Description

this room and system is the result of 10 years in High End audio. my system has been stable for a couple of years (except for transport and amplifier upgrades within the same brand). the room has been in the planning stage for about 18 months and i actually moved in a little over a month ago.

my audio philosphy is to have the system get out of the way of the event. i like as pure and simple a signal path as possible and, at this point, prefer passive to active gain stages. i love all the formats and enjoy having lot's of music.....vinyl is my favorite but i listen to at least 60% digital. the new room really reveals the benefits of SACD over redbook.

the system and room truely allow the event to be recreated before me. i love the way the speakers disappear and i am transported to another place/time.

i have choosen my cables, sources, amps, speakers to have as little of their own sound as possible.

recently, i upgraded my digtial transport from the modified Philips SACD 1000 to the new emmlabs CDSD.....this was a significant step upward in performance.

i have written an article in Positive Feedback regarding my room building experience.....here is a link;

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue16/lavigneroom.htm
Read more...

Room Details

Dimensions: 29’ × 21’  X large
Ceiling: 11’


Components Toggle details

    • Evolution Acoustics MM7's
    twin towers, main tower, 82
    • darTZeel NHB-468
    Mono block Amplifiers. 

    traded in my 458 amplifiers for the new version, the 468.
    • darTZeel NHB-18NS
    battery powered preamp with 2 separate phono stages. uses BNC 'zeel' cables between pre and amps.
    • Evolution Acoustics 7.5 meter 'Zeel'
    7.5 meter pair of BNC cables from preamp to amps.
    • MSB Technology Select II with dual power supplies and 33 Femto clock
    State of the art dac. modular and updatable.
    • MSB Pro USB
    digital interface combining USB with a fiber cable and lowering noise between the server and dac. proprietary to the modular MSB dacs.
    • Gobel LaCorde Statement USB cable
    1.2 meters. significant performance upgrade. eliminated any digital glare.
    • Taiko Audio Extreme Music server
    state of the art music server, includes 32 tb of PCIe solid state storage for music files.
    • Saskia model two idler turntable
    180 pound slate plinth, + 40 pound platter = 220 pounds. the ultimate idler. i have 7 arm boards with it. super image, tonal density and energy projection.

    designed and built by Win Tinnon in Alabama.
    • CS Port LFT1 turntable w/arm
    air bearing platter and air bearing linear tracking arm; string drive with zero feedback dc motor, low pressure, low flow air system with zero noise air box.

    world class musical flow, nuance and delicacy, combined with authority and ease. serves the music completely.
    • CS Port C3EQM2 phono pre
    tube phono stage, zero feedback, uses a SMPS. has a MC output, and 2 MM outputs. top level build quality.

    very quiet, refined and dynamic. battery powered, plays 8 hours on one charge, and takes 9 hours to recharge.
    • Wave Kinetics NVS
    direct drive turntable
    • Durand Tosca tonearm.
    gimbal bearing design. the finest tonearm i have heard.
    • Etsuro Gold Reference 2 MC Phono Cartridge
    duraluminim (A7075) body, 24 carat 'Kinpaku' Gold Leaf finish, diamond cantiliver.

    .3mv output, 4 ohms.

    finest cartridge i have heard by a significant margin. WOW!
    • Durand Tonearms Telos Sapphire
    12" unipivot tonearm with sapphire bearing tower and anti-skate bridge.
    • Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement MC

    State of the Art moving coil cartridge, the best one I've heard in my system.

    .5 mv output. ultra detail and energy, extremely nuanced.

    • Ortofon MC Anna
    low output moving coil. titanium body built using the SLM manufacturing technique.
    • Miyajima Premium Be
    mono MC
    • Synology 30 Terabyte NAS (a pair = 60 TB) music file storage
    mirroring music storage for my music files.
    • Studer A820 Master Recorder
    1/4 inch. refurbished by Fred Thal of ATAE. head switch installed by Ki Choi allows direct out into custom output electronics bypassing stock electronics for playback.
    • Studer A-820 reel to reel master recorder; 1/4" and 1/2" heads, guides and hubs.
    this 3rd A-820 machine is used as the recorder in my system and can record both 1/4" and 1/2" tape. has transformerless audio output cards.
    • Studer A820 Master Recorder
    1/2 inch machine. has a direct out head switch allowing a choice to use the stock output electronics or direct out to the King-Cello tape repro output electronics.
    • King/Cello w/meters and pots tape repro/phono
    custom output electronics for the Studer A820. built by Charles King based on the Cello circuit. separate power and output boxes. upgraded adding meters and pots to allow fine adjustments for heads.
    • Taiko Tana (5 of them) Herzan TS-150 (2) + TS-140 (3)
    active isolation under 5 separate components: (1) the NVS turntable, (2) the MSB dac, (3) the darTZeel preamp, (4 + 5) both darTZeel mono block amplifiers. custom modifications by Taiko Audio add a linear power supply plus panzerholtz top layer + Daiza platform to provide full frequency resonance attenuation to each platform.
    • Taiko Audio Daiza isolation platform--22 used in the system
    Panzerholtz Platform with spiral cutouts reducing mid and high frequency resonance while retaining life and energy and not changing tonality.

    22 Daiza platforms in the system of various sizes under every piece of the signal path.
    • Adona Zero GTX rack---3 of them--each 4 shelf.
    all three with 27" x 21" turntable top.

    solid rack for best direct floor connection.
    • Tripoint Audio Troy Signature
    Grounding box for chassis grounding the darTZeel 458 mono block amplifiers + grounding the passive main towers of the Evolution Acoustics MM7 speaker system.
    • Tripoint Audio Elite
    Tripoint Elite grounding box. this does chassis grounding for my sources. it uses a a pair of Tripoint Thor SE Master Reference ground cables for my dart preamp and the MSB Select II dac. there are also 4 Signature Silver ground cables to the two arm boards of the NVS tt, the power supply of the NVS tt, and the SGM server.
    • Equi=tech 10WQ
    10kva balanced Isoltion transformer and distribution panel.
    • Furutech GTX-D NCF Rhodium duplex outlets
    10 in the system. used with 10 Furutech covers and frames. uses NCF (nano crystal formula) material to reduce noise by emitting negative ions.
    • Absolute Fidelity power interfaces
    power cords specifically designed for either motors (tt and tape decks), amplifiers, and components. 11 in the system.
    • Wave Kinetics A10 U8 decoupling footers
    8 sets-of-4 in the system for individual tuning of each piece of gear.
    • Auralex T-Fusor diffusers
    i use 20 of these. 6 each on the front side walls, and 4 each front ceiling and rear ceiling.
    • Klaudio Record Cleaning System
    automatic record cleaner
    • Acoustic Revive RL-30 mKIII CD-LP demagnatizer
    for demaging any disc.
    • Furutech DF-2 LP disc flattner
    will remove warps from Lps
    • Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Anniversary Ed.
    will cook any cables
    • Winds ALM-01 Stylus Force Gauge
    easy accurate, repeatable, measurments.
    • i-Tower by Koncept LED floor lamp
    (3) are used. best audio light ever. 2 'warm', 1 'cool'.
    • Quietrock THX 545 drywall
    specialized drywall with a 1/4" metal layer. used in my front sidewalls to establish proper room boundaries.
    • view...... what i look at...
    ...while listening. Rattlesnake Ridge.
    • Barn.... ......room is....
    ....most of the ground floor. 29' x 21' x 11'.

Comments 3367

Showing all comments by mikelavigne.

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222222&text=mi
Owner
hi Anthony,

thank you for the kind words. i do enjoy my Evolutions and darTZeel, and appreciate the help of Jonathan over the years. loving my tt's and tape decks. you would be welcome to visit any time you are in the Seattle area. hope you can do it.

cheers,

Mike

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
hi Panda,

i never auditioned the JVC RS3000 4 years ago when i made the change, but jumped all the way to the RS4500 from my Sony VW1000ES. so i cannot comment on the differences. i am really happy with my RS4500 now 4 years into the ownership. perfect for my smallish room.

btw, the link that brought you here from AVS is for my separate 2 channel room. i don't have a room thread for my separate Home Theater room. in case you look around here and it does not make sense.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
hi Ray,

thank you for the kind comment.

i saw you are building a dedicated room. sounds like you are having fun with it. enjoy the process, i know i enjoyed building mine.

cheers,

Mike

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
16f4,

thank you for your service. and thanks for the kind words.

you would be welcome to come by anytime you are in the Seattle area. and i meant what i said on your thread. a simpler system has it's attractions. i've spent 25 years building this system and it has it's value but also a degree of limiting gravity in my life. 

cheers!

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
Ken,

my guy is not too available. where are you located?

the more i think about it, if i were starting over now, honestly i would recommend the Ampex ATR-102 as the most sensible choice for a top level deck. it's really similar to my A-820 Studer's and much more reasonable to repair and get parts. the Studer's are sexier to look at and play with, but the Ampex will perform in the same realm.

i did own an Ampex ATR-102 for 5 years and it's a great choice.

atrservice.com is who i would contact. great people.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
hi Ken,

nice room and system, btw. congrats!

the A-807 is a 'little brother' to my A-820's, and if you can find one of those in great shape, then it would be a great choice. what's important is to either have the skills to fix it, or know of someone who can help. this era Studer uses early EPROM's for system control. so repairs are not simple. and parts can be hard and expensive to source.

i'm lucky to have a local guy who really knows Studer's.

these machines are works of Art and tape handling is superb. so they are worth the effort.

best wishes for your quest.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
Archguy,

appreciate the kind offer. it is a blank canvas and you are not the first to suggest i do something artistic with it. in some ways it's a missing piece of the visuals.

the cloth that covers that 'half-round' resonator is acoustically significant. maybe someday i will find a tapestry that could replace it that would add the right touch.

OTOH i live in the mountains, so everywhere there is beauty. and i listen in dim light, seeking a 'zen' state and travel in my mind with the music. so any art on that wall would mostly help with the pictures of the room, and not my listening experience.

there are two windows i have plugged, that offer a wonderful view; but the sound is better with those windows plugged. so that is my priority.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
hi Arnie,

sorry for the delay in my response. somehow i missed this until just now.

and you are correct; that front center large round diffuser had a triple tall RPG Skyline stack (which did resemble ribbing) from about 2008 to 2015. then in 2015 i was working on room tuning and fixed some issues that eventually led to me to understanding that the Skyline was causing a problem. one of those situations where you have a band aid that is a net positive, but when you fix the underlying issue then that band aid is revealed to be a problem. 

so it has been gone for almost 5 years now.

if you scroll down and go to the previous page there are a series of 4 posts that describe my year long room tuning process and this issue with the Skyline is put into context in much detail.

best regards,

Mike

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
hi David,

good thoughtful question. sorry if this answer is long winded, but it's not simple to answer.

the basic differences between the Taiko Tana 'system' and a single Daiza platform is that the Tana is 'active' and the Daiza is passive. and also that the Tana 'system' includes the main shelf element of the passive Daiza.

n essence; the Tana 'system' includes (1) a Table Stable (brand name Herzan in the western hemisphere) TS active shelf, (2) a 10mm top Panzerholtz layer attached to the top plate, (3) a thin rubber membrane, (4) a Daiza Panzerholtz shelf (without footers), and (5) a very well built and elaborate separate linear power supply (replacing the stock SMPS in stock Herzan units) that even has a Panzerholtz case and uses a separate Daiza shelf underneath.

the Tana 'system' combines the active portion that optimizes frequencies below 200 hz, and then the 10mm top plate + the rubber membrane + the top shelf that optimizes higher frequencies. so as a system it attenuates full frequency.

i did start a thread here on Audiogon about this product with more details. here is a link;


there are no other anti-resonance devices in industry or high end audio that can compete with the Tana system. the only 2 gotcha's for the Tana are (1) the gear being treated cannot generate it's own noise, or the active Tana will get caught in a feedback loop of noise cancellation.....and burn itself up. some turntables, for instance, transmit resonance to their footers, these are not candidates for the Tana 'system'; and the other gotcha is (2) the cost. not cheap. another thing is that the Tana requires a solid rack and floor to be effective. suspended wood floors are not recommended.

"The Daiza is an acoustically optimized vibration damping and control platform, made from CNC machined German Panzerholz". it also has special two piece footers that provide excellent impedance breaks between your gear shelf and the gear chassis. and you can stack two Daiza sheves on top of each other for greater passive resonance attenuation. i have 4 such dual stacked Daiza's in my system.


why do i have 22 Daiza's?

5 are part of my 5 Tana active systems.
5 are under my Tana linear power supplies.
8 are 4x2 under my dac, dual dac power supplies, and server
2 are under my 2 box King Cello tape repro
one under my Tripoint Troy Signature grounding box
one under my Tripoint Elite grounding box.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
finally posting a bunch of new additions.

---2 new turntables, 1 with new l
---new phono preamp
---new phono cartridge

---addition of 22 Daiza passive anti-resonance platforms.

CS Port LFT1 turntable;

Saskia model two idler turntable

CS Port C3EQM2 phono preamp

Taiko Audio Daiza anti-resonance platforms--22 of them.

Etsuro Gold MC Cartridge

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
@b_limo; again sorry for my delayed response.

appreciate those very nice words. my system certainly has been a labor of love and very long term effort. many low spots to get to the good places.

as far as 'other systems' and what i've heard, that's a hard question to answer. i've been in this room now for 15 years. for the first 10 of those years i heard a few systems that did do some things as good or better than my system. did i prefer those systems overall? not that i recall. but there were things about them i aspired to capture in my system. so i was inspired to keep pushing.

then about 3-4 years ago i made some significant changes and found some fine tuning progress in my system that took things to another level or three. since that time i think i would say i've not heard anything that i like as much or prefer to my system. keep in mind there are many top systems i've not heard.

i hesitate to use the word 'better' or 'best'. as there are many paths to musical reproduction bliss. for my particular musical compass i feel i'm where i need to be. i feel that i have a system that synergizes well and that however hard i push things the system can deliver. and my big advantage over other systems trying to do big music is that my room is not limiting. it's purpose built to do it all. lots of amplifier headroom. amazing bass capability. and i have top level sources with digital, vinyl and tape.

there are many, many 'uber' systems around the world. many with good rooms and as expensive or more expensive gear. where maybe i might have an advantage is in the passion i bring to the equation. i never stop trying to make things better. expensive pretty gear is only one part of great sound. for 10 years i had a great room, and top level gear. but i had not figured out the room synergy. i know what sort of hunger it took to break through that barrier.

sorry if i got carried away with my answer......but this is obviously a very huge thing for me.

and obviously i love to have music lovers visit me for a listening session. it's why my room is fairly large and i have lots of seating. love being a DJ.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
@sbonamo, sorry for my late response. not paying enough attention.

thanks for the kind words, and glad the Aqua Formula has been good for you. i've heard very positive things about that xHD upgrade. congrats!

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
hello Andrew,

thanks.

you can come over whenever you are in the neighborhood. i often have music loving visitors and enjoy it.

Mike

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
thank you facten, for the kind comment.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
hi Simon,

thanks for the kind comments. and obviously agree on the Tosca.

regarding the Taiko Stechi grounding boxes; i do use 5 in the system right now, one with each Tana. i suppose i need to take some pictures and add it to my gear roster. they do add this little bit of goodness to the whole picture.

Jonathan reported to me a couple months ago how much he enjoyed the vinyl in your system with the Tana. there are not many of the Tana systems around so that was fun to hear about.

best wishes with your move back to the UK and getting settled there....again.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner
i finally updated my gear list and pictures.

i still need to go back and comment on each picture so it will be more clear about certain changes.

the highlights of the updates are as follows;

---new added 3rd Studer A-820 to go along with my 2 long term resident A-820's. this new one has both 1/4" and 1/2" heads, guides and hubs. so i can quickly make stunning dubs of either 1/4" or 1/2" originals.

--new Durand Tosca tone arm. wow! best i've heard.

--new Taiko Audio Extreme server. big, big step up over my previous SGM server. and also the MSB Pro USB interface plus the Gobel LaCorde USB cable = amazing digital.

---the 2 Herzan TS units i had, have been dramatically upgraded to the Taiko Audio 'Tana' with hotrod linear power supplies and panzerholtz top layers and Daiza panzerholz platforms. then i added 3 more for a total of 5 active platforms. they are now under the whole signal path. crazy good sound!

so all three formats......digital, vinyl and tape are now better.....as is the whole system performance.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner

"I call shotgun"

you would be welcome to visit for a listen anytime.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner

hi Russ,

listening a lot in 2019......but after some changes a year ago, the system has reached an equilibrium point where I'm just happy and enjoying and not really pondering any changes. no changes since last June.

I think I'm pretty happy and have pushed things as far as I needed to.

last winter I did try a couple sets of tube amps in my system for 3 months just to scratch that itch. glad I did it and it helps me to really enjoy where I'm at.

still enjoying the 800 Matrix's?

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner

Mark, thanks and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family too.

Mike

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner

Post #4 on the subject. this one is from later in 2015 in August and mostly deals with solving a 12db suckout around 30hz. but it is related to the whole room tuning subject. and at this point I was finished with room tuning and pictures of my system all show the room as it was after this and remains the same. I am now thrilled with how my room and system synergize. I did take about 2 months after this post to adjust my speakers to work properly.

>>>>>>>my room designer designed a whole ceiling bass trap into my room. it was 15" deep and covered the whole 21' x 29' ceiling. except for -6- inset 6' x 8' chambers. these chambers had fabric covered vertical openings with Corning 709 fiberglass in the openings. you can see the chambers in the ceiling of my room pictures. the idea was that this bass trap would control the bass; but clearly in retrospect it was a huge mistake. now 11 years later that mistake has been rectified.....finally.

4 years ago I did have a contractor remove the fabric panels from 4 of the 6 chambers and glue and screw 3/4" finished maple plywood over these openings; which did improve the bass response. I thought that fixed my issue. I was wrong.

last May, 14 months ago, my speaker designer was here for 2 days to do the final tweaking to my Evolution Acoustics MM7's. when he measured the room he found a fairly wide -12db suck out at 30hz, one that the room dimensions did not logically predict. he strongly suspected that the remaining openings in those center chambers were the likely cause. since the MM7's are so powerful and adjustable, he was able to minimize the effect of the suck out with adjustments, but at the cost of ultimate performance. he did strongly suggest I get those openings covered. he even gave me two sets of settings sheets for the 4 sets of adjustments (2 sets on each bass tower).......one for the 'compensated' adjustments he made, and another for 'flat' adjustments anticipating my getting those openings sealed up.

since last May I have given a good amount of effort into finding a contractor to do that work, but was not successful.

then this spring I went thru the experience with the fabric treatments that really took things up a few notches. I had quite a few people thru the room and the feedback was very positive. I knew that somehow I needed to do this final thing and hopefully that would allow the bass performance that was already amazing to go to the optimal level. I was fully motivated to get this done with my excitement from the big step forward from the fabric treatments.

I realized if I wanted to get this done i had to do this myself.

finally I was able to convince my son (I bribed him by giving him one of my bicycles) to help me do this nasty job. I spent last week buying -3- 4' x 8' sheets of finished 3/4" maple plywood, another 8 foot step ladder (we would be working at 10'-11'), a good quality circular saw, saw horses, and all the other bits and pieces we would need. my son had a 208 mile one-day STP (Seattle to Portland) bike ride on Saturday and did not get home till late, so Sunday morning a spent 2 hours clearing out the room.....everything to the sides....racks moved, tape decks moved. big job. tarp laid. ladders set up. neither of us are carpenters; could we rip the panels without chipping? could we even cut a straight line?

would it actually make a positive difference?

we did not know exactly how we would remove the fabric panels or how they were attached. would we be able to get them out without removing the trim pieces? we did not posses the skills to properly replace the trim.

he showed up around 10:30am and we first removed the 8 deflector panels with in the chambers and then got to work pulling off the fabric panels, 4 per chamber, 8 total. we were able to get them out with considerable caution and effort without disturbing the trim. then we measured and started ripping the sheets and cutting to size. I had a work commitment mid afternoon for 2 hours, and returned. finally about 9 that night we screwed and glued the final plywood sheet. then he left and I spent 2 hours reassembling the room. I'd had a listening visitor from California the previous day (HiFi Guy) and then the previous night I'd had a work dinner till midnight. I'm not a young guy. I was gassed. I tried to listen. was it boomy sounding? if that 30hz -12db suck out was solved to a significant degree that old set-up would cause the lower bass to be boomy. I thought it was boomy but fell asleep right away. the next morning before work I was not yet recovered enough to listen.

finally after work that night I had recovered enough to listen and went thru my digital listening references and the lower bass was clearly boomy, if not quite a bit more energetic sounding. I had spoken to my speaker designer earlier and he said I should shut off the amps in the bass towers and see if it sounded clean. if it did that indicated that the closing of the openings had not likely caused other issues. I did that, went thru my references again, no problem, sounded very clean. so then I turned the bass towers back on and adjusted both the 'bass level' and the 'bass quality' (Q) halfway to the 'flat' positions and listened to the references again. better, less boomy. much more energy. some magical things happening. then I went 3/4 to the flat positions and again listened. now it was a big WOW! everything was now at a whole new reference level. all up and down the frequency range. a whole new level of coherence and naturalness. vocals were superb sounding. much more holographic. bass impact a couple orders of magnitude better. so I just listened late until early morning Tuesday and again after not much sleep in the morning. I was stoked.

that night I first listened as it was; then found a good cut and moved the 'bass quality' the last little bit to the flat position. clearly better. then I moved the 'bass level' the last little bit to the flat position and it was super clean and right. it sounds perfect to me now; I've been listening for 2 days now to it and I'm just beside myself. as good as it had been; it's not only much better but much different than even Saturday night. what is so crazy to my mind is how much different vocals and the mid range is simply by eliminating a 30hz suck out. it was very interesting hearing how much detail had been covered by those adjustments which were pegged to cover the suck out when taken to flat all that detail jumped out.

the MM7's are now fully unleashed and are something to behold!

how close to absolutely flat is it? don't know. I hope it can get better from here.....but maybe not. is the suck out all the way gone? once I measure it I may or may not post it. we all know how much I love graphs.:eek:

I suppose I have a persecution complex posting about discovering my personal mistakes. I know from time to time that comes back to haunt me when ner-do-wells want to give me some crap. but so what. I feel that these sort of experiences contribute to the collective knowledge. and one has to be open to learning and going farther down the road.

my goal 11 years ago with my efforts was to get the room and system out of the way of the music; I think I've essentially done that finally.

oh and btw, this job cost me about $250 in materials and I did acquire approx. $450 worth of tools and a ladder. I was going to give the bike to my son anyway but he did not know that. so between the fabric and this job about $500-$600 and the effect is off the charts.<<<<<<<<<

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner

Post # 3 on this subject. this is from early 2015 too, answering questions about how I selected the fabric and how i applied the fabric treatments.

>>>>>>>any fabric with a textured surface will work to treat 1st reflections. anything from grass cloth, to acoustic fabric you'd see over acoustic panels, to drapery fabric, or some sort of synthetic suede or velvet. you want to avoid anything too thick with a backing as that will absorb more frequencies. you are just wanting to knock down high frequency reflections without causing more change.

I went to a fabric store and paid $40 for 5 yards from their remnant section. not a big deal.

you are simply trying to experiment to find out cause and effect, so don't over think it. if you can find something that will blend visually into your décor then you can live with it longer or even permanently. I found that the easiest fabric to work with was synthetic velvet-suede, since it does not have long threads and so does not unravel on the edges once cut, cuts in a straight line, and sits flat on the wall and does not look wrinkled.

the hard part is getting the fabric to lay flat on the ceiling. I used a combination of double backed Velcro purchased from Home Depot (on the ceiling) and pushpins. along with some tacks. to use the tacks I had to hold the tack with a needlenose pliers with one hand and then tap it with a hammer with the other hand since all my surfaces are hardwood panels. if you have sheetrock then you can likely just push the pins or tacks right in without needing a hammer or pliers. on the walls I just hung the fabric and added a few tacks to keep it straight on the walls. if you glue the fabric that will change the reflective properties of the fabric. loose, hanging, fabric will reflect differently than attached fabric.....and the farther from the walls it hangs the more it will absorb. imagine a closet with lots of hanging clothes. you want the fabric to lay close to the surface.

sit in your listening chair and imagine all the spots where the geometry could result in 1st or second reflections. particularly note speakers reflecting off the opposite wall. notice where the ceiling or floor (particularly with hardwood or tile floors) intersects with the wall and it could then reflect right back to the listening position. you don't want to cover everything as that will simply deaden your room. and assume that your speakers will radiate sound in every direction. you will not know if it's an area causing a problem until you treat it and listen.

once you identify the problem areas then there are professional looking wall fabrics that can be installed and look right. but you don't want to spend that money until you know where you want it.

I've heard rooms with all the surface treated with fabric, or even drapery around all the walls. they have great imaging but to my ears are a bit lacking in energy and life. but in a small room sometimes that is the best approach. my goal was not to lose the attribute of high energy.

you can even hang fabric over your diffusion to see what happens.

there is no one way to do things.<<<<<

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner

post #2 on this subject.

re-reading my post from early 2015 below, I see I never addressed removing the RPG Skylines specifically. and I can't find where I wrote about that. so here was how I came to remove those.

originally those Skylines were installed to help with the center image. and they did. but it was a help in the context of lots of all the reflective hash I now recognize was present. once I treated the walls and eliminated the reflective hash, the RPG Skylines became a problem. they then confused the center image. removing the Skylines and just having the round diffuser fabric covered was much, much, better.

think of the RPG Skylines as a band aid over a problem, but then once the problem was removed the Skylines got in the way and had to be removed. like removing a wall to find a door behind it you open.

mikelavigne

222222&text=mi
Owner

here is post #1 of the answer about the removal of the 3 stacked RPG Skylines. the following posts are ones a wrote in 2015, when for 9 months I worked on various aspects of room tuning.

>>>>>>I built a full blown dedicated room now 11 years ago. I've made a number of changes to the original design over these many years, always getting closer to the ideal I've chased. I added a front set of RPG Skyline diffusers 7 years ago. I removed huge front corner bass traps and reinforced the room boundaries 5 years ago. I added side and ceiling diffusers then too. I closed up 2/3rdsof the ceiling bass traps 4 years ago. I figured I was done with the room.

I added the Equi=tech isolation transformer wall panel, and upgraded my duplex outlets 4 years ago. power grid all ok.

I've upgraded my speakers and amplifiers 2 years ago to my view of the ultimate......still waiting for that ultimate preamp.....maybe another 30 days. I'm completely satisfied that my sources are all top notch, or at least my view of what that might be.

I've got all the software I could want in all the formats I have an interest in.

but I was still not 100% satisfied with the performance. the system was 100% satisfying to listen to and I was not frustrated or anything like that. but I felt that there was more I should be hearing. I had visited a couple of rooms which had more apparent detail and imaging, and while I preferred my overall musical equation, those experiences convinced me that there was more to find from my system.

for a few years I had been looking at the first reflection areas in my room and wondered if those were a problem. my previous opinion had been that since my room was quite large and the reflection times were so long that logically those areas should not be a problem. and I was always afraid of adding diffusion or absorption and messing up the tonal balance or losing energy. a few friends recently had done full room treatments with some current rave treatments and torn them out when they realized they had lost the musical flow and tonal fire. and yet.....what if? 3 years ago I had thought of adding some RPG wood surface diffusion to these areas and priced it out; it came to $17k for what I wanted. and I was again concerned that I would throw off the tonal balance. my mind went back and forth.

I knew what happened when I tried some Navajo carpets on the walls; it sucked out the mid range. so I could not do much. the room was too sensitive to do that.

I considered I did not want to dampen the room at all or change the tonality. I just wanted to knock down the first reflections. what if I just put some cloth over the first refection points?

so one Saturday afternoon a little over month ago I decided to dive in. I went upstairs and found some left over material from my original fabric covers of my bass traps from the room construction. I measured and found I had enough to treat the drop ceiling between the speakers and listening position, and the side rounded diffuser on either side of the Skyline diffusers between my speakers. I had to go to the hardware store to buy some push pins, grabbed my wife's fabric scissors, and I dragged out the ladder. 3 hours later I had cloth covering the drop ceiling (22" x 60" on each side) and the sides of the diffusers (36" x 89" on each side).

have you ever tried to pin fabric to a 10' tall hardwood ceiling? i used a combination of double-backed Velcro and push pins. my neck still hurts.

but i got it done. and listened.

a whole different system resulted. I could not believe it......or rather I believed it but could not believe it took me so long to figure it out. lots more detail.....more relaxed presentation and more full bodied placement of images in the soundstage.....much improved vocals.....pianos and violins were magical. and oh the tone!

this performance had always been there; but it had been covered up by the reflected hash from the first reflections. and prior to this treatment; when I raised the volume there would be an increase in the hash and it caused the system to sound hard and edgy. and especially the sweet spot was effected by this as it was closest to that area of drop ceiling I treated. and as always; you don't recognize distortion until it's removed. and part of the trick is not losing good content along with ridding yourself of distortion.

so I went thru a few days of listening to all my reference cuts and was living large. then I started to think if those areas resulted in such a dramatic change, why not other first reflection areas? my bass towers prevent first reflection of the near wall from the main towers; however, the opposite main tower can interact with the opposite wall. so I went to a fabric store and found some velour fabric with some texture and cut out some 72" pieces to treat three flat surfaces on each side wall. boom; better vocals and more solid images.

ok, if this worked what else? I looked and saw the round 10 foot long surface above and below the front diffuser. right at the floor and right at the ceiling. could first reflections bounce off the ceiling or floor and do harm? only one way to find out. I had some black thin foam fabric I'd bought at the fabric store. I quickly cut out only a 6' long piece for the upper and lower rounded areas and pinned them up. and listened. better; vocals better. everything a little more focused.

I've always listened to music with the pleated window coverings up. many times i had closed them and listened but could never hear a difference. but that reflected hash had covered up other detail; what if now that i was hearing much more detail that those window coverings could make a difference? i lowered them and listened. better; more body and focus. not huge but a small step there to be enjoyed.

i imagine other small things will present themselves over time to be tweaked. but now it was so easy to hear the smallest change.

and all through this process I had paid very close attention to the tonality and energy levels. were there any trade-offs? in a word, hell no. in fact; every step came with greater dynamics and bass articulation. almost like the reflections had dampened things and I had released the music.

I had spent years and years doing all these things, pushing against this barrier of reflection, and in a week of messing around spending less than $100 on some fabric remnants and push pins I had broke the code. a new system. wow.

my opinion is that I was right to not do too much. don't overthink it. you are simply trying to knock down the reflections and not to mess with the overall balance.

but I was not completely done. for a few weeks I had been in musical bliss. then this past weekend I had visitors who were very familiar with my system. they were blown away by how it now performed. but they thought it could be even better......something still missing. but why? eventually they asked a question? was I sitting at the equilateral triangle point? I said sure. then we measured. I was 4 inches back too far. we moved the listening position 4 inches forward and there it was.

the last little bit. vocals crazy good. super holographic imaging. (insert over the top phrase here). i have only listened to redbook since i did this step, and i am in hog heaven. the music is just so profound. after the previous steps of the last month this last step is almost too much.

this was yesterday morning.

20 years of chasing my musical ideal and I'm now listening to it.

I have been thinking about whether to post this since it will result in all sorts of reactions. do i need to get into all this stuff, how do i know i did the right thing? why didn't i use this product or that product? how does it measure before and after? blah, blah, blah.

if someone mentions DSP I'm going to puke......well not really.....but you get the idea. they first need to come and hear what I've done, then show me a system with DSP that can match this.....and i will consider it.

maybe someone will be helped by my experience?<<<<<<

mikelavigne

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Owner

hello advanced,

that is a good question, and i will answer it within the next day or so as it's a fairly involved explanation. i have documented my process related to the elimination of those Skylines on other forums and need some time to assemble it as it will be helpful to have it here on my system page with the other room details and pictures.

and thanks for asking.

mikelavigne

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Owner

I added Lamm ML3 Signature mono blocks to my system a few days ago. The ML3's are a 32 watt SET with separate tube power supplies.

My Evolution Acoustics MM7 speakers are 97db, 7 ohm and are active below 40hz so the ML3's see an easy load and also don't need to do much deep bass. as a result they really get up and boogie on anything but the most demanding music, which is why I have the darTZeel 458 mono blocks too, which i'm keeping.

I love how the ML3's work in my system. amazing sound.

I will add some new pictures in the next few weeks.

mikelavigne

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Owner

more photos added including the dart pre replacing the old version last year, Tripoint Elite description, Tripoint Troy Signature and description, Entreq Silver Tellus, Entreq Poseidon, Entreq Atlantic Minimus, Sound Galleries Music (SGM) server 2015.

and updated pictures of the MM7's and dart 458's.

I still have to add more, but i'm gaining on it.

mikelavigne

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Owner

updated photos and gear list, not all the way done but now shows the MSB Select II with dual power supplies, the Tripoint Elite ground box, the Tripoint Troy Signature is now behind the dart mono blocks.

other additions coming when I get the chance. added the Entreq Poseidon, added Hardpoint Trinia passive footers, added Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge......all of which I need to add to my list and photos.

sorry this took so long.

mikelavigne

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Owner

hello VPN,

thank you.

yes; last week I was a 'very bad boy' (as the wife says) and did buy the MSB Select II dac. it is black in color, has a single power supply, and the 33 Femto clock upgrade. I promise to try and update my system pictures as soon as I can.....along with some details about my experiences with the new dac.

the Select II is a revelation in digital performance......and it has me under it's spell fully. all the accolades this dac have received are indeed well deserved.

cheers,

Mike


mikelavigne

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Owner

hi Guys, sorry I'm way behind in responding here and have not updated my room info for a year or so, I will try to do better.

audiogon member 'Bonzo75' recently traveled from the UK to visit my room and wrote up his experience on a blog he created. I thought it might be a good way to let you know what is doing on my system currently. here is a link;

http://zero-distortion.org/mike-lavignepuget-studiosjazdoc-evolution-acoustic-mm7/

mikelavigne

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Owner

thanks Andrew.

the new year is an especially busy time at work for me and exhausting. I've been listening intently but I've had little energy for anything else.

I did make a few adjustments and additions to my grounding connections. first off; I moved my dart pre power supply/charger so I could plug the darTZeel preamp power supply/charger to the same outlet as the Thor power cord from the Troy. Miguel recommended that as significant; although he did not know if it would be as significant since the dart is battery powered. I did ground the stainless steel arm board.....along with the power supply of the tt as I previously mentioned. I also grounded the outboard LPS of the server.

I've been listening in this way for the last 10 days and it's been sounding great and staying about the same......until.....yesterday afternoon. when I returned back to listening after watching some football (the Seahawks game about killed me) something kicked in and things improved almost as much as the original jump. maybe another 75% of what the original step was.

 I was really impressed with this large step.....blown away might be a good descriptor. this big next step was 11 days after install as a data point.

the soundstage increased noticeably, noise lowered, dynamics increased; but that does not really relate what happened. it's more that the music became more real and organic in the soundstage, the reality quotient increased by a few orders of magnitude. how do you exactly describe that? I don't know. a magical experience. profound. the music is more nuanced, greater ease and greater musical tension at the same time, more holographic, much less processed and less sense of the reproduction chain. like multiple pieces of gear all improved and became more synergistic.

I'm impressed and just want to listen and not think about it.

mikelavigne

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Owner
started listening to the Troy Signature around 8 pm last night. listened till 11pm last night, then today since early.

I have the Thor Reference grounding cable connected to the phono ground post on my dart pre, and a standard silver grounding cable connected to the Tara Grandmaster grounding system on the Golden Gate. the Thor power cable is currently plugged into it's own dedicated outlet (Furutech GTX-D (R) -> Equi=tech).

a place to start.

from the first note this is awesome. it's a whole new ballgame, anything but subtle, and I'm still getting my brain around trying to define the ways it makes the sound better, and the music more real. for now I just want to experience it and enjoy what I'm hearing. and try not to analyze it. but my brain is reacting to new information and new degrees of realism in every recording.

lower noise; yes. more dynamic; yes. better flow and timing; yes. but more than that it seems to supercharge the musical energy.

I just grounded the power supply of the NVS tt. I need to go to the hardware store and find a small screw so I can ground the stainless steel arm board of the tone arm.

I'm very impressed.

mikelavigne

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Owner

Andrew,

again.....sorry for the long delay in my response.....

[quote]Have you ever heard Winston Ma's room. That is a fairly serious affair as well....[/quote]

Winston is a friend, and before i moved to my current home, i lived about 2 miles from his home. I've been to his room quite a few times; although not for quite a few years now. he did visit my old room occasionally, and my new room a few times too. Winston's room is very special. and, of course, it always sounded great when i was there. sadly; Winston is now in failing health. he is one of the great gentleman of our hobby.

[quote]Mike, are you still getting a Tripoint Troy? I am going to get one soon....:)[/quote]

finally yes. my Tripoint Troy SE Signature with Thor power cable and Thor SE Master Reference 1.5m ground cable has shipped to me. it should arrive next week or the following week depending on the shipping.

mikelavigne

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Owner

Stickman,

I apologize for being away from my system page for so long and not answering your questions. so in case you still have an interest....

the front chambers are larger; but that is not any sort of acoustic design imperative. it's just the result of how large the center chamber ended up....and then the longer speaker end relative to the listening end. and the listening position location.

since I took those pictures I have added more fabric treatments to the drop soffits in the middle and rear and that did help. i need to update my pictures.

as far as the hardwood floor; the idea is to mimic a concert hall. so the front hardwood is the stage and it's designed to retain as much energy as possible. the rear seating area mimics the concert hall seating and is somewhat absorptive. i do like the look of hardwood everywhere and add throw carpets. but acoustically the rear wall to wall carpet is better. it's all about acoustic energy balance. 


mikelavigne

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Owner
hello Stickman,

thank you for the kind words.

congrats on you and your wife retiring (i'm 2 or 3 years away myself), and then building a custom home in Colorado. and.....the new room project. if you have already had 2 dedicated rooms then you already have a pretty good idea on where you are going. your room dimensions are quite similar to mine, which I can tell you, it is nice to have a little elbow room.....it does allow the music to breathe.

personally I do like the ceiling soffit approach and the angled hanging diffusers. they retain energy but eliminate slap echo. and the soffits break up pressure points along the ceiling. I would only caution you to be careful not to allow a drop soffit between the listening position and the anticipated speaker location. until I recognized cause and effect and treated it with fabric the reflection from that soffit created a 'bright hash' which masked lots of detail.

OTOH your Maggie 20.7's are dipoles and project sound forward and back and not much to sides and up or down. so your room treatments need to deal with that reality, of which I have zero experience. I would recommend that whatever you end up doing to optimize those particular speakers that it be a 'fluid' solution so if you ever end up going to a dynamic cone speaker system that you can easily adjust the treatments.

I am absolutely thrilled with the hardwood floors on the speaker end of my room and think it's the right way to go with a larger room size we both have. you want to retain energy (like those angled diffusors on the ceiling). you can always play around with a small throw rug to experiment with some absorption on that hardwood....in my case whenever I have it deadened the sound and I removed it. smaller rooms need absorption to deal with high SPL's.....different rules apply to different size rooms.

those 20.7's are world class speakers and in a room that size are going to really sing. best wishes with your project and let me know if you have any other questions.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Owner
hi Sam,

all is well, and I hope You and Sunny are having a great summer.

Evolution Acoustics Loudspeaker specs

here is my understanding of how this crossover relates to the two different model speakers.

the crossovers in the MM7's is essentially identical to the ones in the 'Exact' column upgrade for the MM2/MM3. however; since the driver compliment is quite different in the MM7's the implementation and values are different.

the MM2/MM3 has a mid range that extends down to approximately 80-120 hz depending on the adjustable setting on the subwoofer, whereas on the MM7's the mid range only goes to 250hz to 300hz range and the -4- 11" woofers per side then do the 30hz to 250hz range. so the components of the crossover are the same, but it has another step. of course, the MM7 then has a whole additional tower for the below 40hz range.

the Exact upgrade does take the MM2/MM3 to another level in terms of detail and transparency and is a desirable and worthwhile upgrade. the MM7's are a whole different thing.

mikelavigne

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Owner
ok then. I guess that is settled.

mikelavigne

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Owner
honestly I don't know. I've not spoken to or had contact with Miguel for 6 months and never posted about it anywhere.

I've never heard any Tripoint product but certainly respect it and am curious about what it does like many others.

you apparently know more about it than I do....am I getting a Tripoint Troy?

mikelavigne

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Owner
Agear,

congrats on the Troy.

what makes you think I'm getting one or intended to do that?

mikelavigne

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Owner
update; another step forward.

read this post for context for what I'm describing below.

there are 4 different dials to adjust on each of the 4 separate bass adjustment panels (2 per side) on the bass towers. the OP describes what happened when I adjusted 2 of them for each section; the 'bass level' and the 'bass quality'. I set those to what the designer called 'flat' positions which were quite different (about 40-50% around the adjustment scale) than where they had been in the 'compensated' positions.

we had left the other 2 adjustments (bass filter and bass extension) in the 'compensated' position in case we found that the changes I made did not work, so we did not need to find those positions again.

yesterday I had left a message for the speaker designer asking him if I could also move the other 2 adjustments to the spots he had designated as 'flat' since we did know that we had a positive result from moving the other 2. early last night I had not yet heard back from him and decided 'what the heck' I want to know what that will do, so I did make those adjustments. in this case; both the 'bass filter', which is a variable crossover, and 'bass extension' the 'compensated' positions were much closer to the 'flat' positions. in one of the 4 was already in the 'flat' position.

WHOA! more meat on the bones, more heft in the bass, but it was the fire and sparkle of the mid range that took a significant improvement. vocals were quite a bit better. I had thought I was all the way there on perfect balance of voice and string tone but I was wrong. richer, more harmonic shading, more tube like breath of life.

every reference I have was improved in subtle ways. delicate little things in the soundstage are all more real and filled out and complete. magical.

these were tiny adjustments on 2 innocent dials on the back of some active bass towers that crossover at around 35hz with the main towers. how can this do that? don't know, but they did.

mikelavigne

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Owner
Agear,

thanks.

and yes, I did notice a few months back that Rives is no longer a company.

mikelavigne

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Owner
Dennis, many thanks for your comments.

mikelavigne

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Owner
Larry, thanks for the kind comments.

mikelavigne

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Owner
suck out fixed. i think.

my room designer designed a whole ceiling bass trap into my room. it was 15" deep and covered the whole 21' x 29' ceiling. except for -6- inset 6' x 8' chambers. these chambers had fabric covered vertical openings with Corning 709 fiberglass in the openings. you can see the chambers in the ceiling of my room pictures. the idea was that this bass trap would control the bass; but clearly in retrospect it was a huge mistake. now 11 years later that mistake has been rectified.....finally.

4 years ago I did have a contractor remove the fabric panels from 4 of the 6 chambers and glue and screw 3/4" finished maple plywood over these openings; which did improve the bass response. I thought that fixed my issue. I was wrong.

last May, 14 months ago, my speaker designer was here for 2 days to do the final tweaking to my Evolution Acoustics MM7's. when he measured the room he found a fairly wide -12db suck out at 30hz, one that the room dimensions did not logically predict. he strongly suspected that the remaining openings in those center chambers were the likely cause. since the MM7's are so powerful and adjustable, he was able to minimize the effect of the suck out with adjustments, but at the cost of ultimate performance. he did strongly suggest I get those openings covered. he even gave me two sets of settings sheets for the 4 sets of adjustments (2 sets on each bass tower).......one for the 'compensated' adjustments he made, and another for 'flat' adjustments anticipating my getting those openings sealed up.

since last May I have given a good amount of effort into finding a contractor to do that work, but was not successful.

then this spring I went thru the experience with the fabric treatments that really took things up a few notches. I had quite a few people thru the room and the feedback was very positive. I knew that somehow I needed to do this final thing and hopefully that would allow the bass performance that was already amazing to go to the optimal level. I was fully motivated to get this done with my excitement from the big step forward from the fabric treatments.

