power, S/PDIF, interconnects, including tonearm cable; Kubala-Sosna Anticipation power cords for all equipment requiring, S/PDIF, and interconnects (no phono cable).

ACCESSORIES
Sound Application power conditioner; PS Audio Power Plant P3; a Lovan Classic Rack, Townshend Seismic Sink, assorted Vibrapods, Final Labs Daruma III isolation bearings, Black Diamond #3 and #4 cones, with Black Diamond Whatchamacallit's, DH Cones, Discsolution, and Antivibration Magic—this stuff is amazing and worth your while; given the miniscule quantity for $95 this seems like a poor return on investment, but that's wrong.

WHAT I LISTEN FOR

I listen to music to hear a realistic timbre with a natural scale to music. If the timbre isn't right what's the point? Dynamics are also important to me and intimately related to timbre. I listen at medium to louder levels—live music isn't played at the level you go to sleep at. Realistic dynamic contrasts are not available when everything is played back quietly, there is inherently a narrower range of contrasts; visceral impact cannot be the same at lower volume levels, but that doesn't mean I require loud volumes, it is my opinion that loud volume levels are required to experience a the scale of live music. This is simply my note to people who argue for systems sounding good at lower volume levels—I think it's mistaken to use that as a reference. Imaging is nice, but mostly an afterthought for me.

While it is nifty to hear a vivid portrayal of music's attack and decay, it isn't often a part of live music in my listening seats. Often, what some listeners love about transient attack and decay can occur to these ears as an exaggeration and often co-extant with a lean and/or bright character.

WHY I LISTEN AND WRITE

I like music and pleasure. My reviews will point you to gear I like that I think others might like. I don't look for crappy gear and award no plaudits to myself by finding faults with equipment; if the point of stereo gear is to enjoy musical playback, pleasure arrives sooner by finding gear that's good, not by "exposing" poor sounding gear; though pointing out shortcomings is worthwhile. I tend not to damn equipment because every component is part of a set of variables that may or may not be complementary. Condemnation of a component must occur within the context of those limited variables. Reviewer proclamations that "x" component is "the best" or "terrible" are delusional for the writer and foolishness for a reader to rely upon. My intention is to shorten your path to satisfying sound based on my articulated preferences. Use my reviews, and really everyone else's, as a place to start.

MY PREFERENCES

I can enjoy and appreciate different sound. One importer was surprised that I gave best sound at a show to two very different sounding rooms. Good is good and to receive my praise no system need be metaphorically "blonde" to get attention. However, if a component doesn't produce the timbre or tone of the original instrument, everything else is unimportant. There are quite a few components that produce timbre well. If timbre is handled well, then I listen for a dynamic performance that allows me to hear the loud and soft range of the original instrument. Next, I would like frequency extension, down to 40Hz in a medium sized room is important. If I get these three, together, I'll tend to like the component and write enthusiastically. After those three, resolution is important and imaging is nice, though the latter is an afterthought for me; discernible attack and decay are like cloth napkins at a dinner, nice to have but not sine qua non.

I've preferred vinyl and tubes that facilitate creating body to music. However, in a perfect world, my system would operate from a remote without tubes without regard to how the signal is delivered by (analog, CD/SACD/DVD, whatever). While I would prefer owning solid state gear so that I could dispense with the NOS tube nonsense tubes still sound better to me, and unfortunately, so do some NOS tubes. So, I'm not yet willing to give up what tubes and vinyl provide. As far as music goes, I want a realistic rendering of the music I would listen to if pressings and format didn't matter, rather than collecting really well recorded versions of listless, vapid music.

WHERE MY SYSTEM IS SHORT

My ATC 20-2a speakers are better suited to a room smaller than my than my 5500 cubic foot listening room. Played alone they are not up to crescendos of large orchestral pieces played at realistic volume levels. However, within their range they are very resolving, full-bodied and dynamic as any speaker in its class. But, with my two subwoofers in place, I get a solid 25Hz in room and those same large scale crescendos are quite good, though well short of state of the art. Mind you there is very little music that I listen to that goes to 25Hz; 25Hz is far more relevant and regular with movies. My E.A.R. preamp is very musical, but not as resolving as more contemporary gear, but most visitors find my system quite enjoyable and some find it revelatory. If money (and the desire to retire some day) weren't an issue I'd like a fuller range speaker, perhaps ATCs powered 50s or 100s or another full range speaker. There are better systems out there, sure, but I'm quite happy with my system and what it does.

What I'd wish for you is that you find reviews that allow you to enjoy your system and music and to dispense with finding nits to pick in their performance. Critical listening is an important part of getting your system and you to a satisfying conclusion, at which point, I would hope you could forget about your system. I have for nearly a year. While you can enable a game of "Where's Waldo" (the hidden error), I remind myself that the point of a high fidelity system is to enjoy music.

 

 

DANNY KAEY'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Zu Audio Definition Mk IV, Marten Django XL, Audeze LCD-3. 

ELECTRONICS
Einstein The Tube (pre-amp), Einstein The Light In The Dark (amp), Einstein The Turntables Choice (phono amp), Quad II Anniversary Gold Jubilee (mono blocks), darTZeel 8550 (integrated), Brinkmann Fein (phono amp).

SOURCES
Playback Designs MPS-5, Sonicweld Diverter 24/96 SPDIF/USB, Korg MR-2000s, Brinkmann LaGrange ('table), 2x Brinkmann 12.1" ('arm), Brinkmann RöNt (tube PS), Ortofon A90, Dynavector XV-1s, Zu-DL-103, ReVox PR-99 Sonorus modified, ReVox H-1, Telefunken M-15, 13" MacBook Air (late 2011), Drobo FS. 

CABLES
Kubala-Sosna Emotion, interconnect, speaker and power, Einstein, interconnect, speaker and power, Zu Audio, interconnect, speaker and power.

ACCESSORIES
2x HRS M3X isolation base, Townshend 5-shelf air suspended rack, Hannl Flüsterbär record cleaning machine.

 

 

 

JOHN ZUREK'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Aurum Cantus Leisure 2,  HSU ULS-15 Sub

ELECTRONICS
Quicksilver Mid-mono Amplifiers, Dared Mc-7P Preamp (highly modified), Ray Samuels F-117 Nighthawk Phonostage

SOURCES
VPI Scoutmaster/JMW 9/Sumiko Blackbird,  Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC, Toshiba HD-A2 (used as CD Player), Sony DVD-NS 755V (transport only)

CABLES
All DanaCable:  Sapphire Reference Speaker, Diamond Interconncects, Black Gold MC Phono, Power Force, DAC Wirez Silver

ACCESSORIES
Ginko Cloud 9, Equarack Multi-Mount Footers and Spike Adapters, Sanus and Boltz racks, Argent Room Lenses, VPI HW-16.5 Record Cleaner, Monster HTS 200 power conditioner, PS Audio Duet, Vibrapods, Sonex panels, AudioPrism Quiet Line filters, Herbie’s Tube Dampers and Iso-cups, Ayre Myrtle Blocks, Overtone Acoustics Skyline Diffuser (2), GIK Acoustics Panels and Bass Traps

MOBILE
Apple Ipod Classic 80, JH Audio Pro 13

 

 

 

MARSHALL NACK'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
YG Acoustics Anat Studio III.

ELECTRONICS
Trinity preamplifier, Soulution 710 amplifier. Vitus SP-102 and Allnic H-3000V phono preamps.

SOURCES
Dr. Feickert Firebird turntable with Reed P3 Tonearm, Shelter Harmony and Air Tight PC1s cartridges, and the CH Precision D1 and C1.

CABLES
Full suite of Kubala-Sosna Elation!. AC power cords are Kubala-Sosna Elation! and Tara Labs Gold.

ACCESSORIES
TAOC Rack, edenSound TerraStone footers, CORE Designs amp stands, Vibraplane ELpF Isolation Platforms, Acoustic System Resonators and Sugar Cubes, Argent Room Lenses, Echo Buster & Sonex acoustic panels, TARA Labs IDAT and Accuphase PS-510 power conditioners, Kubala-Sosna prototype power distributor.

I have a LONG, rectangular listening room—32' long x 12' wide x 8' high—ideally suited for the rule of thirds: speakers are positioned one third into the room and about 24" from the sidewalls, facing straight ahead, the listener sits another third into the room. Two dedicated 15-amp lines power the system.

Most often you'll hear classical repertoire followed by a bit of jazz. The system is voiced for harmonic richness and musical involvement over accuracy and detail.

My secret weapon is my wife, Lynn, who provides invaluable musical insight. With decades of training as an oboist, and now serving as President of a community orchestra, she knows what sounds natural and what doesn't. Many are the times she's pulled me back from the brink after a multi-day audio binge.

 

ARNIS BALGALVIS'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Avalon Eidolon Diamond.

ELECTRONICS
Jeff Roland Design Group Synergy IIi with BPS-1 Battery Power Supply preamplifier. Jeff Roland Design Group Model 12 and Mark Levinson ML332 amplifiers.

SOURCES
Sony SCD-1, Esoteric P-03 transport (review sample), Esoteric D-03 (review sample), and a MSB Technology Corporation Platinum DAC III.

CABLES
Interconnects are TARA Labs ISM OnBoard 0.8 2m XLR, and TARA Labs ISM OnBoard 0.8 1.5m XLRs. Speaker cables are TARA Labs OMEGA 10 foot long. Digital cables are TARA Labs AES/EBU, Cardas Audio AES/EBU, and Acoustic Zen AES/EBU. Power cords are Purist Audio Auctorita (for ML 332).

ACCESSORIES
Echo Buster Panels, RSC Tube Traps. Installed dedicated AC power line using 8 GA wiring.

 

 

BOB NEILL'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
JM Reynaud Orféo Supreme V2's and Abscissas on Symposium Sveltes. JMR Offrande Supreme V2's. JMR Bliss Silvers on JMR Magic Stands. Audio Note K/Spe's and E/SPe HE's on lead and sand filled Audio Note stands. Tocaro 40D's and 42D's on Tocaro wood stands.

ELECTRONICS
Crimson CS710 solid state preamp (w/built in MC/MM phono stage) and CDS640 solid state mono-blocks. Audio Note OTO SE Signature 10 watt single ended EL84 integrated amp. BC 30000 II GZpz tubed preamp; BC 204-KQ hybrid 150 watt stereo amplifier. Blue Circle FtTH 2 KQ 100 watt hybrid integrated and NSP all solid state 90 watt stereo amp.

SOURCES
Resolution Audio Cantata. Audio Note TT2 DeLuxe turntable w/external power supply, Audio Note Arm3/Vx arm, lO1 MC cartridge. Blue Circle BC 703 phono stage.

CABLES
Crimson interconnects and speaker cable.

ACCESSORIES
Mapleshade Samson equipment rack and amp slabs. Nonotec Systems Intron Protect 8500 CD-DVD Coating Liquid.

Room: 18 feet x 29 feet. Ceiling slopes from 11 feet at speaker end to 8 feet at the other. Floor is concrete slab covered by oak with an 8 x 10 area rug in front of the speakers. Brick wall on the listener's left, floor to ceiling books on the right. Wall behind speakers is floor to ceiling glass, with (seldom used) drapes. AN Speakers are in corners toed in to meet one meter in front of listener. Reynauds sit 3.5 feet from wall behind them, 4.5 feet from side walls, and 9 feet apart, pointed directly at listener. Tocaros are 8 feet apart, same distance from rear and side walls, aimed straight ahead.

 

 

 

KEN MICALLEF'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
DeVore Fidelity Nines, Snell J/iis.

ELECTRONICS
Shindo Allegro preamplifier and Shindo Haut Brion amplifier.

SOURCES
Digital Source: MacBook, Halide HD DAC, Meridian Explorer DAC, Western Digital T2 Mirror Drive (X4) 
Analog Source: Kuzma Stabi/Stogi turntable/arm combo, Denon DL-103, Auditorium 23 Denon step-up transformer, TSD15 cartridge with Super Fine-line Stylus 

CABLES
Auditorium A23 speaker cables, Shindo interconnects.

ACCESSORIES
Salamander rack, 2" Mapleshade platforms (8" x 15" x 2"), Powerline conditioning by JPS Labs Kaptovator, Shunyata Black Mamba and Anaconda Vx Powersnakes, Shunyata Hydra 4 [on loan]. 3" studio treatment foam damping/ceiling-wall treatment.

Room size: 24' x 12', short-wall setup, suspended wood floor, 1-foot deep plaster-covered 2 x 4 walls, wood-beam 10' to 11' ceiling

 

 

BRUCE KINCH'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Amphion Xenon.

ELECTRONICS
Herron VTPH-1 tube phono and VTSP-1/166 preamplifier, and a Michael Yee PA-2 amplifier. Aqvox 2 Ci Mk II phono stage , Bent Audio TAP Transformer Volume Control, Bel Canto e.One M300 monoblock amplifiers.

SOURCES
Nottingham Analogue Spacedeck, Rega Planar 3, Thorens 121, and Logic turntables. Lyra Lydian Beta, van den Hul MC-10, and Grado Sonata cartridges. Modified Denon 2910 CD/SACD/DVD player.

CABLES
JPS, van den Hul, Nordost Heimdahl, and Reality Cable interconnects. Eichmann Express 6 II, Nordost Red Dawn II speaker cables.

ACCESSORIES
An accumulation of the usual bricks, mats, cones and pucks.

 

 

 

 

 

GARY L. BEARD'S SYSTEM

Main System

LOUDSPEAKERS
Von Schweikert Audio VR-35 Export Deluxe and REL Strata III Subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
845 "MonaClone" SET amp (based on the Ultra Fi Monaco 845 amp designed by Larry Moore and built by yours truly with assistance from Mr. Moore). "Fugly F4" DIY First Watt F4 Impedance Converting Amplifier (Thanks DIY Audio!). Channel Islands Audio D100-B Monoblocks. Rebuilt Eico HF-86 push-pull EL-84 amp (assistance by Jim McShane). AudioTropic Moebius preamplifier. Homebrew "Slagleformer" AVC Autoformer passive volume control.

SOURCES
Analog: Music Hall MMF-9 Turntable with Project Carbon arm and Maestro MC Cartridge. George Wright WPP100C phono-stage and Step-up Transformer.

Digital: Mytek Digital 192 Stereo DSD Digital to Analog Converter. Server: 2012 ASUS Laptop i5 Intel Core, 8 Megs of RAM running J River Media Center 19. Red Wine Audio modified Squeezebox2 music server. Halide Bridge USB to S/PDIF interface (on loan).

CABLES
Stealth Hybrid MLT Speaker Cables, Von Schweikert Audio Purple Line Speaker Cables, Kimber 4TC speaker cables, Soundstring Interconnects, Kimber Silver Streak and Hero interconnects, Final Labs interconnects, and Shunyata Sidewinder and homebrew Belden/Hubbell/Marinco power cords. CAT5 Plenum homebrew speaker cables.

ACCESSORIES
Final Labs Daruma 3II isolation, Vibrapods, Lovan Classic equipment rack, DIY points, ceramic cable supports, and various homebrew isolation tweaks. Monster Power Strip.

MISCELLANY

LOUDSPEAKERS
Hsu VT-12 Ventriloquist Loudspeaker System and a Hsu SFT-2 Subwoofer. Infinity SAT/SUB, PSB, Polk Audio, Mirage Omnisats, Phase Technology SAT/SUB.

ELECTRONICS
Panasonic SA-XR50 Digital Receiver. Yamaha DSP-A1 receiver and Yamaha TX-950 tuner.

SOURCES
Pioneer 578A UDP, Sony DVP-S7700ES DVD player.

