I might actually be done. I find that this is the system sound I have been looking for. It can be played from very low volume levels to very high volume and gives me what I am looking for. The mid range defines the system and it is all there. The low end is present but not overwhelming and the system can be listened to for hours without being fatiguing. I have it tweeked with my room. My concentration has been on buying music. . Thats it for now. Stephen
Golden Reference Speaker cable, Interconnects: Golden Reference amp to pre am, Golden Reference CD to Pre Amp, 300B Microtwin DVD to Pre Amp, Power Cords: All Golden Reference except Twinlink on DVD Player
Running Springs Audio Haley & Duke Power Conditioners
Power Conditioners Haley for pre-amp, cd player, and dvd player Duke for amps
Danielk, this has nothing to do with "my amp is better than yours". You're just trying to make me crack at you. Fact is, because i'm a friend of Steve's, I don't mind dealing out a bit of tough love. I note nearly every thread you have replied to on this forum involved Rowland amplifiers, so I question your ability to remain objective. It's a well known fact that Dealer's troll this forum parading as every day members. The difference between you and me is, I have Steve's best interests at heart, you have your own.
Anyway, i'm tired of wasting my time. It is clear there is no point in me sharing my experience, so I am no longer going to bother doing that.
Danielk, I have heard Rowland amps many times in my Dealer's showroom in a well treated room, so i'm familiar with their sound. I found the far more expensive and superior 625 stereo and 725 mono blocks sweet sounding & very transparent, but fatiguing over a long listening session. I don't know how many amps you have heard, but try listening to a fully warmed up Boulder 1060 for 2 hours, then switch to Rowland 625 or 725 mono's. There is just some processed artifice which screws up the sound at high frequencies. Class D would be worse as it is nearly impossible to eliminate the ringing artifacts common to class D. Bottom line once again, if it was so good, why aren't Vitus, Boulder, Gryphon, FM Acoustics, Soulution or Goldmund using it?
Danielk, the real issue with class D is I (and many other supposedly biased audiophiles on this site) find class D fatiguing over long listening sessions. And the inevitable fact is, class D is popular mainly because it is a space and especially cost saving means of achieving high power output (hence why it is popular in car audio). Again I ask you, if it is so good, why aren't Boulder and Vitus embracing Class D with all their resources? Of Rowland's stereo amps, the 625 was the nicest i'd heard, but still left me feeling a bit fatigued after a moderate listening session.
Steve, noooo tell me it isn't so! From Class A to Class D? That's like going from a fuel injection to carburetors. I know Rowland claims he's mastered Class D, and yes he has put a lot of research into it, but if Class D was so good wouldn't Vitus and Boulder be using Class D? It's not like those engineering houses lack the resources to employ Class D. Fact is, like Rowland's switch mode power supplies and extensive use of op amps, class d is just a space and money saving measure (hence why it is popular in car audio). If I were you, i'd consider a Rowland 625 which is a better option, or even a 2nd hand McCormack DNA-500 which would be a lot cheaper. A bit of tough love buddy.
Hi Steve, My Dealer told me that the Criterion pre offers 95% of the performance of the Criterion (an $18k preamp), so i'd expect it to sound appreciably better than your Capri. Remember the preamp is the heart of your system, and if you like the synergy between Rowland & Pass, you can't really go wrong. Plus the Corus looks really cool. Here is a link to my reclusive buddy's system - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdIe-k-jl44 He is using Pass x-260.5 monos with his Criterion. I belong to the same web forum he belongs to & he had this to say about the Corus in his Showcase after upgrading from Capri - "After i got the corus, i can hear it changes my system dramatically. More soundstage and dynamic."
