My relatively modest system was carefully assembled over many years (I have been in the so-called high-end for over 30 years). I am a tweaker who works at optimizing the performance of each component. I do not believe that spending MEGA$$ is necessary for creating a musical sounding system. To wit: I have listened to some super expensive systems that were great in Hi-Fi sound reproduction but missed the mark in terms of musical satisfaction. Careful selection and matching of components can optimize the synergy and performance of the total system. My system has wideband response from about 16Hz up to beyond the upper limits of my hearing capability. The sound is very smooth, robust, balanced and detailed with a see-through huge soundstage. Bass is very defined and tuneful. The overall sound is very musical and engaging. My dedicated listening room is 26x16x8.5 (ft)

Recently, I replaced my Magenpan 3.5s with the magnificent 20.1s, my last speaker purchase. These are massive compared to the 3.x series, and required 2 persons for the installation. The 20.1s are a music lover’s dream. They are musical, smooth, dynamic and very revealing coupled with panoramic sound staging. The bass is full and fast.

I am actively bi-amping the 20.1s, as I did the 3.5s, using the Marchand XM-126s with ARC VT100 MKII for the treble/midrange and Kenwood L07M mono-blocks on the bass of my 20.1s. The xover points replicates the crossover settings utilized by Magnepan for the 20.1 internal xover: Low pass 18dB/Octave @ 108hz (Buterworth) and High pass 6dB/Octave @330hz. I am also using a stereo pair of Sunfire Signature subwoofers that are driven directly from my ARC LS25 preamp. Setting up of the system still required much experimentation, although it was made easier due to my previous experience with the 3.5s. But the final results are very satisfying as the integration and blending of the system is now virtually seamless.

Room Details

Dimensions: 26’ × 16’  Large
Ceiling: 9’

