Any component in
boldface is on loan; items/devices in regular type face
belong to the reviewer.
DAVID ROBINSON'S SYSTEM
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.
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
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.
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 cartridge; ATR 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.
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.
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
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.
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
Robinson's Home Theater System
Linn Kisto Controller
Linn 5125 5.1 channel amplifiers (x 2, 5 channel bi-amped
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
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
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
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
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
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
Benchmark DAC2 HGC DSD-Capable DAC
Mytek Stereo 192-DSD DSD/Double DSD-capable DAC
Furutech GT-40 USB DAC
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
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
Reimer Speaker Systems Tetons (with the Hi-Vi Isodynamic Planar tweeters and
series crossovers) heavily treated with Marigo VTS Dots, with Townshend Audio
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.
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.
Locus Design Vision, Kubala-Sosna Emotion, Purist Audio Proteus Provectus
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
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
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 normregardless
of the genre. I should add that in my room, the Reimer Tetons are pretty much flat to
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 afterthough one
that stresses musicality over sterile neutrality. Not lush mind you, but a bit perhaps a
touch darker than most.
Chario Hyper Reference 2000.
Kora Explorer 90 SI integrated.
EAD T-1000 transport and DSP-1000 II DAC.
Interconnects are DH Labs Revelations,
Audience, or Kubala-Sosna. Speaker cables are JPS Ultraconductors.
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
Paradigm LCR350 fronts and center, 250 surrounds, and a Velodyne DSP12
Pioneer VSX-60TXV receiver.
Samsung 46" LED HDTV television and an Oppo BD105.
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.
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
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).
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,
and Lyra Atlas cartridges; Reel-to-reel: J-corder/Bottlehead
modded Technics RS-1500US/Pro-Nortronics PB heads.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Listening Panel: Tiger (a 2½ year old, male
Tawny Spotted Bengal cat) and Sweet Pea (a 1 year old, female, Snow Bengal
DR. SARDONICUS' SYSTEM
Piega P-10, VMPS, and ACI Sapphire XL w\subs
BAT VK-600-SE power amplifier, BAT VK-P-10 SE tube phonostage and a BAT VK-51-SE (modified) tube line stage.
EMM Labs CDSA SE. Custom
made Jena Labs/Technics SP-10 turntable with SME-10 arm, and a Cardas Heart MC
Jena Labs Pathfinder, Dream Dancer, and Valkyrie level interconnect,
speaker, and AC cables.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Mitsubishi WD-62527 1080p/720p 62" HDTV,
Samsung FH6200 60" 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV.
Von Schweikert Vortex VR-33, Mirage MC-3 center, Optimus LX-4 rears, Mirage
Emotiva LMC-1 7 channel
preamp/processor, Emotiva LPA-1 seven-channel amplifier.
McCormack UDP-1 Beyond Deluxe Universal player, Samsung BD-P1590 BluRay Player,
DirecTV R-10 HD receiver, Hughes HDVR2 DirecTV TiVo Digital Receiver, JVC
Audience Au24 speaker cables, Audience Au24e interconnects, SoundString Gen II
Platinum Edition HDMI v1.4 cables.
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.
Confidence C1, Acoustic Zen Adagio, Meadowlark Swallows, Epos ELS-3, Audioengine
Audio Medusa Vacuum Tube/Class D Hybrid Amplifier, Rogue Audio M180 Vacuum Tube
[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.
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.
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.
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
Marten Bird Loudspeakers, Marten Duke 2 Loudspeakers, and REL Stadium III
E.A.R. 324 phono preamplifier,
 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
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.
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.
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.
JM Labs Cobalt Monitors.
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.
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
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
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.
E.A.R. 864 preamplifier both with a mix of NOS tubes. Onkyo PR-SC885(b)
preamp/processor for home theater and Wii duties.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
DAN SCHWARTZ'S SYSTEM
Richard Marsh-built Dynaudio drivers and cabinets with his crossover components,
and Cardas and other wire.
E.A.R. G-88 preamp; BEL 1001 amplifiers; E.A.R. HP-4 headphone amplifier; Melos
SHA headphone amplifier
Analog: Turntable - nonexistent at the moment; Revox G-36 (1/4
track); Magnum-Dynalad Etude tuner; Nakimichi LX-5.
Digital: Porzilli's The Memory
Player; Theta Data III/Generation Va; PS Audio D3.
