You're looking at a different kind of "All Out Assault", this one based on utilizing a fuller expression of current excellent technology, as opposed to a limited expression of such. Some go for a cost-no-object expression of one technology. I have chosen to pursue a superb expression of different technologies. I have derived far more pleasure doing so than seeking one rig to satisfy my longings to hear beautiful systems.
Photos represent some of the speakers, components and cables I have reviewed over the years. I have spent time predominantly with four technologies in speakers; Full range hybrid dyanamic, Full range ESL, and Omnidirectional hybrid. I have branched out to horn hybrid as well.
I still maintain a transport for selective use of CD's, but have largely moved to file playback, utilizing Tidal and ROON.
This is a dedicated room, built by myself and tuned for two channel, but wired for 7.1 surround. I listen to 2 ch. audio approx. 95-98% of time. The surround and video compliment is not noteworthy, as a result. I upgrade them only every several years.
Source, amplification and speakers have all been reviewed and are highly recommended. The sound quality of the system is moving steadily toward SOTA.
Legacy Audio Valor Speaker System featuring Stereo Unfold Technology Wavelet DAC/preamp/Crossover/Bohmer Room Correction
Legacy Audio Valor flagships speaker system with Wavelet DAC/Preamp/Crossover/Bohmer Room Correction. Cost no object sound with nearly full complement of components. One outboard stereo amp required to drive Frequencies above 1,320Hz. State of the art performance. This particular iteration for finesse I paired two First Watt J2 Amps, using one channel of each for the channels of the Valor.
Stereo Unfold Technology is a unique software and hardware design that allows full control over the ambient sound field. It allows the user to perceptually manipulate the location of the center image by affecting the output of the ambient drivers. The experience is akin to having the ability to relatively relocate the center image as close or deep as one wishes. I found this to be a sensationally effective and desirable technology, most suitable for SOTA speaker systems.
Note: I used the exquisitely effective Schroeder Method of Interconnect Placement (pair of double ICs) to achieve the best result with the Valor. See my article regarding Schroeder Method at Dagogo.com
Alternative application of using Sound Anchor custom stands to hold speakers sideways. This results in a far wider soundstage superlative for live music recordings. Note that the orientation of the horn of the Horn 1 speaker is normally horizontal, so the Landscape mode/application results in the speaker's horn turned vertical, similar to large horn speakers such as the Volti Audio Alura.
Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition
Bill Dudleston realized my concept of a fully configurable speaker able to be employed as both passive and active. The result is what I call a "crossover speaker," which can be configured; 1. Fully passive, with as little as one stereo amp and three sets of speaker cables; 2. Hybrid active/passive, using the Legacy processor for the bass and the Mid/Treble passive, and 3: Fully active, using six channels of outboard amplification.
The speaker has been retrofitted for a review of upgrade internal cabling and capacitors. The result is the Whisper DSW, which Bill Dudleston of Legacy measured a 2 dB improvement on the Bass!
King Sound King III
The King III is a full range ESL with a performance which takes back seat to no magnetic planar speakers. With subwoofers they are a formidable ESL experience.
Vapor Audio Joule White
An ultimate build pair of extreme reference speakers with custom everything. No compromise sound quality.
Vapor Audio Nimbus White
A powerful, erudite speaker with exquisite drivers and fabulous appearance. It shines with laser-like precision in imaging and some of the cleanest, tightest bass with fullness I have ever encountered. Reviewed for Dagogo.com The Nimbus White will be replaced by the Vapor Joule White, custom build.
PureAudioProject Trio15 PAP Horn 1
Wonderful two-way hybrid horn reviewed for Dagogo.com. I enjoy the flexibility of the speaker in the crossover and "internal" wiring. My special utilization of the speaker is in Landscape mode, the realization of a dream for an alternative sound which I have pursued for about five years. The Horn 1 in Landscape impressed the entire audio group of which I am a member; they all placed it among the very best systems I have made. It truly is a stunning application of an affordable speaker with high end sensibility.
Kings Audio Kingsound King Tower
Omnidirectional hybrid dynamic/ribbon speaker system not available in N. America. and perhaps entirely disconintued by Kings Audio. Added to my collection as an expression of Omnidirectional speaker technology.
Legacy Audio XTREME XD
Pair of subs reviewed for Dagogo.com, used extensively for both two channel and HT purposes. I have found a new positioning for the subs, alongside and slightly ahead of the mains, and this is producing a holistically superior sound.
