Dear fellow audiophiles and other readers. Audiophile Heaven has successfully moved into its new home from the US. The speaker placement has now been optimized. In the end I moved them closer together and moved the listening sofa a bit forward which increased the soundstage definition and coherence.
Now the area to improve on are general acoustics of the room. To that effect I will place in due cource some furnitures (bookshelves, CD racks) against walls. Plants also help to naturally diffuse soundwaves. I will consider also some Shakti and Sound Resonator products later. I already changed the carpet from the one in the picture, to a larger one.
The installation of the GPA Monaco record player was professionally performed by my american dealer Barry Konigsberg of Transparent Music Systems, Macungie PA. I flew him over especially to ensure that I wouldn't foul things up. I have to say that the professional installation process is IMHO not something you can do right by yourself when you have NEVER done this before. Especially the unusual Dynavector arm is a high tech mechanical piece of art that has many adjustable pieces, and miniature screws, of which some are spring loaded etc. Needless to say that was a worthwhile investment in Barry's time. And I much appreciate him and his lovely wife taking the time out to come and visit us this January.
As those of you whole followed my threads since 2006 may have noticed I have taken a relatively short period to arrive at what I perceive to be one of the penultimate systems today. And at the pinnacle of that journey is the discovery of vinyl as the best experience to enjoy music reproduction. Don't get me wrong, there is much music out there on CDs that is great, most not available on vinyl, and some that is unbelievably well recorded. But none of that reaches the level of reality, palpability, and emotional connectivity as the very best vinyl does. The only caviat is that you have to be able to listen past some of the noise that comes with vinyl. And I'm such a fan of the dark inky black silence in some musical passages and great dynamic ranges! Especially on great classical recordings, but also some great female vocal recordings. Oh well, there's always a tradeoff somewhere. In any case music on this system just seems to float in my room, there is a sense of nearness to the performance. The giant speakers just "disappear" when your eyes are closed. The bass/mid/tweeter integration is seamless, the adjustability of the speaker to the room is absolutely fantastic. The base is extremely tuneful and not obtrusive, no booming. Micro detail is abundant, and as the system still keeps breaking in detail emerges that keeps your head shaking in disbelief. Micro detail that was otherwise heard before takes on a more clear defined dimension. In the next couple of months the system will be finally fully broken in and if what I am hearing now will still keep on improving... I have to come to the conclusion that I have made the best choice of components possible. And none of the choices were by contribution of ANY professional audiophile magazine/review(er), but by lengthy auditions and reading about other audiophile experiences.
Over the past two years I have amassed about 1500 CDs, now its vinyl's turn. I've started with about 300 LPs and slowly growing, some new and some handed down from the "family archives". There is so much vinyl to be discovered, and it doesn't even have to be very expensive. Of course there is the higher maintenance, but that comes with the hobby. Reminds me to get a record cleaner some time soon! Loricraft or Haenl? Later.
Long live the Audiophile hobby! May many (re)discover what it is to really sit down and listen to music as it was intended to sound like. For what would we be without that?
CD/SACD player upsamples to 5.6Mhz thru Meitner proprietary signal processing technology, and sports the worlds first and only discrete dual differential D/A conversion circuit. Using aerospace-grade composite laminate circuit boards provide superior performance enhancing musical reproduction. I never turn the player off, so the power supply is warm at all times. The player reaches its best after being on about 48 hours. It is much more analog sounding than when switching on/off every day.
Playback Designs MPS-5 CD/SACD Player
New CDP ... burning in 500 hrs (or 3 weeks non-stop) for optimum performance level. USB input, BNC 50 Ohm output (to Dartzeel pre-amp), easy SW upgrades, Esoteric transport, awesome DAC. Sleek modern design, nice metal blue backlit remote. Among the very top, if not the best, one box players around! I took off the standard feet and replaced them with GPA Apex feet with upgraded nitrate balls ... takes this CDP even higher!
