As you can see, this is an attempt to integrate a 2-channel setup with home-cinema, but with emphasis on the 2-channel side of things. (Various other HT equipment not listed). Of course, I'm making due with the current living-room space. In the next few years we'll likely move, and perhaps then a dedicated space will become a reality.
In the next 2 decades, I'd like to see the following system changes / additions:
Room: Dedicated and treated appropriately
Source: LessLoss Laminar Streamer (audition it at least once it's finally on the market)
Interconnects: LessLoss Tunnelbridge
Amp: Simaudio i-7, or, 860A, maybe a pair of mono amps (?) Who knows what the goN will cough up.
Ambient Field Conditioners: LessLoss Blackbodies
Speakers: Focal Electra or Utopia (dream is something like Kaiser Vivache). Still have much to learn here.
Screen: Stewart, ceiling retractable
Projector: Not a clue
Video processor: Maybe Anthem something?
I really don't know what to do about the home theater side of things so as not to compromise the 2-channel setup. I don't want two pairs of speakers or speaker wires setup which means at least one amp will require something like HT pass-through. But at the same time, the ideal 2-channel setup would go straight from DAC (bypassing preamplifier) straight into amp(s).
Your comments, suggestions, advice, and experience are all welcome here.
PS: The stands were inspired by the German company Kaiser. I owe them credit for the design. I merely tried to duplicate their stand design with various customized elements for my own purposes.
I had this player's clock disabled, allowing it act as digital slave to the LessLoss DAC. It now functions merely as a transport.
LessLoss DAC 2004 MkII
The component to make the greatest difference in my system. (DAC no longer in production).
Yamaha RX-A3010 Amplifier
Flagship model. Dual purpose amp for hi-fi & home cinema until I can get a dedicated 2-channel amplifier.
Focal 816 V Loudspeakers
LessLoss Anchorwave Interconnects
RCA interconnects using mono crystal pure copper strands in litz wire configuration, conductive cloth shielding, locking Furutech gold-plated connectors, and a microvibration control nanoparticle bed.
LessLoss Anchorwave Loudspeaker Cables
196 mono crystal pure copper strands in a litz wire configuration; conductive cloth shielding; microvibration control nanoparticle bed.
D.I.Y. (Kaiser Inspired) Stands
Credit for the general stand design goes to the German company Kaiser. I saw stands similar to these that Kaiser made, and believing in their effectiveness, attempted to duplicate them, customizing various aspects for my own purposes. The stands feature panzerholz platforms sitting directly on sand within each box and leg. The aim of this construction is to enable the best possible handling of vibration from ground to component and component to stand. Without equipment, and when filled with sand, the stands weigh over 1,100 lbs.
LessLoss DFPC Signature (3)
A highly flexible, lightweight power cable that uses a more intense Skin-filtering to eliminate HF noise without impeding dynamics; a doubled live conductor for improved dynamics; and specially chosen ruby coloured Oyaide 079 power plugs.
LessLoss DFPC Original (2)
A highly flexible, lightweight power cable that uses Skin-filtering to eliminate HF noise without impeding dynamics. Also has specially chosen ruby coloured Oyaide 079 power plugs.
LessLoss Firewall Power Conditioner
Copious amounts of Skin-filtering; panzerholz enclosure; furutech connections with carbon fibre; sandblasted and anodized aluminum end pieces. The ultimate power conditioner.
Furutech e-TP60 Power Distributor
Uses Furutech's GC-303 material to absorb internal generated EMI. Features 6 receptacles with 24k gold-plated phosphor bronze, non-magnetic conductors.
After attending the New York Audio Show, I'm convinced that the next worthwhile step is to obtain higher resolution speakers: this for the sake of hearing more clearly what's going on upstream. And while I already hear changes with these speakers, it seems to me that they would be altogether more significant given my current state of vibration damping, power conditioning, component isolation and source components.
Regarding amp/speaker upgrade dilemma (@ Defride & Mjcmt): I agree with both of you; a good 2-channel amp is in a different league to any Yamaha AVR, and less risky to upgrade an amp than to upgrade speakers, only to hear more easily how terrible one's amp sounds.
I don't think, Defride, I'd take the option of splitting the $10K budget between amp and speakers. My approach so far has been to gear up for the long run. The next substantial jump in speakers would be something like (or the same as) the Focal Electra 1028 Be ($9k). I think Robert Harley is right when he says that there's a big gap after $2k (or is it $4k; I can't remember), to find a better speaker delivering high value/price ratio. I'd probably try and buy a used Focal 1028 (maybe a 1038) Be.