I realized if I wanted to get this done i had to do this myself.

finally I was able to convince my son (I bribed him by giving him one of my bicycles) to help me do this nasty job. I spent last week buying -3- 4' x 8' sheets of finished 3/4" maple plywood, another 8 foot step ladder (we would be working at 10'-11'), a good quality circular saw, saw horses, and all the other bits and pieces we would need. my son had a 208 mile one-day STP (Seattle to Portland) bike ride on Saturday and did not get home till late, so Sunday morning a spent 2 hours clearing out the room.....everything to the sides....racks moved, tape decks moved. big job. tarp laid. ladders set up. neither of us are carpenters; could we rip the panels without chipping? could we even cut a straight line?

would it actually make a positive difference?

we did not know exactly how we would remove the fabric panels or how they were attached. would we be able to get them out without removing the trim pieces? we did not posses the skills to properly replace the trim.

he showed up around 10:30am and we first removed the 8 deflector panels with in the chambers and then got to work pulling off the fabric panels, 4 per chamber, 8 total. we were able to get them out with considerable caution and effort without disturbing the trim. then we measured and started ripping the sheets and cutting to size. I had a work commitment mid afternoon for 2 hours, and returned. finally about 9 that night we screwed and glued the final plywood sheet. then he left and I spent 2 hours reassembling the room. I'd had a listening visitor from California the previous day and then the previous night I'd had a work dinner till midnight. I'm not a young guy. I was gassed. I tried to listen. was it boomy sounding? if that 30hz -12db suck out was solved to a significant degree that old set-up would cause the lower bass to be boomy. I thought it was boomy but fell asleep right away. the next morning before work I was not yet recovered enough to listen.

finally after work that night I had recovered enough to listen and went thru my digital listening references and the lower bass was clearly boomy, if not quite a bit more energetic sounding. I had spoken to my speaker designer earlier and he said I should shut off the amps in the bass towers and see if it sounded clean. if it did that indicated that the closing of the openings had not likely caused other issues. I did that, went thru my references again, no problem, sounded very clean. so then I turned the bass towers back on and adjusted both the 'bass level' and the 'bass quality' (Q) halfway to the 'flat' positions and listened to the references again. better, less boomy. much more energy. some magical things happening. then I went 3/4 to the flat positions and again listened. now it was a big WOW! everything was now at a whole new reference level. all up and down the frequency range. a whole new level of coherence and naturalness. vocals were superb sounding. much more holographic. bass impact a couple orders of magnitude better. so I just listened late until early morning Tuesday and again after not much sleep in the morning. I was stoked.

that night I first listened as it was; then found a good cut and moved the 'bass quality' the last little bit to the flat position. clearly better. then I moved the 'bass level' the last little bit to the flat position and it was super clean and right. it sounds perfect to me now; I've been listening for 2 days now to it and I'm just beside myself. as good as it had been; it's not only much better but much different than even Saturday night. what is so crazy to my mind is how much different vocals and the mid range is simply by eliminating a 30hz suck out. it was very interesting hearing how much detail had been covered by those adjustments which were pegged to cover the suck out when taken to flat all that detail jumped out.

the MM7's are now fully unleashed and are something to behold!

how close to absolutely flat is it? don't know. I hope it can get better from here.....but maybe not. is the suck out all the way gone? how flat is my room? don't know yet. and once I measure it I may or may not post it. we all know how much I love graphs.

I suppose I have a persecution complex posting about discovering my personal mistakes. I know from time to time that comes back to haunt me when ner-do-wells want to give me some crap. but so what. I feel that these sort of experiences contribute to the collective knowledge. and one has to be open to learning and going farther down the road.

my goal 11 years ago with my efforts was to get the room and system out of the way of the music; I think I've essentially done that finally.

oh and btw, this job cost me about $250 in materials and I did acquire approx. $450 worth of tools and a ladder. I was going to give the bike to my son anyway but he did not know that. so between the fabric and this job about $500-$600 and the effect is off the charts.

mikelavigne

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Owner
thanks Mark.

I do think that for systems which are spacious enough where they don't need aggressive diffusion in first reflection spots and don't want tonal changes from excess absorption, fabric wall coverings do a great job of knocking down brightness and smear and are easy and cheap to do. and they can look as good as you want and be totally WAF compliant. and it's cheap cheap to try it.

mikelavigne

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Owner
hi Mark,

glad you like the pictures, thanks.

read this post from 4-27-15 for background on the fabric panels.

as far as the type of fabric i used three different types of fabric which all seemed to work. they were all polyester medium weight with a fair amount of surface texture. the biggest issue is how easy it is to cut and whether it unravels. i found some neutral colored velveteen which worked like a charm since it cut easy and layed flat and did not unravel. you can go to a fabric store and for pennies buy some remnants and pin it up on your wall and listen. if it sounds better then you can decide how good you want it to look.

mikelavigne

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Owner
hi Tom,

sorry for the delay in my response...busy weekend.

thank you for the kind words.

I found your system from a search on the Durand Talea II. Impressed you went to two Talos'. I just bought the Talea and await the arm. Replacing a solid Triplanar.

prior and during my ownership of the original Talea and Talea II i did own the Triplaner VII along with 3 different Reed arms and a Schroeder Ref SQ (and a Rockport Sirius III). to my ears the Durand tone arms had a different higher level of microdynamic energy and tonal complexity along with a lower noise floor. the music was more alive. and all of those other arms were fine tone arms.

I notice your fabric treatment is over only small portions of the walls. How thick is it? How far do you offset it from the wall? I have sheer curtains on my windows behind my speakers.

I had some help putting diffusion panels behind my listening area which completely messed up my tonal balance -shrill top end.

acoustical answers are never simple since music is so complex and rooms are so different. trying to isolate cause and effect in any room can take years of investigation. i have been in my room for 11 years and i am still learning about it.

before i answer your question it might help to read this post from 4-27-15 which will give you some background on these fabric panels.

the panels are pinned to the wall with thumb tacks and push pins. so they sit against the wall. intentionally i did not want them out from the wall. the reason is that the further out from the wall they are the more they will change the tonality of the sound. my purpose was to knock down the high frequency reflections in first reflection areas, but not to deaden or warm up the sound. if your intention is broader frequency absorption, then you would have more space behind the fabric, or maybe use heavier fabric or multilayered fabric....like heavy drapery. that approach can muffle the sound. my room is designed around lots of energy and diffusion, not absorption. but it was too live and the ultra reflectivity masked lots of detail and shifted tonality to the higher frequencies.

as far as sheer curtails over your windows, i have found that a pleated window shade seems to work much better to neutralize the window effect. it has enough mass to minimize the glare from the window, but is not dead sounding.

i hope that helps.

Since you have a beautiful acoustic room and a topflight 1/2 inch reel to reel, have you considered buying or borrowing a set of studio mics and having a small string quartet etc record 2 channel direct to your R2R?

i have thought about doing some recording in my room but so far it has not worked out. i have a friend with a Gypsy Jazz Guitar Quintet which i'd love to record. maybe someday.

mikelavigne

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Owner
hi Bob,

sorry for the delay in my response. I had out-of-town listeners visit on Saturday afternoon, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon I had company events, and all day Sunday ( before and after my company event) I had a listening room project. it was a fun but exhausting weekend.

I appreciate your kind words. I do enjoy my system every time I listen, and consider myself lucky. you would be welcome to be the fly on the wall anytime you are in the neighborhood.

i took a look at your system and it also is a great place to listen. nice job!

enjoy.

mikelavigne

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Owner
222222&text=mi
Owner
larger views of the pictures;

front

look back

458's

sources

mikelavigne

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Owner
System edited: more pictures.

mikelavigne

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Owner
System edited: updated some pictures to show current including fabric room treatments on ceiling, sides and front between the speakers.

mikelavigne

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Owner
Mike,
It's been some years ago, but I did have the pleasure to see/hear your system. I went with a bunch from Portland. I see that your system has changed and it would be a great experience to do it again sometime.
as I recall your visit was in 2007.....much has changed....in fact nothing is as it was then. I was at a different place on the same path I'm on now. I'd love for you to visit again and tell me what you think now.

As to the sound diffusors you built recently (with excellent results), might you have photos, or detailed instructions to share?
I've often felt the need to explore this inexpensive tweak.

I will try to post some photos for the fabric panels I have recently installed. this post from a month ago has some links to another forum with comments from recent visitors and pictures that do show most of the fabric panels.

thank you for the kind comments and I hope we can get together again.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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John,

I apologize for my bad manners. it's early and I guess I was not in the proper frame of mind to respond respectfully to your reasonable and helpful post.

if you read about my recent changes a few posts above I was not expecting to be responding to the cartridge plate issue.

anyway, thank you again for the kind words and sorry for my nasty tone.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hello John,

sigh.

double sigh.

only on Audiogon would someone ask me that question. :)

at the time I added the cartridge plate (4 years ago) the design of the Durand Telos tonearm was in the discovery phase and that plate was an experiment which turned out not to be a long term feature going forward. my room was involved in the testing of the performance in that tonearm on a regular basis and so this sapphire plate was something I heard the sonic effect of and wanted for my own Telos tonearm. so I did get one for myself and asked the manufacturer what the list price for it should be if he sold them. I'm not saying that the hunk of synthetic corundum is worth much. but the cost of machining that particular shape and the degree of waste and rejected parts was such that the cost at that particular time projected to a $4750 retail price. I'm not sure he ever sold any, what anyone else paid, or any of those details. I'm sure if you have 100 watch crystals made of the stuff it costs one price; but if you have 2 or 5 of these cartridge plates made the cost is another value. the design of the Telos Sapphire has moved on from that part. I've replaced that cartridge plate with a one-piece composite armwand and moved that cartridge plate (which does add performance) to my stock regular Telos which still has the wood armwand where I have my mono cartridge.

surprise, surprise, I did not pay $4750 for that cartridge plate.

sorry if my response is less than upbeat. but this is old news. serves me right for not updating my system page and I suppose I should just remove the reference to it altogether. I'm sure you meant no harm and are only trying to be helpful to save me from myself and I take no offense.

and thanks for the positive comments too.

mikelavigne

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almost free and 4 inches......the final 1%

.....or maybe the final 2%, or the final 5%......no matter.....the final step.

I built a full blown dedicated room now 11 years ago. I've made a number of changes to the original design over these many years, always getting closer to the ideal I've chased. I added a front set of RPG Skyline diffusers 7 years ago. I removed huge front corner bass traps and reinforced the room boundaries 5 years ago. I added side and ceiling diffusers then too. I closed up 2/3rdsof the ceiling bass traps 4 years ago. I figured I was done with the room.

I added the Equi=tech isolation transformer wall panel, and upgraded my duplex outlets 4 years ago. power grid all ok.

I've upgraded my speakers and amplifiers 2 years ago to my view of the ultimate......still waiting for that ultimate preamp.....maybe another 30 days. I'm completely satisfied that my sources are all top notch, or at least my view of what that might be.

I've got all the software I could want in all the formats I have an interest in.

but I was still not 100% satisfied with the performance. the system was 100% satisfying to listen to and I was not frustrated or anything like that. but I felt that there was more I should be hearing. I had visited a couple of rooms which had more apparent detail and imaging, and while I preferred my overall musical equation, those experiences convinced me that there was more to find from my system.

for a few years I had been looking at the first reflection areas in my room and wondered if those were a problem. my previous opinion had been that since my room was quite large and the reflection times were so long that logically those areas should not be a problem. and I was always afraid of adding diffusion or absorption and messing up the tonal balance or losing energy. a few friends recently had done full room treatments with some current rave treatments and torn them out when they realized they had lost the musical flow and tonal fire. and yet.....what if? 3 years ago I had thought of adding some RPG wood surface diffusion to these areas and priced it out; it came to $17k for what I wanted. and I was again concerned that I would throw off the tonal balance. my mind went back and forth.

I knew what happened when I tried some Navajo carpets on the walls; it sucked out the mid range. so I could not do much. the room was too sensitive to do that.

I considered I did not want to dampen the room at all or change the tonality. I just wanted to knock down the first reflections. what if I just put some cloth over the first refection points?

so one Saturday afternoon a little over month ago I decided to dive in. I went upstairs and found some left over material from my original fabric covers of my bass traps from the room construction. I measured and found I had enough to treat the drop ceiling between the speakers and listening position, and the side rounded diffuser on either side of the Skyline diffusers between my speakers. I had to go to the hardware store to buy some push pins, grabbed my wife's fabric scissors, and I dragged out the ladder. 3 hours later I had cloth covering the drop ceiling (22" x 60" on each side) and the sides of the diffusers (36" x 89" on each side).

have you ever tried to pin fabric to a 10' tall hardwood ceiling? i used a combination of double-backed Velcro and push pins. my neck still hurts.

but i got it done. and listened.

a whole different system resulted. I could not believe it......or rather I believed it but could not believe it took me so long to figure it out. lots more detail.....more relaxed presentation and more full bodied placement of images in the soundstage.....much improved vocals.....pianos and violins were magical. and oh the tone!

this performance had always been there; but it had been covered up by the reflected hash from the first reflections. and prior to this treatment; when I raised the volume there would be an increase in the hash and it caused the system to sound hard and edgy. and especially the sweet spot was effected by this as it was closest to that area of drop ceiling I treated. and as always; you don't recognize distortion until it's removed. and part of the trick is not losing good content along with ridding yourself of distortion.

so I went thru a few days of listening to all my reference cuts and was living large. then I started to think if those areas resulted is such a dramatic change, why not other first reflection areas? my bass towers prevent first reflection of the near wall from the main towers; however, the opposite main tower can interact with the opposite wall. so I went to a fabric store and found some velour fabric with some texture and cut out some 72" pieces to treat three flat surfaces on each side wall. boom; better vocals and more solid images.

ok, if this worked what else? I looked and saw the round 10 foot long surface above and below the front diffuser. right at the floor and right at the ceiling. could first reflections bounce off the ceiling or floor and do harm? only one way to find out. I had some black thin foam fabric I'd bought at the fabric store. I quickly cut out only a 6' long piece for the upper and lower rounded areas and pinned them up. and listened. better; vocals better. everything a little more focused.

I've always listened to music with the pleated window coverings up. many times i had closed them and listened but could never hear a difference. but that reflected hash had covered up other detail; what if now that i was hearing much more detail that those window coverings could make a difference? i lowered them and listened. better; more body and focus. not huge but a small step there to be enjoyed.

i imagine other small things will present themselves over time to be tweaked. but now it was so easy to hear the smallest change.

and all through this process I had paid very close attention to the tonality and energy levels. were there any trade-offs? in a word, hell no. in fact; every step came with greater dynamics and bass articulation. almost like the reflections had dampened things and I had released the music.

I had spent years and years doing all these things, pushing against this barrier of refection, and in a week of messing around spending less than $100 on some fabric remnants and push pins I had broke the code. a new system. wow.

my opinion is that I was right to not do too much. don't overthink it. you are simply trying to knock down the reflections and not to mess with the overall balance.

but I was not completely done. for a few weeks I had been in musical bliss. the Tres Amigos visited and heard what I had done. I'd not made a big deal about it. but it was a very big deal. then this past weekend I had other visitors who were very familiar with my system. they were blown away by how it now performed. but they thought it could be even better......something still missing. but why? eventually they asked a question? was I sitting at the equilateral triangle point? I said sure. then we measured. I was 4 inches back too far. we moved the listening position 4 inches forward and there it was.

the last little bit. vocals crazy good. super holographic imaging. (insert over the top phrase here). i have only listened to redbook since i did this step, and i am in hog heaven. the music is just so profound. after the previous steps of the last month this last step is almost too much.

this was yesterday morning.

20 years of chasing my musical ideal and I'm now listening to it.

I have been thinking about whether to post this since it will result in all sorts of reactions. do i need to get into all this stuff, how do i know i did the right thing? why didn't i use this product or that product? how does it measure before and after? blah, blah, blah.

if someone mentions DSP I'm going to puke......well not really.....but you get the idea. they first need to come and hear what I've done, then show me a system with DSP that can match this.....and i will consider it.

maybe someone will be helped by my experience?

so for almost free and 4 inches I've got to my personal musical reproduction mountaintop. (and my new dart preamp is still a few weeks away)

YMMV, only my 2 cents, and all that stuff.

mikelavigne

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Jeff,

they are the Shunyata Dark Field V2 Cable Elevators

mikelavigne

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I have not updated my system page or pictures recently, so here are some comments from recent visitors (oneobgyn and mobiusman audiogon monikers) to my room and some current pictures which may be of interest.

the whole thread about the visit

oneobgyn's comments and pics of my room

Mobiusman's comments and pics on my room

mikelavigne

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Sarastro; French classical Lp label, 45rpm, superb sonics.

a couple of months ago I got turned on to the late 70's French classical label "Sarastro".

Sarastro was a character in Mozart's 'The Magic Flute". every Sarastro pressing is classical, mostly solo or small combo, and all are 45rpm. they are all quite wonderful sounding and lovingly and minimally recorded. I'd call the tonal balance of these pressings natural and even slightly 'sweet'; certainly not in-your-face at all. they are easy to listen to in my system. and the 45rpm helps to propel the musical flow and energy.

obviously the comments on the sonics pertain only to how they sound in my particular system. I've not heard them in any other system or tt.

as far as I can tell there are apparently 41 listed pressings, and I personally have acquired 23 of them. but curiously it seems only the first 29 in the series actually exist. and from what I understand; only approximately 300 pressings were done of each title.

on pressing number 7929 (done in 1979 and 29th in the series), there is a list of 41 pressings by composer, but I've not found any evidence that any actual records exist of anything beyond pressing number 7929. if they exist they must be in very small numbers. I've not found any other detailed information anywhere. likely were I able to read French that there is information out there in more detail. and FYI, all the album jackets are written in French.

I've not been able to acquire Numbers; 7815, 7817, 7819, 7820, 7821, and 7824 (I have all the rest from 7701-7929.....7708/7709 is a double album). however; I have seen pictures and sales history of all those so I know that they exist. I've checked world-wide ebay for 30 days straight and not seen any of those catalog numbers at all. I was going to wait to post about this until I found those 6 titles, but I'm giving up and moving on and am done with my acquisition phase with Sarastro. so I figured I would share my discovery so others can enjoy it.

these are not crazy expensive to buy on ebay at this point; anywhere from $29 to $89.....and I've seen them as high as $119. the biggest issue is they are almost all in Europe, so shipping gets quite spendy. every pressing I've bought would be considered 'mint' or 'mint-' to my ears. one was a bit noisy (cannot recall the catalog number).....but mostly they are dead quiet, and consistently good sounding. I'm no classical expert to judge the playing, but I've liked all of the 23 I have.

if you enjoy great sounding classical; I'd recommend trying a couple and see what you think.

I debated with myself whether to post about this; but I know some people really love to hear about the best sounding pressings, and these are in that category to my ears.

happy hunting!

mikelavigne

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I almost forgot....another cello recording that I love when I'm in the right mood.

Yo-Yo Ma, Tavener, 'The Protecting Veil' CD Sony SK 62821.

an acquired taste but if you like it you will love it when the mood strikes you.

beautiful tone and atmosphere. dim lights, late night, a wee bit of single malt....musical bliss. enjoy.

I've heard this piece down live locally and really enjoyed it.

mikelavigne

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hi Mark,

sorry for the delay in response. thanks for the recs on the Venus Records files, I will check it out.

tonight I'm doing more piano; I have this wood box reissue set of Soviet Union recordings from Mercury Living Presence 35mm magnetic film from June of 1962. Byron Janis Piano on three of the 5 pressings. SR90300, SR90305 and SR90329. Mercurys are always very good; these are outstanding both sonics and performance. the piano is super dynamic and alive. plenty of body and weight to the sound, but open and energetic. really a perfect balance. a very exciting sound.

three cello recordings that are favorites and demo disc quality;

Gary Karr/Harmon Lewis; Adagio d'Albinoni, 45rpm Lp, Impex IMP3001-45. great tone and space. need lots of deep bass headroom to allow it to breathe.

Ray Brown & Laurindo Almeida, Moonlight Serenade, DTD Jeton 1003315. make sure it's the original direct-to-disc from 1981 and not the Clearaudio vinyl dub reissue. the iconic 1st track, a combo of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and Monk's Round Midnight is a hair-raising cut when the system can capture the full tilt boogie of Ray Brown's double bass. on the MM7's/458's it's crazy good. and if (1) your system can get the deep bass but (2) your tt does not have good isolation, (3) the feedback from the dynamic double bass content will muddy up the musical flow. it's a real system tester. but when it all works it's sublime. the redbook version of this cut is also very good if you can find it. great music any way you hear it! but the vinyl is amazing.

Hungaroton LPX.11413 Stereo, Lp, Hus Desforges/Muntz-Berger, Cello/Double bass sonatas. I accidently came across this Lp 3-4 years ago when I purchased a collection. a fantastic recording, very honest and full bodied and alive. I listen to it often. Hungaroton recordings are minimalist and very vivid and open. worth going to the trouble to buy in Europe and pay the shipping. if you can combine it with other Hungaroton recordings you will likely be happy with them.

more later.....

mikelavigne

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ok, my heart rate is down a bit so back to audio.....

a few more Piano recs first;

a long time favorite is the Mozart Concerto's 21 and 24 by Istomin from Reference Recordings; I have the CD, RR-68CD, the HRx 176-24 disc downloaded on my server, and the 45rpm 2 disc pressing. a shame that they did not use the analog tapes for the 45rpm pressing although it is still better than the HRx for whatever reason.

then there is Ruben Gonzales playing the wonderful Salsa style piano on Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club. I have the CD, the 45rpm box set, and somehow I also have a 1/4" 15ips master dub I'm enjoying right now. a sonic and artistic triumph for sure on each format, and an analog mastered recording to boot. it is prominent on many cuts but amazing on track 4, Pueblo Nuevo.

also the Diana Krall 'Live In Paris' has lots of really well recorded piano. the CD is outstanding. avoid the 33rpm pressing, the 45rpm pressing is spectacular. again; somehow I have a 1/4" 15ips of that one too.

mikelavigne

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Mark,

after that game it might take me some time to pull myself together again and think straight.

holy crap!

mikelavigne

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hi Mark,

thanks for the kind words. I do enjoy this wonderful hobby of ours to it's fullest.....and I appreciate the encouragement. one of the best parts is the community of listeners/audiophiles I interact with. and I'm happy you enjoy the 'Jan Fukamachi, At Steinway', it was a fun process and i was honored to be involved with and it was very educational for me. I'd love to that again with my current vinyl playback and system and see the progression since 2008.

Have you ever played Winston's "Super Trio" UDC on this system? There are a few tracks I'd love to hear out of this system of yours....

I have lots of Winston's discs, which are always excellent sounding. sad to say I don't have the 'Super Trio' UDC disc 'yet'. about three years ago I stopped buying 'silver discs' for the most part as I basically ran out of room for them and was transitioning to mostly listening to digital thru my server. right now I have 6+ terabytes of music 'growing daily' on my server and most of what is one there is dsd and 2xdsd. that is not to say that discs do not sound great, since they most certainly do. as good as hirez is, and particularly 2xdsd is, some CD's still fully hold their own in sound quality, particularly Winston's discs. i likely have at least 50 FIM discs and Winston is a dear friend. I will acquire the 'Super Trio' UDC and listen to it and post my comments.

what are you favorite piano and violin & cello if applicable recordings or at least your top3 or top5 for each? I've got a long list of piano, violin and string music but I'm curious which ones you return to for the ultimate playback experience.

there are so many, and it's hard to separate the sonic qualities and the performance. mostly it's the music that moves me, and i hope for the best as far as sonics. and understand that I'm no expert on music, i only know what i like and what makes me happy. all that said here is a list of what comes to mind at the moment.

Piano,

-my overall favorite piano recording is a 1/4" 15ips master dub of a live concert hall recording of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4 by Leonard Shure. i acquired it some years ago and I've tried to find details on the performance but cannot find anything on google about the performance or recording. the person I acquired it from labeled it as a 'Beethoven Sonata' so he did not know what he had either. it is a force of nature. just a majestic and involving recording and the piano just rocks. sorry to tease you with this, but you asked. if you ever visit we can enjoy it together.

coming back to the real world for piano recordings....

Ivan Moravec, Beethoven Piano Sonatas, VAIA CD, 1069. great sound and performance.

Nojima Plays Listz, Reference Recordings, I have the CD RR-25CD, the Lp, and the 15ips 1/4" tape from the Tape Project. really stresses a system to get it all. wonderful recording.

one piano recording I love is 'Peace Piece' from Bill Evans off the 'Everybody Digs Bill Evans' album. I have the OJCCD-068-2 (Riverside) CD and the AP 45rpm 2 disc Lp set. first; I love everything Bill Evans has done and so anything by him is good. this album is very good but this particular cut is simply wonderful in it's feeling. I love it.

I'm running out of time before my Seahawks game, I will come back to this and do my violin and Cello recs.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Sam,

thanks......1/2" 15ips tape rules!

and the best to you too....

mikelavigne

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hi Harv,

bring the Argerich Chopin scherzo op39 on down and we can let's rip on the big rig.

I have at least 20 Argerich Lps, and 10 of her CD's. she is wonderful.

thanks for all the kind comments.....

take care,

mikelavigne

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for almost 3 years I've been without my 1/2 inch Studer A-820 deck. the summer before I got my new MM7 speakers and 458 amps I figured that would be a good time to do some maintenance on the 1/2 Studer A-820. due to mostly my innocent incompetence, and some help from pathetic UPS shipping, I made such a mess of this deck that it's taken my friend and RTR tape deck puba Ki Choi a couple of years and untold aggravation......but today it's in my room playing beautiful music.....better than ever. Ki has been a man among men, and a great and understanding friend to see this process thru. I suppose if you were to supply the right amount of good cheer and high quality adult beverage to Ki he might share with you all the stuff he went thru with my beast. personally I don't even want to think about it anymore. in any case, many, many, thank you's to Ki.

recently I rediscovered my 1/4" Studer and just how amazing tape is sounding thru the 458's, tweaked by designer MM7's, and the recent addition of the Entreq grounding box.

and now the 1/2 Studer is, for the very first time, showing just what the all time best possible audio media can sound like thru the system. there is nothing like 15ips 1/2 inch tape. unless maybe it's 30ips 1/2 inch tape, or 1" 15ips or 30ips tape. however; since 1 inch 2-track is not really real world, and 12" reels are not something I want to deal with, and there are different EQ's for 30ips (the King Cello does not use)........I'm going to crown 1/2 inch 15ips as the bomb. and I'm of the mind that a fully right A-820, A-80 or ATR-102 are the best transports to ever come down the pike (my preference of the three is the A-820). output electronics remain a matter of taste. so 1/2" 15ips, thru the A-820-King Cello is my personal tip top source for reproduced music in my experience.

I do have a couple dozen or so 1/2 tape titles I can play, including 4 tape project titles I can actually post about...which I will in due time. I also have 15-20 unused 1/2 reels of new tape waiting to receive some great content.

I'm listening to 1/2 inch, 15 ips tape right now and it is awesome sounding. superb! I am so happy to have this deck back and sounding so good.

if you want to have a music reproduction reference to chase, this would be that.

mikelavigne

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hi Larry,

thanks for the kind comments.

my listening room is in a barn. the barn is 75 feet from my house. I have a 75 amp service to my Equi=tech panel from the meter in my garage in my house which runs on a dedicated line to the panel. there is a dedicated ground rod right outside the wall which serves this panel.

the panel is mounted on an outside wall across the hallway from the door to my listening room (see pictures). there are 10 circuits from the panel using 10 gauge Romex running into the room to Furutech GTX-D Rhodium duplex outlets.

Equi=tech open

Equi=tech on the wall across from the door to my room

you have to get within 3 feet of the panel to hear any noise at all from the panel. and the isolation transformer is powerful enough at 10 kilowatts that it has lots of headroom to easily power my whole system without any effect on dynamics. in fact; the system is much more dynamic with the Equi=tech than before it.

there is a separate 100 amp service for the barn to a different sub panel for HVAC and lights and service to the 'dirty' circuits in my room.

mikelavigne

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Dan,

it has been awhile since we got together; I think it was actually the Von Schweikert VR9SE's I had in early 2006....when I first got the darTZeel preamp....8 years ago. even in dog years that is awhile. :-)

and I have noticed your system evolution and continued musical enjoyment too. I noticed you recently upgraded your 401 plinth and added the Crown 1600 watt amplifier.

as far as my system sounding better, I did recently add the Entreq Silver Tellus grounding box with -4- of the Entreq signal gounding cables. they did push things to just a little higher level of refinement I think. the music sucks me in and involves me more. a good tweak to my ears.

but I also agree that sometimes we, as listeners, are just more ready to connect with our systems....we are in the right 'mood' as you say. I will add that since you visited, my wife and I have spent quite a bit of time on Whidbey Island and the San Juans exploring....what a wonderful place you have there.

I agree wholeheartedly on Martha Argerich and i have 25-30 of her Lps and maybe 10-15 of her CD's. one of my favorite artists.

I am enjoying the music on my system....it brings me great joy and satisfaction. that is what it's all about. you are always welcome to visit again. the system is in a whole different place than it was 8 years ago....and looking at your system from what I recall....it has evolved too.

have a Happy New Year,

best regards,

mikelavigne

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the system has been really sounding fine lately so tonight I grabbed a couple of superb sounding Classical Lps I have not listened to in a long time (one maybe never) and I was transported to another place and time. One is solo piano, the other large Orchestral.

first; a DG 1980 pressing and 1980 performance (DG 2531 088 tulip) of Martha Argerich, Bach, Toccata BWV911, Parita BWV826, and English Suite No.2 BWV807. wonderful full range piano recording just right to my sensibilities. intimate, super quiet pressing, great sparkle and energy, not strident at all.....full bodied and nicely balanced. looking for a solo piano recording to show off the system? here is one to have. I dimmed the lights and let it flow........

second; a late 90's Decca 'Super Analog' reissue of a 1967 Decca, (KIJC 9238) of Falla:El Amor Brujo-Ballet, Granados:"Goyescas"-intermezzo, Ravel: Pavane Pour Infante Defunte. a 1966 Kenneth Wilkinson recording in Kingsway Hall, London.....and it is superb! amazing sonics and musical flow, space and detail. great tension and sucked me into the vibe of it. very interesting recording and I loved the music. Wow! I've had this record since the late 90's and I'm not sure I've ever played it before. or maybe it simply never touched me like this.

caution; I'm no classical expert......I just like great music and appreciate great sonics too.

just strap these on and enjoy the ride!

mikelavigne

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hi Harvey,

thank you again for the nice comments. i'm happy that you appreciated my efforts to optimize things in my room and system. it's been a labor of love.

when you have a great source like 'reel 2' of 'Abbey Road' what is great is that as you go down the road of system and room improvement you will hear more and more of the reality of a source like that. don't knock where you are at on the path, just enjoy the journey.

we are all on that same path of trying to get closer to the real music.....and it's fun getting together to enjoy that path.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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hello Phil,

sorry for the delay in my response; I'm not always paying attention to my Audiogon page.

I am using spikes for the feet as I have carpet over concrete and I wanted to make sure the feet got down to the concrete for the best connection. as far as the shelves I am using the flat leveling dampers; however, I'm also using two Herzan active isolation platforms with the Adona, one under my tt and one under my pre and digital player. so my Adona is supercharged. the two Herzan platforms are $12k and $10k each.

the Adona is ideal as a grounded rack for active isolation.

mikelavigne

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hello Lohan,

sorry for the delay in my response; I'm not looking at my Audiogon page often enough. as far as answering your questions;

the Wave Kinetic NVS compared to the Rockport; it's been 3 years now that the Rockport Sirius III has been gone from my system. i'd say that the NVS does do a little more of what I like than the Rockport; quieter backgrounds (when on the Herzan active isolation in my room), more space, a bit more pace; but these preferences are not large differences, they are quite subtle. more significant is that the NVS allows for other tone arms which is where the more significant performance differences are that allow the NVS to have higher ultimate performance than the Rockport. but again; both these tt's are at such a rarified level that both are top top level choices. and my own tastes and preferences are involved here. I know some simply prefer the sound of the linear tracking arms. so it's not a black and white issue of superiority.

I still miss the Rockport and wish I still could afford to own it and the NVS. the Rockport has an iconic position among tt's that is unique.

as far as the EMT948 it is a wonderful tt, but it's arm and cartridge are only very good, not top level. so as it sits in my room it is not in the same class as the NVS. if someone were to mount a great tonearm, such as the Durand Kairos you would have a world class vinyl front end.

mikelavigne

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hi Harvey,

it was a pleasure to meet you, and thank you for the kind words. it was a fun session, and I hope you can visit again with some of your B.C. audio friends. let me know when and we will work out the details.

and no; other than at audio shows I don't have personal experience with the Strain Gauge cartridges, but really admire what Peter does.....sorry I cannot be more help.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi David,

great to hear from you, i sure enjoyed your visit. i am well and trust you are too. sorry for the delay in response, i don't check on Audiogon every day to see what's happening.

glad you like the pictures. those Auralex T-Fusors were in those recesses when you visited last year......they have been there since 2011.....since before i got the MM7's. i have to admit that i've never specifically A/B'd those T-Fusors in those recesses so i cannot say with conviction excatly how much they do. the ones on the side wall definitly tame slap echo without changing the tonality or reducing energy. and they are cheap at $59 retail each.

the Herzan units (the TS-140 under the tt and the TS-150 under the dart pre and the Playback digital) really do the job in my system by lowering the noise floor and virtually eliminating any feedback from the speakers. with 7 foot tall, 750 pound, bass towers 8 feet away from my sources my system does benefit from the ultimate in isolation. the Herzan units replaced the Wave Kinetics passive isolation base for the tt, and the Wave Kinetics A10 U8 footers i was using under the pre and digital.

as far as characterzing the performance improvements it's a few things, all of which become more significant as the SPL's rise and the bass dynamics get crazyier. a level of ease and naturalness gets added, like any lowering of the noise floor you get an expension of the sound stage and ambient clues and get an increase in dynamic contrasts.. instruments and voices get a bit more real. lots of textures immerge previously lost in the noise floor. things like Cello growl, kettle drum texture, and piano note decay go to a whole different level. at low volumes these changes are more subtle although since you have essentially filtered out the ground noise effect there are real benefits at low volume. but the heavy lifting is the ease on musical peaks particulartly with heavy bass involved. the cartridge simply tracks those peaks better. some very husky voices which had caused slight distortion are now crystal clear.

i hope that answers those questions.

take care,

mikelavigne

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I've owned 4 Ekones Stressless chairs, and own one now. I also currently have a great Ekones sofa. the Stressless chair I own now I use in my rec room upstairs for watching sports. and for laying back and putting your feet up and watching TV it's great.

unfortunately for listening, the Stressless 'cups' the sound around the head so does mess with the sound in bad ways. also, when sitting at listening height it is about a '2-hour' chair.....meaning my back can handle about 90 minutes to 2 hours sitting up before it starts to get stiff and sore. at that point I need to constantly move my position around to stay comfortable. which is fine for TV but not for serious listening.

for my listening room I use a zero-gravity chair from The-Relax-The-Back store. the linked picture is from my old room. I've had this chair for 15 years and love it. if you want your feet supported then the challenge is to properly support your back. to do that requires a particular angle of your legs and back to distribute the weight and keep it off your tailbone. the 'zero-gravity' concept was developed by NASA for rocket launches. just google 'zero-gravity'.

if you don't need to support your feet and are sitting up I recommend the Aeron Side Chair. very comfortable with your feet on the floor. I have 2 of these.

since the 'zero-gravity' chair has a high back I move it out of the way when I have visitors and bring in the Cassina K10 Dodo which is very comfortable, and has a headrest and footrest which both retract. unfortunately it is also very expensive.

mikelavigne

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pictures of the one-in-the-world pre-production darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp.

front 1
front 2

this pic show the new phono adjustments, with the LED's off.
new cartridge gain and loading LED adjustments-1

here the LED's are on. you move the toggle back and forth to turn on the LED's and then adjust the gain and loading separately. it is quick and easy to do and can be done on-the-fly while listening.
new cartridge gain and loading LED adjustments-2

mikelavigne

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Spirit, no hurry; when it happens it happens. thanks.

mikelavigne

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Spirit,

I'm open to listening to the Entreq if given the opportunity, and if you can push it on your end to make it happen i'll be glad to seriously investigate it. I hope it works out.

thanks in advance for your efforts. I'm always open to learning something new.

mikelavigne

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How much $$ for the NHB-18NS upgrade?

Before NHB-458, were you using 2 NHB-108? How did they compare to the NHB-458? NHB-458 is superior but how much superior?

hi Joe,

i have not yet heard about what it will cost to upgrade the current NHB-18NS dart preamp to the new version. i would recommend directly communicating with the darTZeel distributor or your dealer to get the right answer.

as far as the NHB-108 compared to the NHB-458; you are correct that back in 2004-2006 i used a pair of 108's bi-amped into the Von Schweikert VR9SE's....and that was a sweet combo.

i preferred the single 108 into the Evolution Acoustics MM3's (which i used from later 2006-2012) to the pair of 108's into the VR9SE's by a slight margin; both set-ups were very very good. i simply preferred the coherence and transparency of the ceramic mid-range ribbon tweeter of the MM3's to the mid-tweeter of the VR9SE.

the NHB-458 monoblocks are a significant upgrade from a single 108 or pair of 108's. the 458 is simply more refined, more transparent, has more grip, more detailed, and you see farther into the music. the 108 is top notch on all there areas given a reasonable speaker to drive. but the 458 takes all these attributes and raises them up a notch or three.

how much superior? it's like listening to something thru a doorway with the door openned half way, compared to the wall and door being removed. it sounded really really great and direct without limits with the 108, then goes to another level with the 458's. it's more an experiential thing in where the 458's take you.

and the 108 is so wonderful in it's own right that when you are listening to it everything is there and you want for nothing at all.

mikelavigne

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hi Spirit,

yes; it is likely that i'm at an 'end place' in system development based on my particular view of what i like.

regarding over-the-top grounding products such as the Entreq or Troy, you and i have exchanged our views before. and as before, i have some reasonable curiousity about what one of those products might do.....in other words i'm open minded. OTOH; i don't have enough curosity to spend the dollars to find out for sure.....so i'm not open-checkbooked. my opinion is that with my Equi=tech whole system isolation transformer that any grounding approach which offers more transparency will find minimal opportunity to improve things.

as i've said before; if someone wants to ship me high level Entreq or Troy grounding products i'll try it and see if it can justify it's cost in my particular system.

i'm still a learing audiophile and don't want to give any impression that i know better than someone else about things. yet my money only gets used when i am sufficiently motivated.

mikelavigne

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I ordered it Saturday. I hope my box is within the first 1000 gold foil numbered versions. Once I saw the master tapes were 1/2" 30 ips, I knew it was going to sound spectacular.


i'm at work, but as i recall my number was around 150-160 someplace.....so yours ought to be quite low too.

i have listened to more of it and so far like what i hear.

mikelavigne

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Mike, I was up in Redmond for 14 years but never heard your system. We moved down to Portland in December and I'm finally getting around to putting my room together. I know I am going to need(want) some acoustical help with a remodel of my room to make it more isolated from the rest of the house, and improve sonics. Who did you work with and would you go back to them today? (Or recommend a PNW outfit.) Considering you have added diffusion to your walls, are you disappointed the original design did not account for this?

hi Bob,

after 10 years in my room, I am still generally happy with the overall design. I love the designed in diffusion. I don't love that I've ended up removing most of the bass trapping that was in the original plan. originally the designer and I discussed that I might end up removing some of the trapping after living with the original design.....so I would not lay all this on him. but likely some of it was over-kill in retrospect.

as far as the diffusion I've added; I did the sides and ceilings (Auralex T-Fusors) when I removed the bass traps; and that added diffusion was very cheap and easy to do. the front RPG Skylines were to improve the center image; the original wood cylinder did great as far as it went, but the more aggressive Skylines take things a bit further. in the context of the overall design and construction cost these added diffusers are drops in the bucket. the built-in side diffusers, the rear and side media cabinets, the ceiling shape and design, and everything else works well as a design concept and makes the room perform in terms of soundstage and musical bloom and note development in a unique way.

so overall I'm satisfied; but there are areas of frustration. my room was one of the first 'no-holds-bared' 2-channel rooms Rives did, and I'd still recommend my designer, Chris Huston. I don't know any local PNW designers that I have personal experience with.

and even thou you are in Portland, you would be very welcome to visit and listen to my room if you would like.

and best wishes and congrats for a fun, successful room project. it will be worth the trouble.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Thanks for the review Mike. I have been on the fence with this box set. I guess I better get off. :-)

yes...you should.

mikelavigne

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Owner
after the last few days with the new pre-production (one only in existence) darTZeel preamp, I'm not looking forward to the 'separation anxiety' when it has to ship out. the line stage clearly has a profoundly lower noise floor, noticeably greater dynamic punch, and a 'see into and walk around' sort of presentation in greater degrees of realism that goes ,up to this point in my experience, to unheard of levels. and this is in comparison to my much loved 8 year old (but with the latest upgrades and fresh batteries) original NHB-18NS.

the phono stage is a revelation and takes the advantages of the better line stage, and then takes the performance up even a notch more than that. certainly the best I have heard (for what that is worth). of course; you cannot separate the dart pre from the dart phono in terms of what is exactly causing what.

overall; the music simply is more real, and the desire to listen increases. it casts a spell you don't want to stop. on all kinds of music. it completes the picture that recordings want to portray.

I cannot wait until my own new dart preamp arrives.

in the meantime i'll be shipping this beauty back to Switzerland, reinserting my own current model (excellent sounding) dart pre, and enjoying some music........knowing where things are headed. it was helpful having 7 other listeners this weekend and hearing their comments as we listened.....just to balance my own expectation bias to some degree.

if you have the current dart pre you are going to want to do this upgrade when offered. it's a no-brainer.

mikelavigne

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Owner
Texas Hurricane; SRV 45 rpm box set, 1st listen

it was supposed to be released on June 10th, but I happened to be looking at the Acoustic Sounds website on Wednesday night and there it was 'in stock'. I have not purchased many Lps over the last 6-9 months; and this is likely the only real anticipated release on my radar....I've literally been waiting for a few years for this. so I ordered it and paid for the overnight shipping since I have some friends coming over this weekend to help me listen to the new dart pre. the box set arrived today.

I probably have 3 or 4 different pressings of 'Couldn't Stand The Weather', and 'Tin Pan Alley' is one of my all time favorite cuts. I have multiple digital copies of it too. I might even have a 15ips 1/4" master dub of it someplace (I know I've heard a master dub on tape). so I'm all in on SRV.

right now I'm listening to 'Tin Pan Alley' (thru the new dart pre) and it is the best I've yet heard it. it's a very good recording to begin with. just like most all of the QRP pressings I have experienced, it's flat, quiet, and nicely done. the bass is even deeper, more impactful, and tonally richer than any I've heard previously. I'm really enjoying it.

as I listen to more of this album I notice there is a relaxed ease to these pressings (typical of better 45rpm pressings) that compliments the music and draws me in. some of the intense guitar work of SRV can get a bit harsh.....but not here....you get the bite but it's not in your face.

Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and Cold Shot are sweet!

I'm listening to 'Riviera Paradise' now, very nice, relaxed, no edge. very good bloom and decay. it's a digital recording and not quite as spacey as the 'Tin Pan Alley' but very nice on the 45 and certainly spacious.

later i'll explore this whole box more deeply.

nice job Chad!

Texas Hurricane Box Set, SRV 45 rpm

mikelavigne

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sometimes stuff just works out. God smiles on you and you thank your lucky stars!!!

looks like i'll have the one-in-the-world, 'pre-production', newer than new, darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp in my system this weekend. at the Newport show this past weekend I was able to somehow talk Herve into diverting it to my room on it's way back to Switzerland. it will arrive tomorrow and i'll ship it back to Herve early next week so he can complete the work needed to get production started.

i cannot get the grin off my face and can't wait to insert it into the big rig.

mikelavigne

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hi Rick,

Kevin did spend time on the speaker positioning which is very very important; but it's doubly important when you have 2 massive towers which are time and phase coherent. that is a lot of firepower which when not exactly right it will tell you that.

but I think the bigger issue is the 4 adjustments of the bass EQ in each powered 2 driver group, of which their are 4. that is 4 x 4 different dials with almost infinite possibilities of combinations. this is where the majority of Kevin's time and focus was.......getting precise room balance along with correct coherency.

it's similar (but not the same) for your VR9SE's which Kevin also designed. getting the bass adjusted for ultimate room integration and coherence is the main issue.

as for the tapes, email or audiogon ping me and we can discuss it. i'll do what i can to help.

regarding using a server and dac to stream digital; these days it can be fairly straight forward. assuming you want dsd or 2xdsd capability, you first need a dac which can input those formats......typically over USB. personally i'm partial to Playback Designs, and all of their disc players and dacs can do this. you then need a computer/laptop/tablet to act as a server that outputs USB (most current one's do) and you are good to go.

my son the network engineer put my server together, so i'm not the best person to 'splain' all the details. but when you contact me about the tapes i can give you more info if you still need it. search for 'dsd downloads' and you should find lots of info.

mikelavigne

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Owner
further thoughts about the results of the set-up after a few days of listening.

this is a considerable shift in the presentation of my system, for the better. I've been going thru lots and lots of digital files which have been references for years.....hundreds of them. when I said above that the system is now 'rounder' and less 'hifi'......the implications of this change has become much more clear to me. to put it simply, everything has more body and completeness.....with seemingly perfect frequency balance. voices are spot on natural and correct. piano, cello, violin, guitar, and horn, pretty much every instrument is degrees more real. tonally complete.

there were two particular recordings which have been touchstones for me over the years which hit this home like a ton of bricks. both female vocal.

first is very well known as 'track 12 from Burmeister II', Anne Sophie Von Otter', 'Mariengesange'. I first heard this track back when I purchased this demo disc at the Stereophile Show in L.A. in 1998. the disc was brand new then, I remember bringing it back to our local audio club meeting and blowing people's minds with the demo cuts off it. everyone had to have a copy. I've likely listened to this track at least 5000 times on all sorts of systems and many dozens of times every time I've tested any gear since.....for 16 years. I think most people have this etched in their brains and I don't have to explain it. it's a very challenging female vocal recording. any degree of less than spot on tonal balance, smearing, or less than coherent mid-bass will jump out at you as you move toward solving this challenging recording. it is now fresh and new to me. all the niggles and nits I thought were in the recording are gone. it soars and stays solid and true thru every note for the first time to my ears. harmonically complete and clear as a bell.

it's true what they say; the only way to identify distortion is to remove (some of) it.

really the same type of thing with the second recording; although it's not nearly as widely known.....and I've only used this one since 2005......and maybe only listened to it 3000 times.....it's even more challenging and even a better recording technically.

it's Anna Netrebko, track 11 from the SACD 'Sempre Libera', Donizetti's 'Ardon gli incensi'. this is a very, very vigorous aria with lots of soprano fireworks and a very difficult to reproduce glass harmonica which compliments Anna with interplay during the most vigorous parts of the cut. this cut will separate the men from the boys, the pretenders from the accomplished. with every step forward in my system development this cut has taken a clear step forward. when I do any sort of gear comparisons this cut is my 'litmus test'. there is no place to hide. again; listening to this now, after Kevin's work, the cut is at another level and I think reached it's honest rendition. both Anna's voice and the glass harmonica are limitless with openness and clarity. based on years of going to this cut in my and many other systems it was a revelation.

basically all the cuts I've enjoyed in the last few days are like this; full, fleshed out, right, real. no stress, no edge, just music. I've realized that these recordings and even the formats are not the issue; it's being able to get the system and room from intruding.

sure; the bass impact and macro dynamics are now at ridiculous levels of performance, but to me it's being able to get the basics correct which make a system right......and musically involving. of course; over-the-top capability in dynamics and bass performance do have important contributions to the nuances of the music too.

mikelavigne

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Owner
at last; final set-up of the MM7's.

