Just recently followed up on this hobby for almost 3 years now (Used to play around with dad's system when i was a kid: Pioneer turntable, Akai reel-reel, Pioneer & Sansui receiver & speakers), i almost finish my systems (main and office). Just want to share with you guys my humble systems and wish to learn more of this addictive hobby. My musical taste leans heavily towards classical (anything from solo piano, violin, chamber, orchestral, opera with composers from Josquin de prez to Chopin, Schubert..Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff...Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Miklos Rozsa) and developing the love for Jazz (from Diana Krall, Holly Cole, Patricia Barber, Tord Guvstavsen, Stan Getz, Ray Brown, Miles Davis..etc). Also some acoustic music, pop and rock. Please feel free to check out my system and post recommendations...i will deeply feel honored and appreciate.
Incredible tonearm. Very easy to setup, very smooth sounding and does magic with sibilance. Very little damping fluid (just touch the bottom of the square shank) is much to my liking.
Morch Moerch DP-6
Dual Pivot , detachable and very tweakable arm.
New Ortofon AS-212S static balance tonearm.
SME Model 20 mkII
Quiet, great speed stability!
Thorens TD-124 restored very carefully by myself. Woodsong Audio plinth.
Thorens TD-124 mkII
Schopper Thorens TD-124 MKII acquired through Octave Audio
Loricraft restored. Oil bearing. Woodsong Audio plinth. Love it!!!
By Steve Dobbins. Stripped down to retain only essential parts. I just rebuilt the motor 2 weeks ago and it is so much quieter now.
Clearaudio's flagship wood body MM cartridge. Excellent sounding and great tracking.
Audio Technica AT33PTG
Best tracker ever! Very smooth sounding. GREAT for the money!
Hi resolution digital player.
44.1-192khz, 16 & 24bit DAC
Manley Laboratories Steelhead
After 3 (yes, three) Aesthetix Rheas gone noisy on me in just 3 weeks, I acquired this Stealhead in a rage. LOVE the sound and functionality..not so much so for the look..but oh well.
Manley Labs Steelhead V2
Signed by EveAnna herself!
Cary Audio Design SLP-05
Very musical preamp, great headphone section. Running with NOS Russian metal base 6SN7 with black
Cary Audio Design CAD 211AE
Magical 3D presentation, though sounds a tad more laid back than BAT VK-150SE, they are still very dynamic.
Tannoy Prestige Kensington SE
Makes magic with the midrange!
Tannoy Kensington SE
Pepperport (Curious why it's called as such)
Tannoy Kensington SE
Five way terminations
Element Cable Signature Titan Ag
Detailed, smooth, transparent !!! Using it between my Bryston BDA-1, Manley Steelhead and Cary preamp, I dont miss ultra expensive cables!!!!
Acoustic Zen Silver Reference RCA-Balanced
Made for me by Mr. Robert Lee (Very cool guy!). Running between Air Tight ATC-3 pre (RCA) and BAT 150SE Monos (Balanced) with a real balance config, not adapter.
Acoustic Zen Silver Reference
Between phonostage Manley Steelhead and Air Tight ATC-3 preamp. I compared this IC with others in its price range up to twice its cost (from Discovery, Kimber Cable, Crystal cable, analysys plus..etc) and still prefer it over them.
Acoustic Zen Hologram II
My old, trusty speaker cable. I compared this with $2,400 - $3,500(dont remember exactly) cable from Crystal, and Nordost Heimdall (last week) and i prefer this due to: tighter , faster bass, more focus imaging, more transparent , hence, more detailed.
LAT International IC-300 Signature
Run between Ayre C-5xe Universal player and Air Tight ATC-3 preamp. My 2nd favorite in under $1,000/m/pair category. Not sure what to replace when the upgrade bug bites again..cuz i have to pay so much more to gain so little.
Used for all components except Acutus power supply, for now.