CABLES
Acoustic Research IC's, West Penn commercial speaker cabling, Monster Toslink digital, Radio Shack IC's and Belden oxygen-free speaker cabling.

The Room

My main system is located on the short wall of a 12' x16' sitting room which is a part of a larger master suite. The listening room has a vaulted ceiling with windows behind the equipment rack and speakers. Behind the listening chair, there is a three-quarter height wall that separates the sitting room from a 12' x 5' walk-in closet, which extends the volume of the listening area to 12' x 21'. The listening room is open to an 11'x 14' bedroom with a flat ceiling. Together, the two rooms form an L shape that has a total of 406 square feet. Being relatively untreated, the completely carpeted space is real-world with the requisite bedroom furnishings. The carpeting (and I believe the clothing in the open closet has an effect as well) damp the sound just enough to keep it lively and dynamic, yet the overall volume allows for excellent bass extension.

In 2006, I had Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio modify my Squeezebox 2 and it has been my main digital source since. The SQ2 feeds the wonderful Bel Canto DAC2. Also in 2006, I saw my first serious action with a soldering iron, as I took on the challenge to rebuild a 1959 Eico HF-86 with the help of Jim McShane (http://pages.prodigy.net/jimmcshane/). The Eico's body is a bit ugly, but it sounds terrific driving my Omega Super Alnico's! In 2008, with the help of Larry Moore, I built my main amplifier a Single-Ended 845 amp with Shugang 845W tubes. Due to its design, this amp puts out approximately 10 watts per channel using 6SN7 input tubes and 46 drivers to stoke the 845W's fire. It is a wonderful amp and drives the Omega's incredibly well.

I was an early adopter of computer music servers and my multi-year experiment with the Squeezebox 2 has shown me the incredible potential of computer playback. While I do enjoy listening to vinyl, digital via computer is definitely my personal wave of the future for audio playback. My writings for PFO will certainly emphasize upcoming exploration of USB DACs and Hi-Resolution music files. I look forward to sharing my findings.

I have many hobbies: Golf; fishing; shooting sports; travel; writing...Not to mention enjoying two fingers of fine Kentucky Bourbon now and then. Then there are the stalwarts of music and audio. I have been collecting and listening to music since the mid-sixties and this was my main first and foremost. Audio came second to music and I have had a number of different equipment experiences over the last 14 years. I hope you find my newest explorations to be worth your time to read.

I appreciate your support. Thanks for reading and rock on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

JIM MEROD'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Acoustic Zen Crescendos, Genesis G7.2Ps, Tetra Manhattans (also: Apogee Stages, SP Tech Time Piece 1.2s, Vandersteen 2Ce-modified, Acoustic Zen Adagios, von Schweikert VCL-15 monitor reference and sub), Silverline Minuets.

ELECTRONICS
McCormack 125 Platinum Full-Rev Edition, plus McCormack VRE-1 preamplifier Nuforce P-9 mono blocks, Birdland Odeon-Ag 24-192/SACD Upsampling DAC, Audio Research SP-8 (Dahong Seeto version) preamplifier, Nuforce P-9 mono blocks, KR VT600-MK tube mono blocks, McCormack 0.5 high-mod amplifier.

SOURCES
Tascam HR-45 eight channel portable recording unit, Alesis 9600 MasterLink 24-96 digital mastering recorder, Tascam RA1000 DSD hard disc recorder, LINN LP-12 turntable (Grado Sonata cartridge) with modified Audio Research PH-1 phono stage NuForce Edition OPPO BDP-93 universal disc player, OPPO DV 970HD, Denon 1650-AR, Pioneer Elite DV-45A, Samsung DVD R135, Tascam RW750 Pro CD Recorder.

CABLES
Acoustic Zen MC-Squared, Magnan digital RCA, Silverline Alan Yun Special Edition balanced digital, Stealth Varidig, Stealth power cord, Acoustic Zen Absolute, Gargantua, Krakatoa, and Tsunami power cords, VH Audio Flavor 4, Kubala-Sosna Elation, Emotion and Studio Reference, Stealth Meta-carbon and Stealth Indra limited edition, Genesis Absolute Fidelity, van den Hull Two carbon and van den Hul The Rock, hybrid, Acoustic Zen Matrix and Silver Reference, Duende, Soundstring Gen II XLR, RCA, and speaker cables, Magnan Silver-Bronze, Silversmith Silver, Analysis Plus Ultra Plus, Wireworld Eclipse III, Bogdan Silver Spirit, Silverline Alan Yun Special Edition balanced digital, Stealth Varidig, Kubala-Sosna Elation and Emotion speaker cables, Acoustic Zen Absolute speaker cables, Stealth Dream speaker cables.

HEADPHONES 
Grado GS1000 headphones, Sennheiser 650s, AKG 1000 and AKG 701.

ACCESSORIES
Audience AdeptResponse 12 outlet power conditioner and Magnan ultra power strip.

 

 

 

 

 

SASHA MATSON'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
PMC FB1i.

ELECTRONICS
Cary Audio CAD 805 Anniversary Edition Triode monoblock amplifiers, Cary Audio SLP98P preamplifier.

SOURCES
VPI Scoutmaster w/ Dynavector Karat 17D3 moving coil cartridge and a Cary Audio 308T CD Player. Victor Model V/IV internal horn one-spring Victrola record player- model year 1914.

CABLES
AudioQuest Mont Blanc DBS Speaker cables, AudioQuest Sky DBS interconnects, and Hudson Audio Technology power cords.

ACCESSORIES
VPI HW-16.5 record cleaning machine, VPI Magic Brick, Custom equipment racks by Michael Green Audio, Monster Power Reference Center, Gingko Cloud 10 and 11 isolation platform, Stillpoint isolation cones. Cable Elevators. Ringmat. Hop Kiln Zinfandel, Hendricks Gin, Knob Creek Bourbon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALBERT PORTER'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Dali Megaline with custom crossover (above). (Two) JL Audio Fathom F212 buffered by JFET Trans Audio Design from XLR out of Alnic preamp. JL is set for 30Hz at 24 DB per octave so they are active in the region where the Dali bass rolls off.

ELECTRONICS
Allnic L400 line stage and Allnic H3000 phono stage. Trans Audio Design custom tube crossover for Dali Megaline, replacing the original solid state factory unit. Two pairs of the VTL 750 Ref mono blocks powering the four sections of the Dali Megaline.

SOURCES
Technics SP10 MK3 with my (co-designed) Rosewood Panzerholz plinth and twin tonearms. One is SME 312S with Koetsu Coralstone, second is Micro Seiki MAX 282 with Air Tight Supreme. I also have a Shure V15VxMR and I have the new Lyra Atlas on order. Wave Kinetics NVS turntable fitted with Talea II tone arm and Air Tight Supreme cartridge sitting on NVS isolation platform. MK3 turntables is fitted with Stillpoints SS Ultras and sits on Vibraplane 2212-01 supported by custom built 6061 aircraft alloy stand I designed and had built by Bob at Sound Anchor. Open reel tape via Studer A810 custom rebuild at Studer USA, Nashville and has it's own Vibraplane 2212-01. Movies via Oppo BDP 95 into Panasonic 65" Plasma. Digital via Mach 2Music (Mac Mini) with solid state drive into Ayre QB-9 DAC. Audioquest Diamond USB and Firewire cables. Software is Amarra Pro and Pure Music. Controlled from iPad 2 and iPhone using Apple Remote.

CABLES
Purist Audio Design 25th Anniversary 100% silver for all interconnect, speaker and AC cables.

ACCESSORIES
Stillpoints Ultras under crossover, preamp, VTL 750s and Technics MK3. Two record cleaning machines. A pair of Audio Desk ultrasonic with Audio Desk cleaning solution in one and lab grade water (rinse only) in the other.

Home Theatre System

Dali Ikon Vocal 2 for dialogue, BandW Signature 7 Nautilus (in wall) for side channels with Sony Grand Wega 55" HDTV moved between Megalines (ONLY) for movies. 

Construction by Advanced Environmental Concepts from plans by Russ Burger Design Group. Acoustical treatment applied to all vertical surfaces, including ceiling where it vaults to second story level. Walls are 5 layers thick, floor is lam beams with double tongue and groove epoxy laminate plus 1" of concrete and then finished with Multicolor Indian Slate. Special wire trays for all cables are under the pier and beam and accessible from panels behind my equipment when swaps are necessary.

I have two utility company electrical transformers feeding my home. I am wired for 3 phase 240 and have 14 dedicated circuits fed from a 750 amp trans-socket commercial meter for the audio system alone. Also have provision for European equipment via three dedicated 240 volt runs at front and amp positions in the room.

There is full floor to ceiling RPG diffusers on the walls behind the speakers. Acoustical fiberglass treatment an all surfaces except rear wall, finished by DesignTex acoustical cloth locked into place with Whisper Walls rail system.

My finished room passes for a traditional (untreated) living room with lightly textured, painted sheetrock walls. Happily, it retains the appearance of a traditional living room rather than an "alter to hi fi" design.

Although my degree's in fine art, the only work I could find after graduation was neither creative nor rewarding. A high end audio store that I visited almost every week seemed like paradise to me. I loved listening to music on their tube electronics and learning about each system they had set up. One day while speaking with the owner I remarked that working there would be a dream job, and to my surprise they offered me a sales position. That high end audio store and the three that followed exposed me to every major product in high end audio. The last store was mine, supported by an investment group with me controlling buying and day to day operation.

Discussion came up from a major rep firm about me representing them in a five state area. I accepted the job calling on high end audio stores, offering technical support for Infinity Systems, ESS, Sennheiser, MB of Germany, Ampex, JBL Commercial, Crown International and Yamaha. I found relief during the long hours on the road experimenting with my camera. I captured images of people, the stores I visited and interesting scenery I discovered along the way.

When calling on a high end audio store in Dallas, a fellow graduate from my university recognized me. He was the creative director for a local advertising agency. After much discussion over the next few weeks, I was offered a position as their in house photographer. This agency and photography received all my devotion for two years, and suddenly my work became recognized. The owner of the best photo studio in Dallas, offered me a position shooting for the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book and Dr. Pepper catalogues.

Soon my freelance work was blooming, including into a multi year contract with Southland Corp., providing people, real estate and annual report images. I spent 11 years doing the in flight magazine for Southwest Airlines, and well as advertising photography for Interstate Battery, Exxon/Mobil, Quest Medical, Bank of America, Redman Industries, GAP, Raytheon, Fidelity Investments and Texas Instruments.

I never lost my passion for audio, soliciting assignments from audio manufacturers at CES . To date, my advertising images have appeared in print and magazines representing Atma-Sphere, Audioquest, Purist Audio, PSE, Versa Dynamics, Sound-Lab, Counterpoint, Aria Audio, Sound-Lab, Essence, Musical Fidelity, Aesthetix, Benz, Basis, Graham, Sound Anchor, McCormack and Maxxhorn. 

My wife and I have been together for thirty five years and have one son, John who is the love of my life. I host a group of music loving friends that meet at my home every Tuesday night to spin LPs and CDs. I've hosted this without fail, for 29 years and I have learned much from visitors that I share music with. Most in my group are audiophiles and all are music lovers. Some are solid state guys, some are tube guys. This leads to diversity in equipment testing and keeps me experimenting with new ideas.

My photography website:

http://www.albertporterphoto.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRANCISCO DURAN'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Tonian Labs TL-D1 Loudspeakers with custom cabinet with real wood Bamboo finish.

ELECTRONICS
Margules U280SC Class A tube amplifier (new Version), Marantz PM-15S1G Reference Series Integrated amplifier ("Signature Edition" upgraded by The Upgrade Company), Antique Sound Labs MG-SPM25DT SE mono block tube amplifiers modified by Response Audio, Monarchy Audio SM-70 Class-A amplifier.

SOURCES
Marantz SA-15S2 Reference Series SACD/CD player ("Signature Edition" upgraded by The Upgrade Company), Kuzma Stabi S turntable, Stogi arm, Audioquest 4004i cartridge modified by van den Hul, Sony BDP-S350 Blue Ray Player, Onkyo Model T4 Servo Locked Stereo tuner. Stock MM/MC Phono preamplifier in Marantz SA-15S2.

CABLES
JPS Labs Superconductor Q Series interconnects and speaker cables, Power AC+ , GPA2, and Digital AC power cords, Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval interconnects, Oval 12 speaker cables, Soundstring Tricormaxiel speaker cable, PC 30A and 10A power cords, and Octaphase "Alpha Series and Omega Pro Line" interconnects. Oyaide power cord, PS Audio C-4 power cord., Monster Cable M Series HDMI 1.3 cable, Parts Express HDMI cable.

ACCESSORIES
Can't Live Without's; Gingko Audio Cloud Ten (2), Vibrapod Isolators (various sizes), and Cones, Ultra Systems' Hi-Fi Tuning Fuses, (various sizes peppered throughout my gear), Ultra Systems Cathedral Sound Panels, (4), Custom made gear racks for turntable and gear. Support staff; Balanced Power Technologies BPT 4SE power unit, Brick Wall Series Mode Surge filter (2 outlet), Quiet Line Parallel Power Line Filters, Bybee filters (inside ASL amps), Nitty Gritty record cleaning machine, PS Audio Zero Static record brush, Flitz Metal Polish, Caig ProGold, and Deoxit, Mondial Antenna Ground Isolation Circuit (for incoming Time Warner cable), Walker SST Extreme, Mapleshade Mikro-smooth CD polishing kit and Ionoclast Ion Generator, Bright Star Isonodes, EAT Cool Dampers, Hal O Rings, Cardas, Clearaudio, Hi-Fi News Test LP's, Smoke On The Water, Senor Coconut and his Orchestra used as test LP, generic ferrite rings, ERS paper, Custom made wooden cable lifters by Mr. Clark senior, Ceramic Insulator cable lifters, JandJ, EI, Sovtek/Electro Harmonix, Ruby, SED, Jan Phillips, Sylvania Electron Tubes, Amoeba Music Store record bag!

Shamelessly good and cheap music system

Fatman iTube integrated amplifier, Sony Play Station 1, Panasonic DVD S53 DVD Player, PS Audio Digital Link III, (soon to be used with my PC) LAT International digital cable, Supra Line 2.5 speaker wire, Kimber Cable Hero interconnects, Insignia NS-B2111 loudspeakers, Lovan speaker stands, Sony NWZ-E438F Digital Media Player (MP-3, 8Gig), Original Master Headphone Amplifier (not shown), AKG K300 headphones (not shown), Ikea Expedit rack. 

OK there it is and not too soon. I offer a thousand apologies for not updating this sooner. I have lived with the excellent Margules tube amp for over three years and it has never appeared in these pages other than mentioning it in reviews. It is my best amp and my workhorse. Shame on me! It will soon be replaced by the latest version Margules has to offer. Other gear have come and gone sadly without much fanfare. In the past several years I have vowed to pare down my system to a couple of integrated amplifiers and leave it at that. Ever since my review of the excellent Tonian Labs TL-D1 speakers, my attitude towards gear and recordings in general has changed significantly. I'm getting there. But boy does this hardware suck you in like the preverbal black hole! Therefore it would be real hard for me to sit here and go on and on about how much I love music. We are gear heads! We love gear! We review gear! OK we love music too.

Wife's System

Monitor Audio iDeck with a hand me down iPod loaded with RandB.

