Description

Hifi is a journey, not a destination.

I played piano, alto sax and clarinet, subscribe to the symphony, and enjoy the jazz and blues scenes in Seattle. I'm familiar with live music. My music interests span from classical to jazz, blues, and other stuff (rock, folk, funk, electronica, etc). Favorites include Michelangeli, Argerich, Furtwangler, Montoya, Piazzolla, Melvin Taylor, Junior Wells, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Smith, Brubeck, Jeff Beck, Stanley Turrentine, Jeff Buckley, (early) Chicago, Zeppelin, Cream, Groove Armada, Massive Attack, Nightmares on Wax, Daft Punk, etc., depending on mood.

I've been interested in hifi since I was a kid. Pioneer in the 70s, Counterpoint in the 80s, Audio Research in the 90s... I grew cynical of the direction the hobby took in the 2000s. For this system, I wanted to express my personal sonic priorities beyond what is available in the commercial market. My goal is to communicate music's impact, soul, emotion, and nuance. I want my system to play with alacrity, gravitas, affection, protest, or just funkin' good times. If it can't conjure a wide range of emotional reactions, than it simply won't satisfy. After years of effort, this system plays small-scale music with softness and delicacy, while large-scale music like Rachmaninoff, Mahler and Zepplin is sublime, projected with bone-crushing power like a big Steinway D or Audi RS6.

Creating a memorable sound system is like cooking a delicious meal. In the beginning, I bought great ingredients, all the components and parts that comprise my playback. I quickly learned that ingredients without experience and talent aren't enough to create a memorable sound system. It took many years, failed experiments, and a few successes to get here.

Experiencing thoughtfully-implemented multi-way horns was an epiphany. My high points are Josh's wonderful Electronluv system at VSAC 2003, and Romy's Macondo in Boston.

The speakers are the heart and soul of my system. I named them Shibusa, a Japanese word describing an aesthetic of simple, natural beauty. Shibusa refers to things that exhibit: Elegant simplicity. Effortless effectiveness. Understated excellence. Beautiful imperfection. They began as Edgarhorns, purchased new in 2005. After years of learning, stupid mistakes, and epiphanies, I could write a book on horn speaker design and still barely scratch the surface. Horns are like F1 race cars - silly high performance under skilled hands, while unforgiving of fools (I made my share of foolish mistakes). My Edgarhorns evolved with the addition of stereo sub-bass channels (Danley Sound Labs horn subs, used in IMAX theaters), upper bass (full-size 142 hz tractrix horns from John Hasquin loaded with Fane Studio 8M drivers), mid-range (Coral M-100 drivers in 400 Hz tractrix horns), and HF (magnesium Fostex T500A Mk II), and crossovers and amps to support them. There is literally nothing leftover from the original Edgarhorns, but they were a great education.

There are a total of 10 drivers and channels (5 per side). All filters except sub-bass are first order, with both speaker-level and line-level filters. First order filters are beneficial to minimize phase spinning and other time domain pollution, but require better performing drivers due to more overlap between the drivers. Integrating all the horns, drivers, amps, and crossovers in my room was challenging, more difficult than I ever anticipated, and a required a very long learning curve. I use both measurements and subjective listening to balance speaker placement and individual channels. Listening room is 16' x 18'. The effortless and deep-bass, startling dynamics, and full-range clarity distinguish Shibusa from conventional speaker designs. There is NO harshness or 'horn' sound in Shibusa, according to visitors - even those with anti-horn bias.

Without the kind and generous support of horn thought-leaders like Dr. Bruce Edgar, John Hasquin, Steve Schell and Rich Drysdale, Romy, Jeffrey Jackson, and ESO, it would have been very difficult for me to achieve as much as I have. Thanks to all who shared in this journey!
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Components Toggle details

    • Shibusa Horn Speakers
    Having learned and designed these horns over a 6 year period, I could write a book....

    Shibusa is Japanese for the aesthetic of simple, natural, and unobtrusive beauty. The Shibui spirit captures my goals for music reproduction.

