Hello visitor and welcome to my virtual stereo system! Read more...
I have been interested in music and stereo equipment since I can remember. The present Accuphase-Focal-REL system is the 4th iteration of my stereo system.
My first system was a NAD combo, i.e. C352 amp & C521BEE cd player, together with a pair of Dali Concept 6 speakers. A fine starter system.
The second system consisted of the same NAD combo, a pair of B&W 601 S3, and a REL Quake subwoofer. This system was very dear to my heart, and for the money (about 1500 euros) an exceptional system. It played equally well any type of music. I had this system for approximately 2.5 years.
The third system consisted of the Musical Fidelity A5 combo (integrated amp and cd player) and the Dali Helicon 300 speakers. Later, I have added also a REL subwoofer, i.e. first the Strata 3 then I moved to a Stentor 3. This was a very musical system with a huge soundstage. I could listen to it for hours without any fatigue. However, even though this system was much more refine than the previous one, it was not suited for any type of music, i.e. it was very good for vocals, small jazz ensemble, classical, but less satisfying with rock music. Because both the Dali's and the Musical Fidelity units had a somewhat warmer sound the guitar distortions were too soft and somewhat over-resolved. As expected, the initial small limitation got bigger with time and eventually led to the forth iteration of my system.
First, I have tried for two weeks (at home) a Bryston combo, i.e. the BP25 preamp with DAC and the 4B SST power amp. The Brystons ameliorated quite a bit, though not completely, the sound of the guitar distortion effects. However, compare to the Musical Fidelity combo, the Brystons presentation of the music was quite different. The Musical Fidelity combo was warm, relaxing with good bass and good details, whereas the Bryston combo was more forward, in your face kind of presentation, with better resolution than Musical Fidelity but also with a somewhat thinner sound. Eventually, I have decided not to go with the Brystons. I felt it was definitively not an upgrade but rather an expensive side move with few chances for long term satisfaction.
As it turned out, not buying the Brystons was a very good decision as the next week I got my hands on a pair of Focal Utopia Micro Be. These speakers are phenomenal, they are not called Micro-Bes for nothing (they get into you and you can not do anything about it except love them). The Micros outclassed the Helicons in pretty much every department (except maybe for looks). That is, they have better bass, and much better resolution, imaging and highs. Since the Focal were almost twice as expensive as the Dalis, to some extent, this was to be expected. However, when I have auditioned the Accuphase electronics I currently own, I have compared the MicroBes with the Wilson Sophia 2 and to my surprise (the dealer was surprised too), when using Accuphase electronics (the E-450 or E-550 integrated amps with the DP-500 cd player) the Micros outclassed also the Wilsons in the midrange and highs departments. The difference was not even subtle, the Micro had clearer and better focus midrange and much better highs (the highs of Sophia sounded almost harsh by comparison). Of course, the Wilsons had much more bass and were much more dynamic. However, IMO when paired with the Stentor, the Micros have better bass and are arguably almost as dynamic as the Wilsons, plus are also much easier to integrate in one's home.
The A5-Utopia-REL system was a very good combination (a bit laid back but very enjoyable). I have liked it very much as it played pretty much everything right. Knowing, however, that the Micros deserve better, I have decided to change the Musical Fidelity A5 components.
When looking for the perfect mate for my Micros, I have compared extensively (in the same room but not all systems at the same time) the A5 combo versus Lyngdorf, Ayre, and Accuphase (E-408, E-450 and E-550) electronics (all driving my Micros). In the end, I went with Accuphase, i.e. the E-550 integrated and the DP-500 cd player. To my ears, the Accuphase-Focal combination was by far the best. After a long search (more than 6 months) I am finally extremely happy with my stereo. Not only it sounds fantastic, but also the build quality is top-notch. In fact, I am so happy with my system now that I am sure I am done with it for a few good years.
Thanks for stoping by and reading about my hi-fi adventure dear visitor.