I started with good audio systems about 30 years ago, with my first being a Pioneer 727, EPI 100's, and a Philips turntable. I still have fond memories of that set-up.
Since then the two channel system morphed into a Home theater / surround system about 15 years ago, with 2 channel being the primary emphasis, which is why I have seperate amps for the mains and the center/surround speakers.
This system is in a 28x30ft basement of a townhouse with 4 full windows that makes the video a challenge at times. I've decided I won't go with a projector because of the amount of ambient light in the room. I will be looking for a 70+ DLP or D-ILA screen in the near future.
I had dedicated AC and grounds installed when I moved in, and there's LOTs of outlets everywhere so I can move things around and not worry about power.
I do about 30% movies, 30% concert DVD's and 40% music. I'm surprised more people haven't gotten into concert DVD's. Best of all worlds - you're in comfortable surroundings, virtually on stage with great performers, with a sound system that will never be duplicated in a concert venue.
The Sunfire / Bryston / Martin Logan combination works well in any mode.
These Ascent i's were an upgrade from some SL3's, and have all the positive attributes of the SL3, while sounding bigger and better in every way. This pair has the ETC spikes and light cherry rails.
Martin Logan Aerius i
I love these things. I have them mounted up 2 feet so I get the stat panel sound at my sitting position. If I ever get the Ascent i's, I'll move the SL3's to the rear and the Aerius i's somewhere else. Wonderful little speaker.
Martin Logan Cinema
Works well with the SL-3's, but I'd like to try the Theater i to see what it sounds like.
Revel Performa B-15
I think I've tried all the different subs, and the only thing I liked better was the Aerial SW12, but it's $2k more. I'll probably add a second B-15 sometime just for complete overkill, but it's fully adequate with one in a 30x 22 room.
Sunfire Theater Grand III
I think this thing is way underrated for both Surround and as a two channel preamp. Great sound, Burr Brown Dac's as found in much more expensive pieces, analog pass through, incredible flexibility and (yes) a couple of guilty pleasure gimmicks. But the Sonic Hologram is digital in this one, and it's effect is sometimes stunning. The Perfect Vision gave this one a strong recommendation, but I know there's a lot of snickers because it's Sunfire. I've tried a number of other pre's, and the only one that I'd consider buying over this is the Casablanca. The only thing I wish it had was the potential to set speaker crossovers and other parameters differently for the different sources.
Nice piece with lots of reserves, and mates very well with the "tubey" sounding Sunfire. I characterize it as neutral sounding, and it sure grabs the woofers by the cajones and won't let go.
This used to be my main amp and now does surround and center channel duty. A great bang-for-the-buck piece, with some nice features such as signal sensing turn-on so the Martin Logans aren't always turning on like they would if it was just a 12V trigger. Very neutral sounding.
A non descript changer that works fine as a transport.
Enlightened Audio Design DSP-7000
I tried quite a few DAC's, including very highly rated in various mags, and found this one to do a great job. Works well with the Denon changer.
Universal DVD, DVD-A and SACD player. Video is better than its audio performance, but I won't be making any more significant investments in DVD-A or SACD until there's a LOT more source material. This unit has had reliability issues too, so I won't get another Pioneer.
Transparent Super and Ultra
Found thse to be the most neutral in this system. I like to enjoy the system and don't want to obsess over cables, so I tried a few brands and settled on Transparent.
Transparent Super Bi-wire
Like the interconnects, I found the Transparent to have the most neutral resolution, and thought the Supers were the best value.
Transparent Plus and Super
I am far less convinced than many others here regarding aftermarket power cables, so I went with Transparent's after my experience with the interconnects and speaker cables, as well as my dealings with the Transparent factory which was truly excellent.
Annoying that this thing reads 120v, 122v, 119v, but it's plugged in to the AVS 2000, that's supposed to give 120v all the time. I emailed Monster and they had a half dozen reasons why it doesn't matter - calibration, variance etc. Geeesh, for a combined $2700 they should say what they mean!
Sometimes my wall voltage is 4 volts off according to this thing, and I have dedicated AC. Wow. seems to work as advertised.
Power conditioner. Because of the distance of the ML's and the TV to the big power conditioner, I plug the speakers and TV into this, then into the AVS 2000. Seems like a better solution than power cord extensions, particularly for the TV. It sits flat up against the TV.
Hitachi 57 - Ultravision
Unbelievable HD picture. Good on DVD and regular cable. Hasn't been calibrated yet. I want to go bigger, but insist that the new tube has to have two DVI or HDMI inputs for cable and HD-DVD. Looks like only Hitachi has that (in the 70 inch DLP set).
