I have enjoyed working closely with several small manufacturers to build a very musically satisfying system. Lou Hinkley recently built me a pair of Daedalus Audio Apollo's that feature a custom quartersawn oak finish to match our Stickley heirloom furniture. I am thoroughly enjoying his latest design work! Over the last year or so I've come to know Mark Schneider from Linear Tube Audio who builds some terrific amplifiers using David Berning designs. I recently purchased an LTA Ultralinear amplifier which works brilliantly with Daedalus speakers--a match made in heaven! I have known Keith Herron for several years having purchased his VTPH-2 phonostage after reading a number of glowing reviews. It is by far the finest phonostage I've owned and the recent "A" upgrades take it to another level. I liked the phonostage so much I purchased his highly regarded VTSP-3A linestage which has been updated to Revision 3 status (or "R03" for short). Finally, after a year of planning and collaboration with Harry and Mat I took delivery of my new VPI Prime Scout "Supreme" which is phenomenal. Very pleased! I would encourage anyone considering equipment purchases from "better known" or "big name" audio manufacturers to seek out these "artisan" outfits--you won't be disappointed. Their equipment is first rate and the service and support for their clients is second to none. Highly recommended!!
Very excited to share the details of my "Prime Scout Supreme"--a collaborative design effort that came to fruition over the past year with enthusiastic support from Harry and Mat. I approached these guys with a design challenge--I wanted to upgrade from my 10 year old Scout to a table that would deliver the highest possible performance and still fit on my Target wall shelf. Recent product developments and the unwavering support and patience of the crew at VPI brought about the following result:
The Table: The new "curvey" Prime Scout plinth is mated to a Prime platter/bearing secured from below by a Prime Signature locking plate. A Prime motor drives the platter/bearing assembly. Mini HRX feet (with Symposium "Classic Footer Damping Inserts") isolate and support the plinth.
The Arm: The new VPI-production version (first off the line!) of the 10" gimbald "Levinson" arm with a robust bearing housing made from stainless steel (rather than aluminum), ABEC 9 bearings (rather than ABEC 7) and 3D arm tube. The arm is mounted to the VTA tower which sits on a custom spacer made from high density tool steel (the spacer alone weighs about 3 pounds--my dad is a machinist so this was his contribution!) so the arm is elevated to the proper height for the Prime platter. Nordost premium wire for the tonearm and RCA junction box. The new "American" arm lift rounds out the package.
The Cartridge: Soundsmith MIMC Star
The Sound: Breathtaking
I cannot fully express my gratitude to Mat and Harry for making my audiophile dream come true. This is my end of the line turntable and every time I cue up an LP I will recall with fondness their passion, humility and expertise. VPI represents what is great about America--family owned, innovative and fully dedicated to supporting their customers with the best possible products and service.
Soundsmith MIMC Star
Low output moving iron cartridge replaced my wonderful ART 9. The MIMC Star has a very visceral sound--punchy, fast, meat-on-the-bone with good detail retrieval. Lower compliance makes it a better match for my arm than the ART 9.
Herron Audio VTPH-2A
The Herron VTPH-2A has been the most satisfying upgrade to my entirely revamped analogue playback system. Quiet, spacious, dynamic with tremendous inner detail. I doubt I'll need or own another phonostage.
Herron Audio VTSP-3A (R03)
Keith Herron's linestage in Revision 3 with a number of upgrades that improve clarity, bass, imaging and inner detail. It has all the features you need and none that you don't and sounds exceptional--super quiet, detailed, natural, with great timing and drive.
Linear Tube Audio Ultralinear Power Amplifier
From the brilliant David Berning perhaps his most compelling low power ZOTL amplifier yet. Uses TV sweep tubes (like the ZH-230) and a radical switching power supply to deliver 20 wpc of extraordinarily clean and musical power.
The latest from speaker guru and musician Lou Hinkley and Daedalus Audio. These replaced my beloved, tricked out DA-1.1 V2's. They sound simply phenomenal--so engaging, organic and warm with gobs of musical detail. Paired with the LTA Ultralinear they produce some of the best sound I have ever heard regardless of price.
Empirical Design ED-422
Superior to many cables I've tried at less cost. I ran these against Audience Au-24, Soundstring, Fusion Audio Romance, Dynamic Design and JPS Labs SC-3 and found them to be the best value. The JPS and Fusion Audio sounded slightly more detailed, spacious and natural but are harder to work with and considerably more money.
Empirical Design ED-416
Excellent performance but stiff like their speaker cable. I would not recommend these in tight spaces where multiple turns are required.