Grand Prix Audio Apex Feet for CDP (x3)
I have 3 of these with upgraded nitrate ball bearings under the CDP for increased space and definition. Well worth it, highly recommended.
Grand Prix Audio Monaco Turntable Analog Source
Connected to the right system, with the Stealth Hyperphono cable and Dynavector's 507Mk2 arm & XV-1s cartridge this turntable will convert a diehard digital guy into analog. It did for me! This is easily the most simple component once setup. It consumes no power, doesn't need warming up, a true gem. I'm not surprised at all that HiFi+, the well respected audiphile magazine from the UK, declared the Monaco 2009 product of the year. Congrats Alvin!
Dynavector DV-507 Mk2 Arm
Among a handful of the best out there. A proven design that has been around for decades. A true audiophile piece with a bit of weight. Adjustability options are easy and in extremely small steps.
Dynavector DV DRT XV-1s Cartridge
Matching cartridge for the arm/tt. Many respected audiophiles and reviewers out there respect this cartridge to be among the best there is, with a superbly tracking needle combined with maximum detail and dynamics.
Stealth Audio Cables Hyperphono phono cable
Superb phono cable to transport that delicate signal to the phono stage in the Dartzeel NHB 18-ns. This phono cable ranks up there among the best today.
DartZeel NHB-18 NS Battery Powered Pre-Amp
Never heard before 18 no switches. This pre-amp is amazing. Michael Fremer, with regret, came to the conclusion that it smokes his recently purchased Musical Fidelity pre (see his review) and Manley Steelhead phono stage! Battery powered, extreme short signal path, revolutionary volume control that does not touch the signal path, fantastically quiet phono stage, Zeel 50 Ohm connections. An absolute marvel.
DartZeel NHB-108 Model One Poweramp
Never heard before 108 model one. This is the latest B-version with auto dc compensation. I have the dc compensation turned off and manually biased the outputs. I changed the voltage myself. It is extremely transparent, fast, natural sounding power-amp I heard. It's head and shoulders above my previous reference, the ML 33h. And to top it off its a true piece of eye candy!
Grand Prix Audio Monaco Isolation Amp Stand
For DartZeel NHB-108 model one power amp. Its a tri-pod and is waiting to be upgraded with the racing shelve and apex feet.
Evolution Acoustics MM3 Full Range Speakers
The next step in audio. At -6db 7Hz-77Khz, reported to have hit 3Hz at a high-end show! These speakers are awesomely beautiful and massive and still have the awesome capability to disappear entirely and leaving you just with the music. 4 powered subwoofers (1000 watts) treated paper in a closed cabinet design, adjustable for x-over, volume, bass style (tight vs full), octaves, and a rumble filter for vinyl lovers. I love the bass speed of this design, and the fact that it goes extremely low. The Aurum Cantus tweeter is also adjustable by -11db. The powered subwoofer takes the sonic character of the Dartzeel poweramp exactly because its not an active subwoofer. The midranges are the well known Accuton ceramic ones that many top designs use. These replaced my beautiful SF Stradivaries ... with no regrets. And what is unbelievable they've appreciated in value since I got them!
Acoustic Arts Powercord Silver (x2)
Silver powercord for the powered MM3 class D amps. Needed a sound but cheaper solution to go with the power strip.
Evolution Acoustics 1 Meter RCA Interconnect
Same as internal speaker wiring. This interconnect smoked my prior reference the balanced NO Valhalla. Massive, needs room, l+r connectors cannot be too close due to the big and oh so solid terminations. Comes in a flight case.
Evolution Acoustics 2 x 3 Meters Double Runs
Same as internal speaker wiring. Two dubble runs, one for the plus one for the minus. They easily creamed my Valhalla speaker cable in a direct a/b comparison before I changed from my previous system. They are resting on 8 ceramic cable elevators for improved space and clarity.
Jena Labs Model One Powercord (x2)
AC filter power cord, beat my prior $3000 Gutwire handsdown! Uncompromising. One is conncting my power-amp, the other the CDP.