Components Toggle details

    • Sony SCD-1
    Modified with Audiocom Superclock3/PSU3. Improvements due to the new clock and PSU are dramatic. Much more detail and transparency, more liguid analog-like presentation
    • Oppo Digital BDP-105D Universal Player
    Excellent performance from a budget unit. Out-performs my Sony SCD-1
    • Harman Kardon Citation 14
    FM only tuner. had for about 30 years. Very warm smooth analog sound with big sound stage
    • Oracle Audio Technologies Delphi MKV SE
    Special Granite Base and Turbo power supply. Sits on a granite shelf. This is a very underrated table. Great transparency, excellent bass control. Very quiet mechanically.
    • Graham Engineering Phantom B44 Picture
    Incredible sounding arm. Super dyanmics, control and transparency: Black with chrome and Custom mount. It excels in all musical categories. With the upgraded bearing the perfromance goes up a notch:The overall presentation is less mechanical, smoother, and noticeably more relaxed with greater musical flow, coherence and refinement. In particular, voices, strings and piano are more natural sounding.
    • Lyra Kleos
    Kleos rerplaces my Helikon, which it surpasses with improved performance across the audio spectrum
    • Lyra Helikon
    High output version. This is a versatile cartridge which merges technical prowess (speed, detail, etc) with a creamy musical midrange
    • Audio Research PH-2
    Internal damping devices on PS and curcuit board and ERS cloth below PS. This is the sleeper ARC component. It kills the PH3SE. It is very neutral, dynamic and transparent. I have no urge to replace it any time soon. Performance stepped up to another level after installing an IEC connector and using a Revelation Audio Labs Precept II Power Cord. Soundstage is transparent, panoramic and 3D. Musical textures are rich and inviting with 100 ohm loading. Repalced coupling caps with Dynamicaps, and the input 100 ohm resistors and loading resistors with low noise TX2575 resistors. Improvement in transparency, soundstaging, robustness and dynamics
    • Audio Research LS-25
    MKI version with NOS 6H23 6922 tubes. With the NOS tubes it equals the LS25 MKII in dynamics and bass articulation, but exceeds the MKII in terms of liquidity and musicality. Recently replaced 6H23 with Quartets of Mulllad E88CC and Telefunken E88CC vintage tubes. Elevated sonics to another level
    • Marchand Electronic Tube X-over XM-126s
    Balanced XLR I/O option with stepped attenuators for level control. Replaced 7 stock 12AX7 with Mullards (1960) 2 12AT7 with Mullard M8162 CV4024 (1983). The Marchand is very transparent and introduces no easily detectable grain or electronic artifacts. It is dead quiet with the noisy fan turned off. This is an excellent crossover and has brought me much closer to the music. Replaced the factory FM modules with sets comprising Rel Caps RT capacitors and TX 2575 low noise resistors: tremendous improvements across the audio spectrum, with increased resolution and dynamics
    • Audio Research VT-100 mkII
    With NOS 6H23 6922 input tubes. The VT100 MKII is a classic amp. It is one of best sounding amps ever made by ARC irrespective of price. It is a keeper. Replaced the SV 6550Cs with Tung-Sol KT120s. Major improvement in all categories, especially the feeling of ease due to the greater headroom. More control and power in the bass, bigger, better soundstaging, better dynamics, smoother more extended highs.
    • Kenwood L0-7M
    L07M monoblocks for powering bass panels of MG 3.5. Modified connectors and PC. The Kenwood amps are very smooth and musical, in spite of their solid-state character, which helps in facilitating blending with the ARC VT100 MKII. Additionally, the L07Ms have great bass control and definition.I had this amp in my closet for about 20 years before using for biamping my MG3.5
    • Magnepan MG-20.1
    Cherry with Natural white
    • Magnepan MG-3.5r
    Modified: Internal wiring with Discovery hook-up cable by magnepan. Caps also replaced with PPMF. Also bypassed tweeter attenuators and fuses. Approximates the performance of the expensive fullrange speakers when biamped and used with stereo subwoofers
    • Sunfire Sunfire Signature
    Stereo pair of Sunfire Signatures on Auralex bass stands. These when properly placed and configured produces fast, tight and musical bass (no boomy bass here)
    • Revelation Audio Labs Paradise Cryo-Silver™ Reference
    With XLR connectors. Improved resolution, refinement, dynamics, excised grit and bloat. Excellent cable
    • Transparent Ultra XL
    Balanced interconnect from Marchand x-over to VT100 MKII (15 ft)
    • Analysis Plus Oval Crystal 8 (Balanced)
    Three pairs (3): with XLR - 1M from SCD-1 to LS25, 1M from LS25 to Marchand, 0.5 meter from PH2 to LS25. These cables are neutral, detailed and transparent with a robust midrange
    • Mogami Neglex 2534
    XLR to RCA terminations (20 ft) from Marchand to Kenwood monoblocks
    • Monster MSeries M35I SW HT
    Subwoofer interconnects from LS25 to Sunfire Signatures (25 ft)> Sleeper sub cable. Very clean and tight bass control
    • XLO Signature Type 2
    0.5 M from Tuner to LS25
    • Analysis Plus Crystal Oval 8
    Two pairs (2) both T1 spade to Big BFA connectors. These are very neutral, detailed, extended and musical cables. They provide very good bass control and definition
    • Elrod EPS 3
    From RGPC to VT100. Similar to EPS3 Signature but with less bass entension and midrange robustness.
    • Elrod EPS 3 Signature
    From wall outlet to RGPC. Excellent performer across the board: very open, dynamic with excellent bass control and transparency
    • NBS Master III
    Two (2). From Hydra to LS25, from Hydra to Marchand
    • NBS Monitor II
    Supplies power to SCD-1. Synergy with player. Excellent all round performance
    • Shunyata Python Helix Alpha
    From wall to Hydra (6ft, 20 Amp). Replaced a Shunyata Taipan Alpha, providing better all round performance
    • Revelation Audio Precept II
    From Triplite to Oracle turbo PS. These are very coherent musical and dynamic cables. Now using another set with the ARC PH2. Providing a very nice improvement in performance
    • Shunyata Sidewinder
    Two (2): connects 2 RGPC to main RGP
    • Shunyata Hydra 8
    Used for front end components
    • Triplite LC-1800
    Provides power to Oracle turbo PS. It is plugged in my Hydra 8. The extra filtering improves the performance of the Oracle without any negative effects (Oracle tubo PS only draws about 0.25 peak amps)
    • Finite Element Ceraball
    Three sets of four. Under VT100, Marchand XM126s, LS25. these work as advertised. Helped in cleaning up the presentation, especially in the mid-bass. Also noticed improved transparency and smoothness
    • Finite Element Ceraball Universal
    Used under SCD-1. Improved soundstaging, transparency and refinement compared to the replaced BDR cones
    • Richard Grey 400S
    Three (3) RGPC in parallel provide power for amp
    • Corcom EMI/RFI Filter
    Heavy duty filter used with subwoofers
    • BDR Cones
    Three sets of 3. Used under PH2, SCD-1 and Tuner
    • Shakti Stones
    Used under power transformer of VT100 and Triplite
    • Walker Extreme SST
    Used on all connections. Increased the purity, resolution and energy of the system
    • Craig Survival Kit
    Contains, Power booster, Progold, and Preservit
    • Research Labs LP9
    Stylus treatment
    • Research Labs Record cleaner
    Cleaning fluid
    • VPI 16.5
    Record cleaning Machine
    • Target Amp Stand
    Used under kenwoodLO-7M
    • Soundesign Amp Stand
    large amp stand for VT100
    • Target AER5t
    Main Eqiptment rack
    • Target 3r
    SCD-1 Stand
    • Echo Busters Bass Busters
    pair 4 ft corner bass busters in rear corners
    • Echo Busters Absorption Panels
    Pair in both sides of front half of room
    • Room Tunes Half Round
    Pair of 5 ft half round on first third of room on both sides
    • Auralex Venus Bass Traps
    Pair on front wall
    • Auralex Mega Lnards Bass traps
    Pair in front corner of room. Helped in ameliorating a very boomy bass heavy room
    • Auralex Corner Cubes
    Two 1ftx1ft on top of Mega Lnards in front corner.
    • Auralex Corner Rectangles
    1ft squarex 2 ft absorption rectangels in rear of room
    • Auralex Gramma
    Pair of Isolation bases for Sunfire subwoofers. Helped in ameliorating bass boom
    • Hickok Tube Tester 6000A
    Vintage Tube tester in excellent condition
    • Mullard NOS 12AT7 M8162 CV4024 (1983)
    Military Spec 12AT7 (2 tubes for Marchand)
    • Mullard Tubes 12AX7 (1960’s)
    7 tubes for Marchand vintage used tested very strong with excellent balance
    • VPI DB-5
    magic Bricks (2)
    • Townsend 2HD
    Isolation Platfrom for Sony SCD-1
    • Ceramic Cable Elevators
    • Radio Shack Tape Eraser
    Used to demagnetize CDs
    • Hi-Fi Tuning Fuses Supreme
    Used on VT100 MKII. It is indeed directional. it replaced a Classic gold Hi-Fi Tuning fuse. Improved overall resolution. Recently added to the LS25 and the Marchand XM126. Overall system musicality and transparency stepped up a notch
    • Hi-Fi Tuning Silverstar
    Replaced standard fuses in Kenwood L07Ms and Sunfire subwoofers.
    • Hi-Fi Tuning Classic Gold
    Replaced stock fuses in Magnepan 20.1; Sony SCD1; Marchand XM126; ARC PH2, ARC LS25

