- The Isolated Listening Room designed and constructed by SGR
I have discovered that the listening room is the most important component. As a result, I've listed this tweak first, before all other components. The new listening room is the key to my sound. My room is built in the basement. I based the construction on ideas from Rives Audio, ASC IsoWalls, Auralex Acoustics, plus my own experiences and knowledge gained from Audiogoners. Once the room was framed I mounted Resilient Channel (RC-1 )on the ceiling and walls. Next came layer of 5/8 drywall, then B-Quiet Extreme was placed on the drywall as per the Iso-Wall outline, then another layer of 1/2 inch greenboard drywall. Attention to each detail of the hints on the ASC Iso Wall were followed. It really slowed construction down, but the results are worth it. If I had it to over again, I'd buy their kit instead of finding alternative but similar products. The room was constucted with an audiophile's growth in mind, so their are 18 dedicated lines, wired with 10 gauge Romex type wire, with hospital grade outlets that I hope to upgrade in the next year. From the start, before any equipment was moved in, it was apparent just by listening to people talk that this room was special. One of the biggest pluses is being able to listen at any volume at any time of night and not disturbing the rest of the family. One can barely hear the system played even at high levels in adjoining parts of the basement, let alone the rest of the building. To me this is an outstanding feature!
Layout: The speakers sit about 7' from the back wall. I sit about 13' from the speakers. There is about 4 feet behind my chair including the book shelves.
Room dimensions: 24'x 13.5'x 6'10
The 31.5 might be the pinnacle in Redbook transport design. It is firmly in the top 5. My unit has recently been rebuilt at HSG and provided with a all new transport and lazer assembly.
The 360s may be my ultimate DAC. It was a big upgraded from using the DAC in the #39. Replacing the power cord with a Synergisitc Research unit made a big difference. I would like to hear a #30.6 someday.
I upgraded from a #380s. What a difference. It may lack the warmth in the midrange that a tube preamp provides, but more than makes up for it in dynamics and impact. Someday I intend to obtain the phono modules for it.
- Levinson No-436 X 4 Vertically Biamped
I replaced my ML#336 with a pair of these. They have better impact in the bass, imaging, and transparency. I recently had the opportunity to biamp my Revel Salons with another pair of these and they really made my speakers come alive. I've now purchased my second pair of 436 amps. Review to come.
I upgraded from the Studios to the Salons, and for a while I thought I'd made a mistake. They have been a frustrating speaker to get right. There has been much written about the Salons, both good and bad. It has been a struggle to get these babies to really sound their best. They like lots of power, biamping with 4 436 monoblocks has been the ultimate match so far. If you provide these babies with what they want, they will satisfy. Placement and source are critical. My pair if finished in Oak and Gloss Black.
I've added a pair of these babies to my system, so now it is triamped. It is much easier to place one sub than two, but once the setup is complete 2 is much better than one. By adding the subs I was able to treat my Salons as satellites and move them around to get the best imaging and midrange clarity. While the Salons were never anemic I feel I now have the authority and slam of the big boys in bass, plus with biamping the midrange and hi-frequencies have really become special.
The new Sub 30 powered subwoofer combines prodigious very low-frequency reproduction with unparalleled in-room response capabilities. Featuring a massive 15-inch inverted dual-layer metal dome active driver and an auxiliary 15-inch inverted dual-layer metal dome acoustic radiator, the Sub 30 can deliver truly spectacular and detailed deep bass, reaching to well below the limits of human low-frequency hearing, along with the ability to deliver room-shaking sound at astonishing sound pressure levels all with low distortion. The state-ofthe-art active driver is equipped with a sophisticated magnetic motor system that provides ultra-low distortion, obviating the need for servo control, and has an incredible 3 inches of peak-to-peak excursion capability. The built-in power amplifier boasts a phenomenal 1,000 watts of output power, with a peak reserve capability of 1,400 watts.
My Sota has been upgraded with the acrylic matt and reflex clamp. It still sounds great. I need to upgrade the cartridge and would like to send it to SOTA for tweaking.
This arm is equipped with the VTA adjuster. I don't know how it compares with today's arms, and I probably won't replace it.
This is a low output moving coil that held its own with the best when I orginally purchased it. I'm hoping to upgrade to the Denon 103r.
- Acoustat Transnova Preamp
This was my orginal preamp. I've always enjoyed its sound, especially the phono system, so I now use it as my phono preamp, and then send the signal to my #32.
- Synergistic Research Resolution Reference X2
I use three balanced pairs of this cable to connect the #32 to the #360s DAC. I also use Resolution Reference between amps and preamp and from the preamp to the Sub 30s through the crossover and back to the high frequency pair of 436s. This cable features pinpoint imaging and the sound is very round and full as compared to the Kaleidescope II. The bass has a much higher detail and appears to go an octave lower than the Kaleidescope II.
- Synergistic Research Signature 10 Active
I use 4 4'sections with active shielding to biwire and biamp my Salons.
- Synergistic Research Resolution Reference X Active
I use this PC to connect my 360s to the AC with a direct line.
- Synergistic Research Reference Master Coupler X Active
I use this cable to connect my 31.5 to a direct line.
- Synergistic Research AC Master Coupler X Series
I use this cable to connect my #32 with a direct line.
- Synergistic Research AC Master Coupler Classic
I use six of these cords, 2 for my Revel Sub 30s and 4 for my 4 436 amplifiers to the direct line balanced 30 amp circuits.
