I am a recovering Audiophile just getting back into music after a few years off. This time around I want to focus on just enjoying the music instead of chasing every last ounce of decay, detail, air, etc of the music and spending more time analyzing the shortcomings of my system instead of just enjoying it. I also put myself on a strict budget to keep myself from going crazy like I did before (see my previous system) chasing the elusive dream of a perfect system.
I listen mainly to singer/songwriters, acoustic, and jazz so I wanted to put together a system that was above all else musical and able to capture the natural timbres of voices and instruments. Soundstage depth and focus is also important to me as this creates more of a sense of realism. With this system, I am able to literally listen for hours without any fatigue.
My room is rather small, 9x10x9 so setup is a bit challenging. I found that moving the speakers away from the front wall helped tremendously to increase soundstage depth and helped to bring everything into focus. There are large openings on the wall directly behind the listening position which is a great help in such a small room.
Sonus Faber Guarneri or Olympica I - I have really fallen in love with the SF house sound. This next speaker upgrade will be my last for a while.
Misc cables - I want to start experimenting with cables to see if I can get more minor improvements.
Thank you for reading! I look forward to any advice that will help me achieve my goal of creating a musical and emotional system (on a budget of course!).
UPDATE 05 April 2016
Added a REL T/5i sub. WOW! What a difference. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to add a sub into my system. Now I am thinking about adding a second one. Maybe that would be overkill in my little room??
UPDATE 30 March 2016
Added the Mutec MC-3+USB converter to replace my old Musical Fidelity V-link. The Mutec also acts as a signal reclocker too which has helped to smooth out the sound.
UPDATE 16 October 2014
Added GIK 244 panels along the midpoint of my sidewalls to deal with some bass issues and the first reflection points. Improved mid bass and clarity.
UPDATE 15 Aug 2014
Added RealTraps Mondo Corner bass traps. The overall improvement has been astonishing! I should have added these a long time ago!
UPDATE 12 Aug 2014
Added the Light Harmonic Light Speed split USB cable. This cable separates the data and power signals resulting in an incredibly lifelike and clear sound.
UPDATE 04 Aug 2014
Added Vicoustic Cinema Round panels at the 1st reflection points. One of the best upgrades I have ever done.
UPDATE 25 March 2014
Replaced my Acoustic Zen Silver Ref II interconnects with Tara Labs The 2 + HFX Ground Station. The sound is just as clear as the AZ but with more air and sense of organicness.
UPDATE 31 Jan 2014
Replaced by beloved Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor monitors with the Guarneri Evolutions.
UPDATE 15 Nov 2013
Added the Vicoustic Flexiwood 75 absorption panels for the front wall behind my speakers.
UPDATE 16 Oct 2013
Added the Synergistic Research Element Tungsten AC cable for my Luxman D-06 CDP/DAC.
UPDATE 27 Sept 2013
Added a Keces DC-116 19V, 6A linear power supply for the music server PC.
UPDATE 09 Sept 2013
Added a PC based music server to replace a Sonos ZP90. Also added a Synergistic Research USB Active SE cable, Musical Fidelity V-link USB Converter.
UPDATE 27 Aug 2013
Added modded Synergistic Research MPC by Michael Spallone
UPDATE 16 Aug 2013
Added Stillpoints Ultra Minis under my PS Audio P3.
UPDATE 26 July 2013
Added the Synergistic Research Element Tungsten AC cable for my PS Audio P3.
UPDATE 07 June 2013
Replaced by Musical Fidelity M6i with Accustic Arts Power 1 Mk2.
UPDATE 26 June 2013
Replaced my Musical Fidelity M1 DAC with a Luxman D-06 CDP with digital inputs.
To me, great monitors that give me what I look for; musicality with lifelike reproduction of vocals and instruments.
REL Acoustics T/5i
8" subwoofer. Amazingly in my small room this little sub is able to go down to 20hz without any boominess. I may just another one!
Accustic Arts Power 1 MK2
Very transparent integrated amp. It almost sounds as good as it looks
I use this mainly for its DAC but the CDP is great for times when I want to listen to a new CD without having to wait to rip it. The sound is relaxed and liquid, typical Luxman.
Tara Labs The 2 + HFX Ground Station
Typical Tara Labs sound..very clear and airy.
Purpose built, silent pc based music server.
PS Audio Powerplant P-3
AC regeneration device. This has brought my system to a new level. I am sorry I waited so long to add this.
HD Plex 300W ATX Linear Power Supply
300W, 18A linear power supply for my music server. It definitely made the sound more clear, the highs linger longer, and the midbass more tight.
Tara Labs The One
Very neutral speaker cable with a clear, clear, fast sound.
Acoustic Zen Silver Bytes Digital Cable
Another very good cable from Acoustic Zen. Detailed and clear.
Light Harmonic Light Speed SPlit USB
Split USB cable that separates the power and data. The sound is incredibly lifelike and clear.
Musical Fidelity V-Link USB Converter
Very good entry level USB converter.
