Description

This is my music system which has been evolving for over 35 years.

Have had many different components of many styles. Have learned that synergy is everything and you have to trust your ears, not reviews.

Also I've had had these systems in over half a dozen listening rooms. I've spent many hours working on room treatments and setup and believe the room is the most important component.

Vinyl is spinning about 2/3 of the time (Used to be 90% vinyl, but digital changes have been a big improvement). After relocating to Austin, TX and getting the room optimized, I changed the analog side of the system, having sold tt, arm, carts & phono stage prior to the move. 
Most recent project has been upgrading from microRendu and Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC to opticalRendu, SonicTransporter as Roon core, and Denafrips Pontus.

Previous pieces & systems included:

BAT VK150SEs & Silverline LaFolias, Nola Viper Reference III (with Lamm & BAT monoblocks), Acarian Alon V mkiii , Merlin VSM-MX, Atma-Sphere MA1mkII.2, Atma-Sphere MP3, Herron VTSP1a-166,

Joule Electra LA150 and Berning ZH270, Pentagon PH3, CAT SL1MkIII, Merlin VSM-MX

Cary Rocket88 & Dehaviland 845 monos/Cary SLP2002/QuadsESL63USA

Avalon Radians/SpectralDMA180 & DMC20II/Meridian508

BAT vk5i & vk60/Von Schweikert vr4.5II

Chario Academy1/Air Tight ATM1

VTL ST80/ Acarian AlonII

Thiel 3.6 / Krell KSA 50

Vandersteen 2ci / Sunfire amp

Technics SP10mkII, EPA250 arm, SH-B3 obsidian base, custom 4kg ss mat, running with Signet 111E and Goldbug Clement II cartridges, Aqvox 2CI balanced phono stage
VPI TNT6HR w/12.7 arm, van den Hul Colibri XGP,   
Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm, Shelter 501
Sonore microRendu w/custom linear power supply feeding Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC
MacMini running Audirvana+ , too many CDs players & DACs to remember or care about


Read more...

Room Details

Dimensions: 23’ × 15’  Large
Ceiling: 10’


Components Toggle details

    • Sound Lab A3
    Electrostatic Loudspeakers 
    Vintage A3s in oak
    • Krell FPB-300
    Solid State Class A Stereo Amp
    • Balanced Audio VK51SE
    balanced linestage
    • Sota Nova Vacuum Series VI with Eclipse(Phoenix Engr. designed) Motor Controller
    Awaiting delivery of the new Series VI Nova table spring suspension turntable with vacuum hold down system, mag lev platter/bearing, Eclipse motor controller(designed by Phoenix Engineering) and Reflex clamp!
    • Dynavector DV-XX2 mkII
    moving coil cartridge
    • Nagra BPS
    battery powered phono stage
    • Denafrips Pontus
    R2R ladder DAC
    • Sonore opticalRendu & LPS
    Audio Streamer/Renderer (Ethernet > USB) , Running Roon 's latest version, 1.8(at this time)
    • Small Green Computer sonicTransporter i5
    Roon Core
    • Synology DS415+
    NAS with four 4TB drives for now...
    • Spin Planet Custom Amp Stands
    Maple amp stands with Eden Sound brass Bear Paw radiused footers
    • DIY Slipknot & Sbank Maple Madness Rack
    PerfectPlank Maple 1 7/8, McMaster-Carr Brass hardware
    • Custom Room Treatments
    Designed and framed by Sensible Sound Solutions. Assembled and upholstered by me using Guilford of Maine acoustical cloth.
    • SpinPlanet Custom Wood Diffusors
    BBC style QRD diffusors handmade of solid pine on 24" birch plywood base. Hand made in Delaware, USA.
    • Purist Audio Design Aqueous Speaker Cables
    State of the art from back in the mid 1800s or so.
    • Audience Power Cable
    PC w/adjustable floating polarity option
    • Cerious Technologies Graphene Matrix Balanced cables
    Balanced cables dac-to-preamp
    • Mogami 2534 Interconnects
    Mogami Neglex 2534 quad cable w/ Neutrik XLRs 20' pair amps-to-preamp
    • Harmonic Technology Crystal Silver Phono
    DIN to RCA phono cable
    • Inakustic Reference USB Cable
    German USB cable used between opticalRendu and Denafrips Pontus II DAC
    • van den Hul The First Ultimate Mk II
    Carbon interconnects (phono stage to preamp)
    • Eden Sound TerraStone Footers
    vibration damping devices
    • Vinyl Stack Ultrasonic Record Cleaner
    Paired with a 10L 40hz Ultrasonic tank and following the formulas and process suggested in @rushton's thread and www.positive-feedback.com  article.
    • Eden Sound Terrastone Footers
    Terrastone Bearing Isolation Footers under preamp and DAC.
    • PS Audio Juice Bar II and Juice Bar
    8 outlet & 6 outlet power strips
    • Walker Audio Valid Points
    resonance control devices
    • ERS Paper RFI/EMI Control
    ERS paper to fight airborne RFI/EMI
    • Hart Big Willy MK3 Record Cleaning Brush
    Described in detail in M.Fremer's Analog Planet Shootout video and review video. It's a brush that cleans dust of records.

