Description

August 15, 2017: System updated and Computer Audio front end/cabling added.

This system has evolved since 1989 when I bought the Classe' Audio DR-6L preamp/DR-25 amp (still own both) to power a pair of Apogee Stages and, later Duetta Signatures. Mostly a collection of older but well matched gear. Bought most of it new. Still sounds great to my ears. 

I reincarnated the VPI TNT/ET Two analog rig and have modded and improved it with the advice and encouragement of Agoner's ct0517 and frogman. Much appreciated!

Recent addition of two Classe' Audio DR-9 amplifiers running in bridged mono creating more fleshed out harmonics and a sense of limitless headroom.

Most recent addition of the Synergistic Research Powercell 10 UEF with the FEQ power reclocking unit and UEF powercord is simply revelatory. The overwhelmingly positive effect of this "power conditioner" on every aspect of my system's sound is beyond any expectation.  Who could have thought that just cleaning up and modifying the AC power from my dedicated 30 amp lines to my components would produce such a profound sonic improvement. Naysayers be damned!
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Room Details

Dimensions: 24’ × 15’  Large
Ceiling: 9’


Components Toggle details

    • ANALOG FRONT END: VPI TNT 2.5 Turntable with SDS & Thread Drive

    9/13/2017: Replaced original 600rpm motor with VPI single 300rpm motor/flywheel assembly. TNT plinth/platter rests on a large 24”X19” Symposium Ultra Platform and motor/ flywheel rests on a separate Ultra platform which is sitting in sand bed inside Bright Star Big Rock (separated/isolated from TNT and Corian platform).

    Big Rock sits on 1/2" Corian slab on top of edges of (but not in) Bright Star Big Rock sand box. VPI motor/flywheel assembly sits on a custom Symposium Ultra platform inside the sand box for isolation from the TNT plinth. Only contact between motor/flywheel and platter is a single thread, eliminating the slow-sounding VPI rubber belts and complex pulley system.  Dramatic improvement in sonics of the TNT: lighter, quicker sound with better frequency extension and more tuneful bass. Thanks to Agoner frogman for this tip.
    • ANALOG FRONT END: Eminent Technology Two Air Bearing Tangential Tonearm
    Original 2.0 version upgraded with HP manifold. Using a "dual spring" I-beam. Air supply is Medo AC910 compressor => HP regulator/filter => 4 foot long 4" PVC DIY surge tank =>low-pressure regulator/filter => check valve => ET two arm manifold.
    • ANALOG FRONT END: Transfiguration Orpheus L LOMC Cartridge
    Low output (0.3mV) version of the famous hand-built Orpheus.
    • DIGITAL SOURCE 1: Aurender N100H Server/Renderer/Streamer
    Well built server/renderer/streamer with excellent custom iPad App.
    • DIGITAL SOURCE 1: DENAFRIPS Terminator DAC
    Multi-bit R2R NOS DAC. Extremely natural sounding with abundant detail.
    • DIGITAL SOURCE 1: Ayre Acoustics CX-7eMP CD Player used as CD Transport
    Feeds redbook to Terminator DAC via AES/EBU cable
    • DIGITAL SOURCE 2: ModWright Sony 5400ES SACD/CD Player
    Upgrades include MW tube output section in player, 9.9 tube power supply, Audio Magic Gen Vx, Bybee rails, SR Black fuses, Audio Magic Illusion umbilical, Symposium Svelte Plus shelf, Symposium Rollerblock 2+, Solid-Tech Discs of Silence.
    • DIGITAL SOURCE 2: ModWright 9.9 Power Supply
    Upgrade from 9.0 power supply on resting on edenSound roller bearing footers and Symposium Svelte platform. Philips 5R4GYS Rectifier Tube, SR Black fuse
    • FOUNDATION SYSTEM: Ayre Acoustics K-1xe Phonolinepreamplifier
    Black K-1xe with MC internal phono stage, external power supply, and remote. Vibration control: 19" X 14" Symposium Svelte Plus shelf coupled with edenSound roller bearing footers. External power supply rests on SR MiG 2.0 footers atop a Ariston constrained-layer MDF platform.
    • FOUNDATION SYSTEM: Classe' Audio DR-9 Stereo Amplifier via SE inputs
    The DR-9 betters the Krell for micro dynamic reproduction and overall musicality, giving up very little in slam and authority to the monster Krell except at insane volume levels.

