I've been riding the upgraditis train for the last 8 years or so on a student budget. Although I don't have tons of money, pretty much all the money that I do manage to save I put towards my modest "home theater" (really a rather small apartment theater). I'm about 60/40 with Movies / Music, and have tried to concentrate on a "music first" type system.
In the last year, I moved into a new apartment with a smaller HT space. This required my selling the Panny AX200 Projector + Carada screen and moving to the 54" plasma. The new apartment also has hardwood floors and all glass walls, so acoustically it's definitely not up to the same level as my last place. When I do want to do more critical music listening, I try and throw around lots of blankets and rugs, which helps a bit. Still, I love the system and it puts a huge smile on my face every time I sit down to listen to a great album.
I know that it's about time to move to a receiver with HD audio decoding for blu-ray, but I just love my Arcam so much I haven't gotten around to it yet!
Great entry level table. Upgraded to Glass Platter from my dad's old out-of-commission Planar3. Still running the stock Ortofon OM5e (thinking about adding the 2M Blue).
PPH-100 Phono Preamp is going a great job with my Rega P1 for the money. I'm thinking that I'll try the Musical Fidelity V-LPS next.
Musical Fidelity V-DAC
I stream FLAC files via Airfoil to my Airport Express --> Wireworld Supernova III+ glass toslink cable --> the V-DAC --> Signal Cable Analog 2 --> Arcam. Also use for the USB input straight from my laptop from time to time.
Open baffle loudspeakers in cherry rosa satin. Absolutely huge soundstage, and very natural sounding. Quite a steal at their price, and a big jump in performance from my Paradigm Studio 20 v.3s that they replaced. Next step: adding Skiing Ninja crossover + cabinet upgrades.
Open baffle center channel speaker in cherry satin. Huge open sound, I'm extremely happy about the upgrade from my Paradigm CC470.
av123 ELT 525M
Great little monitors. Used them as my fronts while waiting for the x-statiks to arrive, and they did a fantastic job. They're on surround duty now, and loving it.
Great value 15" sub; Unfortunately, due to living in an apartment, it never gets to stretch and see its full potential. The metal grill was made by av123 forum member Loudandclear to match the x-statiks
Sennheiser HD 595 Headphones
Decided that I needed some good headphones that would work without amplification, and these Sennheisers appear to be best of breed for cans that don't require a separate amp. I can't believe how good they sound, I get a big smile on my face every time.
Panasonic VIERA G10 Series TC-P54G10 54-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV ... a knockout for the street price.
Sony PlayStation SCPH-1001
The infamous "audiophile" model. I haven't done any serious listening vs. other players, but I'm VERY content for the $10 I spent on it at Half Price Books!
I know it's about time to move on, but hey, used HD-DVDs are cheap and look great, and it's a pretty solid upscaling DVD player to boot!
Sony Playstation 3 Slim 120GB
MUCH quieter than the 40GB model this replaced. I'm strongly considering picking up an Oppo for blu-ray playback, however, to make use of the 5.1 analog outs for HD Audio (and SACD playback).
Nintendo Wii with my Zelda Sword and Shield!! I also have a SNES and a N64 w/ Monster S-video cable ready to play at a moment's notice :)
Dual Tuner HD-DVR
Monster HTS 1600
Monster Power conditioner (8 outlet). Does it's job (looks nicer than a normal power strip). I'm considering replacing it with the PS Audio Quintet.
4 shelf a/v stand with spiked shelves to help isolate components. I'm quite pleased that the "oak" shelves are a close match for the "cherry" finish on my av123 speakers.
Wireworld Supernova III+ Glass Toslink
Used between my Apple Airport Express and Musical Fidelity V-DAC.
Signal Cable Analog Two
A pair of Signal Cable Analog Two Interconnects, which I currently swap between my Musical Fidelity V-DAC and my PlayStation SCPH-1001.
Signal Cable SPDI/F Digital Coax
Signal Cable Digital Coax cable connects my HR22-100 DVR to the Arcam for HDTV playback.
Signal Cable Magic Power Digital Reference
Although I was EXTREMELY skeptical about a power cord upgrade, this replacement cord honestly did make an appreciable improvement to my system's sound quality. (Used on my Arcam AVR300)
Bought through Blue Jeans Cable and dressed up in techflex with BlueJeans' locking banana plugs.
Added an Auralex Gramma pad under my sub, and WOW, after listening to music for a couple hours, I couldn't be happier with my $50 purchase. My sub sounds far more "musical" (and I haven't had a noise complaint in the months since I added it!)
NuForce NE-7M In-ear monitors
Inexpensive & high quality IEMs for portable use.
Bright Star Isonodes
Set of 4 large isonodes under my Toshiba HD-A3. They're cheap and worth experimenting with.
Hi, Great setup! I just bought the AV123 x-voce off Audiogon and I'm waiting for it's delivery from California to me, here in New York. When I saw it listed, I thought it was a very unique design and was excited to try it out. The owner raves about it, now you are the second. It's definitely larger than most centers, with it's 4 Drivers, at 6 1/2" each. The open baffle combined with the sealed Bass must sound wide and punchy. I love a lot of speakers in my setup. I'm definitely unorthodox in my approach, using two pairs/channel. And with the x-voce, I will have five centers! Keep up the "good work".