Kevin Malmgren, the designer of my MM7 speakers, and Jonathan Tinn, his partner with Evolution Acoustics, arrived at my home Monday night and with the planned technical set-up for the MM7's starting Tuesday morning we listened to 'mostly' vinyl until almost 2 am to get a base line for where things were before the work.

Kevin started in on the set-up process Tuesday morning around 9am or so; first setting up his tools for his measuring protocol, and then measuring things. he spent all day with this process of measurements and listening. moving the speakers and repeating the process. 4-5 years prior, when i had my MM3's, i had supplied Kevin with room plans and room measurements, and at that time he plotted out 12 potential speaker positions for the room. so he had already crunched the numbers before for the room. he did meticulously measure the actual dimensions of the room......which for my room with all the bumps and built in diffusion is difficult since almost no parallel walls exist.

i came home for lunch to see what was going on, and mostly it was white noise and grimacing.

i returned after work and they were still hard at it. then Jonathan, my wife, a friend and myself went to dinner and Kevin kept going with the process. we returned about 9pm (with some food for Kevin) and Kevin had just sat down to start listening.....he was done. Kevin went in the house to eat his food and we sat down and started listening. we ended up listening until 12:30pm.

before i get into my initial perceptions i want to mention that I'm not going to get into details on Kevin's methodology. first; i don't sufficiently comprehend it to properly explain it. second; it is his personal process and not mine to share. I'm not saying there are secrets about it, but that is for Kevin to deal with. if one gets ahold of the owner's manual for the Evolution Acoustics MM2/MM3 there are explanations there for some of his design philosophy and detail on how the speaker adjustments work.

it's now Wednesday evening; Kevin got on his plane.....Jonathan on his train, and i have been listening for 4 hours tonight in a relaxed way with my go-to records and enjoying myself.

i was already pretty stoked at what i had been hearing prior to this visit; but we have gone to another level now. the speakers have ended up in essentially the same place they were to begin with, although tweaked in exact positioning, as was my listening position essentially in the same place. that original position was based on Kevin's original spot for the MM3's.....so that is not any accident.

what's different? and by what degree?

it's rounder, like music.....less hifi. the music projects further into the room....more holographic. there is more impact and articulation both in the bass and simply more energy behind each note. there is greater tonal weight and tonal richness. there is more detail and textural nuance. there is better delineation of musical threads in the soundstage.....so easy to follow the flow. harmonic complexity is more life like. the music stands up and moves me with greater forward thrust, flows better. things are tighter and more focused. every improvement is in an area where i had previously considered it already superior. so this is about increased degrees of goodness.

the emotional content of the music has risen perceptibly. it's more alive and real. it gets into your body and moves you. the increased musical connection really hit me on a few of the cuts, one in particular is the Beethoven Later Quartets (Philips Lp) by Quartetto Italiano. that increase in the tonal richness, roundness and energy just pushed all my buttons. wow!!! mikey likey.

these individual changes are all a little more than subtle, but less than profound changes......in and of themselves. but considering where it already was to my ears, in total it's a big step up toward the ideal ultimate musical immersion.

how can 4 huge 7' tall towers, weighing approx. 700 pounds each (2800 pounds total...in room), sound so coherent and fully disappear? impressive. how can they sound as big as a huge concert hall, or as intimate as a small jazz club? amazing!

these thoughts are after 4+ hours of listening at my pace. we will see how I'm feeling in a week or so. it has been a long road to get to this place in my audio path. I'm very happy (ecstatic actually) but trying to stay grounded and be open minded. we will see whether coming back fresh to this every day for a week with uncover any niggles.

thank you Kevin and Jonathan for this fantastic product and your considerable efforts to get it optimized in my room

mikelavigne

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hi Alex,

regarding the A10 U8 footers, I have found that over 50 pounds that I got better results with 5 or 6 than 4. (my dart pre and dart 108 amp) and that if I'm using them underneath heavy gear that once a month or so it helps to 'massage' them (squeeze the tops to stir up the ball bearings inside) to get optimal performance. particularly if the gear gets hot (dart 108 amp), they seem to 'settle' slightly and lose just a bit of their decoupling magic.

and also that under 15 pounds that I get better results with 3 than 4.

however; I also find that moving the A10 U8's around underneath gear can be more the issue than the weight per se. sometimes getting the A10 U8 under a particular spot makes a difference. every piece of gear is unique and with resonance control it's hard to apply any solution blindly. one needs to be open to what actually happens.

mikelavigne

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Owner
some months ago I posted about getting the prototype version of the Durand Telos Sapphire which I have been enjoying since.

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...l=1#post221730

yesterday Joel Durand installed the final version of the Durand Telos Sapphire tone arm on my NVS tt. the final version has a composite arm wand and new base.....compared to my prototype version. Joel has been working for over a year on the composite arm wand.

I've been quite impressed with the prototype version. the addition of the composite arm wand with the final version lowers the noise floor (reduces distortion/noise) and as a result everything improves. what stands out is the overall ease and projection of energy, increase in texture and detail, increase in harmonic complexity/richness, increased solidity on musical peaks, and the music projecting out further into the room. these were all strengths of the prototype version and so this is an improvement in degrees on all fronts. not night and day differences compared to the prototype, but significant and when you are already at this level quite remarkable. the improvement in enjoyment and musical immersion is what I'm loving at the moment.

the additional pull of the music is across musical boundaries; rock, pop, jazz, classical.....female vocal, solo piano, string quartet, small combo jazz. the projection of musical energy and artistic nuance is hard for me to describe. explosive is a word I would use to describe the energy level.....unlike anything outside of tape I have heard.

last night I listened to many of my reference cuts for 5-6 hours and I was blown away that there was this much more potential in the format beyond where I was.

now tonight I'm listening to a drum solo with the Telos Sapphire......"the Great Jazz Trio Direct From L.A.", EW 10005, cut 1, side 1, 'A Night In Tunisia'.....Tony Williams on drums. the whole album is really fine.

the Sapphire Telos/Ortofon MC Anna/NVS --> dart 458's --> MM7's. those -4- 11" ceramic woofers per side (not to mention the -4- 15" powered subs per side too) only having to do 30hz to 250hz at 96db, 6 ohm. minimal excursion with such driver area keeps things so linear. and what that can do for drums is remarkable.

explosive hardly covers it.....you have to add effortless and life-like too. no overhang, no smearing, immediate, impactful.....delicate, expressive, tonally rich and complete.

revelatory.

I think the Durand Telos Sapphire is beautiful and love how it looks with the NVS.

Telos Sapphire
base and bearing tower
cartridge end close-up
head-on view with Ortofon MC Anna

mikelavigne

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hi Fred,

my current Audio Desk RCM (my 3rd one) dries 100% drip free. I've not tried (re-agent grade) de-ionized water, just distilled water only so far. I only use a cap full of the cleaning fluid when I change the water which never foams and seems to be the correct amount after years of experimentation. it's using too much cleaning fluid which causes issues in my experience. I cannot comment on photo flow but I think there does need to be some sort of something added to allow for complete drying.

your idea about the de-ionized water sounds good, the car wash at my dealership also rinses with de-ionized water and we also use it with a wash truck on our lot for our inventory since soap is not legal to use draining into the storm sewer......so i'm a believer in the benefits of de-ionized water. I may try it sometime in the AD or even the Klaudio and see if I can hear a difference.

a question for you; is the de-ionized water you use also distilled? is that what 're-agent' means? and where do you source that water?

my current AD unit has worked flawlessly for me for 7 months. the Klaudio unit has been great from the start too.

mikelavigne

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Owner
last night I hosted a local PNWAS (Pacific Northwest Audio Society) club meeting in my room.

we had 30+ people attend (36 had RSVP'd). We started playing music at 6pm, the official meeting started at 7:30pm, and the official meeting ended at 10pm, although a number of people stayed until after 11pm. most everyone stayed in the room from 7:30 thru 10pm.

I just finished doing a playlist for the club and figured some might enjoy seeing the selections that I choose to play.

Before 7:30 pm we played;

½” RTR tape, ‘ the Doors’, Riders in the Storm’……..Boz Scaggs, ‘Lowdown’…..Van Morrison, ‘Into the Mystic’.

¼” RTR tape, Diana Krall, Live in Paris, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’

Lps,

Count Basie and the Kansas Ciity Septem, Blues and Some Others, ‘I’m Confessin That I Love You’, ‘I Want A Little Girl’, Pablo Lp.

Flight Path, Sphere, ‘If I Should Lose You’, Electra Musician, 60313-1

Oscar Peterson & Dizzy Gillespie, ‘Caravan, Pablo Lp.

Dsd From my server thru the Playback Designs from a preloaded playlist, mostly classical and mostly native dsd original master files;

Podger-Mozart Sonata in C major, andante, Channel Classics
Podger, Mozart Sonata in C, Adigio Molto Allegro, Channel Classics
Fischer, Mahler Symphony No. 2, Andanta Moderato, Channel Classics
Fischer, Schubert, Symphony No 9 in C major, Andante-Allegro ma non troppo, Channel Classics
Stotijn, double bass, Bottesini Grand Duo Concertant in A Major, Channel Classics
Fischer, Brahms Hungarian Dance, Channel Classics
Wispelwey, Lazie; Piano Cello, Brahms Sonata voor Cello en Piano in e-Klein, Channel Classics
Andrew Lawrence-King, Villancico Canten dos jiguerillos, The Harp Consort, Missa Mexicana, Harmonia Mundi
Angela Hewitt, Rameau, e minor suite, Harmonia Mundi

List for after 7:30 pm;

We started with a replay of brief selections of the same dsd preloaded playlist as above.

Next I played tracks from 4 CD’s on the Playback Designs.

Harry Connick Jr., ‘She’, ‘Joe Slam and the Spaceship, approx. 2 minutes. Columbia CD.
He Xun Tian, ‘Paramita’, Earth Drums, about 2 minutes. Wind Record Co. TCD-5258
Eiji Oue, Copland-Fanfare For the Common Man, 2 minutes. RR-93 CD.
Eagles, Hell Freezes Over, Hotel California, 2 minutes, XRDC.

Then we played the following stereo Lps;

The Allman Brothers, Live at the Fillmore East, ‘Stormy Monday’, Nautilus Lp.
Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Sessions, ‘Sweet Jane’, Classic Records 45rpm single sided Lp.
Brown-Almeida, ‘Moonlight Serenade’, Direct-to-Disc Jeton Lp.
Ray Lamontagne, Till the Sun Turns Black, ‘You Can Bring Me Flowers’, RCA/Legacy Lp.
Santana, first album, ‘Jingo’, MFSL Lp.
Belafonte Sings The Blues, ‘A Fool For You’, Classic 45rpm single sided Lp.
Ricci, Carmen Fantaisie, Decca reissue Lp from Speaker’s Corner.
Mulligan Meets Webster, Cat Walk, 45rpm reissue Lp, Org 013.
Led Zep II, ‘Whole Lotta Love’, Classic 45rpm single sided box set.

We played 2 mono Lps on the other Telos tone arm with the Miyajima mono cartridge; I did not mention that we were playing mono until half way thru the first cut. (not one comment that it might be a mono pressing).

Rolling Stones, Aftermath, Lady Jane, Under My Thumb, Decca Mono Lp LK 4786, early pressing.
Billie Holliday, ‘Body and Soul’, Verve, Clef Series, mono Lp, early pressing.

Back to Stereo….

Pink Floyd, Meddle, ‘Fearless’, EMI Harvest SHVL 795, original pressing Lp.
Ray Charles and Betty Carter, ‘Baby, it’s Cold Outside’, DCC reissue Lp.
Heifetz, Bruch, Scottish Fantasy, Classic 45rpm single sided pressing Lp.

Then we played some tape;

½” 15ips, Bob Marley, Legend, ‘Could You Be Loved’.
¼” 15ips, Miles Davis, Live At The Blackhawk, ‘All of You’, ‘No Blues’.
¼” 15ips, Oscar Peterson, We Get Requests, ‘Have You Met Miss Jones’, ‘You Look Good To Me’.

There were three tracks we played that guests brought but my memory is not quite good enough to have accurate info to list.

mikelavigne

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last night i cleaned 15 Lps on the Klaudio, and another 7-8 on the Audio Desk. this was while i was listening in about 90 minutes.

both machines are simply so easy to use and all the Lps came out perfectly dry and clean. some were very thin pressings....nary a drop of water.

i'm still trying to hear a difference. i think that the Klaudio reveals a touch more clarity....like a slight bit of cleaner window. when i clean a previously Audio Desk cleaned Lp with the Klaudio i 'think' i get a bit more mid and upper octave openness.

these are small changes, but consistent. i like that nothing touches the Lp except distilled water.

anyway, there is an update for you all.

mikelavigne

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hi Eric,

sorry for the delay in my response.

thank you for your very kind words. i noticed that the last time you commented on my thread was 2005. nice to see you here again now after 8 years.

i have really been enjoying my pathway to musical bliss. and you would be most welcome to visit and bring your music if you are ever in the neighborhood.

as far as what one song or album that gets the most play in my system, i'm not sure i can think of one only. and one reason i delayed in answering your question was that i have tried to think about how to answer it. i would say that over the years certain songs or albums have captured my focus for periods of time, but then i move on from that to something else. then months or years or decades later i might return to that earlier focus. music is like that, it gets under your skin and captures your soul, and you want to lose yourself into it fully. at least that is how it works for me. and what drives me to get closer and closer to the music thru improving my system.

if i had to choose one cut or one album over the long term it would likely have to be The Beatles, Abbey Road, side 2. likely the best ever pop/rock music yet written, played or recorded. i like the MoFi pressing myself and have a few copies of it. i was a senior in High School when it came out and it is absolutely personal with me. so it speaks to me on many levels.

i do not use it for system diagnosis, and rarely when i have friends over. i have other music that i will choose that are my go-to cuts for judging various performance issues. i save Abbey Road, side 2, for my personal musical enjoyment. it's possible some of the other diagnosis cuts get played more because when i'm investigating things i have a maybe a hundred Lp and digital cuts i play regularly for that. i like those cuts too, and from time to time they get rotated out of that list.

another very frequently played recording is the Beethoven 6th by Bruno Walter. i mostly play the SACD of it. but i have the Original Columbia Lp Pressing, and a 15ips, 1/4" master dub of it too. i love the music and the performance.

as far as what song or album that surprised me, wow! another tough question.

a couple of years ago a friend played me a cut off the Fleetwood Mac 1980 'Live' album, 'Never Going Back Again', by Lindsey Buckingham in his system. i was pretty blown away. what a great recording and very special performance and intimate approach to this iconic song.

then i looked in my big overflow section upstairs of my 12,000 Lp collection and there the Lp sat waiting for me to play it. since then i've played it regularly myself and for visitors, and mostly the reaction is like the one i had when i first heard it. who knew this gem was waiting to be revealed??

there are so many examples of stuff like that, this is just one that comes to mind.

you have made me think about the music, always a very good thing, thank you for that. i hope my answer was something like what you were wanting.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Mike, Are you saying that if an LP is really noisy, you first try the Audio Desk and then if that does not work, you rely on the Loricraft to get the job done? I thought users were reporting that the Audio Desk does a superior job on dirty LPs.

I've used my Loricraft maybe once a month over the last 6 months. that is because I always use the Audio Desk and only one out of 40+ Lps I want to see whether the 4 step chemical process with the Loricraft might make a difference. I cannot remember when the Loricraft cleaning took things further.

I think the Audio Desk cleans deeper than the Loricraft generally. it's not that it gets noise that the Loricraft does not get, it's more that the Audio Desk seems to uncover a more vivid presentation, it removes a slight layer of greyness.

I recently took an LP that was cleaned with my PRC 4 to a friend's house. We listened and then cleaned it with his Audio Desk. It sounded just as clean, but we heard some faint crackling sounds during the quiet passages after the Audio Desk cleaning and not with the Loricraft. I now want to reclean with my Loricraft to see if I can hear a difference.

i'm not surprised. the water in the Audio Desk is only filtered, so it can leave a bit of small grit. but like I said above, it's how deep into the music that you can hear that matters most to me. I can live with a tic or pop or two if the music is there in all it's glory.

I recall from our previous discussions that you are particularly sensitive to tics and pops. the Loricraft potentially is better for that to some degree than the Audio Desk. the Audio Desk is still good at removing and dirt, but just not perfect at it.

mikelavigne

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one more thing on the Camera.

I use the default settings for the D600 from Ken Rockwell for my D600 and that has also seemed to help a lot as I was clueless as to how to set up the D600.

I used his links to purchase my camera and contributed to his website too to compensate him.

mikelavigne

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hi John,

yes, I did get a new camera about 6 months ago.....the Nikon D600. but my improved picture taking really came from when I got the Nikon AF-S f/1.4 50mm lens 4 months ago which makes the camera much better for most shots I take. I had been using an expensive Nikon f/2.8 24-70 which I could never get to look quite right. the pics today were hand held since I was in a hurry to throw some pics up. I used the flash in daylight. the last pic likely needed a tripod and not the flash.

as far as combining the different RCM's it might be interesting. for really dirty and challenging Lp's the Loricraft with it's multi-stage chemical approach likely can solve the truely problem pressings. then finish with the KL.

and that is how I use the Loricraft now, as the fall back approach for noisy pressings after I've already tried the Audio Desk.

so we will see how this goes as I switch back and forth.

mikelavigne

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a new guy in town.

I am trying out a new RCM. the KL Audio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

it's a one-button machine like the Audio Desk. actually, it's a 'no' button machine. you place the Lp in the slot and it automatically cleans and dries it. you can walk away and come back later. it 'beeps' when it's done. you can vary the minutes of cleaning and drying. it uses about 1/2 gallon of distilled water per 50-100 Lps depending. I used a funnel to pour in the water, there is a window on the front that shows 'min' and max' for water level as you fill it. very easy to use and intuitive for dummies like me.

it only uses distilled water and ultrasonic cleaning, there is no cleaning fluid of any kind and no brushes. nothing touches the Lp but water and the ultrasonic bubble action.

it uses a 200 watt ultrasonic unit, my understanding is that the Audio Desk uses approximately a 10 watt ultrasonic unit. so the KL Audio has 20x the ultrasonic cleaning action of the Audio Desk.

how well does it work? so far, I've only cleaned a couple of Lps; but they came out 100% dry and clean and sound wonderful. maybe a touch more pristine sounding than the Audio Desk, but it's too soon to draw any conclusions. there are fewer moving parts than the Audio Desk since there are no brushes to spin, but it does still spin the Lp. it's built really well, and my understanding is that it's stainless steel inside for durability.

it's relatively quiet but it does emit a raspy sort of noise (like 'pink' noise) during the ultrasonic cycle.....so you might not want it in the same room as you are listening in. in my situation it's with the other RCM's right outside my room, and I don't hear it in my room with the door closed and the music playing, but I did hear the 'beep' when it was done.

works for me!

i'm into easy. this is easy.

here it is next to the current best RCM's on the market....the Audio Desk and the Loricraft PRC4 Delux. we will see how it does.

KL Audio RCM with Audio Desk and Loricraft PRC4 Dlx

KL Audio RCM

closeup of control panel

mikelavigne

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Idos,

your point is well taken, it's always possible for different pieces of gear to have negative performance affects on each other and then as you move them that changes. in this case i've used the dart pre and the Playback Designs together for almost 7 years now. at various times i've removed one or the other and never seen any effect from that. so that fact is where we start when considering your perspective.

prior to moving the gear to being stacked on top of the Herzan, the Playback Designs was on the bottom shelf, with the dart pre on the shelf above. this shelf that was between the two units, was a very heavy thick granite-wood sandwich which likely prevented much interaction. and the distance between the two units was greater then. now they are just separated by only the A10 U8 footers....there is now no shelf between them.

there was zero percieved noise before, and there is now zero percieved noise.

my expereince with noise between pieces of gear is mostly when i've had phono stages and power supplies for phono stages. the incoming cartridge signal is so low, and the amplification within the phono is so high, that picking up hum and noise is much more likely when you are messing with multiple phono sections.

anyway; while i agree with you that you have to open to all kinds of reasons for changes, in this case i am pretty confident that changes in the proximity of the gear is not part of it.

thank you for bringing up an important thing to consider when moving stuff around.

mikelavigne

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Tom,

reading thru your website, audiopoints.com, did help me to understand some of your perspectives. thanks. it did give me a context for what you are saying.

i'm no engineer who can understand the technical reasons for what happens, i'm simply an observer trying to navigate thru my observational experiences and make sense of it as best I can.

i'm not wedded to any approach, be it isolation or coupling. however; I have observed that done to the highest form, isolation seems to take me further. particularly when you start to have a true full range system where you are getting very low bass and lots of very dynamic music energy.....and especially when you are spinning discs in one way or another.

I did notice that on your Energy Room description that there was a testimonial from our AudiogoN member Agear, who posted above. reading thru that description, many of the attributes that are described in that process I have going on in my room too. I certainly respect that comprehensive approach to the room challenge.

mikelavigne

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And the airborne energy and the self generated energy of the component itself is trapped inside caused by the high impedance of the so called "isolation" method. All this energy with no where to go but around and round all to be modulated along with the preferred signal. All makes perfect sense. Tom

hi Tom,

trying to get my brain around your thought.

so what you are saying is that somehow the passive is helping the active release energy that is otherwise 'held'?

that makes sense I guess.

did I get that right?

sorry if I'm a little dense.

mikelavigne

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Using 3 axis accelerometers to measure the results can put an end to this debate.

personally, I prefer my ears as the arbiter. especially since the performance of the gear is a subjective question. not all gear reacts equally to the same environment.

I've read that others using the active isolation shelves found that it was not synergistic with some gear. I suspect that by adding passive to the active that most gear can be optimized.

of course, it's possible that your '3-axis accelerometer' might also tell us the same thing that our ears do. in any case, i'll follow my ears.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

I agreed completely with your perspective about the Wave Kinetics A10 U8 footers not likely being compatible with the active isolation. but since the top of the dart pre did not allow for the use of the built in footers on the Playback Designs MPS-5 I was forced to select some sort of interface to be able to stack those units.

so whether I expected a good result or not I had to try it.

when the result exceeded my expectations, it then got me thinking that somehow using the A10 U8's above the active isolation caused the benefits of both approaches to be added together. hummmmmmm.

and it also opens up the potential to 'tune' the active isolation for any piece of gear. double hummmmm.

I love it when I get surprised in a good way.

over time i'm sure others will try it and we'll collectively go to another level. we all have passive footers in our collection of stuff. while I do think that the A10 U8's are possibly the best device for this, who knows what might work as good?

the A10 U8's have the flat bottom with a bit of felt so they won't harm the surface of the Herzan, or the top of the gear they are resting on. the silicone tops of the A10 U8's are soft and a bit grippy and won't harm the bottoms, and they are not so tall that gear becomes unstable, yet tall enough to clear built-in footers. so they do the job well. and you can use fewer for light gear, and more for heavy gear, so they are tunable in that way.

when I consider other footers such as ball and cup types, or even the Stillpoints, and how they work, I do think the A10 U8's are ideally suited for this practically and functionally.

mikelavigne

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hi Steve,

nice to hear from you again.

you are not alone in liking what wood does as rack material. like a speaker cabinet, wood's natural properties do typically do musically friendly things when properly applied. I use the Box Furniture (all wood) amplifier stands. I know lots of people like using maple butcher blocks for rack and shelf materials. it does not hurt that it can be made to be very attractive too.

wood can add tonal color or warmth, but it does not have to.

I know a few audiophiles that tune each piece of gear with blocks of wood of various hardwoods.

I like your idea of suspending the gear from strings, it has to improve isolation. i'd enjoy seeing pictures of how you've done it.

there is more than one way to skin the cat.

there is much to like with the A90, and the Anna starts with all the great things the A90 does and then simply takes it all to another level, adds more dynamic life, more body and harmonic substance, and so much texture and nuance. and the speed and ease is wonderful.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Andrew,

I actually tried the Halcyonics Micro 40 back in 2006. Norm/Tbg did have a couple of the Micro 40's, but as I recall due to the small footprint of the Micro 40 (16" x 17.6") Norm never tried it under his Rockport tt that I ever read about. and Norm had a decoupling rack and suspended wood floors, so the Micro 40 was never fully optimized in his system. none-the-less, I know he was very impressed with the units.....but moved on to the Stillpoints.

after my experience of how the Wave Kinetics A10 U8 footers seem to work synergistically with the Herzan active isolation, I wonder how the Stillpoints might work with it too.

and I wonder how many Halcyonics users have ever tried decoupling footers in combination (on top of the active shelf) with their active isolation. I've not heard of it myself.

it now seems an obvious thing to try, but my strong opinion before I tried it was that is was not the correct approach.....that it would somehow compromise the active unit. quite the contrary, the active unit allows the passive device to be optimized since it does noise attenuation that the passive unit is not capable of.

the whole subject of gear isolation and how much influence it can have on ultimate sonic performance is very interesting to me. for myself, it seems that my system has been suddenly unleashed and I've broken through to another level.

let's see how this plays out.

mikelavigne

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last night I did further experiment with the Herzan by adding A10 U8 footers underneath the darTZeel preamp, between the Herzan and the dart pre.

then I listened to both digital discs and the server dac. my impressions were of another added improvement to focus and naturalness over the dart pre sitting naked on the Herzan. I listened to lots of digital over a few hours and heard no drawbacks. the refinement and delicacy and presentation of fine detail is beyond what I've heard digital do before. energy and bass impact and definition is slightly improved, in any case not diminished. I need to simply listen more to really get the full measure of this next step for digital performance.

by the time I got around to seeing how the A10 U8 footers under the dart pre will affect the vinyl it was pretty late, so I had a hard time listening critically. so right now i'm listening to vinyl and so far it's a bit better also with the focus and flow, but too early to really get my bearings yet on it. but nothing has softened or been lost.

more updates later; but it seems that the Herzan is not an end point, but more the right kind of beginning to fine tuning gear for optimal performance.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

my earlier comments about stands were based upon reading the Herzan website regarding 'site optimization' where they explained what was ideal. but this information was about what 'WAS UNDER' the Herzan. these current comments from last night's experience was regarding the A10 U8 footers relate to what is used 'ON TOP' of the Herzan. so i still stand by my point that a mass loaded grounded stand is the best way to go to set the Herzan on.

but i now see that various types of isolation footers might work with gear on top of the Herzan. i say might becuase i've only observed one situation so far, but i was very impressed with what i heard.

when you think about it; the active isolation should optimize the effectiveness of these footers. it then becomes a matter to find the most synergistic footer for the gear. at least with the Herzan you have a predictable environment. obviously i'm just thinking out loud and until i spend some time trying different approaches i won't know how it will work.

as far as the NVS and it's dedicated shelf, unless i try it under the NVS and sitting on top of the Herzan and listen i will never know the result. i really have no idea how that might turn out. i'm only saying that my mind is open to it possibly, if unlikely, being better. i'm excited to learn going forward.

i have not yet tried the darTZeel preamp under the Playback Designs. the dart pre likely weighs around 55 pounds, whereas the Playback Designs is closer to 35 pounds. plus even though the Playback is very very solid, the dart pre is a very very dense solid brick of a preamp. nothing is built like a darTZeel. i think the stack is more stable with the dart on the bottom. and having lots of weight on top of the Playback might have some effect on the disc drive. finally the dart pre stays only slightly warm to the touch, the Playback gets very warm if not hot when i use it all day....so having it on top allows for the heat to escape easily without affecting other gear.

there is a separate power supply for the NVS, it's a small rectangle in an aluminum enclosure. i do have it on the floor, on A10 U8 footers and with Walker lead filled tuning pucks on top. there is no room for it on the Herzan.

mikelavigne

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this even makes me think about trying the NVS isolation shelf between the NVS and the Herzan.

i need to be open minded.

mikelavigne

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more thoughts about the Herzan active isolation, digital, and footers.

I did not spend enough time comparing the effect on discs and the server dac performance to say which is effected more 'for sure'. but I was quite surprised by the degree of positive effect for the server dac. I had expected the discs to be a bigger deal than the dac.

i am very curious as to how much better the dart pre can sound with footers between it and the Herzan. and i wonder what exactly the A10 U8's are adding and why. it seems like a synergistic combination.

i'm excited by the possibilities that this presents.

mikelavigne

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I've been thinking about how the digital player/dac might benefit from the Herzan, and how I might combine the dart pre and MPS-5 on top of the Herzan. so last night I tried stacking the Playback Designs MPS-5 on top of the dart pre on top of the Herzan TS-150.

it resulted in a large boost to the digital performance, both with discs and with as a server dac. but more than that, it opened my eyes and ears to a whole other area of possibility as to how to optimize the active isolation.

Herzan with MPS-5 on top of the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp

I had to work out what method I would use to interface the dart pre and the Playback Designs MPS-5. since the dart pre's top was not compatible with the stock footers on the MPS-5, and the MPS-5 is longer than the dart pre, I had to use other footers. I tried two different footers, some prototype Wave Kinetics A10 U8's, and the production A10 U8's. I found that the production A10 U8's were quite a bit more lively and energetic.

what I realized was that footers ON TOP of the Herzan TS-150 can 'possibly' make a huge positive difference in the performance. this opens up many possibilities for optimizing active isolation that had not occurred to me.

I have just begun this area of investigation. all I know right now is that my current configuration is a big leap in digital performance. but I don't know, for instance, whether adding A10 U8's between the Herzan and the dart pre might not improve the performance of the dart pre for both phono and preamp functions. and how might that work for the MPS-5 above it? might other footers work even better with the Herzan?

i'll play around with this and see where it takes me.

mikelavigne

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pictures of the TS-150 installed underneath the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp.

TS-150 under the dart pre from the side view of my rack

TS-150 under the dart pre from the front view of my rack

the TS-140 sits under the NVS turntable on top of the rack.

mikelavigne

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I've been loving the Herzan active isolation TS-140 under my NVS turntable, so i could not help myself.....earlier this week i ordered the smaller footprint Herzan TS-150 to use under my darTZeel preamp.

it arrived yesterday and last night i installed it under the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp, and I first listened to digital thru the Playback Designs MPS-5 thru my server. redbook only to begin with.

my hope was that it would bring enough to the digital performance by improving the preamp performance that I can leave it there and not need to stack the pre and digital player, mostly a matter of set-up elegance. my concerns were unwarranted, it's astonishing how much better the digital sounds with the darTZeel pre on the TS-150 instead of my previous isolation/decoupling of choice, the prototype A10 U8's (and they were very good).

objectively the dart pre on the Herzan TS-150 adds a body and weight while increasing speed and agility to the music. it's harmonically richer and more multi-textured. overall focus is better. more impact on the bass, more snap and nuance in the transients. blacker backgrounds, more detail deeper into the noise floor, a bit more bloom and decay, and a bit wider and deeper soundstage. these are mostly small even very small degrees of change.....but musically very significant.

subjectively the emotional content and involvement is greater, more life and energy, more natural and grounded sounding, the music becomes more real, refined, listenable and more experiential. more fun. lots of wows and laughs of wonder.

and that was only redbook.

since my friend Teck visited this week and helped do more speaker adjustments, and I've been enjoying the fresh improvements. Wednesday night I listened to digital the whole night and played these same redbook cuts. so my take on these is very recent.

later last night i switched to dsd, more of the same type improvments......classical dsd simply loves the dart pre on the TS-150. all those subtle small improvements take full advantage of the acoustic purity of classical music.

I can only imagine what a separate TS-150 under the Playback Designs MPS-5 might add to what i'm hearing.

then later last night i switched to vinyl, and so far i'm thinking not to try and describe what i'm hearing with the dart phono stage also benefiting from the TS-150......as what i would say would sound like I've come unglued. ;-)

i have listening visitors scheduled this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon who can try and tether me to the ground so i don't float away. it going to be a fun listening weekend.

mikelavigne

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hi Teck,

thank you very much for the help with the speaker adjustments in my system. Tuesday night i listened to all my familiar vinyl cuts. last night i spent the whole night listening to digital, to all my regular tracks that i know so well. and i'm blown away by how much more life and vividness the system now has. i would not have believed that it could be that much better.....but it is.

then tomorrow i recieve my second active isolation shelf from Herzan, the TS-150. i'm planning on trying it under my dart preamp, and also under the Playback Designs MPS-5 digital too. i may end up stacking them both on top of the Herzan TS-150 as it has a 330 pound weight capacity.

i'm glad that you were able to help with the system improvements 'prior' to installing the Herzan. it boggles my mind as to what improvements the Herzan can find beyond what i'm now hearing.

crazy, crazy, crazy.

i did not want to say anything until i have really relaxed and listened.....i now have and wow.

thanks.

mikelavigne

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James,

my Son only made those servers for 6-9 months in 2010 and then stopped. it turned out audiophiles required a bit more hand holding to get their servers sorted out than he had figured. he was too busy personally to give his customers the support that they needed. he still takes care of his clueless dad's server but that is it.

i do think that the whole server approach is getting more simplified and easier for the normal person to figure out, and it's mostly how i now listen to digital. dsd over a server is hard to beat and sounds analog to me to a large degree thru the Playback Designs dac.

and you are most welcome about the turntable mat. i agree that it's a good step up for the NVS.

mikelavigne

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hi Steve,

thanks.

i read thru your well written explanation about the Minus-K platform. very interesting....and not surprising. thanks for the info.

there are lots of changes in my system since your last visit and i think it's time for you to visit again....let me know when it can work for you.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Marc,

sure, I have thought about that.....for about 10 seconds.

but then I would likely get a divorce, have to split the assets, and end up with a Bose Wave Radio.

;-)

mikelavigne

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Peter;

added note to my answer above. i do think that RTR decks can benefit from isolation; i've heard RTR decks on Wave Kinetics A10-U8's and there was a benefit. but it's not going to be to the extent that a turntable can benefit.

i do think the smaller form factor RTR decks will get more relative benefit that the larger master recorders.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

i do expect at some point to have at least one more Herzan unit in my system, likely one without the automatic leveling since only a tt or transport really needs that.

i'd likely get one with a smaller footprint that would fit on my smaller lower shelves and then try it in a number of places.

as far as my RTR's; i doubt it. my Studer A-820's do not have bottoms that lend themselves to tables or even the floor. and the way tape heads interact with the tape the degree of benefit of isolation is much less. this is one of those areas where i've come to understand why tape sounds different that vinyl. it's because of the feedback affecting the vinyl to a huge degree and not the tape. of course, the bass on tape will be more linear, and you won't get the distortion on the tape so things are more solid, and images on tape are separated better. all issues that the Herzan resolves for the vinyl.

the Herzan is a truth machine and teaches me new things daily. you eliminate a source of distortion and can actually see what is causing what.

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

i think you would like what the Herzan does in your system under one of your turntables.

i look forward to a (i hope soon) visit from you as always.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Marc,

as far as age of a tt design and how that matters, mostly i am referring to how the Rockport tonearm compares to current tonearms. in 1995 the Rockport linear tracker was far superior to the alternatives.....in my personal opinion. today, it is only very very good.

clearly the Rockport air suspension was state of the art for electron microscopes in the mid-90's, now it's not.

i do agree that the plinth/platter/motor was ahead of it's time; but now there are a number of competitive one's.

cars (race or street) are now asked to do much more technically, it's no longer good enough for a race car to be fast; one must do it a certain way as a race car, and street cars are now much safer and cleaner. so cars now are simply more advanced.

i did not do much direct comparisons with the Herzan. hopefully as time goes by those direct comparisons with other approaches will happen. Herzan provides lots of science on their web site that does address comparative approaches.

i tired the Halcyonics active isolation in 2005 on my Grand Prix Audio Monaco decoupling stand and it worked spactacularly. so yes; it will work with an isolation stand. it simply will work better with a solid stand.

a wall mounted stand would work great for the Herzan if it is stout enough for it's 70 pounds plus the weight of a turntable.

mikelavigne

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Bill,

yes, i've decided i'm going to stick with this 'stereo' stuff, it's fun.

;-)

best regards,

mikelavigne

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I'm intrigued as to where the combination of NVS/Telos/Herzan stands in comparison with your previous reference Rockport. It seems that with the addition of the Herzan you have substituted the final component of the Rockport combination that you had previously, ie full isolation.
I do realise this q is a little unfair since it's, what, a couple of years since you replaced the Rockport, but I'm sure you've got a pretty good memory of it's sonic 'fingerprint'.
It seems that the NVS/shelf ($45000), Telos w.sapphire plate ($20000) and Herzan ($12000), is taking the combination into at least the ball park of Rockport prices.
hi Marc,

first of all, when i moved on from the Rockport to the NVS i had only heard a prototype NVS, i overall slightly preferred the NVS and the Durand Tonearms. it did things the Rockport seemed not able to do. yet the Rockport also had it's attractions. we did a comparison of simply the noise floor between cuts and the NVS was slightly quieter than the Rockport....and did a little more space. yet the Rockport was and is a magnificent tt, and i wish i could have kept it. it excels at everything. but it was designed in the early 90's.

now that was almost 3 years ago. the NVS is better than it's prototype, and the Durand Tonearm is now the Telos, even the Telos with the Sapphire cartridge plate. i now use the Durand record weight, and of course, here is the Herzan active isolation.

there is no doubt that the Herzan active isolation exceeds the passive air suspension of the Rockport. i think i prefer the Durand Record Weight to the vacuum hold-down on the Rockport. the linear tracking arm was where i felt the Rockport was the least outstanding, and the Telos/Sapphire is on a whole different level, and i would say the motor/drive difference would be hard to call. they are most similar there. overall it would not be very close in my opinion.

i do not have a Rockport here for direct comparison, but i do have my Studer RTR tape which has not changed and honestly......my current set-up is clearly better than where the Rockport was. the Rockport design is now almost 20 years old, so that is no knock on the Rockport.

and i feel with the addition of the Herzan, my current tt/arm/weight/shelf is as good as it gets, maybe better. that's simply my perspective.

mikelavigne

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over the last 3 hours i had 2 local audiophile friends over and we did an A-B-A with the TS-140 and the NVS isolation platform.

with three of us it only took about 15 minutes to switch them in and out. we used 8-9 different cuts. we played them all first the TS-140 under the NVS, then on the NVS isolation platform under the NVS, and then back with the TS-140.

i cannot say whether my friends will chime in or not. and it's up to them to express their perspectives.

what i will say is the discussion after centered on 2 main topics; why doesn't every turntable come with one of these?, and what they might have to do to get one.

as far as my perceptions; they are consistent with my earlier claims.....but maybe even more intensely expressed after hearing before and after really brings it home.

we're not in Kansas anymore Toto.

mikelavigne

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Metralla,

I agree that the TS-140 fits the visual look and size of the NVS. sometimes technical advances looked kludged, i'm happy that is not the case this time.

I love the look. elegance is always preferred when it also performs.

and this is one big reason I did not go with the Halcyonics version of active isolation. it has a taller box and looks a bit awkward to me.

mikelavigne

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Lawrence,

when I installed the Herzan on Friday night I was by myself. the Herzan itself is about 70 pounds and my shelf height is about 37 inches, it's easy to get a grip on so no problem logistically. however; the NVS turntable with the larger halo, 2 large heavy stainless armboards, and -2- 7 pound Telos bases, likely weighs 120-130 pounds+.....and it's hard to get a grip on.....I kinda had to hug it to pick it up and then setting it down on a small table without throwing my back out was a challenge.

i'm not doing that again by myself. :)

so doing an ABA will wait until I have some help for sure. personally I have no need for an ABA, but some of my friends want to do it.

mikelavigne

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James,

glad you are enjoying the new mat. I assume you use both the top carbon fiber and the foam underneath.

the NVS clamp does require the washer to be most effective.

here is how I ranked the use of the clamp and mat.

1-mat only was best
2-clamp with washer was next.
3-naked, no clamp without washer.
4-clamp without washer.

take some time, maybe get another listener to help, and find a few tracks and do the investigation yourself. and do ask Jonathan to send you the washer.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Sean,

you need to hear this.

mikelavigne

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Pradeep,

thanks. the TS-140 is $12,000. the smaller TS-150 is a little less.

i'm sure that Teck will give you a full in-person report when he next visits. :)

best regards,

mikelavigne

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my Herzan TS-140 active isolation shelf arrived yesterday, and I installed it last evening.

I had been looking forward to this since 2005 when a reviewer from Positive Feedback brought over a Halcyonics for me to try. 3 years ago I switched from Grand Prix Audio Monaco decoupling shelves to the Adona 'grounded' racks to be able to optimize isolation devices such as the Herzan. when you combine isolation systems both systems are compromised. back in 2005 we had placed the Halcyonics on top of my GPA Monaco decoupling rack, yet it still sounded wonderful. how might it do when given the chance to work as designed?

no doubt I had big expectations. however; I also thought there was a chance that there might be take-aways that might compromise the benefits. with isolation devices my experience had been there are no absolutes. I did not know anyone who had tried one of these on a SOTA turntable. might it soften the sound?

it turns out it far exceeded my expectations. and I think besides the grounded, mass loaded Adona rack it sits on......and the 6" of concrete the Adona is spiked to, the NVS tt is an ideal match for the Herzan since it's designed to work with it's own isolation shelf. and Wave Kinetics started out as an isolation device builder.

i'll start out with the areas of my concerns, which I need not have had. the snap, impact, and weight of transients and bass is on a level I've never heard before. a huge improvement. and those things were already amazing. now they are 'real'. detail and focus is improved for everything, there is more density, texture, and harmonic sparkle......a vivid 'live-ness' that is hard to describe. the separation of every individual aspect of the presentation is another large improvement.

Herzan under the NVS, side view

Herzan TS-140 under the NVS

but really, the important thing is that music is more involving and compelling, there is a greater sense of the playing together, and the emotional content is much greater. I cannot stop listening.

I am astonished at what i'm hearing.

mikelavigne

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hi Ken,

yes, i recall we spoke a few times back when many fewer folks were doing tape. it was the new thing.

i'm keeping my Studer A820's for a few reasons. one of which is that i do have local support for my A820's as Ki Choi lives 20 miles from me and is an expert on them. as well as Fred Thal, the Studer tech who refurbed my first A820, is in California.

and a further related point that Ki has installed a direct-out head switch on both A820's for connection to my King-Cello tape repro custom output electronics.

second reason is that the A820 allows simple switching from IEC to NAB with one button.....and the ATR-102 does require either having separate sound cards or manual adjustments.

the third reason is that i love the look and feel of using the Studer, although the ATR-102 is quite the machine too.

the final reason is that i have been trying to eliminate any redunant gear from my system both to raise funds for other gear and to simplfy the system, and only want 2 RTR decks, one for 1/4" and one for 1/2". a few year back i owned 6 nice RTR decks, now only 2.

so i choose my 2 favorite.

the Ampex ATR-102 is a wonderful machine that i could just as easily live with and i think in stock form sounds a bit better than my Studer A820's. enjoy yours.

mikelavigne

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thanks Brent.

no, never did consider having the darts behind the speakers.

there is no acoustical reason to do it.

as far as length of cables; some people like super short speaker cables but i'm not one of those. interconnects and power cables would still be the same length.

visually; personally, i like the amps in between the speakers, especially amps that look like these. i think it would look 'naked' without them. but it would look cleaner i suppose with them behind the speakers. it's all about what sort of aesthetic you might like. i can see if it was a living room with multiple uses then cleaner might be the choice. in my case, with a dedicated room i think having them between the speakers is correct.

mikelavigne

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Ken,

one more point; i do understand that my new speakers dominate the visual look of the room and make it look smaller than it is. -4- 7 foot tall 700 pound towers will do that to most any room. but the speakers do not 'sound' cramped at all. those speakers were designed for a space of similar cubic footage as my room is....and fit like a glove accoustically.

my room handles the bass energy and SPL's easily.

mikelavigne

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hi Ken,

long-time, no talk. nice to hear from you.

i'd say my listening room is 'just right' for me and my system. it is large enough, at 29' x 21' x 11', to allow the speakers to 'breathe' and for complete note decay and large scale dynamics and deep bass extension, yet has a human scale where i am comfortable spending extended time in the room. my acoustical room designer choose that size exactly.

listening rooms that are larger than mine are kinda 'too much' as a singular listening space to my sensibilites. i could have had a space as large as 26' x 35' x 14' inside my barn if i wanted to. there is an intimate aspect to lots of music which is compromised in such as space. recorded music is not mixed with such spaces in mind. and my room retains so much energy with all the hard surfaced diffusion that it does mimic large spaxes when the music calls for it.

my space is large enough for 15-25 people to join me inside the room for events, which i have had on occasion.

the barn has 1800 sq. ft. of space. upstairs i have a rec room/sports pit/exercise space/pool table space that is 42' x 14' where i hang out too. then downstairs there is a large 3/4 bathroom.

i love my barn and would not change a thing at this point. my wife is also comfortable with it so it's all good.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

not yet. Kevin has not had a chance to get up here to do the final set-up on the MM7's yet. and frankly they sound so good i've not worried about it or pushed him to get here. the speakers have seemingly stopped changing for the last month or so.....likely a matter of both the amps and sperakers being mostly broken in now after 6 months.

i've had help with laser alignment and some speaker adjustments which have moved the needle forward to a pretty special place, and will likely do a little more of that prior to Kevin's visit. hard to imagine it getting much better than what i now enjoy. but it probably will.

we have tentatively focused on late July or August for Kevin to visit.

mikelavigne

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Lawrence,

my MM7's price is $200k.

my old MM3's were in the area of $70K.

as we all realize, no speaker is perfect. at best a speaker can only be the least compromised choice one knows of. that's my view of the MM7's. not perfect, just the least imperfect i've heard with my ears.....

they make great music and make me smile constantly. i'm having fun.

mikelavigne

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Hello Lawrence,

a little shit-stirring is ok with me. i'm happy for my friend Albert and hope/wish all the best to him that the big Focals scratch his itch fully. maybe others see Albert and I competeing, that's not my perspective. i can see the entertainment value for some of viewing it that way.

