This is my music system which has been evolving for over 30 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 70% 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, now working on rebuilding the analog side of the system, having sold tt, arm, carts & phono stage prior to the move. 

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,

JouleLA150, Pentagon PH3, CAT SL1MkIII,


AvalonRadians/SpectralDMA180 & DMC20II/Meridian508

BATvk5i & vk60/Von Schweikert vr4.5II

Chario Academy1/Air Tight ATM1

VTL ST80/ Acarian AlonII

Thiel 3.6 / Krell KSA 50

Vandersteen 2ci / Sunfire amp

VPI TNT6HR w/12.7 arm, van den Hul Colibri XGP,   Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm, Shelter 501
MacMini running Audirvana+ , too many CDs players & DACs to remember or care about

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

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 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
    • Schiit Audio Gungnir Multibit
    Damping/Isolation mods by Mike Patrick
    • Sonore microRendu
    Audio Streamer/Renderer (Ethernet > USB)
    • Ecco Audio Custom Linear Power Supply
    7V, 2A linear power supply for microRendu. Hand built to spec by Vince DiNenna.
    • Synology DS415+
    NAS with two 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
    • Walker Audio Valid Points
    resonance control devices
    • PS Audio Juice Bar II and Juice Bar
    8 outlet & 6 outlet power strips
    • Symposium Rollerblock Series 2
    Acoustic Coupling Devices
    • DH Labs Ceramic Cones
    vibration damping devices
    • ERS Paper RFI/EMI Control
    ERS paper to fight airborne RFI/EMI
    • Vinyl Stack Ultrasonic Record Cleaner
    Paired with a 10L 40hz Ultrasonic tank and following the formulas and process suggested in @rushton's thread and  article.
    • Eden Sound Terrastone Footers
    Terrastone Bearing Isolation Footers under preamp and DAC.
    • van den Hul The First Ultimate Mk II
    Carbon interconnects (phono stage to preamp)
    • Harmonic Technology Crystal Silver Phono
    DIN to RCA phono cable

Comments 230

System edited: Just added an Oppo BDP-105 to use mostly as DAC fed by Mac Mini, connected to my 2 TB network drive. Trying it initially with Audirvana Plus software. Setup was easier than expected. Listening to Wilco - The Whole Love in 24/96 FLAC high-rez right now. Toe-tapping bits, who'da thunk it?



Thanks, I'm having a lot of fun listening on it.

Just got my van Den Hul Colibri back today from the Netherlands, as A.J. does a free tune up after 300 hours of use. So now the frequency response should measure perfectly flat.
Spent about 12 tries adjusting the azimuth until I got it dead on with the Fozgometer(great tool!). Just now settling in with first couple of LPs and enjoying it immensely.

See my comments on your system thread....Cheers,


Great name for your system. Congrats on your system. Must sound awesome!


System edited: Updated Pics in my 110 year old listening room. Listening to the new Jimi Hendrix release while pics were taken. He never ceases to amaze!


System edited: Lamm M2,1s & Nola Viper Reference IIIs...Here we go! Cheers, Spencer


Hello Spencer, I came across your discussion post. Are you still using the La Folia speakers in your setup? I ask because I am interested in a pair having owned the VSM also.



Sorry for slow reply, not much Agon time lately.

No problems with 2" planks from perfect plank. Later did amp stands with 2 7/8" perfectplank. 5 coats of tung oil, that's it....

Shindo preamps all are single-ended and prefer short cable runs. I have balanced amps, want to avoid adaptors and in my old place needed long cable runs. I also like the Shindo sound. Best,



Hi, I just came across your system and saw your DIY rack. So first thanks on the reference to perfectplank, which is about an hour away from me. I've been considering options for a rack and since the ones I really like cost $1000s, I've been thinking about making one. Have the planks stayed reasonably straight and level? The site warns about treating immediately to help prevent cupping, etc. and then storing vertically. Did you have any problems? What maple plank did you get? What did you treat them with?

I didn't catch an explanation, but why not the Monbrison? I love mine.




System edited: Adding a Van den hul Colibri XGP to replace the ZYX. Very excited. Thanks to all those who helped me choose, including Rauliruegas, Slipknot1 and [email protected] Cheers, Spencer


System edited: My ZYX cartridge is no more. A panel fell off the wall hit the tonearm, and the stylus got trashed. Contemplating alternatives now, including new, used and a Soundsmith retip. Thanks to my friend, slipknot1, I am borrowing an Allnic Verito Z from him for a while. Here's a tip of the hat to slipknot1! Cheers, Spencer


System edited: New amps and preamp, new room, new balanced cables, things are happening. New stuff will be up and running in the next week or so...


Well that was quite the quick response. And all made plenty of sense of course.

Even with the large room size (20'x 40') it was nice to have the MA-1s on to take the edge off of a particularly hard winter. But I do remember when I had them in a 11'x 14.5' room in my other house. So I completely understand.

When we first found this house my first reaction was to search for a room for the system. Not exactly how the wife felt about it but fortunately it all worked out great.

I will contact Ralph again about this, but the last two times I corresponded with him about it, he had me in the 20 to 50-grand range so I politely backed up, took a breath and went on another direction, trying not to show my shock. I should make it a point to open the conversation with my budgetary boundaries and hopefully different results will occur next time.

Good Luck Spencer! And many thanks.


