"1st year anniversary system. I was drawn into the audio world around August 2010 and after a year of reading and listening this is where I ended up. The goal is not, as the title suggests, to have SOTA sound but rather to assemble a decent system for a decent price.

No plans for changes but different more efficient speakers might be on the horizon."

I wrote that in 2011. The goal remains the same in 2014, but since I can no longer be said to be 'getting started' I've moved the page to 'budget minded'(which I certainly am). The move is also precipitated by a shift in emphasis: am looking to capture the full dynamic swings of classical music as well as the rhythmic swings of jazz--my two primary genres. Therefore, the move to a bigger amp (soon) feeding a power hungry speaker.

Room Details

Dimensions: 23’ × 16’  Large
Ceiling: 12’

Components Toggle details

    • JVC TT 101
    direct drive; double bi-directional servo; electronic pitch control: awesome tt
    • Victor tt 801
    Direct drive turntable, the final iteration of the tt series. Far less complex circuit boards but comes with the same functionality as the spectacularly complex tt 101 plus the option of vacuum suction.
    • Eminent Technology ET-2
    air bearing arm with carbon fiber arm wand; w/custom Discovery Cable wire loom. Mounted on stainless pod.
    • Eminent Technology ET-2.5
    w/ heavy magnesium arm wand and standard pressure manifold designed for Takatsuki pump at 3.6psi
    • Beveridge Audio RM-1/2
    12 tube pre-amp with separate power supply (rm-2). 6dj8 circuit designed by Roger Modjesky. Has neat features such as phase inversion, stereo to mono blending, and a tuoch sensitive mute function.
    • Music Reference RM-9
    with mk2 choke and cap mod. siemens el 34's and RAM kt 88's; gild lion reissue 6922 in v1 position
    • B&W Matrix 801 s3
    the tombstones; aka, the bane of my wife's existence
    • Technics epa 100 mk2 *sold*
    boron arm with very low friction ruby bearings and VTA on the fly. Near universal arm.
    • Denon DA-305
    broadcast arm holding my denon 103 cart.
    • Technics SP-10 mkII *SOLD*
    'Nuded' direct drive sitting on custom machined footers.
    • empire 4000diii
    MM cart
    • azden ym p50vl
    a great cart mounted in an Orsonic headshell
    • Astatic MF 200
    MM. Brilliant with very real, embodied presentation. Oyaide 5n silver leads and technics boron headshell
    • audio technica 20ss
    Hybrid: AT 20ss stylus housed in a AT 15sla cart and mounted in an AT ls12 headshell. Ikeda silver leads.
    • audio technica at155lc
    Hybrid: AT stylus housed in a signet 5ea cartridge and mounted in the original boron headshell for the epa arm.
    • shure n140he
    the snow plow cart. Sounds better with the plow up. Mounted in an Audio Technica headshell.
    • azden ym p20e
    mm cart.
    • Denon 103
    the classic MC cart. my first vinyl cartridge mounted in a LP Gear zupreme headshell.
    • Lightspeed Attenuator LDR volume control
    Passive pre. One input. Incredible sound. If you believe a passive can't be dynamic, audition this one.
    • Music Reference RM-10 *SOLD*
    mk2. Roger Modjeski's masterpiece. Using NOS GE el84 tubes
    • Grover Huffman zx phono cables
    rca-rca for epa arm. Great sounding and deep dark quiet. A bargain.
    • Audio Technica 616 footer
    Great, but expensive and rare, pneumatic footers.
    • Mirko custom tonearm pod
    Custom machined to house technics epa 100 arm. Weighs 16lbs and sits on spikes which screw in/out for leveling. Because of tonearm design, mounting screws are drilled from bottom up.
    • Mint Lp protractor protractor
    Good protractor; easy to use.
    • Audio Technica AT 605 footers
    3 footers supporting Music Reference amp
    • ikeda and kondo headshell leads
    silver leads constructed by the most excellent Audio Origami; very pliable and easy to work with--but delicate.
    • Herbie's Tenderfoots
