I have been collecting vinyl for 10 years or so, and have been slowly accumulating a lot of gear. This is my current system and I really enjoy the way it plays music. It is very neutral, yet engaging. My next upgrade will be to a better integrated amp or separates.
Bought while new replacement M5G arms were still available for purchase, so tonearm is brand new. Lubricated the bearing, installed KAB wax mod, aux-weight damping screw, original thick mat with a Bren 1 record weight, all on top of a bamboo butcher block sitting on brass spikes.
Sorta....What started its life as a Goldring GR1.2 is now basically a P2. First, I upgraded to the glass platter, then to a legitimate RB250. The difference was not subtle.
An Audiogon find for $200 unused. Added Pete Riggle's counterweight and stub.
Ortofon 2M Bronze
A little over a year into owning it I finally got it dialed in with an oscilloscope. HOLY MACKEREL!!
Musical Fidelity V-LPSII
Paradigm Studio 40 v4
i currently have them single-wired with Anti-Cable.
Mogami 3173 wired as analog interconnect
DIY cable with Switchcraft 3502 RCAs and Cardas Quad Eutectic solder.
These things are the real deal.
Harman Kardon AVR-25
Was filling in for a Yamaha CA-800, but has earned its spot by having a remote and being able to more than adequately drive the Paradigms.
AudioQuest Dragonfly Red
I wish they would move beyond 24/96, but this is a damn good piece of equipment for something the size of a thumb drive.
Apple MacBook Pro 13
16G of ram, SSD, all lossless or better files, Audirvana (A+), SonarWorks for headphone playback.
D.I.Y. Record Cleaning Machine
Did the modified crevice tool thing from Teres Audio (http://www.teresaudio.com/haven/cleaner/cleaner.html). I use MoFi fluids and brushes.
D.I.Y. Bass Traps
Two sheets of 6 lb. per sq. ft. rockwool in frames made from drywall corner beads. Just found a sweet spot for speakers and chair and have A/B'd with and without. I would go crazy without them!
Sennheiser Electronics HD 600
Having such a neutral headphone (made more neutral by Sonarworks) has been a great reminder of how neutral my system has ended up.
NWAVGuy Objective 2
Haven't felt the need to move up the ladder of headphone amps yet.
The hum is there, but I've either learned to live with it or it's just really not that intrusive. You have a great cartridge with the 2M Black. I wouldn't be concerned with what you might have missed if you had gotten the Grado. Both the 2M Black and the wood bodied Grados are very sensitive to set-up. I just got my Platinum 1 back from Grado a little over a week ago and I still don't have it dialed in.
Nice system man! Any issues with the Grado and the supposed "hum" I've been told can occur with Grado/Rega arms? I went with the Ortofon 2M black, which I love, but was dying to try your Grado but was urged not to from my dealer.........was he upselling me??? Bummer if so!
I wish I could say that the system in the picture with me standing was mine. It was taken at Audio Perfection in Minneapolis, MN. The other pictures, however, are of my system. I don't have any sort of corner buster type treatment yet, but it is definitely the next step, since they seem so simple to make. If you end up trying them out let me know what you think and I will do the same if I get around to making some.
Hyperreal - Looks like a great system. I'm curious about your acoustic treatments. Is that a "Corner Buster" from Echo Busters in the picture with you standing? I have a way less than optimal listening environment. Very asymetrical with 3 wall ceiling corners on the left hand side. Would appreciate your opinion about the effect/benefit of the Corner Buster (if that is in fact what it is.) Thanks in advance. GH
I have the sub hooked up to the same speaker terminals as the Wharfedales, running an additional set of speaker cables into the left and right high level inputs on the sub. I balanced the outputs between the monitors and the sub across the frequency spectrum using a Stereophile test disk, the volume and crossover controls on the sub, and an inexpensive digital sound meter. Once set up properly my system sounds remarkably good, with little drop out or frequency bumps, and terrific bass response. Starting with a quality sub and taking care with set up is critical to avoid booming bass or imbalanced sound. You already appear to understand the importance of set up, so setting up a sub wouldn't be that hard.
Thanks for the response Dave. I think the fact that I've got them in a small room really makes a big difference. I'm not sure how accurate the VU meters on the amp are, but according to them I can't get above about 1.5 watts without splitting my eardrums, so the B&Ws are not at all overworked. The nice thing is that either way, whether I get a sub or get new speakers, the B&Ws will always have a home and a use, as will everything else in the system.
This question is for knownothing: How do you have the sub hooked up to your Kenwood? Are you using a Y-adapter out of a tape out or are you using the speaker level inputs on the sub? Those are the only ways I could imagine it would work. I didn't think the tape outs would work since they're line level and not variable with the volume knob. I had previously considered going that route but I was unsure of using the tape outs and I had recently discovered Vandersteen 2C's and their serious bass extension. They seem pretty reasonably priced on the used market to boot.