Speaking of amps, I was recently offered a 6 month old Vitus SIA-025 integrated amp in mint condition for only $3.6k changeover from my Dealer. That amp would have been a sweety paired with my current Marten Altos, but as I am planning a speaker upgrade soon to full size towers, I declined as although the Vitus is warmer & tube-like, the Boulder is quieter and has more power. I then reflected on what my Dealer had long being saying to me that the 1060/1010 combination is awesome! So long story short, I will be upgrading to a Boulder 1010 pre later this year. It is a lovely pre with a cool green display like ARC & excellent metal remote. Have a read of the comments section of my review of the Boulder 1060 if you like - http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/frr.pl?ramps&1325668343&&&/Boulder-1060-Amplifier-
On the speaker front, I've decided to sell my much loved Coltrane Altos & upgrade to a pair of piano black Magico S5's when they come out in the next couple of months. The S5's use most the drivers used in the Q series & dynamically far exceed my Altos. After that, my cd player will be next on my upgrade list & i'll probably upgrade to the new model Vitus signature series cdp due out at the end of the year. The Vitus will add further warmth, but if I still feel I need a bit more warmth/richness I can always upgrade my cables to warmer sounding cables (eg: KS/ Siltech).
Hi Steve, yes I did endeavor to pass on your details to my audiophile friend, but it seems he is not receptive to hearing from me. Let's just say he wanted my Boulder amp, but was too late...my Dealer offered it to me first. Shrug, high end audio can be very competitive, and ego's are often very fragile. Ces't la vie. Fwiw, I think you should stick to your gut feeling. The Corus is definitely a good step up from the Capri, and quite close to the Criterion in most situations, so I doubt a move to that pre would cause regret. In my view the preamp is the heart of your system, so it deserves a good investment in both time and money.
Also I think the hysteria around the demise of cd's is over-stated and premature. Yes, cd's will fade out, but I see it as a gradual subsiding, and nowhere near becoming and extinct format. I think there is still room for cd's to evolve, and agree there will be labels and businesses which actively support the cd format, and of course boutique audiophile re-sellers will continue to strongly support cd's, and likely increase their range into more mainstream music as retailers begin to phase out cd sales. I agree with you, I think downloads are soulless when you consider the sanitized process of 'acquiring' music right through to the often less than musical results.
Yes i've heard the Corus on a couple of occasions, on both occasions with the 625 power amp. The sound was wonderful; sweet, open & airy. But to what extent the 625 am contributed is hard to say. I have a friend who has Pass xa-160.5's & used to have a Capri pre before upgrading to the Corus. I'll pass on your details to him & ask if he can get in contact with you.. Regards, MG
Hi Steve, I know with my Class A preamp I attributed the long(ish)(250hrs) break in time to the large power supplies & caps. With Class a power amps, I would have thought the higher bias would speed up rather than slow down the burn in process? It also depends on the parts bin; ARC's Ref5SE apparently takes 400+hrs to break in due to its teflon caps. Am heading away on a short holidays soon & plan to finish setting up my current system with my new tt. Will email some photos when i'm back. Cheers, MG.
Congratulations Steve, your system looks pretty serious now. I think the Pass xp-20 should sound very coherent and resolving & complement your xa-100's well. I think you've chosen well & i'm sure the xp-20 will bring you many years of enjoyment!
Hi Steve, Yes there are many different paths to achieving system synergy and getting the right tonal balance, dynamic response, quality/level of bass etc. I respect Nelson Pass. The Pass monos are real sweeties & produce wonderful sound. It's funny, I would apply the same sound description you used to describe the Pass amps to the Ayon preamps. In my set up, the Boulder provides tremendous power & authority, transparency, organic sound and inner detail. The Boulder's tonal balance is essentially neutral, but every so slightly on the warm side of neutral i'd say. The pair sound wonderful together, so I can only imagine how much better the Ayon Orbis will be! Btw, I posted my impressions of the Boulder/Ayon pairing in my review of the Boulder 1060 if you're interested. Let me know how the XP-20 pre works out! As that pre was voiced to match your mono blocks, the synergy should be excellent. Can't wait!
Steve, that's the real key. Boulder amps sound brilliant; very quiet, powerful, resolving & transparent. Feedback i've read from other owners seem to indicate all-Boulder set ups can sound a bit 'thin' sounding and overly transparent, especially with ceramic accutons. So although I can fully appreciate the extreme resolution and transparency of valve pre's like the VTL TL-7.5 & Vacuum State RTP3D, and even the ARC Ref 5SE, you can have too much of a good thing. The latter option tempted me (being a single chassis unit), but ARC are pushing the tonal balance more toward a neutral/thin sound. Actually i've read a couple of comments on the 'gon which sugggest the Ref 3 is a better match with the Boulder because of it's warmer/more lush sound. I'll give the Orbis a try anyway & see if I like it.