OTOH certainly that issue is part of the picture for all of us to one degree or another. that's life and part of every hobby.

many times price does not really tell the story when comparing gear. in this case you have your facts not quite right as far as i know about the relative price or our 2 speaker systems.

i'm right where i want to be system wise. and loving it.

mikelavigne

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hi Paulo,

yes, i am very much enjoying the system these days. really, really amazing to listen to.

i do not own the EA MMMicro One's, nor have i had them in my system. i have spent a good deal of time with them at shows with similar supporting electronics as mine. so i do have a pretty good idea of what they do. and my brother-in-law does own a pair and loves them.

as far as how they might compare with the Harbeth M30's i could only make an educated guess as i've never compared them together. i like the Harbeth 'sound' as it's very listenable and musical. the EA MM Micro One's would have greater detail and dynamic energy, and be a more refined and nuanced speaker. the Harbeth will give you the musical flow and a nice smooth presentation, but you will miss the details and air, and snap. the Harbeth's sins are of ommision, which with speakers is the best kind of sin.

the Harbeth M30 does exceed it's price range in terms of musical enjoyment. the EA MM Micro One's destroy their price range performance.

as far as purchasing them considering you are in Italy, likely the best way would be to order them from the EA dealer in Switzerland, which is Herve Delatraz, maker of darTZeel. as far as listening to them first, or testing them, i'm not sure what to tell you. maybe Herve would know of a set near where you live.

i can tell you that lots of people have purchased them without hearing them (such as my brother-in-law) and loved them.

i do know that there are already many, many sets of EA MM Micro One's in Europe.

mikelavigne

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System edited: deleted Ampex ATR-102 and Ampex 350-2 RTR decks. both are sold.

mikelavigne

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Lew,

the garage door (to the right of the people doors) in the barn was formerly for access to the sawdust storage for the horses. when I converted the barn to my audio room and the upstairs/hayloft to my rec room I converted it to use the space for the sawdust for storage of my garden tools, snow blower, and pressure washer. it's big enough for a Harley should I ever decide to go that way.

the double man doors (with windows in them) both open to allow for oversized items you mentioned to be easily admitted to my entry hallway.

as for the performance of the MC Anna; it's in a class by itself in my experience. although I've heard most cartridges out there, there are many I've not lived with.

but commenting on how the Anna compares to those I've had that you listed, i'll start with the A90. the Anna has that naturalness, neutrality and lack of colorations of the A90, but adds more body and a richer harmonic texture. so it's more real yet adds no tonal shift veiling. the Anna has greater detail and is able to resolve musically significant nuance at another level or two beyond the A90. the Anna has this sense of energy which continues to astound me. and this effortless energy gives the Anna an ease which I love. and the depth and articulation in the bass is on another level.

as far as the Colibri, which I owned 7 of.....as wonderful as the Colibri's could potentially be, the Anna even exceeds the speed and delicacy which had been unique attributes of the Colibri.

overall; the music leaps from the grooves with the Anna. it serves the music and my system wonderfully. I've never listened to vinyl as much or enjoyed it as thoroughly as my time with the Anna.

I'm sorry my abilities to describe what my ears hear is not better.

I need to point out that it is hard to separate what the Anna is doing and what my Durand Telos tone arm is doing. so consider my comments in that context.

mikelavigne

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hi Hakan,

thank you for the kind comments.

it's hard to generalize about interconnect lengths, since there are so many variables with gear output and input gain and impedence, environmental issues, cable geometry, ambient noise levels etc. etc. that said; i do think that interconnect length is more critical for sources to preamp than from preamp to amp, especially when the preamp and amp are of the same brand.

using balanced interconnects potentially can eliminate any degradation with longer lengths as that is their reason for exisiting. again; this depends on the particular preamp and amplifier. if the preamp is designed to properly deal with longer lengths then it should be good.

for a number of years (1997-2001) i used Transparent Reference XL 26 foot interconnects to connect my Mark Levinson preamps and amplifiers. worked great.

i have listened for differences between interconnect lengths but that was years ago. that was when lengths became noticable to me for sources. shorter was better. with preamp to amp the effect was much less noticable. obviously; phono cables are quite sensitive to length with such tiny signals.

so the short answer to your question is assuming your preamp and amp are properly designed for balanced cables any reasonable length should not be a problem. not to say shorter might not be slightly better, you'd have to listen to be sure. my guess is that the sonic benefit of removing your gear from between your speakers would exceed any cost of the length.

as an aside; i use a darTZeel preamp and darTZeel amps. the darTZeel use a propriatary 50 ohm BNC interface that perfectly matches impedence and eliminates any effect of length up to .5 kilometer. i have compared lengths with this interface and it works as it is designed to.

so this issue is important.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Pradeep and Lloyd,

while i enjoy a wee bit of Single Malt from time to time, i'm a relative newbie (6-7 years) with that particular affliction. i do have one very interesting 30 year old Macphail's Collection Speyside on hand at the moment (which some recent visitors went gaga over), but Lagavulin is so far my favorite.

not sure i want to develope a taste for more expensive single malts. cheaper to buy a sailboat i think. oh, the sacrifices one must make to enjoy this hobby!

mikelavigne

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Mike, have you ever tried the Furutech DeMag device? The claims are pretty high and it costs a bit less than $3K, I think. I wonder if one can rank the importance of these various accessories for our analog enjoyment. I guess a great RCM should also be on the list. I presume the more resolving a system, the more the improvement is noticed.

i own the Acoustic Revive RL-30 Mk III LP-CD Demagnatizer; which i've not used much for a couple of years. it looks pretty and it's expensive too, although i'm not sure it's still a current product. it does work on Lps. if you were in my room we could A/B an Lp and you would hear how it brings a vividness and improves clarity and dynamic contrasts. i need to dive back into using it more and see how it's effect has changed at my current level of performance. thanks for the push.

i wholeheartedly agree that with vinyl, having the tools to hear the optimal performance is definitly worth it. an RCM that you are comfortable using is at the top of the list of those tools.

if i was ranking vinyl system tools to optimize playback performance myself, it would look something like this.

1-either have high level set-up skills, or know someone who does who is local. proper set-up trumps everything 'except' having the best software. great set-up moves your system up a couple of levels.
2-set-up tools such as a reliable VTF gauge, proper template for arm mounting, and protractor. secondarily; either own have or have access to alignment software, micro cameras, or a Fosgometer (for azimuth adjustment).
3-RCM
4-brushes and various items (magic eraser, etc.) to keep your records clean as you play them.
5-demagnatizers and flatteners.
6-Lagavulin Single Malt or adult beverage of your choice.

i'm just leaving work tonight as i type this, by the time i get home i'm sure i'll think of something i missed.

mikelavigne

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hi Ilia,

i respect your perspective on the price of the record weight; i can only say that it does things in the context of my system which do justify it to my ears. like the difference between two cartridges that are $3500 difference in price. and of course, sometimes the less expensive cartridge sounds better (although mostly the more expensive one is better sounding).

enjoy the music!

mikelavigne

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Miguel,

the NVS is made by Wave Kinetics, and they have designed their own isolation platform for the NVS. which works great, btw. i compared it directly to the air suspension on the Rockport Sirius III, and i was and am impressed by it. obviously both tt's are complete systems but i never had any sense that the NVS was wanting in terms of proper 'footing'. not that any product can't be improved.

i do agree that you can tune a system to sound a particular way by using various types of wood footers. it's one way to go. although i think that wood used as footers does tend to end up 'coloring' the sound in one way or another. which can be good or bad depending. i like more neutral approaches my self.

i prefer my 'wood' to be used in different places (arm wands, speaker cabinets, record weights). i do think that gear cabinets can benefit from being made of wood, like your Tripoint system.

i'm not 'married' to any particular material ultimately; it's about the result. but at this particular point in time, i do enjoy what wood does in specific uses.

mikelavigne

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Pradeep,

the Wavac SH-833's are wonderful. with 150 watts you would think that it can get the job done with the Rockport's. the Avior's at 89.5db 4 ohm, should do fine with them.

i look forward to the feedback about it from Tech when he visits.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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hi Peter,

i was using an Xtremephono mat (a 2 part mat; carbon fibre upper and foam lower) prior to the Durand Record Weight. i prefer the weight without the mat. i do not use the washer, although i admit to not trying it with the weight for the reason you state.

i'm not in a position to know whether the wood varies in performance based on the grain since i've not done that type of comparison myself. since i know that Joel treats the wood i would expect that the sonic performance of the wood is consistent where ever he might use it. i know he has done Finite Element analysis of wood for his tonearms and that he has gone to great lengths to know about the properties of the wood he uses.

mikelavigne

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hi Ilia,

the Durand Record Weight is $3500.

very nice system, btw.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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James,

i prefer the weight without the mat.

however; i prefer the mat to the NVS clamp and washer, and i prefer the clamp to 'nude'.

mikelavigne

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Hi Miguel,

i agree about the wood. for whatever reason when wood is effectively used in audio gear good sounds seem to happen.

maybe such as your Tripoint gear which uses lots of wood.:)

and yes, the Telos will be a nice step forward when you can do it.

mikelavigne

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i would characterize and quantify the change caused by the Durand Record Weight as a small (not tiny) effect with large consequences. when you are already at high resolution something that makes peaks more natural, or focuses vocals better, or defines bass notes better, or simply gives you more a sense of musical flow, has lots of value even though it is subtle in degree of change.

Durand Record Weight

picture 1

picture 2

picture 3

mikelavigne

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over the last year Joel Durand has brought over prototypes of a record weight he has been working on a few times, trying various designs and various materials. as i understanded it; his intentions were to make sure that this record weight would 'subtract nothing' from the performance and 'to guarantee that the record is in the best contact with the platter'.

i think he has succeeded in his efforts to build a record weight that only helped. and yesterday he delivered my new Durand Record Weight.

up till now i have had three choices for playing records on my NVS turntable; nude, with the NVS clamp and spacer, and with an Extremephono mat. all three approaches are good, but of the three i have preferred the Extremephono mat, which is 2 part.....a carbon fibre upper and foam pad lower. and i have been quite happy with the mat. it was the most lively and focused of the three approaches.

i own one other tt weight (Thorens Stabilizer--really sucks!) and have tried many over the years and never have liked any of them. 'nude' has always sounded best to my ears...until now.

the Durand Record Weight adds focus, energy and naturalness. i love the textural detail, the added snap and leading edge definition, while adding naturalness and never sounding brighter or edgy. it adds body and harmonic richness to all the tiny details, fleshing them out. i think it does this by removing resonance from the record. Joel left yesterday at 4pm and i continued to listen until 1am, then was listening again this morning. i love it when every record is newly better in a good way.

i can only comment on how it works with my Durand Telos tonearm with the Ortofon Anna cartridge on my NVS turntable; i've not tried it on other set-ups.

mikelavigne

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Pradeep,

yes; Teck is a frequent visitor and friend....and he has assisted me in tweaking the new MM7 speakers. he mentioned that you will not be able to resist the Telos. i think he is right. :)

maybe sometime you could visit us up here in the Northwest.

the CJ GAT sounds like a wonderful preamp; congrats. recently i did have the CJ LP140M monoblocks in my room for a few months.....but i don't see any current product CJ 150 watt monoblocks. i know CJ does have it's own synergy between amps and pre's.

mikelavigne

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hello Pradeep,

thanks for the kind comments.

the Talea 2 tonearm you are enjoying is amazing in it's own right, and really digs so much musical nuance and listening pleasure from the grooves. then the Telos takes you to another place beyond. when you do it you will not regret the decision, but you are already in a very very good place.

as far as the Audio Desk compared to the Loricraft PRC4 Dlx; i strongly recommend both if one can afford and have room for both. the Audio Desk does a great job for everyday cleaning and is ridiculously easy to use. one button, come back in 5-8 minutes and the Lp is clean and dry. the PRC4 Dlx is perfect for the use of multi-step chemical treatments and intense scrubbing for specific problem discs. but it takes lots of time, and takes you away from the music. to me the Loricraft is more the support machine for the 1%-2%-5% of discs that need extordinary attention.

this is not to say that the PRC4 Dlx gets a record cleaner than the Audio Desk becuase i've not had that experience. it's simply that the PRC4 does allow for more agressive approaches. with the Audio Desk you can extend the cleaning/scrubbing cycle from a couple of minutes to 6-7 minutes buy pressing the button multiple times. i've done as many as 7 'beeps' to extend the cleaning time. or you can run the record thru multiple times.

the Audio Deck is much more complimentary to assisting the enjoyment of our wonderful hobby. even though early examples of the Audio Desk had issues, that is no longer the case. if i had to choose one; it's not close.....it would be the Audio Desk in a runaway.

bottom line; i've not used the Loricraft in almost 3 months.....i use the Audio Desk almost every day.

btw; congrats on the Rockport Avior speakers, i heard them at the Newport show (i think that was the model) last year and really enjoyed them. and Andy's products are always so beautifully built.

mikelavigne

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just got the May/June issue of Absolute Sound, which has a Jonathan Valin review of the Ortofon MC Anna cartridge.

it seems he thought it did not suck.

enjoyable read; and the MC Anna was set-up by Andre Jennings, a recent (last summer) visitor to my room.

mikelavigne

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hi Marc (Spiritofmusic),

thanks for the info on the Entreq/Tellis earthing system. no doubt that it has the potential to bring sonic benefits depending on the system, and it certainly is more reasonably priced than the full blown Tripoint system.

i must admit to no longer being 'hungry' to agressively pursue performance increases. my system is simply sounding so good that i'm only putting effort into finding and enjoying new music these days. not that my system can't get better, only that whether it does or not is just not that important to me. it's 'good enough'. i'm satisfied.

which does not mean i'm not open to someone doing the work to expose me to new things. and if i hear something that pushes things further who knows, i might go for it. i'm not smug that things are perfect, i'm just happy with what i have.

right now the only thing i have on my agenda is a visit from the speaker designer to do a final set-up on the speakers, as my speakers and amps are now quite a ways down the break-in road.

i'm not in any way questioning your feelings about the Entreq/Tellis earthing system, i'm happy for you that it improves performance in your system.

mikelavigne

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Geoff,

thanks for the catch. i'm not the best I.E. navigator. when i went to post that, mother Audiogon 'said' i had to log back in, so i cut and pasted my post. somehow when i did that it switched links.

here is the correct one (i hope);

Jeffrey Jackson designed the huge time-aligned horn system while Ming Su was on hand as importer of the Goto Unit compression drivers used by Jeffrey.

mikelavigne

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hi Chris,

nice to hear from you.

i'm doing great. my new speakers and new amps have mostly broken in and i have dialed them in to a degree, my vinyl set-up is 'out of this world' good, i'm enjoying lots of dsd and hirez PCM files from my server and dac, and things are really sounding wonderful.

and yes; i have heard the big Goto Horns. back in 2008 at VSAC (Vacuum Tube State of the Art Conference) in Vancouver, Washington State. scroll down a little on this link.

Jeffrey Jackson designed the huge time-aligned horn system while Ming Su was on hand as importer of the Goto Unit compression drivers used by Jeffrey

i was impressed by what i heard in many ways; it was very dynamic and lively. it was 5 years ago now so other than 'i liked it' i can't remember the details of that expereince. i don't recall that it was enough to cause me to want to go that way.....but i did enjoy it.

mikelavigne

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System edited: added picture and a listing for the second Durand Telos tonearm (replacing the Durand Talea 2) and added a picture for the Sapphire cartridge plate for my original Telos.

mikelavigne

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Madness, well lock me up in Mike's room and throw away the key!

i call that a 'fine madness'.....where the world only exists in the music in the room. you get lost in it.

unfortunately....typically then the phone vibrates.

yes Honey??? trust me, after 40 years of marriage i have my prioties correct.

:-)

mikelavigne

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hi Peter,

it was a pleasure to meet David last week, we had a fun session. great music and a very fun and knowledgable guy to spend time with. too bad you were not here too.....maybe another time. i hope so. i was also disappointed that my Telos was not in-house that night so David could hear it as i think my vinyl gets most into the soul of the music and the real heart of my system. we were stuck with only mono vinyl, hirez digital, and that crummy 15ips 1/4" tape. we muddled through anyway.

best regards and enjoy the music!

mikelavigne

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You must have gone MAD to have such a systems.

i suppose one man's "bliss" is another man's "gone MAD". i'm just trying to have fun, enjoy the music, and not take myself too seriously.

cheers.

mikelavigne

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last Saturday Joel Durand brought over my second Telos tonearm for my Miyajima Labs Premium Be mono cartridge and installed it. it replaced my Durand Talea II which i sold.

2 Telos's

a month or so previously i had purchased a Sapphire cartridge plate for my original Telos where i have my stereo cartridge, the Ortofon MC Anna.

the standard cartridge plate is metal, not sure exactly what metal. the cartridge is attached to the plate and then one screw attaches it to the tonearm. so the cartridge arm interface is this plate.

it turns out that (at least with the Telos) Sapphire sounds better than metal, the sound is cleaner, more detail, more ease, there is more snap to transients, more solidity to the soundstage, more bass slam and articulation. when you think about it this cartridge plate has a similar function to the bearing in that it's a link in the chain. and it's the link which is closest to the cartridge. and Sapphire is what the bearing is made out of. likely Sapphire has less resonance than metal (i'm making a SWAG here.....i don't really know about such things).

i did not purchase the Sapphire cartridge plate for the mono Telos yet.

i am very very happy with my tonearms.

mikelavigne

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hi Norm,

sorry for the delay in my response.

i enjoyed meeting you and Bev. thank you for your very nice comments. i have to agree with you about what we heard on Saturday, my reference has been changed too. i guess it was not just me.

i hope that next time you are down in the area we can get together again.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Dario,

sorry for the delay in my response, but i was traveling all day Sunday and then been in continual meetings. finally this afternoon i have some time to catch up on things.

it was a pleasure to meet you and i humbly thank you for the kind words about the system. i respect that you have heard many systems over the years so your comments are all the more appreciated. i'm glad you enjoyed the listening.

it was a fun session on Saturday and i could not agree more with you about the Telos. it is really sounding quite beyond my ability to find words to describe.....better for someone to hear it rather than me attempt a description.

hopefully you can visit again when we both have more time.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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It even sounds good, too. When are you coming to visit?

Jacob,

i'd love to visit your room. next time i travel near you i'll see if we can work out something. not sure when that might be.

and your visit to my room was so long ago it was to my 'other' room, so you need to come out here sometime too.

mikelavigne

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David,

thank you for the kind words.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Steve,

glad you and your family enjoyed the video.

thanks for nudging me toward getting it done. my next video efforts should hopefully be better. i got a smaller, lighter lens and a chest stabilizer mount which ought to allow me to eliminate much of the shake.

i was happy with the sonic results from this practice run. some of the sonic magic does manage to come thru.

fine tuning a system does take time and an open mind, but it's those little things which seem to provide that last little bit which captures the magic. you can have all the elements of the music but bringing it all together is more challenging.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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Jacob,

the Audio Desk sure makes playing clean Lps much more enjoyable. more music, less hassle.

i'm happy it's working out for you.

btw; the pics of your room are quite magnificent. congrats!

mikelavigne

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Hey Joe,

nice to hear from you. glad you like the video.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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King,

i can't say about the tonal shift of the 'Super' compared to the 'Premuim'. since i'm only using it on the amps inside my active subwoofer towers it's only a guess whether it's adding 'bloom' relative to other custom fuses. i don't percieve a tonal shift in the system, and don't view where i was as lean or dry in any way, but who knows. i'm not planning on any 'fuse shootout' to find out.

i do plan on trying these fuses in my preamp, digital, and tape repro when i get around to ordering them. we'll see where that takes me. maybe when i do that i'll also order the HiFi Tuning Supremes so i can A/B them. thanks for your thoughts on this.

mikelavigne

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Jacob,

changing the water in the Audio Desk does vary based on how much i'm using it. i'll change it once a month with normal 5-10 times use a week.

otherwise; i clean it every time i empty the drawer of liners. the drawer holds about 60-65 liners. i always replace the liner when i clean the Lp. this makes it easy for me to keep track. the drawer is under the table-top the Audio Desk sits on.

i also keep a container of distilled water underneath the table for adding when the light flashes for low water. i like to have minimal water levels. i also use minimal amounts of the detergent, typically just a cap full....which minimizes foaming.

when i do empty the Audio Desk i take it back to the sink and make sure i shake to unit somewhat as the last third of water is draining out to suspend any particulate in the water so it will come out with the water....i also tip it over so the corner of the drain hole is the lowest point agin to make sure the maximum water and sludge come out. then i'll refill about a third and shake and empty again.

every third time i change the water i will fill it completely and cycle it a couple of times and then drain it again.

i do remove the foam pad and rinse it very thoroughly under the tap water until it is good and clean. then i pour distilled water thru it and try to squeeze as much out as possible. same with the roller pads occasionally.

in 5 years i've changed the foam pad once and the roller pads once. i'm not sure that i needed to change the foam pad or the roller pads even that once.

mikelavigne

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Highenderr,

i've had others recommend the Tripoint grounding products similar to you, in that i've covered pretty much all the other bases. i've not heard them myself but with all the positive comments about them i'm sure they must do something good. i'm just not really too motivated to pursue something like that myself. OTOH; if someone wants to send me some Tripoint gear to try in my system i'm open to that.

i'm all for Angels standing up after all. :)

thanks for the recommedation......

mikelavigne

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Andrew,

thanks. it is beautiful where i live. i never tire of it.

mikelavigne

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hi David,

thanks. before i built my listening room inside it was a working barn with horses and everything. upstairs was a hayloft.

the two boxes to the left of the Studer A820's are the King Cello tape repro (upper box) and power supply (lower box). you may notice that each headblock on the Studers have a switch and a line the goes back behind the deck. the King Cello is custom output electronics for the Studers to bypass the 70's solid state internal electronics. it upgrades the performance of the Studers quite a bit. so far the best sounding tape decks i've heard.

the King Cello is also a very good phono stage too, with the flip of one switch. if i ever want to have a tt over on that side of the room i already have my phono stage for it.

cheers!

mikelavigne

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hello Highenderr,

i am honored that you have been a member of Audiogon since 2002, yet this is your first post and it's saying such nice things about my system. i really appreciate the comments.

and i could not agree with you more that is a great deal of work and energy to put together a serious system.

congrats that your system is amazing!

enjoy!

mikelavigne

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thanks Gary,

i look forward to visit for sure.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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I liked the sound of the iPhone ringing in the video ;-)
that was my wife calling. :)

when i showed her the video i apologized to her for not answering. she was understanding. i always tell her it's her system too. she just rolls here eyes and shakes her head. :)

mikelavigne

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hi Ray,

thanks.

there is a reason that that Rickie Lee cover is framed and in a conspicuous place. it is a fav of mine too.

i never get tired of that one.

mikelavigne

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John,

thanks.

and if you want the music, here you go . that's the Late Beethoven Quartets.

i would likely recommend this one more , since it's the complete set and not just the late ones. i have both the complete set and a separate box of the early and late too. and a couple of single pressings.

you cannot go wrong with Quartetto Italiano. i also have their complete Mozart box set.

try to get the Dutch pressings, the Italian pressings are to be avoided i'm told.

enjoy!

mikelavigne

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Mike,

thanks.

glad you enjoyed the music. i love String Quartets and play them often. my system makes them sound real. so much nuance and tone, and it touches something in my soul, and makes me happy and contented.

and like you, i know nothing about classical music other than what sounds good.

mikelavigne

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King,

thanks for the kind comments. i'm considering getting a faster focusing 'prime' lens for my D600 for the video that is also lighter than my Nikon 24-70 f2.8 so i can keep it steadier too.

btw; i noticed you also like the Audio Magic fuses. a question; the one's i'm using are the 'Super' which retail for $100; were the one's you spoke of on that thread the 'Premium' or the 'Super'?

thanks,

mikelavigne

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Jason,

thanks. i assume you saw my response above with an email to contact me when you are ready to visit.

looking forward to meeting you.

mikelavigne

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Lloyd,

thanks, and sharp eye.....the 12 year old Macallan was there with a few friends to keep me warm thru the long winter nights.

cheers!

mikelavigne

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hi Ish,

thanks for the kind comments.

it was great connecting with you this weekend and it's great to have you and your wonderful system and energy back active in the hobby. i look forward to you getting things reposted.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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i'm trying to make a video for my room, and am learning how to use my Nikon D600 to do 1080p.

here is a first try attempt

pretty rough but at least i'm going down the road.

mikelavigne

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2 weeks ago i listened to a local friend's system for the first time in 2-3 months. he has Evolution Acoustics MM3's like what i had. his system was sounding mighty fine, particularly the bass articulation, tunefullness and overall clarity was a few steps beyond my previous visit, and i asked what he had done. he said he had moved the speakers a bit and also he had installed some new 'super' fuses. i asked him what percentage each change contributed to the improvement and he thought more than half was due to the fuses.

he has an active bass amp in each speaker and needed 2 fuses. i have 2 active bass amps in each bass tower so i needed 4.

http://www.audio-magic.com/Prod-NanoFuse.html

$100 each. they are made to order. get the spec for your exact fuses and a few days later they get shipped.

i know you will be very suprised to hear that i proceeded to order 4 of these bad boys for my own self 10 days ago. i got them today, installed them about an hour ago.

they do not cure cancer, or attract super models either than i can tell.....although the night is young. however; when you have basically done all the other stuff you can do, and you find a bit more of the good stuff for not crazy money, then you just enjoy and don't complain.

no i'm not going to do any BS test sequence, i can hear that there is more and that is good enough for me. the bass is tighter, more precision. more dynamic snap and slam..........alot more. holy guacamole!

as i just typed that i was listening to one of my bass tests, James Taylor's 'Gaia' in streaming dsd from 'Hourglass'. around the 4 minute mark there is a run of drums from right to left far back in the soundstage. very distinct. i've used this for years. it just got 'much much' better in every way. next cut was the beginning of MJ'S 'Billie Jean' in streaming dsd from 'Thriller'......just about knocked me out of my chair. whoa. the impact is simply beyond my previous experience.

there is also more focus and sense of total coherence from top to bottom. a subtle but easy to hear step forward. i can tell the part of my friends system that came from the fuse change.

i'm still always surprised how improving deep bass improves everything. but it's always how it works even though it does not seem logical.

will they do the same for every system? i have no idea. are there better fuses? maybe.

YMMV.....

added note; my amps use a very expensive thermal coupler, so no fuses, my preamp is battery powered, so no fuses. i do have custom fuse in my Playback Designs but i cannot remember the brand. i'll likely try another one of these in the PD at some point.

mikelavigne

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Mike,

the Dyna XV-1s would certainly be a good choice. i owned one of those for a year. the great thing about vinyl is that every step brings you more.

the amps do not get very warm; of course in my system with a 96db, 6 ohm load along with powered subwoofers, the 458's don't have to work very hard. you are right; my room is large and has considerable air volume, and i have HVAC dedicated for the room. also; i live in the mountains and so it is relatively cool most of the time.

the small dart 108 got noticably warmer.

mikelavigne

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hi Jason,

yes; those woofers 'woof' pretty good. :)

you would be most welcome to come and listen to them. send me an email and we can figure out a good time.

[email protected]

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Lee,

thanks for the kind words....although i am glad i live where i live. i do like the bay area as a nice place to visit, but too many people. :)

Napa or Monterey.....i would love that if i could afford it.

Seattle seems 'just right' for me.

i use to own WP6's and really enjoyed them (i assume you still have them). i had them with Mark Levinson #33 mono blocks and they rocked.

if you do ever visit the Seattle area you would be most welcome to stop by for a listen.

mikelavigne

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Mike,

one of the cool expereinces in our hobby are moments like you describe, when something familiar and maybe music we have an emotional connection to becomes 'more' than we recall. and yes; i have gone thru that many times. the 'surprise' of this is also many times a confirmation to us that a change we made has taken us further. our efforts have been rewarded. this music is now 'new' to our ears again. fresh.

when i make a change in my system; it could be major like new speakers or amps; or minor like maybe some adjustment, or maybe a tweak......if the change is positive and relatively easy to hear i typically will play 20-30 of my test cuts to really get the measure of this change. next i may just listen to a few days or weeks of more familiar music....and some of that music becomes new to me again based on how significant the change is. sometimes i'll stay up almost all night becuase i just cannot stop listening to the music i love become more alive.

so yes.....i can relate completely to your experience.

we all live for those moments when we get 'surprised' to a degree. enjoy your moments!!!

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i'm not sure anyone wants my perspective on high priced gear. 'easy for me to say' would be the reaction.

i don't see a problem at the top end of the hifi marketplace....or supercar marketplace.....or sailboat marketplace. it's up to the person to decide whether their needs are served by the product. i'm not a 'rich guy' who can spend money without effect on my lifestyle. spending money has consequences for me that i choose to live with.

as far as expensive for expensive sake without real value; likely there are products where the price was put high to get attention and maybe don't deliver like other products with lofty prices do. but i don't worry about it too much. everyone has different viewpoints.

i am excited about how much performance you can get for little money. i think today you can spend under $20k total and have a rock'n system. really good. if you were to combine the Evolution Acoustics Micro One's with the new Playback Designs IMS (Integrated Music System) which is a SOTA dac, preamp, and 2 channel amplifer. add a music server and power and speaker cables and you have a SOTA system for far less than $20k.

i think all the fixation on higher and higher prices is miss guided. i see this pursuit of higher performance as a blessing and it will pull technology and performance to higher levels for everyone.

stop all the whining about high prices please. i'm not aiming this comment at you Marc, but just in general. it's envy pure and simple.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

assuming i had your correct email address from a few years ago, i did send you Danny's email address from his on-line website.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

Danny seemed to like the MM7's but i certainly don't want to speak for him. i'm trying to remember exactly when he visited and how many hours i had on them then. as i recall i had just recieved the new dart 458 amps and i had a few hundred hours on the MM7's. he had also visited last spring before i sold my MM3's.

go ahead and email him and ask him about what he thought about the MM7's compared to the Zu.

mikelavigne

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hi Jeff,

Pass-Avantgard is pretty high level stuff as far as i'm concerned.

Danny visited me a couple of months ago; he is a very fun guy. we had a great listening session....and we listened to mostly vinyl.

if you ever are in the neighborhood please stop by.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Jeff,

long time no talk. nice to hear from you. your system is looking very fine; btw.

i'm loving my vinyl more than ever these days. it sounds heavenly. the NVS-Telos-Anna makes great music.

but as suprising as this might seem, i'm also enjoying my digital more than ever. in the last few weeks i've done two things that have caused me to listen to more digital. (1) i did a software upgrade to my Playback Designs MPS-5 which did elevate the performance. it was not a night and day improvement; but from it's already lofty performance it did get a nice boost in vividness, dynamics, and refinement. it's a little better. just more life like. draws me more to the music. and that is with every format from redbook to 2xdsd. (2) my son redid my server into 2 parts; the main PC with the mother board, and he combined all my hard drives into one box and reinstalled all my files. i now have almost 5 terabytes of files (redbook, PCM of all sampling rates, lots of dsd, and a good amount of 2xdsd) and the access times are quicker and my interface works better.

so the digital sounds a little better, and is easier to use. in the last 10 days i've almost been exclusively digital, and i've read 4 books while listening. it's sounds so good and is so easy. i been loving it. mostly i've been listening to dsd files, but lots of formats too.

this is not any slap at my vinyl. only that my system is serving my lifestyle as it should. i'll go thru another period where i'll be almost exclusively vinyl, or tape, for an extended time.

i think part of it was that i had a few books loaded on my Kindle that i had been meaning to read; and finally i had some down time after the holidays, the digital was all ready to go, sounding super, and i just went with the flow.

i have not had many visitors lately either. when that happens, the vinyl gets all the attention as it should. it sounds better and takes me farther into the music. but it demands more of me; more attention and involvement.

it's all good.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

sorry i forgot to respond to your earlier post with the same question.

as far as these 'ultra grounding' devices such as the Tripoint or the Entreq, my mind is open. my ears tell me that my noise floor is super low and logic tells me that i have grounding handleled. OTOH i would not be surprised if those type products did yield positive results in my system. there are really not many other ways i could do much more, i've covered most of the other bases i think.

so i'm not dismissing the idea of 'ultra gounding'; only that i'm not in that mode of pushing anymore. i have no motivation to go out and seek one of these products to try as i'm happy. if someone wants to allow me to demo one i would be open to it. and if it does clearly move the performance up i would likely find a way to get it.

i'm just listening and enjoying and not really thinking about the system and what more it might do.

mikelavigne

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Mike' everyone' your new cartridge plate(gem stone) making your cartridge have a different sound or a lowering of distortion is interesting... I have been testing these crossroads myself.... including the cartridge screws materials... boy can cartridge screws make a HUGE difference...so I would say experiment with them also .... this is a cheaper road that can give you very nice/different results...

Lawrence
Fidelity Forward

thanks.

i have not played around with cartridge screws but i know Joel has and that he thinks they matter.

no surprise; as your vinyl playback reaches high levels of resolution each little link in the chain matters more.

mikelavigne

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hi Steve,

i have not forgot about the video, i will do my best to get that done sometime soon.

i went to the website link you provided. beautiful stuff and i'll bet it sounds wonderful. then i looked at your system page and your new tt.....congrats....i'll bet it sounds great. welcome to analog!

the Durand tonearms are very special....i'm not surprised a person such as George Thomsen would appreciate what Joel Durand has done.

Do you feel your at the stage where you feel your analogue front end can go no further or are you testing different options?

that is a loaded question which can be viewed a few ways. will i go further? is it possible to go further? am i satisfied?

the short answer is 'i don't know exactly'.....although i suspect that i'm very close to my personal final spot for vinyl performance.

as far as turntables; i consider the NVS among a small handful of the best ones regardless of price that have no particular rank. and if you used any of this group with the same arm, cartridge and set-up you would be hard pressed to hear any difference. there would be differences but debatable whether one would be clearly better than another. it would be splitting hairs. i don't have any thought to wanting a better turntable....i'm fully satisfied.

as far as tonearms; i see more differences between those aspiring to be the very top level i'm familiar with, and i do consider the Durand Telos to be better than any other one's i know about. i admit i've not heard all of them myself. however; i've had the privilidge to be around Joel Durand's tonearm development process these last few years. i've heard how different materials and design approaches have sounded. i don't see anyone who is taking such as ground up approach and being so inquisitive on the possibities without limit. i see how various parts of other tonearms are built, recall the lessons learned watching Joel, and realize how far those other designs need to go.

6 weeks ago Joel brought over a prototype cartridge plate to compare to the (already unobtainuim) metal one. this new one is made of Sapphire. consider what sort of motivation a designer might need to have to even think of making a Sapphire cartridge plate. unfortunately it did sound significantly (in the context of the Telos performance) better. it cleaned up nasties in the sound and made everything more coherent. so i had to buy it (approx $5k).

am i satisfied with the Durand Telos tonearm and think i should go no further? yes....but if Joel brings me another 'bombshell' like the Sapphire cartridge plate i'll likely bite.

i am very happy with my Ortofon MC Anna cartridge. but there are likely 5 or 10 other excellent cartridges. i am satisfied and have no feelings to pursue better.

i am very happy with my darTZeel phono stage and have no urge in that either.

and overall my vinyl can look my Studer A820-King Cello in the eye on most head to head comparisons.

so i'd say i'm done for the most part....with the exception i noted. that is not to say that further advances in vinyl performance are done.....and that is good news for all of us.

mikelavigne

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in the center on the wall between my speakers i have a triple stack of RPG Skylines. the Skylines are a very agressive precise diffuser for short distance first reflections and are ideal for enhancing the coherence of my center image. when i installed them i got much better images like focusing a camera lens. i did experiment with side by side and taller, but found that for my room 3 stacked was best.

behind and to the sides of the speakers (also in the ceiling wells) are Auralex T-Fusors. the T-Fusor is an inexpenive ($59 each) mild diffuser that primarily reduces slap echo without also changing the tonality. they attach with velcro tape to my hardwood walls and cleaned up the 'slappy' echo, busyness, and image smearing. i would not use the T-Fusors in first reflection spots. they are for large spaces just to scatter reflections more randomly. they can be filled if you need to dampen the high frequecies.

mikelavigne

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thanks Lawrence.

Equi-tech has GFI modules for every circuit inside my Equi=tech panel.

what my commercial electrician told me (rightly or wrongly) is that if i did not have liguid inside my room i did not need the GFI's. that they are mainly for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages and anywhere you have mixed uses with liguid.

i cannot say about the insurance issue and will defer to your perspective.

mikelavigne

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Tpaxadpom,

here is what i posted about 18 months ago regarding your question;
my most recent humbling experience regarding distortion is with duplex outlets.

when i built my room 7 years ago i used Jena Labs cryo'd outlets. i'd used them in my previous room and liked them. then 5 years ago a friend told me about the Oyaide R-1 outlets. i tried 5 of them in my room; i still kept 5 of the Jena Labs outlets next to the new R-1's. the R-1's were much better in every way. lower noise, increased vividness, better leading edge precision, more body. i had a number of local friends visit to hear the A/B with the Jena's. easy improvement. i replaced the other 5 with the R-1's....and have enjoyed them for the last 5 years.

a few weeks back i was speaking to this same friend about a Lp disk flattner since my new NVS tt does not have vaccuum hold down. i asked him if he had any other items that had rocked his world lately, and he reluctantly mentioned the Furutech GPX-D Rhodeium duplex outlets. he said it reluctantly since he sold me the R-1's 5 years prior. he said the GPX-D outlets were 100% copper contacts, that the R-1's used an alloy and did grip well, but the pure copper sounded better. the GPZ-D outlets solved the pure copper grip problem with a stainless steel band behind the pure copper to allow a proper grip on the plug. also; on the GPX-D everything was grounded and it was a solid as a rock. he said he was replacing his R-1's with the GPX-D's as he could afford to.

this person has high cred to me so i figured why not?

so 2 Sunday's ago he came over and installed 10 of them. btw; after he removed the first R-1 he demonstrated the build difference by dropping both outlets on my countertop; the R-1 had a kind of a hollow prang when it hit, the GPX-D a solid 'thud'.

after installation, at first it seemed like they were better but the sound was closed in and the life was missing. then i went around the back of my speakers and turned the tweeters up from -1.8 to -1. the (previously un-noticed) distortion (brightness) of the R-1's had caused me to need to reduce my tweeter output 1.8 notches below 'flat'. now i only needed 1 notch below flat to get the life with the GPX-D's.

my bass was now more linear, with increased dynamic snap and slam. more ambient information. there was a more natural flow and energy. but the biggest benefit was the precision of everything. every recording was now more solid. little things which i thought had been part of the music were now gone and only music remained. this was a big step. the music was more involving and compelling.

my power grid and system noise floor is amazingly low between the Equi=tech, power cords, and all the reasonance control. i cannot say how much difference these duplex outlets would make in every system. but on the path to musical reproduction truth these $240 each outlets really earned their keep.

and until i heard the absense of distortion from the R-1's i would never have thought it was there.

i am very happy with the Furutech GTX-D Rhodium outlets.

mikelavigne

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yesterday playing vinyl for some visitors i did have a new 'high peak watt output' of 258 watts on the 458's. i played the RTI pressed ZZ Top 'Tres Hombres' cut of 'LaGrange' at warp factor 9.

sonically there was no drama.....no strain....and no bleeding ears. just big smiles. very physical bass felt in your body but in service to the music. earlier i had played a great blues tape and that was more mellow but similar in the 'felt' aspect of the bass.....but only hit about 60 peak watts as it was lower in frequency so more the sub tower than the 458's.

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

thank you for the kind words. but stop that with the depreciation of your own excellent system. i know you have put much effort into building it and you should be proud of it. i'm sure it makes great music and puts a smile on your face.

as far as MM3 compared to MM7; the diffference is more than just bass response.

there is a family resembelance to the sound in the overall beauty, coherence, and naturalness. the MM3's are balanced and tonally right and magical in the lack of 'hifi'ish' peaks and edge. the MM3's have that full bottom end with great articulation, dynamics and extension. the MM3's are balanced thru the mid-bass and sound like music.

the MM7's start with all those same things but take them all to another level or three. the actual differences with the MM7 start with a completely different crossover. from my perspective this is the heart of the difference between the 2 speakers. then you add 4 extra 11" ceramic matrix woofers per side, which allows the mid-range to cover much less frequency. all those woofers need very little excursion in the very important mid bass region. the combination of the crossover and woofers results in a 'unheard of to my ears' magical mid-bass linearity and dynamics. it is simply so refined and effortless in this frequency range. it does not draw attention to itself. but when you are listening the music simply flows and energizes. so much detail, so real. no matter what you throw at it you get music only. the mid range has more clarity, the mid-bass is cleaner and more energetic. you have 96db, 6 ohm efficiency which allows the amp to be more linear. so when you compare this region to the already top notch MM3 you have really gone to a wonderful place. you have to recalibrate your ears and musical memory to a new place of what is possible (from a pretty good place it was prior).

as far as the bass towers and what they bring over the MM3's....it is similar to the crossover and extra 4 woofers. first, the MM3 the 2 powered subwoofers per side covered up to 100hz, even in some rooms up to 120hz. whereas in the MM7's you have 4 powered subwoofers per side only covering up to 30hz-40hz. right now mine are set at come up to around 32-33hz. and the main towers decend down to around 20hz (-6db). the result of all this ability to move air in a linear way is a linearity which must be heard, and an effortlessness that, again, does not draw attention to itself. the bass just happens. no drama. whatever you throw at it gets to your ears. and it is so seamless. right. compared to the MM3's the MM7's take things to another level. a level your reference did not know existed. with the MM3's i was 100% satisfied with the bass performance. now i see another level.

i can play anything with great bass dynamics or extension and quickly your ears are not glued to that 'bass event'. instead, you come back to the musical direction since you adapt to the fact that there is no question you are hearing what happened. the bass fireworks become what they ought to be, music. when i have visitors i will play a few moments of a bass torture test. a track that might have challenged other speaker systems to some degree. we quickly move on back to music since there is no drama to wondering whether it can do it. the bass performance serves the music without limit. the MM3's were capable and great, the MM7's rule both in linearity and in dynamics.

one very interesting thing about the the bass towers and the linearity of the bass; when i added the bass towers to the main towers the mid-range and high frequencies got much better. a very significant change. linear bass along with very deep extension simply completes the musical picture in a way that startled me. how could that subwoofer tower make the high better? i suppose it's the overtones and balance which accounts for it.

i know i can play any type of music and the MM7's will express it properly. the recording will be portrayed. so my focus is on the music as an experience. the MM3's gave me that feeling, the MM7's give me quite a bit more of it and do that on a level i have not otherwise experienced.

overall there is simply such a lack of a sense of a speaker or system, just music. i got that with the MM3's, but much more with the MM7's.

am i done with tweaking the speakers? no. and three times recently helpful friends have assited me in getting a little closer to the ideal set-up. and in a month or so the designer is suppose to visit and do a final tweaking of the set-up.

mikelavigne

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hi Teck,

sorry for the late response, busy week.

it was great seeing you and Chun, and again thank you for the support and guidance finding more truth from the system. i'll keep working on it. i am enjoying the music.

i do hope Pradeep can visit.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Marc,

sorry for the delay in my response, it has been a busy week.

i'm happy for you that you feel you are at a good place and direction in system development....and that it's coming together for you with all the details. it does require considerable effort and commitment to cover all the bases. then just when you think you are there you discover another layer of the onion to peel back and go deeper.

it's nice to hear you are stepping back and just enjoying.

i do think my major 'peeling days' are over. i'm down to tweaking what i have.....and expect that to take quite some time.

i'm in no hurry.

mikelavigne

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hi Steve,

i'll consider your idea. although i'm skeptical that the sonic refinment of the room and system can be captured that way to a high enough degree to demonstrate anything helpful. but i've never done anything like that and rarely even watch Youtube myself, so maybe i'm not giving it it's due.

on the other hand; my Son did capture some 4K video off of Youtube we played on my Sony 4K projector.....which had promise.

my friend who did the 2 Youtube videos of my room might be here this weekend. maybe we can do it then. and i did just get a Nikon D600 which potentially can do reasonably high quality 1080P video but i'm not really set up for any quality sound recording with it.

i appreciate the interest in the room.

mikelavigne

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David,

interesting you bring up the Avalon Ascents. When i first met Winston Ma (prominent NW local audiophile and high end audio icon), he had Avalon Ascents in his wonderful room and it sounded great. later he switched to a few other speakers but ended up with the big Avalon Sentinels. i have not heard it for 4-5 years now, but i preferred those Ascent's to any of his other speakers including the Sentinals. so i can understand what you liked about them.

i would not know that they 'aren't any good anymore'.....they were pretty special sounding to my ears in Winston's room.....over 10 years ago.

enjoy the music!

mikelavigne

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David; good morning (or good afternoon in Florida) to you!

down at the bottom of the hill from my home, about 5-7 minutes away, is a jazz club where there is live (mostly acoustic) music every night. 2-3 times a month i go to dinner there and listen for awhile, then come home and listen in my room. however great sounding i may think my system might be, it will never get 100% of the whole picture of live music. period. for certain aspects of the sound it does not really get close.