Panamax MAX 5510 AC Regenerator
Used for all front-ends and preamps. Cant wait to compare this combo (Max 5510 ACRegenerator and Max 4400-20A) to the on-order PS Audio Premier.
Panamax Max 4400-20A
Inductorless Noise filtration, no current limit (reviewed in Stereophile together with MAXX 5510 Pro ACRegenerator). Used for BAT VK-150SE monos.
PS Audio PS Audio Premier
New Power plant from PS Audio
Nespa Professional Optical Disc Finalizer
Improve readability of optical discs. More obvious on some than other.
You are a man after my own heart. I too am into similar things. I have as my main TT a RX-5000 Micro Seiki but as far as the others I run 2 Thorens 124 MK I, I have 12 Garrard 301 2 oil bearing and 9 grease and one Hammertone grey. The same tonearms with the addition of SME3012r and FR-64s with silver optional wiring. I find these old turntables have a wonderful magic sound all their own. The Ortofon SPU are perfect for these tables and arms. Congrats on a wonderful system.
Thanks Dan, it's sure fun to do a project like yours! I love my Kensington so far, they truly are very special speakers. I have never been happier with my system right now! The last step would be some simple room treatment and then i'm done!
Really nice system you have put together. The Kensington's must sound amazing with the components you've put together.
I made a project of 12" HPD's (Dual Concentric) Tannoy drivers with custom outboard crossovers, and with my components, which are not near the caliber yours are, they sound superb. You must be very happy, congratulations!
Thanks Scar! I think I will live with the Tannoy Kensington for a long time! BTW, I will be in Dallas in Sept 25th, please make time so I can come for a visit and audition your system. The Magico speakers and TW Acoustic RAve look so awesome, cant wait to hear and molest them! :-D
System edited: NOTE: System edited: Since I decided to add a simple home theater system to watch 3D movies and play games on PS3, it's logical to turn my upstair master bedroom into a music room dedicated only for 2-channel system and move my main system up there. Done! Problems: The Avalon Acoustics's Opus Ceramique, while did WONDERS where they used to be (a rather wide room), now have a tendency to overpower this new room. No matter which position I tried, the midbass pumped up and clouds the midrange, screwing stereo image UNLESS i listen to them at rather low level (lesson learned: Avalon Acoustics Opus Ceramique are NOT for smaller room as some claim. They LOVE space..they need space to breath!!!!!!). I was thinking of moving the Harbeth SLP05, which residing in the office-den that I love so much, into the main system, sell the Avalon and get a pair of mini monitors for my office, then while surfing Audiogon for ideas, I found a local distributor for Tannoy, a brand which I have fantasized about for a long time now. An email was sent to Eric Engebretson, president of Home Theater Experience in Oceanside, CA, whom who has just did a demo with Carry Audio and Tannoy Prestige speakers at the Newport Beach, CA show last june. I have Cary amps too, so that'd great to audition them with the KensingtonSE, the smallest in the Prestige range that has the Pepperport featured in larger Tannoy Prestige. In home audition was set up and I was in love! (with the Kensington, of course.) Eric Engebretson was very friendly, enthusiastic and promptly delivered the Kensington SE and set them up in my new music room. I instantly like the sound of the Kensington SE right from the beginning. Having listened to many different speakers including the Avantgarde Duo at my friend's systems, I found the Kensington's midrange was as natural, effortless and engaging as the Arvantgarde Duo, which i also like A LOT. Soundstage was wide, extended beyond the boundary of my new listening room just as the Avalon did in the old room. Bass is deep and tight and pleasant but not as clean as the Avalon (when they were in the other room), but at least it does not by any mean mess up the midrange. At some point during the audition, I detected a slight hint of horn-ness in the upper midrange and told Eric about that. I later repositioned the speakers a bit so the axises of the horn crossed a bit in front of my listening position, and that horn-i-ness disappeared! A few days later, Eric took back the demo pair of the Kensington and a week later, delivered to me a new pair of the Kensington SE !!!!! Now I'm gonna run them for a while before Eric would come back and help me fine-tune them. Expecting a long term relationship with these Tannoys. Now all of my speakers (Tannoy in the main system, Harbeth in office, and Wharfedale Diamon 10.1 in the bed room) are all British speakers (well...to what i know, Tannoy is made in Scotland but some where on the speakers or the manual said in Britain, maybe GREAT Britain?). I'm very thankful now that Southern California (especially in Greater San Diego area where I live) has a local dealer for Tannoy Prestige range speakers, and also big thanks for the enthusiastic Eric Engebretson, president of Home Theater Experience, for a very quick, pleasurable experience in acquiring my own pair of Tannoy Prestige Kensington SE!
