Long story. Started back in the 80s with a Technics SLB2, Rotel RA840 anp and KEF Coda 3 speakers. My first real hi-fi bought with my own money. - fun
Dual 501/AT95 - fun in a splish splashy way
Thorens TD318/Miltec Aurora HOMC- not much fun - dull, rolled off and plodding - what do you expect with a hunk of MDF and leaf springs?
Linn LP12/K9 with Cambridge Audio integrated - better but not great.
Added a Cyrus 2 which was dreadful - brash and dry, sibilant and colored.
Added a Audiolab 8000C/P - no fun - dull and plodding.
Added Monitor Audio 352 speakers - lots of fun - lovely woody sound - captured the emotion in the music.
Swapped the preamp for a first model Croft Micro - utterly transformed. Replaced all resistors with Holcos and doubled up power supply and changed the ECC83s to Telefunkens. Replaced ECC82 with a Brimar CV5042 black plate.
Added a Croft Series 4 Power Amp - better.. until...
I added a Michaelson and Austin TVA1 with MO/GEC KT88s which blew the Series 4 away.
Added a Decca Super Gold - great when it was in the mood but the Ittok combo didn't work.
Added Ortofon X3 Turbo - better but lost something. At least it played without jumping.
Added bronze Quad ESL 57 - removed many veils but creaked and vibrated.
Added Leak Stereo 20 - I rebuilt this lovely but under-powered amp with new caps and Holco resistors.
Added Spendor SP2s - put some veils back up but at least I could listen without torment.
TVA blew up a KT88 - replaced precious MOs with a quad of GE 6550 - better bass, lost the magic midband.
Also had a Rek-o-kut, Thorens 160, and cream Garrard 301 with a Grace 707.
Packed it all away for 10 years.
Added a $700 Garrard 401 to a $400 birch ply plinth/Jelco 750L arm and the old the Decca that I was going to throw away. - WTH? Amazing sound.
Added new Croft Micro 25 - swapped JJs for the Telefunkens that were in the old Croft - better - and then GE JG5751 black plates - way better. The sound came forward and the soundstage flattened a little but... the timbre/detail/color and blackness improved dramatically and the speakers disappeared.
TVA went dead. It's up on blocks waiting for a late night attempt to fix it... but the HT is dangerous on this beast. If anyone wants it, contact me.
Added rebuilt EICO HF35s - better - wonderful amps - fabulous.
Added black Quad ESL57s - added home-made 20" solid oak stands - no vibrations, no weirdness - just fantastic. Matching serial #s.
I use $12 Belkin Gold interconnects (preferred to a number of $200-$500 cables) and 12 gauge UP-OCC in Teflon for speaker wire.
Garrard has rock solid stability, image, rhythm, foot tapping, delicacy - bells shimmer, speed - you can see the snares shake on the drum and see the color of the different notes.
UPDATE 10/13 - Got a John Wright Paratrace re-tip and the Decca is transformed. See post below 10/28/2013.
Replaced Croft Micro 25 phono preamp with the R version. While not a huge difference, there is a lower noise floor, better bass, more tonal color and a snapping into focus of the imaging. If you are running these amps with stock JJ tubes, you are not hearing them at their potential.
Update 12/2017 - Added Audio Grail Sable Garrard 401 and Jim Campbell PA slate plinth. Replaced oak table with metal and maple stand. See pics. AudioSilente idler - just do it - best $100 spent. Transformed.
Update 5/18 - Upgraded Jelco 750 to TK-850L 12inch with Ammonite collar. Essential.
Update 10/18 - Upgraded the aluminum Audiosilente idler to the twice-as-heavy stainless steel Artisan Fidelity idler. Just do it. New heights. You will thank me.
Update 12/21/18 - Replaced platter with Classic Turntable Company 20mm oversized aluminum platter. Excellent improvement to bass - gone is the plummy boom, now tight and colorful. Increased focus all round and better speed stability is noticeable. 6/2021: Replaced platter with newer slightly heavier one fron PAC.
Update 6/19 - Replaced metal rack with 4 concrete blocks. I've never been happy with the metal stand. I had it lying around and it was better than the old oak table. The concrete is a huge improvement in sound quality. Huge soundstage, improved stability of images, tighter and more tuneful bass.
Update 7/19 - Added JW rebuilt (with extended line contact) Garrott Bros Decca Gold Microscanner
Update 8/19 Added SPH grease bearing to 401 - significant improvement. Blackness, stability and excellent highs.
Update 12/19 Croft 25R. Replaced electrolytic reservoir cap with Clarity TC film cap and phono loading and stopping resistors with Vishay Z foil naked bulk foil resistors. Excellent upgrade. Cleaner, more transparent with voices sounding more human.
Updated 6/2/20 - Added SPH 12" carbon fiber tonearm to collection. Fine sounding. More relaxed and spacious than Jelco 850 but not as dynamic or detailed.
Updated 9/20 - Added Nobsound springs to turntables and amps. See my 'Springs Under Tuntable' post/thread. Improved 3D layering, blackness, speed and transparency.
Updated 9/20 - Added 65" 4K TV.
Updated 3/21 - Modified Croft phono preamp power supply to use tube rectified and regulated vintage Lambda 25 unit. 7851a power tubes. Adds a tube-like dimensionality.
Updated 10/21 - Added Croft RIAA-RS (single box version from @tomic601) so I can switch between arms without unplugging.