OTOH i many times prefer my system's sound to the sound of live music, it simply sounds better to my ears. i have no agenda to get anyone to agree with me....but that is my perspective. i do think my system, with the right recording, can sound 'like live' but don't claim it is the same.

so don't worry; i will never claim to have captured the complete picture of live music in my room. as far as orchestral; i don't listen to enough live orchestral music to really put forth an intellegent claim as to how close my system comes. i do particularly enjoy full scale orchestral music on my system now, and likley 50-60% of my listening is to large scale classical. it is so powerful sounding, and the system can capture macrodynamics very effortlessly.

i do have 30+ 15ips 1/4" classical master dubs which are very very good, but so are my thousands of classical Lps and digital recordings. the enjoyment of this music is a big part of the hobby to me, and how my system can now make these sound alive is one of the huge payoffs of all my system development.

as far as stopping in my pursuit of ultimate music reproduction; i would not use the word 'stop', to me it's more that i'm where i want to be. and it's now time for me to concentrate on my retirement and not commit any more assets to the hobby.

i cannot predict the future. if i were to hear something that took things further who knows what i might do. but i have no thoughts to any future system changes. i do look forward to focusing more on new music acquisitions, which i've been pulled away from recently by system changes and budget limitations.

enjoy the music on your wonderful system. don't worry about what others say. best wishes for a Happy Holidays and properous New Year!

mikelavigne

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Greg,

thanks. my system and my own knowledge has grown from lots of feedback (not all of it initially accepted by me positively) over the years, it's an important part of the hobby. i appreciate the support and encouragement from many too. i try not to take critique or negativity personally and remember this is suppose to be about music and fun and a hobby and not life and death.

i'm enjoying the music more, and thinking about my system less, than i ever have. last night i particularly enjoyed my wife, son, daughter and son-in-law listening with me. it was fantastic. they love jazz and blues and we just rocked the night away. it was the best.

and i totally agree with what you are saying, spending time putting energy into negativity is a complete waste.

cheers!

mikelavigne

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Bill,

thankyou and all the best Holidays to you and your family.

happy listening!

mikelavigne

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Marc,

my wife is 'hopeing' i'm nearing the end of my system development. i think i'm there. reality? for that we need a crystal ball. stay tuned.

one thing for sure is that the higher the resolution of the system the more small things matter. it is hard when what you are hearing is already beyond previous references to keep pushing for better. when does one stop? not sure i have the answer right now; but ask me in a year or so.

i am very happy with my choice of high end audio and music as my hobby to invest my 'funny money' in as it compliments my carreer and life stlye. i can enjoy it daily and i'm at home doing it. it brings me pleasure, makes me feel good, my wife and family are comfortable with it.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

mikelavigne

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Geoff,

it was a really fun listening session, and thanks for all the kind words about the system. glad you enjoyed it.

it had the same effect on me of having gone to a live musical event and feeling satisfied and feeling good. that is the way we'd all like it to be. (not saying that it sounds just like live).

i had not really had much chance to listen since the laser adjustments on Monday night as that went till 10pm and then Tuesday night i trimed our Christmas Tree. so i was experiencing the full effect too of the changes along with you and everything was in really in sync.

i look forward to our next session down the road.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

thanks. good setup is good. great setup is better. congrats on your setup with Jim Smith.

since i wrote that post above i've done more listening and the degree of improvement is more profound than i had originally thought. i was not surprised that the laser adjustments made a difference, it was the degree of difference moving the main towers approx 1 inch, and simply aligning the bass towers made.

i must admit when my friend came over with his laser devices i just wanted to listen, which is all i'm doing these days. my friend insisted on taking the time to do the laser adjustments, so i deferred to him and we did it. and now the system is even better and i want to listen even more. i pretty screwed up right now in a good way.....you are right....all i want to do is listen.

btw; i had responded to your friend David's AudiogoN message to me about the proposed visit, but had not heard back from him. i just looked and saw that my response had been filtered by the moderators because i had included my email address....even though his communications had nothing to do with a sale. i did resend my response and then left David a voice message. you guys are most welcome to visit at the time he mentioned and i hope it happens. it would be lots of fun.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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tonight my friend Andrew came over and laser aligned both towers of my MM7's. earlier he had done a quick alignment of the main towers only. i had simply set the bass towers outside the main towers when the bass towers arrived since i did not want to lose the alignment we had done on the main towers. however this left the bass towers behind the main towers by an inch or so.....since both towers are designed to be aligned on the same radius if you want complete integration at wave launch.

we started off establishing a center line and set up a line on paper attached to a tripod behind my sitting position along with a spot on the carpet below for measuring distance. next we measured the distance between the listening spot and the right bass tower and the center line and bass tower.....and then aligned that bass tower straight at the listening spot....and measured again. next we moved the right main tower to the same distance from the listening spot, and aligned it, then measured again. then we measured from the main tower to the center line. right side mostly done.

next we moved the left bass tower into the same distance both from the listening spot and the center line then aligned it. next we moved the left main tower the same distance from the listening spot and center line and aligned it.

all four towers were now equal distance from the listening spot and aligned to it; and each bass tower was the exact same distance from the center line and so were both main towers.

lastly we first leveled the right main tower with a laser tool, then placed tape on each wall with a mark; then leveled and adjusted the height of the left main tower so the laser rotation hit all the same marks exactly.

now both main towers were level and the exact same height. we did not mess with leveling the bass towers.

first a note that the speakers are still set to flat and no effort has been made for any sort of adjsutments. Kevin Malmgren is planning on coming late January to early March sometime to do final tweaking. by that time i should have approx 1000 hours on the speakers and amps.

results from laser alignment and laser leveling;

--more cohesive sound. not only bass but everything all up a down the frequency range. tighter bass, more connected to images in a real life way. more flow to the music, more energy and life. overall more focus and separation in the soundstage. vocals take on a greater front to back sense of a real person. each instrument seems more complete.

mostly not huge differences, but in some places quite profound. the presentation is a slight bit less 'big' and overall more real. more ease and less sense of being processed. amazing connection to the musical event.

i wonder with other 2 tower set-ups or separate subwoofer set-ups how much this issue has an effect. especially where the bass towers are behind the main towers. how can it not be significant?

mikelavigne

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You have a beautiful system. May I ask who you had design it and who your dealer is? Do you really think SACD is better than 44.1? What do you use as "reference"? In other words how do you judge your systems accuracy to the original recording?

thanks for the kind comments. the room was originally designed by Chris Huston of Rivers Audio. that was in 2004. in 2010 i made some changes; removing bass trapping in the front corners, closing up some of the ceiling bass trapping, and installing THX 458 Quietrock panels to solidify the bass.

yes; SACD is better than 44.1. but it's not that simple since not all SACD's are equal. some are 44.1 sourced. and not all digital players do top level SACD playback.

i use my 15ips 1/4" and 1/2" reel to reel tape as my reference thru my Studer and have for 5-6 years.

Just wondering how wide a soundstage you get with those big woofers right next to the MR arrays.

i get a huge, very wide soundstage.....limitless really....sometimes around almost behind me if it's on the recording. the bass towers are on the same plane with the main towers, so it does not seem to affect negatively the soundstage width that i can perceive.

I really admire your approach. When your choosing your cables,sources, amps speakers etc. how do you know which ones have as little of their own sound as possible? I means let's say your listening to 3 different amps. How do you know the one that has the least sound of its own? You really have an amazing system!

good question. here is the most objective way i've found to determine whether a system is colored. it has 3 parts. (1) how different does every recording sound? the more different things sound, the less 'color' or sameness you are hearing. (2) how do i feel when i listen? does the music relax me, does it cause me to get involved? does it get my attention? do i want to keep listening? (3) i do have 30-40 reference tracks i've used for 10+ years which tell me where i'm at. between these 3 things over some time i am confident to make good decisions. sometimes there are large differences between products. other times little or no difference. the fact that you never know what you will find gives me confidence in my approach.

as far as whether a system sounds real; 'real' is what our ears are use to. reproduced music aspires to sound real. each of us humans are trained to recognize reality. i trust my ears to tell me how real it sounds.

mikelavigne

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hey Jake,

great to hear from you. the monoblocks are awesome, really no other way to put it. they do things that are so nuanced and subtle even when the music is ultradynamic.....so easily. absolutely natural and harmonically complex. the mid range is tube like and everything is so vivid and life like. my own holodeck.

i love the Reed tonearms, and thought they (2 '2P's) were subperb on my Beat. i've not personally used a 12" Reed in my system, so i cannot compare it specifically to the Durand Talea 1 or 2. my opinion is that the Talea is a significant step up in life and detail over the Reed's to my ears. i had the Reed 2P mounted on the Beat along side the Talea 2 both with A90's for 9 months so i have a pretty fair idea of how they compare. understand we are taking degrees of good here.....nothing wrong with the Reed's in their own right.

the Durand Telos is a whole different league beyond the Talea 2 (and everything else too for that matter).

just my 2 cents, YMMV, and all that stuff.

email me your phone number and i'm happy to get into more detail about it.

as far as digital i'm so happy with the Playback Designs MPS-5 for not only digital discs but i'm mostly using the MPS-5 as a server dac and listening to dsd over USB. even though i have 4000 CD's and SACD's it's rare to play a disc.

i compare the digital to my vinyl and tape every day and never feel it's anything but natural and easy to listen to. nothing clinical or whitewashed about it. it's cut from the same cloth as the analog but not to the goodness level of those. i'm very happy.

in the interests of full disclosure i've gone away from paying attention to other digital dacs and players. i'm just happy. dsd and 2xdsd as well as all the PCM formats sound superb.

at shows when i walk around and listen to other digital i'm always relieved to listen to the Playback's again after other digital. but honestly i don't really pay much attention to other digital. likely there are other good ones too.

best regards and Happy Holidays to you,

mikelavigne

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Defride,

thanks for the kind comments.

funny you should mention 'just one more tune'. since i've had these amps and speakers most/all of my other 'free-time' activities have mostly ceased and i just want to listen. it's hard to stop listening to do anything else. i have not watched football (American style that is) lately at all. i'm just loving it.

'just one more tune' sums it up nicely.

btw, nice Kharma-EMM system you have there. bet it makes great music.

mikelavigne

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hi Marc,

there is always a way to ground electronic gear assuming it's chassis is grounded; however you may need to consult with the manufacturer.

as far as the 'dark arts' of magical tweaks my mind is open, but not so much my checkbook. i'll try some easy to use tweaks that are not expensive. i'm not going to get into particular one's; but i have used some slightly crazy one's and had percieved positive effects. however; not enough to tout them. i have no interest in any blind testing of them so let's say they are 'guilty pleasures' which are at least for entertainment value.

my experience is that there are many counter-intuative things that make positive differences and if you are not open minded and open-eard then how can you learn? yet, a fool and his money are soon parted. so common sense and humility are what i try to use.

for something like the Troy at it's stratospheric price, it will be listen first and then spend.....for sure. not a casual investment.

i agree with you that an 8kva Isolation Transformer would be a benefit. just make sure that there is no excess mechanical noise from it (hum) and that it does not limit dynamics. not all isolation transformers are created equal. i don't know the Westwick, it could be wonderful.

mikelavigne

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if someone wants to drag some Tripoint Troy grounding gear over here i'm game. i'm not interested in their power conditioners, but am open to the grounding approach.

truth be told i'd considered it myself based on what i've read, but the budget is quite blown for awhile and Miguel is pretty proud of them. the top of line boxes and cables are astonishingly expensive for their intended use. not to say that they may not be worth it in a system liike mine where all other bases are very covered.

mikelavigne

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thanks Metralla.

yes; here is a couple of pictures of the Equi=tech outside my room.

Equi=tech 10 WQ Wall Panel System

Equi=tech outside my room

the Equi=tech provides whole system power isolation and regeneration. it lowers noise, increases dynamics and improves the power supply linearity of all electronics in your system. this power grid is completely separate from my 'dirty' panel for my barn which runs lights, HVAC and other 'non-audio' needs.

stand alone power conditioning boxes are like toys in comparison. i respect that stand alone power conditioners can improve things in systems, and not everyone can logistically install a whole system isolation transformer. but many times stand alone power conditioners can end up being trade-offs reducing dynamics while lowering noise particularly on amplifiers since they can't store enough energy. i have no particular experience with the PS Audio so i cannot say how it works exactly. the other thing is that if you have multiple stand alone power conditioners (and some are very expensive) it might not be that much more to install an Equi=tech and be at an 'end point' and forget about those separate boxes forever. an Equi-tech wall panel system, depending on which one you get, will run you $10k-$15k installed all in. when you do it every piece of gear you own gets an upgrade. it is a very cost effective way to get a whole system improvement. you just need a qualified commercial electrician.

i also have 10 gauge Romex home runs to Furutech GTX-D Rhodium duplex outlets, with Oyaide WPC-Z outlet covers, for every component. for power cords i use 2 Evolution Acoustics (TRPC) triple run power cords for my dart 458 mono blocks, and 10 Absolute Fidelity (by Genesis Technology loudspeakers) power cords for all my other gear.

i take power grid management very seriously and the very best sounding systems i have heard use the Equi=tech.

mikelavigne

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hi Dan,

thanks for the kind words.

it has been awhile, 6 years or so since you visited. yes; i did order those VR11's but they never did build them for me (long story over an adult beverage of your choice some time). loved owning those VR9SE's for sure. and actually i had a pair of dart stereo 108 amps with the VR9's.

if you can stand leaving your beautiful Whidbey Island, it's time to visit me again. i think you might like it.

mikelavigne

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Lloyd and Mark,

thanks. i do agree completely on the art aspect of both the MM7's and the particularly the dart 458's.

the MM7's, for such massive products, are so organic that it's hard to tell their size just looking at pictures. and from the side and rear they are so delicate looking. fit and finish are top notch. i've visited the designer Kevin Malmgren's place a few times; and he has some of his various art works (in various media) on display on his walls. the look of the MM7's is not an accident.

as for the darTZeel NHB-458's, i'm still awe struck every time i come into the room. i get a kick out of just walking up to them and switching them from standby to full on, or the reverse. the silky feel of the chassis and switch is so cool. a visual feast to be sure.

i feel so lucky to be able to live with these products. i will never take them for granted.

mikelavigne

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Wow, is your room getting smaller or is the equipment getting bigger? Thanks for sharing.

you are welcome.

good point about the impression of size of the room from the pictures. those twin towers are monsters. each 7 feet tall and 600-700 pounds each massive. i thought about standing next to them in one of the pictures to give a sense of scale....but i don't want to be in any pictures.

the room is 21 feet wide and 11 feet high. wider and taller than most rooms. but MM7's make the room seem snug, they even make the amps look small. however in-room, the room looks big and the amps look big and bold.

the one picture looking toward the rear of the room gives a better perspective on the size.

mikelavigne

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Chris,

thanks. the dart 458 side panels are etched tempered glass. the top panel of my dart stereo NHB-108 is also glass. the glass is used aesthetically to expose the beauty of the inner circuits. i've seen not only inside the top but i've seen underneath on the bottom of the dart amps. every surface of dart products are as perfectly finished as the outside.

the other reason glass is used is to minimize any circuit noise by allowing stuff to easily get out thru the glass. another point about darTZeel amps is that they are sealed; so no dust can get in.

the amps don't get hot to the touch, just warm. so plexiglass would be fine although it would not look as good as high quality tempered glass.

mikelavigne

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Sam, Bigpond, Knghifi, and Agear.....thank you for the kind words.

mikelavigne

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System edited: added new system pictures. added MM7 speakers's and NHB- 458 monoblocks's. deleted MM3's, dart NHB-108 amp, Found Music 2A3 amps, Nagra T RTR deck.

mikelavigne

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Mark,

the new amps and speakers rock! thanks.

i've had that RR Bruckner 9th CD for 10 years and like it. i returned late last night from a quick business trip and will be sure to enjoy that disc this weekend. that would be a great one for the HRx process or even a Tape Project title i think. an Lp would be good if they kept it analog.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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Glory,

i would be very skeptical that 20 watts would do it in the MMicro 1's. it would likely depend on the size of your room. sometimes 'tube' watts can surprise you thou.

i'd think more like 50 'tube' watts would get up and boggie pretty good. at RMAF i did hear the Absolare 845 SET monoblocks briefly on the MMicro 1's and that seemed to work well....about 50 watts. of course, the Absolare was $40k+ retail and ought to sound good.

mikelavigne

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Metralla,

with the 108, when i turn on the preamp and play a source thru it before i turn on the amp i can hear music faintly thru the speakers.

maybe this is not unusual, but i've not been aware of other amps that work like that. and maybe there is a problem with it. i'm no circuit designer.

that's what a low parts count and minimal protection will get you. it's no accident that the dart's sound so natural and less mechanical than other ss amps.

with the 458 i've not yet tried exactly that.

mikelavigne

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David,

yes; the MM7's (and MM3's) are adjustable both in the bass and the tweeter.

i share your enjoyment of Copeland and Podger's recordings.

as far as Reference Recordings i have many of them and play them frequently. i have all the HRx 176/24 recordings on my server, and i think three of the Tape Project 15ips 1/4" master dubs are from RR. i have likely 15-20 RR lps, including all the recent pressings. i am disappointed that Keith Johnson will not allow the new RR Lp's to be mastered from the analog tapes. they are 176/24 sourced. i likely have 80% of the RR CD's. great recordings and mostly great music.

i do not stream music from the internet at this point, but i'm open to trying it. i just have so much of my own stuff here i have not got around to thinking about it too much.

mikelavigne

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Shawn,

thanks. and no, i don't charge admission....however my wife thinks i should. :)

btw, i had forgot to comment on your Nephew, Victor, you mentioned a few months back. i do not recall ever meeting him. the dealership group he worked for in the Seattle area was part of our group prior to 1991, when our's split away. we did have close ties with that group after that but we were not the same company. i've worked for this same dealership for 32 years.

you comment on the BMW is interesting; last year i considered getting a Porsche Turbo or other exotic car but figured since i drive a demo every day when could i enjoy it unless i went to the track. so i backed off that particular dream and focused on my system. no regrets. i can go warp factor 9 in my system any time i want.

we all have choices to make to find passion and have fun.

i do hope next time you get to this area that we can connect.

mikelavigne

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David,

just to clarify your point on the 'one of them blew smoke' issue that Fremer had; darTZeel amps have minimum parts count in the signal path. they avoid redundant protection in search of ultimate purity.

the method for switching cables i use on my stereo dart 108 is to turn it off while the music is playing. i listen for the music signal to drop very low before i will switch any speaker cables or interconnects. this insures that the amp has discharged. it also shows just how unimpeded the signal is that even turned off the music continues for almost 5 minutes. if i forget to do this i just need to replace a fuse. not a big deal....and easy to do.

with the big 458 mono blocks this is a more critical issue. the capacitors hold 750 joules of energy at startup. which along with the simple signal path is what gives the 458's such breathtaking energy. OTOH all that energy must be respected. on the 458's there is no on/off switch. you plug it in and it's in stand-by, then you switch it on. so when you want to switch interconnects or speaker cables you simply switch it to stand-by and pull the plug firmly out in one motion. and wait 2 minutes. that is it. not complicated.

i've lived with dart amps for almost 6 years. this is not a big deal to live with to get this close to the music.

what did Fremer do to cause a problem? he is a reviewer and does not have the same sort of awareness or concern or fear of loss that normal gear owners might have. he is always switching stuff. he knows if he breaks something it's not his problem. it's someone else's problem. so the odds are he just did what he always does, forgot about the coaching and instructions, and something went poof.

just for the record, whatever problem he had he still spent his own money to buy those amps.

mikelavigne

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David,

you need to simply forget about Fremer's review. put it out of your mind. this is suppose to be fun and so filter out the crap that messes with your head.

if you like the ML #53's in your system that is all that matters. we all like to have stud reviewers like our choices, but that's not always going to happen for many reasons.

i bought my dart 458 amps many months before Fremer's review based on my personal listening to these amps in my room. i did not ask anyone their opinion about it....since it did not matter to me.

and it should not matter to you either.

so enjoy, my friend. :)

and for sure play some nice music and relax.

mikelavigne

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hi Paulo,

a recently frequent poster to my thread, Whart, is moving from the Northeast to Austin Texas in the near future and there has been some back and forth between him and i about Austin related to his move. so Austin has come up frequently; particularly when he had a trip planned to go to Austin and he stayed home instead to watch over things during the big storm Sandy.

so i can see how you might connect me to Austin.

the 458's build on the refinement of the 108 and then go to a whole new level of nuance and realism. not just a clear window to the music, no window with direct connection.

i've contemplated simply avoiding trying to describe the sound and just allowing visitors to my room to relate what they hear. i'm not sure people want to hear how i really feel about what i'm hearing.

it only seems to be limited by what a microphone can record and the media and mastering process can then communicate.

mikelavigne

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Mike, thanks.

looking forward to a visit soon from you.

unfortunately; when i had these amps almost 3 years ago, that was when i was doing the work on the room (removing the front bass traps) so things were not ideal.

now it is ideal. and as good as the MM3's were, this is much more.

mikelavigne

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David,

happy for you about the MM3's.

and yes, the industrial design and level of finish on the mono blocks is unmatched in my experience. in person they are almost intimidating with their projection of perfection. i have to pinch myself to make sure it's not a dream.

and then there is how they sound.

all i'll say for now is that last night they started out brand new cold at a place where they were the best amps i ever heard after 5 minutes. and all thru the night they kept getting better and better. i finlly shut it down at 1:45 am very reluctantly. i'm pretty tired today but the smile from last night is still on my face.

yes, lots of cables. and lots of exactly the right cables for the jobs they are doing.

mikelavigne

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thanks Metralla.

no more extra power cords, sorry. i was lucky to get that 2nd one under my wife's radar as it was.

and right now my box of tricks is empty from selling everything i could to help pay for my new toys.

mikelavigne

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thanks Bigpond, for the nice comments.

mikelavigne

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rear of 458

rear of 458 with cables

Evolution Acoustics Triple Run speaker cables.

Evolution Acoustics Triple Run power cords on the amps, Absolute Fidelity 'subwoofer' power cords (2 each) on the bass towers.

Evolution Acoustics 'zeel' BNC interconencts.

Shuynyata Dark Field cable elevators v2.

mikelavigne

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the darTZeel NHB-458 monoblocks arrived today. beautiful to look at, built like a swiss watch, and even brand new and just starting to break in magnificent to listen to. the energy and realism is staggering.

NHB-458 head on view

NHB-458 side angle view

mikelavigne

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hi Paulo,

Lubbock is in Texas, Seattle is (in the State of Washington) northwest of Texas 1500+ miles away on the Pacific Ocean, north of California. i live in the mountains east of Seattle.

my 100 WPC darTZeel Stereo NHB-108 has plenty of power to drive the 96db, 6 ohm efficient main towers of the MM7's. i can play music louder than i can endure and the 108 is not stressed. as i recall, the Eidolon's are more like 86db-88db, 4 ohm, so a considerably more challenging load for an amplifier.

i do have the big bad darTZeel NHB-458 monoblocks on the way to replace my 108; which hopefully should arrive in a few weeks. they are approx 450 watts into 8 ohms, and 1200 watts into 2 ohms. they should truely take control of the MM7's.

mikelavigne

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more MM7 thoughts.....

tonight is the first time i've actually pulled out music specifically related to deep bass (since the 'Earth Drums' cut the first night).....cuts known for having prodigious amounts of big fat bass.

first up were Patrica Barber's 'Light My Fire' and Holy Cole's 'Invitation to the Blues' off the server in 44/16. tunes we all know.

holy cow! it is big fat bass. but it's also very nailed down in the soundstage, has specific depth and shape, and tone and texture, a natural decay. these 2 cuts have more big full bass notes and not so much explosive bass. there are a number of quite different bass things going on too, it's so easy to hear everything.

and it's so physical!

then there is the air and ambience everything rides on. lots of other things going on in the mix at the same time and everything simply happens with no drama.....except for the music that is, which drips with drama and involvement on both tracks as the vocals are clear and expressive and nicely separated. and no reason to worry about riding the volume control on these cuts so it doesn't go into distortion. the only concern is SPL's being painfull.

everything is just so effortless and easy, the extreme dynamic capability being in service to the musical message. absolute bass performance corrupts absolutely.....or something like that. and i expect that the mono blocks will only add a greater mid-bass dynamics to this when they get added.....although i don't sense anything missing.

mikelavigne

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Paulo,

thanks.

i will hope your USA tour happens and that my room is one stop.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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Bill,

thanks....i saw the post where you referenced my phrase, thanks for that.

i've seen plenty of those photos of the misery from the devistation.....very sad. hope things get back to close to normal asap.

mikelavigne

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David,

i owned the Watt Puppy 3/2's back in the day (and the 5.1's and 6.0's too)....so i get your point....there are many more high performance speakers today than there once was. and the best is better than back then...maybe lots better.

many of us today are definitely 'living large' with great music reproduction performance in our homes.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

thanks.

lack of sleep is the only negative, and i'm serious about that. it's very difficult to leave the room at night. and in the morning i'm drawn back. i am on vacation this week so hopefully i'll find some balance on that issue.....or not.

i'm not complaining mind you, this is what i've wanted.

i've had the complete 2 tower set-up since Tuesday night. the main towers were laser dialed in 2 weeks ago and have not been moved. the tweeter adjustment on those is set at flat (which is all the way full). all the bass adjustments on the bass towers are set to flat, 40hz on the crossover. the bass towers are just 'eyeball'd' into position. i've done zero adjustments of any kind, i've just listened.

i had considered the main towers to be perfectly coherent by themselves; but adding the bass towers had actually improved the coherency and seamlessness....which was surprising. i've listened to all kinds of music, from large orchestral, to organ, to string quartets, to blues, jazz, big band, rock, and lots of vocals. almost all is familiar to me and i've not heard one note out of place. i think part of this is the woofers cover the mid-bass so perfectly without issue, and that is the toughest frequencies to get clear and linear.

it's almost like great bass acts like 'glue' holding everything in place and adding body and completness to everything.....while balancing things out.

i spoke to Kevin Malmgren (the designer) about this as i really could not believe what i was hearing. he said in some ways he was not surprised, that he had a hunch that set to 'flat' it might just be right for my room.

i do expect that when Jonathan visits later this week and takes a look on the RTA that there will be some issues for him to deal with. and then later when Kevin comes that some improvements are made. that is simply logical.....how could a speaker with such capabilities be 'prefect' without any adjustments?

later today a few golden ears will be here for a listening session; maybe they will be able to avoid my 'expectation bias' and percieve some issues.

there is no doubt that tape has gone to a whole new level now, really silly good. but so has vinyl. i've not had any chance or inclination to do comparitive listening to answer your question at this point on whether vinyl still competes directly. ask me in a couple more weeks.

mikelavigne

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it's RTR tape night with the big rig.

so far 4 different tapes. 2 Jazz, 1 latin salsa, and TP-003, Arnold Overtures....both reels. just finished reel 2.

Wow!

as good as it sounded with the MM3's, i was not prepared for what i just heard on the MM7's. those huge rolling cresendo's are like a real freight train coming thru my room. you know it's going off the tracks, it's got to be a train wreck. and then it simply happens just like it should and it's no big deal. i laughed my evil laugh....holy guacamole!

just so many wonderful things about this tape.

we can debate the music. but not the sound, it's really quite an amazing recording.

one of the jazz recordings had 2 piano's and was very high energy......very good recording. Jay MacShane, Milt Bruckner, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, and Arnett Cobb. the MM7's do piano like no other i have heard.

right now i need to select another tape and keep listening.....

mikelavigne

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hi Bill,

i trust you are coping ok with the aftermath of Sandy with minimal intrusion on you and your family.

yes, the MM7's do make the music so relaxed and effortless. easier for the ears and less interpretation by the brain.

my only real problem is i'm not getting much sleep.

and then there will be the mono blocks and another layer of the onion will peel back.

take care,

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

thanks. and to answer your question; no, set flat the bass towers have proper room to breathe.....i get no sense of overload or doubling at any SPL my ears can handle. although i respect that at some point the speakers likely can keep going and the room might overload. here is a something i posted last night on another forum that speaks to that question;

i've been avoiding audiophile 'sounds' demo discs. however, i just played one of the true torture tests of bass impact, extension, and tonality and overall energy. 'paramita', He Xun Tain, CD. track 7, Earth Drums. it's a 7 minute endurance test for a system and one's ears and comfort. i've heard it on many systems. i did not use an SPL meter, but likely in the 100-110 db range (maybe higher on peaks) i would guess with walloping deep impactful bass with a high energy pace.

like a warm knife thru butter. child's play. the MM7's simply smirked and did not even breathe hard. total coherence, not a trace of hardness or compression. sledge-hammer impact, but perfectly controlled, both the leading edge, impact, and release. the nuance and micro-dynamics of each note was natural and complete. nice decay and ambience. totally effortless.

even the dart stereo 108 was not even stressed at all only having a 96db, 6 ohm load to deal with. the only limitation was my tolerance for pain. unfortunately us humans cannot endure what might test this beast.

my room does have a large volume at 29' x 21' x 11'. and even though i did remove the large front corner bass traps, my whole drop ceiling is still a bass trap which has huge internal volume, and i still have 4 built in bass traps along the rear wall that are floor to ceiling height. so it's designed for full-tilt boggie type bass. the other thing is bass volume is one thing, lots of big speakers and subwoofers can do volume; however; clean very low distortion bass is another thing altogether. and with so little cone excursion needed from the woofer drivers and subwoofer drivers the bass is very linear and clean.

mikelavigne

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hi Geoff,

thanks for the kind words.

it will be interesting to see how the MM7 spell affects my friends this weekend.

stay tuned.

mikelavigne

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Thanks Sam.

and yes, the dart 458's are still on the way. i think within a week i'll 'know' when they will be here.

mikelavigne

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hello Adam,

i truely appreciate all the nice things you have written, thank you. you do know the history of my system. happy to have provided some entertainment for you and your friends over the years. as you know, great sound does not need to be over-the-top expensive, it's more a state-of-mind and result of a good plan and good thinking. trust me; my expensive system has certainly sounded like crap from time to time. so i respect that a modest appearing system can sound great. hopefully you influenced your friends to pursue fine audio too.

i look forward to continuing to share my MM7 and 'almost here' dart 458 experiences. i'll post some better MM7 pictures soon.

again thanks for your thoughful post.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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thanks Gary.

mikelavigne

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Thanks Albert, i appreciate the kind words.

i'm really enjoying it.

mikelavigne

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Paulo,

even though you live far away, that does not mean you cannot visit. if you ever are in the area you would be most welcome.

the twin towers are worth a bit of effort to hear. :)

mikelavigne

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i considered being politically correct and not allow myself to get too over the top after one night. but that would simply be blowing smoke.

i've heard a number of state of the art speakers in my time.....and quite esoteric systems. i've been to my share of shows and high end stores. i've never heard anything like this before. and as good as the main towers were, you cannot even compare the main towers to the full 2 tower system. it's a whole different paradigm.

and this is with simply sitting the main towers in place, putting the tweeters at full, setting the bass towers in place and setting all the adjustments to flat and the crossover at 40hz. so far thru yesterday afternoon, the main towers have 230 hours of breakin, the bass towers started playing at 7:00pm last night. so one would think that with careful set up by the speaker designer, and hundreds more hours, and maybe even better amplification it should get better.

adding the bass towers yields dividends thru the whole frequency range, fleshing things out and adding 'ease', nuance, and tonal complexity. and think about how linear the bass is; 4 15" powered subs per channel, each in their own 150 pound sealed box, needing only the slightest excursion even at very low frequecies. and perfectly blended into the -4- 11" woofers. the complete sense of effortlessness and seamlessness is off-putting when listening to any familiar music. really breathtaking and laugh inducing. you gotta be kidding!!!

the room and speakers seem to be perfectly matched, and speak with one voice. all the work i've put into the system seems to have come together.

the music is so much less hifi, less reproduced, less processed, and more immediate, more real, more not constrained by technical limitations. the music has such a higher emotional content; not by any tonal warmth or artifact; but by simply allowing the signal to be fully rendered.

expectation bias? honeymoon syndrome? placebo effect? nope.

i guess i've left myself little room for future rationalizations. not that i think i will need it.

i think a few fully sane local friends will likely visit in the next few days/weeks....maybe they can add their more objective perspectives.

mikelavigne

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they are here!

all 4 towers

right towers

left towers

excuse my sucky phtography, i just wanted to get a few pics up.

beyond my imagination.....

mikelavigne

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Hi Mike,

hi David,

i hear that you are now an Evolution Acoustics MM3 owner. if so, congrats to you and welcome to the Evolution family. :)

I have a few questions in relation to your room since you have been there and done that.

You have made some serious changes within design.

#1 When you installed the QuietRock was this placed on the front and/or side walls only?

the problem i had to solve was threefold. (1) i had unequal room boundaries since one side was stuctural, and one side was not. the less 'firm' side was acting slightly like a diaphram and i was getting unequal bass response. (2) the room was overdamped, too much built-in bass trapping. (3) the huge fabric covered bass traps knocked down too much high frequency energy.

the Quietrock THX 545 was added onto the existing 'cocoon' of double layer sheetrock that was behind the 10' x 15' front corner bass traps i removed. then i added a layer of 3/4" finish grade ply over the Quietrock. this change established very strong and equal room boundaries on each side, elminated the bass traps, and replaced the fabric with the finish ply 'live' surface.

i also put the Quietrock and ply on the ceiling wells front and rear where i sealed the opennings to the ceiling bass trap.

then i added the Auralex T-Fusors to there new large reflective surfaces to control any slap echo.

#2 Side walls extending how far out, to the edge of your hardwood flooring at 10 ft or further.

the room shape is basically an oval, with no sharp corners. not exactly sure what you are asking....maybe restate the question.

#3 why did you install the 3/4 inch ply good one side offer top, sonic wise what was the benifits.

added mass and aesthetics. i was trying to really solidify that wall on either side of the speakers to give the room maximum leverage for the bass. the Quietrock did most of the work, the 3/4" ply just helped. i could have painted out the Quietrock.

#4 the half round diffuser in the middle at the front you had built but now are using RPG Skyline diffuser system placed on top.

i found that the half round was not precise enough in that critical spot. the half round did a good job overall in making things sound natural and even, but the Skylines really focused the center image. really simply a low diffusion approach verses a very agressive diffusion approach.

From what you have now learned would you have still built this round diffuser or just gone flat and then used these RPG diffusers?

i cannot say with confidence that i would; however, my feeling is that the half round has a positive effect on the overall sound by scatering refections and preventing any hot spots.

#5 Curious about the rest of your room build and what if you were to do another room.

i would build exactly the same room without the original front bass traps.....and simply solifiying that wall on the right side more in the initial build. the 'bones' of the room are perfect. and the designer did tell me that it's better to build in more bass trapping than i might need as it's easy to remove but building in more later is hard.

the room does space like no other room i have ever heard, and it has a great feel and energy.

#6 you are now using Auralex T-Fusor diffusers on the sides and other areas just on top of the quietrock ans 3/4" ply correct?

correct.

#7 have you placed anything inside? is so what and sonic wise what did you find the differences to be. 6 each on the front side walls, and 4 each front ceiling and rear ceiling.

correct on the count.

no; my T-Fusors are empty. if you add any stuffing then the T-Fusors will be absorbtive and it will dampen energy and change tonality.

Room designers all appear to have their own thoughts including the actual construction method build and most I have heard for 2 channel just sounded to dead, more like for home theatre.

the whole philosophy of my room is about retainig energy everywhere. use diffusion, and minimal absorbtion. it's easy to throw absorbtion at a room to control things. it takes much more thinking and effort to control reflections to retain energy.

simply observe a concert hall. diffusion everywhere. a wood floor stage. no absorbtion.

that is the model to aspire to.

Those new speakers are looking Amazing! :)

thanks. the bass towers arrive this afternoon!!!

mikelavigne

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Lawrence,

yes; i do look forward to the truths revealed by recording 'live' in my room. it will be an education i'm sure.

thanks.

mikelavigne

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Ron,

the dart 108 is really such a great amp that set the bar so high that Herve had to really pull out all the stops without limits to surpass it. the 458 is more an amp that showed what was possible.

having had both amps in my room at the same time 2 years ago for a month, there is no doubt that the 458's do things which are unique, even fantastic. but; the 108 does prove just what an outstanding amp it is when used on a speaker which is a reasonable load. so the need for an amp 'in between' is not as significant from the perspective of the performance as it might be from a marketing point of view.

as i sit here listening to the 108 on the main towers of the MM7's it is really amazing. hard to imagine a better sounding amp.

having the MM7's all set up with the 108 for a few weeks will clearly demonstrate the relative upgrade for sure when the 458's land.

mikelavigne

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for those interested, this is a picture of the crossover in each MM7 main tower.....and is where the magic happens.

it took Kevin most of three weeks to build 2 of these for my set of MM7's, and this was the third pair built.

it is first order......and sits nested in the middle section with the tweeter and mid-range drivers.

depending how you look at it; the MM7's are a 3-way plus integral powered subs, or a 4-way. the woofers run free at the bottom and the subwoofers crossover to blend.

mikelavigne

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and Bill, i'll bet in the next few days you'll be wishing you were already in Austin enjoying the sunshine and mild weather.

mikelavigne

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Bill,

the MM7 main towers are much more 'svelt' compared to the MM3's. and since they are 8 inches taller they appear to be 'thin'...although in truth they are massive and dense. so i agree that they look a bit 'lonely' by themselves. the 'brutish' Bass Towers will be even taller and wider and agree that it should look more in balance with them added to the look.

i'm a bit of a neat-nik as i manage a car dealership with 150 employees and fighting clutter is one of my main duties, it's a constant stuggle to maintain a proper environment for customers to be comfortable. so when i get home i need things in their place to be in my comfort zone and relax. so my room reflects my sense of orderlyness. combine that with having to sell everything i could possibly live without to afford my recent excesses and you can see the result.

best wishes at staying safe, dry and warm through the storm. i hope your power stays on so you can listen.

mikelavigne

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hi Jason,

i have finally recovered from my lifting last week. at least these bass tower sections are lighter (140/150 pounds each compared to 190-200 pounds each for the main tower sections) and smaller since there are 4 instead of 3.

i'll have plenty of help....and post some pics.

mikelavigne

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thanks Lawrence,

barge in anytime, by all means.

i love live music, and appreciate what live music over FM is capable of sounding like. a good friend is the music director/conductor/composer of a local Chamber Orchestra and i've sponsored performances of theirs (thru the company i manage) from time to time for 15 years, and advertise in his program. i don't get to as much live music as i would like to, but agree it's important as part of one's musical path.

my aim is maybe to record some live music in my room from time to time if i can. i have a number of RTR decks including a couple vintage Ampex's; a 350-2 and 351-2 both with tubed mic pre's. my conductor friend also has a jazz guitar band that we have talked about doing that with.

mikelavigne

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Just got word the bass towers of the MM7's will ship tomorrow and i'll have them on Tuesday. :)

mikelavigne

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hi Sarah,

great to hear from you! i hope you are enjoying your fine system(s). and i fondly remember my Marantz SA-1, it was a great sounding player.

the bass towers will be set up to the outside of the main towers. to give you an idea of how it will look, the main towers are 15 inches wide, the bass towers are 18 inches wide. there will be from 5 inches to 12 inches between them. there is 5 feet between the main towers and the wall, so there is plenty of room. here is a rendering of the MM7's in that configuration.

any time you are in the Seattle area you would be welcome to visit for a listen, i hope you dcan do it sometime.

mikelavigne

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hi David,

thanks. and i'm sure your system sounds great! it's not a contest but a pathway we are all on....each a bit different. we are all enjoying the music as we see fit, enjoy sharing that enjoyment, the talk about gear, and our experiences. hopefully we make a few friends along the way amd make our lives better.

a little competition happens, it's unavoidable....boys with their toys. but it's a sideline to the rest of it....or should be.

my 'family' (my wife and grown children) understand and respect my desire to explore the possibilities of music reproduction. they understand the joy and friendships it's brought me, and the years it's delayed my retirement. they respect that it's a balance to the obligations i've always fulfilled. i'm lucky to have such support.

my 'paradigm in my head' that i'm searching for is really nothing more complicated than wanting a music reproduction system that gets out of the way of the music to the highest degree possible, and to have plenty of music recordings in thier purest forms on hand to listen to. maybe also to have a comfortable room and setting where i can enjoy this and share it with like minded people.

this is the same vision i've had for years, and one that is not that unusual in this hobby.

we likely share this vision to some degree, and i also have a Home Theatre and multiple other media rooms in the house and barn.....including a whole house B&O system. but unlike you, when not in my 2-channel room, i don't have music playing around the house myself, although my wife does have it on in background quite often. of couse, i'm in my 2-channel room many hours a day. everyone's personal culture is a bit different.

i respect your love of the live broadcasts over the radio. and i know that live FM broadcasts can have absolutely amazing fidelity since they approach a live mic feed. unfortunately; i have a 4000 foot ridge between my home and the radio towers around Seattle (likely not a problem for you in Florida) so my mountain living does eliminate FM broadcasts.

i don't especially enjoy the logistical and physical efforts to move around and set up large speakers. but i am energized by the anticipation of what these speakers can do (as are my friends) so it does not seem like any imposition at all. i'm looking forward to the opportunity to unpack and set up the bass towers. i wish it was tonight!!!

and while things are now more complicated than my Wollensak reel to reel tape recorder i had 45 years ago in High School, i think it is worth it to me.

i'm having fun!

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Ron,

i forgot to mention that i expect to have the dart 458's in 3 to 5 weeks.

mikelavigne

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Ron,

5 months ago i ordered the darTZeel NHB-458 monoblocks.

i love the sound of my current amplifiers, the dart NHB-108 stereo, but i decided to get the monoblocks. 2 years ago i had the 458's in my room for a month and fell in love.

the new MM7 speakers are quite efficient aty 96db, 6 ohm. but there are things the monoblocks do which are unique to them. i'm excited about putting these speakers and the 458's together.

so while i'm sure that almost any amp can handle the MM7's, i'm already locked and loaded in my direction.

mikelavigne

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current listening distance 'ear to tweeter' is 116".

tweeter to tweeter currently is 110".

my ears are about 19 feet into a 29 foot long room. the room is fairly large; 21' wide, 29' long, 11' high.

this is a very temporary set-up as i only have the main towers, bass towers will arrive in the next 10 days, at which time many things might change.

mikelavigne

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i finally had some time to take some better pictures of the MM7 main towers in room;

room view 1

room view 2

room view 3

single main tower

side view

close up 1

close up 2

mikelavigne

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Paulo,

nice system! congrats.

based on your reference, i seriously considered the Vicoustic panels....so thank you.

i considered the Wavewood for my rear wall and door area which right now has no treatment. i need a product that is less than 2 and 1/2" deep since it will be mounted on my door which must open wide and the door stop allows for a depth of 2 and 1/2". the Wavewood is close enough. the other product i'm considering is the RPG Futterfree which will also work.

i also seriously considered relacing my RPG Skylines with the Vicoustic Multifusor Wood 64 since i love the look. but i decided the wood would end up being too absorbtive and change the tonality. the Skylines are refective mostly and do little absorbing; so they are neutral sounding.

anyway; i agree on the Vicoustic products as great choices and they will be ones i will continue to consider. i may end up with the Wavewood on my door area.

mikelavigne

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Fred,

the Rockport was gone by the time i got the Anna this past February. however; i did use the A90, which should behave approx the same as the Anna in terms of compliance, on the Rockport without issue.

btw; we have determined that 1.97 grams seems about right for the Anna.

mikelavigne

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David,

the 'celebratory' bottle of scotch is 'The MacPhail's' Collection 'Speyside Single Malt' 30 year old from Glenroths Distillery.

i agree that the Q7's being a single tower may work better in some rooms logistically than MM7's. however; i suspect many Q7 owners will add subs; which will then equal the floor space of the MM7's. the MM7's are much taller and heavier which could also enter into the equation for some.

plus; no doubt that amplifier choices for the MM7's are much wider compared to the Q7. and that is ignoring any performance perspectives, only logisitics.

enjoy your new flat screen. i always get my son to come over and do installs and set-ups on stuff. i can do it but it takes me forever to do what he can do in minutes. i guess he got his brains from his mom.

mikelavigne

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Mark,

i did charge my camera batteries prior to delivery of the main towers, thanks for the heads up. i also charged up the batteries for my power screwdrivers. :)

i do always appreciate having help with remembering things.

mikelavigne

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Mark,

thanks.

i'm holding off on the celebratory scotch until the bass towers are set up. :)

i hope you enjoyed the trip to Legacy.

mikelavigne

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Bill,

there is a latch system where an arm rotates and locks onto a latch firmly. this latch system is designed to attach one wall to another so it is designed to pull very heavy objects together and attach them firmly. the speakers come with an 18" long thick heavy allen wrench which fits thru a fitting to rotate the arm and lock it in.

the system works well. my MM3's had the exact same system and i owned them for over 5 years with zero issues.

the great thing is that each section is a completely finished unit so each driver gets exactly the environment that is ideal.

that 'blue thing' as far as i can tell is a reflection from the window. i did not see anything else that it could have been. sorry for my sucky photography. Jonathan Tinn, who sold me the MM7's, insisted i take pictures as i went along, but i did not stop and take the time to make sure they were decent. you can see the results. :)

even though i saw them in March at the designers home in San Diego, having these 84" tall speakers in room was startling. the great thing is the elegance of the look and the build quality. they look 'right' and 'organic'. i love the way they look. i expect that the bass towers, at 86" tall and wider and more massive might really hit me.

the dart monoblocks are still 3-6 weeks away. this week i might get a more definite delivery time for them.

stay tuned.

mikelavigne

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thanks Teck, can't wait to get your impressions.

mikelavigne

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Jason,

thanks. and agree that those crates are bomb proof at protecting big heavy things. the only thing is that my 61 year old body is still feeling the effects of all that work. and next week it will 8 crates (instead of 'only' 6) to unpack and then 8 sections to assemble. i wonder how long that will take to recover from. i'm sure the adrenline will kick in pretty strong.

no pain, no gain.

the last day of listening has been very rewarding for me even with the restrictions of not having the bass towers yet.

mikelavigne

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Mike,

yes, Xmas, Fathers Day, and my Birthday for many years have all come early. :)

see you soon.

mikelavigne

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the main towers arrived today about 3pm in 6 large wooden crates, which were quickly moved into my garage. i started removing the screws from the bottoms of the crates and my friend Andrew arrived to help. we lifted the tops off the crates, then moved the 6 sections one by one onto a carpet covered piano dolly and rolled them down the hill to my barn and into my room.