@ Todd: Thanks for your comments..I do listen to Viet music, but rarely on my system because it's hard to find Viet audiophile-quality albums except some instrumental CD recorded by European productions.
@Rtn1: This is the best position for my speakers (took me about 2-3 months to set them up to my preference). It's about 2.5ft from the side wall, about 4.5ft from the back wall, and about 10 ft apart..and 8-9ft from the listening position. They are toed in so i'm on axis with the tweeters.
With this position, the vocal will be at the center of the soundstage, about 5.5 - 6ft high (from the floor) with nice texture and dimension, its image is at the right size (not to big/thick like a giant singer and not too small/thin). Soundstage is of a very good side, enveloping around the speakers (extended beyond the left and right of the speakers) and the speakers totally disappear..I cant hear the sound coming from the speakers but instead, the instruments are spread across the soundstage.
I have experimented with a lot of positions but this is the best so far. Put the speakers closer together, the vocal will become "honky", thick and too big to be real. Pull them too far apart, the vocal will thin out and "dilute" in the mix.
System edited: After adding 3 Thorens TD-124 (two MKI restored by me and one Schopper-restored MKII) to my turntable collection, I fell in love with these classic idler wheels (both sound and look), then a Garrard 301 craving is unbearable !! After doing a lot of research and hunting, I won a cream enamel, oil bearing 301 in excellent condition on Ebay and had it shipped to California from Australia, for a total of around $1,000 USD. Initially, I was thinking of restoring the deck myself, so I started to buy spare parts here and there to get ready for it. On one occasion while talking to an audiophile who emailed me regarding a Soundsmith cartridge I used to have, I found out that Loricraft in England is very reputable and reasonable in rebuilding these 301s. Thinking it'd be great to have one Schopper-Thorens TD124 and one Loricraft-Garrard 301, I decided to ship it to Loricraft- England for restoration. Communication with Loricraft - Terry and Jane- through both email and phone is such a great pleasure. They response quickly, detailed and friendly and patiently. The deck was shipped on May 17 and I was promised to get it back some where between 4-6weeks. During this time, I called Chris Harban of Woodsong Audio (who made a gorgeous plinth for my Thorens TD-124 before) to fabricate a Garrard 301 plinth to my specification. This time, I chose birdseye maple for the top, baltic birch plywood as plinth material, matching crescent removable armboard cut for SME 3009. To cut cost, I went without the veneer around the plinth and the black painted bottom. The plinth came out to be very natural and still very very beautiful. Again, it was pleasurable to work with Chris again! Thanks Chris! For arm and cartridge, I picked a SME 3009 Series II (rewired with Cardas wire by Michael Wharton - BritAudio) and an Audio Technica AT33PTG (Audiocube). I have listened to this combo on my other Thorens TD-124 MKI during this time, and this proves to be very good sounding, and the tracking is absolutely wonderful: without any hint of distorted sibilance, mistracking or inner groove distortion. After only 4 weeks of waiting, the Loricraft-restored Garrard 301 arrived today, double boxed. The platter came wrapped in its custom-made cardboard enclosure, so is the deck. Loricraft created the special transport box for these Garrard 301 to ensure a safe delivery and add a nice touch to the finish decks. I am absolutely pleased with its condition: All the linkages are cleaned, replated, lubed..etc. It looks essentially new! I did not have it repainted because the original enamel on my deck is still in excellent shape. The platter, on the other hand, was