Grado customs; Ultrasone 650; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650s.
PS Audio P3 power plant.
Mics: E.A.R. The Mic (x2); E.A.R.-modified AKG C-24 (stereo); Neumann U-47, M-49
(x2), KM-254 (x2), U-47fet; Sennheiser MD-409 (x4) Tape machine: E.A.R. 1"
2-track; Stephens 2" 16-track. Console: Helios "The Manor". Mic amplifier: E.A.R.
824M. EQs: E.A.R. 822Q. Limiter: E.A.R. 660. Cardas mic cables. Digital: Mac Pro
/ ProTools 9.
Then there's all the instruments: more than 30 basses, a few guitars, and a
pretty large modular Moog synth.
DANNY KAEY'S SYSTEM
Zu Audio Definition Mk IV, Marten Django XL, Audeze LCD-3.
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).
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.
Kubala-Sosna Emotion, interconnect, speaker and power, Einstein,
interconnect, speaker and power, Zu Audio, interconnect, speaker and power.
2x HRS M3X isolation base, Townshend 5-shelf air suspended rack, Hannl
Flüsterbär record cleaning machine.
Aurum Cantus Leisure 2, HSU ULS-15 Sub
Quicksilver Mid-mono Amplifiers, Dared Mc-7P Preamp (highly modified), Ray
Samuels F-117 Nighthawk Phonostage
VPI Scoutmaster/JMW 9/Sumiko Blackbird, Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC, Toshiba HD-A2
(used as CD Player), Sony DVD-NS 755V (transport only)
Reference Speaker, Diamond Interconncects, Black Gold MC Phono, Power Force, DAC
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
Apple Ipod Classic 80, JH Audio Pro 13
MARSHALL NACK'S SYSTEM
Acoustics Anat Studio III.
Trinity preamplifier, Soulution 710 amplifier. Allnic H-3000V phono preamps.
Kronos Sparta with Helena Tonearm, Shelter Harmony and Air Tight PC1s
cartridges, and the CH Precision D1 and C1.
Full suite of Kubala-Sosna Elation!. AC power cords are Kubala-Sosna
Elation! and Tara Labs Gold.
Rack and amp stands, Vibraplane ELpF Isolation Platforms, Acoustic System
Resonators and Sugar Cubes, Argent Room Lenses, Echo Buster acoustic panels,
Kubala-Sosna XPander 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.
Jeff Roland Design Group Synergy IIi with BPS-1 Battery Power Supply preamplifier.
Jeff Roland Design Group
Model 12 and Mark Levinson ML332 amplifiers.
Sony SCD-1, Esoteric P-03 transport (review sample), Esoteric D-03
(review sample), and a MSB Technology Corporation Platinum DAC III.
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).
Echo Buster Panels, RSC Tube Traps. Installed dedicated AC power line
using 8 GA wiring.
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
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
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.
Crimson interconnects and speaker cable.
Samson equipment rack and amp slabs. Nonotec Systems Intron Protect 8500 CD-DVD
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
DeVore Fidelity Nines, Snell J/iis.
Shindo Allegro preamplifier and
Shindo Haut Brion amplifier.
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
Auditorium A23 speaker cables, Shindo
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
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
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.
JPS, van den Hul, Nordost Heimdahl, and
Reality Cable interconnects. Eichmann Express 6 II, Nordost Red Dawn II
accumulation of the usual bricks, mats, cones and pucks.
GARY L. BEARD'S SYSTEM
Von Schweikert Audio VR-35 Export Deluxe and REL Strata III Subwoofer.
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.
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).
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
Final Labs Daruma 3II isolation, Vibrapods, Lovan Classic equipment
rack, DIY points, ceramic cable supports, and various homebrew isolation tweaks.
Monster Power Strip.
Hsu VT-12 Ventriloquist Loudspeaker System and a Hsu SFT-2 Subwoofer. Infinity
SAT/SUB, PSB, Polk Audio, Mirage Omnisats, Phase Technology SAT/SUB.
Panasonic SA-XR50 Digital Receiver. Yamaha DSP-A1 receiver and Yamaha TX-950
Pioneer 578A UDP, Sony DVP-S7700ES DVD player.
Acoustic Research IC's, West Penn commercial speaker cabling, Monster
Toslink digital, Radio Shack IC's and Belden oxygen-free speaker cabling.