    4-way speaker system
    ~ 107dB sensitivity
    First-order crossovers
    Alnico magnets
    Time aligned

    HF: [greaterthansign]10kHz
    Fostex T500AMkII horn tweeter

    MF: [greaterthansign]800 Hz
    Coral M-100 compression drivers loading 600Hz tractrix horns

    Lower Mid Range: 120 - 800 Hz
    Fanse Studio 8M loading 142 Hz tractrix horns, built by John Hasquin. The horns are 30 inches in diameter, 27" deep, with 6" backchamber. They weigh around 140 pounds each. Sub-Bass: <100Hz Danley TH-SPUD tapped horn subs Crossover: 1st order Caps - Duelund and Mundorf SO Coils - Erse Copper foil (2005)
    • Lamm Industries ML-2 SET (modified)
    Dedicated 18 W SET for [greaterthansign] 100 Hz channels.

    Replaced unreliable, failure-prone stock 6C33C tube sockets with Johnson sockets.
    6/2013 Added a HP PLLXO filter to the input stage to remove large value caps from speaker level crossover and dump excess bass from the upper bass horn. Phil Marchand kindly and generously provided support with advice on how to best implement. Settled on a Rike 0.047uf for a first order filter at 77hz.
    10/4/2013
    - added -15dB voltage divider at input stage to match gain structure with high sensitivity system. The silence is absolute - can not tell if the system is powered on, even adjacent to speakers.
    - the divider network increased input impedance from 41k to 46k Ohms
    - increased cathode resistor value to 168k Ohms to improve V1 voltage regulator bias stability
    (2009)
    • Danley Sound Labs TH SPUD Subwoofers (x2)
    Two tapped horn subs. Crossed to main speakers via Dahlquist DQ-LP1 bass filter @3rd order, 85 Hz. Powered with Crown K2 power amplifier (2012)
    • Crown International K-2
    Dedicated subwoofer amplifier driving Danley tapped horns.

    500w/ch in to 8 ohms, damping factor [greaterthansign] 3,000 from 10 - 400 Hz.
    Bone crushing bass!
    (2013)
    • Dahlquist DQ LP-1 Sub Bass Filter (modified)
    Analog 3rd order low-pass filter for integrating subwoofers with main speakers.

    Modified with quieter, high capacity, outboard PSU, replaced plastic PC mount RCA sockets with sturdier chassis mount sockets, replaced signal caps with modern film caps

    Replaced Velodyne SMS-1 digital crossover (11/2013)
    • Lamm Industries L-1 Preamp (modified)
    Lamm's original linestage. Tube regulated and rectified power supply and solid-state signal path. I owned the two-box L2 at the same time and kept the L1 based on it's slightly warmer tone.

    Modified by replacing volume pot with a Goldpoint stepped attenuator.

    (2007)
    • Micro Seiki SX-8000 Turntable
    200 lb. turntable with 45 lb air-suspended platter and HS-80 high speed flywheel. The bass digs deep and punches as hard as granite. Supported on Vibraplane air suspension platform. (2009)
    • SME 3012R / Ortofon SPU-85 Limited (Stereo)
    SME 12" arm and limited edition SPU for stereo.
    • Micro Seiki MAX-282 / Denon 103S
    For non-pristine LPs
    • SME 3012 S2 Ortofon SPU (Mono)
    For mono LPs
    • Vibraplane 2210
    Vibration isolation platform beneath Micro Seiki TT (2013)
    • Bent Audio Mu / S & B TX-103 SUT Ag / Cu hybrid
    SUT, loaded @ 100R with SPU 85th Anniversary cartridge
    • Wright Sound WPP-100 Phono Stage (modified)
    Tube phono amp, separate tube regulated and rectified power supply, copper signal chassis, hand-assembled point to point construction.