    good for light duty, although its effects are rather subtle depending on context
    • custom footers
    Four 4" stainless steel footers underneath sp10, courtesy a'gon member Ct0517.
    • EAR ISODAMP SD sd125
    Self-adhesive semi-rigid damping sheets used to dampen the metal motor cover of tt. Cut into strips and applied wherever there isn't venting holes.
    • Jasmine LP2.5DU MM/MC Phono
    solid state, unique in that it can take two mm arms or two mc arms or one of each; gain for mm is high
    • Surgex sx 1115
    8 outlet no MOV surge protector; makes no difference in sound that I can detect
    • Oyaide hsr-ag 5n silver headshell leads
    surprising how much of a difference these make; stiff and a bit hard to work with
    • Victor x-1/ii mm cartridge
    TOTL Victor MM cartridge: aluminum cantilever, shibata tip(Jico). On a victor/jvc ph-8 headshell w/kondo silver tags. I owned the original stylus (beryllium cantilver) but stupidly broke it.
    • oyaide tunami
    power cord. the connector barely fits on the rm10. benefits: perhaps a lower sound floor but nothing startling. first tried on phono stage and noted no difference.
    • analysis plus solo crystal and silver oval-in
    between baf and preamp, and preamp and amp.
    • Teradak U9VA Linear Low noise Power Supply
    to power the Lightspeed Attenuator. sitting on ebony cones courtesy of A&B Systems HK
    • JVC ph-8 headshell
    10g hs
    • Signet sk305
    electronic stylus cleaner
    • 47 Laboratory Deerskin Platter Mat
    very thin and incredibly supple
    • audio technica at 636
    pneumatic insulators: 6-36kg load; useful and relatively easy to acquire, unlike its brother, the 616.
    • Discovery tonearm wire
    custom made by Discovery Cable, 45
    • victor pigskin platter mat
    NOS. Was an optional accessory for the tt101. Two sided: pic is of the sueded side; the other side is completely smooth, almost like rubber. Never seen anything like it.
    • victor pigskin platter mat
    smooth side
    • astatic mf 2501 w/ mf300 stylus
    NOS moving flux, titanium bonded elliptical stylus;
    • Maughan Box Listen Up
    Bass alignment filter for B&W 801's: flat to 20hz; cuts off somewhere? below that to prevent woofer pumping due to record warps. Definitely works to do the latter.
    • fabreeka iso 24A
    pneumatic isolation platform
    • timeter pcs 414
    w/ wob-l motor; for the et2 arm
    • makeshift aligment jig
    for et2 arm, inscribed on the back of a mint lp protractor
    • parker 14e mini filter/regulator
    for et2 arm; marshall 0-15psi gauge
    • victor/jvc dt x1ii stylus
    'natural diamond'; beryllium cantilever and tension wire
    • acutex M420str
    tri-radial diamond, MM
    • victor/jvc z1s
    z1s with rare shibata z1s stylus designed to 4 channel systems
    • neotech nei 3001
    custom made by the guys at sonic craft using furutech fp 120 rca's, used to connect stage with baf.
    • TTM Oil damped Stabilizer
    record weight, 770g.
    • tt 101 bearing grooves victor
    grooves caused by friction at contact point?
    • Sony TA-E88
    w.phonostage, equipped with very flexible MM loading options: 10k-100kohm (in 10k increments_ and 100-500 pF (in 100pF increments)
    • JVC /Victor tt 101 bearing well
    w/new /SiNi bearing ball
    • zyx silver wire loom custom
    tonearm wire loom, 1877 rhodium clips, zyx silver wire and xhadow rca's. wire is incredibly flexible, perfect imo for use with the et2 tonearm.
    • TTM Mat 2
    3kg and 6mm high stainless steel mat with 'tuning' holes; designed to be paired with TTM's oil damped weight
    • Timeter aridyne 2000
    provides 50psi of dry air through each of 3 on demand outlets. Used to run et 2 arm and fabreeka pneumatic platform
    • JVC Victor Laboratory eq 7070
    phono pre that can accommodate 3 arms; variable loading for MM carts
    • Victor GTT 3000B
    glass platter mat to be used in conjunction with victor pigskin sheet