resprayed. Oh, by the way, the old cover of the voltage connector (transparent) was cracked. Since my deck was in for a total rebuilt, i wish Loricraft 'd replaced this for me, and also the 4 chassis isolation rubber washers. Luckily, I have bought these and replaced them. No big deal. Now it's totally new (well..kinda ). ....Taking time setting it up.....! Upon turning the deck on, I notice that the Garrard runs quieter than all three of my Thorens. The Thorens, due to the presence of a belt driving an intermediate aluminum pulley , somehow make more, well, whispering belt noise, which doesnt transfered to the platter, though . Don't get me wrong, the motors of my three Thorens are very quiet as well (if i take of the belt, then I can barely hear the motors). The switches of the Garrard 301 operate differently than the Thorens: Pick a speed and then turn the deck on. If you need to change the speed, you have to turn the deck off first. The speed selector is locked while the deck is on. I guess many many Garrard switches were broken because their owners forgot to turn their decks off while changing the speed !!! I also miss the Thorens's clutch a LOT while changing records with the Garrard. Without this function, each time I change records, I have to turn the Garrard off. Some might want to suggest me just taking the record off the platter while it's running to avoid turning the deck on and off every 15-20 min, but this is a BAD thing to do: The Garrard platter is the SAME size with the record and the torque is strong, so it's very easy to slip and have your fingernail scratch the record (I did before...and ruined my copy of Patricia Barber - Cafe Blue-45rpm Mobil Fidelity..ouch! ). So..how does it sound???? Rawer, more energy, a tad more bass but a bit less refined compared to the Thorens TD-124 MK1 I used with the same SME 3009 & Audio Technica AT33PTG. The Garrard sounds a bit more direct, powerful and dynamic. Its imaging is impressive, very spot-on and stable. It also has a bit more bass but somehow to my ears, bass is a bit boomy (sp) with the Garrard. On the other hand, the Thorens has a sense of more finesse and elegance. I'd say the Thorens is a bit more balance all around. Both sound very big and open. In short, the Garrard is more like trying to impress you with its muscular, youthful, full of life kinda sound, and the Thorens portraits music in a more elegant, tuxedo & evening gown-sound. So if you want to impress your friend, play the Garrard, and if you want to have a more relaxing, romantic night, the Thorens will deliver!
Dear Jaytea : I came across your system and we are playing in the same ballroom! Very well done ! May suggest to try slate plinth and tonearmboard for the TD 124 , it will take is to another level of refinement. Graham Phantom on this combo is stellar performer. I have next project to compare Garrard 301 grease/ 301 oil / 401/ Lenco 75 PTP3/ TD 124 all in slate plinths 7cm thick and all with the same slate removable TD124 tonearmboard with Graham Phantom/ Allaerts Finish Gold. Slate TD 124 beats VPI TNT twin platters rim drive monster, Lenco PTP3 nearly finished, See my system for updates. Best. Jean.
Hi Lim, I havent listened to any Garrard 301 yet, but I liked it so much that I just bought one from Australia, and it is waiting to be cleaned up, lubed and play!! I am waiting for its plinth (check out my Woodsong Audio plinth for the Thorens TD 124). This plinth will also be made by Woodsong Audio. I sold one of the Thorens TD-124 MKII to an Audiogoner a few months ago, he had a chance to compared it with a Garrard 301, and he said while the Garrard is mor prominent on the bass, the Thorens sound a bit more refined. I will let you know when I have a chance to compare them side by side.
I love the Thorens very very much. The sound is dynamic, great bass, great soundstage ..it just keeps me going!!!!