    Dead quiet. Not super extended or transparent, but the midrange is beautiful. Very engaging and a joy to listen

    6/8/2014 further parts upgrades: 1) replaced tiny generic 0.1uf mica caps with Mundorf SIO 2) replaced tiny generic electrolytics with Elna Silmics. 5/17/2014 replaced tube rectifier with ss soft recovery diodes. Contrary to expectations, this resulted in very audible improvements in clarity, air, and bass. Will not be going back to the rectifier tube. 10/22/2013 upgraded input with nude Vishay TX2575 47k resistor and copper foil polystyrene 100pf cap
    Modified with Mundorf S/O output caps
    (2013)
    • Peerless 4611-8 / WE 618B SUT
    Rare, vintage, sublime-sounding line input transformers.
    • EAR 834PT (Thorsten-ized) Phono Stage (modified)
    Circuit mods and parts suggestions courtesy Thorsten Loesch: http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/t.mpl?f=vinyl&m=108318 Implemented all of Thorsten's mods and replaced or removed around 75% of the stock parts. RIAA eq caps: Evox Rifa PFR and Nissei polystyrene Cu film, after living with silver mica. Coupling and output caps: V-Cap CuTF and Mundorf SO PS Caps: Nippon Chemi Con VX and Elna Silmic Resistors: Caddock Mk132 Highs are sweet and shimmery over a floor of bass. I like the balance of warmth, resolution and deep bass (post-mod), with a dash of raucousness the EAR brings. (2008)
    • Museatex BiDat Plus DAC (modified)
    Ed Meitner design DAC, upgraded by John Wright.

    10/20/2013 - removed 16 green ceramic bypass caps from PS.

    (2005)
    • Sonos Digital playback network
    Feeds DACs in both systems. Convenient. Not especially musical
    • Oppo BDP-83 Video
    Plays movies
    • PurePower APS 2000+
    Supplies regenerated power from dedicated 20A circuit to all compenents except Lamm ML-2s

    (2013)
    • Purist Audio Design Dominus (ICs and speaker wires)
    Pain to use due to ridiculous size, weight, and stiffness. Wonderful colorful tone and extended sound, effortless dynamics, with weight and texture. Anti-hifi.
    • Purist Audio Design Dominus Power Cable
    Wonderful - so natural and quiet.
    • Pranawire Satori Power Cables
    05-29-14 Terminated with Acrolink carbon fiber plugs. For Lamm ML2 power amps.
    • Klaudio Ultra-Sonic Record Cleaning Machine
    Contact-less record cleaner using ultra sound technology. No brushes or special fluids. Simply insert an LP, and the machine automatically cleans and vacuum drys. Feels sturdy as a brick.

    This is the most effective and easiest to use RCM in my experience.

    (2013)
    • Audio Control SA-3050A Real Time Analyzer Measurement Tool
    essential!
    • Holm Acoustics Holm Impulse Measurement Tool
    Windows-based measurement software for visualizing loudspeaker and room response
    • SMUG Fuzzmeaure Pro Measurement Tool
    Mac OS- based RTA software tool for visualizing loudspeakers and room response
    • Dedicated Power Circuits (analog, digital, power amps)
    added 3 new circuits to listening room
    • SRA Silent Running Audio VR Series isoBase
    Isolation platforms supporting Lamm ML-2s power amps, Lamm L-1 preamp, Yamaha B2 power amp, and Oppo DVD player
    • Various Equipment Stands SolidSteel, Zoethecus, Target, SRA
    Equipment racks: Zoethecus for digital gear SolidSteel for analog Target for PurePower regenerator

Comments 194

128x128
Hi Skushino

I am preparing to build a full horn system as well, and am just in the very elementary planning phases now. First we're looking to have the room built and work from there.

Do you have any advice for starting out? My current reference is Quad ESL63, I'm curious if you've heard either them or ESL57 and how a full range horn system can compare with their midrange? I have heard a few different ones limited to shows so it is hard to take much away from that. A close friend has Avant-Garde Duo, but there are many areas where I could see improvement; most notably in how natural or real they should sound with acoustic instruments.

I am initially going to try TAD TD4001 since that is what I have right now. But also very interested in Vitavox. For midbass unfortunately the highly regarded Fane 8M is out of production so I was looking into Supravox field coil.

My tastes run very similar to yours, I am mostly an analog listener with a strong preference for jazz recorded between 1950-1970 and some classic rock.

-Deepak

dnath

222222&text=sk
Owner
@ Kevinkwann - Apology accepted.