Auralex 2 inch foam
Guys, if you haven't tried this stuff you're making a mistake. I see some really nice systems on here with bare walls, and I'm almost crying to send some out. Look, it's cheap - 2 x 4 piece is $20 at Guitar Center, and works like mad. It also comes in multiple colors and shapes - look at their site - www.auralex.com. You can even email them with a picture of your room and they'll work with you. Before you make your next investment in equipment, spend $100 - $200 on this stuff and be prepared to be amazed!
Auralex Bass Traps
$29 at Guitar Center. Will make a $1,000 difference.
Salamander 2 x 5 Archetype
Good rack - holds a LOT of heavy stuff and doesn't complain. Very sturdy. Optional casters make moving it around convenient, but it's still a nail biter with all that equipment on it. Infinitely adjustable shelves are great when you change equipment a lot. Also can change arrangement to put shelves side by side - nice system but more than a bit overpriced, and always check your box - Salamander isn't the best at making sure everything is there which is a real pain when you're trying to get it set up, then have to wait a week for a bolt or top cap.
Great system Mr. 'Snofun3. I recognize "my" EAD DAC and I believe "my" Mackie board over with the guitars. They are in a much better home now and its nice to here them at a greater potential. I've heard your system over the years, in between ski runs, and it keeps getting better. However, you must tell your listeners that somewhere between your stereo days (v23.5) and the current home theater setup (v12.6), a mutual acquaintance uttered those two subtle but earth shaking quotes: "Babes like bass!" and "Gee, "X's" system sounds good." (X was my old 1970's dinosaur setup). The resulting transformation produced your newest systems, each devouring my fossils for lunch. Then, after a few corrective audio sessions, while stapled to the sweet spot, I have to thank you for the treat! I'll hear the new acoustic panels during my next session. I once used cardboard egg trays to dampen a basement drum studio back in high school! Im dying to hear the effect.
Hopefully this music is your cup-of-tea, because these are all excellent:
Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense Steely Dan - Two Against Nature Stevie Ray Vaughn - Live from Auston Roger Watter - In the flest Rolling Stones - At the Max Rolling Stones - Four Flicks Sheryl Crowe - Rocking the Globe Live The Band - the last Waltz Led Zepplin - DVD
Check the threads, as there's been a couple of "best of" threads in the past 6 months. Enjoy.
Thanks for the Shunyatadescription. I talked with my dealer about the Shunyata and he echoes your words regarding it being a step (or two, or three) beyond the Monster, although he also has reservations on whether it's as effective with dedicated lines. He's a dealer for both, so I suspect he knows what's what. I'm traveling for the next couple of weeks but I'll borrow a piece from him when I get back. Best Regards.
I don't know how shunyata fares compared to monster in dedicated lines ... I don't have any, one of the downsides of renting an apartment... but I did use monster's HTS 5100 prior and was warned to avoid piggybacking the 7000 AC filter on top of it by a retailer due to current limiting issues. The monster gear worked really well for video, but that's where its benefits ended in my system ... introducing the hydra was like opening up the music and lifting the veil off ... the difference was obvious ... I now use shunyata in both systems and would recommend it for sure ... see if you can audition one (with a 20 amp IEC powercord for it), that way you'll know for sure if it works for you. If not PS Audio, Sound Applications, Richard Gray and Transparent Audio may be of interest to you ... I have come to think that powerconditioning is key to getting the best out of a system ... as is proper isolation.
The Aeon'i are part of my HT system ... which is more or less mid-fi ... certainly not as well setup as your system, but I still love the sound coming out of it ... it has that electrostatic appeal on a moderate budget (Logos, Clarity surrounds, Audio Refinement Pre-2 DSP and Multi-5 amp, Modwright Sony NS999ES universal player with external powersupply, all ic's from pre to amp are Revelation Audio Labs (RAL) paradise, ic's from player to pre are monster sigma retro gold, digital ic to pre is also RAL's prophecy (for movies only, music is played via pure analog path only), sc's are cardas cross to fronts and mit to rears, an older shunyata hydra 4 with a variety of powercords from audioquest/shunyata/RAL/cardas throughout) ... a small headphone system runs off it as well (Musical Fidelity X-can3 with Sennheiser 600's and the cardas headphone cable, ic's are cardas neutral reference) ... bass is augmented by a Tannoy TS 10 sub, but I prefer to run the Aeon i's full range for music, the Tannoy can't really keep up with them so it's limited to movies and I'm limited in the low end for music playback by the Aeon i's output here ... putting them on granite blocks helped a bit.