Comments 135

You have had some very good influences(ers) in your system selection, Chris and I have corresponded frequently in the last couple of years. Halcro and Raul are very knowledgeable as well.

It's these associations with generous benefactors that makes this hobby so rewarding. For you, as a result, you have arrived at a very good place to be in the audio realm much earlier than many who've been at it for decades. Many never get there, and continue to struggle, for the most part, due to the fact they don't know when to be happy.

Credit goes to you, you had to be an astute observer take this knowledge and run with it. May you enjoy your audio life immensely, for many decades to come.


Ag insider logo xs@2xislandmandan

Thank you, Dan, for the kind words. You are right to assume that my collection of gear is not possible without the guidance of superior minds. Just to call out a few: the cartridges stem from Raul's tireless search; my devotion to Victor products and standalone arms comes from my audio buddy @halcro; and then there's my audio bff (lol) @ct0517 whose audio ken  is outstripped only by his generosity, everything else that's good about my system I owe to him.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

Wow, Banquo, for someone not involved in audio as long as many have been, you have assembled an outstanding and esoteric collection of audio gear. We all do things differently, according to our own aims, and also what we've experienced along the way. I have built my system in a budget-minded fashion, much as you have ( I should have mine listed in "Budget Minded" as well).

I would be curious to learn as to what, and whom, were the influences that led you to the choices you made in equipment. I would say you have some very knowledgeable friends that helped steer you in the right direction. Is that assumption correct? If so, I am envious.

Congratulations on what what must be a system that is beyond pleasant to listen to, and live with.


Ag insider logo xs@2xislandmandan

Precipitated by my wife's desire to install new wood fl;oors throughout our house, I deicided to take cover under the ensuing chasos to make extensive changes to the system. Thus: installed dedicated power lines and new outlets; reinforced walls to mount a Newport optical breadboard to hold the turntables; new mounting system for the et 2 andd 2.5 arms; newly acquired Victor tt 801 turntable; and last, but perhaps most consequential of all, a new tube preamp, the Beveridge rm1/2.

The Beveridge is, for me, truly eye opening. I can't believe how much it affects the sound. I feel like the b&w 801's are opened up for the first time with room filling and enveloping sound. I've bought some NOS '60's Amperex 7308's to  try out It'll be my first foray into pllaying around with NOS tubes. Am I in for a treat? I hope so b/c NOS tubes ain't cheap.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

Hi Banquo
How do you like the 801's firing down the long wall ?


System edited: Sick of running wire through walls and moving from one room into another, I finally got around to getting all the gear into the same room. This also had the consequence of getting the turntable out of the corner and setting it along the long wall of my listening room. Amidst all the benefits of this move one problem emerged. I'd been supporting my ET 2 arm's wire loom on fishing wire hung between two walls. Having lost a wall in the move, I needed to fabricate a replacement. Hence the 'four ring circus'. It's composed of a very thin garden stake that I pushed into the wall and, for height control, 4 plastic rings that can be opened up to accept the wires and locked down to secure them. Why go through all this trouble? Because the ET 2 tonearm is incredibly sensitive, so much so that even with the maximally flexible zyx wire, the arm's travel is adversely affected unless the wire loom is situated just so. The effects of an errant wire is easily audible--I know because I hear it all the time :(.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

But it may also put you out into the garage permanently with your wife due to bass seepage. So be careful what you wish for.

Silver lining: I'll be nearer to my Aridyne air supply.

Speaking of headaches and vintage gear, when I received my, according to the seller 'checked out; no problems', Victor eq 7070 every electrolytic cap was either bulging or had already popped. I didn't even dare plug that thing in until after I had them all replaced. Even then the tech said that he had to do some special voodoo to get the unit working properly. Luckily, I found a skilled tech right near me, so as a bonus USPS no longer gets the opportunity to lose and/or destroy my stuff.

In terms of the sound of the unit, so far I'm underwhelmed. It sounded unusual (in a good way) when used with digital, but mediocre at best with vinyl. The bass was overwhelmingly bloated at first, with a truncated high end-- but the mids were good to very good. Moving the 801's baf to the tape in/out circuit helped considerably, but it was still not right. Last night, I bypassed the volume control by connecting my Lightspeed passive attenuator. Didn't have a lot of time, but it at least sounded promising. Today, the ET 2 with victor z1/sas combo gets a turn. I'll get to test my conjecture regarding 'victor product synergy'.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

I'm truly happy wth my matrix 801 speakers, but I would like to have a SS amp with some serious muscle just to catch glimpse of the 801's so far untapped power. So, if a pair of these ever crossed my path and didn't require I mortgage my house or divorce my lovely wife, I'd probably jump on them.

Banquo - from my own experiences big SS amp/s on the 801's will move you from the 15th row to the 5th. But it may also put you out into the garage permanently with your wife due to bass seepage. So be careful what you wish for.

This has been my experience with the 801's.
Imagine listening to a 4-5 person music ensemble in a medium size venue like a Jazz Bar. Think of what the drums would be like if sitting 5-10 feet away from the drummer, and then 20 feet away. That's the kind of impact the SS amps will have to the bass with the 801's.
In your chest...

Now for mids and tweeters; for me a real good SS amp will try to match the sweetness of tubes.
I would ensure any SS amp purchase if vintage has had its electronics/capacitors checked out and performing as designed.
If not the very revealing 801's will show the amps shortcoming - especially weak capacitors that cannot hold their charge and the result will be "harsh" sounding and weak bass. If the capacitors are good the bass will be full and overall the music rounded out. Not too lean or bloated. Also ensure any vintage design can be worked on by someone local to you first - or be ready for a potential head ache down the road.


