Description

In this system, the goal is to provide a satisfying home theatre without sacrificing high performance 2 channel music reproduction. It is a hybrid system utilizing a Home Theatre digital controller and a separate tube phono preamplifier. I am trying out an Integra RDC7 prepro in order to take advantage of the analog direct mode for my LP and CD systems as well as the multi-channel 5.1 analog input. We'll see if the fuss about DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD represents a worthwhile advancement. Also the RDC7 is reputed to have dual differential PCM 1704 Dacs in the front right and left channels which I will run balanced into the Dreadnaught II.

I have decided to utilize a signal chain that is balanced from the processor through the front three channel amplifier and single-ended to the surrounds and rear subwoofer. The large Magnepan dipoles make for an imposing yet visually attractive statement. They also provide the big sound necessary for a fairly large room. As well as trying to put together a good sounding system, an attempt was made to make the system friendly and comfortable for the spousal unit as well as the pets.

The legendary Linn Sondek LP-12 record playing system is the primary analog source. It was recently acclaimed by Stereophile (11/02) as the most important audio component of the past 40 years. Digital playback source is accomplished by a Denon DVD 756s and a Oppo Universal player for CD,SACD and DVD-A. The analog 5.1 multi-channel outputs of the Oppo are connected to the Integra with a Precision Audio cables DB25 to RCA snake to take advantage of the Oppo s internal decoding of DTS MA, Dolby True HD, SACD and DVD-A formats. Legacy DTS and Dolby Digital are handled by Bluejeanscables coax. Only the superb tube phono section is utilized in the Audio Research SP-14 and the Integra RDC7 is utilized as the active line stage in analog direct mode. The Sp-14 is still sought after for its very musical phono section. The front three channels of the Integra RDC7 is run balanced into the the Theta Dreadnaught II amplifier, which provides 450 wpc to the 4ohm Magnepans. The Dreadnaught II is a muscular amplifier that also reveals the softest musical detail. The Magnepan MG 3.6R is a true world class speaker. It offers outstandingly natural reproduction of both large scale instrumental work as well as the most subtle musical detail. The stereo pair of Vandersteen 2WQ subwoofers blend seamlessly into the system due to its unusual crossover design. The full range signal from the Integra RDC-7 is filtered via the Vandersteen M5 HP Balanced crossover which sends a high pass signal to the left and right channels of the Dreadnaught II amplifier which feeds the 2WQ's.

The heart of the home theatre system (which incorporates the Maggie/Vandersteen/ Theta speaker/sub/amplifier combo for the L/R channel duties) is a Integra RDC7 which offers Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Prologic II processing for legacy surround sound formats. The Integra RDC7 is connected by balanced XLR to the Theta Dreadnaught II for the front 3 channels. This signal is high-passed to the Dreadnaught via Vandersteen M5 HP Balanced filters. The surround speakers are Magnepan's 1.6QR powered by a Classe'25 amplifier providing 500 wpc @4ohms. The theatre subwoofer is the Hsu Research VTF-2 subwoofer. The critically acclaimed Polk Lsi Series speaker handles the center channel duties. The system easily handles the 105db peaks that good home theater systems must achieve. Bluray discs and standard DVD's are handled by an Oppo Digital BDP-83SE. The Oppo also handles internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio surround codecs. HDTV is received via AT&T Homezone Dish Network HD DVR connected with component video cables. The primary seating area is 10 feet away from the Sony 52” 16x9 LCD screen. The system is controlled by a Home Theater Master MX-500 Universal Remote Control. Testing equipment include a THX calibrated Radio Shack SPL Meter using AVIA & THX-EX setup DVD audio test tones and ETF Acoustic 5x software (using MLS) running on a Toshiba Laptop PC with a calibrated microphone. Power distribution and AC surge as well as line filtration is provided by a Panamax M5400-pm.
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Components Toggle details