My other system is where the magic happens ... there I plan to listen to a few tracks from a CD and end up until my wife wants to go to bed ... which unfortunately is in the same room ... can't have it all! Together with my wife we chose cones for this system (Revelation Audio Mistral S6 with sub6, these are wonderfully emotional sounding speakers that blew us away at the Montreal show this year) and we have no regrets ... I used to think electrostatics were the only choice for music or movies, but I've come to realize that some cones have a certain way of communicating emotion like no other electrostatic out there ... weather it's due to coloration or not is irrelevant ... in this system they are amazing.
Amperidian, Thank you for the nice words. Hmmm, if you use Ascent's in your second system, what's in the first? I haven't gotten too deeply into the power conditioning thing as I had all dedicated circuits installed when I moved in, so maybe I underestimate the effect. Given dedicated lines, do you think there would be much to be gained going from Monster to Shunyata?
Great system snofun, I use the Ascent i's in my second system and they are very nice and sooooo open, like electrostatics of course. I see you've addressed the bottom end with a revel (those things are scary in terms of the output that they're capable of ... for movies of course) ... just wanted to say congrats, your work is awesome.
Have you ever considered shunyata powerconditioning instead of the monster gear that you use now?
Aroc - I agree with you on the potential for Dramamine with some of the amateurish video of big acts I've seen - even live Stevie Winwood in concert this summer was enough to make you try not o watch - what're they thinking? Don't assume they're all bad however - I suggest you try Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense, Steely Dan, Two Against Nature, Roger Waters -In The Flesh, Stevie Ray Vaughn - From Austin, Anything Roling Stones -(you can even "pick a Stone" on the latest DVD via the angle adjustment - 20 minutes of Keith? You'd better have an iron constitution), The Band - The Last Waltz....
As for concert DVDs, most of the rocks acts on DVD that I've watched cut very quickly between cameras and different angles constantly. And I mean constantly. It's not like being at a concert at all. I find it very annoying. I'm assuming DVDs of classical music are probably different in that regard.
I'd just assume they stay on one camera (for 30-90 seconds at least) and allow me to use the ANGLE button on the remote if I want to flip angles. Two thumbs down. YMMV.
Thanks Jim, This is the second time I've tried to respond, but the AGon nannies have been a bit over-the-top lately (a little heavy handed eh boys?) I'll be putting up some new pictures as that section of the room has changes quite a bit with a MicroKorg synthesizer and other goodies having gotten in. I know it's not a purist thing to have concert DVD's, but it would seem difficult to me to get too much closer to the real experience.
I love your "playroom"! I play a little bit of guitar myself(Mostly blues and classic rock on my PRS Custom 22, Gibson Les Paul Studio, G&L Bluesboy, Sigma HD-28, Mesa-Boogie DC-2, and Fender Blues Junior). Unfortunately, I don't have a dedicated music room. It was supposed to be the upstairs office, but I share that room with my wife who does some home office stuff. Downstairs in the living room/dining room area is where I spend with my wife watching tv, movies, or listening to music on our main system. So I don't have much opportunity to play plugged-in. Most of my playing the last few years has been plunking about with my Sigma acoustic, although I am an electric player at heart.
I agree that it is surprising more folks aren't enthused with concert DVD's. It is a great way to enjoy your favorite bands.
I had issues with ambient light in my home theater viewing area. While perusing JoAnn fabric looking for some material to cover a poker table I ran across some material called blackout cloth. The light bulb went off. I bought enough to make a covering for each window and came up with a mounting system that is unobtrusive and lets me put up or take down the blackout cloth in a matter of minutes. When not in use I just roll-up the "curtains" and store them.
Keep in mind that Martin Logan (and I suspect Maggie) suggest that you set the center speaker as "small" on the processor, so the bottom end rolls over to the subwoofer.
I set the Logan to cross over at 80 cycles to the sub, and it works well there. The Maggie could require its own dedicated sub that you could add later.
Maybe others might know what matches best with Innersound. While it makes sense to go with the same technology, given your constraints, you might find something that's worked well for others that doesn't cost a fortune.
Boy what a nic set-up!..I just got Innersound speakers and now want to try to match a center to the front end, Innersound does not make one so my options are less then ideal at best, the Logan seems great but I am too poor for one, I would also like to try the Eminent Tech center but again too pricy for me. So maybe the Cheap Maggie MGM c will be ok for now...only down too 100hz sucks though, but at $299 new..hard to beat for me. I am going to email you and ask for thoughts, and again great set-up!