Hi Steve, I agree the newer ARC pre's have a leaner sound which leans toward ss accuracy as I related earlier. The earlier models up to the SP-10 had a warmer, bloomier sound but are really not SOTA now. For my own part, I am upgrading to an Ayon Orbis class A tube pre later this year. The Orbis is a superb valve pre & has a regenerator power supply. The Orbis will give me a nice combination of Austrian engineering, tube warmth, transparency/holography & sweetness which will balance out my Boulder amps & Martens well. I also plan to sell my Ayon CD-5s & upgrade to the (yet to be released) Vitus SCD-025. The Orbis pre will stay unless (and until) a Vitus SL-102 comes up for trade, otherwise i'll upgrade my vinyl deck next year. Happy days!
Steve, it really depends on the type of sound you like. Those (like me) who like tube textures/warmth would miss having tubes somewhere in the mix, whilst others would be in heaven with all ss. See if you can get an XP20 on audition for a week & see if you like it.
Hi Steve, I haven't had the benefit of listening to an ARC pre, but have read extensively about them in forums & reviews. By all reports, ARC changed direction after the SP-10 from a warmer, more lush sound to a leaner, more accurate one. In the single chassis ARC pre's, only the latest Ref 5SE has really addressed a perceived lack of bass. The LS-27 has wide bandwidth & a hybrid Jfet/6h30 output circuit. Output impedance shouldn't be a problem for your Pass amps at 700ohms balanced (350ohms SE), though my preference would be to run balanced and gain the benefits of common mode rejection & higher s/n. Overall, I would expect the ARC to sound less warm and leaner than a CJ or Ayon pre & offer good but not outstanding bass. If you can wait & save a bit longer, i've seen ARC Ref 5's on the 'Gon for $5k! That pre can also be upgraded in the future to 'SE' spec by ARC. That would be the way i'd go if I were in your shoes. The tonal balance between the ARC, your Pass amps & Woodmeres should be excellent, whereas with my Boulder amp & Martens, I need a warmer, richer sounding pre like Ayon. Regards, MG.
Hi Steve, it really depends on what kind of sound you want. Rowland use ic op amps extensively in the Corus which i'm not a fan of. I changed the ic op amps in my Ayon CD-5s to adiscreet Burson op amps which made a big improvement. The Pass XP-20 looks like an excellent pre & a high end bargain, though it wouldn't sound as warm as a McCormack or CJ. If you're open to tubes & don't need balanced connectors, another excellent value pre would be a pre-loved CJ Premier 17LS - http://www.stereophile.com/tubepreamps/370/index.html Cheers, MG
Hi Steve, great to hear your enjoying your Pass XA-100.5's. They are sweet sounding amps! If you're still considering preamps, you might want to look at this pre from McCormack. McCormack are now owned & built by Conrad Johnson, and I believe Steve McCormack still consults to CJ. The McCormack pre would be warmer than the Pass & is a high end bargain imho. Here is a link -
Hi Steve, unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to listen to Pass amps, however I read the TAS review of the XP-20 pre and amp very impressed! It is a dynamite value pre! With measured and objective performance far above it's price point. I mean a 2-chassis Pass preamp for under $9k is a bargain. The XP-20 is resolving and neutral in tonal palate, but I think given your warm sounding 100.5 monos & the laid back, warmish sound of the Woodmeres, you should achieve a wonderful balance. And running all-Pass amps should provide good synergy. It's all system dependent. For me to achieve that same balance given my resolving Altos & neutral-sounding Boulder, I knew I needed a good valve preamp and cdp with a touch of natural wamrth. Philosophically I prefer the combination of tube preamp & solid state power amp downstream anyway, so it was like "tick, tick.."