    • Theta Digital Dreadnaught 2
    3 channels x 250 configuration. Powering left, right, and center channels.
    • Integra Research RDC 7
    Upgraded version with THX UltraII and PLII
    • Oppo Digital BDP-83SE
    Blu-Ray, DVD with VRS processing, DTS/MA,Dolby TrueHD,SACD, DVD-A, & CD from analog outputs. ESS 32bit Sabre DAC.
    • Magnepan MG-3.6r
    white grill with oak trim
    • Magnepan MG-1.6qr
    L & R surround SPEAKERS
    • Classe Audio 25
    250 WPC 8 OHMS, 500 WPC 4OHMS. Left and Right surround channels.
    • Linn LP-12 VALHALLA
    AFROMOSIA
    • Linn Akito
    BLACK
    • Sumiko Bluepoint Special
    NUDE STYLUS
    • Audio Research SP-14
    PHONO STAGE ONLY
    • Polk Audio LSIC
    CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKER
    • Vandersteen 2Wq stereo pair
    2WQ WITH ADJUSTABLE Q
    • Vandersteen M5 HPB
    Battery-biased balanced high pass crossover
    • Hsu Research VTF-2
    Rear channel subwoofer
    • Sony Bravia KDL52v4100
    52
    • MIT MI 330
    ORIGINAL BRISSON DESIGN
    • XLO DVO
    ER-12 BIWIRE MAGNEPANS ER-12 for Polk LSic center channel
    • MONSTER CLASSIC
    FOR SURROUNDS
    • Sony VCR
    VCR
    • AT & T Homezone 622 HZ DVR
    HDTV Dish Network DVR using component video outputs to tv monitor.
    • Denon 756S
    Progressive scan DVD w/DCDi,upscales to 1080i in HDMI mode. DVD-A, SACD
    • Hometheatremaster MX 500
    Universal Remote Control
    • Infinity Audio Silverbridge Maggie Jumpers
    12" silver jumpers with Cardas Rhodium Magnepan-specific pins.
    • Bluejeans Cables Balanced XLR
    Neutrik XLR and Belden 1800F cable from Theta Casanova left, right, and center channels to Theta Dreadnaught II.
    • Bluejeans Cable Digital Interconnect
    Canare RCA connectors and Belden 1694 cable from Rotel CD player transport to Genesis Lens
    • Vanco HDMI
    v1.3 for tv, DVD, Bluray
    • MIT Z-Cord II
    For Theta Casanova
    • Acoustic Zen El Nino
    12 Gauge cord installed to Classe'25
    • Essential Sound Products ESP THE ESSENCE
    2 METER POWER CABLE. USED ON THETA DREADNAUGHT II POWER AMPLIFIER
    • Panamax M5400-pm
    Power management, surge, automatic voltage management, etc.

Comments 97

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: Replaced ECC88 tube in SP14 with JJ Tesla. First replacement of the tube since acquiring SP14 in January 2002.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: I just took delivery of my upgraded BDP-83 direct from Oppo this morning. I played the SACD versions of The Who's Tommy and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon plus track 12 of Hugh Masakela's CD Hope "Stimela". The SE version is like the '83 on steroids. I felt the regular '83 hyperdetailed but a little bit clinical in its presentation. The SE version is much more harmonically rich. There is a lot more texture to horns in the Masakela track in particular. Bass lines in Tommy track Sally Simpson are punchy, articulate, and very dynamic. Pinball Wizard was simply exquisite. Detail was revealed that I had never heard before and it was as exciting to listen to as the very first time I heard it in 1969. These are first impressions, but straight out of the box I found the SE to be very listenable in my system. Bravo to Oppo for a very cost effective mod to those of us that do not have HDMI 1.3 capability but want to experience lossless encoded multichannel audio. Also, I have to commend Oppo for delivering the mod on time as promised.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
I dropped off my Oppo BDP 83 at the Oppo Service Center for the SE modification, since I am using the Oppo's internal decoders for DTS/MA, Dolby TrueHD, SACD, & DVD/A.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
I have also installed the battery-biased Vandersteen M5-HP balanced crossovers as part of my latest system upgrade because the system as it is now configured lacks the internal crossovers with the proper slopes needed to send a high-pass signal to the front speakers.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
I am trying out an Integra RDC7 prepro in order to take advantage of the analog direct mode for my LP and CD systems as well as the multi-channel 5.1 analog input. We'll see if the fuss about DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD represents a worthwhile advancement.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
Also, the transition of the Maggie 3.6 to the 2WQ subwoofers is now unbelievably seemless. The Casanova's internal crossovers do a much better job than the passive Vandersteen X2 filter.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
After 6 weeks with the Dreadnaught II in my system, I'll have to say that it really elevated the overall performance of both movies and music. I should not have been surprised that Theta's Casanova would work so well with their own amplifier. Removing the Vandersteen X-2 passive filter and using the Casanova's own high pass filter has allowed me to be precise in the application of a 6 db filter instead of using trial by error in selecting the proper capacitor setting for the passive high pass. Secondly, the lively nature of the Casanova is a good match with the somewhat forgiving nature of the Dreadnaught. It is a synergistic match. The greatest area of improvement is in the overall coherence of the Maggie 3.6's. With the Classe'25, the tweeter, mid-driver, and woofer seemed to speak with separate voices at times. They would disappear at times, but not consistently. With the Dreadnaught, the 3.6 almost always matches the wonderful coherence that the 1.6QR has in spades. In addition, I am able to run the front three channels fully balanced as Theta designers intended.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: Unfortunately, the Casablanca II arrived DOA. The folks at Cherry Creek Audio were very patient. We ran through a number of diagnostics on the phone but could not come up with a solution. So the CBII did not work out for me and is being returned.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: The mighty Dreadnaught II arrived on Fedex today. I have utilized the crossovers in the Casanova to send a high pass signal to the Dreadnaught with Bluejeans Cables Balanced interconnects.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
A 3 x250 Theta Dreadnaught II will be taking over the front channel duties next week. The Classe'25 will be moved to rear surround duty.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: The Audio Research LS16 MkII is exiting my system after a very glorious stint. I am consolidating control of analog and digital sources with the upcoming acquistion of a Theta Casablanca II.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: I was getting some obnoxiously dirty ac the other night. The Panamax eliminated all noise in the ac. Also was able to clean up my power management with the 10 outlets.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
Big changes to come. I am finding that I am spending much more time watching movies and high def tv than listening to two channel audio whether it be vinyl lps, CDs, SACD, or DVD-A. Therefore, I am in the middle of consolidating my gear. My Rotel CD player, Genesis Lens, and Theta DS pro Basic IIIa have already left the building. Stay tune for further developments.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: Took delivery of the Oppo BDP-83 Blu-Ray player. Played some excerpts of BD's (Band of Brothers, A Bridge Too Far, Rattatouile, The Who at Kilburn) and DVD's (Battlestar Gallactica-Pegasus, Valkyrie and Grand Prix). The BD discs load very quickly (just about as quick as DVDs) and the picture quality is stunning. Oppo packaging is quite impressive for a $499 player (it is well packaged in a sturdy cardboard box with ample styrofoam and comes in a cloth bag!) and the apparent build quality of the player gives you a solid impression. They even printed the operating manual in expensive paper with a cardstock cover.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: Replaced the rear channel Spica Servo-Subwoofer with Hsu Research VTF-2.