I've also considered the option ofbrace yourselfgetting an Emotiva XPA-2. I know it's typical of the average audiophile to look the other way, but I think it might make sense in my situation. I'd have a dedicated 2-channel stereo amp that I'm pretty sure would be better than the Yamaha. This for several reasons. The most important is that it has no preamp to screw up the sound, whereas the AVR doesnot to mention a whole host of other unnecessary parts to degrade the signal. And, because the LessLoss DAC already has a distortionless volume control, I don't need a separate preamp; I can interconnect directly from DAC to amp, further simplifying the signal path. Perhaps, then, after getting the amp and a pair of used Focal Electras, (and after selling my Anchorwave RCA interconnects), I'd be able to purchase LessLoss' Tunnelbridge Interconnect System with balanced interconnects. Then I'd be sitting pretty good for a while; long enough until I could afford a serious 2-ch amp, anyway. I think that's my plan for the next several years, provided a steady income and happy family (first). Who knows what will happen after I hear what the New York Audio Show has to offer... Thoughts welcome.
Regarding Kaiser speakers, Defride wrote:
IIRC, the Classic is the original and Vivace a slightly bigger model?
The Kaiser! Classic is the largest model; the Vivace is the slightly smaller model. (See here to confirm).
Interesting observation on the Yamaha AVRs. My concern is the ability to drive 4 ohm speakers, and while the Yamaha AVRs I've had don't increase the power much (100wpc vs. 120wpc) the higher powered one did have greater ease, fuller sound, and better bass.
Interesting what you say, too. The Focals are fairly efficient 8ohm speaker. Apparently they never drop below 4ohms. Perhaps that's why I never really noticed a difference with the more powerful amp like you did, driving 4ohm speakers.
** Will respond to your upgrade comments with Defride's.
I'm torn whether to upgrade amp or speakers, first. The amp is likely a $10k purchase. If I do speakers first, then that's like $10k now, and then a lot more down the road. Not sure if I want to be stuck with the AVR with upgraded speakers, though. And yet, the speakers will bring more audible improvement, immediately. What to do...
Cool that you've heard the Kaiser speakers. Which speakers were they: the Kawero! Classic, the Vivace, or the Chiara? I'll be heading to the New York Audio Show in April and looking forward to hearing the Kaiser speakers with the LessLoss gear (for obvious reasons), as well as the LessLoss Blackbodies (haven't yet heard those yet), and a whole host of other audio gearspeakers in particular. I don't really know anything about the Vertex stuff; when I quoted them elsewhere, it was because I agreed with one of the principles they happened to articulate. Perhaps those Teo cables you mentioned will be at the NYAS, too.
Nicely tweaked system. Your craftsmanship of your isolation stands is excellent. I've had 2 different '06 Yamaha AVRs and think the sound is beyond what I expected from an AVR so I am quite interested in reading your opinion on the A3010 AVR. Do you have a connection with LessLoss or do you just like their gear?
Thank you, MJcmt. I can't take credit for the craftsmanship, though. The stands were built from a carpenter I knew in high school. The finish work was done by a contractor in the city. All I did was choose and acquire all the materials, make instructions and drawings with specific dimensions, and specified the location of each piece of veneer. Actually, that was a lot of work. I spent ages and ages trying to determine leg height, which veneer to choose, who to buy it from, which contractor to use, and so on. It was a total nightmare at times as the cost kept jumping up. My aim was to do it right the first time. Thankfully, I'm quite pleased with the end result.
Now, you asked whether I have a connection with LessLoss. I've tried to avoid this question in the past, for I don't want people thinking I have anything to gain through whatever I post about the company or its products. In fact, I should note that from the beginning, the company's directing manager specifically requested I harness my enthusiasm about posting anything LessLoss, for fear of negatively affecting his company's reputation. So while I like LessLoss gear very much (otherwise I wouldn't have paid for all of it), I've been trying as of late to say little about it, for fear that it might be taken the wrong way and get both me and the company in trouble. That being said, although as a customer I do very much like their products, I do have a "connection" with LessLoss. As an independent editor, I've been contracted on several occasions to do work for the company. "Independent" in the sense that my services are not exclusive to LessLoss; nor am I a LessLoss employee.
Regarding the Yamaha AVRs: for what it is, I am quite pleased with the amp. I must say, though, I've heard the RX-A810, which is at most half the cost, and it seems to sound identical to the RX-A3010. Of course, you get a much nicer remote, backlit and code-learning, with the RX-A2010 and RX-A3010 (I believe those models only); other than that, I think you're just paying for more features. The sound doesn't get any better for 2-channel listening with the higher priced models (regardless of that fifth-foot marketing rubbish). Although, I never tested the RX-A810 with a large scale orchestral piece. That being said, I don't imagine it would perform that much differently, since the power capacity for each is not significantly different (keeping in mind you need twice as much power to make a mere 3db increase). I did find the amp struggled in particular with high-frequency presentation. It got quite harsh and grainy sounding when the volume was pushed. That's since cleared after upgrading its power supply using one of my DFPC Signatures, however. Further impressions available on request.
"Nice job Aaron. My advise to you would be always be on the look out for good deals on better speakers,they always improve the system. Enjoy"
Thanks, Jazzkid. The speakers will likely be the most expensive purchase of my system. I would love to own a pair of Kaiser Vivache someday, but perhaps being realistic will force me to find something used, half as expensive. Although my amp has improved with its upgraded power supply, I think it might be my next upgrade. The cost of the speakers would just be too much too soon.