Description

Hello visitor and welcome to my virtual stereo system!

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.

Best wishes,

Paul
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Components Toggle details

    • Accuphase E-550
    Extremely musical and detailed class A integrated amplifier. Plays every type of music with aplomb. Its only limitation is power, i.e. it has only 30 watts. However, make no mistake, those 30 watts can go a long way (e.g. in the dealer's room the E-550 amp drove the Wilson Sophia 2 at ear bleeding levels).
    • Accuphase DP-500
    A very solid and versatile CD player. It can be used also as a stand alone DAC using its optical and coaxial inputs.
    • JM Labs Micro Utopia Be
    An exceptional monitor!
    • REL Acoustics Stentor 3
    A very musical and powerful subwoofer.
    • Focal Electra 1007.1
    Speakers stand.

Comments 31

Center
NVP: Beautiful current and past systems and great drum kit!!! Good luck with your new hobby/listening room!!!

Ag insider logo xs@2xzephyr24069

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Hi Paul

I have just acquired a 1 year old E560 driving the JM Lab Micro Utopia BE. I was previously driving the JM Lab with an AV seperate, even though a high end one, it was blown away completely by the E560. Everything you mentioned about the E560 + JM Lab is truly experienced by me as well. I originally only have the Oppo 95, Marantz AV8001, Rotel RB1007 7 channel power amp, and KK DX808 sub. While great on movies, I can barely listen to a whole CD at any length. The arrival of the E560 really changes my spare time to music listening instead of movie watching now. So much so I am contemplating upgrading the speakers. The JM Lab of course is lacking in the bass department. I have the KK DX808 sub, but having difficulty in finding a way to use it both for HT and music listening as the inputs option is limited. I read that you are using the JM Lab with the REL sub. Maybe I should give it a shot to try integrating the DX808 with the JM Lab first. At the moment, the DX808 is only doing HT duty and was not activated in my two channel listening session. Can you advise what is the best way to connect the REL to the E560?

dannyhgt

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Owner
Hey Gerardo,

Nice to hear from you!

The E-560 should work very very well with your MicroBes. It should also have a very very good headphones amp. (I had a Musical Fidelity x-can V3 headphone and I was very happy with it till I have compared it to the headphone amp in my E-550. After that I've considered the M.F. and the reviewers who prized it so much a joke.)

My only advise is to not pay full retail price for it unless you are in Japan. You might also want to consider the previous model E-550. Money wise E-550 is a much much better buy (here in Euros we talk 4-5k euros vs. 10+k euros). The two models are not that different. The E-560 has more drive, i.e. it goes louder and there are reports that it also controls the woofers better. But unless you plan to get floor-standers with large woofers you should not care. The E-560 seems also a bit more details and more focused that the E-550, but at the same time its sound stage is constricted when compared to the E-550. Because of this the E-500 sounds more natural (at least to me), whereas the E-560 sounds more Hi-Fi.

You might also want to look into separates, e.g. A-45 + C-2410 (which should be discontinue in 6-12 mounths).

Good luck and keep me posted!

Best wishes,
Paul

nvp

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Nvp, I was looking to upgrade from a Krell 400xi integrated to something a little up the line and came across your system! I'd been a while since I'd last seen it.

It's good to see you have a dedicated space now. I moved to a new house as well and have a smaller space so that led me down the "class a" route since big power isn't needed on my Micro Be's.

I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on the Accuphase 560. Specifically, I had been looking for a class A integrated to replace the Krell or a tube preamp to power the Krell as a pure amplifier. Additionally, I needed a headphone jack.

Hopefully I'll be ready to buy something this summer.

I still don't have a drum set, but my wife bought me an Orange Dual Terror and cab for my guitars so I've been playing that lately.

gherrera1

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Owner
Dev, I am not the only one here (both on the "mbl - is there a problem?" thread and on audiogon) who does not appreciate your bully attitude. Other contributors to the "mbl - is there a problem?" thread have made that very clear before my post. I have merely pointed out that this is your typical behavior. Regarding the rest of my "bable" that made "no sence" to you, they are all valid comments and I am not surprised that you do no understand them, viz. it is a typical bully behavior.

nvp

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Paul I found the Kosh system but the link did not work.

lapierre

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Owner
I have forgotten to add the link to my new system. Here it is:

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vdone&1325118156&view

nvp

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Hey Paul glad your new room is almost finished.