Hi Dave,

My departure from the MA-1s weren't due to any problems with them. I had to downsize my system economically, and that led me to sell my Merlins. Once I found the Alon Vs, the question became what amps were best match for them. I also knew I would soon be moving to a smaller place, and the heat of the MA1s was likely to be an issue in the smaller space. That all led me to the Dehavillands, which have been known to be particularly synergistic with Nolas and Alons. Going from 28 output tubes to 2 had it's side benefit heatwise.
As for your question about how many speakers...before the Merlins, that's not what happened. I had the Merlins first with the Berning, and made the move to the Atmas. The Merlins were good with many amps, but the MA1s were my favorites with them. If Joule vzn100s were in my price range, I would have given them serious consideration as well.
If you are looking for speaker ideas to use w/the Atmas, call Ralph. He knows the stories of all his customers, and is very interested in helping you get what you are after. Best,


Hello Spencer,

Getting in on this very late in the game but could not help but notice the amps in the early pics - mainly because I as well have a set of the MA-1s. What made you finally decide to change them out? I was about to do the same early last year when I at the last minute decided to go ahead and send them back to Ralph for an upgrade instead. The change was absolutely stunning. Something magical indeed. You say the LaFolias present bass in a very different way but inner detail may have been slightly less. As someone who lived with the MA-1s for a while, how many different speaker pairs did you go through before you landed with the Merlins, and what was your main deciding factor in finally changing the Atma-Spheres for something else may I ask? My situation is still one of wonder and extreme resist when it comes to changing a set of amps that have for some odd reason become extremely attached to. There is something incredible going on with the Atma Spheres that I absolutely love, but I just, even after 7 different speaker pairs, cannot seem to find that perfect synergistic relationship. Still! Its a bass thing. I am always between 85 & 95% there - but looking for the other 5% keeps me looking and asking. I have to admit that my relationship is almost at the "college girlfriend" level, because they definitely have their quirks. But when it comes to.... well enough said. There is just something shockingly beautiful about the sound that I cannot get past. Since the upgraded units have come back, I am not yet willing to give up on them. So I am still searching for input from other owners. I cannot speak for everyone, but I sure wish to thank you for your continued willingness to keep us all so wonderfully informed through your journey down the audio trail!

Ciao Spencer!


Hi Samhar,

Sorry haven't checked this thread and didn't see your questions until now.

I am hearing them in different rooms so it's tough to say for sure. They both have the famed Dynaudio Esotar tweeter, but I believe each have been spec-ed slightly differently for each manufacturer. The LaFolia have a rear-firing woofer and a 4-way design, so bass is presented very differently than with the Merlin's 2 way, front-ported design. They are both very easy loads to drive, although IMHO the Merlins sound best with an OTL amp, just very synergistic. In my new room, the LaFolias throw a huge stage thru back wall and far left & right of the speakers. The Merlins did the same in the old room.
Big dynamics and moving lots of air are probably strengths of the LaFolias relatively speaking. The Merlins might have a tad more detail and clarity in the mids, but that might just seem that way due to a more tipped down tonal balance. Remember both these speakers have gone thru various iterations. My comments only reflect my own gear, and my memory. Hope this helps.


System edited: Just added 3 LessLoss DFPC power cables and sold the JPS AC+. Also updated system description to reflect changes in my listening space. Photos to come one of these days...


Spencer you've been through an impressive array of gear to get to the current system it must sound fantastic!!!! Do the La Folla's have a sound "similar" to the Merlins with a bigger bass? I've wanted to try the Merlins but wondered if I could live with the low end after having the Sophia 1s.


Thanks, Mitch.

I hope you are enjoying your new Proacs, and look forward to seeing & reading more updates on your system. Regards,



Hi Spencer -
I see that you have made some great changes. I have heard some very good things about Silverline speakers and I love your 845 based SET amps. I, too, may be going the higher efficiency route. Let's talk soon.


System edited: Speakers are now going to Silverline LaFolias. I have just moved into an 1890s era factory converted to modern apartments.No more dedicated room, but plenty of angled walls, exposed timber beams, etc. should provide some interesting acoustical challenges. Photos to come...


Thanks, placing my order right now.


Hi Mac,

All the brass parts for my rack came from McMaster-Carr. One of my posts further back in this thread, a couple of years ago, has a detailed parts list with part#, etc. from McMaster-Carr. FWIW, I've heard that brass prices have significantly increased since I did my project. One suggestion, not obvious from the photos: make the top shelf large. Mine is 22"deep, allowing for the TNT6 without concern. I drilled the holes so that it is centered, creating about a 2" space behind all the lower shelves(which are 18"deep). This makes room for all cables. Good luck, Spencer


Hi Dfhaleycko,

Interesting question you pose. I'm not sure that I regret any of the changes I've made, but it would have been fun to hear the Avalon Radians with the Atma-Sphere MA1 amps. I had always thought that you need ss amps to drive Avalons, until I heard Rushton's rig, including Avalon Eidolons and Atma MA2s.

As for the digital, since I am using the TriVista21 tube dac w/the Squeezebox, I think I'm getting performance close to what the modded Transporter can do, except for the native hi-rez. However, it still doesn't rival my analog rig, and I still expect it stay about 80%vinyl, 20%digital for me.We'll see... Cheers,


I love the rack, where did you get the threaded poles, brass nuts and washers? I want to do the same thing with some Granite slabs. It looks great, love the system.


Forgot my point, re: the Squeezebox. With a large digital collection the access and convenience becomes really compelling. It is a slippery slope for a vinyl lover like you & me. I started with one a few years ago, moved up to a Transporter and ended up getting that modded by Dan Wright (Modwright). Now I have shifted my listening habits from 80% vinyl to about 50% digital. In particular, the Transporter supports hi-rez digital downloads (192kz) which can be spectacular. Enjoy your journey!


Displaying posts 51 - 75 of 230 in total