Hi Steve, likewise always nice to converse with a music lover, even on the other side of the world :) Aside from a few accessories & buying some vinyl and audiophile cd's, I plan to take it quietly for the first half of this year. Then I plan to trade up my current phono stage to a Boulder 1008 and upgrade my tonearm to a Helius Omega SR arm. I also plan to upgrade my Ayon CD-5s cdp/pre to possibly the next model of the Accuphase DP-700 (DP-710?) & upgrade to an Ayon Orbis preamp in the next 15 months or so. I've already bought 2 matched quads of 6H30P-DR tubes which i'm keeping aside for the Orbis. So essentially when i've got both the Accuphase & Orbis, my CD-5s is going up for sale. My only other plans are to upgrade my Oppo BDP-83SE to an Oppo BDP-93 at some stage, then i'm done for now as they say. I've always wanted to own Accuphase, and the combination of the Boulder & Marten speakers with the warm sounding Accuphase & Orbis pre should sound wonderful!
Hi Steve, i'm glad you enjoyed the review. Like you, I was surprised how big a difference serious amplification can make. I agree, the amp imposes a much greater influence over the sound than the cables. The cables just enable your system to show it's best, and essentially not degrade the signal. "I might actually be done" Famous last words! I said that after I bought my Classe amp, and well we know what happened after that. I've since changed almost basically my whole system with lots more to come! But i'm happy to confess I have an serious case of audiophilia! ;)
Hi Steve, thanks for your New Year wishes. Yes, it's a bit frustrating having audiophile friends in other countries. That's our hobby I guess, but in a way creates a special bond amongst audiophiles. Also, I have posted a review of the Boulder 1060 in the Review section which should be up by the end of the day. That took me a lot of hours, so it should hopefully be a good read :)
Hi Steve, I have Marten Coltrane Altos which are large 3-way standmounts. The Altos are 6ohm (3.9ohm with bass adjust in normal position) & 87db. Leif Olofsson told me the Altos need some power to fully bloom and to not be shy with power. He wasn't kidding! The Altos sounded anaemic connected to my previous Classe Cap-2100. The Boulder is a completely different animal and provides excellent control. The Altos dig down to 24Hz, and the 1060 is able to drive them with ease ease. I can't comment on the process of burn in for the 1060 as I bought it 2nd hand, but the Pass amps should start to open up around 150hrs & fully bloom by about 250hrs. Whilst running in my Ayon CD-5s, I found the sound was still a bit tight and closed in around 150hrs, but had almost fully bloomed after another 100hrs & now sounds wonderful. It's great to see your system developing to quite a high level. Melbuy.
Hi Steve, great to hear you went with the 100.5 amps on reflection. I was amazed at the difference (particularly in control and detail) I got from moving up to the Boulder 1060. The extra power, together with the Boulder's quietness provides wonderful low level detail, extra flesh & dynamics. Also, thank you for your reflections & New Year wishes. Also wishing you and your family a safe & happy New Year! Regards, MG
Hi Steve, I am not sure when the new Accuphase DP-700 will drop, however it has been in production for 4 years. My guess is that Accuphase will wait for the DP-900/DC-901 stack to gain market penetration before releasing it...probably in mid-late next year. I finally connected my new system up the other day & have had my CD-5s running on my Isotek cd for the last few days & am sitting down to do some critical listening this weekend. I'll be posting mini-reviews of my Boulder & Ayon this weekend. Who knows, it might blow me away? In which case the next Accu better be a killer machine!! Cheers, MG. ps: I've seen & heard the Corus pre & it is definitely superior to the Capri. Looks awesome too. If I were you, I wouldn't hesitate. Who knows, your next upgrade after that might be a 625? ;)
I took a look online and it looks like Accuphase recently came out with a new SACD player. It is two pieces with a separate transport. Here is the link I found to it: http://www.accuphase.com/pdf/dp-900&dc-901_ea3.pdf
Yep, that's what tipped me off a new DP-700 isn't far away ;)
Hi PF, yes I think of the Boulder as the perfect engine driving the perfect piston (Marten). I am not aware of plans by Accuphase to release an upgraded version of the DP-700, but that model is nearly 4 years old & historically is due for an update in the next 12 months. Digital never stands still (nor does Accuphase), so the next model should be a cracker :)
My speakers are Marten Coltrane Alto's which are large 3 way standmounts. Coltrane is Marten's top series. The Altos are designed to be placed close to rear walls & are really ideal for my smallish apartment space. They are not particularly efficient and like plenty of power, so the Boulder should provide plenty of drive and authority. Here is a link fyi - http://www.audiofederation.com/dealership/marten/#alto
I love the sweetness & tube warmth of the Ayon CD-5s, and it's tube output stage throws off an amazing soundstage. Problem is, I wanted 3 things at once. I wanted a high end SACD player and have always wanted to own Accuphase, but I didn't want to lose the Ayon's tube virtues. After pulling my hair out for a good while I realized the answer was to buy Accuphase's future top line SACD player and upgrade to a separate Ayon preamp. And the new Orbis fit's the bill perfectly. I also realized that RB standard is in it's twilight, so I wanted to have maximum choice as silver discs start to dry up in future. (It's also good to have sacd and a vinyl source when you have GTG's..).