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
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
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
JIM MEROD'S SYSTEM
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grado GS1000 headphones, Sennheiser 650s, AKG 1000 and AKG 701.
Audience AdeptResponse 12 outlet power conditioner and Magnan ultra power
SASHA MATSON'S SYSTEM
Cary Audio CAD 805 Anniversary Edition Triode monoblock amplifiers, Cary Audio SLP98P preamplifier.
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.
AudioQuest Mont Blanc DBS Speaker cables, AudioQuest Sky DBS
interconnects, and Hudson Audio Technology power cords.
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
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.
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.
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.
Purist Audio Design 25th
Anniversary 100% silver for all interconnect, speaker and AC cables.
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
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
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:
FRANCISCO DURAN'S SYSTEM
Tonian Labs TL-D1 Loudspeakers with custom cabinet with real wood Bamboo
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Monitor Audio iDeck with a hand me down iPod
loaded with RandB.
JEFF DAY'S SYSTEMS
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
Tannoy Westminster Royal Special Editions.
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.
VPI Classic turntable with an EMT TSD-15 moving coil phono cartridge.
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.
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
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;
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
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.
Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers, Skylan SHL5 speaker stands.
Leben CS600 vacuum tube integrated amplifier, Leben RS-30EQ phono equalizer.
|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.
Acoustic Revive Single Core loudspeaker cables, White Lightning Moonshine DIY
interconnects, Sablon Audio 'The Robusto' AC power cords.
Acoustic Revive RD-3 Demagnetizer, RIO-5 II Minus Ion Generator.
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
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
ANDRE MARC'S SYSTEM
Thiel CS2.4 and Harbeth Compact 7ES3.
Audio Research SP16 and VS55, Belles Soloist 3 and Soloist 5,
MA6600, and a Revox A722.
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.
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.
Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands, Audience Adept
Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack.
COOKIE MARENCO'S SYSTEM
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).
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.
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.;
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.
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.
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
Chario Hyper 2000 (on loan).
Bel Canto C7R receiver and a
EAR 834P phonostage.
Apple Mini-Mac and a LINN Axiss turntable with the Adikt cartridge.
Nordost Quattro-Fil interconnects, Analysis Plus Oval 9 speaker cables,
Locus Design Group Axis USB cable, and El
Dorado power cords.
Pi Audio UberBUSS power
conditioner, Vibrapods, Townshend 3D sink Table,
and Echo Busters.
JOHN BRAZIER'S SYSTEM
Verity Audio Parsifal Ovations.
and Sonic Frontiers Power 2 amplifiers, and Pass Labs X1 preamplifier.
iTunes, MacBook, Licie Ex. HD, Locus Designs Nucleus USB, Sonicweld USB
Converter, Cary 306 Pro CD/SACD/DAC.
Full compliment of Crystal Cables CrystalConnect Reference cables,
power cords, interconnects and speaker wire.
Configured Zirconia by
Audiav, Audio Magic, Mini Stealth.
Sennhieser HD600 Headphones with Cardas replacement cable.
Consonance Cyber-20 Tube Headphone Amplifier.
Rega Planet as transport, Perpetual
Technologies P-3A DAC.
Custom Spec'd 75ohm silver digital Cable from Acoustic Zen.
Audio Selection Cones under CDT,
bag of Maine's Finest Oatmeal
on top of CDT.
TOM CAMPBELL'S SYSTEM
Reynaud Orfeo; Harbeth Compact
Coda/Continuum Unison integrated amplifier, EAR 834P tube phone preamplifier.
Nottingham Spacedeck turntable and tonearm,
Grado Reference Statement cartridge, Bel canto PL-2 universal digital player, vintage Luxman AM/FM
Audio Note Lexus speaker
cables; MAC interconnects and power cords
KARL LOZIER'S SYSTEM
Genesis G-6.1 with integral
dual Servo controlled 12" subwoofers each cabinet.
Herron VTSP-3A preamplifier. Pair of Herron M1 (solid-state) amplifiers. Herron
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.
VPI-MKll with SME IV Tonearm + Grado Reference cartridge.
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.
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.
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)
Nola Minis, Napoleons,
and T-Bolt III subwoofer.
Denon AVR 3805 Receiver.
Esoteric DV50 Universal player
and Toshiba SD9200 DVD player. JVC HD-52G rear projection and D-ILA (LCoS) 1280x720 pixels.