    Like the DR-25, sound is far better via SE inputs vs XLR.
    • FOUNDATION SYSTEM: Thiel Audio CS 5i Loudspeakers
    Jim Thiel's statement loudspeaker. Time coherent design provides huge, limitless sound with excellent detail and superior micro/macro dynamics. Stereophile Class A rated for years in the 1990's. Teak finish.
    • FOUNDATION ANCILLARY: Synergistic Research Active Grounding Block SE
    This is a revelatory product.
    • FOUNDATION ANCILLARY: Synergistic Research Powercell 10 UEF with FEQ Reclocking Device
    Of all of the components I have installed or upgraded over the years, the SR Powercell 10 UEF has created the most profound improvement in the sound of my system. The optional FEQ AC reclocking unit sets this product miles ahead of the rest of the power conditioner pack as well as plugging components, even and especially monster power amps, directly into the dedicated 30 amp receptacles.

    Included is a SR modded Element Copper Tungsten active $2k power cord with two interchangeable UEF modules that customize the sound to compliment each type of system (tube or SS) and a SR Teslaplex SE receptable.
    • FOUNDATION ANCILLARY: REL Stadium III X 2 (Dual) Sub-Bass System
    Dual REL powered sub-bass systems with high-level input from amps speaker terminals as well as XLR line-level inputs for HT use.  A champ at 2-channel integration via the high-level inputs that mimic the sound of the amp in use.