I understand your need for real bass in the thirties or lower. Problem is, most affordable floor standers will only go down to about 40Hz or the high thirties with any accuracy, and the Kenwood might start to run out of steam in that territory and get a little sloppy.
One solution is to add a good powered subwoofer to your system. A REL, SVS or even Aperion Audio could fill the sound out nicely and prolong the useful life of your B&Ws. On my second system I am running a small Klipsch Sub that goes down to about 32Hz with my Kenwood 3500 and some very modest Wharfedale Diamond 8.1s and it is actually my first choice for rock and hip hop music. The bass is so good it is mildly disgusting...
In anycase, before you invest in higher resolving floor standers or monitors, I would beef up both the digital and analog sources first.
I'll bet your system sounds great...nice job. I used to own a pair of the little B&W's years ago...and I liked them. I had them mated with a 65 watt Luxman receiver, in a fairly small room.....and they really sang pretty.
Thanks for the feedback knownothing. I like your philosophy a lot. The Denon 103r is definitely out of reach, however, I've been able to find a source for the regular 103 in Europe where they're cheaper (about $170), but I am definitely open to as many different options as possible.
I really like the idea of a better digital front-end, since I'm only $35 dollars in at this point. Especially alluring is the idea of a DAC in the system. I'm amassing quite a collection of lossless files on the computer so USB would be a must, but with capabilities for use of a transport too. I took a look at the Phillips and yes, it does have digital out! I would love to see how it is as a transport, since I know a lot of high end CD players use Phillips transports.
My idea for upgrading the speakers and cartridge originally came from my repair technician who works on my bass amps. He's also an audiophile too and a member of the local audio club. His philosophy is to upgrade the moving parts or transducers as he says, so the cartridge and speakers first. But he's also kind of a stodgy old coot who can be really condescending.....
As for the B&Ws....this is an area I go back and forth about daily. I'm thinking forward to the possibility of a bigger, dedicated listening room and I really want more bass extension. On the flipside....the B&Ws are way more capable than I could have ever imagined. From the few people I've heard talk about them it sounds like they aren't much, but I highly doubt they gave them the same thorough set-up I did. They image so well, and they're really balanced sounding. I'm dead certain that their bass extends beyond their rated 70hz too, but I need more!! (I'm a bass player)
A lot of my ideas for upgrading had much to do with the amount of money I've put into those areas, upgrading the stuff for which I paid the least. I really want to know what tubes are like, but I'm never getting rid of the Kenwood, it's such a great amp.
Sounds like a cool system you have put together hybridizing good parts from both the last and the current generation of music reproduction. I am in agreement with others that the Kenwood is the last thing to replace for now. Good you had the amp serviced, I was going to suggest it when you mentioned some noise issues. I have an old 3500 integrated in a backup system and found that after vacuuming and blowing 30 years of dirt out of the insides with air, and cleaning all switches and potentiometers with tuner cleaner, it sounds like new and dead quiet. I think the phono sections are pretty good in these old amps as that was considered critical for quality hifi reproduction in the 70s.
I am not sure I would replace the B&Ws first. You may want to look at a new source, either a dedicated DAC if your Phillips has digital out, or a new stand alone CD player. I know the PS1001s are supposed to be superb, but I think you can do better new or on the used market (for a lot more money, of course). You might want to bundle up your speakers along with your PS1 and take them all to your local hi fi shop. Ask them if you can try your gear out with different combinations of their speakers and sources to see for yourself what yields the greatest improvement per dollar spent.
Also, the idea of an upgraded cartridge makes some sense, but I wouldn't go overboard. For Example a Denon 103R would probably be overkill and it only has a 0.25mv output. For that table I would suggest spending up to around $100 +/- $20. Go to needledoctor.com and look at all the great choices at around that amount. I upgraded from a Grado Prestige Black to a Blue and find on my old Phillips 212 electronic TT that it provides a lot more resolution at the frequency extremes without losing the warmth and PRAT of the entry model cartridge. Something in the hundred dollar range should provide you with plenty of enjoyment with your current system, and could be used on an upgraded turntable when you have the dough.
If on the other hand you are seriously thinking of spending $350 on a low output MC cartridge that may require a step up transformer, I think you might be better off saving a little more money to get a $500 to $600 turntable new or used - say something from Music Hall, Project or Rega, with a good arm and a decent HO MC or MM cartridge. Or, if you get a new table with no cartridge, move whatever you are currently using on the Technics over to the new rig.
As you can tell, I come from the source first camp, feeling that you cannot overcome the GIGO paradigm. Get the upstream part right and the rest that follows will be that much more appreciated when it arrives in your listening room!
System edited: Two big changes: 1) found a Playstation and 2) put all my components in one place. Also added some further isolation for the turntable. I still keep getting more out of this turntable, pretty unbelievable for a 70's Japanese direct drive.