I'm glad you're happy with your audio, as I am with mine. There are many paths to attaining contentment.

skushino

222222&text=sk
Owner
System edited: I added a HP PLLXO filter to the input stage to remove the large value caps from the speaker-level crossover and dump excess bass from the upper bass horn. Phil Marchand generously provided support with advice on how to best implement. Settled on a Rike 0.047uf for a first order filter at 77hz. Not much to say other than it works as intended. Conceptually, I like the effect when simplifying speaker-level crossovers by removing parts (within reason of course). Sound is clearer, and the power amplifier is closer to a direct connection with the drivers, enhancing damping and control.

skushino

222222&text=ke
If I offended you, Skushino, I apologize. While I stand by my original point, it's true that a lot of time, effort and skill went into building your system and I've no doubt whatsoever it's wonderful.

kevinkwann

222222&text=sk
Owner
@Kevin - You forgot to describe your experience, training, system, and the music instruments you play. You have strong opinions but need to better explain why your opinion matters. Consider posting your system here on Audiogon - that way the rest of us can benefit from your expertise.

skushino

222222&text=je
Kevin is a classic Internet troll. Scott, don't feed the trolls man......

jeff1225

222222&text=ke
"Perhaps you sincerely meant to contribute..."

Merely to clarify--which is exactly what I did.

kevinkwann

222222&text=sk
Owner
Dear Kevinkwann, I made an effort to understand the meaning of your comment. It looks like you have a long history of leaving one-line comments like this around the forums.

I play piano, alto sax and clarinet. I'm a season subscriber to the symphony and also enjoy performing arts like theater and ballet. I have adequate experience and training to assess live and reproduced sound.

Would you kindly share your credentials (if any) for your opinion? Perhaps you sincerely meant to contribute and instead your comment was misinterpreted as drivel.

skushino

222222&text=ke
"Hifi is a journey, not a destination. "

The journey is for hobbyists. The destination is for music lovers.

kevinkwann

222222&text=sk
Owner
@ Halcro - Thanks, I find your system inspiring too! It's been awhile since I last read your system. I checked again - you seem to have a deep interest in vinyl, to say the least. You asked how long it took me to get here. I would say this system is built around the horn speakers. I bought Edgarhorns back in 2005. There's nothing left of Bruce's speakers in the present version. Bruce was a wonderful gentleman who shared his expertise graciously. But it's taken me 10 years to get here. I was too young and naive to understand how difficult horns are compared with conventional speakers. For a long time my other system (Tannoy Autographs) clearly sounded better than this system. It was very frustrating! This is no longer the case, and while I'm far from satisfied, I do get glimpses of exceptional music on this system. My experience with cartridges is limited compared with yours. Let's see, Shelter 901 and 501, Ortofon SPUs (various models), Denon 103. I auditioned a Universe in my system last week. Big mistake. Now I want to hear the Uni 2.

skushino

222222&text=sk
Owner
System edited: Had an active week: 1) my friend Andrew brought his ZYX Universe over for an audition. we mounted it on the SME 3012R, where my SPU 85th Anniversary normally resides. I hadn't read any reviews of this cartridge ahead of time, although I was aware of the 'buzz' surrounding zyx. from the midrange up, the Universe was very enchanting, striking a wonderful balance of beauty coupled with the ability to dig deep and reproduce more information. My personal bias is music over information. In the case of the Universe, I heard both. If not for the bass sounding inferior to the mids and up, this would be on my short list. I've since read about the Uni 2, and it seems the new model addresses this. I must hear it! The little George Wright phono stage is becoming like a charming and trust-worthy old friend. It sounds so musical out of the box - I promised myself that it would remain untouched by my soldering iron. I've failed miserably. The weakness of this unit is less clarity and extension compared with some other phono stages. Sadly, those phono stages lack the midrange magic of the Wright. In an effort to address these shortcomings, I've done extensive modifications. Some more effective than others, but all are so very clearly audible and move the Wright in the proper direction - more clarity and resolution, more extension in the bass and hf, while actually enhancing the toe tapping factor. Most of the mods are listed in the component description. Some changes to the PSU circuit and parts (replaced electrolytics with banks of PIOs, chokes replaced grid resistors, and believe it or not converted from tube rectification to ss), and upgraded precision parts inside the copper signal chassis (Vishay VAR TX-2575 input resistors, Mundorf caps, Elna Silmic, etc). I love the way this little phono stage plays music. I had to pull the Velodyne SMS-1 subwoofer crossover out of storage to cover filter duties while doing some work on the Dahlqist DQ-LP1. The Velodyne just sounds broken compared with the DQ-LP1. I threw in a pair of spare Mundorf Supremes inside the Dahlquist while it was on the bench, and it's making music again in my system.