Marantz ST-17 Tuner
Old tuner that I had lying around. You know the downside on radio frequency band etc. But when I listen to my favorite local classical music station I actually hear a lot of the originla recording, microdynamic detail that I didn't expect to hear through radio with cheap monster interconnects. Fantastic! Wonder how the Accuphase T1000 would sound with some real good interconnects...
Accustic Arts Silver Interconnect
From tuner to pre-amp. Cheap solution replacing my Oehlbach XXL interconnects.
Finite Elemente Pagode Master Ref Isolation Rack
5 shelve black and aluminium. I love the thought and technology that went into this rack design. The shelves are variable in height (except top and bottom) and they are resting on Cerabase feet. Will be replaced by GPA at some point in time.
Finite Elemente Cerabase Isolation Feet (x4)
A must with the Pagode MR rack.
Acoustic Arts Active 6 Powerstrip (x2)
As solid as they come, with net filter, digital and analog sections. Good value.
Acoustic System Resonators (x15)
1 platinum, 2 special gold, 2 gold, 7 silver, 2 basic, infinitely tunable, lot's of fun and UNBELIEVABLE positive impact. No other room treatment or component could do this, ever! One silver in the kitchen fridge! Read up reviews on 6moons.com
Acoustic System Sugar Cubes (2x17)
Tuning devices. 6moons review. I have two sets, also in my bedroom, we really do sleep deeper and better!
Acoustic System Phase Corrector (x1)
Phase correction behind the speakers when reflected sound inverts naturally, ingenious!
Acoustic System Diffusor (x4)
Diffuses resonating surfaces, three behind the speakers on the windows, one under the power-amp.
HannL Mera EL Record Cleaning Machine
Modern RCM that doesn't take forever to clean, has variable speed turning left and right, variable suction helps too. Using the HannL standard X2000 cleaning fluid for now. Dustcover from HannL to fit exactly, pretty good looking if I may say so! For all vinyl lovers, this is an absolute must have!
IKEA Hemnes Stand
Dedicated RCM (night!)stand with a handy storage space for cloths, fluids and other accessories, 15x15x30 (WxDxH) inches. The height is perfect, no bending forward needed as the record is cleaned at about 42 inches off the ground.
Ceramic Cable Elevators (x8)
Ceramic cable elevators, four each side under the double run Evolution Acoustics speakers wires. It helps to space the double runs the recommended 2 inches apart better.
Frank, the MPS5 outplayed the CDSA SE (before the upgraded drive & feet) to my ears in my system. No I haven't compared it to the Nova Physics, it is not widely available for testing as far as I know, and I'm not convinced that the technology employed is worth its pursuit. In addition, since I first heard of it the balance of the discussions was confusing at best. If it had any serious merit it should have taken the audiophile world by storm, it didn't, so that should tell you something.
Pierre, you and I could probably spend a good deal of time over the good ole days from the past, while enjoying some great music and wine ...
If you're ever in my nick of the woods, you'd be most welcome!
Next this thread will close, my system is being packed today. That means reduced music enjoyment (iPod etc) for the next 4-7 weeks. Once I have found a new home for it I will start up a new thread. I'll probably have to call it "Audiophile Heaven Moved Again!"
Microstrip, I am happy to have been able to rekindle some of your memorable musical moments! And I would be the last one to claim that DartZeel products could recreate that magic for you. But what I can claim is that DartZeel can recreate many magical moments for me...
Your reference to musicians in the London underground made me jump out of my seat to fetch the Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. One of my more memorable music sessions was a listening to a young classical female cellist playing the Suite no 4 in the underground corridor near Piccadily. Even the Daartzeel can not approach the magic of that moment!
When I used to live in London UK, the musicians in the underground and on street corners, Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square used to catch my attention. We'd hang around after a catching a Westend show for hours ... until the first train next morning would take us back home. The tunnel reverb of a saxophone tune is something that I'll never forget, coming down on an elevator, drop 50 pence in the hat. Sigh, those were the days ...