    Synergistic Research A/C Master Coupler X2-series power cords and REL-spec X2 active high-level cables further enhanced the contribution of the RELs, set to  out-of-phase mode to further cancel room bass nodes. Very audible improvement in soundstaging and overall bass tunefulness. 
    • VIBRATION CONTROL: Sound Anchors Lead/Sand Filled Component Stand
    Lead/Sand filled component stand coupled to concrete slab foundation.
    • VIBRATION CONTROL: Symposium Acoustics Svelte/Svelte Plus/Rollerblock 2+
    Excellent at conducting internal vibration away from component chassis' and isolating same from ground/rack/air borne vibration.
    • VIBRATION CONTROL: Bright Star Big Rock TNT Sand Mass Turntable Platform
    Sand filled base specifically made for VPI TNT. Also have matching air-bladder platform (not in use).
    • FOUNDATION CABLING: Tweak Geek Dark Energy speaker cables
    • FOUNDATION CABLING: Verastarr Grand Illusion Signature II RCA and Signature III XLR interconnects
    Most impressive ICs I have owned.
    • COMPUTER FRONT END CABLING: Purist Audio Ethernet cable
    Have tried the SOtM dCBL CAT7, Synergistic Research Ethernet Active UEF SE, and Purist Audio Ethernet cables. All are excellent, but the Purist is staying put.
    • COMPUTER FRONT END CABLING: Synergistic Research Galileo UEF USB cable
    Have tried the WW Platinum Starlight 7, Curious, Stealth, and Purist Audio 30th Anniversary USB cables and the Galileo is so much more.
    • DIGITAL FRONT END POWER CABLING: Verastarr Grand Illusion Statement II HC Dual Foil Silver and Statement II Gold Alloy HC Power Cables
    Statement II HC Silver feeds power to DENAFRIPS Terminator DAC while Statement II HC Gold feeds Aurender N100H server/renderer/streamer. These are serious power cables.
    • POWER CABLING: Verastarr Grand Illusion Statement III Silver Foil Power Cables
    Mike Powell’s new State-of-the Art pure silver foil power cables feed power to preamp and amp. These are incredible power cables.
    • SYSTEM POWER: Dual Dedicated 30amp AC circuits and SR Teslaplex SE Receptacles
    Two dedicated 30amp AC circuits run directly from fuse box. Receptacles are Quantum-tunneled Synergistic Research Teslaplex SE.
    • SYSTEM POWER: High Fidelity MC-0.5 Magnetic AC Enhancers
    Added three of these magnetic "oddities" to the 2nd outlet of the primary AC receptacle that feeds the Powercell 10 UEF SE. A nice improvement in soundstaging, depth, and air.
    • ROOM ACOUSTICAL TREATMENT: DIY Sealed Floor to Ceiling Bass Traps
    DIY 2" Thick Owens Corning solid Fiberglass Bass Traps completely sealed to the corner walls, ceiling and floor with garage door weatherstripping. Huge improvement in taming mid-bass hump.
    • ROOM ACOUSTICAL TREATMENT: Synergistic Research FEQ Generator and HFT Resonance Devices
    Audible improvement in soundstage width, depth, and layering.
    • ROOM ACOUSTICAL TREATMENT: Shakti Hallograph Acoustic Tuning Stands
    Failed to recognize soundstaging and imaging improvements until placed in the rear corners (behind listening position). Prefer them rotated such that they face the center of my listening room. They do make a difference!
    • ANALOG SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: DIY Custom Pin to XLR Tonearm Wiring Harness
    Designed and constructed myself with the help of Gene at Take Five Audio. Fully-balanced configuration with four continuous unshielded Cardas copper tonearm wire runs, carefully twisted yet channel-separated, from Transfiguration Orpheus L pins to ViaBlue gold-over-bronze XLR connectors plugged into Ayre-K-1xe XLR phono inputs. Cryo'd and burned-in by Take Five Audio prior to construction.
    • ANALOG SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: ET-Two 2.0 High Pressure Manifold
    Air bearing manifold upgrade that enables applying significantly higher air pressure to the arm's manifold, resulting in a much more rigid manifold/spindle interface. Now running at 19 psi to the manifold. Sonic impact is of the level of moving up in phono stage and/or cartridge.
    • ANALOG SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: Medo AC910 Compressor for ET Two
    This is a Medo AC910 medical compressor (14psi nominal/21psi max) for supplying high pressure/high flow air supply to ET Two
    • ANALOG SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: Low pressure regulator/filter for ET Two
    This is the second of two air regulator/filters in the air supply to the ET Two. It is mounted on the wall directly behind the turntable.
    • ANALOG SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: DIY Sound Baffle Box for Medo Compressor
    I built this to reduce the noise from the Medo compressor and placed it in a closet just outside of my listening room  It has dense-foam pieces with air passage labyrinths sandwiched between panels on either side of the compressor and a 110V computer fan to provide airflow. Second fan and additional air inlet added after pics to improve cross-draft cooling of the compressor. See pic of Medo compressor to see the internal view of the baffle box.
    • DIGITAL SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: ModWright 5400ES SACD/CD Player inside
    Upgrades include MW tube output section in player, Audio Magic Gen Vx, Bybee rails, SR Black fuses. Black Treasure 6N7 tubes.
    • DIGITAL SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: ModWright Bybee Rail
    Additional option on MW5400ES
    • DIGITAL SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: Synergistic Research Black Fuses in MW5400ES
    • DIGITAL SOURCE IMPROVEMENT: ModWright Audio Magic Gen Vx
    Optional upgrade to MW5400ES. A device that eliminates RF/EMI inside the component itself.
    • HOME THEATER AUDIO FRONT END: System
    Onkyo PR-SC885 Processor (identical to Integra 9.8 excepting faceplate)
    Sony X800 4K BluRay Player
    Toshiba HD-A35 HD DVD Player
    Pioneer CLD-D704 LaserDisk Player
    Onkyo A-10 Integrated Amplifier (used to power EPI Model100 rear channel speakers)

    Front L/R channels from Onkyo processor connected to Ayre K-1xe via Transparent Audio Reference XL XLR interconnects.  Phantom center channel. Dual REL Stadium III subs used for LF channel.
    • HOME THEATER VIDEO: Epson Home Cinema 8700 UB Projector
    Epson Home Cinema 8700 UB LDC projector mounted to ceiling
    • HOME THEATER: DIY Power Station for HT components
    Billet aluminum housing, Furutech gold IEC, SR Teslaplex/PorterPort/Hubbell receptacles, 10-gauge OFC point-to-point wiring.