 

 

 

JEFF DAY'S SYSTEMS

SYSTEM 1

System 1 is my primary system for Hi-Fi reviews and tends to morph over time. This is certainly the best system I have ever owned, and I like it better than any other system I have heard, ever. For the very latest configuration see my blog. I live in a rather small and modest nuevo bungalow home, with my living room area serving as my primary listening room (it is 27'6'' inches long by 20'4'' inches wide, and with variable ceiling height from 9 to 20 feet). Room construction consists of sheet rock walls and a partial cathedral ceiling, and a concrete slab floor (carpeted). The rear of the living room behind the listening position opens to a combination kitchen/dining room, and is also open to an entryway on the right side wall. The electrical grid here provides clean and plentifully cheap power, much to the delight of local Hi-Fi buffs.

LOUDSPEAKERS
Tannoy Westminster Royal Special Editions.

ELECTRONICS
Sophia Electric 91-01 300B mono amplifiers (SE Royal Princess 300B tubes, NOS JAN Ken Rad 6SN7GT 'Black Glass'), Leben RS-100 line preamplifier, NVO SPA-II phono equalizer. Leben RS100/U preamps, RS-30EQ phono equalizer.

SOURCE
VPI Classic turntable with an EMT TSD-15 moving coil phono cartridge.

CABLES
Auditorium 23 bi-wire speaker cables, Sablon Audio Panatela interconnects, Acoustic Revive Single Core interconnects, Tom Evans Audio Design interconnects, Acoustic Revive Power Reference power cords, and Sablon Audio Robusto and Gran Corona power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Acoustic Revive RCI-3 Cable Insulator, RGC-24 Ground Conditioner, Ultra Low-Frequency Pulse Generator R-77, Acoustic Conditioner RWL-3, Pure Smokey Quartz Insulator RIQ-5010 and Pure Quartz Insulator RIQ-5010W, Shorting Plugs SIP-8F, RPT-2 Ultimate and RPT-4 Ultimate Power Supply Boxes, CB-1DB Receptacle Base Plate, CFRP-1F Carbon Fiber Receptacle Plate, CS-2F Outlet Stabilizer, RST-38 and TB-38 quartz under-boards, RAF-48 air floating board; VPI 16.5 Record Cleaner.

SYSTEM 2

For those who have been following my audio writing for a while, this is the system that I put together for the 'Music Lovers' series of articles way back when at 6Moons. It is a truly wonderful system to which I have now added modest video capability for both music and film fun. This 'Music Lovers' system is my benchmark for a semi-affordable system that really gets the music right, and it is a great choice for those who want to drop out of the audio equipment wars and just have fun listening to music and watching a few good movies from time-to-time. Variations on this system have won numerous mentions for superior sound and music performance at Hi-Fi shows: A Robert Deutsch favorite at Festival Sound and Image Show 2008; A John Atkinson 'Best Sound' at FSI 2008; A Stephen Mejias "Best Music of the Show" at 2009 Salon Son and Image Show; and from John Atkinson at 2009 Salon Son and Image Show; as well as quite a few more. The winning combination of Leben CS-600 and Leben CS-30EQ just keeps on winning praise, and you can read more about it here.

My 'Music Lovers' system lives in a smallish 11' L x 11' W x 9' H room, which is incidentally almost the same size as the room that Alan Shaw uses to voice his Harbeth loudspeakers in (Harbeth's may be the King of the Small Room loudspeaker). It's a really cozy little space for me to hole up in while watching a movie, or while listening to a little music, or while reading a good book. The construction is sheet rock walls, with a flat ceiling, and a concrete slab floor (carpeted). The room does double duty for reviewing to see how well equipment in for review can perform with different equipment than the main system, and in a smaller room context, which is becoming a more important consideration for many people in these days of globalization and the rising prices of living spaces.

LOUDSPEAKERS
Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers, Skylan SHL5 speaker stands.

ELECTRONICS
Leben CS600 vacuum tube integrated amplifier, Leben RS-30EQ phono equalizer.

SOURCES
|OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Player, 42-inch Philips 1080P LCD television. MacBook Air, Mhdt Labs Havana USB DAC. In the near future I am planning on adding a new entry-level turntable; perhaps the new announced VPI Traveller when it becomes available, mounted with my Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood MM phono cartridge.

CABLES
Acoustic Revive Single Core loudspeaker cables, White Lightning Moonshine DIY interconnects, Sablon Audio 'The Robusto' AC power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Acoustic Revive RD-3 Demagnetizer, RIO-5 II Minus Ion Generator.

LISTENING BIASES

I thought a thumbnail sketch of my listening biases might be helpful for interpreting and decoding my reviews. Just to alert you, my perspective is somewhat one of a minority alternate opinion in the Hi-Fi community. My hierarchy of importance is aligned more closely to how well a Hi-Fi rig plays the musical content of recordings, rather than how it 'sounds' in the more traditional audiophile 'sonic' sense.

To this end I look for timbral realism at the band level (the band's signature 'sound') and at the individual instrument level (the unique 'voices' of instruments). I want them to sound recognizably like themselves in tone and texture, so that their full tone color can develop, which I think helps lend a feeling of beauty and expressiveness to the music. I like the melody (the tune you 'whistle while you work'), harmony (treble and bass accompaniments to the melody) and rhythm (the steady beat that determines the tempo) to have a life-like flow and connectedness in how the musicians interact—just like in real life. I want dynamics (variations in loudness) to evoke that which I hear in life for an emotional connection to the melody and rhythm. Finally, I want tempo portrayed so that both the mood and speed of the music are conveyed through it, just like with music in real life.

I consider the sonic performance of a Hi-Fi rig on the non-musical artifacts of the recording process to be of value, but of less importance to me than the performance on the musical content of recordings (as above). So things like transparency (being able to 'see' into the recording), soundstage (the three dimensions of the recorded space in width, height and depth), soundspace (the acoustic 'space' of the soundstage), and imaging (the feeling of solidity and localization of instruments and musicians on the soundstage) have some importance for me, but they are not my primary focus. The musical content is.

So I like my cake (the musical content of recordings) with a little frosting (the non-musical artifacts of recordings) for a balanced taste treat. Too much frosting and not enough cake put me off. So that's me, and you might be different, but at least now you know how.

HOW I REVIEW

Given my personal take (above) on what's important to my music listening sensibilities, there's a few variables I like to keep in mind, listen for, and comment on when reviewing Hi-Fi equipment:

  • How does a piece of equipment handle musical content attributes like pitch, harmony, melody, rhythm, tempo, beat, etc., (e.g. Western-style music listening attributes)?

  • How does a piece of equipment handle timbral textures and colors, etc., (Eastern-style timbral listening attributes. You can learn more here.)?

  • How does a piece of equipment handle detail recovery, transparency, soundspace, soundstage, imaging, layering, etc., (audiophile-style listening to non-musical recording artifacts)?

  • How do the 3 categories of attributes mentioned above interact with each other to affect the overall musicality of a component or system in the sense of the music's emotional impact and level of musical involvement?

It is my hope that by offering my impressions of Hi-Fi gear performance related to these various categories of musical and sonic attributes, that you get the most comprehensive information about a component's strength and weaknesses across the spectrum of audio performance possible, and that it will help you in your own journey of attaining a musically satisfying Hi-Fi system.

 

 

 

 

ANDRE MARC'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Thiel CS2.4 and Harbeth Compact 7ES3.

ELECTRONICS
Audio Research SP16 and VS55, Belles Soloist 3 and Soloist 5, McIntosh MA6600, and a Revox A722.

SOURCES
Musical Fidelity M1CDT Transport, Marantz CD5003, Squeezebox Touch with CIA VDC-SB external power supply, connected via Ethernet by Gen II Mac Mini running Snow Leopard, Western Digital and Seagate drive. Bryston BDA-1, Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, Revox A77, Kenwood KX-W8010 Cassette Deck.

CABLES
Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG and Silver Streak, Transparent MM2 Plus and Super, Element Cable Silver Serenade, DH Labs White Lightening, Transparent MM2 Plus (speaker), QED Genesis Silver Spiral, Acoustic Zen Tsunami II, Transparent PowerLink, Shunyata Venom, Pangea AC-9, DH Labs Encore, ELement Cable Red Storm, PS Audio (C7), DH Labs TosLink, AES/EBU, Coax, and BNC. Kimber OPT-1 TosLink.

ACCESSORIES
Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack.

 

 

COOKIE MARENCO'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Jean Marie Reynaud - Offrande (specially modified) Stereo Pair. Jean Marie Reynaud - Offrande Surround Sound Set Plus Furioso Sub Woofer (not currently set up). Jean Marie Reynaud - Orfeos (specially modified) Stereo Pair. NHT - M60 Stereo Pair. Auratone - 5C Super sound Cube Stereo Pair. Meyers Sound - 833 Studio Reference Monitor Stereo Pair. Tannoy - SRM12B Stereo Pair (Little Reds). (not setup -- self powered Genelecs and many others that we have no room for).

ELECTRONICS
Nelson Pass - X150 (for the Stereo Offrandes and Surrounds). Nelson Pass - X3 (for the Stereo Orfeos and Offrandes in Surround). NHT - XDA (for the NHT M60's). (2) McIntosh - MC 2300 (for the Meyer's, Auratones, Tannoys). Meyer Sound - 833 Studio Monitor Pre-Amp. Emm Labs - Meitner A/D - ADC8 Converters. Emm Labs - Meitner D/A - DAC8 Mk IV Converters. Studer ADDA 2 channel Tube Converter. Emm Labs Speakerswitcher. Couple of Furman Power Conditioner.

SOURCES
24 track Analog 2" Tape Recorder - Otari MTR-90 Mk2. 24 channel Dolby SR - XP Series. Dolby SR Power supply - PS3. ½" 2 channel Analog Tape Recorder - Otari MTR-10 Modified. ¼" 2 channel Analog Tape Recorder - Otari 5050B. Sonoma Systems DSD Digital Recording System. Samplitude PCM Digital Recording System for mastering. 24 track digital recorder - Tascam MX-2424 w/ Glyph Drives. Korg - MR2000 DSD Recorder. Sony DAT - PCM-R500. Vintage Sanyo mp3 player from 1998. Marantz DV8300 CD Player. HHB BurnIT Plus - CDR 830. Sony - XA5400ES DSD Disc/SACD/ CD player. Sony Playstation 3.
;

CABLES
We make our own using JMR Silver-Copper Alloy and Neutrix Ends. Bybee Bullets in the recording/mastering chain. Lots of old Mogami studio quality cable laying around that we don't use anymore.

ACCESSORIES
Sound Workshop 48 input analog console - Series 34CMF. Many vintage microphones. Millennia Media, Manley and Neve microphone preamps. Vintage efx. 3 assistants who learned how to operate the digital media and back it up.. A food dehydrator for restoration work. A french press for critical coffee making.

Room

The main listening system is my commercial recording studio. We're normally setup for stereo and occasionally surround. We move gear around to create alternate listening environments to check mixes. The Control room is 22' (long) x 16' (wide) x 12' (height). Best feature-- the view overlooking the San Francisco Bay while listening to mixes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

VICTOR CHAVIRA'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Chario Hyper 2000 (on loan).

ELECTRONICS
Bel Canto C7R receiver and a EAR 834P phonostage.

SOURCES
Oppo BDP-83, Apple Mini-Mac and a LINN Axiss turntable with the Adikt cartridge.

CABLES
Nordost Quattro-Fil interconnects, Analysis Plus Oval 9 speaker cables, Locus Design Group Axis USB cable, and El Dorado power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Pi Audio UberBUSS power conditioner, Vibrapods, Townshend 3D sink Table, and Echo Busters.

 

 

 

JOHN BRAZIER'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Verity Audio Parsifal Ovations.

ELECTRONICS
Bryston 28B-SST2 and Sonic Frontiers Power 2 amplifiers, and Pass Labs X1 preamplifier.

SOURCES
iTunes, MacBook, Licie Ex. HD, Locus Designs Nucleus USB, Sonicweld USB Converter, Cary 306 Pro CD/SACD/DAC.

CABLES
Full compliment of Crystal Cables CrystalConnect Reference cables, power cords, interconnects and speaker wire.

ACCESSORIES
Configured Zirconia by Audiav, Audio Magic, Mini Stealth
.

Secondary System

LOUDSPEAKERS
Sennhieser HD600 Headphones with Cardas replacement cable.

ELECTRONICS
Consonance Cyber-20 Tube Headphone Amplifier.

SOURCES
Rega Planet as transport, Perpetual Technologies P-3A DAC.

CABLES
Custom Spec'd 75ohm silver digital Cable from Acoustic Zen.

ACCESSORIES
Audio Selection Cones under CDT, bag of Maine's Finest Oatmeal on top of CDT.

 

 

TOM CAMPBELL'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Reynaud Orfeo; Harbeth Compact 7-ES

ELECTRONICS
Coda/Continuum Unison integrated amplifier, EAR 834P tube phone preamplifier.

SOURCES
Nottingham Spacedeck turntable and tonearm, Grado Reference Statement cartridge, Bel canto PL-2 universal digital player, vintage Luxman AM/FM tuner.

CABLES
Audio Note Lexus speaker cables; MAC interconnects and power cords

 

 

 

KARL LOZIER'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Genesis G-6.1 with integral dual Servo controlled 12" subwoofers each cabinet.

ELECTRONICS
Herron VTSP-3A preamplifier. Pair of Herron M1 (solid-state) amplifiers. Herron VTPH-1MM phonostage.

SOURCES
Allen Wright's SACD/CD Players VSEI upgraded SCD-1 Sony, level 7+Uber Clock; Sony SCD777-ES Level 5+, Sony XA5400 ES VSEI upgrade +Lite Clock. Turntable: VPI-MKll with SME IV Tonearm + Grado Reference cartridge.

CABLES
Interconnects: Kimber Select KS-1030, KS-1021, Herron Special. AC Power cords: Audio Purist Design's 20th Anniversary, Kimber PK-10. Loudspeaker cables:Kimber Select KS-3038.

ACCESSORIES
IsoNodes, SSC pucks, Iso-Blocks, Denon CDR-W1500 CD/HDCD player/recorder, Front-end components fed by Shunyata Hydra 8 power conditioner and FIM 880 AC power receptacle. Welborne Labs X1 Gatekeepers.

BACKUP SYSTEM
106 year old mono only system: Edison Home Phonograph cylinder player model CH16002.

The listening room allows only one possible setup arrangement. The area allows use of a 10-foot wall to backup the loudspeakers, though that end of the room is 15 feet wide with 5 feet being the entrance area. The first nine feet of the room therefore is 15 feet wide and then expands to well over 20 feet wide and 34 feet long (total). Therefore the loudspeakers "see" more than 700 square feet. Walls are old time lathe and plaster, concrete floor with Berber type carpeting. The room supports extended deep bass response and the response is electronically limited by manufacturing design to 16 Hertz, and extends fully and solidly to just below 20 Hertz in this room and is adjustable in all-important aspects including phase. They are rather svelte appearing and top off at only 42 inches tall and 11 inches wide with above average sensitivity. They are basically dipole radiators. Later models, such as the 500, 501 and so on contain one less bass driver per side while maintaining the almost unmatched (for its size) bass response and have eliminated the expensive titanium dome midrange driver, going to a more conventional cone. The Herron electronics, together and separately, come very close to being neutral. The solid-state units have no hint of common transistor edginess and the tubed units have seemingly no added bass fullness or bloom. The Cary player correctly decodes the under appreciated HDCD recordings by Reference Recordings and Dorian. I often question if the best SACDs and DVD-As surpass the better HDCDs by Reference Recordings comparing in stereo only, the HDCDs are not multichannel. Because I usually do a great deal of music reviewing, and most truly new recordings are digital, I find myself listening far more to CDs, HDCDs, SACDs and DVD-As than vinyl. I usually agree with those who believe that a great LP played on a fine-tubed system can almost magically envelope the listener with unsurpassed musical enjoyment. The very finest and in general the most recent digital efforts, are quite excellent and I could easily believe that in most measurable ways, are actually more accurately reproducing the microphones' outputs.