6 crates (2090 pounds shipped) sitting in the garage just off the truck

in the garage, they are here, time to get to work

bottom of crates unscrewed, lifted off, ready to be moved to the barn

6 sections in the listening room

then we decided to place the bottom section of each tower in place first, install the spikes and Wave Kinetics 2NS footers and then level them.....thinking this would be easier/better than attaching them all together and tilting them up.....which would make the leveling more difficult. we had a third person coming to assist us and figured with three we could lift the top section on. wrong; we ended up needing a forth helper since the main towers are so tall; 84 inches. with 4 it was quickly done.

bottoms in place and leveled

assembled, still with plastic wrap around grillcloth

OK, time for music

these beasts are big, the scale cannot be appreciated in pictures. 84 inches tall plus a couple inches for spikes and 2NS footers. yet, very organic and elegant. perfect fit and finish. wonderful.

side view

back view with jumpers

my friend Andrew brought a trick laser alignment rig he put together that attached directly to the tweeter bracket with magnets and we did a down and dirty alignment. we listened for 30-40 minutes and went to dinner, came back and listened for awhile and Andrew had to leave. i cleaned up and straigtened up and then went back to listen. i've been listening while messing with these pictures and posting for an hour or so. listened to a few Lps earlier and been doing streaming dsd while typing.

i'll just say even with only the main towers it is pretty amazing, and seems to be changing by the minute so far.

it's now the next morning, sooooo much detail and the view into the music is breathtaking.

more later.....

mikelavigne

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hey David,

congrats on getting your VR9's back. have fun getting acquainted again!

the MM7's come in 14 large wooden crates, for a total of around 3500 pounds total shipped. 2100 for the speakers, 1400 for the crates.

i'm only getting 6 of the crates this week for the main towers. it will be 8 crates next week for the bass towers.

i'll have 3 people here to help me; my 'stout' son plus a couple of audio friends. i'm figuring a few pizza's and appropriate other things. since i've unpacked and set up the MM3's already i know the drill.

i do have a $200+ bottle of Scotch (that was given to me as a gift for just this occasion by an audio friend...thanks Mark)) ready for when the bass towers get set up for celebration.

you can have the Q7's, i'm ecstatic with the MM7's.

mikelavigne

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i just got word that the main towers of the MM7's are complete and tested and will ship out tomorrow and will arrive at my home on this coming Friday.

finally!

bass towers could ship next Wednesday to next Friday at this point. if they ship next Wednesday i'll have them next Friday.

mikelavigne

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Mark,

you do make a very good point that nothing be taken for granted to make sure that a quite complicated product like the MM7's really all works properly.

Kevin has been working exclusively on my MM7's since September 17th, and everything has been throughly tested as he has gone along. building and testing the crossover as he went along took almost 3 weeks just by itself. assembling the cabinets and testing each driver is not quite as complicated but also part of the process.

and where it all will come together is that after i have my MM7's in house for a few weeks Kevin will travel up to my home and do the final set-up. at which point any issues can be resolved if necessary. any product can potentially have problems and i'm confident that ultimately i'll have proper 100% performing MM7's.

mikelavigne

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tonight i got word that the MM7 main tower cabinets were complete and were being 'stuffed' with crossovers, drivers, etc. starting today and over the next couple of days for shipping by Friday assuming all goes well.

if they ship Friday i should have the Main towers at my home by next Thursday. the bass towers to follow 2 weeks after.

;-)

mikelavigne

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hey David,

isn't waiting a b*tch! i'm getting pretty damn tired of it too. originally my new MM7's were supposed to be here in July, then August, and then.....so on and so on.

and i'm not getting any younger either. whine, whine, whine!

i did get some 'brand new' Von Schweikert Unifield 3's loaned to me back in late June, and brand new they were not cutting it, congested and veiled. but the last few weeks (200-300 hours in) they have finally settled in and are doing pretty good. not close to my MM3's but they make good music and i can enjoy them.

i used the last few months to further burn in all my Evolution Acoustics interconects and speaker cables. i now have 15 days on the Audio Kharma cable cooker on all those really thich heavy cables. previously i had 'only' had 5 'cooking' days on them but had used them for many months listening.

big, big, improvement with the additional 10 days cooking. i can't say where in the additional 10 day period they improved, but only that the additional performance was really dramatic.

anyway; i know you will love your new Mk2 upgrade on your VR9SE's. it will be worth the wait.

mikelavigne

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hi Shawn,

tod bad you did not have more time here, tough duty having to go to Italy. :)

sounds like you do hit the audio high spots; i've not been to the Analog Room but would like to sometime i'm down there. don't know the MF or Simaudio phonos but i always find Simaudio to be high value and high performance gear.

enjoy your travels and look me up next time you come around.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

great to hear from you!

i miss my Garrard 301, i'm glad it's in a good home and being enjoyed. i can see myself getting another 301 at some point if i ever have more than one tt again. i loved that tt.

i did go to that Youtube video and it looks like a great idea for WAF for acosutic treatments. in my dedicated room in my barn it's not as big an issue; but for anyone trying to improve a living room system or anywhere where you need stealth treatments i can see the value. thanks for the heads up.

mikelavigne

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Shawn,

i hope you enjoyed your visit to the Seattle audio ghetto.

at this point the main towers of my speakers will be delivered to me either late next week or the following week, with the bass towers following a couple weeks later. so it will be November sometime before it will be all here. if you are still in town then you are welcome to visit for a listen.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Paulo,

i looked at the Vicoustic Wavewood diffusers and they are not for me since they are absorbtive so would have an effect on the tonal qualities in my room. i do love the way they look and could see why they would work well in many rooms.

i am attracted to the Vicoustic Multifuser Wood 64 as an alternative to my RPG Skylines between my speakers. i would much prefer the look of the wood to the painted foam i now have. my only concern is (1) would the wood be too absorbtive and cause unwanted tonal shifts? and (2) will i lose some of the clarity from the Skylines switching to the Multifuser 64. i like them enough that i may buy three panels and try it.

thanks for bringing this product to my attention.

i wonder if anyone out there has compared RPG Skylines to the Vicoustic Multifuser 64, or maybe have a good idea of how they would compare. i'm not quite technical enough to be able to understand the difference completely.

mikelavigne

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i have not tried any diffusers on the wall behind my listening area. i suspect there is some additional benefit to be found by doing so, and i have looked into it but not pulled the trigger.

the only thing is that in a 29 foot long room, my speakers are approx 9' to 9.5 feet into the room, and i sit another 9' farther into the room. which means a back wall diffuser would be 9' away from my ears....which is a long distance for rear-wall reflections to have much affect.

on either side of the back-wall of the room there are diffusive Lp shelves, then there is a 5-6 foot inset where the door and a flat side panel is. any diffuser mounted there would need to have part of it on the door. then there is the HVAC control panel and the Lutron lighting control panel there on the wall along side the door. so any diffusion would need to be build around those panels.

it's alot of screwing around for something that likely would not have much affect. you can see why i have not yet done anything with it; but at some point i will try something.

mikelavigne

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Audioblazer and Paolo,

the Skylines are similar to the PRD formula. i have not compared this approach to the QRD type diffusers.

my viewpoint is that diffusers are most agressive when designed to be in nearfield first reflection points (on a wall between speakers, on a ceiling at first reflection points, on sidewall first reflection points in relatively narrow rooms) and that the PRD type diffusers are the best of these. these type diffusers try to keep reflections coherent and minimize smearing. my room is quite wide (21') and tall (11') so i only really need agressive diffusion between my speakers. and my ceiling has those angled panels that eliminate any first reflections completely.

QRD type diffusors are medium level diffusors that can be put anywhere and do have advantages in lower frequencies compared to the PRD type. my built-in side wall cylinders are a type of medium diffusion which are more for whole room diffusion. i am cautious about any diffusion that deals with low frequencies because it will change the tonal balance of the room in unpredictable ways. careful to not lose the body of the music in the pursuit of more detail and image focus.

the Auralex T-fusors i use in my room are mild diffusors that break up slap echo but should only be used where there are not first reflections. they can be loaded with absorbtive material but then will change tonality.

my goal is to retain as much musical energy as possible (hardwood floor at speaker end) all the surfaces in the room are 'live' and diffusive. absorbtion should be minimized, although smaller rooms need some absorbtion to allow for coherence at higher SPL's.

mikelavigne

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first the "bad news"....my MM7's are delayed yet again until mid-October ( delivery 15th or 16th approx) for the main towers, and 2 weeks later for the bass towers. :(

the "good news" is that since the speakers won't arrive until after RMAF, i'm going now. staying at the Hilton next door to the Marriott. Thursday night thru Sunday afternoon. :)

it will be easier to wait if i join in the fun in Denver.

mikelavigne

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hi Paolo,

thanks for the kind comments. yes, the 'drug' of fine audio is a powerful one, and Jean-Frederich knows how to do it right.

my room was built with the large rounded cylinder behind the speakers. i had assumed that this cylinder would be adaquate diffusion to allow optimal center image. it turned out i was wrong about that.

i had a couple of friends who had recommended to me to try some sort of more agressive diffusion between my speakers as they believed that the center image could be improved. i was not open to this direction and ignored their advice. finally one day (about 4-5 years ago) one of these friends brought over a couple of panels he had built which were double tall 2' x 2' RPG diffusers. he went outside and got this diffuser from his truck and leaned it against my rounded diffuser. it was easy to hear the improvment in center image and overall image focus. my eyes (and ears) had been openned. i then went on to experiment with different levels of these RPG Skyline diffusers and investigated other types. i ended up with the triple stack of the Skyline diffusers that you see in my pictures.

i tried more diffusers wider, and taller, and shorter. these other configurations either stretched the image or made it more diffuse and confused. the 3 stacked 2'x 2' diffusers you see sounded best. the RPG Skylines are tools which cannot be indiscriminately applied. they should only be used where you have fairly strong first reflection issues. there are other diffusion products which can be used more flexibly.

it improved the image focus, improved the depth, improved the tonal coherence and allowed images to have more weight and dynamic energy. when the music gets very complicated it sorts out the various musical parts and allows more detail to come thru. it's more like natural music. more real.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

you are certainly correct about the bass towers. the location of the bass towers is signifcant. i asked Kevin Malmgren, the designer, this question and here is his response.
I will try to simplify this as much as possible. The MM7 was designed to have the subwoofer towers side-by-side with the main towers in a complete time and phase aligned orientation, as shown in the picture on our website, and also as how you listened to the mono channel when you were at my place.
While it is true that the lower frequencies have much larger waves, getting them to integrate in phase with the main tower is really not much of an issue when it comes to room placement, meaning you will not experience much if any wave cancellation. However, the wave launch, when having the towers perfectly time aligned to the listening chair is needed to provide a tighter presentation with greater impact, and also to align the harmonic series from top to bottom to produce a seamless and tonally lifelike presentation. This is not to say that you can not move the towers around, because you can.
Remember, we are only talking about a subwoofer tower that is coming in at around 30 to 40Hz at most, so most all music information will be coming from the main towers. The benefit of being able to move the sub towers is if you have a room that is not friendly in the deep bass region (this would have to be a really bad room where even the amplifier controls on the subwoofer modules can not bring the bass up enough). In this case, you may want the main towers where you get the best sonic presentation, but you may have to push the sub towers to another region of the room to get bass all the way down below 40Hz flat. If this was a speaker system contained all in one tower and the best location for sub 40Hz range was all the way against the back wall, imagine how the mid-bass, midrange, depth, etc. would suffer.
The only other reason I could see for moving the sub towers is for aesthetic purposes within the listening space. Some people may not want to have a wall of speakers, and being able to push the sub towers to another location may be more acceptable.

In a nutshell, if you want to stay true to my design, then yes you must have the towers all perfectly time-aligned to the listening chair. However, if your room is not producing good frequency response in this situation and you value that over time domain launch, then you can always move the subs to get the best frequency bandwidth. Or, you may just want to visually downsize the appearance of the speakers in your room.

i figured there would be the least confusion if i just related what he wrote.

enjoy.

mikelavigne

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hi Shawn,

Carnation is close, so when you are there let me know and we will set up a time.

as far as HiFi shops in Seattle, there are a few. in Bellevue there is Definative Audio on N.E. 24th in the Overlake area. right across the street is Madrona Digital which is a bit more Home Theatre but it does do some 2 channel.

in Seattle there is sort of a HiFi Ghetto just north of the University district along Roosevelt Ave. you have the Seattle Definative Audio, Magnolia HiFi, and then Hawthorne right across the street. then a few blocks southeast on University Ave you have The Audio Connection and Experience Audio just down the street.

all these places have turntables, although the amount and their knowledge about them does vary from place to place. and some of the people i know quite well and others not so much.

Hawthorne, Audio Connection and Experience are quite a bit more involved with turntables than the others.

there are probably a few more that i don't know about that are under my radar. good luck and have fun.

we do have an active audio club and lots of knowledge there about turntables and you would be more than welcome to attend if you are in town on the 2nd Thursday night of the month.

mikelavigne

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Hi Mike,

Very useful observations. On the subject of effective length, is 12" the way to go for superior audio performance versus using 9" ? Any thoughts on internal/external tonearm wiring? Will continuous wiring from cartridge to plugs give superior performance rather than 2 or more wiring sections?

Thanks again

Kostas

i'm no expert on the technical side of why things are the way they are. it seems likely that 12" is better based on my observations. but i have a very limited exposure to short and long versions of the same tonearm. generalizations are always tricky. my favorite tonarm is 12". my second and third favorite are both 10.5".

i suspect that as you get higher and higher in build quality that the 12" tonearm is more and more likely to sound better than the shorter versions. at more moderate price ranges and build quality it might be that the performance of the longer tonearms are more different than better.

but i'm just guessing since i have not listened to enough tonearms where identical tonearms are long and short to be able to speak with more conviction.

i am a proponent of a continuous run of cable from cartridge pin to phono stage. OTOH i know many feel strongly that they want to buy super high level separate phono cables and use those. i know Albert likes a $10k retail phono cable on his around $3k SME tonearm. the question then becomes whether Albert's $13k tonearm-cable combo sounds better than an $8k tonearm with a captured cable. you'd need to listen and compare them.

i know my Telos uses the continuous run approach and i have no plans on changing.

cable questions are always a crap shoot, but no doubt tonearm cables are hugely important.

mikelavigne

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hi Peter,

no; i have had no opportunity to compare the Anna directly to the Atlas or Air Tight Supreme. i did that comparison thing at the Newport Show but that was different rooms and systems. i don't view that as any sort of evidence of anything. i would love to hear a head to head between the Anna and the Atlas or any number of other highly regarded cartridges.

i expect that since the Anna is finally released now it's only a matter of time before we start to hear about head to head comparisons.

my Anna was originally used as a demo at CES, it's serial number 8 (interestingly my original A90 was also serial number 8). i don't believe it was pre-production. i had asked if i could buy one of the demo's and i was able to when the dealer that had it decided not to buy it. the Anna was suppose to be on sale retail in Feb or March. then, for whatever reason, it was delayed.

i do know jtinn has had his Anna supply for a few weeks now....and that those are the first retail wave of them to hit to my knowledge.

mikelavigne

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hi Fred,

i know that jtinn does have a supply of MC Anna's but i've not seen them anywhere else. i have no knowledge about filling orders beyond that. i'm trying to rationalize buying a second Anna as a backup 'just in case' since i would not want to be without it, but with my new speakers and amps now is likely not the time to spend more money.

i've certainly been enjoying mine and if anything, am even more enthralled with it than earlier. i do look forward to your impressions when you do recieve yours. hopefully it will be soon.

mikelavigne

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Kostos,

my above answer to your question is incomplete.

for periods of time in the past i have done the small adjustments for different thicknesses of Lps and i do acknowledge there is some small rationalization for it from a performance perspective. on the Rockport it was very quick and easy to loosen the set screw and turn the height adjustment on the top of the arm tower a quarter turn up or down to compensate for the pressing thickness. however, i did not continue to do it for a long period because it interupted my music focus and flow of listening. and it was a question from pressing to pressing whether it had any effect. it would cause a 'critcal' focus where i just wanted to relax into the music. it did not fit my listening culture comfortably.

i have no issue that it is important to other listeners. whatever floats your boat.

one technical issue i did not bring up in my response above is that when the VTA is adjusted, it can effect VTF and possibly even anti-skate or azimuth depending on the arm. so always messing with VTA might cause less than ideal adjustments to other varibles. again, as the precision of arms increases (and distortion decreases) the precision of the arm in all these adjustments is greater and more important. so just moving around one varible without optimizing all of them as they are all interactive is just chasing your tail.

so it's not just that i have an opinion that the best arm i've heard is not easy to on the fly VTA adjustment, it's also that it's not fun and did not, in my personal experience, bring me more musical enjoyment.

mikelavigne

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Bill,

good idea. i will try to remember to take some pics of the mayhem. i'm lucky i do have a few local friends who have offered to help so it should go quickly.

at the end, my garage will be full of 14 large wooden crates. i do have my camera in room and ready.

mikelavigne

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On a scale from 1 to 10 ( 10=essential), how important is it from your experience the facility of being able to adjust vta on the fly ? Do you find yourself adjusting it for every record or for every group of records with particular thickness and how often? Do tonearms with vta on the fly hold the adjustment better over time than tonearms with vta adjustment but not on the fly?

hi Kostos,

my perspective on this issue has changed over time. in a perfect world all parameters would be dynamically adjustable, VTA, VTF, azimuth, SRA, even zenith. with the Talea 2 i was able to adjust VTA and azimuth on the fly. on the Reed, Triplaner and Rockport i could adjust VTA on the fly. and this did allow for a more precise dialing in process.

however, as arms become more precise, the ability to do these adjustments comes at a price of overall build integrity. every time you make an adjustment to a mechanical arm there is a settling process that the arm goes thru. and the compromise involved in providing for dynamic adjustments seems to extract a price in ultimate solidity and therefore ultimate precision and performance.

i have no scientific proof of my above opinion; it's simply an observation based on watching development of the Durand Telos tonearm and how the elimination of dynamic adjustments increased the performance. everything matters. and as distortion decreases overall, everything matters more.

i can see that at particular points on the performance curve, changing VTA on every record might yield some slight performance advantage. but at the top of the state of the art i think it would not be the correct approach.

so the answer is 'it depends'. and i'm ignoring the whole 'how much pain for how much pleasure' rationalization.

mikelavigne

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at this point it seems the MM7's are scheduled to arrive very late September (not early Sept as i had thought). the main towers will arrive first and then the bass towers 2 weeks later. right around RMAF, so i will be staying home this year.

this change in schedule is mostly due to the time and complication of building the first 2 sets of the MM7's taking a few weeks longer each than originally anticipated. i do respect and appreciate the degree of effort these beasts require. i know the wait will be worth it.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i'm hardly one to judge another on the subject of product enthusiasm. when i like something i freely share those views.

OTOH since you asked, from another perspective frequently jumping back and forth between Albert's and my thread and bringing up your agenda of gear however well intentioned might take away from the credibility of what you say. i percieve you as sincere and passionate but i could understand that some might question your intentions.

so where and how you post raves does matter. when people read my system page they expect to hear about what i think about my gear and related topics. i'm not trying to restrict flow of new info on my system page in any way. and i'm fine with your approach personally. you are asking about how others might view you.

personally i'm fine with whatever you do as i do think you are well meaning. so maybe think about it.

a better approach might be to start your own system thread and allow it to attract attention as it will.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

hey; i appreciate you watching out for my pocketbook and trying to get me to consider less costly amplifier options (you might like even better) than the 458's. i take your communications in the positive spirit they are offered.

i'm committed to getting the 458's. not that i could not change my mind if i wanted, it's just that i have not the slightest hesitation with my decision.

i've lived with the darTZeel electronics for many years and prefer it's lack of signature on the music to any other electronics. i feel it allows the music to come thru to my ears more as music. in addition to all the great things i've loved about the 108 stereo dart, the 458's bring a unique energy to the music which is intoxicating and involving.

it's what i want.

:)

mikelavigne

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Jason,

i agree with pretty much every point you make, but i would add one thought to your point about speaker sizing and rooms. and that is that with adjustable deep bass large speakers (such as an MM3 or MM2) can go in smallish rooms. and specifically when comparing the MM3 and the MM7 one can choose to just get 2 subwoofer drivers per side instead of 4.....only 1/2 height woofer towers. in fact the first MM7 buyer went that way more for avoidance of blocking a view than for sonic reasons.

objectively i do agree that rooms and speakers do need to be matched.....just visit any audio show and observe how the monitor speakers almost always sound better in the small rooms than full frequency speakers.

anyway, great advice and thanks.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i would agree that the Ypsilon rig would be one fun to hear on the MM7's. i have a friend with that set-up on the big Wilson X-2 LF's and he loves it. if someone wants to deliver the Ypsilon rig to my room to try it out i'm game.

i have an opinion on how it would compare to the big dart combo, but it's just speculation.

OTOH i have no agenda to pursue it.

mikelavigne

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DEV,

the MBL-VAC will be a hard combo to beat. at every show the MBL's seem to do their magic to my ears (with the MBL amps) and i can only imagine the big VAC's have to work great with them. it will be hard to find something better for your other room.

i can't imagine trying to do justice to 2 top level systems as one has had my full attention. good luck with that.

i have not really nailed down an actual ship date or arrival date on either the MM7's or the 458's.

i think my speakers will be here in the first couple of weeks of September. hopefully as this month moves along i will get an actual firm ship date. i know that Kevin has other products in the que ahead of my MM7's which need to be completed before he can start mine.

i will recieve the main towers one week and the bass towers the next week due to logistical issues where they are built....it requires 14 large wooden crates 250-300 pounds each so 6 crates the first week for the main towers and 8 crates the second week for the bass towers.

my 458's are in line to be assembled and then shipped. i have no firm date other than 'soon'. i'm told that is 30-60 days. so i'm figuring late September into October.

mikelavigne

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hi, there, i guess i missed saying what i meant as far as the MM7's- don't you already have a HUGE pair of speakers relative to your room's dimensions?
the MM3's do a great job in my room, but my room is very large and well damped. it's 21' x 29' x 11'. the whole ceiling is a bass trap. so it can handle plenty of sound pressure. however, it's not the size of the speakers that is important; it's the fact that more driver surface allows for less distortion, and adding 4 woofers per side improves mid bass dynamics and coherence, and a better crossover reduced distortion. really no different than the VR9SE compared to the VR11SE in many ways.

my room was designed for a speaker like the MM7's to be able to breathe.

i mixed that point up with an observation about amps that put out a lot of watts (gracefully). again, i have no qualms about the dart monoblocks per se, but they cost a disproportional amount of money compared to other manufacturer's "fananical-best" amps and i just have to wonder if that issue hasn't crossed your mind as well. A Lot.

without getting into particular alternative amps; i've heard amps from all those manufacturers you mention and many others; i prefer my DarTZeel stereo 108 to any of them. and the 458 is better in important ways than the 108 to my ears. i'll put it another way. there is not another amp i would choose than the 108 except for the 458. if i had less efficient speakers then other amps might have advantages over the 108, but i don't have that problem.

If you know where i can get some good tapes (other than the limited choices from the tape project) i would certainly be interested. i had a reel to reel when you were still in diapers and i started out dubbing concerts over my old man's blaupunkt hi-fi radio. those tapes didn't sound half bad all things considered. i have a better one now of course... p.s.- i hope you still have a good sense of humor- regards, D.

email me [email protected] and we can discuss underground tape titles. it's not a subject for a public forum.

i'm almost 61 years old and had a Wollensak Reel to Reel tape deck in High School in 1966 and dubbed concerts off the radio too. 'me in diapers'......that would mean you were using tape decks in 1952. from our past phone conversations you seemed like a young guy. :-)

hummmmm.

mikelavigne

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Michael, since you once owned a pair of Von Schweikert VR-9's (and since i have a pair as well) i thought you might like to know the Mk.II version is now available with a better midrange driver, a stiffer cabinet, upgraded crossovers, and a more powerful subwoofer amplifier. the cost of these modifications is a fairly humble $12K ($8K without the new amplifiers). since this speaker is adjustable to almost any room (of reasonable size) you place it in, my only nit to pick is the cabinet finish which is not on par with Wilson or Rockport, etc. and could be more mirror-like.

hi French Fries,

long time no talk, i hope all is well with you. as you know, i'm a VR9SE fan, and did not intentionally leave the Von Schweikert family. it left me (long story). that said i love my Evolutions. i heard about the MkII version of the VR9SE and would expect it to be a good step up, and at $12k ought to be cost effective for VR9SE owners. obviously the adjustability of the VR9SE is a big positive feature, i sure like it on my Evolutions.

i have to wonder how much air you're going to need to push with the enormous MM7's as well as the Dartzeel mono blocks that i would want to compare to some top-of-the-line amplifiers costing a lot less. would the newest offerings from Boulder, Pass, Rowland (725's), etc. NOT sound as good, and perhaps even better than the Dart's? if not, then FINE i could not be more enthusiastic if they are truly game-changers.

first; the MM7's are more efficient and an easier amplifier load than the MM3 (96db, 7 ohm for the MM7 verses 93db, 6 ohm for the MM3), so speaker load is not an issue. i did have the NHB-458 in my system for a month a couple of years ago right along side my Stereo dart NHB-108 so i do know what it brings to the table. and that would be an unique overall refinement and level of ease and energy which must be heard to be appreciated. specifically on the astonishing ability to mimick real-life immediacey, snap and articulation while staying natural and harmonically complete it is wholey unique in my experience. amplifier choice is personal, i'm not here to criticize anyone else's choice.

my speakers already reach down to 13 Hz and have ribbon super tweeters
front and rear just in case i can hear anything above 15KHz (i can't). the carbon-fiber midrange unit, while not the best in its class anymore, has been favorably compared to electrostatic speakers. the crossovers are supposedly as good as money can buy.
the cabinet (350lbs) is not quite as inert as it (now) could be, but certainly has been doing a pretty convincing job (by your own evaluations).
could a Rockport, Magico, Wilson XLF, or ??? be EVEN more transparent than the Evolution speakers? was Einstein the smartest scientist who ever lived? Will the "best man" win the race for the seat in the Oval Office?

the VR9SE is one of my favorite speakers, as you know. i tried to buy VR11SE's too.

as far as those others, each one is different in my mind, probably i prefer the Rockport overall to the other 2, but prefer the Evolutions to any of them. but preference is different than objective 'best'. i'm not really interested in trying to talk someone into why anything is best. i can only say why i like or prefer something. having a favorite is a reasonable thing. when people try to prove things i am switching the channel.

my head starts to spin uncontrollably sometimes when i read about all this equipment Equipment EQUIPMENT! IF we could only obtain master tapes of L.Bernstein conducting the NYPO or G.Szell with the Cleveland, it might be worth
all this trouble and trial. but we lack PURE signals with which to feed these Krazy Komponents of ours, and thereby often mimic the proverbial dog chasing his own tail.
SO in conclusion, i might go ahead and upgrade my speakers, but you know, honestly i can already say that the difference in quality between one recording and another is so markedly different (huge) that my gear is ALREADY light years ahead of the transparency of the software.
So who owns those master tapes i mentioned (Sony?) Isn't it about time we get our hands on them....? that could possibly kickstart a whole new industry.
respectfully, D.

not sure if you've been paying attention to my Tape decks and reel to reel tapes, but i've quite heavily invested in those in the last 5 years. currently i have 3 master recorders (2 Studers and an Ampex) and approx 125 15ips 1/4" and 1/2" master dubs (about 250 reels). amazing sound. so i quite agree that it all starts with the best sources, and the best possible software.

and in the last 5 years a whole Reel to Reel tape culture and business for audiophiles has sprung up. if you like i can point you to some resources to get going with that.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Harris,

thanks for the kind comments. and thanks very much for protecting us by serving in the Military. if you have an interest in hearing my system when you get back to the PNW let me know and we can figure it out.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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You must be nearing the end of your prev. never ending quest for 'that' sound. Have you considered the philisophical ramifications of getting there?

it has crossed my mind that these next moves appear to be clear 'end game' type things.

however; i actually view my 'end game' as occuring a year or so ago once the room issues were resolved. i was totally happy with everything. the MM3->MM7 and the NHB-108->NHB-458 are simply upgrades in the same realm as what i've had. if i elected to not spend the additional money to do these upgrades i could have stayed 'pat' and lived where i was happily. more significant in my mind has been to cull my herd of any extra gear and stuff that i'm not going to use long term. which to help fund these purchases i've had to sell everything that is not essential.

as far as 'getting there' and it's implications i don't want to get ahead of myself. right now i'm very curious as to simply how the performance will be once it has a chance to work itself out. i'm going to try (:-)) to resist getting carried away initially and allow myself some time to optimize and then to enjoy it before i try to give it perspective and suggest implications.

i'm going to enjoy the ride and the music.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i am not a techie either. OTOH my son is a network engineer and so sets everything up for me. he gets on my computer (remotely with 'log-me-in') and fixes stuff when i have a problem. he did all the ripping and loading on my server. i'm even a hunt and peck typist (and a slow bad one to boot). it took lots of pushing to get me away from my silver discs and useing a server.....and all those discs are still in my room. since my server has been down for the last few weeks it's silver disc digital or no digital at the moment for me. i'm not anti disc, only that once you've spent time with a server, great sound files, and a good easy to use interface, that is how you want to do digital. and until you've tried that you won't realize how great it is.

obviously with my commitment to vinyl and tape i love the process of analog listening.

but digital has it's place in my musical enjoyment and a server makes that experience even better.

mikelavigne

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Mike, what is the issue with PCM, excuse my ignorance?
i've always preferred dsd/SACD to PCM. i've posted here and around extensively about my perceptions. and lately since i have many hundreds of SACD's ripped to my hard drive that is mostly what i listen to when i'm listening to digital. it does sound more like my analog than any digital i have heard. i do have 4000 CD's burned on my hard drive as well as 1500-2000 hirez PCM files too which do sound 'nice'. nothing wrong with PCM in and of itself until it is directly compared to dsd. and sure there are many great sounding PCM files that sound better than specific dsd files as there are so many varibles in sources and transfers. i'm not trying to be controversial here. just talking my personal preferences.

so a supposed breakthru digital product that ignores dsd is a non starter for me. understand that i have not heard this product myself. it may make PCM sound better than my master tapes; or it may not. but on the face of it a product that merely improves PCM does not get my juices flowing no matter the buzz. i reserve the right to piss my pants if/when i hear it.

the price of the thing is not the issue......it's the actual performance. if i love it then the price does become important.

mikelavigne

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thanks David.

mikelavigne

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Thanks Geoff.

maybe not 2030 for retiring, but not in the next year or two either.

Don't do a "Mikey" on them now. ;-).

i respect that Fremer has alot on his mind and lacks the 'paranoia' of ownership. he has the choice and station in life to be less than fanatically careful. i've lived with the reality of darTZeel circuit purity and relative lack of idiot proofing in the quest for ultimate fidelity for 6+ years with zero issues. i had the big 458's in my room for a month 3 years ago. they are really bullitt proof if a few basic rules are followed.

mainly 2 simple things. (1) always allow the amp to bleed off power for 4-5 minutes after turn off prior to turning back on. (2) no hot plugging or unplugging anything.

and a third for the 458's, remember to use the stabilizing bolts for shipping.

it's not rocket science. but for a harried reviewer i can see the conflict. all these different products and different rules. and i'm not saying this tongue in cheek. i respect that Fremer has lots of details to keep straight.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i don't have a problem with you suggesting products. i've not paid attention to the Stahl Tek products, they may set new standards for digital playback. or, even if they are very very good, they more likely might offer a slight incremental improvement over other SOTA digital such as my Playback Designs. my view is that there is not any significant performance difference between the handfull of top level digital players.

i did scan the 6 Moons review briefly and it does sound like it sounds analog which is one reason i enjoy the Playback Designs.....a good sign i suppose.

based on my quick look at the Stahl Tek products, they are PCM only......which for me is a huge stop sign.

at some point if i get a chance to hear the product who knows. it may rock my world. my mind is open.

i do not have a digital itch that i need scratched right now. i'm enjoying the Playback Designs playing dsd off my server dac.....and it's really very good.....for when i'm in the mood for it.

thanks for the heads up. when i do see it i will pay attention.

mikelavigne

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i did just step up and order a pair of darTZeel NHB-458 mono block's and i'm very excited about it. i had to gulp a few times over the dollars and retirement will need to wait a bit longer. not sure how soon i will get them as there is a wait list for them. likely a couple-three months.

when it does get near i'll need to sell the stereo NHB-108.

i am truely looking forward to the MM7/458 combo.

mikelavigne

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hi Marc,

it's great to see your passion for direct drive and the Trans Fi. and linear tracking done right does give that very solid and spacious soundstage.

as much as i agree with your perspectives on direct drive, i don't see things quite as black and white as you do in respect to belts. the better belt drive tt's can be pretty darm good. DD is just a bit 'gooder' at the top of the food chain.

similarly on linear trackers, they do have advantages over better pivoted arms but not over all of the very best pivoted arms. execution does become dominant ultimately and then i like unipivots as the best of the best.

someday i hope to hear the Trans Fi and Terminator T3 Pro and maybe i'll get that particular sickness too. :-)

mikelavigne

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hi Joe,

thank you for the kind comments. i will admit that while the room looks impressive, it did take 5-6 years in the room for me to learn enough to make changes to finally realize it's potential.

so yes, the bass integration was a challenge. initially my original Kharma speakers could not do enough bass for the room. so i changed speakers. looking back my biggest problem was that the room originally was overdamped with too much bass trapping and absorbant fabric on the walls. eventually with the help of some knowledgable friends, i was able to decifier the problem and made some physical changes to the room itself, and then was able about 2 years ago to get the bass to really integrate right. my Evolution Acoustics MM3's do have adjustable crossovers and other bass adjustments and between the room changes and those adjustments i now do have what i consider excellent bass balance and integration....and a very smooth upper-mid-deep bass transition.

as far as treatments, everything (mostly diffusion) is built in except the RPG Skylines in the center behind the speakers, and the Auralex T-Fusors which are on the side walls and ceiling wells. the Skylines help to get a perfect center image by keeping the first reflections coherent. the T-fusors elimnate slap echo. neither are much concerned with mid or deep bass.

mikelavigne

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James,

regarding the Darby thingy, the feedback was limited and mixed; nothing definative.

sorry there is not more to say.

mikelavigne

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Stereotaipei,

sorry for the delay in my response; i have been out of town on business. it is great to hear from you and trust all is well. i did just email you a response to your question.

i understand the MM3's won't fit in your current place. i suppose that means that the MM7's won't fit either.

too bad. :-)

maybe in the new place you are building.

mikelavigne

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i did find a link to this forum;

forum comments from Asia

mikelavigne

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hello Andrew,

i did google 'Dalby vinyl stabilizer', 'NVS', and 'Durand' and saw what is likely a Chinese forum, but could not understand what might have been said. i am curious about it. i did read about the stabilizer; looks interesting.

please provide a link here, or email it to me;

[email protected]

thanks.

mikelavigne

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hi Marc,

due to all the recent hype i did investigate a few highly touted MM's a couple of years ago when i had my Allnic H3000 phono stage. at the time i had 5 arms going and so i had 3 LOMC's (2 A90's and a Lyra Olympos SL) and a couple of MM's. certainly the MM's were nice and flowed well. but when things got a bit complicated the MC's could resolve detail which the MM's glossed over. there was much greater musical nuance with the MC's. i still have a few MM's here.

as far as the Zu Denon 103; at the Newport Beach show i did visit the Zu room a couple of times and heard this cartridge. it is very very nice. and it was not in my system, but i'm skeptical that it plays in the upper reaches of the LOMC's. but who knows unless i had it in my system to try out. and with your endorsment i'll try to see if i can somehow get a chance to try one.

mikelavigne

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hi Sean,

when you push the 'button' to start the Audio Desk it will beep once for every minute of 'scrub time' you want. this is the time the brushes turn on the surface of the Lp. i typically do 3 'beeps' for most used Lps. the most i've done is 7 beeps.

if you just want to clean the dust off an otherwise clean Lp, or maybe a brand new Lp, then just 1 beep is fine.

the blow dry cycle is exactly the same regardless of how many beeps (minutes) of scrubing you choose.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i've been saying the same thing for awhile about the significance of the tonearm in the total vinyl front end performance. even though you and i do differ to some degree on the question of pivoted verses linear.

if there is one thing i have learned both from my years with multiple tt's and various tonearms, and then after observing the Durand tonearm development process in my room, it is that tonearms separate the good from the ordinary, the excellent from the good, and the amazingly fantastic from the excellent in total tt performance. it's not always that simple as the tt itself and the cartridge can also have their significant incluence too, but limitations in tonearm performance are easily the most significant issues.

even my Newport Beach exercise with 'Snooky' mostly (but not exclusively) revealed tonearm differences more than any other single factor.

i've never been to Europe; but if i ever do and make it to London i would be honored to visit for a listen. and if you are ever in the Seattle area i would extend the same invitation.

mikelavigne

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hi Ed,

i hope you had a Happy Father's day too.....and thanks for the nice comments. the last few years have been fun and the changes have been very positive for me as far as system development, performance and enjoyment. prior to that i was sort of taking small steps forward, back, and sideways, i had acquired multiple tt's, multiple RTR decks, and my room was still somewhat a challenge. but looking back a couple of years it does seem that the smoke has cleared and i've come to a good spot in the road. thanks for the perspective on that.

and i can't wait to 'share' about the MM7's. it looks like the MM3's will be leaving for their new home in the next couple of weeks.....so then it will be 'are we there yet?' time for awhile. :(

i'm happy to hear that your own system (with many of the same pieces as mine) is sounding fine. you can't go wrong with a line-up like that. it is nice that Jonathan could come by and help to tweak things in your room. he has done the same in my room and it made a big difference for me.

i was fortunate this morning that Ki Choi came by to install the head switch on my 1/2" Studer A-820 so i can now play my 1/2" master dubs thru the King Cello. i now have a new reference for music reproduction performance.

next time you get up here to the Seattle area i hope we can co-ordinate a visit. sorry i was not around last time.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Whart,

thanks for the kind comments. i enjoyed our phone conversation and clearly we have alot in common particularly our passion to explore the upper reaches of fine audio reproduction. we are both trying to enjoy the journey and maybe learn something along the way and have some fun.

best wishes on your move to Texas from the Northeast. i know you will have fun with the room project and look forward more interactions about it as you move along.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i'm glad the Trans Fi tt and arm are working out so well for you. better speed performance has many performance advantages, and i'm a big believer in the huge contribution a great tonearm has too. hopefully there comes a time where a vinyl front end reaches a point where things come together and the music just flows and it surpasses the sum of the parts. sounds like you are in that ballpark now.

as far as air pumps; i did enjoy that the air compressor for the Rockport was in another room (in an attic above my room in a soundproof enclosure) so i had no noise intrusion. that is not always an option for every situation and design.

mikelavigne

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hi Marc,

i did respond to your new thread. sounds very promising and i hope people get a chance to hear it. the whole rim-drive--idler approach has lots of potential.

i did comment that we need pictures or a link to see it.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Sam,

late August; "if the creek don't rise".

:-)

and 'Hi' back to Sonny....

best,

mikelavigne

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i thought i had a reference for bass impact and energy, but hearing a recently acquired 1/2" 15ips master dub from a low gen master of a Reggae Classic has now blown that fully apart. and in 1/2" i can keep cranking the volume and there is just so much information that it just gets better and better. at a certain point it's like my whole body was pulsing from the energy and yet i could tell the system was not straining. when you don't have distortion in the source the system can just go with it.

i'm not sure when i might stop grinning. but not any time soon.

there is simply a phyisicality of the music which transcends a recording into real life territory.

spooky.

it's scarey thinking about what the MM7's might be able to do with this. Holy Guacamole!

and i need to install the direct head switch so i can use the King Cello on the 1/2" Studer.

1/2" tape just can do things that other formats cannot. period. it is so meaty and lacking technical restrictions to capture energy. people talk about digital being better in the bass. what a laugh.

i suppose 1" tape is even better but i don't want to have to deal with the constant alignment issues of a 1" machine. let alone the expense of the tape.

and no, i am not at liberty to ID the title, sorry.

mikelavigne

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Hey Sam,

thanks. it was my pleasure doing the write-up. i did enjoy the show and the whole layout of the Hotel and airport. it sure makes it easy to attend.

it was great seeing you and Sunny, and i hope you both can visit your friends here in the Northwest soon, we miss you.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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hi Zermatt,

thanks.

ah yes, the good Doctor Gladstone. i wish he would stay on his meds. he has lately somewhat left this planet (metaphorically i mean).

you and your friend ought to come out for a visit sometime. it's just a plane ride away. no big deal for interplanetary travelers like you guys.

mikelavigne

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hey Marc,

congrats on getting the Trans Fi tt. please let me know when you got the info about that posted so i can look it over.

as far as the Strain Gauge cartridge, i've not personally had one in my system. i do hear it regularly at shows in the Soundsmith room, and for whatever reason it always sounds a bit edgy and lacks ease and naturalness to my ears. maybe it's the extreme nearfield and the speakers or maybe even the volume Peter plays the music at in his room.

the Straingauge is certainly highly resolving and i understand the technology does give it some advantages in energy transfer. a few friends have tried it out in their systems but none have used it long term. the Straingauge reminds me somewhat of the vdH Colibri cartridge of which i owned 7 of. the Colibri offered glimpses of sonic nirvana and was amazingly energetic and resolving, but many times it behaved badly and sounding edgy and lacked ease and nuance. maybe i've only heard the dark side of the Straingauge and there is a 'bit of heaven' about it i've not seen.

i'm likely not the best source of info on the Straingauge.

mikelavigne

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Mike,

It was great meeting you for the first time while you were conducting this test.

hey Mike,

it was likewise great meeting you too....and i always like putting a face to a name. it was fun doing this test, or investigation, or whatever it was. everyone with a tt was so willing to play the cut. and every room seemed to really like the music, and the music and the musical merits of the recording was what the reaction was.

mikelavigne

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I find it very difficult or even impossible to asses the performance of any one component in an unfamiliar system, especially something like a cartridge.
completely agree; and i hope i did not infer anything different. we can guess about cause and effect, but without quite a bit of work with specific combination of gear in a familiar system it's impossible to know what is causing what.

with my own system i do know exactly what is doing what. especially when it comes to arms and cartridges.

mikelavigne

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Mike, Nice report. Yes, it is subjective and thanks for the qualifications. I'm not surprised that you did not hear anything as good as your system at home. I've only been to two shows and I did not hear anything that I liked as much as my own system. Different, certainly, but not more enjoyable for me. I find it very difficult or even impossible to asses the performance of any one component in an unfamiliar system, especially something like a cartridge.
Peter, thanks. to be clear, i did not use my home system for my show reference, it was the system in room #418 on that Sunday playing Snooky. sure, it was the same gear as my own for the most part.....but it was still a show system with $2500 speakers and in a hotel room like all the others with the same challenges of set-up and such. and there is quite a bit of difference between the performance in my room and that system in room #418.