Unfortunately I wont have the opportunity to compare the Accuphase to my Ayon side by side as my Dealer doesn't normally stock that brand. As for my CD-5s, I am confident the combination of the separate Ayon preamp & Accuphase front end will eclipse the CD-5s ;) I agree the most important elements are amps, pre-amp & speakers, followed by your front end, then cables and conditioner.
Hi PF, I sold my Ayon CD-5 & bought a CD-5s which has a number of important improvements over the old model. I also upgraded the tubes & op amps which further improved the sound. I'm hoping to finally set up my new rig by Christmas! In the last year i've also upgraded to a Boulder 1060 amp, Taoc ASR series racks, Jorma Origo cables & a new vinyl rig.
Re: Accuphase, I love their house sound which is warm, sophisticated & smooth. The current top line model (DP-700) sounds amazing and looks gorgeous with it's persimmon wood chassis & gold faceplate :) I plan to upgrade however to the next model in a bit over a year (DP-710?). The combination of the Ayon Orbis & Accuphase will be kind of like the Yang to balance out my Boulder amps (Yin).
Hi Steve, congratulations on your acquisition of the Luxman player. The D-06 looks like a fine sacd spinner which should give you fine resolution, grain free musicality and many years of trouble free use. I'm busy finishing my rig, but also plan to upgrade to a high end SACD player in the future...possibly an Accuphase. I'll keep tubes in the loop though & am casting more than a casual eye on the Ayon Orbis pre ;) Cheers, MG.
Lol, i'm having trouble keeping track of the changes myself! My system will continue to evolve over the next 18-20 months.
My listening room is about 4.5 meters x 7.5, allowing for the dining table/chairs at the other end. It's a somewhat challenging listening room. I have my kitchen dining at one end & an open atrium with timber venetians at the other, with a staircase rising over my audio rack. The Coltrane Altos however are perfect for my room, both in size and nature. The Altos are large 3 way standmounts made from a carbon/kevlar monocoque and use ceramic Accuton drivers. Marten design their speakers to be easy to room friendly & can be placed close to rear walls.
Hi Stephen, It's been a while since i've caught up with your system & I was (pleasantly) surprised to see you've moved up to Pass xa-60.5 monos. I think they're great amps matched with the right speakers, and intuitively I think you've made a good choice. I also agree there are significant sonic benefits to having separate channels (and therefore separate power supplies) for each channel. I've taken the same approach with my Modwright KWA-150 which is a true balanced dual mono design. The MW was a no brainer in my system as it is a perfect match both sonically & power-wise with my Martens and fit's into my limited rack space. Dan also recently released an 'SE' upgrade which i'll be getting done later this year.
I've also been busy with some recent upgrades and am currently upgrading my speaker cables & ic's to Jorma Origo. My Martens are internally wired with Jorma No1, so by running all-Jorma cable from source to driver results in notable improvements in musicality and coherence. It's all trucking along really well! Regards, David.
Hi Steve, you might want to join a local high end forum in your Country and ask one of the friendly members who has a room measurement program on a laptop & mic's etc if they can give you a hand testing the room response. That can be an excellent tool to quantify the changes you make with much greater accuracy.