Comments 253

Center
Owner
Just ordered a Hart record cleaning brush after watch Fremer's shootout video. This will replace my Acoustech Big Brush.

sbank

Center
Owner
Inakustik Reference USB cable added between the opticalRendu and the Denafrips Pontus II DAC

sbank

Center
Owner
Added a new piece of art in the listening room. Concert poster from my first show at Austin City Limits' Moody Theater.

sbank

Center
Owner
@slaw Yes, she is. I tell her so every day!

sbank

Center
Owner
I bought the Nagra used 3 yrs. ago, so can't really say about "over the years". 
It sounds pretty fine; dead quiet(it's battery powered) and very natural, detailed and spacious. I pondered an upgrade and can't really decide on anything I'd rather have without a big investment that I'm not prepared to make. 
Next move would probably be on the tonearm. 

sbank

Center
How does your Nagra sound and how has it held up in terms of SQ over the years?

slaw

Center
Spencer, Wow! Your wife is definitely a keeper!!!

slaw

Center
Owner
@slaw Hi Steve,

The amp stand and matching one now under my Sota are made by my wife. We bought huge pieces of essentially maple butcherblock from perfectplank in CA, and she did the cocobolo inlay. It's basically a small cutout with a thin strip of the darker cocobolo glued in then sanded. Then edges were rounded with a router.
When she made them, I had monoblock amps, so naturally, a pair was made. When I switched to a stereo amp, I moved the spare under the turntable.

The VPI I owned was a TNT6-HR. HR stands for hotrod, which means that the tonearm connects directly to the plinth without any separate armboard. I bought the table directly from Harry at VPI back in the day when I was spending time with our dearly departed friend, Bobby P., of Merlin Loudspeaker fame. Bobby had the same table in his reference system, which was photographed in much show coverage along with the first pair of VSM-MX in british racing green, which I owned and enjoyed for many years.

It's funny I think I deleted the REAL pics of the VPI, as well as the SP10mkII that followed it. The pic up now is a tiny handmade replica of the VPI and my audiorack that my wife made of ceramic/resin, etc. as a gift. It's about 2"x1" on a 4"wide rack, lol! The tonearm swings  and platter spins too. Now THAT'S a labor of love!

sbank

Center
Spencer, Noticed your platforms have a center stripe.....is this a wood sandwich? Where did you come across that VPI TNT model/platform?

slaw

Center
Owner
Returned the CAT8 cables in favor of unshielded CAT6 from Blue Jean Cable. Due to reconfiguring the physical arrangement of my oRendu I needed a more typical length USB cable, so I'm temporarily using an Audioquest Cinnamon I hung on to as a spare until I decide what USB cable to get for the longer term. Started a thread to narrow the field. If anyone has thoughts or wants to offer something at a good price, feel free to PM me.

sbank

Center
Owner
Replaced the Netgear switch connecting my digital gear with a Trendnet switch suggested by Andrew at Small Green Computer. Replacing some generic CAT5e cables with CAT8s over the next few days. Curious to see if it impacts my network speed with downloading large files and copying them to my NAS.

sbank

Center
Owner
Hey Mike, 
The recording of Fantasia was a gift from the Philadelphia Area Audio Group, when I had to resign as President due to my relocation to Austin, TX. The writing are comments from members for my sendoff. 

Bowie was busted for weed in Rochester, IIRC. Now Snoop has his own brand!

sbank

128x128
Hey Spencer, Love the recording of Fantasia poster. I've got to find a copy of it. 
The Turntable is up and running. Pictures of it are posted.
Was that picture of Bowie taken when he got arrested for Cocaine? 
Mike

mijostyn

Center
Owner
Joni Mitchell is the 2021 inductee to "Spencer's Wall of Genius" 

sbank

222222&text=ac
Spencer,
Thanks!  I just got Conception a few days ago.  I need to give it another listen.

I'll look for the skyline plans.  I want to add some diffusers above and behind the listening position.  I'm planning a couple silk ficus trees for diffusion behind/between the panels.

I don't have a lot of room to experiment with seating or panel placement.  The nominal room dimensions are 17'6" W x 15' D, but a bay window and coffee bar alcove increase the depth to 24' (really only a factor in exacerbating bass mode complexity).  My primary listening position is at ~1/3 and bass is managed +/- 1 dB with multi subs in that position.  Closer to the wall or center of the room and bass gets really tough to manage due to room modes.

My favorite Tone Poets so far are Lou Donaldson Mr Shingaling, both Stanley Turrentine releases, Katanga, and Witch Doctor (Witch Doctor is pretty hot and distorted on some of the drum solos, but the overall groove more  than makes up for it)
Evan

achipo

Center
Owner
Hi achipo,

My speaker panels are about 5' from the front wall. In another room I previously had them 4.5'. 4' is probably fine. You might want to play around with distance from your seat. I found that moving the seating in 6in. increments forward or back made noticeable differences. 

