Description

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?

Constructive comments are always welcome.
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Components Toggle details

    • EMM Labs CDSA SE Digital Source
    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.

Comments 206

222222&text=mi
Henry,
I have an update. I got the GP rack installed. I am speechless. The changes were profound. It is probably a combination of getting my previous wall unit out of there as well as the GP rack. I can now hear much more of the music then I did before. On one song, it was as if I was listening to it for the first time. Pretty amazing. Not sure about leaving the components on. In my room, that would not be a good idea. Even with the second air condition drop that I had put in, I am sure my small room would get very warm. It may even extend the life of the equipment. All that off and on may "harm" the electronics. They say the worst thing you can do to your car is start it up. But who knows. I may be talking out of my you know what :). But I have read that some gear better as the listening session goes on.

mikeduke

222222&text=mt
Owner
Easiest tweak, I've decide not to turn off my system overnight anymore (unless I go on vacation). When the system is warmed up the sound is so much more analog. I started with the CD player, then the power amp, now also the pre amp and the tuner stay on. Not sure what that will do to my electric bill (goes up I guess!), nor the longevity of the components. The power amp runs the warmest.

Anyone any thoughts on this?

mtkhl567

222222&text=mi
Yea,
it was really fantastic. When I get back from vacation I hope we can get the Garnd Prix installed. I know Barry said he would check on the status for me. But that is a sweet combo.

mikeduke

222222&text=mt
Owner
Mike, without exception everyone - I know of - that heard Barry's system came away saying it was the best they ever heard, including me. I consider myself fortunate to belong to that group of MM3/Dart/GPA owners.

mtkhl567

222222&text=mi
Henry, I went over to Barry's place today. WOW is that an awsome system. Those speakers (MM2) are just incredible. With the Dart gear, they sound fantasic. That cd player, The PlayBack, is off the charts good. It is the most real and natural sounding player I have ever heard. And the TT is, well, incredible. The sonic resonators are cool as well. We played arround a bit and it was easy to hear the cnanges they made. I ordered the rack and I should have it in a few weeks.

mikeduke

222222&text=mi
That may seem confusing so I will clarify.
I walk with a cane so I do NOT need anything to make my situation worse then it already is :-).

OK now we are good.

mikeduke

222222&text=mi
Do not need. not do need. I guess I need to think slower and type faster :).

mikeduke

222222&text=mi
Thanks for the warning. I will make sure I am sitting down first. I walk with a cane so I do need anything to make my situation worse then it already is :-).

mikeduke

222222&text=mt
Owner
Point of no return, we audiophiles are all afflicted with that I guess. Barry has carpet on his floor, so when your jaw drops it should be a "soft" landing :-)

Enjoy!

mtkhl567

222222&text=mi
I am way past the point of no return. Trust me. I already have my upgrade path all laid out. It will take a while(years) but that's OK. I can wait. I am going to Barry's on Sat to hear his system and buy the Monaco rack. I can't wait to listen to his system. It should be quite a treat.

mikeduke

222222&text=mt
Owner
Lapierre, on the resonators, the difference is immediately noticeable. However, normally takes a couple of days to settle in. For me it took the good part of a week to reposition the speakers such that the music seems not to come from them but is rather free standing in the "virtual" room. In plain speak, the room seems much larger than it is and the music does not come from the speakers but is just there in front of you (or around you, depending on the recording). Now the speakers are not toed in at all and slightly closer together (9 ft instead of 10 ft) and my ears are exactly 12 feet from each tweeter in the sweet spot. The sweet spot seemed to have grown too...

I'm playing with the sugar cubes now... see what that brings! Another side effect, we all seem to sleep much better, especially the kids seem to have more difficulty waking up in the morning! Deeper sleep...

On the Emm I did install that latest SW upgrade. I didn't seem to find a huge difference, but to be honoust I didn't do proper a/b testing either. I seemed to me that the lower to mid base tightened up a bit. But then came the resonators...

Mike, once you have heard some resonators in your system, be careful, you will not want to go back to before :-)

mtkhl567

222222&text=mi
"Lapierre, the resonators are fantastic, especially in smaller rooms where room acoustics (modes) are quickly evident" :)
That is great to hear. These will be the next items I get after my rack gets setup. Barry has indicated to me many times that they will make a very big impact in my room. Can't wait to see for myself.

mikeduke

222222&text=la
Good to know about about the Resonators. And I trust your judgment. How long did it take to notice a difference? Interesting observation I made about the resonators. You don't have the visual impact of absorbing & diffusing panels hung on the wall. I'm wondering if this lowers your expectation at first glance before settling down to listen to music compared to seeing traditional large acoustic panels positioned on the walls. The visual impact can trick you.

Where did you order the resonators from?

Did you upgrade the Emm player with the latest software version? I wanted to know if you could here the differences in your reference system. I'm still researching the new german transport and upgraded isolation feet.

lapierre

222222&text=mt
Owner
Lapierre, thanks for your reply. Obviously the fuses need to be in the signal path for them to have any sonic effect. Both my pre and power amps do not have the fuses in the signal path, therefore no impact. The Emm I'm not so sure about. I've never opened the box up either.

The resonators have settled in and I'm now moving them around a little to optimize their effect. For now its most amazing, the increased sense of space, the lower noise floor, the higher level of detail. Fully recommended!

mtkhl567

222222&text=la
Henry I did not A/B the different fuses (Hifi Tuning vs. Isoclean) for Emm Labs player. Too many changes to the player and system. I made a lot of changes with tubes in pre and power amp plus the Emm modification.