Synergistic Research Element Tungsten AC Cable
Added for my PS Audio P3 AC Regenerator and CDP/DAC. I noticed a substantial improvement in clarity and reduction in noise.
Virtual Dynamics PC The Nite II
I have tried all kinds of PCs but only Virtual Dynamics gave me more dynamics and body. I use this for my amp.
Oyaide Cryo'd Outlet R1
Palladium plated outlet. Adds another level of clarity and resolution to the system. I use this for my DAC and transport.
Oyaide Cryo'd Outlet SWO-GX
24K gold plated outlet. It gives some additional bass and body to the music. I use this for my amp.
Vicoustic Room treatments
Absorption panel for the front wall behind my speakers and 1st reflections points. They look really nice and as well as also working good to tame reflections.
RealTraps Mondo Corner Bass Traps X 2
These made a huge difference to the soundstage and bass in my system. Room treatments are key to making any system sound better. I ended up covering these in acoustic fabric to make them look a little better. Hopefully I succeeded.
GIK Acoustics 244 (Extended Range) Panels
Added the 244 panels at the mid point of my side walls to deal with bass issues and first reflections.
HiFi Tuning Supreme Fuse
I have found these fuses can sometimes make a nice little difference. In my Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp I heard more clarity and dynamics but in my PS Audio P3 AC regenerator I heard no difference. I have paid a lot more to get less (and sometimes worse) improvement.
Stillpoints Ultra Mini Footers
Used beneath my PS Audio P3 the Minis added more clarity, focus, and sharpness to notes.
Michael Spallone Synergistic Research MPC Mod
GREAT upgrade to diodes and caps which resulted in blacker background, better distinction between instruments, and highs which seem to linger just a bit longer. Very recommened
Digital media server software
Mutec MC 3+USB
USB converter + reclocker. I think the reclocker really helped to smooth out the sound.
Nice! I know exactly what you mean...I want the best of both worlds.....musicality and detailed imaging and focus! You commented on an earlier post, I have the MC601's & C-2300 with 2 REL G-2-s driving SF Cremona Auditor M's stand mounts crossed over at 55hz....11' x 16' x 10' room, near field set up. One of the most 3D holographic systems I've heard. Just this weekend added SF Guarneri Evolutions...just finished set up now burning them in. I have the REL's set at 45 hz for now....will experiment more when they are burned in. Very pleased so far....just more of a very good thing, but really points out what a great value and under rated speaker the Cremona Auditor M is. For sure the Guarneri is better....but 3 times the cost? Hmmmm.
Good Day Tommy! Hope all is going well for you! Do you still dig your Vicoustics panels? How would you comment on them compared to other things you have tried? By any chance have you tried their Super Bass Traps/Extreme modules for corners or their VariBass towers that are able to be tuned or do you know anyone that has? Thanks in advance for your time...either write back here or send me a msg and we can grab the phones and chat!
Hi jazzonthehudson...yes room correction is next on my list of things to try. I just need to upgrade my PC to something more powerful. I am hopeful I can find an used CPU on ebay since my motherboard is does not support current generation Intel processors. Once I do that I want to try room correction as well as some powerful music players like HQPlayer.
Thank you zephyr! And thank you for the great feedback on the clock. As soon as I collect enough lunch money I'll pull the trigger on one.
My current project is to see if a Raspberry Pi3 acting as a renderer can sound as good as my fully tweaked PC. I just got the Pi3 and loaded up RuneAudio on it. I havent yet done any critical listening but initial impressions are good.
tboooe: It's great to have you back on the forums and to have heard from you here and through in-mail! Your system is progressing beautifully and you may wind up with something you like the sound of and feel better about than you did even with your old and larger system! All the best my friend,.....happy listening! You've assembled some great gear driving a beautiful sounding pair of SF speakers!!! Keep us posted on your latest moves and how things sound!
Thank you hcalland. I appreciate the kind comments.
Honeyooi, I didnt think a sub would make much difference but it did! I am surprised at how much low end information I was missing from music and I dont even listen to what most would consider bass heavy music.
Its been a pretty busy last couple of months. The biggest changes were:
- Mutec MC-3+ USB converter and reclocker
- REL T/5i sub
Both of these components were great additions to my system. The Mutec USB converter and reclocker really helped to smooth out my sound but in all fairness, previously I was using a cheap Musical Fidelity V-link. I think most any decent usb converter would have sounded better.
The REL sub was a revelation! I am amazed at how much low frequency information there is even in my mainly acoustic, vocals music library. The overall sound is fuller and more engaging. Now i am thinking about adding a second sub in my tiny room! Overkill?
By far though the biggest improvement in my system has been the time spent positioning my speakers. I spent 2 weekends with my SPL and test tones CD trying to dial in my system. The result has been amazing! Vocals are so organic sounding with just the right amount of warmth. I feel like I am finally hearing what my Evolution monitors are capable of.
Right now, I can honestly say this is the best my system has ever sounded (at least until the next upgrade).