Salk Audio StreamPlayer Gen III
Salk Sound's file server and streamer which I reviewed for Dagogo.com
It is a superb source and with ROON embedded is perfectly suited for a Tidal account to meet all music preferences. The unit is highly adaptable given comparisons between aftermarket power cords and USB cables.
I run the StreamPlayer Gen III using a hard connection following an internet over home power line device which originates at the cable modem. Works beautifully!
TEO Audio Liquid Pre
Passive preamp using TEO Audio's proprietary liquid metal conductor cables internally. Superior to all SS and passive preamps used previously.
Exogal Comet DAC and Ion PowerDAC
This is an unusual combination of a DAC (Comet) with an additional complementary extended DAC with integrated true digital amp (Ion). Together, they include everything needed in the front end of a system except for the source. The Comet can stand alone, but the Ion is dependent upon the Comet, it cannot be used separately.
This combination is thrilling in its performance to cost ratio. One of the most outstanding products I have reviewed in ten years! The digital amplification is especially notable for its ability at 100wpc to drive more difficult speakers to listening levels of about 88-90dB.
First Watt J2 Amplifiers
Stereo lower power (25wpc) class A Mosfet amps by Nelson Pass, reviewed. Exquisite openness and giant sound staging. Wonderful synergy with efficient speakers such as Legacy Whisper, Vapor Joule White and PureAudioProject Tro15 variants.
Legacy Audio PowerBloc4
Four channel Class D amplifier; used initially with V Speaker System.
Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme
Latest EE DAC featuring DSD and continues to offer opportunity to roll in discrete opamps. Allows contouring system to any selection of components.
Daedalus Audio Ulysses - Landscape Orientation
The Daedalus Ulysses Landscape experiment has ended, as I have sold them. The result was pleasing enough that I have determined to continue dabbling in the Landscape use with my custom Sound Anchor stands, employing other speakers as I see fit.
Owned/Reviewed Spkr Cables Various
Have owned: Audioquest, Harmonic Technology, XLO, etc; Reviewed cables for Dagogo.com include: TEO Audio, Clarity Cable, Silnote Audio, Snake River Audio, Wire World. etc.
Outlaw 950 Surround Processor
Has nice variety of surround settings, 2 component in, plenty of other inputs... Only thing I wished it did was to convert s video to component.
A lovely little workhorse amp! Configurable from 3-6 channels; a wonderful flexibility for surround applications.
Magnepan MGM W
Very affordable planars for surround. They only play down to about 100khz, but acceptable for surround. Awesome feature - they can be mounted upside down (will sound the same) to accomodate wiring near top of room.
Legacy Audio Silver Screen
Black piano finish; complementary driver set to Focus HD; dual 7" bass, 4" planar mid, 1" tweet
Tice Audio Solo/Solo High Current
I'm using two Solos, and one is High Current for power amps. Gotta have someting like this to open up the system's sound...but price might be a bit steep for some people. I will accept an offer of $1,000,000.00 though.
Furutech GTX-D (G)
Audiophile grade outlet featuring copper internals and gold plated sockets for power cord pins
Plateau AV 42
Wonderfully solid, black for AV use. Affordable. Nice to have on casters when you have to move it.
Upgrade from PTL-330U; this unit has high def capabilities.
Auralex Propannel 2x4'
Room tuning sound absorbing pannels. Made a shockingly huge difference in my two channel listening! Some of best audio $ I ever spent!
I have highlighted the Legacy Audio Valor Speaker System with Wavelet DAC/Preamp/Crossover/Bohmer Room Correction that I just finished reviewing for Dagogo.com
The Valor easily surpasses the previous flagship, the V Speaker System, using the same Wavelet component. However, the Valor is a light year leap ahead of V in that it incorporates new technology, the Stereo Unfold Technology, which allows, as I describe in the review, a variable center image and thus the sensation of selectable listening position relative to the performance. This is an exquisite feature and unique in high end speaker systems.
Most recently I have worked with the PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn1 in two different configurations, both involving two sets of Schroeder Method ICs. The first was with a tube preamp under review, and the second was with the TEO Audio Liquid Pre. Both have made fine systems with superior sound to what I could have achieved in the past using single pairs of ICs.
I am quite pleased with how Schroeder Method is developing, and encourage interested parties to look into this "do at your own risk" method. To date there have been no instances of a negative outcome with gear. :)
Thomas, I'm a little shy in terms of visitors, so I'm afraid that will have to keep.
