Description

I put together my first system in the mid 1970's. I am into analog, digital (CD and Hi-Res), FM, internet radio, Qobuz, and some of my LPs are original purchases of mine from the 1970's. I have never been more pleased with any system I've assembled and this system was carefully assembled. My high resolution audio comes from 2 sources- music I've downloaded (mostly from HD Tracks) are on my MacBook Pro running Audirvana and streaming via Qobuz comes from a Bluesound Node which I have connected to my DAC. The Node is a 'starter' streamer and seems pretty good (I have heard better streamers yet the Node is an effective lower cost turnkey streamer to get into the world of streaming). If it's on the recording, I can and do enjoy dynamics, warmth, good detail (I am not into hyper detail), good soundstage to the point that it's often impossible to locate my speakers. Spooky good. Cabling is good, nothing exotic, nothing 4 figure. I'm a big fan of OCC interconnect cables (Audience unbalanced and Acoustic Zen balanced). Speaker cable is Analysis Plus, digital cables from Audioquest (USB) and Straightwire (AES) and and a SPDIF from Benchmark, plus power cables are Cullen and Acoustic Zen. My LPs are kept clean by using a VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine and a Hunt handle;d brush; static is addressed by my old and highly effective Zerostat. What I've owned the longest turns out to be my Zerostat (a red one) which I bought in the 1980's. This system is a blend of new, old, and even older but it all works very well together. As terrific as my system sounds, listening to live music always reminds me that what I'm listening to at home just can't compare to live, so I don't chase "live sound"at home, but rather sound that is highly satisfying. Comments and/or questions are welcome. 
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Room Details

Dimensions: 18’ × 12’  Medium
Ceiling: N/A


Components Toggle details

    • McIntosh MR 78 FM Tuner
    Legendary and lives up to the hype and made better with Richard Modaferri's updates. Very sensitive, but not just for DX'ers. Very musical and quiet when fed a good signal. Very flexible to boot but sensitive to RF interference (nearby LED lights caused problems which was solved by a ferrite core on the antenna input). There may be better tuners, but this tuner is the tuner for me.
    • Marantz Model 20 FM Tuner
    Marantz Model 20 tuner, the solid state successor to the 10b tuner. The oscilloscope is definitely eye candy and useful too, as it is the most versatile tuning aid. Solid sounding tuner. Definitely is distinguishable from my MR78, and yet each has its charms. It is clear that the team that designed this tuner sought to retain as much of the tube sound of the 10B that could be done when this solid state tuner was designed in the 1960’s.
    • Revel Studio 2 Speakers
    Beautiful full range speakers. Solid, delicate, full range and great imaging. Full range, really doesn't need a subwoofer, but a friend gave me a subwoofer (McIntosh PS112), so of course I'm running a subwoofer. Never tried bi-wiring three speakers. I know some people knock Revel speakers at not having much 'character'. Good! I prefer a speaker that speaks the truth and does not editorialize.
    • Linn LP12 Turntable
    Another legendary component, and worthy of its acclaim.  Though not the very best by 2021 standards, yet still provides incredible heights of musical satisfaction. In many ways my most satisfying source component.