System edited: Just did a major overhaul of my Audiogon system. I moved apartments in the last year and there have been a good number of changes. Since last I posted: Sold my Panasonic AX200U projector + Carada screen, moved to a 54" G10 plasma; Sold my Cambridge Audio 540C cd player, currently I primarily stream FLAC with the Airfoil program through an Airport Express, connected to the Musical Fidelity V-DAC. I also picked up a Sony PlayStation SCPH-1001 (for $10!!) for when I want to spin a physical disc. I also find I'm listening to a lot more records on my Rega lately (my LP collection is growing!), which has me thinking about upgrades on that front... the front-runners being the Ortofon 2M blue cart, Musical Fidelity V-LPS, and eventually a table upgrade, probably to a Rega P3-24 or perhaps even a P5. This might not happen for a while :( . I'm also thinking about getting the Skiing Ninja crossover upgrades for my X-statiks (and at some point the X-voce as well). I still can't help looking at new speakers [currently thinking the Nola Boxers looks pretty great! As well as other like Dynaudio Contour S1.4, Dali Helicon 300, or perhaps some Salks], but then I step back and realize the X-statiks are really great performers, and I love their "wall of sound" presentation for movies, balanced with pretty strong imaging for music, and it might just make more sent to hang on to them and upgrade the crossovers -- I hear it really transforms these speakers. I could also add bi-wire capabilities and Bi-Amp them using the Arcam's 6/7 channels]. Finally, I do want to get around to getting an Oppo blu-ray player to finally take advantage of the HD Audio formats via analog outs to my Arcam; I'd also like to get into SACDs, particularly with an eye towards the Steve Hoffman mastered Blue Note titles. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new Denon universal blu-ray players in the <$1000 category compare to the Oppos (BDP-80, 83, 83SE).
Yea, I hear ya. I'm in a city also (Philadelphia) so I can't always play as loud as I'd like either.
I'm a big Signal fan. I've run through just about every type of cable they sell and still have their Silver Resolution IC's and Magic power cables - definitely 2 of their best price/performance pieces. You should definitely give the Silver IC's a go if you have chance. I really enjoyed the upgrade to those from the Analog 2's. If you'd ever be interested, I could send along the Silvers for a demo. Let me know. Just good to know that there are others around the post-college age interested in this stuff.
I would definitely agree that the star quad is great for DIY wire. That's what I've used for my theater speakers (surround and center) for a while now. I ran the Signal Ultra's on my fronts for a while and they were some good cables for the money. However, now I stupidly dipped my hand in the cookie jar unsupervised and am using MIT for my speaker cables. I just can't go back now. I'm a big fan of these since I'm a music first guy, but they wouldn't make sense in a primarily theater setup. Beyond what I have now, the diminishing returns are just too much as you said. I guess I should to make a system page here one day. I'll keep checking for your updates.
I'm running Canare 4S11 star quad from Blue Jeans Cable for my speaker cables. I've dressed them up with Carbon techflex and use locking banana plugs, also from bjc. I followed this tutorial for making them: http://av123forum.com/showthread.php?t=17963. The pictures in that link pretty much look exactly like how these turned out, very nice indeed.
I do believe that cables can make a difference, but there's also some seriously diminishing returns there. The Canare cable, from all I can gather, is quite a good performer, especially at $1.05 / ft.
I used to run Audioquest Bedrock, but that was with my previous Paradigm speakers, so making any comparison to the Canare is kind of pointless, but I will say that I am in now way disappointed with the performance. As you can see from my system, I also use a number of cables from Frank at Signal Cable, and I've been very very pleased with their performance... I was strongly considering buying his Ultra Speaker Cables, but in the end I decided I'd try out the Canare, and a diy project seemed fun. If I ever have some extra funds burning a whole in my pocket, I may order them and do a little comparison, but for now I'd say I'm quite happy.
Yea, those Azur's are mighty performers for their price. I put one head to head with my Pioneer DV-59avi and it sounded just as good for CD playback. I was very amazed/angry.
Just wondering, what type of cabling are you using for the speakers? If you're not a cable believer, then no worries. But I was just wondering what cables you're using. Obviously they work very well in your setup.
What city are you in, cause that's a nice apartment for a city apartment. I gotta find me one of those.
Thanks Ryan! Good to see another av123-er on audiogon. I heared some Ninja Rocket 850s / Bigfoot at the Chicago gtg this spring, and WOW do they ever punch you in the chest. Absolutely stunning sounding speakers. I can only use so much bass in a city apartment, but I really appreciate the open airy sound of the x-statiks, and the soundstage is MASSIVE. Watching movies on this setup with the projection screen is just awesome, you feel completely enveloped in the viewing experience. And listening to music is a huge treat too, I've been listening to cds non-stop since added the Azur 540C this week. I think I'm happy enough with the 540C that I'm in no rush to sell... I'd rather make a bigger leap eventually instead of going in small increments. Thinking about the likes of the Rega Apollo or the new Arcam CD17... nice looking piece. That's probably a year down the road though, for now I'm going to kick back and enjoy some music! Cheers!