Yes, my wife and I made the diffusors. They weigh ~18-20lbs. each, and hung easily with picture hanging wire and a 50lb. rated Ook branded picture hanger hook. (Those work great) 
We made them using 1/2" birch plywood as the backer and 2x2" pine for the varying cut pieces. A link to the plans is somewhere in this system thread comments, including the math-based arrangement of the 1"-4" high blocks. It was a fun and easy project! Buy 2" x 8ft. pine, stain it to your preference, cut down a bunch of 1,2,3 & 4in. pieces and then glue them to the backer following the diagram. We mitred a piece of molding to trim the backer edges. 
I'm happy with the coverage as shown in photos. I tried all four diffusors between the speakers, and decided 2 were better than four. This is when used with absorption behind the speakers, both the Owens Corning-based panels and the rockwool-filled bass traps. 

For your Tone poets collection be sure to add Sonny Clark - My Conception; it's a winner with an allstar cast! Cheers,
Spencer

sbank

222222&text=ac

Spencer,


I just looked at your room pics. It gives me great hope that my room will work well for Sound Lab speakers.

A couple questions:
1. About how far are your panels from the back wall? Mine will be about 4' from a paneled wall with broadband absorbers in the bottom and top of built in bookcases and LPs in the middle shelves.
2. Did you make your BBC skyline diffusers? About how much do they weigh? Are you happy with the coverage or would you like more?


PS I totally agree with the Tone Poet recommendation.  They are outstanding records--every single one I've purchased (I'm up to 15 now I think?)

achipo

Center
Owner
Joni Mitchell - The Reprise Years Box Set
The Bernie Grundman mastered Blue is like a component upgrade vs. my original pressing. Don't forget the goosebumps come from listening to great recordings. Vinyl lovers, drop a Benjamin and get it while you can! 

sbank

Center
Owner
Just wanted to say to all you vinyl lovers, go buy some Tone Poets! Listening to Paul Chambers - Bass On Top, Wow!
Tina Brooks - The Waiting Game, Joe Henderson - Sound of the Tenor Vol1. All are great sounding recordings of great, somewhat lesser known jazz titles. 
Don't wanna stop listening...

sbank

Center
Owner
Just uploaded a bunch of new pics including recent upgrades and my new home. Comments & questions are always welcomed. Cheers,

Spencer

sbank

Center
Owner
Thanks, Jim. 
Yeah, I can get sucked right in when I sit down. Checking out the new Springsteen in 24/96 as I type this ;-).  BTW, best Bruce in decades. Cheers.

sbank

222222&text=jp
Great looking system. Love the Sound Labs. A friend of mine has those and when you sit down to listen, you don't want to get up again.

jperry

Center
Owner
Haven't posted any updates in quite some time...When relocating to Austin, TX a couple of years ago, I sold my beloved Technics SP-10 setup to a local friend including my vintage cartridges and phono stage, rather than moving it cross-country. After settling in, I bought the newly designed Sota Nova Series VI turntable, and set it up with an Audiomods Series V tonearm with all silver wiring, and a Dynavector XX2 mk2. That's feeding a Nagra BPS battery powered phon stage, which I chose to minimize interference from the grid. It's all working out great.
Just recently I decided to upgrade the digital source. The Sonore microRendu was replaced by Sonore's opticalRendu + Sonore linear power supply and the Schiit Audio Gungnir Multibit was replaced by a Denafrips Pontus. I also subscribed to Roon in lieu of the various DLNA/UPnP apps (e.g. Lumin, Linn Kazoo) that I used for control previously). After only a couple weeks break-in for the new DAC, I am already very pleased with the improvements in both sonics and UX. 
New room photos coming soon...
Comments and questions are welcomed...Cheers,
Spencer

sbank

Center
Owner
Well, I sold the Lamms. So I guess it's time to rename the system. Any suggestions? Some of my friends call it "The Sound Lab Lab." My wife calls it "The Twin Towers."

sbank

Center
Owner
Hi Chris,
Thanks for your suggestion I will check it out. 
Here's the story on why the change...Many friends have fallen in love with my Sound Labs when they hear them. One told me months ago that he will want to get some someday. His CJ MF2500 came over and we quickly decided that it wasn't up to driving the SLs. He replaced it with a Krell KSA250 partially based on my comments about great combos of Krell KSA and Apogee electrostatics that I've heard many times. He is ready to order SLs and brought the KSA-250 over to confirm the match w/the A3s. Well I knew it would be decent but didn't expect it to be as good as it was. Bass and spacial performance were uncanny. Lamms were superior in top end timbre but it was much closer than I expected. Overall the Krell created lots of goosebumps and positive surprises. I did notice that experimenting w/couple of power cables did make a noticeable difference in smoothness and detail in treble and upper mids. (My Transparent Super was a good match). At less than half the cost of the Lamms, I decided to reduce my investment in the system, and make the change. My take is that FPB series betters the KSAs and are a few years younger. I was fortunate to find one recently recapped and being shipped directly from Krell after a checkup with arrival next week. Cheers,
Spencer

sbank

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