Empirical Design ED-316
New to Karl's lineup and just added to my system as a power cord for my Modwright LS100 and Esoteric X03SE. The ED-316 has fewer conductors than the ED-416 and is thus thinner and more flexible. Great product for low power sources, easily besting my original version Audience Powerchord.
WyWires/Daedalus Audio Speaker Cable Reference Series
Speaker cables jointly developed by WyWires and Daedalus to provide synergistic performance. Cable topology mirrors Daedalus Apollo internal wiring. I consider these cables a necessity for Daedalus owners as they elevated the performance of my system considerably--much more vivid color and detail but more relaxed and spacious at the same time.
Open tiered rack system. Well made and easy to assemble. I'm using Lovan cable guides to keep things in place.
Audeze LCD2 Rev 2
Planar magnetic headphones. Musically satisfying with extraordinary build quality and comfort.
Music Collection Basement Rack
My collection of vinyl, CD and SACD titles
Recently upgraded to the new K-03xs after many happy years with my trusty X-03se. Still waiting to connect up and see how it sounds!
Ayre Acoustics LX-5se
Power conditioner used with my front end components. Connected to wall with Pangea power cord.
Hey guys--just updated my system with some recent changes. Added a K-03xs which I think will be my last disc spinner. LTA transferred my "shoebox" Ultralinear to the new Fern and Roby case and I upgraded the 12AU7 and 12AX7 input tubes to Amperex "Bugle Boys" as well as replaced the four 17JN6 power tubes. Also added an Ayre LX-5se power conditioner for my low level components--my new listening room does not have a dedicated line with multiple outlets so on a very knowledgeable friend's recommendation I decided to go with the Ayre. I also upgraded the cables between my amp and preamp with WyWires Platinum series. Looking forward to getting everything hooked up in my new space and seeing how it all sounds!
Hey Folks--Over the holidays I took delivery on a new pair of Daedalus Audio Apollo speakers. These are handcrafted from quartersawn white oak stained to match our furnishings with a lovely inlay pattern. I have been breaking them in over the past few weeks and will report on the sound once I have enough hours on them. At this stage the sound is very promising--retaining the natural, organic tonality of all Lou's designs with higher resolution and more precise staging than my previous pair of DA-1.1s. A full report to follow!
Thanks Dan--I've had several of the VPI unipivots and enjoyed them but the opportunity to try their 3D Gimbaled arm was too good to pass up. I really like the solid feel and the bearings are just perfect--taught yet effortless. Combined with the 3D arm tube it just makes great music. Really looking forward to the new Apollo's--hopefully not too much longer as I've been without music now for a while and I'm going crazy! Best to you and thanks for chiming in!
I owned a Scout signature for several years, and enjoyed it. I did, though, tire of the JMW "wobble". I see your new table has the Levinson arm, so it makes for a more stable platform.
I went a very different direction, by restoring a Garrard 401, DIY plinth, and Dynavector 501 arm. It would seem we are both happy, so congrats on your unique VPI table and arm, it is great that Harry and Matt worked with you like they did. The rest of your system is very special, and must reflect that in how it sounds.
You've come a long way since you first posted a Virtual System (I think we both started here about the same time). Getting your new speakers must have you on pins and needles, like a kid waiting for Christmas. I know that's how I would be.
Just posted a few updates to my system. New speakers on the way (Daedalus Apollo) and finally put up some pictures of the awesome LTA Ultralinear that will provide amplification. I am expecting delivery of the Apollo's sometime this fall and will post actual photos when they are positioned in my listening room. Can't wait!!
Just received my VTSP-3A back from Keith who updated the unit to R03 status. Keith Herron is such a joy to work with--I have such high regard for his integrity and client support. I will post a review on the updated unit once it breaks in and provide some illustrations of how great it is to own Herron Audio products.
Thanks, Ptss. The openings forced me to set up on the long wall of the room but it worked out in the end in terms of releasing any bass energy that might build in the corners thru the openings into the hallway. Overall, a pretty good room though I wish it was a little larger.....I have thought about treating the wall with some artistic absorption panels I've seen online but have not gotten around to it....thanks for inspiring me to look into this again.
System edited: System updated with new photos of speakers with latest woofer trim rings added. These add to the visual beauty of the speaker and subtly enhance the performance in the bass and lower midrange. Well worth the investment!
I had the same reaction to the news of the V2 upgrades because I was extremely happy with my DA-1.1APs. But a number of positive posts by people who did the V2 upgrades over on the AC and speaking with Lou convinced me to box up my speakers and send them out. I was nervous about potential damage and hoping it was going to be worth the system downtime and expense--for sure, it was.
In recent weeks, I've made some changes upstream, in my digital front end.