    Outfitted with an Ekos 2 arm, Kandid cartridge, Kore subchasis, Karousel bearing and Lingo 4 power supply. The Kandid was a 2021 addition as my very long lived Arkiv II was in its final days. 
    • Pass Labs XP15 Phono Preamp
    Quiet, flexible and dynamic. Does the job very well, and surpasses my prior phono preamp, a Pass Aleph Ono. Cartridge load and gain settings on the back are inconvenient but in all fairness, it is a "set it once and forget it" thing.
    • Pass Labs XP20 Preamplifier
    Simply the best preamp I've ever owned- I like this preamp better that a Conrad Johnson Premier 17LS2 I owned in the past, and that was a great preamp. Vey flexible, quiet, dynamic, and has enough inputs for a typical stereo setup. It really is true- a great preamp can make or break a system.
    • Pass Labs X250.8 Power amplifier
    Power and subtlety- says it all. I ran tubes for many years (Conrad Johnson and Rogue)- with the Pass gear I don't miss the tubes. On a side note- this amp has the best binding posts I've ever seen. Solid connection, impossible to over tighten. Best get someone else to help you move this amp around as it's heavy.
    • Sim Neo 260D
    This is my second Sim purchase. Good company, well made CD player/transport which I use solely as a transport. However, I have listened to CD using the internal DAC and I've used external digital sources, using Neo 260D as a DAC and was impressed as well. If I already didn't have a very good DAC, this really is all the DAC I would need.
    • Bricasti M1 DAC
    An astonishing DAC, updated with Bricasti's MDX board. While I am not going to say it  sounds "analog" I will say it just sounds like music with no need to make any excuses such as "it sounds good for digital". Astonishing DAC and excellent customer support
    • Bottlehead SEX 2.1 Headphone amplifier - integrated amplifier
    Home built tubed headphone amp, not quite stock. If you're good with a soldering iron, and your vision isn't shot, fun to build too. Quiet, liquid, authoritative, versatile too as it can also power high efficiency speakers, but it's clear forte is as a headphone amp.Definitely benefits from a shielded power cord.
    • McIntosh PS-112 Subwoofer
    New to me courtesy of a friend who moved on to another subwoofer. Old school sub; new high performance subs are better, but this does the trick for me, and the price was right. Dialed in just right, this gives my Studio 2's the illusion of an even firmer grip on the bass. I don't think my Revel Studio 2's need a sub, but adding this sub has made a very good speaker system that much better.
    • Bluesound Node
    I recently bought a new Node (N130), and am pleasantly surprised by the Node. I bypassed the internal DAC and run it to my Bricasti M1, using a Benchmark RCA to BNC SPDIF cable. I had looked and listened to a lot of DAC-less streamers, and just could not decide but I wanted to move away from using my MacBook Pro. After suggesting a Node to a friend, and hearing his Node, I figured, why not? I also thought that when I decide what I really want, the Node would easily slide into a bedroom system. And then something ridiculous happened- I like the Node! It is the ultimate in exploring new music at a reasonable price for a turnkey setup. I am impressed at how many different platforms the Node supports. The user interface is also easy to use and is almost entirely glitch-free.

Comments 37

Center
Owner
Thanks Jafant- I am plenty pleased. That I've not changed a single component in 6 years and have no intent to change anything (aside from my phono cartridge- which I have anticipated for a while) is a clear indication that this system is a final destination. I am so glad to be off that merry go round.

zavato

222222&text=ja
A beautiful room and system.
Happy Listening!

jafant

Center
Owner
Hi Jeff- so as a result of your question - digital vs analog, I played an LP I have which I also have as a high resolution download. The LP was warmer, wider soundstage and it digs deeper into the bass region. Maybe all this folks who say a MacBook Pro is a suboptimal way to play back digital files are into something.

zavato

Center
Owner
Hey there Jeff- I think my digital and analog playback, given good quality program source, are both terrific. I have no clear preference of one over the other, however, a friend who is quite familiar with my system has a strong preference for my analog playback. I will tell you, though, digital can produce better very low frequency .  That said, vinyl is awfully fun too- looks like you built a very nice analog front end. Enjoy!!

Nate

zavato

222222&text=fr
@zavato 

I just added a LP system to my digital
( Project Classic, Hana SL, Musical Surroundings Phonomona II+)

Linn was my thought of an end game 

Anyway, Which is better on your system ?   LP or Digital 
Better, bass?, less highs?   Etc

Jeff

frozentundra

Center
Owner
Thank you! The Pass X250.8 with my Revel Studio 2's is a great combination. The X250.8 is a stereo amp so no bi-amping and I don't bi-wire. I have no desire to make any significant changes to my system and it's been that way 5 years now. I'm truly satisfied.

zavato

222222&text=hi
Very nice system Zavato. How do you like the Pass Lab amps with the Revels? Are you bi-amping? Happy listening

highend64

Center
Owner
Thank you for your kind words. It’s definitely a very good system. The center rack is from England- Sound Organisation. The outer racks are both from Solidsteel in Italy. On either side of the Solidsteel racks are some ikea units- Kallax- which store some of my albums

zavato

128x128
Very nice set up, I'm in Envy. Can you tell me who manufactures the audio racks that you are using?