System edited: Just completed a massive update to reflect my current setup. Still need a few pics, but there's a ton of new stuff to check out. Absolutely loving the x-statik / x-voce, and adding the Cambridge Audio Azur 540C made a dramatic improvement to my cd playback. Always looking for the next upgrade! Any suggestions you guys have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Great looking setup! I've been looking into those VTI stand as well and your pics may have just convinced me. I'm a fellow av123 owner (Rocket 850 Sig.) and love the look of those X-statiks. The new setup with the projector looks very nice and seems to open up the room. Let us know how the x-voce is. As far as selling the Arcam to get a dedicated cdp, you're probably in the same situation as me. Selling it may not be enough to upgrade to anything much better since cd players hold value a little better. Maybe look for a Rega Planet on the cheap?
-Ryan (22 years old; us young guys are outnumbered!)
You've assembled a very well thought out, and clean looking HT rig. I'm sure it does a great job pulling double duty. It's uncommon to find guys under the age of 35 that are into this kind of stuff - so here's to hoping you enjoy the system for many years to come, and possibly get some of your friends into it too!
System edited: Added a couple pictures of the av123 x-statiks and ELT525M monitors. I'm absolutely loving them so far (and really want to add the x-voce center). When I get a little time I'll add some more pictures and impressions.
Nice system you have there, I have the model 100 Projector which is really the same as 200 but yours has a game mode and I think its a great unit for the cash! You have some great names in your gear which no doubt are strong performers and a blast to listen too. Cheers
System edited: Still quite a few things I need to add/change, but I wanted to put up a picture of my current (messy setup). Recently purchased Panasonic AX-200U projector, 96" Carada Criterion Brilliant White screen, Rega P1 turntable, Parasound PPH-100 phono pre-amp, Playstation 3 (for Blu-ray), and Sennheiser HD-595 headphones. More pictures to come...
System edited: Just added a Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player. Picture is absolutely fantastic with HD discs (slightly bests my Xbox Add-On). For SD content, it's definitely an improvement over my Arcam DV78. Blacks are blacker, colors are more vibrant, and the picture is sharper. Audio wise, the digital output is indistinguishable. The Arcam is now strictly going to be used as a cdp, so I'm thinking I ought to sell it and purchase a better dedicated cdp.
That Arcam gear really looks nice. I love the design, and I bet it sounds pretty good too. My only experience with paradigm is an ultracube sub that I really liked but ultimately didn't need in my system. Dynaudios would be awesome, but I bet it sounds very nice as is.
I just started 1L and am contemplating a second system for the law library.
System edited: Just added a Nintendo Wii! Wow is this little system a lot of fun. I'm having a blast playing Metroid Prime 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Finally something has broken me of my Guitar Hero addiction (well, until October anyways).
Rob, I was looking at the VTIs on Audiogon last night. I like the way they stretch out along the wall rather than protrude. How was your experience ordering and setting up? I might have to do a little cutting too since I have a big amp to bury in there somewhere. A real nice looking set up by the way for those of use who don't have a ton of money to spend. Thanks, Don
Rob, Great start. The Paradigms are by far one of the best speakers you can get at this price range. I recently entered the world of vinyl and purchased a Pro-ject turntable. Vinyl is addictive so watch yourself and the budget........ it can get out of hand and empty the pocket book. The rega from what I read here is a great start. Fill the stand with shot or sand and do the same with the speaker stands. Have you ever given any thought to towers? The Paradign Studio 60's are killer from personal experience and are well worth the upgrade $$$'s if looking to change out speakers. Do some research on acoustic room treatments, there are some cost effective alternates that will diminish the upgrade bug and at the same time tweek some more performance out of what you have.
Do yourself a favor and sit back, listen and enjoy.... you have a nice system here that should provide many many hours of listening bliss.
System edited: Added: (1) Arcam DiVA DV78 DVD player (replaced a NAD T533). (2) VTI BL-503 tv stand. (3) Signal Cable interconnects (Magic Power Digital Reference power cable, SPDI/F Digital Coax, Analog Two Interconnect, Sub cable) www.signalcable.com -> highly recommended
System edited: Swapped my Bell'O AT-423T equipment rack for a VTI-BL 404 rack. It's quite inexpensive but it looks fantastic and feels quite substantial to me. The poles can be filled with metal or sand, which I think I'll probably do at some point to make it even sturdier.
System edited: Added an Auralex Gramma isolation pad under my PS-1000 (also moved the sub). The sub sounds far more musical now, and hopefully will bother my neighbor less. Fantastic $50 spent to cure upgraditis. (I'd been considering buying a more "musical" sub, but now my setup sounds good enough that I won't consider buying a new sub until I live somewhere that I can listen at higher SPLs.)