If and when you have an opportunity to audition the Atlas in your own system, I'd be very interested in reading about your impressions. Is the Ortofon Anna now Durand's cartridge of choice in his arms?

i hope at some point to be able to hear an Atlas side by side with an Anna.....and if/when i do i'll be happy to share my perceptions.

i would rather not try to speak for Joel. i do know that Joel likes the Anna alot. go ahead and email him yourself, i'm sure he would be happy to answer you.

mikelavigne

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Sunday morning at the show Joel Durand removed the Telos tonarm and Anna cartridge from the NVS in the Blue Light Audio room since he had to bug out early. i had hung out in that room a good deal.....and played vinyl mostly when i was DJ'ing. one track i use at home and jtinn brought with him is 'Snooky' from the Pablo pressing of "Mostly Blues.....and Some Others", Count Basie and the Kansas City Septem. this has the Count with Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis, Snooky Young, Freddie Green, Joe Pass, John Heard, and Roy McCurdy. i had played that cut 5 or 6 times over a couple of days in the Blue Light Audio room (and likely 50 times in my room at home on the same vinyl front end). it has some amazing cymbles with tons of detail, as well as a very dynamic muted horn and it is perfectly recorded. and since jtinn no longer had a need for his Lp that day and i had a few hours until i had to go to the airport, i decided to take it around to the rooms i had visited with tt's and play it. i especially had interest in how the Lyra Atlas and Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement might do as those were two cartridges that people had asked me about what i thought.

i did visit 11 rooms and play that cut. and it was an eye-openning experience. it's important to note that very little truth can be uncovered in an exercise such as this. it's simply one data point. and a heavily qualified data point at that. and it's also fair to say that i could have had a strong expectation bias....or not.

the ultra-detail on 'Snooky' did separate the men from the boys on this Sunday afternoon. some could do it, and others not so much. and $$$$'s did not entirely explain it.

before i get into my perceptions about how each room and system did with 'Snooky' i will acknowledge the obvious. beyond all the varibles of a show and the rooms, are the varibles and level of competent set-up of the turntables, and particularly synergy and compatablity of the tt, arm, cartridge, and phono stage....even the rack it sits on. rooms and systems are many times put together around who will pay for part of the expense, or who will offer to contribute gear......not what specific gear actually works best or what gear the set-up guy has most experience with.

i just don't want to cause undue negativity to any piece of gear based on my particular perceptions. OTOH i have played this cut in my system on a number of different turntables, arms, cartidges and thru different phono stages which were set up pretty good. and even thru my observations of the Durand tonearm development.....so i do have some sense of how things ought to be even with varible gear.

here we go;

(1) Blue Light Audio room. #418. Evolution Acoustics-darTZeel, NVS-Telos-Ortofon Anna. as set up by Joel Durand, this system (even with $2500 EA speakers) portrayed Snooky in all it's glory. no it's not fully my home system completely. but it gets the energy and full spacial rendering of the cymbals, you get the distinctive metallic shimmer, the precise rendering of all the tiny detail and complete decay. at one point in the cut, the Cymbals change from a hi-hat to a splash type and this room/system captures it completely. the muted horn is alive and vibrant. overall there is an immediacy and life to the music. it's alive. the speakers completely disappear and every molecule in the room is music.

(2) Lotus-Esoteric-SMc room--#323 in the Atrium. Joe Cohen's Ganada G2 speakers, Steve McCormack's VRE-1 preamp, and Esoteric amps. i think a Hansse tt, Durand Talea 2 arm, and Ortofon Windfield. this was the last room i visited with Snooky. and it was startling how much better it was than any of the other rooms other than the Blue Light Audio room. it's like my expections had lowered considerably, and then bam, here was the magic again. no; it did not quite reach the hights of the NVS-Telos-Anna. OTOH these speakers are 30x as expensive as the EA speakers. of course the tt-arm-cart is 1/5th the value of the NVS-Telos-Anna. it shows there are different paths to sonic bliss.

or maybe it's just that Joel Durand also set up this tuntable!

who knows?

anyway, while this system did not get quite as deep into the detail, or render the dynamic contrasts as clearly, or have quite the vivid immdeiacy in the muted horn, it did do all those things well and overall was very very good.

(3-tie) Soundsmith-#204. not sure the amps; the speakers were $3k retail. it was a VPI HRX tt, VPI 12" arm and Soundsmith Hyperion cactus needle cartridge. normally i don't care for Peter's rooms (OTOH i think Peter is super and a true asset to the vinyl community). he plays the music too loud and i have never warmed up to the Strain Gauge cartridges. but i'm sure the set-up in this case was super and the Hyperion is the real deal. there was a clear drop-off from #1 and #2 but this did capture the information for the most part.....although not the energy or note decay. but it was not just mush. i liked it.

(3-tie) Voce-Lindeman-Zesto #1011. vintage Luxman tt, Triplaner, Soundsmith Hyperion cactus needle cartridge. very similar to the Soundsmith room; maybe a little better as the speakers were higher level but not much. nice; it got the information. i liked the Zesto phono stage. the music had that ease and relaxed presentation.

(5) High Water Sound-Cessaro speakers-Thoress electronics. #243 in the Atrium. TW-Acustic tt and arm. Shilabe cartridge. i visited this room 3 times and stayed awhile. i always enjoy Jeff's room. he plays great music. overall it was a fine sounding room except there was just a slight bit of shoutyness from the horns. on Snooky it was good, but not great. most of the information, but not quite the full measure of the bloom and detail.

(6-tie) Silverline-Conrad Johnson-Kuzma #1018. Kuzma tt, Kuzma 4-point arm, Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge. this was pretty good and did get most of the information; but a clear level below the 2 Hyperion cartridges. good energy and flow.

(6-tie) Magico-Constellation-Brinkman-#203 in the Atrium. Brinkman tt, arm and cartridge. competent. nothing wrong. not quite the Orpheus in detail. overall i liked it.

(6-tie) Rockport-BAT electronics-Brinkman. #331 in the atrium. Brinkman tt, arm and cartridge. the room had issues but they were mostly in the bass; and so Snooky came thru fairly well. the combo of Rockport and BAT is not one i would have choosen, as both are a bit laid back in character, but i did enjoy it.

(9) Vandersteen-ARC-Basis #1004. Basis tt, Vector arm, Lyra Atlas. i liked the room and did visit it a couple other times and listen to other vinyl. it did sound good overall. i really do like the Vandersteen's and ARC gear. but on Snooky it was mush to a degree. and A.J. was out in the hall so you would assume the set-up was very good. yet; it did not have even the precision of the Soundsmith Hyperion cartridge....let alone anywhere close to the Durand-Ortofon's. if you never heard Snooky done right, i can see where you'd be enjoying it. but for me i was disappointed as i expected much more. i'm sure the Atlas is better than this.

(10) Von Schweikert-Sora Sound-George Warren. #529. George Warren tt-Morech arm, ZYX cartridge. this was ok, but could not reveal the detail.

(11) Scaena--VAC-ARC. #216. Kronos tt, Graham Phantom Supreme arm, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge. i had high expectations for this system, the tonearm, and the cartridge. i had enjoyed the Scaena speakers before, the VAC electronics are always enjoyable to me, and i was anticipating hearing the Graham Supreme and the Goldfinger statement. i sat down right next to the Kronos turntable designer, who i assumed had set up the arm and cartridge. it was mostly a mess. everything. the bass was not right at all, the tt seemed to have speed issues, and Snooky was not happening. i'm going to assume that none of the parts were at fault, and wait until next time to assess the Phantom Supreme and Goldfinger Statement.

i had visited this room 3 different times and never heard it sound quite right.

ok; that is it. a caution; my comments pertain to the ability of these systems to play 'Snooky' at that particular time to my ears and nothing more.

mikelavigne

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Jacob,

you are a sh*t disturber aren't you? i can imagine the grin on your face as you posted that. i can tell you i won't show your post to my wife.

:-)

your room is basically the same size as mine for the Wilson XLF's and Thor's Hammers. i think we both have it about right.

i think the new speakers are exactly what my room needs to reach it's optimum. i think that if the room were much bigger i would not be able to achieve the physicality in the bass, and the immediacy and intimacy i want. the speakers will simply have more linearity and headroom than my present speakers. and i'll have more adjustability in the bass towers for exact performance, along with more choices for the main towers for soundstaging and tonality.

i guess we'll just have to wait for Kevin to build them and ship them to me to see how it goes.

mikelavigne

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hi Alex,

thank you for your kind comments. and you are always welcome to ask any question or bring my attention to another thread.

i had already seen your thread and posted, and for whatever reason your post above here was delayed in being posted on this thread.

in any case, best wishes to find the cartridge that best fits your system and preferences. any of the ones you have mentioned would be very nice. i do strongly prefer the Anna of the ones i have heard.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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once the MM7's are in house and have some hours on them, the designer, Kevin Malmgren, will visit and dial them into my room. Kevin already has the dimentions of my room and so will plot out a starting point for me to set them when they arrive.

there are two other local MM3 owners who Kevin will visit when he is here and dial theirs in too.

no speaker or any piece of gear is perfect. even the idea of perfect is not how one should think. OTOH things can be right, and finely designed and built to do a job exceedingly well.

audio nirvana? that would be a personal sense of satisfaction from the music media and system to express it. and in the last couple of years i feel i've been there....where i'm satisfied fully. not that something can't get my attention if it's clearly better....which is what the MM7's did when i was able to directly compare them to the MM3's. i didn't lust after the MM7's for some lack in the MM3's. i just decided to pay the price for a bit more of nirvana once i knew about it.

if tomorrow i changed my mind and kept the MM3's i know i could live with and be satisfied with them. i'm lucky to have the MM3's and appreciate the hell out of them.

mikelavigne

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I seem to recall you were in hot pursuit of the VR 11. ANy comparison between that and the MM7?

6 years ago i owned and loved Von Schweikert VR9SE's. i had no thought to sell them. then a friend from HK made me an offer i could not refuse and i sold them. i had loved the VR11 when i heard them at CES; so i took that opportunity to order VR11's. this was in July 2006 or 2007.....and delivery was promised for 8-10 weeks later. then late that same month i was in San Diego on a business trip and visited Kevin Malmgren (designer of the VR9SE and VR11) who was finishing the final voicing of the MM3's. i loved what i heard, and decided to also order the MM3's.

to make a long story not as long; i finally recieved the MM3's 4 months later, and at that time Von Schweikert still had not even started the VR11's. the following June i finally cancelled my VR11 order (and they had not yet even been started). i'm not going to point fingers anywhere, i only report the facts.

i explain all that because i never really left the Von Schweikert speakers, they left me.

i see the VR11 as an awesome speaker but more an MM3 competitor than an MM7 competitor. i think the MM3's are mostly preferrable to my ears compared to my (now 8 year old) recollection of the VR11's. i prefer the Accuton ceramic midrange and ribbon tweeter to the VR11 or VR9SE mid and tweeter; and see the bottom end of both the MM3 and the VR's as a trade-off.

to my ears the MM7's go to another level at everything compared to any of those others. obviously; these are just my viewpoints....and until i live with the MM7's for awhile my impressions are very provisional.

all these speakers are Kevin's designs (part of the MM3's were not totally Kevin's), and the MM7 is his masterpiece.

mikelavigne

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Greg,

back in March i was in Newport Beach at a business meeting and had the opportunity to visit Kevin Malmgren as he was completeing his design work on the new MM7 crossovers. i was able to hear them side by side with the MM3. you can read about that here and the subsequent posts.

the MM7's are due to arrive late August, so i just listed my MM3's for sale last evening.

the MM3's are no less awesome than they were before, there is now simply another step up.

mikelavigne

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Jean-Fredrick, yes of course i remember you. and your visit as well as your ultimate plans to build a dedicated room once you were more settled in one place. are you building the room in France? or in Asia someplace?

in any case congrats on that finally happening.

i've not heard the Q7, but i like what i've read about it and it's much more amp friendly efficiency. congrats on those too.

my system is wired with #10 gauge Romex. so when i had the Equi=tech installed almost 2 years ago i did not change the wire in the walls as i would have had to rip out the walls to do it. my friend Bruce Brown did use JPS wire for all his in-wall wire.....which then forced him to actually solder all his outlets to his wire since it was so big. if i had it to do over again, i'm on the fence as to whether i would go with some sort of 'audiophile' wire for in wall. it could be better than the #10 Romex, but i'm very happy with what i hear.

as far as the Equi=tech 10QW wall panel system i am totally satisfied. in this country there is the issue of UL rating. there are no other high end panel systems that are rated. it sounds amazing to me. great build quality. it's not cheap but in the context of a room project it's not that bad. i'd contact Martin at Equi=tech and ask them how their panel meeets the codes of the country you are building in.

as far as dulpex outlets a year ago i switched from the Oyaide R-1's to the Furutech GTX-R and it made a big positive difference. the GTX-R uses pure copper contacts and then a stainless steel clamping system behind those copper contacts. this is much easier on the plating of your male plugs, and provides that perfect contact. other better plugs use an alloy for strength that simply is not as good as pure copper. also; the GTX-R is one solid chunk. if you drop it on a counter it just thuds. the R-1 sounds like it full of tiny lose pieces. this mechanical inertness gives you that really solid sound.

there are a few posts in this thread both about the Equi=tech (August-Septemebr 2010) and the Furutech GTX-R's (last spring as i recall) that get into more detail.

i'll look forward to some info on your room project as you go along. enjoy the process. and if you ever get a chance to hear the new Evolution MM7's i'd love to get your feedback on those too. maybe you can visit again here once i have them.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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for those interested; here is a link to a thread on vinyl compared to tape related to my above posts.

mikelavigne

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thank you Francisco, for the explanation.

i look forward to trying it in my system with amps without the BNC/50ohm circuit.

mikelavigne

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to be clear; i do feel that the very best master dubs will still better the best vinyl, the only question is by how much?

if i were to pull out my 5 or 6 very best tapes i expect they will sound better than the vinyl. the issue is not my RTR decks, it's the tapes themselves and all that makes them what they are.

but the bar has been raised as the very best vinyl seems to get better and better.

i have a 1/2" Studer A820 and a few 1/2" master dubs. i've ordered Series 3 of the Tape Project in 1/2". will my vinyl be able to keep up? who knows? stay tuned.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

agree that RTR has many levels as does vinyl. and the difference between your story and mine, is that i have spent 6 years heavily investing in RTR tape and optimizing that format performance. i influenced many to get into tape. and i've used tape as a reference for these past years.

the objective aspect of my story is Rich and both his experience over time in my system with my RTR playback, and then his playing these particular tapes in multiple systems prior to mine. and then other tapes in many systems over the years. this is a guy who knows tape and how it works in various systems. those here who know Rich know his expertise.

but still, as i wrote above, this event is just one data point and no proof. were these particular tapes perfect? apparently not if some reissue Lps better them easily. or maybe we have a vinyl playback system that has changed the rules of the game?

you yourself have asked me multiple times about what i think about my NVS and vinyl system performance. i tried my best to respond, and one thing i mentioned was how i thought that the vinyl was moving equal to and ahead of my tape. it seemed that today's experience would be helpful to illustrate that. but i only called it a small dose of objectivity.

mikelavigne

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i've really been enjoying listening to vinyl lately thru the NVS-Telos-Anna-dart and today something happened that put things in a bit of perspective with a small dose of objectivity.

RTR tape lovers among us mostly know Rich B.. Rich collects (not to be named) master tape dubs, and he visits me every few months when he visits the NW tape mafia, and we play some of his tapes.

today he visited and played 5 of his tapes. i happened to have Lps of all these tapes which i played, and a couple were somewhat close, with the Lp better, the other 3 it was not really close....the Lp was much better. none of these Lps were original pressings; mostly they were MFSL and DCC re-issues. Rich agreed with my view, and was taken aback. a first time event for him. and Rich visits many high end systems with fine vinyl.

this proves nothing, and is anecdotal in nature. but it does speak to my previous opinions on just how and why i feel that i do about the NVS-Telos-Anna-dart.

Rich has been coming over for years with these tapes (which we play thru the Studer A820-King/Cello) and i've been playing the Lps of these tapes for comparison for years.

mikelavigne

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i did not use any BNC T adapter with a 50 ohm plug terminator with the BNC-RCA adapter. i'd appreciate if you could e-mail me a link for the parts to do that and i will acquire them.

many thanks for the tip. :-)

mikelavigne

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Sorry for lack of clarity.....what cable do you use from your preamp to your TUBE amps?

no problem. i had Scott Sheaffer, of Found Music, who built my 2a3 mono tube amps, design in the BNC output
so i can use the same EA BNC cables i use for the dart amps.

recently i did briefly have Lamm ML2.1's and then later CJ M140LP's and in both those cases i did use the BNC->RCA adapter with the EA BNC's.

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

great to hear from you.

i agree on the Wave Kinetics speaker footers. i've not used those yet as i already have other speaker footers i like. but when i get the MM7's i will likely try those. i love the Wave Kinetics A10-U8's.

and i'll also agree that getting a new car is always important.

:-)

keep enjoying the music!

mikelavigne

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Jazdoc, thanks for your typical elegant wisdom.

and Zephyr, i can relate to enjoying the wonder of fine audio (in a relative sense) at every step too. i remember how i felt on top of the world when i got my Wollensak RTR tape deck in High School (before even cassette tapes) and i was able to tape music off the radio. it was fantastic.

and it still is. i doubt i'm enjoying my room and music today any more than i did almost 50 years ago. my reference has changed though.

so the point is to enjoy and appreciate each step in the path as we go along.

mikelavigne

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Nobrainer,

yes; i use the EA BNC cables both from the dart pre to the dart amp, and from the Playback Designs MPS-5 to the dart pre. i use the dart BNC's (made by Herve) from my King Cello tape repro to the dart pre.

i'm not sure what you are referring to as far as "with the adapter". there are no additional pieces to the cables or plugs....the dart gear has BNC male plugs which accept the female plugs on the cables. if i use an amplifier without those male BNC plugs built in then i do need an (BNC->RCA) adapter which allows for the EA BNC's to be plugged into the rca inputs.

i hope that answers your question.

mikelavigne

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Jlind,

i appreciate the support; however i think Actusreus is not intending harm and has sincere opinions (however misplaced and inappropriate for this forum they may be).

i have no problem with someone who differs with my viewpoints, but when it decends to personal attacks that is something different. Lox made personal attacks.....this forum is for fun and maybe to learn a few things too.

mikelavigne

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Actusreus,

i think it's fair for you to question whether i should have used the term 'occupy' in my response to you. it is certainly a polarizing term these days. i think yes, it is fair and here is why. if you come to a high end audio website, and then visit the system pages; you will find what you found. so on the face of things, it seemed you had an agenda.....you expressed yourself quite strongly. OTOH if you distance yourself from that whole deal, that is good enough for me. if you don't hold those views, ok fine.

if you think posting expensive system pictures on AudiogoN is a problem and
I personally would not make the CHOICE to display that opulence publicly
then don't. but i simply don't agree at all. AudiogoN is an enthusiast website.

as far as who can afford what, and what serves the community, which community are we talking about? i certainly don't think my system pictures harm the audiophile community and i never said that everyone can afford my system, i said everyone makes their own choices; lifestyle choices, career choices, budget choices, and audio investment choices.

I questioned whether it was of more or less value to the community in general to openly display what in my belief is ultimately a privilege that most will never have. I think it's a valid question.
yes, it is a question.....but on this website i don't see it as relevant since the purpose of this website is to allow for high end systems to be displayed.

i'm trying to be respectful of your serious questions. we don't have to agree on these things. send me an email and i'd be happy to continue the dialog.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Actusreus,

thanks for the kind words.

i think it's a mistake to confuse system investment for net worth.....or even more.....for fortunate circumstances. there are wealthy among us here who have a modest approach to high end audio, and then very modest net worth guys who simply make the decision to dive all the way into the hobby. there are people with summer homes, sailboats and Ferrari's.....who dabble in high end audio.

'reality of life' as you say, is what you make it. i'm no rich guy, but i have worked hard 6 days a week for 30+ years, and made my decisions on my priorities. over a 15+ year period i have invested in my hobby a little each year so now i have assembled a substaintial system. when i built the room 8 years ago, i sorta decided to work a bit longer and delay retirement to fund my passion. my wife supported my decison. there are times i regret that move....although i have peace about it.

i only get into this to explain that life is about choices; and unless you know someone pretty well it's a mistake to assume anything. many times there is a bit of price to pay for the choices people make. the hope is that the satisfaction is worth it.

mikelavigne

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Actusreus,

hummmm. does a moniker meaning "guilty act" provide any clues to where you are coming from? do you feel guilty about investing in fine audio? and when those with more modest audio systems than you express envy or even disgust how do you feel about that? do you need their approval for peace of mind?

i have no problem with your comments. if i'm going to post my system and pictures on the web, i need to expect a certain amount of feedback such as yours. the 'occupy' world view is one way to see things.

i would point out that high end audio forums will contain information about multiple levels of expensive gear and systems. and there are plenty like mine + or - a little. and there are people behind every one of those systems that you don't know anything about; yet are so quick to judge.

that said; if you are ever in the Seattle area you would be welcome to visit for a listen. i bet we would have fun listening to music.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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wow!! double Wow!!

i'm listening to a Joe Chambers drum solo from 'Chief Crazy Horse' off the Wayne Shorter, Adam's Apple 45rpm reissue from Music Matters. disc 2, side 4. the whole side.

this is why you buy these 45 reissues. this record is alive. tonal density, explosive transients, immediacy and vivid detail. very dynamic and energetic. great foundation and rich ambience. lot's of life on top too!

it's a 1966 RVG recording and it's all there!

the NVS-Telos-Anna-darTZeel is really strutting it's stuff.

mikelavigne

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Mike, just one thought on your reasonable premise that careful execution counts for more than a unique engineering approach. I'd generally agree with you, but I don't think you feel this holds for the tt where the unique dd approach of NVS supersedes any careful execution of belt drive eg the Continuum tt, surely the best executed traditional belt drive out there. So in this case you do believe unique engineering is all, as I believe crossoverless is the way to go in spkr design.

yes; you are right. past a certain point of execution certain design approaches begin to assert themselves as clearly better. their inherent advantages result in greater performance. but exactly where that point is, is a matter of perspective and opinion. and very very over the top execution can upend otherwise reasonable expectations. regarding the Continuum Caliburn, i'd say that lots of science as well as very high levels of build quality resulted in a belt drive tt that sounded mostly not like a belt....or at least minimally like a belt. other even more expensive belt drive tt's, but without the similar levels of science, don't fare as well.....at least those i've heard.

i think when we look at modestly priced direct drive tt's from any era, you are simply offering trade-offs to belt driven tt's. at these lower price ranges bearings, motors, plinths, power supplies, and platters seem to be more the issues of ultimate performance than the drive systems. whereas at higher price points, they all can have those pieces done at high levels, and drive systems approach become the limitation.

to me arms are another place where up to a certain point any of the arm design approaches can be executed to be quite good. i'd even say that in the upper middle range of price, a linear tracker seems to be superior, but likely not so much in the lower range. this is due to the relationship between the challenge of cost of a very high quality bearing for the arm shaft, and the rigidity needed in the arm mechanism. at lower prices there are simply too many compromises in a linear tracker.

then when you go above a certain level of execution, my personal opinion is that a unipivot rises above all others as it (in my personal observations) continues to get better and better and better as you apply more and more refinement due to it's inherent freedom to track the goove.

as far as crossoverless speakers having a similar advantage as (how i view) dd tt's and unipivot tonearms, i have no opinion and would defer to whatever research you may have done. i simply have not paid attention to them as none have grabbed my attention. i do see the high efficiency as an advantage in terms of low power amplification, and certainly some speaker design challenges get minimized or solved with a crossoverless design, but overall do they get me closer to how i want to hear the music? not so far. i will try to look at this closer and give you an answer later once i have some experience.

mikelavigne

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above a few posts there was discussion about the MM7's and the crossover. i found an explanation on the Evolution Acoustics website which goes much further than i could to explain how Kevin Malmgren approaches crossover design. i knew it was first order and quite simple but rather than my viewpoint here it is from the designer himself. i hope this helps;
Question 9:



Evolution Acoustics speakers (with the exception of the subwoofers) employ a “Constant Voltage” crossover. Would you explain how such a crossover is constructed, how it differs from an ordinary passive crossover, and what its benefits are?



Response:



First of all we need to clarify that a Constant Voltage Crossover Network is not that mysterious. It is simply a passive network which exhibits constant voltage transfer, and is the only type of engineered design that will result in true time coincidence and phase coherence, otherwise known as first-order. Typically, most manufacturers will try to obtain this result through a common parallel network design, having one part in series with each driver. However, we employ what is known as a series design which is inherently advantageous.



Crossover components and transducers all have various tolerances in their values. These tolerance differences will always affect the total network voltage response in a typical parallel network, making it almost impossible to guarantee a true constant voltage design from speaker to speaker. In a series network, the drivers are connected in series across the amplifier output, and there are no crossover component tolerances in the direct signal path to contend with. In this type of design the sum of the voice coil voltages will always be equal to the driving voltage, thus a true constant voltage design.



The main benefit to this type of design is that there is no energy or driving voltage loss. This results in a much more dynamic presentation, because there is nothing between the amplifier and the drivers. Basically, transients are fully in tact and not suppressed by capacitors, inductors or resistors. So, when we rate a speaker at 93 dB sensitivity that is an extremely conservative estimate. You basically will experience greater dynamic contrast than with traditional parallel network speakers rated at higher sensitivities.



Another benefit to this type of design is extreme purity of signal. Because there are no capacitors or inductors directly in the signal path, there is nothing to color the integrity of the signal. Not even the most expensive capacitor in the world will sound better than a direct wire from the amplifier to the tweeter, and there is no arguing that. It is true that all of the shunt or parallel components can have some influence on the overall resulting sound of the speaker, so that is why we use all top shelf components in our crossover network, from hand made reference grade film and foil capacitors to heavy gauge pure copper flat ribbon air core inductors.



The final advantage of this type of crossover topology is the way it handles driver behavior above and below the crossover point. Without getting too technical, this type of design maintains a wide overlap of typical first order slopes around the crossover point and then sharply falls off after a few octaves in each direction. The result is true phase coherent performance with added protection on the bottom end of the tweeter and filtering of upper frequency break up in the midrange, which aids in providing better off axis response than typical first order parallel network engineering.



We must also point out that all of our crossover engineering is performed through the use of very sophisticated computer-aided design applications. However, we do not rely entirely on computer generated optimizations for final circuitry, as some manufacturers do. We perform real time measurements as well to verify all computer-based suggestions. We do use our ears to also verify results, but unlike some manufactures that design by ear, we always insist that the design must be as perfect as possible from a measurement standpoint, and will always double check through measurements that any changes made by ear are truly valid. We do this to ensure that we are not imparting our own coloration preferences on the design to ensure as natural a presentation as possible.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i would tend to agree with Agear and Lew as far as absolutes about design approaches. sometimes i've also felt that there was only one approach that was best, or at least obviously better. but execution typically makes more difference than strict design dogma. when all other things are equal, the better fundamental design can be better, but very rarely are all other things equal.

specifically; one driver (no crossover) speakers have never grabbed my heart strings 'yet'.....but my mind is open to it happening. and as far as the original Grand Prix Monaco tt and why it was not more loved; i had one in my system for a year. it did nothing wrong. and i don't think it's lack of musical involvement related much to it's drive system....it was sitting right next to my Rockport at that time. i think it had more to do with the chassis design and Alvin's personal reference. it simply did not have enough weight and foundation. i preferred my Dobbins Garrard and Technics SP-10 Mk2 i also had then for their more robust musical feelings. if the Monaco had sold for $10k instead of over $20k it would have been just fine.

mikelavigne

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Great Sam, see you in June!

mikelavigne

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David,

thanks. i do recall that you were among the ones suggesting that i needed the MM7's. i guess i'm somewhat predictable. :-)

just like the MM3's, the crossover of the MM7's is internal and it outputs a signal directly to the subwoofer (on the MM3's, that same driver is a woofer). on the MM3's there is an umbilical that goes from crossover in the middle mid-tweeter section to the bottom woofer section with the bass amp; then from the bass amp in the bottom section to another umbilical in the top section.

in the MM7's the umbilical travels from the middle section of the main towers to the bass towers. at Kevins i did not study the rear of the MM7 bass towers to say exactly how it's all connected. but each bass tower containing -4- 15" subwoofers is actually 2 pairs of subwoofers each pair with independant adjustments. you have 4 adjustments (2 per tower); crossover frequency, bass gain, bass quality ('Q') and bass extention. also there is a rumble filter on and off.

then there is a tweeter gain adjustment on each main tower.

i think the amp in each of the -4- 2 driver subwoofer sections is the large version (1000 watt) of the B&O ICE Module; which is the same as in my MM3's. it is fantastic for this purpose.

i hope i have been clear enough.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

no doubt that there are other more cost effective ways to sonic nirvana than my choices. many times i wish that i had taken a more modest path.....then i think....naaaahhh. :-)

anyway; i have heard of other cheaper power grid solutions than my Equi=tech; and a 66 pound, 4Kva transformer that is sufficiently quiet and does not restrict dynamics ought to be fine for many systems....particulary with highly efficient speakers like the Zu. i have no idea what a Black Hole anti-wave generator does, but the bottom line is your ears. glad it worked in your room. is that maybe like an Acoustic Revive RR-77 that deals with the Schumann reasonance? i did have one of those in my room but could not hear it make any difference.

i did look up the Trans Fi Salvation with the linear tracking arm. very cool! i've not heard one of those.

i do enjoy the Zu speakers at shows when i hear them. but i've never spent any extended listening time to them. i do like their efficiency. reading about the Zu Dominance i'd say it should be compared more to the MM3's than the MM7's on paper. but we don't listen on paper, do we?

so many paths to glory, i agree.

you ought to list your system on Audiogon; it sound very interesting. and pictures, we need pictures!

mikelavigne

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Spirtofmusic,

one more thing; i've not heard the Oswald Mills Imperia or Monarch Concrete horns. if i get a chance to hear them, i'll do it and report. all Jonathan Weiss's gear looks fantastic, and what i've heard sound great too.

mikelavigne

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i cannot edit my above post; so let me say what i should have said is "i have not heard horns have true full frequency range and top to bottom coherence". i can only speak to things i have heard my own self.

mikelavigne

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Spritofmusic,

thanks for the kind comments, and i'm glad you have enjoyed my journey. i have tried to only change gear when it's better, not just different.....and with hopefully synergy of pieces in mind. and no doubt there are other valid choices i might have made diffferent that those i did make. i was fortunate to be able to actually hear the MM7 and MM3 side by side with the same electronics......so i have peace to go forward with that big decision. i did not visit Kevin's with a pre-concieved notion of what i might do. the MM7's sold themselves.

the MM7's are 96db efficient and 6 ohm load; so they are more low power friendly than the MM3. whether the 3 watt Found Music 2a3's will work or not we will have to see. whichever low power tubes i might try should work better on the MM7's than the MM3's. sure; i would love to have the NHB-458 monoblocks. but that will be more a 'lifestyle' choice than an 'audio performance' one....as the dollars become prohibitive after this speaker aquisition. really; the NHB-108 is such a magnificent amplifier that i feel no great push to get a different amp. i don't see it as a system limitation in any way. this truth has been made more clear than ever before by switching back and forth with the 2a3 monoblocks. the 108 holds it's own, if not quite is equal, even at those things the 2a3's excell at.

as far as horns and such; i don't see it at this time. something profound would need to happen that pulled me in that direction. this is a funny hobby, and who knows. i can tell you i enjoy a number of different types of speakers for what they do well; the MBL 101e always entertains, big Maggies, or big Appogies are wonderful, the Genesis 1.2 is fantastic. i've not yet heard horns take me where those speakers can and have; and i am happy with the overall performance (and amplifier friendly designs) of the MM3 and obviously the MM7 to those great speakers.

i do value true full frequency capability with seamless top to bottom coherence. Horns just cannot really do that. but maybe someday my priorities might change.

mikelavigne

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hi Sam,

thanks.

and yes, i'm coming down for T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach. i have my airplane ticket and room. i'm looking forward to it.

it will be great to see you and Sonny up here this summer. hopefully i'll be in town when you are here. let me know when you know the exact dates. maybe the MM7's will arrive in time for your visit.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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Spirtofmusic,

the MM7's are $200,000.

mikelavigne

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hi Jason,

thanks, i'm excited about the MM7's.

the ability to locate the main towers independant of the bass towers does present possibilities for more ideal soundstageing. soundstaging is a significant attribute of my room already with all the space beside and behind my speakers. i do expect gains, but we'll just have to see how it goes once they are here.

hopefully i can get Kevin up here after i have some hours on them to really nail the set-up.

mikelavigne

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hi Peter,

thanks, i agree that a 90 minute listen to the MM7's does give me cause for considerable promise.

i'm loving the Anna. it's probably fully broken in, but honestly it has not changed much since i've had it. it was used as a demo at CES so it likely came to me with some hours on it. Ortofon may have even broken it in prior to CES for all i know.

since mine has been the only one around so far, it's not like normally when my comments about it might be compared to other's. i figured i would not speak much more about it until there were a few more out there.

my previous comments still apply; it takes the best parts of the A90 and improves them. it's got that naturalness and top to bottom balance, only even more of an organic rightness, it has more body and tonal color, but no coloration. it is soooo dynamically alive. and it's the ease at which it expresses the energy of music which takes it to the master tape plateau. it is an ultra solid tracker, and groove noise seems to be rejected pretty much.

it's equally adept at rock, jazz, or classical.....i can throw anything on and know it will be excellent. obviously the Telos and NVS are doing their considerable part in the equation.

2 weeks ago Bruce Brown came over and did a high rez dsd recording for one of his clients off the NVS-Telos-Anna-darTZeel. he was pretty taken with it and said it was easily the best vinyl he had yet heard. he has been exposed to lots of pretty high level stuff.

i do look forward to more Anna's getting out there and direct comparisons being done with other cartridges. i think the Anna is in a class of it's own based on what i've heard, but only time and wider exposure will reveal the truth of that.

there is, of course, lots of great gear out there that i have not heard. so speaking in absolutes is not realistic.

mikelavigne

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Agear,

the MM3's excell at what i call micro and macro dynamics. in my experience, a ribbon tweeter is very energetic, and a ceramic mid-range has what i call 'life' in it's ability to sound alive and have the ability to stop and start very fast. then you have a pair of sealed box 1000 watt powered 15" woofers which give you dyanmic headroom in the deep bass which gives that life, tonality, slam and articulation in bass. that's superlitive ambient energy of the MM3.

the MM7 is a multiple better at 'life' and ambient energy than the MM3. you have the addition 4 11" ceramic matrix woofers and an additional 2 15" subs and 1000 watt amp per side.

Kevin's room is not ideal. it's 2 stories and kind of a square box. almost an 'anti-room' relative to the ideal. yet; the MM7's were alive and fast. we did play a number of different types of music and the explosiveness was astonishing. it was terrific. however; i expected that from this speaker, and it was everything i could have hoped for. i made a big deal about the increased clarity because it was somewhat unexpected. i had been living with that tweeter, mid-range and cabinet for 5 years, and now it went to a completely different level.

understand that i've already owned 2 speakers Kevin designed (VR9SE and MM3) and had another he designed for 6 months (VR7SE), so i know that he will get all the dynamics and life a design might promise. i spent lots of time at one CES with the VR11 too.

you are welcome to visit and listen once the MM7's are here. but even in Kevin's room they were terrific. i'm not familiar with any speaker which is so room adjustable. if you have the space for the 4 towers no doubt they can be made to sing.

mikelavigne

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Mike,

thanks.

i'll let you know when they are sorted out. they are not due until late July, and that's not set in stone. hopefully sooner than later.

cheers,

mikelavigne

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agree that on paper the MM7's look like they should be amazing. especially for a room like yours, or mine, that are big enough to allow all that driver surface to breathe and put to use all that energy.

but actually A/B'ing it with the MM3's still was an over-the-top experience. what was surprising is that it was not the dynamic ease and energy that was the big thing, it was the increased clarity by such a large margin. and how much more real and involving it made the music. and the top to bottom balance without exception suspended disbelief. it stopped me dead in my tracks. just music. our ears always seem to gravitate toward the less veiled sound. more information. more linear.

after that you become aware of all the other stuff....and the better bass, more ease, greater foundation, etc, etc.

coming back to my room a few days later to my MM3's they did not sound at all veiled or distorted. they sound super. i'm not feeling deflated or anything. it's a credit to really how great the MM3's are. only in direct comparison was the difference so compelling. in the back of my mind i do ask myself; how might this sound on those big bad boys?

i do very much look forward to getting the MM7's in room and seeing what truths extended time listening might reveal....and how my analog sources sound with this great speaker system.

mikelavigne

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Thanks Albert.

it would be fun to get you back up here. let's do it.

mikelavigne

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the MM7's use the same drivers as the MM3 for the tweeter, mid-range, and sub. and the same basic cabinet for the tweeter-mid and the sub. but otherwise they are completely different.

MM7 is a three-way with 4 woofers per side added to the mid-tweeter in the main tower; with a totally different crossover. the sub towers now cross over to the 3-way main tower around 35hz to 50hz. the woofers are a new purpose built ceramic matrix driver and now the ceramic mid-range only has to go down to around 500 hz instead of the 120hz-80hz it does in the MM3.

the result of all this is considerable increase in clarity compared to the already highly resolving MM3's. (i heard them side by side). also, the increase in driver surface brings an overall level of linearity, micro and macro dynamic life, and effortlessness that simply needs to be heard to be appreciated.

Kevin showed me the graph of the top to bottom frequency response. it's + or - 2db from top to bottom. and it sounds like it. it sounds real. i can't get 'Keith Don't Go' out of my head from that day. it's like i never heard it before. i was floored!!!

each sub tower contains 2 1000 watt amplifiers for separate adjustment of the 2 top and 2 bottom sub drivers for the ultimate in bass-room integration. also; the separate bass towers allow for optimal location for bass performance and for imaging independant of each other. my room was made for these bad boys to strut their stuff.

when i walked into the room at Kevin's i was immediately taken with the physical scale of the MM7's; and then the way 1200 pounds of speaker (per side) completely disappears so easily and naturally. the extra effieciency loves the NHB-108 amp. hard to imagine how one could use more power.

mikelavigne

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i've known about the concept of building the Evolution Acoustics MM7's for a few years, and knew that the production version was nearing completion. the cabinets had been built, the drivers had been ordered. a new woofer was concieved and built just for this speaker by Accuton.

Kevin Malmgren has been designing the crossover in San Diego; i just happened to have a business trip to Newport Beach a couple of weeks ago exactly when Kevin had pretty much completed the crossover design and so i drove down one afternoon and heard it.

i only listened to the MM7's for about 90 minutes. there was a set of MM3's there too which i listened to. Kevin was using the same dart amp and preamp and the same cables i use, so it was quite familiar although a completely different room and the source was redbook from a server thru an unfamiliar dac. the 'final' crossover for the MM7 was spread across the floor in front of the speaker; although the final production crossover will have upgraded parts and be more solidly installed. so if anything the production MM7 will sound better.

the MM3's are overall really as good a speaker as i have heard. i've been living with them for 5+ years.

it's just mostly that the MM7's take what the MM3's do and take everything to another level. until i heard the MM7 i would have never associated the sound of the MM3 with the word distortion. no different than how the Telos tonearm exposes other tonearms as distorted. or how master tape reveals distortion in other media. until you hear the musical message through a transducer with less distortion, you cannot assign distortion to your current reference. it's a humbling experience having one's reference blown up.

and it's like that on every sonic item on the list.

better, much more involved crossover. more clarity, more naturalness. more musical involvement.

mid range driver only needs to go down to 500hz instead of 100hz. 4 woofers added per side. more linearity. mid-bass deep bass transition is more seamless, more dynamic and complete. more driver surface area reduces distortion.

double the subwoofer drivers, double the power, more adjustability, subs only cover below 50hz. must hear to appreciate dynamic effortlessness and deep bass linerarity.

awesome speaker......which does not change how great the MM3 is.

so now i need to sell my MM3's along with some of my RTR decks to keep the wife happy with this new addition.

mikelavigne

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you mean these?

yes....i have ordered new loudspeakers. twin tower, 86 inch tall, 1200 pound per side, wonderful, loudspeakers.

suppose to arrive in late July.

mikelavigne

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Marc,

i stand by my past comments as far as the NVS and my other previous tt's. in fact, the more i listen to the NVS-Telos-Anna and then compare it to master tape, even 1/2" master tape, the more my opinions (and that is all they are) are confirmed.

i respect Albert and his approach to the hobby and his method of developing his viewpoints. but Albert hears things his way and in his particular system. i owned a pretty darn good Dobbins SP-10 Mk3 myself. it was a fine tt. i heard Albert's SP-10 Mk3 in his system a couple of years ago. it's a fine tt.

as far as the SP-10 Mk3 beating the NVS in the bass; i really cannot say what Albert hears in his system.....other than Albert also prefers the SME 312s to the Talea 2 in the bass. i've heard the 312s, and if that is 'better bass' than the Talea 2, then Albert and i simply hear differently. which is just fine and the way this hobby goes sometime.

does my NVS have better bass than my Dobbins SP-10 Mk3? well' it's more like the bass on my master tape. it's quicker, more articulate, has more complex texture, and more dynamic...it's real. so, yes. OTOH my Garrard had this 'rounded' sort of emphasis to the bass. was it real? no. did i like it? yes. could i understand someone preferring it to master tape bass? yes. so really....what exactly is better bass? beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

i have no opinion about the Timeline and all 'that'. i'm more interested in how my tt sounds compared to my master tape. that is the consistent standard i've compared my tt's to, besides each other.

after some years of investigation of tt's/arm's/cartridges i could not be happier with where i've ended up. if Albert is too, then great.

mikelavigne

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Charles1dad,

i'm guilty of not seeing enough live Jazz in Seattle, and need to put more energy into it. it's just so easy to walk on out to the barn.....

but for dynamic energy 'live' has got it over even the best reproduction.

mikelavigne

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hi Whart,

thankyou for the thoughtful rec, it does sound really good.....however.....

tonight is the NIT game i came here to see, and there are actually 2 games, so it will likely go till Midnight. and then Wed nite we are planning a Broadway show (Book of Mormon?) and thurs hopefuly another game if UW wins tuesday. then back to the left coast on Friday morning.

so no more live Jazz this visit.... :(

mikelavigne

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i'm in Manhattan (NYC) with my son this week to watch University of Washington play in the NIT. we got in this afternoon and had a free night tonight, so we went to a Jazz Club, Smoke, for 'Big Band Night' with a 16 piece jazz band. no cover, great acoustics and a very entertaining enthusiastic band.

there is nothing like live acoustic music.

mikelavigne

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Enrico,

regarding the Kieth Monks, i did think about it. i looked at their website and tried to find some feedback. this was in December. i decided that the Loricraft looked like a safer bet as it's not 'automatic' and does not have as many moving parts. the Loricraft allows for use of multi-stage chemical treatments which i've found to be advantagous. i had already owned a Loricraft PRR3 for 5 years with zero issues.

regarding the 'thin' pressing issue on the Audiodesk the main problem has come from the later DG pressings, and other Classical pressings. many are not very heavy. what happens is that you need to dry those by hand a bit since the squeege does not remove enough water prior to blow dry. if you don't listen to classical the problem is minimal. it's maybe 30% of classical, but 10-15% of the rest. i could live with it if i had to.

mikelavigne

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hi Enrico,

i do still enjoy and like my Audiodesk RCM. however, i have learned about it's limitations so i added a Loricraft PRR4 Delux RCM too.

the Audiodesk is limited to a one step wash and blow dry. so you cannot use different chemicals and enzyme cleaners.

the Audiodesk has trouble with the thinner pressings as the sqweegy that wipes the water off is marginal for those thin pressings.

the Loricraft does a better job of getting every tiny spec of dust/dirt since it uses the thread and vacuum. you could have 2 Audiodesk units with one with ultraclean water for rinse only, but i still think that the Loricraft is marginally better at that.

i think having both is ideal, since when i want to do a quick easy clean and not stop listening i can throw the Lp on the Audiodesk, press one button, and go listen while it's being cleaned. also; there is some dirt where the Audiodesk with the ultrasonic process cleans deeper than the Loricraft and the chemicals.

if i had only one RCM it would likely be the Loricraft PRR4 Delux due to the thin pressing issue. but if you want to clean and listen at the same time to many Lps the Audiodesk makes it much more fun. 2 years ago when i purchased that large classical Lp collection the Audiodesk made it a wonderful experience of discovery and not the dauting task it would have been with the Loricraft.

finally the Audiodesk is somewhat less reliable than the Loricraft. i did have one motor failure which required repair. i'm still happy i own it but just FYI.

good luck with your decision.

mikelavigne

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Sean,

it was a fun evening, glad you enjoyed it. enjoy those Lps.

best regards,

Mike

mikelavigne

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hello Jim,

i don't know about that (having impeccable taste that is), but it's nice of you to say it anyway, thank you.

i do agree with the British researchers about music and it's affect. how sad it would be if music did not have an ability to alter your state of mind. i know i would be (more) lost and adrift without it.

as to listening style, i have 'a' style, whether i 'have style' is whole nother question. :)

mikelavigne

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Henk Jan,

i've been gone and then very busy. i've started to answer your question a couple of times but something always interupts. anyway; sorry for the delay in answering your question about cabinet difraction and how cabinet shape might affect the performance.

first of all; i don't really know about cabinet design and the technical side of your question. as a speaker builder yourself, i'm sure you know quite a bit more than me on this subject. all i can do is to tell you about what i've observed and cause and effect as far as my intuition goes.

i do generally observe that any speaker with a broad, flat front around the tweeter/mid-range drivers seems to struggle with image focus and tonal correctness. i think when mid to high frequencies get launched by a driver that any adjoining reflective surface will add it's voice to the message. how can it not?

i observe that speakers with cabinets that angle away or that are rounded seem to be more free of those negatives.

there are so many varibles on speaker design that i suppose it is hard to isolate specific cause and effect for particular speaker performance characterisitcs one might hear. if i was designing a speaker and wanted to make sure the tweeter and mid-range were free of cabinet surface and shape problems; i'd likely experiment with different type materials and shapes until i heard what i wanted to hear.

as far as felt, or leather, or some type of absorbant material on the surface around a tweeter; i'm skeptical about that idea......for the same reason that i avoid any absorbtion in my room surfaces. absorbtion reduces energy. that means there is less music. it might be cheaper to apply felt to a cabinet to tame a rough sounding tweeter than adding a curve to the cabinet, but i expect that it will limit ultimate performance.

i loved the way my Kharma Exquisites handled the high frequencies, they had a curved cabinet around the tweeter. so does my Evolution Acoustics MM3's.

speakers do need to be built to price points and there are many trade-offs as well as aesthetic considerations. and i have heard speakers with relatively flat fronts that seem to image well and be tonally correct.

mikelavigne

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further Anna thoughts....

did i say this cartridge is full of energy?

i guess i did. :)

you have not heard a String Quartet or Cello Lp until you've heard it thru the Anna. and i'll give the Telos and NVS their rightful share of the credit too. foundation, body, tender soaring string tone, and every tiny musical part of a string quartet comes alive right in front of you. the music gets personal and captivates.

bass. big bold ballsey bass. it packs a whallop. and the attack is explosive and precise. yet there is perfect focus. there is a wonderful bloom, and unlimited decay, yet never overshoot or rounding, and not a trace of edge or roughness.

i'm having trouble typing and listening. listening wins.

mikelavigne

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hi Sean,

regarding the Anna. late January the Anna did arrive. Joel came over and installed it. it sounded great as i mentioned. but i only had it installed for a few days and then was out of town for a week so i loaned the Anna to Joel to play with in his system and learn it's tricks. i figured he would find it's ideal settings in his own system. then i returned and picked up the Anna from him and he was then out of town for awhile. so i re-installed it on the Telos.....and to the Anna's credit it sounded fine, but i strongly suspected that it was not perfectly dialed in. knowing Joel would return i did not chase ultimate set-up. not that i could get there on my own, but i knew that Joel could and would.

not that the Anna sounded wrong in any way. only that the amazing energy i first heard was somehow not fully manifest. the information but not quite all the life.

and today Joel did return and nail down the Anna set-up. it's now more broken in than initially, Joel knows it better.......and i must say that it is a force of nature. breathtaking. alive. yet so sure of itself and sooooooo effortless. the music just leaps from the grooves.

tonality is quite advanced from the A90. much more color and richness, a sweetness of tone....but not any sort of thickness or blunting. just halographic color with infinite shading.

the A90 is a particularly dynamic and alive cartridge. the Anna is another level of dynamics entirely. the Anna has such an ease and unforced kind of power and control; like a mega watt amp but with the finesse of a tiny watt SET. so the music is just so relaxed but with all the tension and explosiveness you might imagine. the music moves with more synergy and and natural flow. more real.

mikelavigne

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hi Fred,

you will love the Anna, it is a game changer.

the Anna has .20mv output, whereas the A90 is .24mv output. in my case the darTZeel at the 64db setting i had it on for the A90 also seems great for the Anna. if i were to have occasion to open up the darTZeel i'd likely try the next higher setting and see how the gain/noise is with the Anna. you never know until you try.

it's not that 64db is not already fine, but that just maybe higher output might be better. i suspect it's the same with the Yipsilon. maybe they can send you the higher gain SUT to try when you get your Anna.

mikelavigne

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as i mentioned above, the Ortofon Anna arrived Friday afternoon. Joel Durand was kind enough to offer to install it on my Telos yesterday afternoon. first we listened for awhile to the A90, which was sounding great. then the Anna.