- Synergistic Research Digital Corridor Reference
I use this as an alternate cable to connect the #31.5 to the #360s
- Transparent Reference Digital
This is the digital cable I use 99% of the time.
- Solid Steel Two 5.4 Black Equipment Stands
These Italian made stands available from Music Direct look great and sound as well. I've placed two stands side by side so they look like a lowboy. Their sound easily rivals stuff from Sound Anchors or Billy Bags.
- Solid Steel 5.2 Black Amp Stands
Italian, made equipment racks. Built in Duraluminum cones for each shelf. A much better arrangement to house my 436 amps.
I use these tweaks throughout my system. I use the Vibrapod sandwich with three eighths plate glass. I've compared this combo with Audiopoints, BDR cones and pucks, and the Mapleshade cones. Nothing has beat the Vibrapods yet. To get the most from these you have to custom tune each layout by ear using a variety of Vibrapods under each component for the best sound.
Another audiophile friend and I have used Vibrapods and Vibracones for several years now with outstanding results. We've found that: 1. Make sure to experiment with different values other than quoted in the manual under your components. 2. The Vibrapod/cone combo sounds better than just the pods. 3. The Vibrapod/cone combo sounds best when making a vibrapod/cone sandwich using a piece of heavy glass (at least 3/8 or thicker) to set your components on. Go to Vibrapod.com for a description of the sandwich. 4. Vibracones sound best with our equipment (Krell, Levinson, Gryphon, Theta, Acoustat, Legacy) with the point (bearing pointing) to the component. 5. For optimum performance, place a Vibracone directly under the feet of your components, if possible beneath the screw that holds the foot to the chassis. Next, we use the piece of plate glass at least 3/8 thick (or use two pieces, it will be cheaper than 1/2 inch and sound better.)Support the glass with Vibrapod/cones in the correct configuration with points up. 6. Tune the cones/pods by ear, the factory recommendations are good, but be ready to experiment. In our systems it is easy to hear substitutions of #3 vs. #4 or #5 pods in the system. In general I like to use the minimum, one pod/cone on each corner if possible. Heavy amps will need more. 7. Tuning and placement is a pain, but I wouldn't be without them in my system. 8. I find the pod/cones deepen and round the bass, sharpen the image, while adding depth and liquidity to the system when they are tuned correctly. However, they can and do cause many of the concerns as noted above if not used correctly. 9. I've heard many misgivings concerning the use of plate glass as shelving, and having used cones with the glass before, I agree, but Vibrapods/cones work well with glass shelves but perhaps the stickiness of the cones/pods prevents the ringing that I've heard with glass using other supports. I'm not claiming that the Vibrapod/cones are the best isolation system, as I've not ever tried many of the systems mentioned above, but I do like them in my system better than many of the brass cone products I've tried. However like anything in audio, the results are system and system tuner dependent. For more info go to Vibrapod.com
These diffusors are incredible. I use them on the ceilings and sidewalls. They make my room sound much larger and taller than it actually it. They are an incredible buy and look cool too. Price is for 12.
These bass traps made a huge differnce the bass in my room. With each addition the bass becomes stronger and more defined. They are easy to place and use. I used 48 pieces.
- Auralex Corner Fill Cubes
These also absorb the bass. They are placed in the corners and the LENRDs but against them making a clean design. I used 6.
Mine are blue. I use 4 sheets overlapping and turned to make the diamond shape behind my speakers.
A sound investment. It is amazing how moving these things just a little bit can snap your system into focus. I built 3 new room lenses and added them two my system. They made a great improvement.
I have add three more room lenses to my system. A followed plans I've found in the internet and audiogon posts. I now use one pair behind the speakers, and two pair off to the side of each speaker. They were fun to make and look and sound great.
I use two of these 4' x 8'wool rugs in front of the speakers to absorb and diffuse the floor/ceiling reflection points.
- Sam's Wholesale Oak Shelves
I use these shelves behind the listen chair to provide storage, diffusion, and absorption.
- Nitty Gritty Digital Disc Cleaner
This is the long discontinued motorized version. It really can polish a disc. Its too bad that these are no longer being made, they work wonders with a CD.
I use about 6 of these units throughout the house to take the nasty stuff out of the lines that appliances add.
- Electrical Power 18 Dedicated Lines
Power is a huge factor in getting the most from your components, so I wired the room with 18 dedicated 10 guage lines. I separated each outlet into two distint lines. I will be replacing the hospital grade outlets with more exoctic units when I have time to check into these.
- Post Cereal Raisen Men Players
These guys strut their stuff when the systems warmed up and on a roll.
- Cable Elevators Hand Built
This is a tweak that you have to do! Vocalists and instruments just pop from velvety blackness. I made the platforms from MFD purchased at Home Depot and collected antique glass insulators in blue and green to mount on top of the platforms. The cables are secured by rubberbands. I built 22 in all.
- Audio Ideas Guide Imagers II
This tweak, designed by Andrew Marshall, are oval neoprene rings designed to fit around your speakers' tweeters. They work as advertised: They'll deepen the soundstage and control side-wall reflections while also eliminating baffle diffraction. After listening to my Salons with/without the rings, I was very impressed. Imaging from side to side and front to back became pinpoint in accuracy, depth was increased, and the Salons just became much more relaxed and musical. I'd bet they would improve most speaker systems, especially if you have a narrow room and your speakers interact with the side walls. To order: http://www.audio-ideas.com/tweaks.html