As time goes on, I become more convinced that to have an excellent recording and front-end components allows some moderately priced amplifiers and loudspeakers to be surprisingly satisfying. Please, make every effort to support the truly new recording efforts by companies such as RR, Dorian, Telarc, Chesky, AIX, Delos and others. Without them, improvements in source material will become scarce and the huge corporations will not be stimulated to record and release much of any significance for our musical enjoyment.

HOME THEATER SYSTEM (Multi-channel in a separate room)

LOUDSPEAKERS
Nola Minis, Napoleons, and T-Bolt III subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
Denon AVR 3805 Receiver.

SOURCES
Esoteric DV50 Universal player and Toshiba SD9200 DVD player. JVC HD-52G rear projection and D-ILA (LCoS) 1280x720 pixels.

CABLES
Interconnects by Kimber, Harmonic Technology, and DiMarzio. Loudspeaker cables are mainly Kimber's Monocle X. AC power cords by DiMarzio, Harmonic Technology, and Kimber.

ACCESSORIES
Isolation platform and feet by Bright Star Audio. FM only system: McIntosh MR 77 FM tuner and McIntosh MA 6100 preamplifier plus NHT SuperOne loudspeakers. Welborne Labs Gatekeeper X1 and PS Audio Ultimate Outlet.

BACKUP SYSTEM
Gramaphone Company's 80 year old His Master's Voice record player family model with large horn and crank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN ACTON'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Monitor Audio Gold GX50.

ELECTRONICS
Cayin A-55T integrated amplifier.

SOURCES
Simaudio MOON CD5.3 CD player.

CABLES
Kimber Kable Hero AG interconnect, Kimber Kable 4TC speaker cables, Audience powerChord 'e' power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Audience aR2p-TO power conditioner, ASC Panel Traps, Solidsteel 6.2 Audio Table, Sanus Granite Foundation speaker stands.

 

 

 

ED KOBESKY'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Spendor S5e

ELECTRONICS
PrimaLuna ProLogue Two integrated amplifier, Rotel RQ-970 phonostage.

SOURCES
Rega Planar 3 turntable with Linn Basik LVV tonearm and Denon DL-110 cartridge, Rega Planet CD player, Sony DVP-NC875V DVD/SACD player, Pioneer DV-563A universal player.

CABLES
MonsterCable Interlink 400, 250 and 200 interconnects, AudioQuest Alpha Snake interconnects, MonsterCable XP speaker wire, others.

ACCESSORIES
Record Doctor II record cleaning machine with Disc Doctor brushes, Sennheiser HD580 headphones, Rotel RLC-900 line conditioner.

My main listening room is approximately 9' x 9' with 8' ceilings. It occupies a spare bedroom on the second floor of my rented townhouse, which is located in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Shared walls necessitated the placement of my rear-ported speakers nearest an interior wall. By coincidence, it's a load-bearing wall, allowing for unusually stable equipment placement. I can walk around while an LP is playing, leading me to believe above-average construction standards were applied.

Given the square-shaped room layout, setup by the 'rule of thirds' is impossible. As a compromise, I selected 10' speaker cables to allow plenty of flexibility with on-the-fly speaker placement. Depending on the electronics and music, I may place the speakers closer to the rear walls or farther away, but usually toed in to some degree. (My long, rectangular living room— equipped with an overachieving Denon stereo receiver and DVD player—is also used to audition speakers when they can't be properly accommodated in the main listening room.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROGER S. GORDON'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
VMPS RM 30 floor standing speakers (-3dB at 37Hz) with VMPS Large subwoofer upgraded to VSS specifications (-0dB at 20Hz). VMPS Ambiance Tweeters
.

ELECTRONICS
deHavilland Aries 845-G single ended triode mono block amplifiers on main speakers with two Dayton Loudspeaker 500 watt plate amps (class AB) with variable crossover and single band parametric equalizer on dual voice coil subwoofer. Herron Audio VTPH-2 phonostage and VTSP-3 preamplifier, VacuumState JLTI phonostage, and H.H. Scott 130 stereo preamp with selectable phono equalization.

SOURCES
Turntables: Nakamichi TX-1000 and Garrard 401 with skeletal plinth. Tonearms: Schroeder Reference, Moerch DP-6 with Teres Audio VTA Adapter and red dot and blue dot 12" armwands, and VPI 12.5 with two armwands. Stereo MC cartridges: Van den Hul Colibri Mk.2 XPW and Condor XGM, Miyajime Shilabe, Nakamichi MC1000, ZYX UNIverse S-SB, and three Audio Technica OC9/II cartridges. Stereo MM cartridges: Empire ERD-9 and Empire 750 LTD. Mono MC cartridges: ZYX R1000 AiryM-X-SB and Denon 102. Sony SCD-1 with Modwright Absolute Truth Mod, plus SuperClock II, Superclock II Power Supply, and Richard Kern's Transport Mod.

CABLES
Bent Audio phono cable that includes terminal box for swapping resistors to change cartridge loading, Purist Audio Venustas and Audio Magic Sorcerer interconnects for connecting equipment to preamp, Harmonic Technology Cyberlight P2A with battery Pack IV for connecting preamp to amps, and Audio Magic Sorcerer bi-wire loudspeaker cables.

LINE CONDITIONERS AND AC
Sound Application XE-12 cryoed with Elrod Power Systems 3 Signature power cord and Audio Magic Stealth Matrix with Audio Magic Illusion 4D power cord. Power cords: Audio Magic Excalibur and Illusion 4D, Coincident, Purist Audio Design Venustas, Silent Source, and Wireworld Electra III+.

ACCESSORIES
Room Treatment: Listening room designed by Rives Audio utilizing materials from RPG, Inc. and self constructed ceiling panels designed by Rives Audio (See PFO Issue 21). Acoustic Science Corporation Tube Traps used to control bass and diffusion (See PFO Issue 32). Acoustic Revive RR-77 with King Rex power supply. Vibration Control: Nakamichi Turntable - Lead Balloon stand with the legs filled with a mixture of kitty litter, sand, and lead shot, with 3" maple butcher-block, and Stillpoints supporting turntable plus Harmonix TU-812Mk2 record weight and TU-800EX turntable mat. Garrard 401 - Polycrystal Rack with Herbies Audio Lab Grunge-Buster platter mat. Electronics - Black Diamond Racing Cones under phonostage and pre-amp; Silent Running Audio 3" VR isolation stands under Sony SCD-1 and deHavilland tube amps. Tubes - Herbies Audio Lab HAL-O tube dampers on all vacuum tubes. EMI and RFI Control: Bybee speaker filters, two pairs.

 

 

 

GREG MALTZ'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
BandW Nautilus 802 (LandR), BandW Nautilus HTM1 (center), BandW Nautilus 805 (rears).

ELECTRONICS
VAC Phi Beta 110i integrated amplifier, YBA Audio Refinement Multi-5 five channel amplifier, Integra DTC-9.8 pre/pro, Pioneer KRP-600M plasma.

SOURCES
VPI Scout with JMW-9 tonearm and Aurum Beta S cartridge, Classe Omega SACD-2, Sony Playstation 3.

CABLES
Alphacore Goertz MI2 bi-wire speaker cables from VAC amp to 802D speakers, Alphacore Goertz MI1 bi-wire speaker cables from YBA amp to center and surround speakers, Alphacore Goertz Silver Sapphire interconnects used between preamplifier, each amplifiers, and front end, Monster Z optical HDMI cable from PS3 to Integra preamplifier, Electraglide State of the Union power cords

ACCESSORIES
PS Audio Premier Power Plant, Black Diamond Racing kit for VPI Scout isolation, Vistek Aurios Media Isolation Bearings under the SACD-2, Bellogetti AVS1000 rack, FS Nautilus 805 stands for side speakers, Svetlana KT-88 tubes for VAC Phi.

Without enough room to adequately indulge my hobbies, the goal with this system is to achieve a home theater that sacrifices as little as possible in terms of my criteria for high quality audio, whether two-channel, 5.1 or 7.1 multichannel. Those criteria are mainly oodles of detail and solid imaging and sound staging, I like a forward, somewhat in-your-face presentation, but with good front-to-back imaging that closely mirrors intimate, live listening experiences. My favorite genre is small-ensemble jazz of the '60s, but I listen to an incredibly wide variety of material, from Bach to the Beastie Boys to Black Sabbath. My favorite composer is probably Mahler. I have a passion for films as well as music—thus the plasma display—and sometimes indulge in video games. So for the time being I'm using a Playstation 3 as a Blu-ray player. Even on this modest source, I can achieve a seamless surround field controlled by the Integra preamp, in which the VAC Phi amp, set to "home theater" mode and decoupled from its internal preamp, drives the front L/R speakers and the YBA five channel amp drives the center and surrounds. This way I can explore multichannel SACD and the high-resolution flavors of PCM afforded by Blu-ray.

 

 

 

MICHAEL MERCER'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Zu Audio Omen Defs, System Audio SA2Ks (master version – internally wired w/ Nordost Valhalla), CEntrance 2504 near-field speakers, Audioengine A2+ Audioengine A5+ Nola Thunderbolt IIIa subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R 868 tube pre-amp, Unison Research Simply Phono tube phonostage, Classe Audio DR-9 amplifier (w/ mods to power supply, caps), Hafler DH-220 (back-up), Wadia 151PowerDACmini, CEntrance DACmini PX, Audioengine D2 24-bit Wireless DAC,

SOURCES
MacBook & MacBook Pro Retina SSD running Amarra 2.5/Amarra Hifi, iPad2 w/ CCK-USB output, iPod Classic, iPod Tough, iPhone 4S, Astell & Kern AK100, Astell & Kern AK120 Wadia i170Transport, Oppo BDP-95, BDP-105, Luxman DZ-111 CD player/transport, SONOS ZP-90 players, VPI Traveler turntables w/ Ortofon 2m Blue/2m Red cartridges, Music Hall USB-1 Turntable w/ Ortofon Red 2m cartridge, Luxman PX-99 turntable, AppleTV & Boxee (both used as media servers), Sonicweld Diverter (24/96) USB to SPDIF interface.

CABLES
Nordost Heimdall interconnects, Nordost Heimdall speaker cables, Nordost Leif series (White Lightning speaker & analog interconnects), Nordost Valhalla SPDIF, Nordost Blue Heaven USB, Black Cat Cable XV-Ultra SPDIF, Black Cat Cable Morpheus interconnects, Moon Audio Silver Dragon optical, Moon Audio Silver Dragon IEM cables* (for JHAudio JH-13 Pros), Locus Design CORE SPDIF, Locus Design Nucleus USB, Locus Design AXIS USB, Nordost Vishnu Power cables, Nordost Magus Power cables, Nordost Purple Flare Power Cables (Figure-8 for AppleTV & SmartTV), Furutech Pure Transmission Power Cable

ACCESSORIES
Nordost QB8 Power Distribution System, Nordost QX2, Nordost Qv2's, Nordost THOR Power Distribution System, Cryo-parts Power Blocks (2), Silver Circle Audio Juice Box One, Audioengine W3 wireless audio adaptor, Bright Star Bases, Nordost SORT KONES, Eben Cold Rays points, KAB iso pods, Black Ravioli's (Stickies), Custom Equipment Racks by VisionaireFX.

PERSONAL AUDIO
Headphones:
Audeze LCD-3
Audeze LCD-X
Audeze LCD-XC 
Cardas Audio EM 5813 IEMs
Etymotic Hf-3
Grado SR-125i
Grado SR-225i
JH Audio JH13 Pro Freqphase
Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs
Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs
Monster DNA Pro
Perfect Sound dido (d901) w/ Nordost Heimdall headphone cable
Pioneer SE-A1000 (w/ Warrenpchi Mod)
Sennheiser HD-800
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II's
Sennheiser HD490 w/ Warrenpchi mod
V-MODA Crossfade M-100s
V-MODA M-80s
Urban Ears (on-ears)

Headphone Amps:
ADL X1 iDevice/USB DAC & headphone amp
ALO Pan Am tube head-amp/DAC - Passport battery - Gateway power
ALO Island
 

Project Studio 2

Numark TTX-1100s decks (temp – Technics 1200's in storage) w/ Ortofon P-mount cartridges, 1 Pioneer DJM-300 S (2 channel ALL analog DJ Mixer). 20 channel TASCAM console. Melos Rack-mount "Digital Drive Bitstream Processor". Nola Mini monitors. McIntosh MAC 1700 (refurbished—belonged to my grandfather). Bryston 4B amplifier. Eichmann Express 6 speaker cable and interconnects. Headroom Total Bithead. DAC/headphone amplifier. Custom PC running Cubase, Wavelab, Reason, and other software and a bunch of vintage studio outboard gear rackmounted.

We finally have a dedicated listening room and love it! We have been living with the same system for a while now, excluding stuff that I've reviewed, which I loved so much I had to have them! Our system is the result of many searches and trial and error sessions. This comes with the territory. Once we (my wifey Alexandra and I) reach a point where we are constantly excited by our system we stop shopping around for awhile, and just bask in its magic. We have grown to love the sound of our current system, and while I still listen to new stuff all the time as part of the addiction (and the business) I'm usually just exploring to see where the audio arts are going. I also do a great deal of listening in my home office where I write, and that gear changes more often.

We LOVE doing "jukebox" nights at the house, where we invite friends to bring records. We all spend the night getting loose and turning each other onto new music (or old, if we discover something grand). We've been doing this since the nineties back when we lived in New York. I'm a confessed Music Addict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOM LYLE'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Sound Lab Dynastat and a Velodyne HGS-15b subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
Krell KAV-250a amplifier and a Balanced Audio Technology VK-3iX (with remote control and MC phono stage options), Black Cube SE phono stage.

SOURCES
Basis Debut Mk. V turntable, Tri-planar VI tonearm (with Discovery cable wired directly to preamp), Lyra Helikon phono cartridge, NAD 4155 AM/FM tuner. Digital sources vary, currently use units by Arcam and Oppo.

CABLES
Various models from Virtual Dynamics and MIT.

ACCESSORIES
PS Audio Power Plant A/C Regenerators: P600 for front end, P300 for turntable, Chang Lightspeed ISO 9300 power conditioner, Arcici Suspense Rack, Winds stylus pressure gauge, StaticMaster photo negative brush, Lyra SPT stylus cleaner, Last stylus cleaner, Last Stylast stylus treatment, Nitty Gritty 3 record cleaning machine, Premier! vinyl pre-cleaner, Audioquest and VPI record brushes to apply record cleaning fluid.

Tom Lyle's associated gear second system:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Dynaudio Focus 110.

ELECTRONICS
PrimaLuna ProLogue 6 monoblocs and a Balanced Audio Technology VK-3i/X, Jeff Roland Research Coherence One.

SOURCES
AR FM Tuner.

CABLES
Various models from Cardas, Monster, and Kimber.

ACCESSORIES
Panamax 5510 power conditioner.

 

 

 

ANDY SCHAUB'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Audio Note AN-E/SEC/SILVER loudspeakers in Makassar wood piano-lacquer finish with silver-wired tweeters and hemp woofers, all using ALNICO magnets plus muRata super tweeters.

ELECTRONICS
Audio Note Oto Phono SE Signature all tube integrated amplifier with built in MM-level phonostage. Woo Audio WA6-SE headphone amp (plus many headphones both balanced and single ended.