Interconnects by Kimber, Harmonic Technology, and DiMarzio. Loudspeaker cables
are mainly Kimber's Monocle X. AC power
cords by DiMarzio, Harmonic Technology, and Kimber.
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.
Gramaphone Company's 80 year old
His Master's Voice record player family model with large horn and crank.
JOHN ACTON'S SYSTEM
Monitor Audio Gold GX50.
Cayin A-55T integrated amplifier.
Simaudio MOON CD5.3 CD player.
Kimber Kable Hero AG interconnect,
Kimber Kable 4TC speaker cables, Audience powerChord 'e' power cords.
Audience aR2p-TO power conditioner,
ASC Panel Traps, Solidsteel 6.2 Audio Table, Sanus Granite Foundation speaker
ED KOBESKY'S SYSTEM
PrimaLuna ProLogue Two integrated
amplifier, Rotel RQ-970 phonostage.
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.
MonsterCable Interlink 400, 250 and 200 interconnects, AudioQuest
Alpha Snake interconnects, MonsterCable XP speaker wire, others.
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
ROGER S. GORDON'S SYSTEM
VMPS RM 30 floor
standing speakers (-3dB at 37Hz) with VMPS Large subwoofer upgraded to VSS
specifications (-0dB at 20Hz).
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.
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.
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
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+.
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
BandW Nautilus 802 (LandR), BandW Nautilus HTM1 (center), BandW Nautilus 805
Phi Beta 110i integrated amplifier, YBA Audio Refinement Multi-5 five channel
amplifier, Integra DTC-9.8 pre/pro, Pioneer KRP-600M plasma.
Scout with JMW-9 tonearm and Aurum Beta S cartridge, Classe Omega SACD-2, Sony Playstation
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
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
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.
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,
MacBook Pro Retina SSD running Amarra 2.5/Amarra Hifi, iPad2 w/ CCK-USB output,
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.
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
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.
Cardas Audio EM 5813 IEMs
JH Audio JH13 Pro Freqphase
Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs
Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs
Monster DNA Pro
Perfect Sound dido (d901) w/ Nordost Heimdall
Pioneer SE-A1000 (w/ Warrenpchi Mod)
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II's
Sennheiser HD490 w/ Warrenpchi mod
V-MODA Crossfade M-100s
Urban Ears (on-ears)
ADL X1 iDevice/USB DAC & headphone amp
ALO Pan Am tube head-amp/DAC - Passport battery - Gateway power
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.
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
Sound Lab Dynastat and a Velodyne HGS-15b subwoofer.
Krell KAV-250a amplifier and a Balanced
Audio Technology VK-3iX (with remote control and MC phono stage
options), Black Cube SE phono stage.
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.
Various models from Virtual Dynamics and
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:
Dynaudio Focus 110.
PrimaLuna ProLogue 6 monoblocs and a
Balanced Audio Technology VK-3i/X, Jeff Roland Research Coherence One.
AR FM Tuner.
Various models from Cardas, Monster, and Kimber.
Panamax 5510 power conditioner.
ANDY SCHAUB'S SYSTEM
AN-E/SEC/SILVER loudspeakers in Makassar wood piano-lacquer finish with
silver-wired tweeters and hemp woofers, all using ALNICO magnets plus muRata
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.
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.
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.
stereo stands (a matching pair). PS Audio Power Plant 10. Three (3) Equi=Tech Balanced
Transformers, feeding different subsystems.
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
Sonicweld Diverter HR USB-to-S/PDIF
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
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
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
Magico Q7 Speakers
Vitus RI-100 Integrated Amp w/Phono Section
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
Kubala Sosna Elation PCs, ICs and
Speaker Cable throughout
Rix Rax Equipment Rack. Magico
Qpod Isolation Footers. SRA Turntable Isolation Platform
- Sennheiser HD800 Headphones
Woo Audio WA22 Headphone
EMM Labs CDSA-SE SACD/CD
Player (w/ Upgraded Transport and Footers)
Oppo BDP-95 Universal
Cardas Golden Reference
Cardas Golden Reference
ALO HD800 RW8-SC Headphone
DIY Isolation Tweak –
Racket Balls and Plumbing PVC Fittings
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
ADAM GOLDFINE'S SYSTEM
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)
Vacuum State Level 6 modified Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD/CD/SACD Player, Musical
Fidelity CR324 up sampling DAC.