I appreciate your zeal in pursuit of the Schroeder Method of Interconnect Placement. Most people are unwilling to push in order to achieve a vastly superior sound. It is rare for someone to work with many combinations of cables to dial in a rig precisely.
Now I have made public something that I have been working on for a while, the Schroeder Method of interconnect placement. It utilizes two pair of interconnects and four RCA splitters, allowing one to double up the four individual interconnects as a pair. The results are astounding! This is a "no brainer" move to substantially better the system sound.
Please consult my article on this; initial assessment is that it is NOT for all applications, including from preamp to amp. Also, if you have any druthers about it, discuss with your component manufacturers to see what their perspective is in regards to it.
This is a "do at your own risk" proposition; I will not accept any responsibility for your creative system risks.
My experience with the Schroeder Method has been stunning, and I am continuing to use this regularly, as it is quite simply superior to a single set of interconnects. So far I have only used RCA cables, but at some point I anticipate trials with XLR.
I am open to contributions from learned individuals in the community such as EEs, designers, etc. I am NOT interested in the ridicule of mockers; such thoughts mean little to me and likely will receive no response.
I should make clear that I have not worked with mixing sets of cables, and no one has recommended doing so. Some are asking about it, but I have not tried and have had a warning that it may cause instability to an amp. So, at this time I am not recommending it.
There are some who read my articles who are going to try the Schroeder Method of interconnect placement, and I suspect that they will have very nice sonic improvements to report. It is a disarmingly simple method, but very powerful in its effect. It is one of the cheapest upgrades for the money I have discovered. It's a paltry sum to do considering the effect can be as profound as changing a component!
I just completed a review of the wonderful combination of SONORE Signature Rendu SE and Simple Green Computer sonicTransporter AP i7 4T (which stands for Audiophile, i7 core processor, 4 Terabite). The experience has taken quite a bit of time, especially in dealing with movement of files between servers. However, in the long run it is worth it.
The sound quality achievable by upgrades in servers is surprising, but consistent between three experiences. Just as I discovered with all other components, servers have a wide range of performance capabilities. Here, again, is a case where a two chassis solution (like a dedicated preamp and amp vs. integrated amp) has the potential to vastly outperform the other.
This is now the third digital source I have worked with, the former two being the single chassis Salk StreamPlayer 3, and the Wolf Audio Red Wolf Music Server. A dedicated power supply built for maximum performance is the single most obvious benefit conferred upon a server/streamer.
I am extremely happy with the sound of the following combination:
SONORE Signature Rendu SE and Simple Green Computer sonicTransporter AP i7 4T; Clarity Cable Supernatural USB 1m; (Preamp/Mono Amps - under review); Eastern Electric Minimax Tube DAC Supreme - and this is critical - with aftermarket opamps inserted. Currently using Dual Sparkos and single NewClassD opamps. Clarity Cable Natural Speaker Cable (shotgun); PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn 1 Speakers (These are stunning performers regardless of price point); Silnote Audio Anniversary Speaker Cables also in use connected to Legacy Audio XTREME XD Subwoofers.
I did not mention power cords; they are also under review.
This is a highly recommendable system with an extreme amount of resolution and palpable energy, with impressive dynamics. The presentation is forward, with a sense of being close to front row at listening events, with all the intensity that comes with a close up experience. If someone is looking for a laid back, mellow sound, this is NOT the system for them. It is for someone who wants a vivid, powerful experience with a very high degree of "being there" sensation.
The Border Patrol DAC SE is not in use; it was returned to the company following the review. Thus, I have not inserted any aftermarket fuses in this rig, but I am thinking about doing so, for I suspect it would elevate the performance even more. I should check out the DAC and see what fuse is used inside...
I cannot emphasize enough what a boon it is to contouring sound to use aftermarket opamps in the DAC! Wow, this is a powerful contouring/shaping method. If you neglect aftermarket opamps in a DAC which allows rolling you are leaving a LOT of performance on the table. It's like having the option of adding turbo on a performance car's engine.
Doing some nice - well, actually VERY, VERY nice - alternative systems. The last one I did 17 changes and obtained a new reference sound for the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Speakers.
One might think that after many years and dozens of different systems the speakers would have hit their maximum performance level. Not so; I have blown past many perceived performance ceilings with these speakers.