skushino

Center
A truly inspiring system.......
I bet those horn speakers sound as wonderful as the technical description....
How long has it taken you to reach this stage....and what cartridges have you listened to with those arms.

halcro

222222&text=sk
Owner
System edited: The Wright phono stage is a wonderful and natural sounding unit, but it lacks some extension and clarity. Seeking more of both, I replaced the electrolytics in the PSU with outboard banks of physically larger PIOs (values remained similar), and replaced resistors with filter chokes (x2). The bass is much improved - warm and round, while the unit is noticeably quieter with the added chokes. Based on a tip from an experienced friend, I tried substituting soft recovery diodes for the 6X-4 tube rectifier. Contrary to my expectations, this was a real step in the right direction. Everything cleared up, air and top end extension are better, without sounding edgy, harsh, or unnatural. It reminded me of the sound of a ribbon tweeter. Surprisingly, the PSU will remain this way, and the 6X-4 won't be returning.

skushino

Center
Hi Scott,
I just did the reverse digital dance. For years I enjoyed various transports with my Wright modded BiDat. I tried all different combos of computer audio, nothing stuck until I plugged an old MacPro G5 into the BiDat via USB converter. I went on a 4 year spree of tweaking and modding this combo with no regrets. That is until I put a CEC TL0 in the system. I had to try it and see if it would live up to its reputation and throw more data at the BiDat than a rip with error correction. This 1990's combo is playing the most interesting digital I have heard to date. The speed of the TL0 is very refreshing, but the amount of new detail is striking. For example the decay of a cymbal strike holds far longer than i have ever heard in digital. It's not unlike analog decay that keeps trailing into the ambience of the room. Very interesting and exciting to hear all this new information I thought didn't exist on the CD. It comes with some problems though. The TL0 is ruthless and exposes everything. This fact combined with my Placette Active Line Stage's transparency is exposing some things I don't like much in other places. It's the classic process when a system takes a step forward, something gets left behind. For me it's the tweeters in my Audio Note AN/E Spe Hemp. The Alnico versions would help a lot, but Peter won't sell them to me as an upgrade. :-( Enjoy your new found digital freedom and keep an eye out for a TL0 or TL0X. Your BiDat has proven to be a great match with the TL0. Of course, this advise is ultimately worth exactly what you paid for it. ;-) Cheers! - Tim

Ag insider logo xs@2xglaesemann

128x128
Hi Scott,

I'm glad to see you are enjoying, and benefitting, from your computer audio experience. My distaste for computers will prevent me from trying it, perhaps for the long haul.

None-the-less, I can appreciate your enjoyment.

Best regards,
Dan

Ag insider logo xs@2xislandmandan

222222&text=sk
Owner
The steel tubes of the SolidSteel rack are hollow, and ring when tapped. I moved the Micro 8000 to the top shelf of the rack, and wanted to reduce the ringing and increase the load strength, so I filled the six vertical tubes full with sand. Any audible benefits are subtle, but the rack ought to be stronger now, and that is beneficial for my peace of mind.

skushino

222222&text=sk
Owner
Recently I tested the waters of computer audio. I've been using a Sony SCD-1 transport / Museatex Bidat DAC combo for digital playback. It has been a source of enjoyment for years. My goals for trying network-based music files were:

- reduce physical CD clutter by ripping discs to network storage
- gain access to Internet radio and music services like Pandora, Spotify, etc
- gain personal experience with network audio sound quality

First, I turned my attention to my home network, upgrading with faster broadband service, added an 802.11n wifi router, and a Synology NAS. After using and verifying that the upgraded network operated properly (this took a few days), I connected my 'everyday' system to the Internet using a Sonos Connect.

I expected to trade sound quality for convenience wrt to Sonos. The question was whether the sound quality would suffer too much. First impression was sufficiently positive to install a second Sonos on the main system. The Sonos connects to the router, modem, and WAN via a wireless Sonos Bridge. On the LAN side, Sonos feeds a SPIDF digital output to the Bidat. The NAS is connected to the wifi router.