SOURCES
Transrotor Fat Bob S with SME V tonearm (Audio Note silver leads modified with Eichmann Silver Bullet Plugs). Dynavector DV-20X2 low output moving coil phonograph cartridge. Audio Note AN-S2 MC stepup transformer. Audio Note CD 3.1x/II tube CD player.

CABLES
Kondo Sound Labs KSL-LP interconnects with Eichmann Silver Bullet Plugs. Audio Note AN-Vz interconnects with Audio Note AN-P connectors (from the Oto to the Woo WA6-SE). Audio Note AN-SPx and AN-SPa speaker cable with Eichmann silver "banana" connectors in a bi-wire configuration (for the SPx). Harmonic Technology Magic Power Cords.

ACCESSORIES
Gowan/Khambatta custom-designed stereo stands (a matching pair). PS Audio Power Plant 10. Three (3) Equi=Tech Balanced Transformers, feeding different subsystems.

Computer

Recent-generation Mac mini with 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, running headless with Mountain Lion, Pure Music (set to "DIM" and "Memory Play" modes), iTunes (generally operated by an 11" MacBook Air and/or an iPad or an iPhone), and Carbon Copy Cloner (to backup music on LaCie RAID drives)

Spiral Groove Strange Attractors under the Mac mini

  • LaCie RAID and regular external drives, connected via Locus Design Herald FireWire cable with Moshi FireWire 400 to 800 adapter
  • Locus Design Cynosure v2 USB cable
  • Sonicweld Diverter HR USB-to-S/PDIF converter
  • Audio Note Pallas S/PDIF cable with Eichmann silver bullet plugs and generic RCA-to-BNC adapters
  • Berkeley Audio Design Alpha Series 2 DAC with custom fitted Spiral Groove Strange Attractors
  • Manley Skipjack audio switcher
  • Kondo Sounds Labs KSL-LP interconnects with silver Eichmann's (from the Alpha to the Skipjack and from the Skipjack to the Oto)
  • Harmonic Technology Magic Power Cord (on the Alpha)
  • Quadraspire Q4EVO component stand

Video

  • Theta Compli Blu Universal Disc Player (used as a Blu-ray, SACD, and DVD-A player among other formats; upgraded to latest firmware)
  • Comcast (Motorola) PVR and Internet Modem
  • Apple Airport Extreme (latest version)
  • Apple TV (recent version)
  • Sony KDL-40HX800 hybrid LCD/LED HDTV
  • Transparent High Performance HDMI cables
  • Audio Note Lexus copper interconnect cable (for the Theta, 4.5 meters into the Skipjack)
  • Whiplash Audio Sapphire Pro interconnects with Eichmann copper bullet plugs (for the Sony HDTV, 20 feet into Skipjack)
  • Audience powerChord "e" power cables, with adapters
  • Generic wooden and glass TV stand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROBERT YOUMAN'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Magico Q7 Speakers

ELECTRONICS
Vitus RI-100 Integrated Amp w/Phono Section

SOURCES
Playback Designs MPS-5 CD/SACD/DAC. VPI Aries Extended Turntable w/HRX Upgrades. VPI JMW 12.6 Memorial Tonearm. Van Den Hul Grasshopper Cartridge

CABLES
Kubala Sosna Elation PCs, ICs and Speaker Cable throughout

ACCESSORIES
Rix Rax Equipment Rack. Magico Qpod Isolation Footers. SRA Turntable Isolation Platform

Headphone System

  • Sennheiser HD800 Headphones
  • Woo Audio WA22 Headphone Amplifier
  • EMM Labs CDSA-SE SACD/CD Player (w/ Upgraded Transport and Footers)
  • Oppo BDP-95 Universal Player
  • Cardas Golden Reference Balanced Interconnects
  • Cardas Golden Reference Power Cords
  • ALO HD800 RW8-SC Headphone Cable
  • DIY Isolation Tweak – Racket Balls and Plumbing PVC Fittings

Listening Room

My finished basement listening room is dedicated to my two-channel system. It is uniquely long and narrow with dimensions of 12 feet by 22 feet. It has an 8 foot high drop ceiling with 10 inches of acoustic insulation above the drop ceiling. The floor and three walls are concrete. The fourth wall is a standard stud wall configuration. All three concrete walls and the stud wall have two layers of sheetrock. Wall to wall carpet padding and Berber carpeting and are used throughout. From an acoustic standpoint, the room is somewhat of a "live end – dead end design. All equipment and speakers are located at one of the short walls. Records and shelves are located behind this equipment on this short wall. CDs and shelves are located at the long walls adjacent to the records and record shelves. Acoustic treatment has been implemented in all ceiling corners and bass traps are located in the short wall corners. I have a single leather chair in a near field listening position. Check out the pictures for a better understanding of the layout.

What I Listen For

My listening priorities continue to evolve. After experiencing several products like the Woo Audio WA22 Headphone Amplifier, the Kubala-Sosna Elation Interconnects, and the Magico Q7 Speakers, it is clear to me that speed, detail, transparency and sound stage are now higher on my list than ever for musical enjoyment. In the past, I considered myself more on the "musical" side of the fence, but not any longer. I want it all and I now know that these products can provide it all.

Don't get me wrong. Proper weight, timbre and pitch are still critical requirements for excellent sound. This is important for both musical instruments and the human voice. For me, digital always seems to have trouble in these areas. If I can hear a very natural and musical presentation, I can still be one very happy camper.

I was never a bass fanatic, but the addition of the Q7 speakers has me rethinking my priorities. I have been enjoying some incredible slam and texture in the low end that I have never experienced before. Proper bass response can provide a more extensive sound stage and improve the room ambience at all frequencies. It can be very addictive.

Female voice, piano and reed instruments are my favorites for general listening. I love all types of music, but lately I have been listening primarily to small jazz quartets and female jazz vocalists. Don't try to pin me down though. Recent concerts include Wilco, Patricia Barber, the Rolling Stones and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 

 

 

ADAM GOLDFINE'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Wilson-Benesch A.C.T. loudspeakers.

ELECTRONICS
Music Reference RM-4+ phono stage, Primare Pre30 line level preamplifier, Reference Line Preeminence One Series II (passive) preamplifier, Music Reference RM-200 amplifier, Dynaco ST-70 (with Welborne Labs mod) amplifier.

SOURCES
DIGITAL: Vacuum State Level 6 modified Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD/CD/SACD Player, Musical Fidelity CR324 up sampling DAC. ANALOG: Music Hall MMF-7 turntable, Pro-ject 9 tonearm, Pro-Ject Speed Box Mk. II, Benz Micro ACE H cartridge, Magnum Dynalab FT-101A Tuner.

CABLES
Vacuum State Electronics Silver Wire interconnects (balanced) Music Reference Pegasus and Majestic interconnects (single ended), Vacuum State Electronics Copper Foil speaker cables (bi-wire), DH Labs Silver Sonic power cord (amplifier).

ACCESSORIES
Gingko Audio Cloud 11 Isolation Platform, Ringmat 330 MKII XLR Anniversary, Radio Shack FM antenna, VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine, Record Research Labs Power Cleaner, Record Research Labs Everyday Cleaner, various LAST record cleaning products, Hunt E.D.A. Mark6 brush, miscellaneous wet cleaning brushes, Zero Dust Stylus Cleaner, DB Systems alignment protractor, PS Audio Noise Harvester, Tone Cones, Tip Toes, RPG BAD Arc diffusers, HiFi News and Record Review Test LP, Cardas Test LP, XLO Test CD, Stereophile Test CD, Chesky Test CD vols. I and II, Craftsman True RMS Multi-Meter, Philips PM3211 Oscilloscope, Panamax Max 5100 Power Center, Stabilant 22, Caig ProGold contact enhancer.

My current room is a 22' x 17' family room backed by a 24' x 10' kitchen, essential making it a 22' x 27' room with plenty of bare walls, hard surfaces and vaulted ceilings that start at 10' and slope upwards to 14' 9". It's not an easy room to love.

The room also does double duty as a two channel home theater as can be clearly seen from the Toshiba 65" HDTV set back from and between the speakers. A heavy blanket tossed over the screen mitigates the effect of the very reflective screen surface during listening sessions. Rotating everything 45 degrees so that the speakers fire diagonally across the room and placing the speakers well into the room with no toe-in provides smooth tonal response and minimizes early reflections to create a well balance, believable and detailed soundstage. Echo Busters in the corners and along the ceilings minimize the horn effect and slap echo.

Still, a room this size without extensive treatment is difficult to tame and its long reverberation time adds a bit of smear and hardness to the sound and slightly diminishes image localization. And while no room is perfect, this one is less perfect than many. Rather than fight the power, I am currently working with Rives Audio to modify another room in the house as a dedicated two channel home theater/audio room. The emphasis will be on two channel audio with an electric projection screen built into the ceiling so it can easily disappear for critical listening. I expect to complete this project by July of 2007 and will provide photos and details when it is complete.

In a sound system, I listen for the sound of music. While it is possible to break what that is down into its components, harmonic structure, sound staging, dynamics, etc. ultimately it's either right or it isn't and like beauty, that can take many forms. (If it didn't how else could different sounding systems all create a believable illusion of music?) That being said one of the easiest ways to destroy that illusion is with poor tonal accuracy and exaggerated or compressed dynamics. To me, if these two elements are well executed, the illusion of instruments and voices in the room is at least possible.

While excellent sound staging is important it's hard to find a product these days that doesn't produce at least a decent soundstage if properly set up. Even the cheap no-name speakers that came as part of the package when I bought a computer recently will create an image. Perhaps that is due to their small size. Of course, they don't come close to matching the precise imaging of the Triangle Zays' but it is a soundstage nonetheless and most of the high end products I have heard in recent years do a pretty decent job in this area. And of course there are varying degrees and expressions of this phenomenon and I will be discussing this in my reviews.

Having played the drums since the age of 8, I'm particularly attuned to the sound of percussion and can easily distinguish an indistinct thump from the sound of a wool beater striking a bass drum head followed by the nearly instantaneous reaction of the outer head. The sound of a drum stick on cymbals is a dead give away as to the overall harmonic structure of a system hence my preference for tubes. And there probably isn't another acoustic instrument with the dynamic range of percussion.

Musically I enjoy most (but not all) genres. Having grown up in what I consider to be the hey day of classic rock, I will always have a soft spot for those bands (Led Zeppelin, The Who, Yes, Pink Floyd, Rush and so many more). I saw Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden when I was 15 and to me the movie Almost Famous captures that time better than any film yet made.

I listen to rock, blues, big-band, jazz, folk, classical, RandB, rap and more. I think Adrian Belew is a genius and in their own way, so are the Beastie Boys. (Just listen to Paul's Boutique.) You probably won't hear any references to country or opera out of me, but I can live with that. Happy listening!

My room is a 22' x 13' dedicated sound room designed by Rives Audio. The vaulted ceiling slopes from 10' to 14' 9". It has three dedicated, isolated ground 20 amp circuits feeding Hubble hospital grade outlets. The first and second sidewall reflection points are treated with absorption panels and RPG BAD Arc diffusion panels hang between them. A series of angled diffusers hang from the ceiling to further scatter reflections and the rear wall consists of angled bookcases to create a diffused surface behind the listening position. Extensive bass trapping above and to the sides of the bookcases helps tame room resonances. A 16:9, 100" diagonal Stewart Filmscreen descends out of the ceiling for watching movies, but the room's main purpose is music reproduction.

In a sound system, I look for sound that is emotionally engaging. While it is possible to break what that is down into its components, harmonic structure, sound staging, dynamics, etc. ultimately it's either right or it isn't and like beauty, that can take many forms. (If it didn't how else could different sounding systems all create a believable illusion of music?) That being said one of the easiest ways to destroy that illusion is with poor tonal accuracy and exaggerated or compressed dynamics. To me, if these two elements are well executed, the illusion of real instruments and voices in the room is at least possible. Having played the drums since the age of 8, I'm particularly attuned to the sound of percussion.

Musically I enjoy most (but not all) genres. Having grown up in what I consider to be the hey day of classic rock, I will always have a soft spot for those bands (Led Zeppelin, The Who, Yes, Pink Floyd, Rush and so many more). I saw Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden when I was 15 and to me the movie Almost Famous captures that time better than any film yet made.

I listen to rock, blues, big-band, jazz, folk, classical, RandB, rap and more. I think Adrian Belew is a genius and in their own way, so are the Beastie Boys. (Just listen to Paul's Boutique.) I will probably never grow to like country and much to my own surprise I can listen to opera in limited doses. Happy listening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMOS BARNETT'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Adam ARTist 3, Emotiva Airmotiv 4.

ELECTRONICS
ALO Audio Studio Six, Audio-gd Phoenix, Woo Audio WA7.

SOURCES
Audio-gd Master 7, Audio-gd NOS1704, Iriver Astell&Kern AK240.

HEADPHONES
Sennheiser HD-800, Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC, Symphones Magnums.

EARPHONES
Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors, JH Audio Roxannes, FitEar Parterre, DITA Audio The Answer.

CABLES
Van Den Hul The Mountain XLR, ALO Audio Reference 20 RCA, Van Den Hul The Orchid XLR & RCA, ALO Audio Reference 16 headphone cables, WyWires HD800 and Audeze headphone cables, Van Den Hul The Optocoupler, Oyaide Neo d+ USB, Van Den Hul The Mainstream and DIY power cables.

ACCESSORIES
PS Audio Power Plant Premier, Vaunix Lab Grade USB hub, Aurorasound USB BusPower-Pro, Audiophilleo 1 with Pure Power, Audio-gd Digital Interface

MAIN LISTENING SYSTEM
MacBook Air > Audiophilleo 1 via Oyaide d+ USB > Audio-gd Master 7 or NOS1704 > ALO Studio Six or Audio-gd Phoenix > headphones or active speakers with ALO Audio Reference 16, Reference 20, WyWires and Van Den Hul cables.

PORTABLE SYSTEM
Astell&Kern AK240 to earphones Since I was young I wanted a good 2-channel system, but various factors have inhibited that, resulting in a very long interest in headphones and portable audio. You can normally find me on Head-Fi.org where I am a co-administrator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GARY LEA'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Von Schweikert VR4 MKIII, Odeon Elektra Horns, Compact WZSE Collector's Edition, Usher 6311 and AAD Silver Reference 1.

ELECTRONICS
Tube: Jolida Music Envoy 211 tube monoblock amps and preamp (main reference). 
Solid-State: ShengYa PSM-600 monoblock solid-state amps and matching CS6 tubed preamp.

SOURCES
Digital Front End: Grant Fidelity Reference Tube 1000 CD player (main reference), Cary Audio DVD 6 used as a CD, Wadia i170 iPod Deck and 160Gig iPod.
Analogue Front End: Consonance Droplet 5.2 MKII with ST600tonearm (main reference) Nottingham Analogue Hyper Space and Arm with Wave Mechanic. Montegiro Lusso with DaVinci Noble and SME 5009 tonearms.
Cartridges - Koetsu Azule Platinum(main reference), Koetsu Urushi Vermillion, Goldnote Baldinotti, Dynavector 17D3 cartridges. Phone Stages: Goldnote Pamphili (main reference), Blue Circle Fon Lo Thingee, Musical Fidelity V3, and Koetsu Step up transformer.

CABLES
XLO Signature 3 interconnects speaker cables and power cords (main reference cables currently). Furutech DIY interconnects. Kimber Kable Monocle XL speaker cables and Select Interconnects. And a bunch of cables I am too lazy to list.

ACCESSORIES
Grant Fidelity RPF-120 MKII Reference Power Conditioner. Misc doodads and tweaks and loose parts like all audiophiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAUL CANDY'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Jean-Marie Reynaud Evolution 3, (2) REL Q108 Mk II subs.