My system has been stable for a while now, hence my lack of posts. However, this weekend I finally got around to installing some broadband absorption panels on the ceiling of my listening room. Man, wish I had not been so lazy and installed these a long time ago! I immediately noticed more clarity and notes have a more defined "edge" to them. The improvement is greater than any of the tweaks I've tried in my system like cables or linear power supplies. As others have said, room treatments are a critical part of getting the most out of your audio.
I installed the Vicoustic Cinema Round Premium panels with a 2" air gap. I like how the panels look like they are floating with the air gap. The rest of my room already has bass traps, absorption at the first reflection point on the side walls, diffusion panels on the front wall, and a large rug. I plan to add some absorption to the back wall since it is directly behind my listening position. My listening room is very small.
Your system is beautifully set up. It looks like minimalist heaven. If it sounds as good as it looks, and I'm guessing it does, you don't have to try to be an audiophile, you're there. I'm listening to some acoustic jazz myself right now.
After an extended listening session last night the main improvements I hear with the new room treatments are much more clarity and immediacy. Everything sounds much less "fuzzy" and more open and airy which of course allows me to hear more detail and nuance. Another major improvement is in the immediacy of notes. By immediacy I mean that the music sounds more crisp. For example drums and guitar notes have a snappiness and tightness. Before it sounded like the leading edge of notes was rounded off so to speak, making things sound too polite. Now the music is more immediate and lively. Overall, I would say this last addition to my room treatments helped make the music sound more realistic to me. Needless to say I am happy.
System edited: I added 2 GIK 244 Extended Range panels to my small room. They are placed along the midpoint of the sidewalls to deal with some bass buildup issues I have as well as treat the first reflection points. I moved my Vicoustic Cinema Round panels to the short wall directly behind my listening position to deal with sound reflections. The results are subtle but impressive nonetheless: -improved tightness of mid and upper bass note -more detail and nuance -decay is much better, with notes "lingering" longer -improved clarity Overall, even with the increased clarity and detail, there is an ease to the music. The sound is very organic and relaxed. I have been very impressed with my room treatment additions.
Tboooe: Thanks for this and the other response; I'll check out your pics in more details. I'm still looking at the Vicoustic line-up and probably be interested in a combination of products from them, I'll write a bit later when I've had a chance to assemble my list so I can get your feedback. Thanks!
Zephyr24069, HI!!!! Great to hear from you again! I responded to your post but will reply here as well. Just based on the data, Vicoustic seems to be just fine for treating higher freq sounds (>400hz). You can get better bass trapping performance from GIK or RealTraps. I personally use a combination of all three. I agree that most room treatments are ugly which is why I avoided it all these years. One thing I did do with my RealTraps Mondo Bass Traps is cover it with nice acoustic fabric. See what I did to the RealTraps in my system description. What Vicoustic products are you interested in?
How do you like the Vicoustic Treatments? Back in 2007-08 I had a fully treated room with studio-level bass traps, corner traps, diffusers, absorbers, etc...but the new WAF was less than zero to say the least so when we moved into the old house in 2008 it all had to go! I've held off with treatments since most of them have the same aspect of being functional but not aesthetically pleasing. The Vicoustics, according to what I've just seen on their website for some of their models definitely seem to challenge that; they have several models that are very ergonomic and that have beautiful design attributes. Do they work as nicely as they look?
Tboooe: It's been a long time,....I am very glad to see you back in this hobby enjoying music! I happened to see you post on another thread for a gentleman who lives in the city where I live. I love the audiophile irony where you state you are trying not to be an audiophile and your system post starts with Sonus Faber Gauneri Evolution, AA and Luxman :-) gear and goes on from there complete with a 'room treatment plan'! Well Done!!!
All kidding aside, comparing your old system and new, it looks like you've put together another well thought out and musical system, perhaps even more so with the SFs in place of the Ushers, and all the other equipment you've put together. You must be having great sound and alot of fun listening....
System edited: Covered my Mondo Corner bass traps in acoustically transparent Guilford fabric which I think looks better than the stock wheat color from RealTraps. A little iron-on hem tape and an iron did the trick!
Thank you Alph...I appreciate the kind words. I absolutely love my Evos. I bet the Evos and Mementos sound more alike than different. As I mentioned things have been really taken to a new level once I added some room treatments. Absolutely no complaints other than I wish I had a bigger room but with the room treatments the soundstage has widened as far as it can go and the speakers simply disappear. The depth is not very good because my room is so small.
Right now, I am beginning to think about upgrading my integrating but I am not sure if I will get massive improvement (versus different) over my Accustic Arts Power 1 even if I get something double the price. Not sure...I need to start auditioning. The merry go round never stops but these speakers will be staying!
Pretty impressive system you own there. I am wondering how the Guarneri Evo would compare to their older counterparts Memento. Similarly to you I really love SF sound: warm but not lush, musical, aerial and full-bodied.
Tommy, glad you agree that the Real Traps are the REAL DEAL, LOL. In my room they exhibit similar traits as in your room...greater decay of notes and a more defined and deeper soundstage. I would say to any a'phile, you really should try some room acoustic treatments, and preferably the Real Traps...IMHO they are that great.