When I moved to Canada in 2011, I still had my Studio L890 JBL speakers for the fronts and my (then) brand new Oppo BDP-93 as a CD player. All connected to the Yamaha Z-11 (from Europe and therefore on a massive, and noisy, voltage converter). At that time, I thought the Z-11 was as much as I would ever spend on a piece of gear. Boy was I wrong...
It all changed when I went looking for a better CD player and visited Rob and Ron at Altronics Stereo 2000 in Toronto.
They turned me on to the Esoteric products and helped me with multiple upgrades - most importantly the front speakers from the JBL Studio L890 to the JBL LS80 and now the JBL 1400 Array. You can see a snapshot of an earlier incarnation in the last image. Still using the Z-11 but already upgraded the speakers and using mono blocks for the fronts.
In the meantime, I had gone for the Bryston SP3, replaced it with the Marantz 8802A while, at the same time, investing in better cables from the power cords to ICs and speaker cables.
The next big change was replacing the Bryston 9B-SST with the Earthquake Cinenova Grande 7 BR.
Blu-ray players have come and gone (Denon 4010 and most recently sold the Pioneer 88FD) and I've now settled on the Sony UBP-X800 as a universal solution with the Panasonic UB9000 on UHD duty.
Things have come full circle after I spotted the Esoteric K-01X as a trade-in at Altronics. Since this crazy ride had started with the quest for a better CD player, it's only fitting that my most expensive addition is (probably) the best and last CD player I'll ever buy.
It's been quiet for a while but since a warranty replacement of my TV earlier in 2020 - a free upgrade to the 77" B9 OLED from LG - I've also gone for the Panasonic UB9000 UHD player (Dolby Vision was calling) and most recently spotted the last missing piece for sale: A used Esoteric C-03X!
I've been wanting to add a dedicated 2-channel pre-amp to my system for a long time and always had my eyes on the Esoteric. The price was right and also coincided with a nice tax return - you could say it was meant to be :)
But since one upgrade never comes alone, I had to add another shelf to my rack (turning it from a Solo 4 into a Solo 5) and also get some RCA cables to hook up my Marantz 8802A to the C-03X for HT throughput.
This should be my endgame system and I don't really see my adding much else, if anything, anytime soon. But as we all know in this hobby, never say never!
And since writing the last paragraph above, I've spent a tidy sum on new cables. Namely three Acrolink power cords and the piece de resistance, a set of Nordost Odin XLR cables. So yes, I think I'm done upgrading the connection from the source to the pre-amp for a very long time!
I finally bought my first house in March 2021 and the first couple of pictures now show the dedicated theater room in the basement. Complete with painted walls and lots of acoustic treatments. And I can honestly say that the system has never sounded better!
Fast forward to November 2021 and with the outdoor season mostly over, it was time to invest into my theater setup again and upgrade the subwoofers. Now rocking a pair of SVS PB-2000 Pro subs - more than enough for a room with roughly 2000 (how fitting) cubic feet.
2022, another year another batch of upgrades. Besides some cables (switched to RCA for the Cinenova because the XLRs were putting out too much volume), I finally got the power regenerator I've been looking at for a while: the PS Audio PerfectWave P10!
On top of that, I've doubled the number of bass traps (from 4 to 8) and added some more absorption panels on the right wall as it felt that I was still getting some unwanted reflections from that side.
Oh, and I got a matching Esoteric BNC cable for my Esoteric Master Clock Generator and yes, it does sound a lot better in terms of detail and frequency extension.
Please let me know what you like, what you don't like, and where you see potential for improvements and better synergies.