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.
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).
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Adam ARTist 3, Emotiva Airmotiv 4.
Studio Six, Audio-gd Phoenix, Woo Audio WA7.
Master 7, Audio-gd NOS1704, Iriver Astell&Kern AK240.
Sennheiser HD-800, Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC, Symphones Magnums.
Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors, JH Audio Roxannes, FitEar Parterre, DITA Audio
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.
Audio Power Plant Premier, Vaunix Lab Grade USB hub, Aurorasound USB BusPower-Pro,
Audiophilleo 1 with Pure Power, Audio-gd Digital Interface
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.
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
Von Schweikert VR4 MKIII, Odeon Elektra Horns, Compact WZSE
Collector's Edition, Usher 6311 and AAD Silver Reference 1.
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.
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
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
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.
Grant Fidelity RPF-120 MKII Reference Power Conditioner. Misc doodads and tweaks and loose parts
like all audiophiles.
PAUL CANDY'S SYSTEM
Jean-Marie Reynaud Evolution 3,
(2) REL Q108 Mk II subs.
Audiomat Opera Reference
Integrated Amplifier, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE Phono Stage.
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.
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.
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
Direct Acoustics Silent Speaker,
Sound Dynamics 300ti, Linn Kan, and Loth-X Ion1.
Audio 4H preamplifier, BandK ST140 amplifier, Adcom 535, and a Antique Sound Labs MG-15DT-S.
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).
Nordost Solar Wind interconnects and Nordost Flatine or Solar Wind speaker
CEntrance Reserve Y cable.
Sound Organization stand, Monster HTS2000 power-line conditioner, Bright Star
IsoNodes (under SACD player), lots of hockey pucks (under pretty much everything
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
JEREMY KIPNIS' SYSTEM
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)
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)
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
Cardas Golden V Cables, Interconnects, Power Cords, Digital Connections,
Microphone Cables, LessLoss DFPC Power Cords,
AudioQuest Ruby Speaker Cables & Interconnects, Glass Optical and HDMI
Monster Cables M1 & M1000 Speaker & Interconnect, Pro 500 Microphone
Mapleshade 1st Generation Experimental Speaker, Interconnect,
and Digital Wires,
Straight Wire, Kimber, Goldmund, Nordost, Sony, Panasonic, Radio Shack,
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
GUIDO CORONA'S SYSTEM
Vienna The Music (reference), and Magnepan 3A
Jeff Rowland M725 mono amp (reference), Jeff Rowland M312 stereo amp,
Jeff Rowland Criterion linestage (reference), and Audio Research Ref 3.
TEAC Esoteric X-01 Limited
Audioquest Sky XLR ICs, Aural Symphonic Chrono Signal wires; Aural Symphonics
Magic Gem and Ultra Cube XXV power cords.
Nordost Sort Kones.
JOHN HOFFMAN'S SYSTEM
Sachiko Double Horn speakers with Fostex 208 Sigma drivers.
Electra Print Audio 300B Custom
amplifier Electra Print Audio PVA preamplifier.
EAD T-1000 transport, Audio Magic
Kukama DAC, Galibier Serac with graphite platter.
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.
Magic Mini Reference power conditioner.
PETER DAVEY'S SYSTEM
Apogee Scintilla - 1 ohm
model with all new ribbons by Graz. New steel stands fabricated by True Sound
Plinius SA-250mkIV amplifier and a BAT VK31-SE preamplifier.
Mini running Yosemite and a myriad of playback software(s) - Audirvana, Pure
Music, Amarra or iTunes. Mytek DSD DAC used to decode PCM / DSD. Triangle
Art Signature Turntable.
Triangle Art Osiris 12" Ebony Macassar Tonear
XLO Speaker Cables. EnKlein XLR
PS Audio Premier power plant in Limited Edition black and PS Audio power
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
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
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
Blue Jeans component cables, Monster HDMI,
and Belden/Canare StarQuad speaker cables
WILL WRIGHT'S SYSTEM
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.
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.
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
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.
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
MARK PEARSON'S SYSTEM
Definitive Technology BP7000SC, KEF LS50, Definitive Technology Reference subs.
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.
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.
MIT, Synergistic Research, PS
Audio, and Mogami.
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.
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
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
2 pair very early Pipedream prototypes with Pioneer ribbon
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.