    Use 25 foot custom 10-gauge power cord to supply power from SR Powercell 10 UEF.
    • ALTERNATE EQUIPMENT: Krell FPB-600c Stereo Power Amplifier
    The Beast! Weighs in at 180 lbs, not including base. Fully-differentially balanced pseudo-Class A design. Peak current of 152 amps. Said to vaporize speaker cables if accidentally shorted!

    Stereophile's joint Amplification Product of the Year for 1997.

    Conservatively rated at 600w/ch @8ohms,1200w/[email protected], 2400w/[email protected] In the May 1997 issue of Stereophile, Martin Collums declared that the 600c's predecessor, the FPB-600, "rewrote the book on amplification as to require a total reexamination of Class A power amplifiers in Stereophile's "Recommended Components."  The only difference between the FPB-600 and 600c is a styling change to the front faceplate and the substitution of the then-new Krell "Cast" input system (thus the addition of the "c" to the product name) in place of single-ended inputs.

    The included testing section by John Atkinson stated: "And for 1 ohm - wait for it - an amazing 6kW!".
    • ALTERNATE EQUIPMENT: Classe' Audio DR-25 Stereo Power Amplifier
    Last Dave Reich Classe' design. Bought new in 1989.  Conservatively rated at 250w/[email protected], 500w/[email protected], and 1000w/[email protected] Doubles down like a great amp should. Bridgeable to [email protected] ohms. 

    Faithfully rises to any load challenge. Drives the "amp-killer" CS5i, Apogee Scintilla, Infinity RS & Kappa to high volumes no problem. Never stumbled in 27 years of such duty.

    Somewhat dark sounding via XLR yet tonally rich, open, detailed and musical in SE mode with exceptional dynamics, soundstaging and depth. Lifetime Warranty. Ultimate reliability.
    • ALTERNATIVE EQUIPMENT: VPI JMW Memorial 12" Tonearm
    Classic unipivot 12" arm with VPI Zebrawood TNT base.  Pic does not do the zebrawood base justice as to its natural beauty.

    Has been sitting on a shelf for years since I opted to reinstall the ET Two arm.
    • ILLUSTRATION: Sony SCD-XA5400 ES SACD Player on Rollerblock 2+/Symposium Svelte shelf/Solid-Tech Discs of Silence
    Stock Sony 5400ES sitting on (3) Symposium Rollerblock 2+ on top of Symposium Svelte shelf on top of Solid-Tech Discs of Silence on top of MDF shelf treated with 80mil Dynamat
    • ILLUSTRATION: Sony SCD-XA5400ES Lid with 80 mil thick Dynamat applied to inside
    Nice improvement in the sound of the Sony 5400ES for under $5
    • ILLUSTRATION: Classe' Audio DR-9 Amplifier with spring suspension

Comments 30

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Center
Hi Dave thanks for the explanation on your Empire cart setup
it answered my curiosity. .
yeah, mine is the later version with the different mount. 
It can only be mounted one way. 

My Room B  - SP10/ET2 is setup just for MM.
The Empire was on there for a time. The Acutex 420str outperformed the Empire and others, so its on there now. I went through a stretch, with a bunch of different MM's. Most have now been sold. The Empire is in its wood case in the drawer. It has also been crazy glued. :^)

Cheers Chris

ct0517

Center
Hi Dave 

Amazing looking room and setup. The usual complaint -wish we weren't so far apart to share listening to music.

I like what's playing on your turntable. We named our daughter after the Beatles song Michelle. Later when she hit teenage years she approached us and asked why we gave her a name with the word hell in it. :^(   
That TNT brings back a lot of good memories. 

Hello to Dan also on the thread.

Dave  - A comment / question on the Empire 4000 D/III cartridge. I own a later version that has the plastic mount. 

In your pictures you show it mounted with two different metal clips. Why does the proper metal clip mount for that cartridge make it look like its plowing potatoes ?  

I appears to be at an extreme angle (high VTA - tail way up in the air) ?

Cheers Chris 

ct0517