Can you share further details about DIY acoustic treatments and if you used special materials like "QuiteRock" for the new room.

How'd things work out with Kemp Elektroniks?

lapierre

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Owner
We moved to a new home about five months ago and my new music/study room is practically finished. While I did not changed my main components, the addition of the Accuphase DG-38 voicing equalizer coupled with the DIY acoustic treatments I put in the new room and the addition of a dedicated line has improved significantly the performance of my system. Consequently, I thought it is appropriate to built a new virtual system. You can find it here:

nvp

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Owner
Hi Pierre,

I have played a bit with the DG-38 but did not try it properly. I bought it just a few days before we have moved to the new home. I will write a short review about it once my room is finish and I can try it properly.

I will be installing high-end receptacles, HMS Audio Grade receptacles. They were recommended to me over Furutech ones. The guy who will install everything has a small company that makes high-end power supplies and filters and also cables, i.e. Kemp Elektroniks (see www.kempelektroniks.nl). He will test the noise levels on the mains and I will also ask him to check this also for the ground connection as you have suggested.

Regards,
Paul

nvp

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Hey Paul,

How's the DG-38 voicing equalizer working out?

Dedicated line would by me first step as well and then you can determine next step for power regeneration. Ensure the dedicated line (grounded neutral conductor) is tested for typical AC noise.

Are you installing High-end AC receptacles?
Shunyata SR-Z1
Synergistic Research TELSA Plex SE
Furutech GTX Receptacles

Checkout my new room and layout for acoustic treatment posted on my system.

lapierre

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Owner
System edited: I have just bought an Accuphase DG-38 voicing equalizer. Since we are currently moving to a new home I did not try yet its room-set-up software (just played a bit with some equalization curves). I have also attached a picture with the plan of my feature hobby/study room (L x W x H: 4.7 x 3.5 x 2.4 meters). Suggestions regarding room treatments and speakers positioning are very welcome. King regards, Paul

nvp

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Owner
Thanks for stopping bye Shadorne.

Strangely enough, I was actually planning to write you and ask you about some reference to read about room treatments (it seems you did a lot of reading on the subject). I am happy to hear you are a physicist too. This explain the attention to details (e.g. room acoustics, measurements) you have paid when building you system. Over the years I have read quite a few of you post and also visited your system page a few times. Even though I have never posted o your system page it is one of my favorite systems on audiogon.

Regarding your comment about GAS, I really enjoy it. I even show it to my wife and she too found it very amusing. While I am not denying that, like many other here, I too am battling GAS, I would argue that my GAS is still in an early stage. Indeed, I have a rather large drum kit, i.e. the proof of my GAS infection, but in order to play Dream Theater songs it is very hard to get away with smaller kits, plus my stereo can be called without exaggeration minimalistic.

nvp

Center
Hey fellow drummer and fellow physicist! Nice system but man you go the baddest case of GAS I have seen in quite a long time!

I got a modest TD-9 with thee following upgrades: VH-11, KD-140, CY-15 and a DW-8000 long board double kick - I guess I got GAS too.

Check out my virtual system and you can see the basic setup (without the upgrades)

I like the JM Labs - they image superbly. You have great taste! If you have any youtubes of yourself playing that beastly set of skins I'd love to see 'em.

Ag insider logo xs@2xshadorne

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Owner
System edited: Big upgrade in the drum department! Firstly, I have added two larger bass drums that not only feel more solid but are also much quieter. Secondly, I have added dedicated V-pad cymbals for my second hi-hat and ride cymbals, and thirdly, I have replaced my second module (a TD6) with a TD-12 module. I have also switched my Iron Cobras pedals to Sonor twin effect pedals and added a new rack. It literally took me more than a year to put everything together (waiting for parts/components to be deliver and mounting everything together)! But now everything is positioned perfectly - if I close my eyes while siting at the kit all the cymbals, toms, etc. are positioned exactly where I imagine they should be. Now I should stop marvel at my kit, and start doing some recordings.

nvp

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Owner
Hi Glen,
Thanks for stopping bye. I see you have visited/posted on some of the threads where I am also active. I am glad to hear you agree with me view on cables. I am sure many disagree.

nvp

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Sweet system. Enjoyed reading your trek thru audio happiness. I have always liked the Accuphase gear, it seems like long term keepers.