Recently updated Nova Physics Memory Player (Versa Dynamics 2.3 Turntable.
Valhalla Speaker Wires.
Tara .8 interconnects.
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
Fritz Carbon 7
Woo WA5 300B Headphone Amplifier
Oppo BDP 105, IMAC 27 inch with Audirvana and Amarra software for itunes
Sennheiser HD800, Hifiman HE6, Fostex TH900, PSB M4U, Ultimate Ears UE18,
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
Omega 3T monitors
Dared 2A3 C integrated speaker amplifier,
Finale 5W SEP Headphone and Speaker Amplifier, Pioneer Vintage SX650 receiver.
Oppo BDP 95, Dell OptiPlex Windows based PC.
Various ones used in the First system share time upstairs as well.
Nordost Blue Heaven Power Cords, Nordost Blue Heaved Interconnects, Nordost Blue
Heaven Speaker Cables, Audioquest Cimarron USB cable.
OLIVER AMNUAYPHOL'S SYSTEM
Rethms the Third.
Fi X 2a3 integrated w/ Magnequest OPTs.
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
3.2s and two 2 JL Fathom 113s subwoofers.
, Dynavector phono
Research Reference 210 mono amps, 1 Llano
Trinity 200wpc 3 channel tube/solid-state hybrid amp (center, rears), 1 Rotel RB 1072 stereo amp
Squeezebox Touch using Apple Lossless, Oppo
980, Oppo BDP 83, Apple TV,
TT on Gingko platform w/Dynavector
XX2mkII. Projector is a JVC RS2 with a Stewart Studiotek 130 110"
Signal Cable, Speltz Anti-cable, DH
Labs, Blue Jeans (Belden), Main speaker cable Supra Sword.
Audiav Zirconia main rack and amp stands.
Shunyata Hydra 8.
bass traps, absorption panels at the point of first reflection and on the front
wall by GIK Acoustics, Cornertunes 'triangles' by Michael Green.
ATC 20-2 active monitors.
Squeezebox using Apple Lossless.
A. COLIN FLOOD'S SYSTEM
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.
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.
Pandora stream, Oppo 981HD multimedia player
Bass cables: Coincident Technologies' CST-1, Dact Dual Connects, Monster Silver.
Realtraps panels, Gingko Audio Cloud 10 isolation platform
MICHAEL WECHSBERG'S SYSTEM
Marten Miles II.
E.A..R 890 amplifier and E.A.R. 868
preamplifier with a Townshend
Seismic Sink isolation platform.
7 Turntable with Helius Omega Tonearm and a London Reference cartridge. E.A.R. Acute
3 CD Player Music Hall
Maverick SACD Player.
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
Speaker Bullets, Marigo Labs TXi and VXi Mystery Feet
for electronics PS Audio Power Plant Premier Power Conditioner.
SCOTT ROBERTSON'S SYSTEM
Integra DTR 7.1, Accuphase C-3000 preamplifier, Accuphase
Oppo DV981HD, Halcro EC800
BandW 802D mains, BandW HTM2D center, RBH in-wall rears
Rotel RSP-1068 Surround Sound Processor, Rotel RMB-1095 Power
Amplifier, Audyssey EQ Sound Equalizer, Accuphase C-3000 preamplifier, Accuphase P-7000
Oppo DV981HD, Sony PS3, Halcro EC800
Audioquest Diamond interconnects
KENT JOHNSON'S SYSTEM
Magneplanar MG10's in a bi-amplified set up using custom bass boxes for
frequencies below 80 Hertz.
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
Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/CD player for SACD. The Sony feeds a Cullen
Circuits DL3 Stage III modded PS Audio DAC for CD replay.
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.
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.
Quad 21L 2 loudspeakers.
XA3200 MKII. PS Audio
Sony SCD-C333ES SACD/CD player.
DH Labs Revelations and Alpha Core Goertz Mi2. Supra
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 Grand Callas, Trenner and Friedl ART Monitors.
Research Sinfonia integrated amplifier, Rega Brio3 integrated amplifier, Unison
Research Simply Phono phono preamplifier, Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE phono
Digital: Unison Research CDE CD player.
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.
Cardas Audio Clear Light interconnects and speaker cables, Cardas Audio Golden
Reference power cables.