I've been thoroughly enjoying each listening session, and prior to reading this, I have wondered how the newer models can actually sound "better." ...and along comes an upgrade that surpasses the AP XO.
Thanks for posting your comments on the V2 upgrade.
Just a quick post to chime in on this thread now that my DA-1.1's have returned from Washington with the new V2 upgrades. The speakers arrived just before the holiday (great timing--thanks Santa, uh, I mean Lou) so I had plenty of time to let them settle in and do some extended listening. I'll try not to repeat what has already been said here and will try to put together a much more long winded "review" when I have more time but I would certainly agree that this is a "game changer" for Lou's entire lineup which pushes his speakers into an exalted status far, far beyond the price point. I have been fortunate to have had the AP upgrade completed several years ago and that was a big jump in performance--more speed, dynamics, agility and effortless sound without any loss of the tonality that makes Lou's speakers so very special. To my ear the V2 upgrades offer as big a gain as the AP crossover network but of a different type. This is all about refinement and purity, with an added touch of high frequency sparkle and heightened spatial cues--again, all brought forth without any downsides. With the V2 upgrades I find performance much more compelling as the subtle nuances of both voice and instruments are brought to life in my living room. This is really about both the unique qualities of the performers voice and singing style and the way in which instruments sound when played live, with the initial transients and subsequent decay faithfully preserved. For example, one track I played several times was Lyle Lovett's "Highway Kind" from his "Step Inside This House" covers of Texas songwriters. To listen to him sing and play this song is truly a thing of wonder. The guitar is so real, so live sounding that it knocks you over and then he starts to sing and his entire being simply appears before you in the room. At the end of the song he must lean forward or back because you can hear a creak as the guitar strap rubs on the body--spooky, and just like it would sound live. I'm also getting a bit more energy up top with the V2 upgrades--again, with no downside fatigue or lack of coherence. Just a bit more extension and sparkle that sounds more real and natural that before. I listened to a number of well recorded jazz LPs and was completely stunned by the shimmer and decay of the cymbals--again as you would experience them live. I am also shocked by the dimensionality of the sound with the V2 mods in place. The speakers completely disappear and the music emerges from a void in total 3D--eerie to the point where I found myself laughing out loud with my eyes closed--fun! I could go on but will stop for now and say that I could not be happier with the magic Lou has pulled off here. To be able to get this kind of performance jump without having to move up the line and abandon the beautiful custom cabinets that Lou built for me back in 2008 is phenomenal and a testament to Lou's dedication to his clients--many of whom, like myself, consider him family. This is a no brainer for all Daedalus owners and for those who are considering joining the family I cannot think of a reason on earth why you wouldn't want to pull the trigger, given the price to performance ratio and variety of models to choose from. Thanks again Lou--it has been a great ride and I am grateful for all your support and assistance along the way!
As to the technical aspects of the upgrade, Lou is a little tight-lipped about these things. I do know that there are modifications to the crossovers which are designed to eliminate phase anomalies as well as changes to the internal wiring feeding the tweeter which are designed to let that driver communicate more effectively.
Bottom line: These are very appreciable upgrades to the sound of an already fabulous speaker. Highly recommended!
Just sent my DA-1.1AP's back to Lou for the "Version 2" upgrades. Really looking forward to the improvements based on what others have reported. I'll post something once I get them back and broken in--sometime after the holidays.
Great system! I am thinking of buying a Scout 1.1 so I arrived here reading thread comments regarding cartridges for it. I agree phono pre-amp is crucial to get best sound from any combination. Again, great system - enjoy!!
System edited: Just added Keith Herron's latest linestage--the VTSP-3A R02. The new unit is said to surpass the prior VTSP-3A in clarity, bass, dynamics and soundstage. Straight out of the box it is a glorious sounding unit--I'll report back in detail once I have a few more weeks of serious listening under my belt.
System edited: I recently had my Modwright KWA150 upgraded to a "Signature Edition". I really wasn't expecting such a significant improvement in the sound (though many users have reported this result). Wow! The KWA150SE is a revelation--much more relaxed, dynamic and effortless with a very spacious presentation that adds several layers to the soundstage. Though not inexpensive, I would certainly recommend this upgrade to owners of standard KWA150's who are looking to elevate system performance in a meaningful way. This may be the best $2K I ever spent on my system!
It sure does! The angle of the photo and the lens of the cheap point and shoot I used really makes it appear higher than it really is. I'm 6'3" and when standing in front of the table it is about chin level so I guess maybe for some folks it would be too high--all the better to deter little people from mucking around with it.
Hey, thank you! Dan was great to work with and very helpful with post-sale support. The Modwright electronics mate very well with Lou's Daedalus speakers, which are very satisfying. I appreciate your comments.