Very telling your take on cables, I could not agree more. They don't make come anywhere near the hype, at least in my experience. Spend the money on more music and better hardware. Happy listening.

glenfihi

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Owner


Hi Endless402,

I am not a great believer in cables. I have tested 3000 (three thousands) euros worth of cables in my system but without any spectacular results. Sure cables can change your sound to some extent but IMO is mostly fine tuning. IMO it is better to invest in sound proofing the room and/or better equipment than in expensive cables. Most often a 100 euros rug place between you and your speakers has a much more profound effect on the sound of your system than any multi thousand cable.

To answer your question, as interlink I use the Accuphase "blue" cable that came with the DP-500 CD player. I also have a van den Hull Tide interlink. For me the differences between the two are insignificant. For speaker I use some 100 euros Tara labs cables made of coper. I can't remember the model but they are well made and solid. The rest of my cables, i.e. power cords and REL neutrik cable, are the original (ran to the mill) cables provided by the manufactures.

Happy New Year!
Paul

p.s. the coincidences are still continuing. Endless was my nick name during those computer gaming crusades in university.

nvp

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Owner
Hi Gerardo,

So you are a physics too. Very interesting indeed. I work at VU Amsterdam as an independent researcher on theoretical/computational VCD spectroscopy. I graduated in 2002 in Bucharest.

Happy New Year!
Paul

nvp

128x128
what kind of wiring did you use

endless402

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Funny you should ask Paul because I do indeed have a degree in Physics! Midwestern State University, 2004.

Currently, I work as an engineer for a defense contractor. Mainly RF.

I totally agree with your opinion on electronic drums. Acoustic drums can really fill a space. Where my son takes lessons, the drums are muted and in a sound proof room so they sound really soft which is perfect for just lessons.

Gerardo

gherrera1

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Owner
Hi Gerardo,

I was joking about pets. We do not really have pets at the moment (apart maybe from a cat of a neighbor who is visiting us quite often).

A better question would have been whether you are a scientist or physicist too. Of course, this question is valid also for Kevin. :)

Regarding electronic drums, IMO they are the perfect solution to all inconveniences related to acoustic drums, e.g. noise, size, maintenance. One just has to be a bit open minded. These days, softwares like Superior Drummer make professional drum sample sounds available even for cheep electronic kits. Make sure your son's ear are protected when he plays the drums.

Paul

nvp

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Owner

Hi Kevin,

Welcome to the club, there are three of us now!

I have bought me MicroBes only after I have decided not to buy the Bryston 4B sst/ BP-25 combo. Thus, I have never driven the MicroBes with Bryston electronics. Though, I am quite sure it would not have been a good match, i.e. sounding too thin/sterile. I agree with you that the BAT pre-amp is responsible for the bringing "color and life" in the Bryston/Focal rig.

Regarding drumming vs. hi-fi, most often (though not always) drumming was a close second for me. I could live happily with a stereo and just a pair of stick (so I can practice my rudiments). Drums and no stereo is a no go for me :).

Paul

nvp

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Paul, you got me on the pets. We've only had a fish and a turtle and they both died.

My son is taking drum lessons and I'd like to get an electronic set, but we are limited on space.

Kevin, which BAT preamp do you use? I've often wondered about a BAT/Focal setup and how they would match up.

Gerardo

gherrera1

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Another drummer/audio enthusiast weighing in here. Ver nice system and kit you have there. I too love my Micro bes w/ a velodyne sub driven by a Bryston 4BSST and a BAT pre. That pair works just great for me with the BAT perhaps balancing the scales with the Bryston in a way that didn't happen for you. The nice thing is we both have systems we are very pleased with.

On the drumming front Sonor is my kit of choice and I am even more fond of them than my stereo (but its close)

All the best, Kevin.

kcgumbohead

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