I did A/B the fuses with MC275 power amps. I give a slight edge to Isoclean as adding a bit more clarity. Was it a huge difference? No. You notice difference more in instrument solos and percussion but not complex music passage.

lapierre

222222&text=mt
Owner
Lapierre, did you a/b the upgraded fuse in your CDSA player? If so, can you say something about that?

mtkhl567

222222&text=mt
Owner
Lapierre, the resonators are fantastic, especially in smaller rooms where room acoustics (modes) are quickly evident, these little guys make a HUGE difference. Barry has a small room, he knows. I tell you, there is nothing like this, forget absorbing & diffusing with big stuff. I've got them in for 9 hours now, and I would have paid just for the improvement I'm hearing now, after 2 days settling in NIRVANA will have arrived, the room will have disappeared and the music will be outside my speakers ... spooky. Franck Tchang, what a guy!

mtkhl567

222222&text=la
Henry how's your system sounding with Acoustic System Resonators (ASR)? Just wondering if the ASR will help pull the sound from the front wall more and improve sound stage for small room listening.

Just returned from two week trip in Malvern, PA late Friday night and was unable to meet with Barry of Transparent Music. I was really looking forward to listening to some great components but my working schedule just did not allow the flexibility during the week days.

Pierre

lapierre

222222&text=mi
Thanks.
I also just got an email back from SME. They said that they also make arms for 12in tables. The Dynavector seems to be a standard bearer. But, I would talk to Barry about of course. I did email him and he was unsure if it could be done. He said he was not sure. I would rather not deal with "not sure" at this stage of the game. He also said that the Moerch is a nice arm, but not in the league of the Dynavector. Barry Also might be able to get Well Tempered and VPI.

But the person from Dynavector told me that he knows for a fact that Nottingham has made quite a few custom bases for the DV tone arm and he told me that he used a spacedeck with the arm and it worked beautifully. It looks like I will have a lot to talk about when I visit Barry.

mikeduke

222222&text=mt
Owner
Moerch in Europe has been around for quite a while, one man show, like the guy in the US that makes the Phantom B-44 tonearm ... forgot his name. Buthe has a decent reputation.

For me the choice was the cartridge first, the XV-1s seems to work extremely well with the characteristics of the GPA tt, extremely high transparency and resolution, excellent PRAT and dynamics. And the DV507II arm sort of seemed logical choice for me. At least as a first step into analog. I haven't been disappointed, it sounds fantastic, or should I say within my system it sounds fantastic. Be careful about a tt manufacturer saying that they can have any arm mount, it may be possible, but it may not sound best with that table. Here you have to ask around from people with experience on what matches, and preferably listen yourself. Trying tonearms is tricky though, with the whole setup process etc. Good luck!

mtkhl567

222222&text=mi
That's really strange. The second link says the wrong thing but goes to the right place. Freaky. Yea, the second link has some info on the table. This table also has something called The Wave Mechanic Power Supply. It generates a clean signal that gets sent to the table. It is supposed to keep the platter spinning at a constant speed. Plus there is a Heavy kit. That places a pad (similar to the top level of the Hyperspace platter assembly) made of 7/8ths inch of graphite on top of the platter, thereby increasing itÂ’s mass and improving its resonance characteristics. So this table can possibly grow a bit when you consider that, the fact that it "likes" Dynavector cartridges and that wave device.
Can't wait to see Barry and talk about this stuff.

mikeduke

222222&text=mi
Here are some of the replies I got regarding my question
"If the Dynavector can deal with a 294MM spindle to pivot distance then we should be able to come up with an arm mount, special order, from Nottingham."
"In light of the fact that Nottingham will make the mounting pod for whichever arm you select, I usually leave it to them to say if something will or will not work. In light of the fact that this usually takes some engineering effort on their part I usually only ask them when the question must be answered to help a consumer make a final decision. What interested you in this arm, your dealer?"

mikeduke

222222&text=mi
I will be honest, seeing your setup and Mike L's setup and all of the other cool Turn Table systems had an effect on me. It has been 15-20 years since I had a TT to listen to. I figured, why not explore the possibility. So, by those numbers, length wise, I would be OK with that arm. I have been talking with Nottingham and they said they should be able to make a mounting board for it. If not, I found another arm that would fit and seems to be a good match for the table. Since that platter is 14in I need an arm that is 12in.
http://www.moerch.dk/
There is someone here(audiogon) that has the same 294 table and changed out the stock arm with one of those. He was very impressed with the results.

http://www.audiophilesystems.com/prod/shopdisplayproducts.asp?hid=721&cid=85&sid=11&sname=&prodid=1291
That is what I am looking at. I will have a lot to talk to Barry about when I go there :)

mikeduke

222222&text=mt
Owner
Hi Mike, the GPA magnesium composite platter is 12.5" in diameter and my DV507II measures just over 12" including cartridge. I'm no expert, but I am told that the Dynavector arm is relatively heavy, and therefore doesn't lend itself for mounting on some turntables, just ask someone like Barry to confirm.

Mike, the vinyl vibe, when did this hit you? :-)))

mtkhl567

222222&text=mi
Henry, Can I ask you a question about the Dynavector tone arm. I am researching turn tables for myself. The Monaco will be out of my reach unfortunitly, but I am looking very hard at the Nottingham 294. Now, that has a 14in platter so it needs a 12in tone arm. How big is the platter of the GP. Do you think the Dynavector can be used on a platter of that size?
Thanks

mikeduke

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