Comments 82

Thanks Mrvordo. I see you also have panel speakers.
How much did each upgrade cost and did you ship your table back to Oracle?
Also could you describe the improvements.


Excellent system you have put together. Would love to hear it.

I too had an Oracle mkV and have recently upgraded it to the mkVI bearing, MVSS, and Turbo II power supply.

Thought you might want to know that this is a quantum improvement. As happy as I was with the mkV the mkVI makes it sound like a toy.



I totally agree with you, tweaking is a life long pursuit. A suggestion: screen off the turntable when using it. Why? Well, with all the acoustic energy flying on the room it obviously it is receiving a large dose since it is in the direct fire of the loudspeakers. It would be insane not to think its performance is being negatively impacted. Seems you have done a lot of room treatment, which is always a key to better sound, but the impact that acoustic energy has on the components in your room is significant. Give it a try, I think you will find it improves the sound of the system.


Very nice looking system, looks well thought out.

Ag insider logo xs@2xlak

Gmorris: What do U think of Lamm M1.2 Reference Amps paired with Cary Slp-05 Linestage, Blue Note Stibbert 2 CDP, TransRotor Orfeo TT w/Graham Phantom II Arm/ Frog Cart., and Talon Firebird Speakers wth Diamond tweeters? .....Baggs1


System edited: Replaced, incrementally, fuses in LS25, Marchand XM126 and PH2 with Hi Fi tuning Supreme fuses. The overall improvement in clarity, musicality and sound staging was not subtle. The improvements defy explanation.


System edited: I added the Lyra Kleos over the weekend, replacing my still excellent Lyra Helikon cartridge. I am very pleased with its performance so far. However, I need to optimize the tracking force, antiskating, azimuth and VTA. I will report later on the changes in the sound


George looks like you're having a wonderful time with all the experimenting. Love the Citation and the Kenwood classics. I'm thinking about getting some software to measure my set up but like you find I don't have much time to play. Regards Barry


System edited: Experimented with a couple xover points and settled on the factory crossover settings utilized by Magnepan: Low pass 18dB/Octave @ 108hz (Buterworth) High pass 6dB/Octave @330hz


I would just get a second ML Depth. They blend very well with Planar speakers. Of course, its your call.