Hi Steve, i'm from Melbourne, Australia which is quite similar to MA actually. Btw, that name "Woodmere" is doing my head in..for some reason it keeps reminding me of a Northern Exposure episode where Chris keeps dreaming of a Hotel called "the Woodbine"! lol.
Your room looks terrific Steve. It's great to see your system developing. I agree with the CD-2s, a separate pre is a good idea, and the Capri is simply great value and a good sonic match to your other gear. Will drop you a pm to fill you in my own system's development!
03-31-11: Pettyfeversk Well, I received the new Woodmeres and what can I say, Tyler has done it again. I have only been listening for a few hours but the sound is wonderful. The voices are so lifelike and the sound is very smooth from the highs to the bass. I will describe more as they break in but the imaging is fantastic also. I will be posting new photos tonight of the system. Thanks again Tyler.
That's fantastic PF! It's great to hear you are enjoying your new Woodmeres :) They are certainly statement pieces & should bring you many years of pleasure. Post a follow up comment once they're burnt in... Cheers, Melbguy
PF, I haven't posted a virtual system as yet as I want to wait until my system is fully completed in about a year. My rig is a 'work in progress' after I decided to re-build my system around my CD-5s. This is my system right now - - Ayon CD-5s with upgrades (digital front end/tube pre) - Transrotor Fat Bob Plus, SME-5009 arm, Miyajima Shilabe cart, Bladelius Heimdal balanced phono stage - Oppo BDP-83SE (DVD) - Modwright KWA-150 dual mono amp - Marten Coltrane Alto speakers - Power cables - Acoustic Revive Power Reference - Power conditioner - Acoustic Revive RTP-6 Ultimate - Racks - Solid Tech ROS 4/Solo 2 I have several other upgrades in the works, but all to be revealed down the track ;) I can certainly tell you the synergy between the CD-5s, Modwright & Martens are a match made in Heaven! I must say I am very content where my system is heading, though i've still got a long way to go :) I really admire your system Greg which is a fine example of a good value, minimalist high end system. Let us know your thoughts about the Woodmeres once they arive.
Hi Steve, firstly I wanted to say your last comment was very humbling and true. You're right, we need to pause and think how lucky we are to be able to even have disposable income, let alone pursue a hobby in high end audio.
Anyway, looks like you've been making quite a few changes. Re: moving back to vinyl; as you know I used to own a CD-5 (and now CD-5s), but I have to say I was blown away by the sound of a vinyl rig I heard on a recent visit to my Dealer which comprised a Transrotor Fat Bob Plus table, SME-5009 arm, Miyajima Shilabe cartridge & Bladelius Heimdal balanced phono stage. Quiet, dynamic, warm, live, "real" sound...amazing bass..just lovely sound! In fact, I liked it so much I now own that rig :)
Don't get me wrong, I still love my Ayon player (which is a superb high end value given its tube preamp), but I am sold on the sound of good vinyl. The TR is a belt-drive table with an inverted hydrodynamic bearing & magnetic drive which makes the table very accurate & quiet. It is a pretty hefty table too at 28kg. Happy days!
Pettyfeversk, you should look at a 2nd hand Yamaha T-80. The T-80 is back from the late 80's, but is a DX'ing king. They rarely come up for sale, but are cheap and ripe for high end mods including new rca/iec sockets which would restore & improve it's performance. That thing can really pull in a station.
Joeyboynj, I asked Gerhard Hirt (Chief Designer for Ayon) if he thought the Ayon CD-5 would be a good match paired with the Pass xa-100.5's & was told they would be an excellent match. Having said that, I ended up buying a Modwright KWA-150 amp instead :D The KWA-150 is awesome; great looks, build quality & sounds like tubes, but with balls. Just an incredible bargain at about $6k..leaves spare $ for a tt & nice cartridge ;)
Nice rig Pettyfeversk! I like your approach of keeping the component chain as simple as possible & focussing on quality. The Ayon CD-5 is a no brainer in this regard; incredible tube-rectified cdp, dac & pre-amp in one & you get the benefit of running your sources through a tube-pre amp which is a bonus if you're running a ss amp downstream. Those speakers look like gorillas!