Two rotary switches on the front panel with the following values: 100, 33k, 50k, 100k ; 470pf, 330, 100, 220.

Not as many options as my sony ta e88 phono/pre which allows a range from 10kohm-100kohm in 10k increments, and 100-500pf in 100pf increments.

But I don't think I need any more food to feed my neurosis.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

I find that 7070 phono stage interesting as well...
Can you describe the loading options possible and how they're achieved❓


I'm glad you chimed in, Halcro, since it was your remarks on the tt 101 that gave birth to my Victor fetishism.

Seriously though, I'm particularly interested in whether the eq7070 phonostage is an ideal companion for the x1 and z1 cartridges in the same way that you say the pigskin maates well with the 101's platter. They were all released around the same time and probably designed by a close knit team. At any rate, I have high hopes for this pairing, that something 'magical' will take place when they are used together.

My amp has a gain switch that has gone bad and needed to be replaced. Also, I'm replacing the speaker binding posts so I can bi-wire the 801's. I'm told I should have it back by week's which time I'll party like it's 1979.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

Hi Banquo,
I share your passion for Victor products...
I have their TT-81, TT-101 turntables...the X-1/II and Z-1/SAS cartridges (with another Z-1 on the way)....and the genuine Victor pigskin mat 😃
None of their products has disappointed leading me to conclude that the Victor engineers really 'knew their onions'...👍
That 1000 amp I had never seen before and it looks like a serious device...
Will await your impressions on the pigskin mat...
What happened to your amp?


Inadvertently, I've become something of a Victor Laboratory gear collector. I started with their magnificent tt-101 turntable and then their equally impressive X1 mk2 and Z1 MM cartridges. In the past month, I managed to assemble 3 more items: litz speaker cables, glass and pigskin platter sheets, and their EQ 7070 phonostage/pre. To truly complete the picture, I would still need the tonearm, amp and speakers. Since I can't imagine either the 7045 or 7082 tonearms besting the ET-2, a victor tonearm seems an unlikely purchse. I'm truly happy wth my matrix 801 speakers, but I would like to have a SS amp with some serious muscle just to catch glimpse of the 801's so far untapped power. So, if a pair of these ever crossed my path and didn't require I mortgage my house or divorce my lovely wife, I'd probably jump on them.

In the meanwhile, I have enough new toys to occupy me. I'm especially looking forward to trying the pigskin. Halcro has been touting its merits for years, and for nearly the same length of time I've been looking to acquire one. After two false starts and ammassing more leather mats than I have fingers, my ship finally came in today. The dark brown one on the left is, hopefully, the genuine article; while the one on the right is a very good knock-off. In handling them, the main differences are these: the original is softer and more flexible, thinner and its sueded side is more plush.

I'd offer listening impressions...but my amp is getting some work done :(.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363


I emailed you couple of pages of data on the TTM weight and mat. Hope it makes sense. Instructions are more obvious when you have both in hand.

Image of TTW weight, plastic insert removed and sitting on top

Image of TTM weight at angle where one compartment is easily visible. I’ve made this more obvious with help from Photoshop. At least this way you can get an idea.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

Thanks, Albert.

Try as I might, I can't catch glimpse of the three compartments you mention. No matter. I found a pic form anarchived hifido page that shows the added weight, here

I have a different question for you. You mention on your thread that yours came with some kind of insert. I can't seem to locate that part of your thread right now but is that insert used to to match the ttm with different sized spindles? The spindle on my victor is significantly smaller than the ttm's hole, and I'm wondering if there should be tighter fit. If so, could you describe what the insert is and/or take a pic of it?

Thanks for the offer for the mat instructions. I've seen that mat several times on yahoo japan but never thought to buy it due to its weight--I suspect it'll be too much for the victor. Nevertheless, please do send me the instructions, since I might now try it out given that, as you say, the mat and weight work in tandem. I pm'ed you my address.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

d'uh: forgot to name what I bought--TTM oil damped stabilizer

The oil is inside the stabilizer, if you look at the top of the TTM with light at low angle you can often see three compartments (small divots show position) that hold oil.

The spindle hole has threads on the top half, so I must be missing some screw tha tholds the oil?

That thread is to accommodate an additional weight sold separately by TTM. The weight attaches to the current weight, making it taller and heavier.

The TTM weight is my favorite provided it’s used with TTM mat. They are matched to function together and as with all things high end audio, results are subject to preferences.

The TTM mat is quite heavy and no problem with Technics MK3 table. Cannot vouch for compatibility with other turntable designs, but non suspended tables seem to be bothered less by the additional mass.