It is perfectly legitimate to focus on one technology and keep working the rig to the hilt. But, there are many flavors of performance, and continuing to drive down the same road (speaker) with different vehicles (components) only gets one so far in terms of wide variety of experiences.
It is becoming clear that even speaker manufacturers don't know the outside potential of their designs (That is NOT a disparaging comment about Bill Dudleston of Legacy; I'm tentatively concluding that ALL speaker manufacturers are limited in their experience regarding their own work, and that most never hear their designs at their best). They only work up the speakers with a set of components and cannot have a holistic understanding of the potential. Even dealers who make less systems don't know the outside parameters of performance. It's somewhat ignorant, then, to say one has maxed out the speaker's performance, because with consistency in system development a better sound WILL be forthcoming.
Hi Doug , I have since read your excellent reviews on dagogo and particularly liked your September 2015 review of Teo Audios Cables including your comments of us the audio consumer and audio industry in general.
I have since purchased Teo Audios Game Changer II interconnects and was literally shocked at how good they are ,.Im thoroughly enjoying my system more then I ever have and with this experience with the GCII I am purchasing Teos Kronon .
-in_shore, I had the privilege of working with the Splash, the Reference and now the KRONON. The Splash are not used as much anymore because the KRONON is far superior. When I use the Splash I tend to like the Silver a bit more because it has better detail retrieval. Usually when it comes to cables if two are similar and one has better detail retrieval I usually select it to build the system. There are other ways, including power cords, to massage the tonality, but it's awfully tough to recapture precision if it is lost in the signal path.
As to the TEO Liquid Pre, I found it to be the cleanest among both the active and passive preamps I have used. I purchased it following the review because I know I can build a great rig with any amp as long as the Liquid Pre is in use. The combination of it being a passive pre and the liquid cabling inside is superb. I have a NOS DAC that I'm reviewing currently and I'm curious how the result of it with the Liquid Pre will compare to DACs with volume control. I would not be surprised if holistically the Liquid Pre/NOS DAC and Amp combo is superior.
There are so many directions to go in system construction, but the Liquid Pre is a purist device, and it has performed very satisfactorily with a wide variety of amps.
radiohead99, The Benchmark AHB2 is a better match with the Horn 1 for people who want a studio sound, a closer to the audience feel. It is also more potent in macrodynamics. The J2 is better for persons wishing a more relaxed, less macrodynamic impactful experience, i.e. the bass will not be sledge hammer-like, but somewhat more rounded and less pistonic. The tonality of the two is actually similar. Either can yield a very pleasing system sound.
Shadorne, thank you! You are perhaps the most vocal fan of Benchmark Audio on this website. You know good specs when you see 'em! :) With some gear that can mean a sterile sound, but Benchmark does a nice job avoiding it.
The Benchmark Audio components are superbly designed and a great value. If you are using Roon I suggest you consider exploration of the Headroom feature for enhanced tuning of the system.
Update on the PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn 1 Speaker; this hybrid continues to really please me. I have by now gotten about 12 or more discrete systems built with this speaker, and the elevation potential for performance is as steep as any speaker I have used.
I also am back to discrete Opamp rolling with the Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme, and it's extraordinary virtue in swapping opamps continues to impress. I have Burson 5th generation opamps and combined them with some Sparkos Labs - a lovely combo, blending with such finesse with the Horn 1. This is a reminder to all those who have rolled discrete opamps to never conclude that you are "once and done," i.e. that even if you changed the system the old configuration is fine. Revisit the collection of optional opamps (see my articles at Dagogo.com on opamp rolling) and you will be surprised at how the best combinations vary with equipment changes. Speakers have such profound differences in characteristics that it is understandable that differing opamps' characteristics will complement or hinder them.
Showing off the recent PureAudioProject Trio15 PAP Horn 1 Speaker in Landscape orientation. This has been the epitome of the search for a "broad based" speaker system especially suitable for live recordings.
I have also begun to show some other speakers and components I reviewed over the years.
My coveted Tice Solo conditioner is still informally for sale at $1M. No takers yet. :)
jayant, thank you for the compliment. I appreciate your taking the time to look.
Regarding cables I have owned many brands and reviewed as many or more. You can read about them in individual reviews at Dagogo.com. Some brands that have worked well for me are Clarity Cables, TEO Audio, Silnote Audio and Snake River Audio.
I strongly suggest you begin with a full set of cables from one manufacturer, then begin to rotate in cables of another brand one/one pair at a time. Otherwise you have no basis for judgment of any particular cable/brand.