jimburger

222222&text=ma
I've already been in and out of BluRay, I don't think it's going to make it. After the upgrade from AppleTV where you can get HD content (only 720p now), I believe that the next iterations of online content will be full 1080p, and that not too far away. I don't want to re-purchase all of my DVD's (over 400) on BluRay so I think I will keep those, and wait for the newer online content coming down the line.

Thanks, love you gear and set up too. I can't wait for my turntable to be all set up!!

macdadtexas

222222&text=ji
Owner
Thanks! I love your system too. Its hard to go wrong with the 3.6r and the latest Sony LCD flat panel displays.

Your next move could be a blu-ray player. Sony LCD flat panels are awesome with up-converted DVDs but you will be surprised by how good 1080p24 looks. Check out the Ironman Blu-ray disc. It is simply stunning.

jimburger

222222&text=ma
Our systems are so similar it's scaring me!! Needless to say I love yours!!!

macdadtexas

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: The old Toshiba Rpt finally gave up the ghost after nearly 6 years of service. It has been replaced by a Flat-panel LCD Sony Bravia KDL52v4100. It is mounted on a Verge steel tv stand with enough shelving for the center channel, my surround processor, and my video source components. New pictures of the revamped system will follow.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: Added Samsung Bluray player equipped with Reon HQV processor. Also replace Comcast HD cable with AT&T Homezone Dish Network box.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
Sonically, It does not seem to do any harm. Only front-end components are connected to it to protect them from brownout. The Tripplite makes audible clicking noises during situations when the line voltage is rapidly fluctuating.

jimburger

128x128
sounds nice questoin how is your tripp lite does it make a dif.

posterone

222222&text=ji
Owner
I added a 6 foot Bluejeanscables HDMI-DVI-D cable to take advantage of the Denon 756s'HDMI/DVI scaler. After making adjustments with Video Essentials DVD, results in a stunning picture in the 1080i HDMI setting. The picture was detailed without much noise. Color saturation and skin tones were much more natural than DVD's through the component inputs. The Toshiba 50HDX-82 rear projection CRT's DVI/HDCP input was designed for best performance with 1080i HD signals according to the owner's manual and it proved a synergistic matchup with the Denon 756s DVD player.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: The Sony DVD player has been replaced by a Denon 756S progressive scan DVD player with Faroujda DCDi chip.

jimburger

222222&text=ji
Owner
System edited: On Saturday afternoon two weeks ago we said goodbye to Peewee, our good companion of almost 17 years. Yesterday, I installed Theta Casanova to replace my faithful DC-1. I admit that it was partly because I needed a project to take my mind off of Peewee. Theta processors are notorious for being a challenge to program and the Casanova was no exception. However, I think the preliminary results are quite satisfactory. With the Lexicon, I could not use a digital input for the Comcast Cable signal. It would lock up the DC-1. It presented no problem for the Theta. Dolby Digital sound with HDTV programs is really a big improvement over analog. There are endless setup options to tweak and tune. The Lexicon was child's play to get it so sound at its best. I certainly wouldn't recommend Theta to a person trying to set up his first surround sound system. Sonically, the Theta is more detailed than the DC-1. But I really had to work to get it to sound very good at all. With the Lex, you calibrate your levels once and you are basically done. With the Theta, after you calibrate the global levels, you have to tweak the levels and delays for Dolby Digital, DTS, and Circle Surround in turn. This can result in surround steering even better than the Lexicon can achieve but after much more work. I probably spent 5 times the amount of time setting up the Theta than the Lex.

jimburger

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