ELECTRONICS
Audiomat Opera Reference Integrated Amplifier, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE Phono Stage.

SOURCES
CEC TL-51X CD Transport, Audiomat Tempo 2.6 DAC, ASUS Laptop (with Windows 8, J River Music Center 19, JPlay 5.2), 2 TB WD NAS, JKSPDIF Mk3 USB-SPDIF converter, Well Tempered Audio Lab Amadeus turntable with DPS power supply, Ortofon Rondo Blue MC cartridge.

CABLES
MIT Magnum M1.3 cable loom, MIT Magnum AC-1 power cables, Sablon Audio Panatela cable loom, Sablon Audio Robusto and Corona series power cables, Light Harmonic Lightspeed USB cable.
Wireworld Equinox 6 cable loom, Aurora 5² and Silver Electra 5² power cables.

ACCESSORIES
Skylan Stands damping boards, BPT Pure Power Center with Wattgate, Bybee Quantum Purifier and ERS cloth options, Acoustic Revive RR-77, Audio Magic/Quantum Physics Noise Disruptors, Caig Pro Gold, Gingko Audio Cloud 10 vibration control platform, Soundcare Superspikes, Isoclean fuses, HiFi Tuning Disc Demagnetizer, Nitty Gritty record cleaning machine, dedicated AC lines with CruzeFIRST Audio Maestro outlets.

 

 

STEVE LEFKOWICZ'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Tekton Lore, Direct Acoustics Silent Speaker, Sound Dynamics 300ti, Linn Kan, and Loth-X Ion1.

ELECTRONICS
PS Audio 4H preamplifier, BandK ST140 amplifier, Adcom 535, and a Antique Sound Labs MG-15DT-S.

SOURCES
Marantz SA8001 SACD player, IBM T42 Notebook (Win XP Pro, iTunes) 200 GB USB Drive, DAC (tba), NAD 4155 AM/FM tuner, CEntrance DACport LX, Linn LP12 (Valhalla), Ittok, Dynavector 19a (currently not hooked up).

CABLES
Nordost Solar Wind interconnects and Nordost Flatine or Solar Wind speaker cables. CEntrance Reserve Y cable.

ACCESSORIES
Sound Organization stand, Monster HTS2000 power-line conditioner, Bright Star IsoNodes (under SACD player), lots of hockey pucks (under pretty much everything else).

Portable/travel system - iPod Classic (160 GB), Headroom Total Bithead headphone amp, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro (600 ohm) headphones. Almost all music on the iPod is ripped from CD at 320 kbps. This iTunes library resides on a separate notebook from the one hooked up to the main system. 

With the exception of the Linn and the IBM notebook, this is an extremely low cost system, with no single piece having a list price over $1000. It is eminently musical, and close enough to full range to be very satisfying on all types of music. It does not make me choose music to fit its limitations or characteristics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JEREMY KIPNIS' SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Symdex Epsilon 3-Way Loudspeakers (Built in 1993 by Kevin Voecks and Leeland Wallace in Gloucester, Massachusetts - USA) w/ Subwoofer (self Powered 12"): Cambridge Soundworks (x4), MAD (My Audio Design) Baron 2-way Loudspeakers, Ologe FIVE 2-way Loudspeakers, Snell Music & Cinema Reference Full Range 4-way Tower Loudspeakers, Snell Music & Cinema Reference SUB-1800 (18") Passive Subwoofer (x4), Bryston Stereo Subwoofer Crossover (x2)

ELECTRONICS
Audible Illusions Tube Preamp / Phono Stage, Ultimate Attenuators (x2) – (31-step Laser Matched Resistors w/ Penny & Giles), Crown Macro Reference (x2) Class A Modified, Carver VTA20S Tube (x2) (Pair running in Bridged Mono), Mesa Boogie Baron Stereo Tube Amplifier (with adjustable feedback and variable Triode-to-Pentode performance), McIntosh MC2102 Stereo or Mono (x2) & MC2301 Monoblock (x2) Tube Amps, Mark Levinson No. 31.5 Monoblock (x2)

SOURCES
Digital: PS Audio PowerWave DAC II (with Bridge Card), Theta Digital Generation VIII DAC (Mk. 3 updates), Ultra-Analog A/D D/A (Custom Pro Tools Recording System), Mark Levinson No. 51 DVD-A Transport, Mark Levinson No. 37 CD Transport, Macbook Pro 17" 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 . 8 GB 1333 MHZ DDR3 / 10.8.3 OS, Audirvana Plus (Memory Music Player for iTunes, v. 1.4.6), Pure Music / Pure Vinyl Recorder (LP High-Rez Remastering System & Memory player for iTunes, Decibel (Memory Music Player for iTunes).

Analog: ELP Laser Turntable (Custom Line-Level Output Cards w/ RIAA Correction), Technics SP-15 / SME 3009 Mk. 3 Arm / Shure V15-MRx Cartridge, TEAC 6010 ¼" 2- track & 4-track Stereo Reel-to-Reel Player

CABLES
Cardas Golden V Cables, Interconnects, Power Cords, Digital Connections, Microphone Cables, LessLoss DFPC Power Cords, AudioQuest Ruby Speaker Cables & Interconnects, Glass Optical and HDMI Cables, Monster Cables M1 & M1000 Speaker & Interconnect, Pro 500 Microphone Cables, Mapleshade 1st Generation Experimental Speaker, Interconnect, and Digital Wires, Straight Wire, Kimber, Goldmund, Nordost, Sony, Panasonic, Radio Shack, etc.

ACCESSORIES
LessLoss Blackbody Ambient Field Conditioners (x5), Magic Hexa Vibration Control Feet - 4 feet (x2),
Solid Tech Rack of Silence w/ Feet of Silence (x5), Auralex 4" Studio Wedge Foam 2' x 2' Panels (x6), ASC Special SQUARE Tube Traps (x2), DIRAC Live Room Calibration Kit, Equitech 100 KVa Balancing Transformer (x2 : separate Digital and Analog services).

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUIDO CORONA'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Vienna The Music (reference), and Magnepan 3A

ELECTRONICS
Jeff Rowland M725 mono amp (reference), Jeff Rowland M312 stereo amp, Jeff Rowland Criterion linestage (reference), and Audio Research Ref 3.

SOURCES
TEAC Esoteric X-01 Limited

CABLES
Audioquest Sky XLR ICs, Aural Symphonic Chrono Signal wires; Aural Symphonics Magic Gem and Ultra Cube XXV power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Nordost Sort Kones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN HOFFMAN'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Sachiko Double Horn speakers with Fostex 208 Sigma drivers.

ELECTRONICS
Electra Print Audio 300B Custom amplifier Electra Print Audio PVA preamplifier.

SOURCES
EAD T-1000 transport, Audio Magic Kukama DAC, Galibier Serac with graphite platter.

CABLES
Audio Magic Illusion 4D interconnects, speaker cable, and digital cable and Audio Magic Extreme series power cords. Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Zu Audio Speaker wire, Zu Audio power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Audio Magic Mini Reference power conditioner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PETER DAVEY'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Apogee Scintilla - 1 ohm model with all new ribbons by Graz. New steel stands fabricated by True Sound Works.

ELECTRONICS
Plinius SA-250mkIV amplifier and a BAT VK31-SE preamplifier.

SOURCES
Apple iMac 24" running Leopard and Frontrow/iTunes. Pop Pulse Digital conversion device handling the USB to SP/DIF duties. Assemblage D2D-I jitter reducer and up-sampler and an Assemblage DAC-3 fully balanced DAC.

CABLES
Furutech Evolution Series Power Cables, Furutech Evolution Series Speaker Cables (BiWire), Furutech Evolution Series XLR Balanced cables, PAD Contego digital SP/DIF cable, and CyroParts USB cable.

ACCESSORIES
PS Audio Premier power plant in Limited Edition black and PS Audio power ports.

My listening room is about 20' long and 15' wide. My ceilings are cathedral style starting at about 9' tall and about 15' tall at the seating position. The Apogees are known to be amp killers but with the right combination they product music more accurately than any cone based transducer that I've listed to. When I hear traditional cone speakers I hear the driver itself as the music hits it, with ribbons they are as light as air and the music dances around them in a magnetic field.

The Scintillas place the instruments right in your face, and the vocals right down the middle. They are a bit picky with placement, needing to be about 5' from the rear walls, and about 6.5' from each other.

The Divas offer a much taller sound, and are a much more efficient design using Kapton backed foil drivers. You could run these on tube amplifiers if you prefer.

I sit about 10' from my speakers and prefer to have the effect of being in the front row of a live concert. It is generalized that you can not get any deep bass from a true dipole ribbon driver but that is not true, with the Scintillas I've negated the need for any subwoofer.

Home Theatre System

LOUDSPEAKERS
NHT 2.1 3 way front towers with an 8" side loaded sub-woofer. NHT 2.1 2 way surrounds and center channel NHT active 10" subwoofer

ELECTRONCS
Sony DA4-ES processor and 7 channel amplifier, Toshiba DVD player / recorder, Sony DVD player. XBOX 360 HD DVD player, Sharp Aquos 52" 1080P LCD monitor, Apple TV, PURE AV power conditioner, Nintendo Wii, and a Playstation 2

CABLES
Blue Jeans component cables, Monster HDMI, and Belden/Canare StarQuad speaker cables

 

 

 

 

 

 

WILL WRIGHT'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Extensively modified (by me) Carver Amazing dipole loudspeakers. The original four twelve inch woofers per side have been replaced with Adire Audio dual voice coil DP12s(no longer available since Adire closed shop). Additional bracing and damping has been added to each panel. The original passive crossovers have been removed and replaced by White Instruments 24 bit digital Paramedic 26 XLR crossovers, one per channel. All line level connections are balanced. The four twelve inch woofers are augmented with a DIY sub for each channel utilizing a fifteen inch Adire dual voice coil Tempest driver in an eighteen inch ID by three foot sealed sonotube enclosure. The subs are down firing and located in the front corners behind the Carver panels. Each stereo channel is tri-amped. Crossover points are sub to panel woofers @ 40Hz 3rd order, panel woofers to full range ribbon @ 300Hz 3rd order.

ELECTRONICS
Subs are powered by one channel each of two Krell KSA200s stereo amps @400 watts into 4 ohms, Panel woofers are powered by Hypex plate amplifiers built into the base of the Carver panel @ 720 watts into 4 ohms, Carver full range ribbons are powered by one channel each of two Krell KSA 200S. Line level preamp is the Alchemist Tim de Paravicini Signature. The phono pre is the Sutherland PhD.

SOURCES
Analog: Goldmund Studio turntable modified to run on batteries with the T3 servo controlled tangential tracking arm and the Lyra Helikon moving coil cartridge. Digital: Esoteric DV-50 universal disk player, Alesis Masterlink digital recorder and a dedicated "Home Theater Computer" built from scratch and featuring 6 core AMD processor. This houses acoustic measurement software, CARA speaker location software, music database software, LP digitizing software, digital crossover control software and doubles as a music server and home theater controller.

CABLES
Interconnects are all balanced Soundstring cables except for turntable to phono pre and phono pre to line level pre which are single ended Soundstring. Speaker cables are Soundstring except for the Carver 60 inch ribbons which use Goertz flat copper. Power cords are all Soundstring.

ACCESSORIES
The turntable and universal player are sitting on Critical Mass Systems Grand Master isolation platforms atop Lovan equipment racks. The preamp and phono pre are sitting on a Halcyonics Micro 40 active isolation platform. All other equipment is on Black Diamond racing shelves and/or cones and pucks, including the speakers. Power filtration is via a Jack Bybee/John Curl Signature purifier. Acoustic treatments are primarily DIY tube traps and diffusers. Acoustic room measurements are done using a variety of computer software programs. Parametric EQ, level matching and delay, etc. are programmed into the digital crossovers based on the measurement results and listening preferences.

My listening room is in the basement and is underground to a level of about four feet. Floor is tile over concrete slab. Walls are wood paneling. The room is squarish at approximately 23 feet on a side and ceiling height is 7.5 feet. Considering the room shape it is surprisingly free of standing wave problems and I attribute this at least partially to the way dipole speakers load the room and to the fact that the subs in the front corners are crossed over low enough not to excite many room modes. CARA software was used to determine the panel speaker positions. They are about six feet from the side walls, seven feet apart, three feet from the wall behind them and toed in toward the listening position.

Power to components in the listening room is via five fully dedicated lines. Front end components have a dedicated 6-gauge line directly from the main panel wired to an Oyaide duplex outlet. Amplifiers are located at the speakers and each channel's amplification is on two separate dedicated lines one utilizing 6-gauge and the other utilizing 10-gauge Romex connected to the basement sub-panel and wired to Porter Port duplex outlets. All other power to the room is separate.

 

 

MARK PEARSON'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Definitive Technology BP7000SC, KEF LS50, Definitive Technology Reference subs.

ELECTRONICS
Krell KPE Reference phono stage, Krell KRC-HR linestage, and the Krell KSA-250 power amp which has been recapped and brought back to factory specifications.

SOURCES
Digital-Toshiba laptop running foobar 2000 and the Mytek Stereo192 (black mastering version).

Analog-Technics SP-10 MKII table in a custom made plinth, SME 312S tonearm, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Otari MX-55 2 track mastering deck, and Ampex 350 tape preamps.

CABLES
MIT, Synergistic Research, PS Audio, and Mogami.

ACCESSORIES
VPI TNT stand, VPI 16.5 RCM, Mobile Fidelity record cleaner, Stylast stylus cleaner, Adona amp stand, and custom made Sound Anchor speaker stands for the KEF LS50 speakers.

LISTENING ROOM

My listening room is a dedicated room that is "L" shaped. It is 15'W x 23'L x 9'H. The "L" shape is at the left side of the listening end of the room which adds another 4' to the width of the room. The room is treated with ten 2' x 4' x3" sound dampening panels on the rear wall and side walls along with some Room Tune products and four bass traps in the corners of the rear wall.

 

 

 

 

ROSS WAGNER'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Prototype vertical line source: 56 1-inch silk dome tweeters on a vertical stalk mounted 4 inches directly in front of 16 mid-range drivers. 92 inches high. 18-inch woofers mounted in a pair 19-inch diameter cylinders. Electronic crossover to the woofers. Designer-Mark Porzilli, Hand built by Rod Handley. 2 pair very early Pipedream prototypes with Pioneer ribbon tweeters.

ELECTRONICS
Melos 333 Preamp (power supply, line stage, phono stage). Antique Sound Labs Hurricane Amps; Balanced Audio Technology VK-6200 4-channel Amp; Melos 402, 400 watt tube amps as modified by Will Guering.

SOURCES
Recently updated Nova Physics Memory Player (Versa Dynamics 2.3 Turntable. Oppo 83.

CABLES
Valhalla Speaker Wires. Tara .8 interconnects.

ACCESSORIES
Power cords by Vandenhull, Wireworld. PS Audio Power Regulator. Synergistic Research room treatments. Various home-made tube traps.

 

 

 

 

FRANK IACONE'S SYSTEM

System Room Den/Office

LOUDSPEAKERS
Fritz Carbon 7

ELECTRONICS
Woo WA5 300B Headphone Amplifier

SOURCES
Oppo BDP 105, IMAC 27 inch with Audirvana and Amarra software for itunes

HEADPHONES
Sennheiser HD800, Hifiman HE6, Fostex TH900, PSB M4U, Ultimate Ears UE18, Hifiman RB600

CABLES
Nordost Blue Heaven Power Cords, Nordost Blue Heaven Interconnect cables, Nordost Blue Heaven Speaker cables/banana terminated, Nordost Blue Heaven USB cable, Audioquest Diamondback interconnect, Audioquest Black Mamba

System Two - Upstairs Office

LOUDSPEAKERS
Omega 3T monitors

ELECTRONICS
Dared 2A3 C integrated speaker amplifier, Finale 5W SEP Headphone and Speaker Amplifier, Pioneer Vintage SX650 receiver.