I'm in the market for a second ML Depth. What I would really like would be a pair of Vandersteen 2WQ's!!


Thanks for your kind words. I took at look at your system. your room is very beautiful. I am sure the sound is as warm and satisfying as your room. Are you using stereo subs?


Nice!! I would love to hear this system. I'm still very happy with mine.


I the process of comparing the biamped system with/without the stereo subwoofers.


System edited: Updated pictures of music room with the 20.1s


I finally got around to biamping the 20.1s. I replicated the cross over configuration used by Magnepan: Low Pass - 108 Hz, 18 dB/Octave (Buterworth); High Pass – 330 Hz, 6 dB/Octave (Butterworth). The results are spectacular. The dynamics, bass extension and slam have improved markedly compared to the sound when driven full range by the VT100. Of course, this was anticipated but impressive nonetheless. The system, now unencumbered by the massive external passive cross over played noticeably louder than before without any detectable loss of transparency or the addition of electronic artifacts due to the introduction of an active electronic crossover in the signal path. Clearly, the 20.1s and 3.x series and maggies in general benefit from biamping.


I installed the 20.1s with tweeters on the inside, in approximately the same position as the 3.5s with more toe-in and about 8” farther out into the room. I have decided to have a staged familiarization with them. I want to have a good measure of the sound in my room driven full range with the VT100 mkII without the subs or active cross-over: Next I want to listen to the 20.1s biamped without the subs, and later introduce the stereo subs.

First Impressions: I was very surprised how well the 20.1s were driven by the ARC VT100 mkII. Presumably, it’s not just the sheer power rating of the amp, but its ability to deliver a quality high current signal that is important in extracting good performance from the 20.1s. It seems a tad more efficient than the 3.5s. The pedigree of the speaker can be easily appreciated even when driven by a single 100W ARC VT100. There is better, more natural tonal balance, more details and greater dynamics most noticeable in the attack and definition on drums.


System edited: Finally added the Magnepan 20.1 to my system. In the process of fine tuning the set up. I will update pictures on my site later.


System edited: Recently, I replaced the factory FM modules (both low-pass and high-pass) with a set that I assembled using Rel Cap RT capacitors and the low noise TX2575 resistors. I am surprised at the extent of the improvement in all musical categories due to this replacement: much better transparency and resolution, more extended and defined bass, treble and more musical shades in the midrange all coupled with tremendous dynamics. Thanks to Norm for his recommendation on replacing the stock modules


Wonderful system and a beautiful room. You've obviously put a lot of thought and effort into it and it shows! With the Maggies bi, tri or quad amping is transformative as you already know.


top to bottom one of the best on A'gon. Congrats.



The integration of the stereo subs is virtually seamless in my system. It required a lot of work and experimentation. General guidelines: keep the subs away from wall boundaries, keep the volume as low as possible, use the lowest possible x over point, and buy a sub with continuously variable phase adjustments. The perceived speed of my bass is not an issue. Base lines are fast and tuneful: there is no apparent delay relative to the main speakers.


I did not audition the XM44. I have a preference for tube based electronic xovers. In general, the tube designs that I have auditioned have less grain/electronic artifacts, and greater musicality than the solid state xovers . Also, I have the option of experimenting with various tubes. I selected the XM126 over the XM26 based on its configuration (separate power supply, etc). Hope that helps. Incidentally, I am still very happy with my selection.


Hey George.....I was thinking of maybe getting the big Maggies one day and getting a pair of subs to complement the bass. My hesitancy has been the question of whether or not separate subs could be quick enough to keep up with the Maggies. I see you're running subs with your Maggies. Are you getting a seamless integration? Do you find any difference with digital or analog with your sub integration? Are your sub drivers 10 or 12 inches?....thanks,....mitch


Hi George,

I was investigating different active crossovers that are available and came across your article on the Marchand Audio web site. Marchand offers several 2-way active crossovers. The XM-126 is a 2 box vacuum tube with separate PS chassis, and the XM26 is also a vacuum tube, but is an all-in-one chassis unit. The XM44 is a SS version. The MSRP for the three models ranges from $1000.00 - $2500.00. When I talked to Phil at Marchand Electronics, he claims he can’t hear the difference between the SS Vs. the tube model. What factors lead you to go with the XM-126 model? Did you audition the XM-26 and the XM-44 before going with the XM-126? If so, what were your impressions of the other two models? Please feel free with any additional comments you may have.

BTW nice article on the XM-126!


Displaying posts 1 - 25 of 82 in total