As expected, the convenience is easily addicting. The ability to control music on both systems independently and create playlists for different events, times of day, and moods, is a joy. Streaming radio sounds 'good enough', lacking the analog signature of a classic tuner. But, I was surprised by my preference for playback via the network compared with the Sony SCD-1! Music simply sounds less artificial and more natural via the network. The difference is easy to distinguish, and contrary to my expectations. This may be a case of having cake and eating it, too.

But the greatest benefit was unanticipated: I love having the ability to listen to radio stations from around the world. I've traveled extensively, and listening to music from foreign cities is almost like making a partial visit. For instance, my favorite classical performances are often Russian - it's pretty cool listening to the Moscow, London, and Geneva, Switzerland classical stations, among others. For jazz, I go to New Orleans, Chicago, NYC, SF, and also Geneva, Switzerland. Electronica and chill? London, UK. I can listen in to local radio up in Whistler, BC, where I visit to ski. News? BBC, CBC, and NPR. This access is great for exposure - not just to recorded music (there are many options for this), but exposure to the cultural context and language from abroad.

I haven't started using online music services - yet. I feel like I have access to the largest repository of recorded music in the universe by going online. My sole regret is not having done this sooner.

skushino

128x128
Scott, I live on Whidbey Island, west of Oak Harbor, off West Beach Road.

Contact: [email protected]

Have a great day!

Ag insider logo xs@2xislandmandan

222222&text=sk
Owner
Hi Islandmandan, my other system has Tannoy Autograph speakers with 15" Gold DC drivers. It would be great to compare notes! Where are you located? Perhaps we can take the conversation private. Don't know if possible on Agon, but will try to connect via PM.

Happy Thanksgiving.

skushino

128x128
Hi Scott,

I've just been going over some of your system details, and I see you have done many modifications on some of your equipment.

I find this to be an enjoyable, and cost-effective way to better listening. I wish I was as knowledgeable as you, but what I have done up to this point, has been very worthwhile.

Maybe after the New Year we can plan a session at your place. I haven't had the opportunity to hear highly sensitive horns, and I can see this as being a very eye-opening experience for me.

I finally have gotten to the point where I can appreciate an SET 300B amp with my one-off Tannoy HPD's, the best sound I've been able to muster at home by a long shot. 107db sensitive horns and modified Lamm pre and power amps must be extrordinary.

Something to really look forward to. Thanks, and best regards,
Dan

Ag insider logo xs@2xislandmandan

222222&text=sk
Owner
System edited: Replaced Velodyne SMS-1 digital crossover with an analog Dahlquist DQ LP-1. The Velodyne always sounded too 'synthetic', like the sound I hear at the movie theater. The Dahlquist unit is all analog. It sacrifices some precision in the frequency domain compared with the Velodyne, but pulls well ahead in terms of natural presentation and tone. The Dahlquist will stay in the system, and I have plans for a more robust PS and parts. Also auditioned larger horns on the midrange. 400 hz tractrix are twice the size of the 600 hz horns they replaced. I won't be going back. The larger horns are better in terms of clarity and more lower midrange presence.

skushino

222222&text=sk
Owner
@ Islandmandan - It looks like we're neighbors. Yes, I'm in Seattle. Mike has been a gracious host in the past, and it's always fun to visit.

You're welcome for a visit here.

skushino

222222&text=sk
Owner
System edited: updated pictures and added description of parts upgrade to input stage of Wright Sound phono stage

skushino

222222&text=sk
Owner
System edited: Museatex Bidat mods - I removed the 16 green ceramic filter caps in the PS. Removing those caps cleaned everything up nicely. More clarity and transparency, a touch more presence, a bit less muddy, without added harshness or digititis. Sonically, this change is easy to recommend.

skushino

222222&text=sk
Owner
System edited: Added description of mods to Lamm power amps: 1) added -15dB voltage divider to input stage to match gain stage for high sensitivity horns and improve signal to noise. There is absolutely zero audible noise from the system now. 2) increased cathode resistor value to improve stability of bias voltage on V1 voltage regulator

skushino

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