SOURCES
Oppo BDP 95, Dell OptiPlex Windows based PC.

HEADPHONES
Various ones used in the First system share time upstairs as well.

CABLES
Nordost Blue Heaven Power Cords, Nordost Blue Heaved Interconnects, Nordost Blue Heaven Speaker Cables, Audioquest Cimarron USB cable
.

 

 

 

 

OLIVER AMNUAYPHOL'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Rethms the Third.

ELECTRONICS
Fi X 2a3 integrated w/ Magnequest OPTs.

SOURCES
Rega P25/RB600/Dynavector DV 10x5 combo and a Sony SCD-333es.

My system resides in a room that is 19' x 12' x 7.5' and the Rethms are 4' out from the one of the short walls and 6' apart. The long wall adjacent to the left speaker has three tall windows covered in blinds and the opposing side opens into the dining room. The listening couch is right up against the other short wall, but through experimentation I've found a spot on the edge of the couch that's almost ideal as far as sweetspots go: the Rethms just seem to 'gel' better if I'm positioned some distance away from them. There's also a wide window that's covered in blinds just above the couch, but the speakers seem far enough away from any wall boundaries to cause any serious interactions. So, not an ideal room, but I think I've made the most of it.

 

 

 

ROBERT LEARNER'S SYSTEM

Primary System

LOUDSPEAKERS
Scaena 3.2s and two 2 JL Fathom 113s subwoofers.

ELECTRONICS
Classe SSP800 , Dynavector phono preamp. Audio Research Reference 210 mono amps, 1 Llano Trinity 200wpc 3 channel tube/solid-state hybrid amp (center, rears), 1 Rotel RB 1072 stereo amp (sides).

SOURCES
Squeezebox Touch using Apple Lossless, Oppo 980, Oppo BDP 83, Apple TV, Hanns T20 TT on Gingko platform w/Dynavector XX2mkII. Projector is a JVC RS2 with a Stewart Studiotek 130 110" screen.

CABLES
Signal Cable, Speltz Anti-cable, DH Labs, Blue Jeans (Belden), Main speaker cable Supra Sword.

ACCESSORIES
Audiav Zirconia main rack and amp stands. Shunyata Hydra 8. Corner bass traps, absorption panels at the point of first reflection and on the front wall by GIK Acoustics, Cornertunes 'triangles' by Michael Green.

Secondary System

LOUDSPEAKERS
ATC 20-2 active monitors.

ELECTRONICS
TacT Mini.

SOURCES
Squeezebox using Apple Lossless.

CABLES
Signal Cables.

 

 

 

 

A. COLIN FLOOD'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
1989 Klipsch corner horns: 167-pounds, 3-way full-loaded horns, 15" woofers, stock AK2 crossovers, 104-dB, 25-Hz bottom; Altec Lansing Model Ones: 31 pounds, Acoustic 8" mid-bass woofer and 4" silver dome tweeter, 50-Hz to 20-kHz frequency response; ACI Titan: 12" woofer, 250-watt, Class AB, crossover continuously variable, 70-pounds.

ELECTRONICS
Behringer 2496 EQ, passive dual amplification: Dynaco Series II PAS-3 tube pre-amplifier, upgraded Bottlehead Paramour 2A3 monoblocks (mid and high-range horns), Pioneer M-22 bass amplifier: 48-pound, two 33,000 uF capacitors, 60 watts maximum into 8 ohms (26.8dBW); Harmon-Kardon 330B receiver.

SOURCES
Pandora stream, Oppo 981HD multimedia player CABLES
Bass cables: Coincident Technologies' CST-1, Dact Dual Connects, Monster Silver.

ACCESSORIES
Realtraps panels, Gingko Audio Cloud 10 isolation platform

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL WECHSBERG'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Marten Miles II.

ELECTRONICS
E.A..R 890 amplifier and E.A.R. 868 preamplifier with a Townshend Seismic Sink isolation platform.

SOURCES
Townshend Rock 7 Turntable with Helius Omega Tonearm and a London Reference cartridge. E.A.R. Acute 3 CD Player Music Hall Maverick SACD Player.

CABLES
Kubala-Sosna Elation Balanced interconnects and Kubala-Sosna Emotion power cords, Harmonic Technology Pro-9 Reference speaker cables Harmonic Technology Magic Link Two and XLO Signature 3 interconnects Harmonic Technology Magic Reference 2 and XLO Signature 3 power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Bybee Speaker Bullets, Marigo Labs TXi and VXi Mystery Feet for electronics PS Audio Power Plant Premier Power Conditioner.

 

 

 

 

 

SCOTT ROBERTSON'S SYSTEM

Living Room

LOUDSPEAKERS
Magnepan 2.7

ELECTRONICS
Integra DTR 7.1, Accuphase C-3000 preamplifier, Accuphase P-7000 amplifier

SOURCES
Oppo DV981HD, Halcro EC800

Home Theater

LOUDSPEAKERS
BandW 802D mains, BandW HTM2D center, RBH in-wall rears

ELECTRONICS
Rotel RSP-1068 Surround Sound Processor, Rotel RMB-1095 Power Amplifier, Audyssey EQ Sound Equalizer, Accuphase C-3000 preamplifier, Accuphase P-7000 amplifier

SOURCE
Oppo DV981HD, Sony PS3, Halcro EC800

CABLES
Audioquest Diamond interconnects

 

 

 

KENT JOHNSON'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Magneplanar MG10's in a bi-amplified set up using custom bass boxes for frequencies below 80 Hertz.

ELECTRONICS
Dodd Audio Midline tube preamplifier. Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 Integrated. Rogue 90 Stereo tube amplifier for the MG10s; a Hafler 9270 for the bass boxes. The crossover is a Dahlquist DQ-LP1.

SOURCES
Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/CD player for SACD. The Sony feeds a Cullen Circuits DL3 Stage III modded PS Audio DAC for CD replay.

CABLES
DH Labs Revelation, Zentara Reference, and Supra Sword 3.0, Zentara Reference. My digital cable is two meters of Belden 1694A video cable terminated with Eichmann Bullet Plugs. It works great. Here is the article that the information for making it came from: PFO Issue 14, "Why longer is generally better for an S/PDIF Digital Cable," by Steve Nugent.

ACCESSORIES
Monster 3600 Mk II line conditioner, PS Audio Soloist Premier, AC cords from PS Audio, Shunyata, and Zentara. I have four dedicated circuits available to me, three twenty amp and one fifteen amp. The amps are each on their own twenty amp circuits. The front-end equipment is on another. The fifteen amp circuit is not in use at the moment. I have a pair of AKG K240 headphones.

I listen in a room approximately 23 by 28 feet with a 7.5 foot ceiling in my basement. The room was purposely-built as a listening room within the realities of my budget. The room is heavily insulated; resilient channel is used behind the ceiling drywall; metal studs were used in the walls. It works very well.

SECOND SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Quad 21L 2 loudspeakers.

ELECTRONICS
Xindak XA3200 MKII. PS Audio A-100.

SOURCE
Sony SCD-C333ES SACD/CD player.

CABLES
DH Labs Revelations and Alpha Core Goertz Mi2. Supra Ply 3.4/S

ACCESSORIES
Monster HTS 3600 MKII line conditioner. Shunyata Diamondback Platinum AC cords. AC current comes from a dedicated 20 amp circuit shared with the home theater set up in the family room. They are never both on at the same time.

This system is in my living room, an approximately twelve by fourteen foot space open to both a foyer and dining room at either end.

 

 

 

MARC PHILLIPS' SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Opera Loudspeakers Grand Callas, Trenner and Friedl ART Monitors.

ELECTRONICS
Unison Research Sinfonia integrated amplifier, Rega Brio3 integrated amplifier, Unison Research Simply Phono phono preamplifier, Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE phono preamplifier.

SOURCES
Digital: Unison Research CDE CD player.

Analog: Unison Research Giro turntable with Unison Research UN1 cartridge; Rega P3-24 turntable with Zu Audio DL-103 cartridge, TT-PSE power supply, GrooveTracer Reference subplatter, Funk Firm Achroplat II platter and Acromat 2 mat.

CABLES
Cardas Audio Clear Light interconnects and speaker cables, Cardas Audio Golden Reference power cables.

ACCESSORIES
Quadraspire QAVM equipment rack, Target equipment rack with Neuance shelves, Quadraspire QV-60 speaker stands, Opera Loudspeakers Callas speaker stands,Nitty Gritty 1.5 record cleaning machine, Walker Audio Prelude record cleaning system, Black Diamond Racing cones, Echobusters room treatment, Wiremold power strips.

Since I am, along with Colleen Cardas, the US distributor of Unison Research and Opera Loudspeakers, my system can vary greatly from week to week. Unison has a very extensive product line, and I'm trying to get plenty of seat time with every piece so I can be "an expert." That said, the components listed above are mine, all mine, and not demos or back stock.

My listening room is fairly small, about 11.5' by 14.5', but it has Texas-style 12' high ceilings. I live in a cul-de-sac in a secluded subdivision in the far northwest corner of my sleepy Texas town (actually a growing suburb of Austin). I only have to go a block or two before I hit beautiful natural Texas Hill Country, with its copious bluebonnets, coyotes and rattlesnakes.

 

 

 

 

DEAN SEISLOVE'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Nola Boxer standmount speakers. Tannoy Eyris 1 standmount speakers. Pioneer SP-BS21-LR bookshelf speakers. AudioEngine A5 powered speakers.

ELECTRONICS
Peachtree Audio iNova integrated amplifier. Arcam A-80 integrated amplifier. Luxman LV-80 integrated amplifier.

SOURCES
Arcam CD 82 CD player. Arcam DT61 tuner. MacBook (Snow Leopard, Intel 2 Core Duo 2.4/4GB ram with iTunes 10.5.1, using Pure Music 1.82). Devilsound v2.1 DAC. CEntrance DACport.

CABLES
Kubala-Sosna Imagination speaker cables (on loan). Nordost SuperFlatline MKII speaker cables. Harmonic Technology Magic Link Two interconnects. Stereolab Reference I-700 RX interconnects. Kimber Hero interconnects.

ACCESSORIES
Audioengine W1 wireless system, MIT Z Powerbar power conditioner, Balanced Power Technologies Clean Power Center power conditioner.

 

 

 

 

TOM GIBB'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Zu Audio Omens (Dirty Weekend Edition); Magneplanar MMGs, modded with custom-built stands and Peter Gunn's (of Audio Asylum fame) outboard crossover mods; REL T1 Powered Subwoofer; Definitive Technologies Powerfield 1500 Subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
Emotiva XPA-2 amplifier; Acurus RL-11 preamplifier; Rolls Bellari VP130 tube phono preamp, used interchangeably with Mullard new production, JJ Electronic and Sovtek 12AX7 tubes (depending on my mood).

SOURCES
Digital: Sony BDPs-780 BluRay/SACD player; Custom-built PC (Intel platform): Windows 7/64-bit, 2 TB hard drive, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB Seagate external drive for storage, using JRiver Media Center 17 as my music player, via the High Resolution Technologies Music Streamer II+ USB DAC.

Analog: Rega P2 turntable, with RB 250 arm, modded with Michell Technoweight and stub and glass platter upgrade; Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.

CABLES
Interconnects: Audioquest Topaz, Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's, Monster 400i's. Speaker cables: Monster M1. USB: DH Labs Silver Sonic
.

ACCESSORIES
Bright Star Audio Big Rock turntable base; Tiptoes and various isolation devices; ASC Tube Trap panels; GIK Acoustics bass traps; Custom-built acoustic panels; Target stands; Disc Doctor and LAST record cleaning supplies.

Home Theater System

  • Sony STR-D3ES 6-channel receiver
  • Sony BDPs-780 BluRay/SACD/network player
  • Epson 8350 1080p LCD projector
  • DaLite 108" grey hi-contrast screen
  • Mirage 1295is loudspeakers w/internal 400 watt powered subs, with Mirage center and surrounds

 

 

 

LYNN OLSON'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Ariel Mark 1.9 (similar to original article in PF Magazine in 1993). External crossovers with Jupiter Caps for highpass filters, independent star ground for each filter section, solid-core point-to-point wiring for signal side, tinned stranded copper for ground side.

ELECTRONICS
Karna PP 300B monoblock amplifiers with external power supplies. All triode, all transformer-coupled fully balanced circuitry with VR150 shunt regulation. 5687/6900/7044/7119 input tube, vintage PP 45 driver tubes, and PP meshplate 300B tubes. Fully independent choke-fed B+ power supplies for input/driver and output section; all filtering by General Electric polypropylene/oil motor-run capacitors, with additional Teflon bypass capacitors. 1:1 input transformer by Tribute, interstage, output, and power transformers by Bud Purvine's O-Netics. A version of this amplifier may be available for sale in 2012 or 2013: design pending. More info at the Nutshell High Fidelity site. Custom-made JWN "Colorado Special" PP amplifier.

SOURCES
Digital: Monarchy M24 DAC/Linestage, with Burr-Brown PCM-63K DAC, passive I/V conversion, and 6DJ8/6N1P in SRPP configuration analog amplification. The integral linestage also uses a 6DJ8 or 6N1P in SRPP configuration. I still prefer this DAC to modern DACs with delta-sigma converters and solid-state electronics. Behringer SRC2496 Ultramatch Pro, Sample Rate Conversion set to 88.2/24 mode, internal clock ON, and dither at the 24th LSB set to ON. SRC and dither are turned off for 96/24 sources but internal clock is set to ON. The Ultramatch Pro has galvanic isolation for all inputs and outputs, isolating the grounds of the DAC and the transport and music server. Denon DV2900 CD/DVD/SACD/DVD-A transport with all Parts ConneXion mods, including SuperClock III. Mac Mini server with iTunes and Pure Music software. I will be evaluating the Audiophilleo and Halide Bridge asynchronous USB/SPDIF converters in the near future.

Analog: Technics RS1520 1/2 and 1/4 track semiprofessional tape deck, formerly used by the Tektronix Calibration Lab. 4-head stack, with switchable 1/4 and 1/2 track playback heads, and 1/2 track record and erase heads. Simple modification for external jack for external playback amplification. I may do this if I build an RIAA preamp, which is trivially simple to switch between RIAA, 78 RPM, NAB, and IEC equalization. (Equalization switching was a standard feature for quality preamps in the Fifties, along with tone controls ... hmmm.

HEADPHONES
Beyer Dynamics DT-880M and Sennheiser HD580 headphones.

CABLES
Custom cables built by Bud Purvine of O-Netics, using industrial Litz wire with 288 independently enameled strands and cotton-cloth insulation. Interconnects are RCA-RCA (Radio Shack connectors), and speaker wires are bi-wired from output jacks to crossovers. AudioPrism Ground Controls (designed by Bud Purvine) are attached to high and lowpass filter sections of the Ariel crossovers.

ACCESSORIES
Salamander rack systems for video (including TV mount) and audio systems. Vibration isolation provided by Wal-Mart Stadium Seat Cushions. Sound quality of the Karna amplifiers is degraded by power conditioners; not recommended. The solid-state rectifiers (which feed very large electrolytic caps) used by the digital sources are another matter; they generate so much noise that power conditioning is beneficial to the device and other devices. I use the Monarchy AC Regenerator to drive the digital sources.