I have at least six record clamp/weights and have experimented with many others. Like cable and footers there is quite a range of sound from each. Suggest you proceed slowly and enjoy the journey to decide which combination is right for your system.

Should you decide to mate the TTM weight with TTM mat there are instructions about the three center adjusting screws that occupy the area where the record label rests. It’s a bit complicated but I can email you if you care to explore.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

d'uh: forgot to name what I bought--TTM oil damped stabilizer

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

System edited: Impulse purchase. Recall seeing it on Albert Porter's page. The problem with impulse purchases is that one does not know how properly to use the item. In this case, the oil damping mechanism is a mystery. I thought the weight would be filled with oil, but evidenly not. The spindle hole has threads on the top half, so I must be missing some screw tha tholds the oil? If anyone has knowledge (or a theory) about how this weight functions, please share.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

Banquo so you were able to go from a 12 foot cable length down to 3 foot. Well done. Only in this audio hobby that I can think of, does shorter length equate to better ?

Yes, Ct0517: and I'm liking the results. But as is my tendency, I've made several other changes to my system, so who knows what is responsible for what.

For those following along: for the past couple of days, I've been using the victor z1s/jico sas cartridge and although it's probably premature to declare is a great, great cartridge. In terms of wide availability and price (<$US200 total), it boggles the mind. Since it is a frankenstein, it can be a hassle to assemble, but a major advantage is that the stylus is brand new and it mates perfectly with the dirt cheap and readily available z1s cartridge body. We'll see when Halcro does the comparison between the original z1 beryllium stylus and the sas, but it's hard for me to imagine the sas falling very short (if at all). I say this even though I found that the jico replacement sylus for the victor x1/ii falls way short of the original.

I currently have it mounted on the epa 100 arm; I eagerly anticipate what the ET 2 will do with it. If all goes as I hope, my cartridge buying days may be over.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

Now Halcro ..are you not concerned about aesthetics AT ALL. I mean come on. You're an architect man. Does the contorted positioning of your cartridge and its affects not bother you at all ?
Ha ha.....
I must admit Chris...that this shot you picked does look a bit odd...👀😁
Blame Continuum.....although in most other views of the Copperhead arm, the off-set cartridge looks quite nifty..👍
That flimsy Empire cartridge is now replaced with the Signet TK-7LCa which looks more substantial.
Symmetry, by the way.....was ditched by the modern movement of architecture in the early 1920s....🏤



Now Halcro ..are you not concerned about aesthetics AT ALL. I mean come on. You're an architect man. Does the contorted positioning of your cartridge and its affects not bother you at all ?

I see no such contortions in pics of your Taj Mahal reference.

Enjoy your vacation Henry. :^)

imo - both you guys do have common DNA happening with your turntables. No doubt there.
Question I have. Is this "Form over Function" ?

As opposed to your ET 2 & 2.5 tonearms Banquo - which are "Form follows Function" imo.

Banquo so you were able to go from a 12 foot cable length down to 3 foot. Well done. Only in this audio hobby that I can think of, does shorter length equate to better ?


lol, Halcro. That pic is old; I was chasing down a hum and trying out different platform configurations at the same time. I leave it up to remind myself of the state of mind I was in at that time. Admittedly, the current set up (of which there is no pic) is hardly any less aesthetically defective, but at least it represents the product of an orderly mind. :) I envy you your hotel's view.

I received my jico mats and spent a couple of hours last night trying out different configurations. Since I now have 6 different leather mats (somebody help me), it may take awhile. But so far: the 47 Labs deerskin atop the thicker jico mat leads the pack.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

Now Banquo....are you not concerned about aesthetics AT ALL....😱
I mean....have you no sensitivity whatsoever...❓😖😳
I'm sitting in my hotel room in Agra looking at the Taj Mahal......and THIS is what you look at.....❓👀


Didn't you recently install curtains? Am I correct to assume they are proving beneficial in more ways than just sonically ?

Yes and YES! Curtains and (for when they are moved around potentially exposing my shame) strategically placed CD cases.

As far as I can tell, Sonic Craft boasts the best prices on common DIY knick knacks. Believe it or not, their prices were even better before the new website--so, what would that make it, 98% off? They're like a smaller US version of Canada's Take Five Audio.

Ag insider logo xs@2xbanquo363

..,cutting a rather large hole through the living room wall. I don’t dare tell my wife

Banquo - how in the world are you going to keep that from her ? I thought I was good at hiding things, then it dawned on me. Didn't you recently install curtains? Am I correct to assume they are proving beneficial in more ways than just sonically ?

You mentioned Sonic Craft. I was curious so I looked them up. do they stay in business with an 88% off sale ?


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