A year ago, my wife asked if we could get rid of our only TV. "Sure," I said. "Can we get a stereo for the living room?" I've spent 12 months in deep geekery learning how to assemble a system. Most nights she goes to bed early and sleeps like a rock, leaving me to meditate on sound to my soul's content. What a hobby.

I've got a wall-to-wall soundstage, low end that can distinguish the kick drum and bass note as separate events, rich harmnics in the mids, and a just-rolled-off top end that makes my ears happy for hour after hour.

Components Toggle details

    • Melody SP3
    38-watt tube integrated. Tube rolls include Russian military old stock SP3C-E power tubes in the 5881 slot and 6N23P-EV subbed for stock 6922s. Sylvania 12AU7A, and Sylvania 5751 in the 12AX7 slot.
    • Wyred4Sound DAC2
    Sends signal to subs and to integrated amp.
    • Squeezebox Touch
    With Soundcheck mods to disable analog outputs and wireless receiver, reduce buffer size, and perform flac decoding at Vortexbox Appliance server. SBT sends PCM digital to Wyred4Sound DAC2 via Bluejeans coaxial.
    • Vortexbox Appliance
    Flac on 2TB Vortexbox Appliance (in adjacent room, not pictured) is hardwired by Cat6 ethernet cable to Squeezebox Touch.
    • Grant Fidelity MBS-1
    GF-spec'd 1st-order crossover, Vifa drivers, and silk-dome tweeter. Housed in a Jungson cabinet that is a shameless rip-off of the Sonus Faber Cremora Auditor.
    • PS Audio Power Plant Premier
    Improves every AC-consuming component in the chain. The difference this thing made in the ease of leading-edge transients and palpable presence of instruments in the room was not short of stunning.
    • SVS SB12-NSD
    Sealed cabinet, 12-inch speaker, 400W amp. These are fed RCA inputs in stereo from W4S DAC/pre. Low-pass is set at 45 Hz.
    • Sony DVD Player
    For the occasional movie, we set up a computer monitor on a stool and connect video by HDMI, while PCM digital audio goes to the DAC and system.
    • Jungson (Grant Fidelity-branded) SPC-2.5 5n
    30x30 gauge conductors, 5n (99.999%) pure copper, insulated, conductors in parallel (un-twisted), teflon shielded, protective jacketting and gold plated connectors.
    • Jungson (Grant Fidelity-branded) RCA-1 Performance Interconnect
    5N OFC copper conductors, teflon shielded jacketing and decent quality gold plated connectors.
    • Pangea AC-9
    Two of these 7-awg garden hoses feed from a dedicated 20a line to the Power Plant Premier, and from the PPP to the integrated amp. The addition of these cords made a clearlty audible difference in ease of presentation and really seemed to add warmth without loss of resolution.
    • Pangea AC-14SE
    Feeds power from the PPP to the DAC-09.
    • Micheal Green Audio Corner Tunes
    Triangular pillows for taming upper-corner boundary effects. Results are a subtle warming of overall sound.
    • Boltz CS-4 Rack
    Welded steel, custom height and shelf spacing. Probably not the best-available isolation, but the wife got to pick this one....
    • Dedicated AC Line Romex
    20a breaker, 12awg romex.

Comments 12

Handsome system, even the green fat guy in smiling. Happy listening.


Hey Cymbop what about replacing the "fifty cent" outlet with...
PS AUDIO - POWER PORT-or-Shunyata SR-Z1-or-better yet TESLA Plex SE. At least you should have a vice-like grip, with much better contact for Pangea feeding into PS Audio Plant. Just saying.

Well everybody that is a audiophile follows specific instruments or voices. For me it's the Yellowjackets music and recordings (try Blue Hats or MInt Jam) a bit more dynamic. I follow patterns from musical instruments presenting microdetails and dynamics from drums, bass and piano. Percussion using rain stick, congas or xylophone can present very different sounds in the midrange area.

Congrats on the Zus. Do you have the SVS12s set lower to 34Hz or higher? One more thing...did you consider SVS13 subs before buying the SVS12s?


Thanks for the encouragement, Al, Ray and Pierre. The deep geekery on gear has become a passion, and listening has taken me to some transcendent places.

Ray, I don't have any Fela. I've delved into the genre by way of Pandora. It was seeing Thomas Mapfumo at a local coffehouse that hooked me.

Lapierre, I've got a cheap 20a outlet on the dedicated line. Room for improvement? Tell me about your experience. I've heard some Yellowjackets, but they've seemed a little too smooth and polished for my tastes. Great musicians to be sure! Will revisit them upon your recommendation.

Next direction is already in the house: Zu Omen fullrangers. They're just reaching break-in now at around 300 hours, and it's been 2 steps forward, 1 step back so far in terms of placement. I've got great tone and dynamics now, but the imaging isn't there yet; the speakers have yet to disappear and allow for precise placement of instruments within the soundstage. Pictures to come!


Nice system!

You really thought about each component with synergy for your listening pleasure.

Components I like: PS Audio Power Plant (and with tubes awesome decision), SVS subs and Melody SP3. Dedicated line and Pangea are just smart choices.

On your dedicated line did you add audio grade outlet?

What's next on the HiFi roadmap?

Spin the Yellowjackets.


Looks like a very nice well thought out system ,very clean set-up.Sounds like a true music lovers system! You like Afro pop,have you heard Fela Kuti? Regards,Ray


Very nicely done, Rusty. It's remarkable how quickly you've developed a quality system, after starting from scratch. That obviously reflects a lot of carefully and intelligently done "homework." Enjoy!

Best regards,
-- Al

Ag insider logo xs@2xalmarg

I'm very happy with the integration. Because the subs are crossed at 45 Hz, they mostly supply room ambience and kick-drum impact. I've thoroughly experimented with placement and in the end I like the subs just a few inches behind the face of the MBS-1s.


Nice. How is the SVS sub mating well with the MBS-1?


I bought the speakers a year ago as I was just falling in love with audio. I suppose they're now the weak link in my system, but at the end of the day I can't complain about them as ~1K monitors. Aside from the fact that the Jungson cabinet is a shameless rip-off of Sonus Faber, the MBS-1s are fine speakers. I like that the silk-dome tweeter isn't hard or glaring, I like that the mids are fleshy but articulate, and I like that the bass goes reasonably deep but rolls itself off gracefully. The cabinet port is well-tuned to go as deep as cabinet and driver size permit, without resorting to port-chuff or one-note bass. I run full-range signal to the speakers and the subs, and the subs sound best when low-passed at 45 Hz. The next notch up on the low-pass is 60 Hz, and at that setting the sub overlaps with the MBS-1 and muddies the low-end considerably.


nice system, how do you like your MBS-1's? I have the same ones and absolutely love them. From the pics, your room seems to be a good size. I also am using GF power cords and some of their interconnects and have been quite happy with them. Your room looks very nice


System edited: It's been a while since the last update. I Tried and returned the Benchmark DAC1-HRD. Too bright, too brittle. Very happy now with a Wyred4Sound DAC2. I also built a music server. Vortexbox Appliance is a 2TB auto-ripping NAS that is hardwired to a Squeezebox touch with Soundcheck mods to disable analog outputs and wireless receiver, reduce buffer size, and perform flac decoding at Vortexbox Appliance. Most nights, I reach the point of forgetting about equipment and just listening to music.


Edit to add that most of my listening is in the Jazz and Rock genres with occasional forays into Afropop, Brazilian, indie-hipster, Americana, old reggae and soul, and classical. Another endeavor for the future is to set up a music server, probably based around a Squeezebox Touch interface.


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