Thank you Dlanselm for visiting my blog and compliments. Before I answer your question I have to say that I have read your whole blog from beginning to end and I am grateful for you sharing your experiences and thorough evaluations when describing them. I sure do miss seeing your "favorite" component, I hope that no replacement was necessary there... :-)
I fully agree with you when you are in a position to enjoy real life acoustic instruments at reasonable SPL's, there's nothing better. Especially when they are played by the most talented of musicians, and the musical scores are interesting. Now that can, and should, be used as a reference. However, I have been in many live musical events where conditions for optimal enjoyment were not there. Sure those conditions also depend on your expectations and other factors. I have been in Jazz clubs where the sound was way too loud, acoustical instruments mixed with over-amplified ones. Many classical concerts where I was sitting in the back or to on side of the hall, and the reverb was distracting. That's why I said "NOT always". But when a piece of music is well recorded, minimal editing, good equipment, pressing etc. often I can enjoy a piece better than if I would have been at the live event. Often classical music. But if you sit in the mid-front of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Bernard Haitink is doing Bruckner's 7th ... wow, nothing beats that. Now Jazz and rock is different, as the ambience of live is very difficult to capture on tape. I have been fortunate to have been at the Live Aid , Mandela even Pink Floyd concerts in Wembley Stadium in London during the mid 80s. That LIVE ambience I have never felt since, also not on CD/DVD/LP etc. Some other substances may have helped those experiences too... :)
I agree with you about the street violin player ... and I remember that one of your goals is to have a live violin in your room. And I don't claim to have that with my system, no system can do that, but if you close your eyes and you imagine the violin player there in your room, any system that does that in my opinion is quite a feat. When I play the Violins of Cremona recordings from FONE, I have to admit that it gets scarily close to the real thing. I know it when I get chills on my back, arms and/or face. I make the emotional connection with the recorded piece. To me that's what its all about, making the emotional connection is the ultimate. Don't need to every day, but if you are in the right mood, and it happens, it's almost as good as an org**m. When you think about and expensive one, but one nonetheless.
My first system didn't give me that emotional connection, my current one does, and as I learn more about how to optimize my room I am amazed at how more and more real it gets. But its as much about the recording and the room as it is about the system and design/technology used.
"I learned that live sound is NOT always the reference from which to judge a system. But understanding how a live instrument compares or a voice certainly helps to judge the palpability of a system"
Please elaborate on this quote you made further please.
Are you referring to live amplified sound/instruments in which case I can relate. However, on acoustic instruments not even close to ME. Because for me I would rather listen to a real violin player on the street, or in worst place imaginable over my own stereo system. I would rather listen to a real piano played in a crowded department store or any other less than ideal setting, again over my own stereo.
Personally when I hear the first "live" note of ANY instrument, I always gasp at how far away even ultra high end stereo is from live music.
Pierre, without thinking too much I would say my GPA Monaco turntable. It's my most easy and solid performing component at the cutting edge of technology. However, there is no single best component in my system really. In my case all the components are excellent and together are more than the sum of each, when well setup.
I have, by now, during the past four years since I started listening to high-end systems, not heard a complete system sound this close to real sound, as being right there in the venue with the recording engineer. And when he does his job well, there is nothing between you and the music. I have learned a lot along the way on each step of the process of capturing a recording, studio or live, all the engineering choices that many people make along the way to eventually coming out of my speakers into my ears at home. It's fun to be able to better understand a particular technology, material, design philosophy and its sonic effects. Not that I'm an expert, but I am certainly better educated than when i started. And it continues.
I learned that live sound is NOT always the reference from which to judge a system. But understanding how a live instrument compares or a voice certainly helps to judge the palpability of a system. The room is one of the most ignored components of a system sound. Recently I have been putting a lot of effort into this area, and boy-oh-boy, the improvements I get are easily ranking up there with one excellent component. I am amazed at improvements that can be had in this area. Each time though you have to look at its technological base and the reasons how it should function.