badger_erich

Center
Owner
Hi pdreher- thanks very much. It's a mix of gear made in the 70's, 90's, 00's and 10's that happen to work very well together. If you throw in my Zerostat, the 80's are represented too.

zavato

Center
I like your mix of new and classic vintage gear.  Well done!

pdreher

Center
Owner
Hi Liszt458- thank you! I love my system. There may be better but I really have no desire to explore that. 

Obviously, you have great choice in equipment. I’ve never routed the M1 direct to my amp, but if digital were my only source, I would definitely forego the preamp but as I also listen to vinyl and FM, I do need a preamp or at least a way to switch between sources. 

I’ve owned a number of preamps over the years- Bryson .5b and BP25, CJ17LS2, Pass Aleph P and XP20. The XP20 is the finest pre I’ve ever owned. Next best was the CJ17LS2. 

zavato

222222&text=li
Great system. I have the Pass Labs X150.8 amp as well as the Bricasti M1 DAC, which I connect directly to the amp. It sounds great, but I'm pondering the need for a preamp. I know you have a great preamp, but have you ever tried the DAC/amp direct route? Appreciate any thoughts you can share on the matter. Thanks very much.

liszt458

Center
Owner
Thank you for your kind comments. I don’t listen much to headphones these days, however, when I do, I listen to Hifiman HE560’s

zavato

222222&text=to
Really nice system, love your Pass gear and am sure you get great satisfaction from your setup. What headphones have you settled on with your Bottlehead headphone amp? I have a Pass Labs XA30.5 as a back up amp to my Quicksilver 120 monos that I just can't bring my self to sell in spite of it being to large and heavy that it doesn't fit my rack, just in case my setup changes in the future I will hold on to it. Happy listening.

tooblue

Center
Owner
Thank you Jafant!

zavato

Center
Owner
Hi Iceman-  the rack in the middle is a Sound Organization stand. From England, and I bought it close to 30 years ago. These stands we ubiquitous at Linn dealers decades ago. 

Thanks for the nice comment!

zavato

222222&text=ic
Awesome system!  One quick question: where / what vendor did you get MIDDLE audio rack from?  The ones on the ends say "SolidSteel".  The one in the middle has no visible brand.  What brand is it?  Pls advise & thanks!

iceman_sg

222222&text=ja
Beautiful system!  Happy Listening!

jafant

Center
Owner
Hi Jeff- the Bricasti is the 2nd DAC I’ve owned. I used to have a Wyred4sound DAC. A friend had a Bricasti, and after hearing it decided I wanted the Bricasti. Really didn’t listen to anything else as I simply concluded the Bricasti sounded great, not just “great for digital”.  And yes, the Pass with the Studio 2’s is fabulous. At insane levels, I can get the needle to move, but that last happened when a friend came over and insisted on listening to something at eardrum busting levels. I’ve not made any changes to my gear since buying the Bricasti and have no intent or desire to make any upgrades. I am forever mindful that my cartridge is old and can’t last forever and eventually will go to cartridge heaven. 

Nate 

zavato

222222&text=fr
Z;

The revel studio2 with pass sound great, so far
They get pretty loud and never move the needle 

What's your spin on Dac's?

Bricasti is pretty sweet.
What other Dac's got your to the bricasti?

Jeff

frozentundra

Center
Owner
Thanks wloeb!

zavato

222222&text=wl
Great system !

wloeb

Center
Owner

Thanks Hamr.  If you contact Mark at Reno Hifi, I'm sure he could arrange for an in-home demo for you. I am very satisfied with the Pass electronics.

I've had good gear in the past, and I can say without any doubt the Pass amp, pre-amp and phono stage that I have now are the best I've ever had in each respective category.

zavato

222222&text=ha
Great system! The Pass gear looks interesting. I wish we had a dealer nearby where I could get a loaner to hear it at home.

hamr

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