VIDEO
Although the video and audio systems are in proximity to each other, the video and audio systems are powered by separate AC outlets, and do not share any interconnects or grounds (galvanic isolation). The Panasonic P58VT25 and Comcast DVR are powered by a sine-wave, server-grade UPS so they can ride through power surges and failures.

Panasonic P58VT25 3D plasma television, with THX certification and four HDMI inputs.

Panasonic BD300 Blu-Ray player with separate audio and video HDMI outputs. Supports full-resolution 1080P 24/60/96FPS 3D over HDMI. No DVD-A or SACD support, though. Is there an OPPO in the future?

Comcast/Motorola DVR, with HDMI, SPDIF, and TOSLINK outputs. Vibration isolated.

Marantz AV8003 pre-pro and MM8003 8-channel power amplifier, with support for DD, DTS, Blu-Ray audio formats, DVD-A, and SACD over HDMI.

Dynaudio Contour SC X. Pretty good Center speaker, but only a fair timbre match for the Ariels. I found out the hard way that almost no commercial high-end speaker matches the Ariels - nearly all Center speakers are quite bad on music (listen to them in mono, and see what I mean), and only fair on dialog intelligibility. The Dynaudios seem to be the best of the bunch as HT speakers go. Still looking for a gently used pair of ME2's that a careful DIY constructor may have built, at least the ME2 will have good integration with the Ariels, since it uses the same drivers and cross-over.

REL Strata III subwoofer; one of the few that successfully integrates with the Ariels. Most HT subwoofers are not a good match for the Ariels, much too slow and soggy-sounding. Also makes a good stand for the Technics RS-1520 tape deck.

Astro Gaming Mixamp 5.8 GHz wireless headphone transmitter-receiver with TOSLINK input from the Panasonic television. Excellent sound quality with the Beyer and Sennheiser headphones, and the Dolby Headphone synthesized surround gets the sound out of your head and into the room. Just the thing for the those BBC mysteries and Dr. Who episodes with mixed-down dialog and Mersey, Welsh and Scots accents.

XBOX 360 Slim and Kinect controller, with 250GB drive, Ethernet interface, and 1080P HDMI output (although in-game resolution is 720P or less; limitation of the 2007-vintage graphics chipset). Microsoft finally got power consumption down to 60~70 watts, solving the heat-dissipation problems of earlier Xboxes, as well as greatly reducing fan noise (the X360S is actually pretty quiet).

Zero interest in first-person shooters (FPS) like Call of Duty, but atmospheric games like L.A. Noire, Child of Eden and Xbox Live Arcade downloads are a lot of fun. The Kinect 3D motion sensor is a great way to liven up a party, since you have to physically get up and control the game with your whole body.

Mac Mini with HDMI, TOSLINK and USB-audio output - convenient for watching real-time international news on the Panasonic TV without US-market censorship from the satellite and cable-company provider. I got this after being exasperated with the very poor coverage from CNN, MSNBC, et al on the New Zealand and Japan earthquakes, events at Fukushima, and the Arab Spring. I have NO interest in the latest missing-blonde story, Hollywood gossip, or endless Congressional shouting matches.

I'd rather see real news, and you to go to the Internet for that. The international TV stations all have different protocols for streaming television, and you need a computer to support these protocols - not the restricted Hollywood-friendly protocols of Roku, Apple TV, Boxee Box, or other media-consumption devices (which are essentially Netflix replacements from what I see). The Mac Mini runs cool, is fanless and very quiet, and I'm used to the Mac OS X operating system.

Internet connection is through in-house Cat 5e Ethernet wiring, D-Link DIR-655 Router, and 25~30 (measured) megabit Comcast cable modem. Wireless is too flaky for stable streaming TV or high-definition audio transport.

View of complete audio and video systems. The video system has its own AC outlet, and runs off a server-grade sine-wave UPS. The audio system is off to the right, and has its own power outlet. All power conditioners tried so far have degraded the sound of the Karna amplifiers, so they are not used for the audio system.

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL VERITY'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
James Series 10

ELECTRONICS
Carver M-1.0t amplifier and a Carver C-1 preamplifier

SOURCES
Pioneer DV-578A DVD/CD Player, Technics SL1200 Turntable, Ortofon Cartridge, HP Pavillion m6 Computer

HEADPHONES
Audio Technica ATH-PROSV

CABLES
Standard issue stuff from Phoenix Gold

 

 

 

 

TIMOTHY ROTH'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Von Schweikert VR-22.

ELECTRONICS
Audio Electronics Constellation Preamplifier; Audio Electronics Hercules Power Amplifier.

SOURCES
Digital: TEAC UD-501 USB D/A Converter; Oppo BDP-105 Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Disc Player.
Analog: SOTA Series II Moonbeam Turntable.

HEADPHONES
Sennheiser HD650 Headphones.

CABLES
Interconnects by Audience, Jena Labs. Speaker cables by Audience. Power cables by Audience.

ACCESSORIES
Furutech Flow-28 Inline Power Filter; VansEvers Clean Line Reference Series High-Performance Line Conditioner.

 

 

 

 

STEVE KOZLE'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Axiom Audio W22 In/.On Wall Speakers (titanium tweeters and aluminum woofers), Orb Audio Super Eight Custom Sub (8" driver, 200W BASH hybrid digital amplifier and 12" cabinet).

ELECTRONICS
Dayens Ampino integrated amplifier - 25W per channel.

SOURCES
Recent-generation Mac mini with Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, running Pure Music and iTunes Applications. HRT Music Streamer II.

CABLES
Dayens InVivo Silver RCA interconnects, Shunyata Venom 3 power cable, Axiom Audio 14AWG Speaker Wire.

ACCESSORIES
Auralex Subdude isolation platform, Vibrapods, Vibracones, Monster QuickLock MKII Gold Banana Connectors, Innovolt Power Asset Manager PM-15.

 

 

MALCOLM GOMES' SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Merlin Music VSM with Master with Master BAM and RCs

ELECTRONICS
Bryston BP26 with MPS2 Power Supply preamplifier, Ayre V3 amplifier with all available upgrades
Ars Sonum Filharmonia integrated (Tube), Bryston BP-1.5 phono.

SOURCES
Bryston BCD-1 (SS), Bryston BDP-1, Technics SL-1200Mk2 with Goldring 1042GX cartridge, Sooloos 5 complete 3-piece system, iMac (latest) with Amarra 2.4.3 (4433) and Decibel media players.

CABLES
Cardas Clear Beyond speaker, LessLoss Signature power, Cardas Clear interconnect, Transparent Reference (digital co-axial), Cardas (USB), Analysis Plus (Toslink).

HEADPHONES
Sennheiser HD 600, DAC Calyx Femto.

ACCESSORIES
Black Diamond Racing (The Shelf for Sources and LM series), Black Diamond Racing cones, Shelfs are placed on a bed of pure silicone sand and equipment placed on the shelf via the cones, Isotek Sigma II.

SOFTWARE
Hi-res tracks downloaded from Linn and HD Tracks. MFSL LPs, Audiophile CDs from Cheskys, Dorian, MFSL and Sheffield Lab.

Listening room – 90% underground, 18' X 27' X 8' with extensive room treatments and solid concrete walls (with drywall over Roxul Safe & Sound) and solid concrete floor (Berber carpet).

SPECIAL WOOFER & TWEETER
My Champaign Poodle, Tucker and my Parakeet, Whistler ;-)

 

 

ROGER SKOFF'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Acoustat 1+1 electrostatics (3 pairs), Vandersteen Model 2, Snell E, Dahlquist DQ12, TMH horns, Kinergetics subwoofers

ELECTRONICS
Jeff Rowland Design Group Model 5 amplifiers (2, XLO & Rowland modified, bridged/balanced for use as a monoblock pair), KRELL KSA300S amplifier, VTL MB185 Series II Signature monoblock amplifiers, Rowland (Rowland and XLO modified) Coherence, Klyne (2), and VTL (Type 6.5 phono) preamps.

SOURCES
Digital: Kinergetics, Sony, and Theta CD and SACD players Analog: VPI, Ariston (2) and Linn turntables, with Linn, Dynavector, Eminent Technology, and Stax arms. Ikeda, Shinon, Audio-Technica, Koetsu, and Ortofon cartridges.

HEADPHONES
Stax Lambda Pro, Sigma, and SR-80

CABLES
XLO Limited Edition and Signature (phono cables)

LISTENING HABITS AND PREFERENCES:
First above all, I listen for "believability". I want to be able to believe that I am listening to "live" music, instead of a recording, and that, instead of having the musicians playing in my listening room, I have somehow been transported to where the musicians are and I am in the musicians' room with them. This means, among other things, that the sound must NEVER sound like it's coming from the speakers! As you can guess, imaging and soundstaging are primary criteria for me, as are the apparent sizes of the performers, their instruments, and the room they're playing in. Bass blows me away, but when I'm listening to a plucked string bass, for example, I know that there are three distinct components to the sound: the initial pluck of the string; the spread of the string's vibration to the whole instrument; and the amplifying resonance and "bloom" of the instrument's body, and I want to hear all three, in the proper sequence. Timbre is also crucial, as are "edges." Violins, for example, are generally NOT sweet-sounding instruments: In addition to the warmth of their body tones, there is also a sharp edge as the barbs of the horsehair bow "saw" at the strings. I want to hear all of it, as well as the "blatty" edges of the brass. In my listening, I care much more about "real" than about "pleasant", perhaps because "real" is always pleasant—if only as an accomplishment—but "pleasant" is NOT always real.

 

 

BRIAN MOURA'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
NHT 2.3A Speakers (4 – Left, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround), NHT VT-1C (Center Channel Speaker), SVS SB-12 (Subwoofer Speaker + Amplifier), and Audio Engine 5+ Desktop Speakers.

VIDEO
Sharp 45” LCD TV with 1080p Output and Roku 3100X for Internet Video Sources.

ELECTRONICS
EMM Labs Switchman 2 Controller (4 Sets of 6 Channel Balanced & Unbalanced Inputs), Meridian 861 Reference Surround Sound Processor, Cary Audio Cinema 5 Amplifier, and Involve Audio Surround Master Surround Sound Synthesizer and Decoder.

HEADPHONES & EAR SPEAKERS
HiFi Man HE-6 Headphones and Stax SRS-2050 Ear Speakers + Amplifier, Cardas EM 5813 Ear Speakers.

HEADPHONE AMPS & PROCESSORS
Symth Research Realiser A8 – 8 Channel Surround for Stereo Headphones, Cavalli Audio Liquid Fire Stereo Headphone Amp, and Schiit Lyr Stereo Headphone Amp.

SOURCES
EMM Labs CDSD SACD/CD Transport with EMM Labs DAC6/SE 6 Channel DAC, exaSound e28 DAC – 8 Channels of DSD & PCM, and Oppo BDP-105 Universal Blu-Ray/SACD/DVD/CD Player.

CABLES
Kimber Kable Silver Streak Interconnects and Kimber Kable Silver B-Bus USB Cable (Laptop to DAC).

ACESSORIES
PS Audio Power Plant P5 and Paul Hynes SR3-12 Power Supply (for exaSound e28 DAC).

ROOM
The listening room is a carpeted 10' by 10' room.

 

 

 

WARREN CHI'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
None

ELECTRONICS
CEntrance DACport LX, Objective 2 (O2) headphone amp, HeadRoom Total Airhead, Fiio E5, Fiio E6, HRT HeadStreamer DAC/amp, Styleaudio Carat-Topaz DAC/amp, Ray Samuels Emmeline The Dark Star headphone amp, ADL/Furutech Cruise DAC/amp

SOURCES
Toshiba Satellite C875D, Microsoft Zune 30, SanDisk Sansa E260

HEADPHONES
AKG Q701, AKG K240 Studio, AKG K422, AKG K518LE, Beyerdynamic DT880/32, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80, Denon AH-D7100, Eskuche 33 1/3, Fostex T50RP, Grado SR-325 (heavily modded), HiFiMAN HE-5LE, Numark Electrowave, Perfect Sound dido d901, Pioneer SE-A1000, Pioneer SE-MJ751, Pioneer SE-MJ721, Quadraflex Q-35, RHA SA950i, Sennheiser HD 650, Sennheiser HD 25-1, Sennheiser HD 205, Sennheiser HD 212 Pro, Sennheiser HD 215, Sennheiser HD 238, Sony MDR-XB500, Sony MDR-XB300, V-Moda M-80

EARPHONES
AKG Q350, Denon AH-W150BU, Denon AH-C100, Denon AH-C300, Denon AH-C400, Dunu DN-19 Tai Chi, Dunu DN-22M Detonator, Dunu DN-23 Landmine, Dunu DN-16 Hephaes, Fischer Audio SBA-01, Grado GR8, Meelectronics M6, Meelectronics M31, Meelectronics A151, Monoprice 8320, Monoprice 9396, Monoprice 9398, Pioneer SE-NC31C, RHA MA150, RHA MA350, RHA MA450i, Skullcandy 2XL, Skullcandy Ink'd, Sony XB60EX, Ultimate Ears 600, Ultimate Ears 700, Ultimate Ears 900

CABLES
Nordost Heimdall RCA cable, Nordost Blue Heaven power cable, CEntrance Reserve Series 1/4" TRS to RCA cable

ACCESSORIES
APC Back-UPS 1500 AVR Power

What drives me?

As a self-professed personal/portable fanatic, I am drawn to all things porta-fi. This is not to say that I am averse to 2-channel home listening, but rather that I can be counted on to geek out with anything that I can comfortably enjoy on-the-go. Like many of you, music is more than just a hobby... it is the soundtrack of my life, and my constant companion.

 

 

 

AL CHIENG'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Ambience 1800 Superslim ribbon hybrid, pair of Velodyne SPL-R 10.

ELECTRONICS
Antique Sound Lab Flora EX DT, Modified VTL Deluxe 140 Monoblocks, Leema Acoustics Elements Phono Preamp

SOURCES
Digital: MacBook to M2tech hiFace via coax to Chord Electronics QBD76 DAC, DIY 47 Labs Flatfish. Analog: Modified Lenco L70 Jelco SA 250 tonearm with Zu Audio Denon 103 cartridge; stock tonearm with Shure M3D cartridge. Musichall MMF 5 with Goldring 1012 cartridge.

CABLES
The Chord Company Carnival SilverScreen biwired loudspeaker cable, Moray James interconnects, coax and power cables, Audience Au24 interconnects.

CABLES
Quicksilver Gold contact enhancer, Harmonic Resolution Systems Damping Plates and Nimbus coupler system, Hifi Tuning and Furutech fuses, Black Diamond Racing number 3 and 4 racing cones, Skylan isolation base, Richard Gray RGPC 400 Pro, plenty of NOS tubes, Audience Adept Response aR1p, DIY cable risers, isolation sand boxes, bass traps, sound diffusers maple butcher blocks; Schumann Resonance Generator.

Office system

LOUDSPEAKERS
Antec Rockus 3D.

HEADPHONES
Audeze LCD 2 revision 1 and LCD 3.

ELECTRONICS
Audiospace AS-3i

SOURCES
DIY HTPC Intel I7 running Windows 7 and Itunes via USB to Cambridge Audio DacMagic.

CABLES
Audience powerChord, Moray James interconnects, Locus Design Polestar USB.

ACCESSORIES
Audience Adept Response aR1p.

Portable system

HEADPHONES
Modified Grado SR 60i, Shure SRH 840, Bang and Olufsen Earset 3i.

ELECTRONICS
|RW Audio Balanced battery portable headphone amplifier.

SOURCES
Apple Iphone 5, HRT iStreamer.

 

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