I like to compare this hobby to that of oenology (wine tasting). There is a long learning process to go through before you can claim any type of understanding. There is a lot of trying out to do, and making up ones own opinion and choices. Ultimately to find out there is no one best way, each has their merit. That is why it is a fun hobby, after all, there are NO LIMITATIONS set to the art of reproducing recorded MUSIC because music as an art by itself has no limits.
Sorry for rambling on, I just couldn't help myself. Enjoy the music!
I was looking for a CD treatment solution over and above the cleaning i currently do. So I looked at Furutech, Nespa, Audio Desk Systeme and Creactiv. It's amazing what there is out there and the workings of each are sometimes technologically diffucult to explain let alone understand when your not a physicist ... ie most audiophiles.
I have at home now the CD Optimizer of Creactiv, it seems to me the best improvement possible without altering the physical state of the medium. Increase in soundstage definition and information, improved sound of instruments and voice. One example was one of my faviorite songs, Diana Krall's, When I look into your eyes (Verve SACD). Much, much improved, but very noticably her eSS's had become extremely palpable, where as before on any CDP, including my current one, they came across a bit harsh and overpronounced.
I think this one is staying. It's just a piece of treated granite that eliminates electrosmog and electrostatic build up on a molecular level. the disc after becomes an optimizer in the CDP. 30 seconds and done! I'll have to get the LP version and try it out on my vinyl.
I'm not sure about the size, the pic you see behind Kevin on one of the CES report sites, is as close of an image there is ... its computer animated Herve said. Not sure whether the're the size of our old 33H mono's, perhaps slightly smaller, but a lot less heavy and ofcourse more powerful and better sounding.
When my dealer came over to set up my tt he used the Wally Tracter, it worked great for me, only adjusted VTA after to compensate for the cantilever suspension break in. Have you heard about the XV-1T cartridge yet? Supposedly a step up from the XV-1S ... a 2X retail though.
I've had so many new titles recently (200+) that I have not taken the time to post them. One stands out though, Alejandro Escovedo, Room of Songs. Live recording with a string quintet, fantastically captured, double CD only. I also recently got some of-the-planet-good-sounding SACD's from Harmonia Mundi, and some smaller German audiophile labels.
On the DZ Mono's, What kind of size are we talking about? I talked with JT but forgot to ask. He was very impressed as well. They are on my radar for sure. Not putting down my 108 (which is just awesome) but mono's have always been a thing for me.
I recalibrated the TT a few weeks ago with the Feickert alignment tools. I highly recommend them. I thought I had things dialed in fairly close, which I did , but the small adjustments made paid big dividends. Analog keeps sounding better & better.
Hi Pierre, yes I did hear the V2 ... no I did not go into the Vienna Acoustics room. And yes, I do have the crates, fully assembled, this will be their third move, you could say I have experience with dismantling and putting together the MM3's :-)
Btw, Emmlabs sounded very good in Ray Kimbers 4 channel room!
Well, for me it was a lot of aural and visual stimulation packed in three days. But I did like some rooms more than others, many rooms were dissappointing though. Jonathan's room was definitely the best sound for me, the mono's were amazing. Herve and Serge were great, Andreas and Kevin & Jonathan too. The speakers are little jewels!
I liked: Ray Kimber's TAD room, and the monitors next door, I liked the Crystal Cable room, the new glass speakers, I liked the big Swedish $300K speakers too, can't remember the name ... I liked Ocean Way room for its most dynamic sound, butt-ugly system though.
I was expecting better from, the Hansen King's, Wilson Alexandria's, Magico M5 and YG Anat's. Also the Continuum room was not among the best sounds either.
My biggest disappointment was the MBL reference room, what a boomy base ... yikes!
Most memorable person I met was Chad Kassem from Acoustic Sounds, what a great guy!
I'm moving again pretty soon, this time Dubai. Hope my records won't melt!