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
Nola Boxer standmount speakers. Tannoy Eyris 1
standmount speakers. Pioneer SP-BS21-LR bookshelf speakers. AudioEngine A5
Peachtree Audio iNova integrated amplifier. Arcam A-80
integrated amplifier. Luxman LV-80 integrated amplifier.
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.
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.
wireless system, MIT Z Powerbar power conditioner, Balanced Power Technologies
Clean Power Center power conditioner.
TOM GIBB'S SYSTEM
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.
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).
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.
Interconnects: Audioquest Topaz, Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's, Monster 400i's.
Speaker cables: Monster M1. USB: DH Labs Silver Sonic.
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.
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
LYNN OLSON'S SYSTEM
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Beyer Dynamics DT-880M and Sennheiser HD580 headphones.
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
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.
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
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
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
MICHAEL VERITY'S SYSTEM
James Series 10
Carver M-1.0t amplifier and a Carver C-1 preamplifier
Pioneer DV-578A DVD/CD Player, Technics SL1200 Turntable, Ortofon Cartridge,
HP Pavillion m6 Computer
Audio Technica ATH-PROSV
Standard issue stuff from Phoenix Gold
TIMOTHY ROTH'S SYSTEM
Grimm LS1; Yamaha NS10-M.
Digital: Macbook Pro; Audirvana; USB 2.0
Analog: SOTA Series II Moonbeam Turntable with Ortofon Blue cartridge and
Musical Fidelity V-LPSII Phono Stage.
Sennheiser HD600 and HD650.
Magni Headphone Amp. Furutech Flow-28
Inline Power Filter; VansEvers Clean Line Reference Series High-Performance Line
STEVE KOZLE'S SYSTEM
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).
Ampino integrated amplifier - 25W per channel.
Recent-generation Mac mini with Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD,
running Pure Music and iTunes Applications. HRT Music Streamer II.
InVivo Silver RCA interconnects, Shunyata Venom 3 power cable, Axiom Audio 14AWG
Subdude isolation platform, Vibrapods, Vibracones, Monster QuickLock MKII Gold
Banana Connectors, Innovolt Power Asset Manager PM-15.
MALCOLM GOMES' SYSTEM
Merlin Music VSM with Master with Master BAM and RCs
Bryston BP26 with MPS2 Power Supply preamplifier, Ayre V3 amplifier with all
Ars Sonum Filharmonia integrated (Tube), Bryston BP-1.5 phono.
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.
Cardas Clear Beyond speaker, LessLoss Signature power, Cardas Clear
interconnect, Transparent Reference (digital co-axial), Cardas (USB), Analysis
Sennheiser HD 600, DAC Calyx Femto.
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.
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
Acoustat 1+1 electrostatics (3 pairs), Vandersteen Model 2, Snell E, Dahlquist
DQ12, TMH horns, Kinergetics subwoofers
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.
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.
Stax Lambda Pro, Sigma, and SR-80
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
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.
Sharp 45” LCD TV with 1080p Output and Roku 3100X for Internet Video Sources.
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
Realiser A8 – 8 Channel Surround for Stereo Headphones, Cavalli Audio Liquid
Fire Stereo Headphone Amp, and Schiit Lyr Stereo Headphone Amp.
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
Kimber Kable Silver Streak Interconnects and
Kimber Kable Silver B-Bus USB Cable (Laptop to DAC).
PS Audio Power Plant P5 and Paul Hynes SR3-12 Power Supply (for exaSound e28 DAC).
The listening room is a carpeted 10' by 10' room.
AL CHIENG'S SYSTEM
Ambience 1800 Superslim ribbon hybrid, pair of Velodyne SPL-R 10.
Antique Sound Lab Flora EX DT, Modified VTL Deluxe 140 Monoblocks, Leema
Acoustics Elements Phono Preamp
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.
The Chord Company Carnival SilverScreen biwired loudspeaker cable, Moray
James interconnects, coax and power cables, Audience Au24 interconnects.
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
Antec Rockus 3D.
Audeze LCD 2 revision 1 and LCD 3.
DIY HTPC Intel I7 running Windows 7 and Itunes via USB to Cambridge Audio
Audience powerChord, Moray James interconnects, Locus Design Polestar USB.
Audience Adept Response aR1p.
Modified Grado SR 60i, Shure SRH 840, Bang and Olufsen Earset 3i.
|RW Audio Balanced battery portable headphone amplifier.
Apple Iphone 5, HRT iStreamer.