Anna front
Anna back
Anna side

the Ortofon Anna uses the same SLM (selective laser melting) to build the body as the A90 but it's now made of titanium instead of stainless. the 'Anna' is named after Anna Netrebko, the opera singer.

my previous taste of the Anna a few weeks ago in another system was not conclusive since we switched phono stages when the A90 was switched to the Anna. i could tell it was very special but the phono stage change was too extreme for any specific conclusions.

well; this time there was no place to hide. and as good as the A90 is and has been in my system, the Anna is now my reference cartridge.....and after listening for maybe 10 hours last night and this morning, i feel the Anna is not just a little bit better than the A90.

the Anna has some break-thru technology which i must admit i don't fully comprehend. as i understand it is more efficient at capturing energy and so is more linear and especially more dynamic. and what i hear is first an effortlessness and level of resolution that is startleing. this is from the first few seconds that it hits you as quite different. and there is quite a bit more texture and body, not any coloration or thickness or rounding, but just more life and organic color and richness.....even a sweetness. there is more spacial information, but also less 'noise' around images and more musically significant information. things are 'clean up and real'. you realize that distortion is lowered significantly.

it's better at all the things the A90 does well, that linearity and naturalness along with great transient snap and smooth extended highs and lows. then add in the sweetness on top of the Lyra Olympos SL, the attack and speed of the vdH Colibri, and the tonal richness and mid-range beauty of the Koetsu RSP without the rounding or carmel color. i've owned and enjoyed all those cartridges. the Anna does all those things, and also it has a special ability to bring more order and reality to the soundstage, and the music seems more of one piece and together. that little bit closer to real.

i'm blown away. bravo to Ortofon for having the vision to build such a great product.

the A90 is still a great cartridge; and the Anna is twice as expensive as an A90, so it should be better. i see the Anna as a natural next step for A90 owners who can afford it. it does pay homage to the attributes that attracted so many to the A90 while going to another level and adding strengths.

the Anna has .2mv output, the A90 .24mv output. i plugged it into the same set-up as my A90 had on my draTZeel NHB-18NS......it's loaded at 47k with 64db of gain. and the Anna had plenty of gain for my system.

i want to repeat the word 'effortless'. the Anna never breaks a sweat. i'm guessing that the technical advantages in efficency of this design is the secret of what it does.

i've not heard everything out there, but the Anna is easily the best of what i have heard. my only complaint is that my 60 year old eyes cannot see the stylus and cantiliver as easy to hit a specific groove.....i need my glasses for that now.

mikelavigne

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Mark, agree that Paul at Adona is a pleasure to work with, good luck with your rack upgrade.

mikelavigne

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Pierre,

sorry, forgot about your MM Micro One question.

i did hear the MM Micro One at RMAF; i likey spent 5-7 hours in that room over three days. like all the comments you have already read, it is a remarkable speaker and even maybe a bit unbelievable that it can do what it does at it's size and price. i know all the gear intimately that was in that room as it's mostly what i have in my room, and it does get you quite a long way toward what the big boy Evolutions can do. and obviously it worked great in that small RMAF room. there were many questions about where was the subwoofer in the room from listeners.

you cannot go wrong with the MM Micro One's. and the fit and finish on it is also remarkable for the price.

mikelavigne

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Pierre,

prior to trying the T-Fusor's on my side walls, i had hung a couple of 2' x 5' Navajo rugs in the same place over the 3/4 finished plywood wall surface and it really deadened the sound. knocked all the life out of the music. so i did not want any absorbtion at all. i just wanted some diffusion to eliminate any slap echo from the facing walls without changing the tonal nature. and i got the result i wanted from the T-Fusors, and at $59 each they are relatively cheap and easy to use. i painted them and mounted them with velcro tape 2 years ago and they have been trouble free.

since those side walls are not first reflection points, and they are so far from the speaker drivers (and it's really the sound decay they deal with), i did not need the precision of the RPG Skyline's in that location. those side mounted T-Fusors are essentially behind my speakers.

the Skylines are needed in a place like the backwall between my speakers where they get first reflections and have to maintain tonal balance with their diffusion. my room is 21 feet wide. so the first reflection points on the sides are a long way from my ears and there is built in diffusion in the walls there. in the ceiling i have those angled panels eliminating any first reflection issues.

in a smaller room where the first refection times are relatively short; you need the most agressive and accurate diffusor possible on on first reflection points on side walls and the ceiling; such as the Skylines.

all diffusors do absorb to some degree. but my whole agenda and my room designer's agenda is to retain as much musical energy and life as possible (note the hardwood floor at the speaker end) and use diffusion and minimize absorbtion to maintain order in the soundstage and tonal integrity.

i will be sure to spin some Yellowjackets this morning; i have a couple of their CD's (and likely an Lp or 2 too). back in the 80's i saw them a few times here loacally. they were on my heavy rotation for awhile.

mikelavigne

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Mike,

with Ortofon again using the SLM (selctive laser melting) process, but now with titanium, for the body.....you would think that there is likely an advantage to those coupling pads on the top of the headshell over a flat surface. i'd guess (a SWAG) that on some material interface level those pads will stay more stable over time than a flat surface....and therefore improve performance.

mikelavigne

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Sam,

the head switch wiring plan on my Studer was a matter of discovery. it was the first A820 Ki wired a switch into and was intended to be temporary, just to see how it would sound and whether there would be issues. it sounded so good that i never worried too much about the cosmetic aspect of it; i know it has bothered Ki more than me. although now the discussion here has motivated Ki to move forward on both my A820's and 2 of his with some permanent solutions including drilling the head shell structure of all 4 A820's to mount the switch and running the wires under the panels to tidy rear RCA jacks. it will look 'factory' soon.

and yes; Ki is a gift from God to tape-heads everywhere....and as good (and likely better) than advertised.

mikelavigne

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hi Mark,

i do like the Adona racks and the composite platforms. i think the Adona rack systems have excellent build quality and high quality materials. the multi-element platforms work great for me since you have high mass but with the impendence changes with the different materials so energy is not transfered up through the rack. it's ideal for a turntable with some designed in isolation or for my Wave Kinetics A10 U8 isolation footers.

to me there are grounded racks, and decoupling/isolations racks. the Adona is a great choice for a grounded rack.

btw, very nice system you have there; and moving up to the higher level Adona racks will give you more effective grounding as they have more mass and structural integrity. however; predicting actual performance improvements with a better grounded rack would be depend on your specific gear.

using some sort of decoupling/isolation interface between your current Adona rack and your gear might get you more performance than a rack upgrade.

in any case i do highly recommend the Zero Reference Adona rack system.

mikelavigne

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the Ortofon Anna has arrived.

just now UPS delivered the Anna. it's the new top-of-the-line cartridge from Ortofon with a bunch of new technology.

i heard it for a few hours a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed. it was very alive sounding with great slam and drive. i'm looking forward to getting it mounted on the NVS-Telos and spending some time with it.

an interesting coincidence is that my first A90 (which i still have) is serial number 8; this Anna is also serial number 8. sounds kinda mystical.....i know in some cultures the number 8 has good kharma.

:^)

mikelavigne

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hi Sam,

hopefully your Studer 1/2" conversion kit arrives sooner not later. ;^)

it's worth the trouble.

i do not have a close-up picture of the direct-out head switch that Ki did on my 1/4" A820 that i can access from here at work. when i get home tonight i'll try to take the best picture of it that i can and post it. it's not as pretty as it will be when the it gets integrated into the head block cover. obvioulsy i don't have a picture of the head switch on the 1/2" becuase it's not yet installed.

the wires currently travel between the reels on top of the chassis. there is no noise, hum, or any sort of problem the way the switch and cables are now. and i'd rather have this situation than something 'clean' that has issues.

what i wish i had is a film of Ki doing the actual head switch install, which is like watching a world renouned brain surgeon in action at the top of his game. talk about poetry in motion.

mikelavigne

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tonight i got my hands on a few 1/2" low generation master dubs from some amazingly good source tapes. i'm listening now to these thru the stock Studer A820 electronics (with the OTL output cards) and 50 feet of cheap XLR cables into the darTZeel XLR inputs. not exactly the optimal output signal path for the most refined performance.

but they sound fantastic, and the 1/2" brings a meatyness to the sound which gets 'that' much closer to real than any other source i've heard. you've not heard a midrange like you hear it from half inch.

please forgive my emotional response to this experience. i reserve the right to modify my perceptions based on longer term listening.

and i know that with a direct out head switch into the King Cello, with the 'zeel' BNC into the dart pre it will go that much further.

:^O

mikelavigne

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i just recieved a new Lp of the RR Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances. this recording has been a reference in CD since it came out in 2001, and i also have it on my server in the HRx 176-24 version. i've likely listened to this recording many hundreds of times.

but never like this.

as i've been listening i've been trying to determine whether it's an analog master or digital master, or something 'in-between'. i've read the notes from the CD, and looked over the RR web page. the only thing i can find is a quote from a review Harry Pearson did when the CD first came out that reads
how Johnson got that huge climax at the end of the Dances cleanly onto tape transcends engineering and goes into the realm of magic." -- Harry Pearson, TAS
in 2001 i think RR was still doing both a 176/24 and tape master from the same mic feed. anyway; at this point i don't really know the answer to the source format.

Harry Pearson does mention in his review (AS Jan 2012) of the previous RR Lp release of the Stravinsky 'Song of the Nightengale' that it's analog tape based, but transfered to 176/24 for feeding the cutting lathe due to concerns about the condition of the master tape. which is where my 'in-between' comment came from.

i'm going to go out on a limb, and say i think this one is analog tape sourced based on what i'm hearing. the tape would only be 10 years young.

in any case; if you liked the CD or HRx of this recording, you will love the Lp. way more meat on the bones, more tonal color and body, and a liquidity that gets lost in the digital process. and the dynamics and bass are wonderful.

both the CD and HRx are known for their excellent soundstage as digital recordings, the Lp is better yet but not hugely so, although it does have more depth and ambient substance.

the Lp simply has a 'believeability' to it which for me gets me to relax into the music. it sounds right.

nice job RR, and nice mastering job by Chad's QRP facility.

quiet, flat surfaces and really nice sounding on my NVS/Telos/A90 set-up.

anyone who wants to easily compare CD to 176hz-24bit to an Lp just try this and decide for yourself what's going on.

mikelavigne

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D.

many thanks for the recommendation. not many have played in that league of SET's and can offer advice. i will try to investigate, and also plan on how to approach the wife about such a thing. i guess retirement can be delayed another little while. :)

hummmmmmm.

i did noticed that you are assisting a few friends selling off their very spendy SET's; one the ML3's and another the big Kondo. are those also related to the 833 Mk1.3?

mikelavigne

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thanks Jason. and your response makes sense.

the MM3's are 93db, 6ohm. and any amp only needs to power the mids and tweeter. so maybe they don't need quite a 140 watt SET, but to get decent linearity in the bottom end you do need a bit of power. the dart is very linear in the bass, and an SET does not need to match that fully as i expect it to be competent in the bass, but not exactly the same.

but i do get your inference about the kind of power i might need in an SET. i had been thinking more 30-40 watts might do it. maybe not.

mikelavigne

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tonight has been 'Mahler Monday'. i've been enjoying a quiet night with the DG 2 disc box set of Giulini's Mahler 9th with the Chicago Symphony.

i'm no Mahler expert, this box set was a rec from Joel Durand.

anyway; it's a real musical journey and system workout. delightful and involving. very quiet surfaces, nice full and detailed sound. excellent recording with great foundation and bass.

i don't think i'm qualified to judge the interpretation, but i very much have enjoyed it. great way to start the week and year.

mikelavigne

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trying to digest the various points and feedback in the last group of posts. thanks to everyone for their input.

what i was attempting to communicate was that i had not yet heard a relatively low powered SET powered system be able to also extend to the lowest frequencies with apparent ease combined with a top to bottom seamlessness. not that this cannot be done, i simply had not observed it being done. or even heard about the details of such a system.

i believe that if i can find an SET which works with my MM3's that will have the best chance of actually doing that. others have suggested that i find a 100db speaker system appropriate to my 2a3's. i'm not familiar with any 100db efficient speaker system that with be seamless top to bottom and compete with the MM3's on the bottom head to head.

sure horns can easily do the 100db efficiency, but you need horns as big as a house to do deep bass. otherwise you need to try and integrate dynamic drivers for the deep bass, and seamlessness becomes questionable.

please enlighten me about solutions that are real world for my question. i'm serious.

my thoughts on this whole subject is to at some point have an SET that can be swiched with the dart amp on the MM3's that both work. simple and and real world.

mikelavigne

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Agear,

thanks for the kind comments. when i think back to that room building process it was a fun time. but worth it. if you are beginning the process with a wife who is expecting 'any time'; "you are a better man than me, Gunga Din". i was an empty nester 10 years removed. and it happened 75 feet away in a separate structure. so minimal hassle for my wife other than 6 months of the contractor there in the barn 5 days a week.

best wishes on the project and that your wife will end being supportive once her world is more under control. my wife is understanding and supportive to me, although she typically does not participate in my hobby. once in a while i get her to join in when i have visitors. i've not seen her snarl at anyone yet. :)

and congrats on the new addition to your family.

i'd love to hear about your project as you go along. maybe start a system page and post pictures when so inclined. enjoy the ride.

mikelavigne

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Sam and Sonny,

the best to both of you for the New Year, and i do expect it to be a stellar 2012 for listening here in the Barn. after 2 years of significant changes to the room and system really nothing on the horizon i'm planning to change.

maybe some investigation of other SET's, but i have no urgency about that at all. i'm enjoying the 2a3's.

maybe some efforts to do some recordings in room; but no particular plans there either.

hopefully a few more 2xdsd files to play thru the USB-X box and the MPS-5, and Series 3 of the Tape Project in 1/2".

and more new music, lots of it.

playing catchup yesterday with the posts that had built up this week (this week is the busiest of the year at work) i missed the humor of Agear, thanks for catching it. :)

mikelavigne

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Hi James,

yes, i do use a clone PC digital server (with 3+ terabytes of files) connected to the Playback Designs MPS-5 thru the USB-X box. it was built by my son who for a short time did build servers for a few customers. however, he decided that was not a business for him and he is no longer doing that.

that photo of myself and Jonathan was at a club meeting last August and that Apple was Jonathan's. the USB-X box was new then and so Jonathan brought his own computer to use.

as far as your APL; i'm sure the dac is good, the question is whether it's set up to be used as a server dac, and which interfaces it has. then whether the software in the dac will work with the various PC's. and it might be all set up to go; i'm just not familiar with it.

as far as finding a server PC; i'm not one to help much since my son always takes care of that stuff for me. if you have any specific questions, let me know and i will have my son answer you.

and have a very Happy New Year!

mikelavigne

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and i love my speakers. no 100db efficient speaker can move air and be coherent top to bottom (and i mean bottom) like my MM3's. or at least i've never heard of anything that is capable of that.

mikelavigne

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Jason,

i will be continueing to investigate SET's and where they can take me. i'm not selling them short. but they will need to be linear in ways i've not heard them be so far to be the main amp for my system.

when the i'm playing large scale music in my system and it's carrying me away, that precision is part of the magic.

mikelavigne

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Agear,

the Yipslon is one product that does have my interest. i have a friend who has gone that way too.

kinda spendy.

mikelavigne

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Charles1dad and Glory,

great points both. i suppose i agree with Glory but not for exactly the reasons he states.

i feel the issue is not really solid state or tubes; it's really being able to get out of the way of the music fully and yet do 100% of the frequency extremes in a linear way. and then you need a completely synergistic preamp and room tweaked to fully compliment it.

up till now, i've not heard another amp-pre combo do all those things other than the dart.

might an SET based system be capable of all that? maybe.....but i've not heard it done fully yet. SET's i've heard have all involved compromise or coloration of some sort. amazing beauty but with a price.

and so my approach is to have the whole enchalata with the darts, and have my 'guilty pleasure' with an SET to plug in when the mood strikes. the question is; which SET?

mikelavigne

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Audioblazer,

the 2a3's are not really able to fully power my MM3's in my room, i would call them marginal at best. i just did not want to give you the wrong impression. i love the things they can do, and on some music they do really work.

thanks for all your nice comments. i do respect what you say about RTR tape; i maybe have around 70-80 15ips master dubs now, and my plan would be to eventually have maybe 125 plus or minus. you cannot live on listening to master tapes. it would be like having an expensive single malt every night. i think it's something you pull out when you are in the mood. OTOH i also agree that vinyl can be a constant reference for great music and it is reasonable to have a broad selection of Lps. i listen to tape a couple of times a week; and vinyl a few hours a day.

mikelavigne

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Elberoth2,

thank you for the recommendation on the Ancient Audio Silver Grand mono SET's. i will watch for the opportunity to listen to them. they sound like they are worth seriously considering given your perceptions.

SET's do bring something special and something i want as a choice going forward. the 2a3's might not be the long term answer to that need, but i've yet to make that call.

and for me the dart stereo amp is still my favorite all around amp and it synergizes so well with the dart pre (with the zeel interface) that the combo is magical to my ears. no SET can paint the whole picture like the dart combo....although i'm sure i have not heard everything that SET's might offer.

mikelavigne

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hi Vicente,

thanks for the kind comments, and greetings to Brazil. you have a beautiful room and system there.

i'm glad you enjoy your MPD-5; i mostly use my MPS-5 as a server dac now too. the USB-X does open many listening possibilities.

as far as power cords; for a long time i used the Jena Labs Fundamental One power cord; then about 2 years ago i tried the Telwire and preferred it to the Jena. then about a year ago right after i added my Equi=tech isolation transformer i tried the Absolute Fidelity component level power cord (from Genesis Loudspeakers) and it was better yet than the Telwire. so that is what i'm using.

the Telwire is under $1000, the Absolute Fidelity is $1800 for approx a 4 footer.

i did try the triple run Evolution Acoustics power cord on the MPS-5 and it was every bit as good as the Absolute Fidelity, but it's twice as expensive. the EA triple run was better on my darTZeel amplifier.....and i do use it there.

i hope that helps, and Happy New Year to you too.

mikelavigne

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and on another note, we are getting a rain and wind storm here in the mountains east of Seattle at the moment, and the lights have flickered 3 or 4 times......but.....with the Equi=tech isolation transformer i've had no effect on the music. i normally get 4-8 seconds before i lose the music when the lights go out. and flickers are ignored with the 100kva power buffer of the big Equi=tech.

let's hope i don't lose power. i do have a NG powered generator to keep the house going; but with company coming i can't cook the Christmas Roast on the BBQ because my rotisarie won't turn. and my ovens won't work on the generator.

mikelavigne

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in between 'honey-do' stuff i need to do for SWMBO before the gang arrives, i am getting a chance to listen.

i just threw the Diana Krall 'Christmas Songs' Lp on the table and wow, that is one great sounding Lp. i've owned it since it came out in 2005 and not sure i ever played it before.

anyway; if you have it, now would likely be a good time to play it. even if you typically have a Diana Krall filter going.

mikelavigne

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hi Audioblazer,

and Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you too.

congrats on the Savoy Sigs, a very nice speaker.

i think your situation is quite different from my Evolution Acoustics MM3's; which have integral digital amp powered subwoofers. these very neutral sounding sub amps get their signal from the main amp at the speaker terminal for the mids and tweeters. so they 'mimic' the character of the main amp (since those amps are the source) while feeding the subs. in that way there is a consistent character and cohesiveness thru the whole frequency spectrom.

i 'either' use the dart stereo amp 'or' the Found Music 2a3 monoblocks. i don't use both at the same time. the Evolution Acoustics do not allow for bi-amping. only one channel can be fed into the mid-tweeter input terminal. and no doubt the MM3's sound quite different top to bottom depending on which amp i use.

i assume from your question, you are contemplating using a separate and different amp on top and bottom for bi-amping the Savoy Sigs. my opinion is that it will be a challenge to find ultimate synergy taking that approach.

the Savoy has design heritage somewhat with the Von Schweikert VR9's and VR7's i had for awhile. those were both bi-ampable, even though the VR9's also had powered subs. for that application, i used a pair of darTZeel NHB-108 stereo amps, so all 4 channels of amplifiication were identical. so cohesiveness was never a problem.

if you are contemplating a low powered SET on the top and mid or high power solid state on the bottom i'm skeptical about coherence. the reason for the MM3 design is to solve the very problem you are facing......matching a very dynamic and deep bass performance with refinement on top.

my recommendation is to find the very best sounding mid level powered amplifier you can find (read darTZeel) and buy 4 channels of it. otherwise you will likely be chasing your tail of compromise. it's better to have coherence and then just listen to music without the distraction.

pardon me if i miss-understood your question, or re-state it and i'll try to respond.

mikelavigne

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Oh, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too James!

mikelavigne

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hi James,

you will love the NVS! it is the real deal. the Talea 1 will be super on it, and the A90 too.

i cannot imagine a 'bad' cartridge match for a Talea 1 or 2....or the NVS for that matter. my friend Jazdoc uses the Benz LPS which sounds great in his system and brings a bit of a full bodied sound than the A90. he had it on the Talea 2 and now the Telos. he uses a Galibier tt.

as more NVS tt's get out i'm sure we'll hear about more cartridge choices too. for me i'm just so happy with the A90 i just have not really been tempted to explore others.

i know that Unoear is using a special step up on my old Olympos SL which i am curious about as i loved that cartridge. i never had planned to sell it as it was my other fav cartridge along with the A90.

maybe at some point i might try that again.

mikelavigne

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Gary,

thanks for your views/raves on the NVS-Telos. as we both are hearing, it moves the reference waay out there. but it also makes us think more about the enjoyment of the music, and how much we are affected by the music. which is why we pursue better performance. a higher experience. it makes us happy and leaves us wanting to listen more.

Jonathan and Joel have truely achieved something very special with these products. i'm looking forward to more of these getting out there for a wider audience to hear and enjoy.

Merry Christmas Gary!

mikelavigne

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Alan,

i do have 4 other good RTR decks here as references to compare to the A820/King Cello, but thanks for the thoughtful advice. :)

and a Happy Holidays to you too.

mikelavigne

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i've been pretty low key about the NVS and Telos for awhile. adding the Telos to the NVS resulted in an added 38 pounds of (1) larger halos, (2) larger stainless steel arm boards, and (3) much heavier Telos. it's taken some time to get everything to work ideally. the isolation base needed tweaking, and optimizing all that addional weight took some time.

Oh my God was it worth it!!!!!!!

no matter what Lp i throw down, the NVS-Telos-A90 effortlessly reveals the deepest musical message and provides maximum involvement. there is just an experience of music. when there is such low noise and lack of distortion all the information in those grooves comes thru without editorial.

i'll also have to include the Talea 2 with the Miyajima Premium Be mono in my raves. the Talea 2 mounted on the larger halo with the stainless arm board brings a level of performance to mono Lps which is kind of mind-blowing. if the Telos-A90 was not sitting there i'd be saying how much better it sounds than stereo. suffice it to say that mono can rock your world.

getting back to the Telos, last night i listened to a number of Lps; any of which would be worthy of mention for how they sounded. i'll mention the 'Malletoba Spank' cut off the Classic 45rpm pressing of Ellington's Jazz Party In Stereo. it's been a demo cut for me for 15+ years. over the last few years i've pulled it out many times to have a reference of progress between tt's and arms, specifically the Telos. i'd have to say until last night i've never really heard how it really sounds. there is a dimentionality to each tiny sound which i'll call '3D' which was never before there. you hear each musical part as a fully dimentional event in it's own space and without a reproduction diminishment. there is now an inner energy to each individual aspect of the soundstage which was never there before.

this cut makes it easy to hear differences between gear because there is so much precise information. but all those improvements i hear in every cut on every Lp, they simply aren't always so prominent. although, the sum of the effect of all that inforation is a flow to the music that sweeps you away.

i listened to Ben Webster 'Live at the Renaissance' AP 45rpm, 'Georgia on my Mind'; another long time reference cut. now brand new. vivid. live sounding. and Ben's sax explodes with energy like i'm sitting 10 feet away. space. scale. the level of energy is not like reproduced music; more like real music.....or something very close.

i could go on and on.

that energy, that '3D' presentation, the totally solid grounded nature of the music, the bass articulation and seemingly unlimited bass slam, and the overall relaxed ease and coherence of the musical message. it's been a bit overwhelming to my senses. i want to have people come and hear it so i don't have to try and describe it.

how much of this is the Telos? how much is the NVS? the A90? i know i don't really care. this is music presented as an experience, not a thing to listen to. it brings out my emotions and affects me.

the stylus is so stable and unfettered in the groove. pressings which i had previously listened to and thought had issues (on many great tt's and arms), are now effortlessly sailed thru with ease. passages which i had assumed were simply congested are made clear. unipivot? 12"? just listen.

the NVS-Telos-A90 looks my Studer A820-King Cello right in the eye on my very best RTR tapes. what more is there to say?

mikelavigne

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Mike,

systems need to fit our life styles, and you are already at a wonderful level of performance. so enjoy your system and upgrade as it makes sense. and have a Happy Holidays!

mikelavigne

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Mike,

sorry for the delay in my response, i've been out of town since early last week with a convention, a separate business meeting and a wedding in another city. it's great to be home.

i know you were not blaming me; i was just making a (bad) joke. i appreciate that you respect my choices and learn from me. i did not mean to offend you. and i agree you have many good pieces in place. stay the course on your direction.

those 2a3 SET (single ended triode) amps are more a flirtation for me than a real world recommendation. they scratch an itch. they do a few things spectacularly, but then struggle in other areas in most systems. yes; i do use the dart pre with them.

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

thanks. everything gets blamed on me. :)

i think you have a good plan, de-coupling footers do improve system performance in my experience. you already experienced that with your JM Labs.

take care.

mikelavigne

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James,

you are most welcome. isn't it great when your system has taken a step forward and you get to hear all your music 'fresh' with a new level of enjoyment. i love that.

if i did not already use the Harmonix spike bases for my speakers i would use the Wave Kinetics speaker footers. i love the Wave Kinetics A10 U8's for under gear.

you will be amazed at the performance leap from de-coupling your speakers from the floor feedback, and your other gear will like it too. the benefit is all up and down the frequency range. and a speaker like an MM2, since it outputs so much bass, will really get a relatively larger benefit.

mikelavigne

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James,

congrats on the MM2's. the seamless integration of the powered subs does surprise people. looking at the 7 inch mids and the 15" subs it is hard to believe they integrate, but they absolutely do. and when you get around to using a RTA or other tool to really dial in the bottom end to the room they will disappear even more. i love the ribbon tweeter as i never get any edgyness or hardness, just music. and the ceramic mid and tweeter also integrate perfectly.

i've heard the Audiopax at shows, but cannot remember the specific model. i'll make it a point to listen more closely if i get another chance. it does appear to be a very interesting way to do an SET. thanks for the recommendation.

mikelavigne

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Jacob,

i don't know what i was thinking. i meant the opposite, that i prefer the new CJ amp's to the old ones.

you don't miss much, do you?

when i sold my Rockport i took a set of pristene CJ M140LP monoblocks in on trade (and sold them a couple months later). they were quite a bit more neutral and extended than my previous impressions of the CJ amps.

mikelavigne

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Kostas,

i have made a few of my own 1/2" dubs from various sources just to play around. and i'm getting Series 3 from the Tape Project in 1/2" instead of 1/4". if i do any live recording in my room (which is possible) i will do it in 1/2".

there are really no 1/2" tapes out there to purchase other than thru the Tape Project; and those will cost you double what the standard 1/4" will cost.

mikelavigne

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David,

sure; i could be more politically correct and simply hide behind matters of taste, and that i've not heard everything in my system. maybe that would have been better.

however; i do feel that high power amps have their compromises, just like flea powered ones. and when you consider the very most low distortion and pure low powered SET's they offer an unfettered view of the music which no high powered amp can touch. they also have considerable limitations in power.

that viewpoint does not detract from the performance of the VAC450. simply it recognizes that there are compromises in any design of some sort. if you listened to the VAC450's and then the Found Music 2a3's in my system there would be strengths of each. neither would be better at everything. if that makes sense to you then that's all i'm saying.

you can suggest that the VAC450 is as low distortion and pure sounding as the best possible SET, but that is not the way things work.

the fact that my speakers use a separate amp for the subs certainly creates the potential of a compromise. but; in the case of bass linearity, it turns out that a digital amp is more linear "in the bass" than any other type. period. and the lack of character of the digital amp allows it to mimic the character of the main amp that feeds it and it can be perfectly matched to the drivers.

any speaker aspiring to full range needs a crossover for the bass drivers. and in every case that crossover can be many degrees of effective. no crossover is perfect. it helps if that crossover can be adjusted for the room it's in for optimal bass performance, like mine.

in the case of my speakers in my system i like that the bass seems seamless top to bottom. it sounds coherent. i'm happy with it. most visitors percieve it to be seamless, surprisingly so. frequently commented on. with extreme positive viewpoints. perfect? of course not.

i've not heard a passive speaker system anywhere with a single amp per channel even approach the level of bass performance i hear from my speakers. it might happen somewhere out there, but i'm skeptical. the balance of perfectly matching an amp to bass drivers capable of very low frequencies and articulation yet still offering the ultimate refinement for the mids and tweeters is a real challenge. this is if one has really has gone after ultimate full range performance.

i do have strong opinions developed over time which have guided my system building.....and i could be all wrong.

mikelavigne

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hey Guys,

thanks for all the feedback. from each specific perspective i think i mostly agree with the comments....even thou they maybe appear to conflict a bit.

regarding my perspective on high powered tube amps, in particular the VAC 450 monos. i like high quality, high power tube amps. whether the big Audio Research 610T's, or VTL Wotan's, or Big CJ's (the older one's), big CAT's, or the VAC 450's....they are all special in their own ways. OTOH they also have this signature of listening 'thru' them to the music. this is not a bad thing. but it's a slight character which lays over the top of the signal. (when compared to the best of SET's).

i'm aware 'they' are there. always.

and frankly, i prefer the ss dart stereo amp to the 'big tube' approach. i'd say that my favorite tube amp over 3 watts i've heard so far is the Tenor 75 Watt OTL monos. which were unstable and granaded from time to time. but they disappeared like the dart ss amp does. it never seemed like i was having to listen thru them. it was just music. they did not have any softening or smoothing action. no slight golden hue.

the dart stereo amp has lower noise floor, and less signature on the sound than any of those 'big tube' amps. it's more extended on top and tighter and quicker than any of those amps. it is not quite as smooth, it does not have the degree of 'breath of life' that those big tube amps have. it does not quite bloom like those amps do. but overall i 'prefer' it. and in my system it does not matter that it is less powerful.

OTOH i perfectly understand how many might not agree with my view. and the point about the Evolution Acoustics MM3's not needing big power is very very important. i would never choose a speaker that needed 200+ watts of power simply because i don't want that much circuitry between me and the music. a personal choice.

if i were to have an extended demo in my system of the VAC450 monos might it change my mind? i doubt it, but one never knows until you try it.

mikelavigne

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Cyrus,

i sure agree that VAC amps are excellent sounding. no doubt VAC would sound very nice in my system.

however; the purity of an SET with tube rectification (particularly mercury tube rectification) is another world apart from push-pull higher power tube amps. i have experience with higher power tube amps and so far i think the SS darTZeel Stereo amp competes pretty well directly with those higher power tube amps, and is lower noise and more linear too. maybe the dart is not quite as buttery smooth but it is less colored and more real to my ears overall. but that's just my personal tastes and not necessarily everyone's viewpoint.

my desire would be for a tube amplifier which imposes a minimum of it's own sonic signature on the music (which is how i view the darTZeel relative to other solid state amplifiers).

if i try another tube amp(s) it will likely have much in common with the 2a3 monos i have now. it's that other-worldly lack of distortion and purity that has bewitched me.....that clear view directly into the heart of the music.

mikelavigne

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Jason and Harel,

i must say that overall i agree with your perspectives. i want the 2a3 amps to work so i'm searching for what they do that i love. and yes, there is plenty to love. and no, they cannot do the complete job.

do they do enough to earn a long term place in my system and listening culture?

and if they don't (or they do) what might replace them (or join them) as a tubed alternative to the darTZeel?

stay tuned....

mikelavigne

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Harel,

regarding the Telwire, both HC and non-HC. i still have both my Telwire power cables which i use from time to time on temporary gear in my system. i agree, an excellent value in a power cable. i did directly compare the Telwire to the Absolute Fidelity power cables on my digital, my preamp, and my amplifiers. the AF were clearly better than the Telwire in blacker backgrounds, microdynamics, and a sense of space. more refined. but there were no 'bad' things that the comparison revealed about the Telwire. and when you are comparing an Absolute Fidelity $1800 power cord (1.5m) to a $600-$800 Telwire power cord (6 foot) i'd say the Telwire won the 'value' battle. where the Absolute Fidelity really shined was on my speaker subwoofer amps and all the tape decks and turntables. Gary Koh has truely broke the code on motor power cords.

as far as finding a better power cord than the Absolute Fidelity; i'm happy with what they are doing. if someone sent me some power cords to audition, as long as they were not in a great hurry, i'd be glad to listen in my system. of course, back in the day, i said that, and for a few years i ended up doing cable shootouts all the time. which is why i'm a bit gun-shy now. it's just not much fun.

i did prefer the Telwire to my Jena Labs Fundamental One's on my amps and digital.

i'd certainly wait until you add your isolation transformer and Isoclean panel before you test any power cords....as i think power cords are very context driven. your plan, btw, sounds like it should turn out very nice.

mikelavigne

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Harel,

one point i forgot to make about power cables.

my viewpoint changed on what type power cord i needed before and after my Equi=tech 10WQ isolation transformer/distribution panel was installed. prior i used and liked the Jena Labs Fundamental One power cords which had an inline power conditioner. after the Equi=tech they became a liability.

one other point is that i have not done any kind of comprehensive power cord shootout recently; back in the day i did invest time to to that. i'm sure there are quite a few very good power cords out there.

doing cable shootouts is just not what i want to spend my time doing any more.

mikelavigne

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Harel,

great choice of gear! congrats!

agree on the Evolution BNC interconnect cables; they are amazing and when used with the dart 'zeel' interface are unsurpassed.

recently i did switch from my long-term speaker cable reference, the Transparent Opus MM2, to the Evolution Acoustics 'double-wire' speaker cables. the Evolutions were simply more synergistic in top to bottom balance in my particular system than the Opus MM2 (as one might expect). the Opus was slightly 'dark' sounding directly compared to the Evo's and the Opus had a slight degree of bass emphasis bordering on bloat compared to the more articulate Evo's. i still loved the way the Opus MM2 worked in my system and only slightly preferred the Evo's, but considering the amount i could sell the Opus MM2's for i made the change. i've since heard the 'triple wire' version of the Evolution Acoustics speaker cables and plan on switching to those at some point.

as far as power cords, i use -11- Absolute Fidelity power cords in my system and love them. they are built to be optimal in particular places. i use the specific ones, for motors (tape decks and tt's), amplifiers, and components.

i do use one 'triple wire' Evolution Acoustic power cord on my darTZeel amplifier. it's a big heavy mother but it was better than the Absolute Fidelity power cord in that application.

mikelavigne

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David,

thanks for the kind words.

the only gear i leave powered on 24/7 is my digital player/dac, the active amps in my Evolution Acoustics speakers, the darTZeel preamp, and (when i'm using) the darTZeel amplifier. the digital player is the Playback Designs MPS-5. once a month (more in the summer) i do shut off the MPS-5 just to allow it to cool off and re-boot.

the server for my dac is upstairs in my barn loft; and i do also allow that to stay powered up 24/7. my Equi=tech isolation transformer is hard wired into my power grid so it's always on.

when i travel i do turn everything off except the dart preamp.

when i anticipate using particular tape decks ahead of time i will typically give them 24 hours of warmup as it seems to help.

mikelavigne

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Mike and Charles,

no doubt these particular 2a3 amps are special, even for 2a3's. especially now that these amps have around 200 hours on them. and from a particular perspective they do now get the musical job done in my system. which is hard to believe if you've not heard it.

last night i did switch back to the dart stereo amp; and the system gets transformed into a much more physically engaging experience and room filling event. after an hour or so of warm up the dart reminds me of just how complete the music can be in every way. it's no wonder it took a 45 tube or 2a3 type tube amps to find a part of the music where the dart cannot do it all.

i'm learning.

mikelavigne

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Mike,

thanks. i'm glad you like the pictures...they were long overdue.

and yes, three watts.

mikelavigne

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Ed,

my speakers are 93db efficent, with a 6 ohm load. my speakers have active bass amplification. the 2a3's are marginal for my system; but most people might think three watts has no chance. but these particular three watts are pretty amazing.

also; i had these amps set up with a 50ohm BNC input to work with my dart pre. with a typical RCA 75 ohm input you would have more gain than i get. between the higher efficiency and likely higher gain, and depending on your room size, i would expect these amps to work well in your setup.

i'd recommend contacting Scott Sheaffer at Found Music and asking him directly about it.

mikelavigne

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Ish,

thanks. i've always wanted to have a tube amp as a different view on the music; but until i heard the 45 tube amps last winter in my room nothing had really got me excited enough to pursue. these 2a3 's do things i really love.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

thanks. honestly i'm going to try and take better ones. but this morning i just wanted to get it done to clear out all the outdated information.....and get the gear list updated.

i think since the Evolution Acoustics MM3 speakers are quite large (73" tall, 575 pounds), even the chair is large and tall, so the room does not look as large as it is. plus the drop ceiling masks the height. when i had the Kharma Exquisities and even the Von Schweikert VR9's, they were around 46 inches tall and so the room looked bigger.

i do enjoy the size, and the lively but diffusive surfaces, as it really does allow for the music to breathe.

mikelavigne

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hi Joe,

thanks.

mikelavigne

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Ed,

thanks for the kind comments.

i've got about 150 hours now on the Found Music 2a3 monos. and i've been listening to them for the last 4-5 days exclusively. i love the amps. there is an open window to the music and the level of refinement and fine detail is astounding. they are still gaining more dynamics and continueing to open up at this point.....although the rate of change is now slight. so we are likely almost all the way there.

can these 3 watt wonders be a long term amp in my system? i know i love how they sound. but they do have limitations on a portion of the music. when i go back to the dart its a different ball game.

i have not yet compared the Stillpoint Ultra SS to the Wave Kinetics A10 U8's. the 2a3's sure have an amazing level of precison and those footers must be doing something right.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

the dimensions are; 29' x 21' x 11'.

the room is somewhat an oval.....with curves and angles and no 90 degree corners.

the length is from the door surface to the deepest point of the window wall.

the width is wall to wall at the widest point.

the ceiling has chambers and a drop ceiling so that measurement is to the highest point.

mikelavigne

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Sam,

thanks.

excellent news on the 1/2" A820. i'll watch for your comments on how you think it differs from the 1/4".

mikelavigne

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System edited: updated main system pictures today to current, long overdue. next i'll work on changing equipment pics.

mikelavigne

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Mikelakers,

sorry for the delay in response...it's been a busy week.

i don't have any of the special plugs yet to connect the Nagra IV-S to any other gear. so i've not yet listened to it. i'm planning on finding some, but so far.....

i'm told that the transport is quite good, so it depends whether you use the stock analog outputs (and the stock heads). i expect it to perform like my Nagra 'T' in stock form. which is pretty good, but room for improved sonics with better electronics.

from what i remember about your stable of tape decks, you would not buy a Nagra IV-S to improve performance either. it would be a 'guilty pleasure'.

mikelavigne

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Gary.

Amen.

mikelavigne

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i'm re-posting the Nagra IV-S pics from above (yesterday) after photoshoping them. i posted them quickly and had not taken the time to correct them. i deleted the links to the other pics.

Nagra IV-S face

Nagra IV-S full view

side

top

mikelavigne

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hi David,

in my post just above i somewhat answered your question.

all three DD tt's will do a wonderful job playing music and based on my experience you can't make a wrong decision. my final paragraph puts my view in perspective.....as does my personal choice.

mikelavigne

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Mike,
my wife told me the same thing 30 years ago & we've been married 32 years.
let me know how that works out?
i've been married to my wonderful wife for 37 years.

as i recall; my first use of 'i'm done' to my wife was with my 38' Sailboat in 1984. ;-)

mikelavigne

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Wanna wager a nice bottle of Scotch on that? ;-)

no. ;-)

mikelavigne

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i've been watching ebay auctions for Nagra IV-S tape decks for awile. knowing i could not really rationalize spending money on one, since what would i really do with it? but they continued to attract me like a moth to a flame and a few weeks ago a particualrly pristene one came up for sale and i jumped on it. this one is the NQS-LSP non pilot configuration (no time-code head) featuring a track width of 2.75mm (wider than the time code version for a slightly better sound). there is not a nick or scratch on it.

the plastic cover is almost new looking, the heads show very little wear, and this IV-S has the ruby tape guides.

i suppose i've finally resigned myself to the fact that at least regarding tape decks; i'm a collector. but i'll never be in Ki territory, and my wife says i'm done. :^)

Nagra IV-S face

Nagra IV-S full

side

top open

mikelavigne

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Peter, you are most welcome. the Beat is an excellent turntable and only the NVS kept me from likely owning it a very long time. you can't go wrong with it.

and yes; i'm a DD guy (and idler too, i suppose). i'm not anti-belt drive at all, there are plenty of excellent belt driven tt's. only that they would all be a little better with a properly executed dd system.

i would say that i've not been exposed to 'thread drive-high mass platter' type drive; so i must clarify that i can't say whether i feel the same about that approach that i do about belts.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

yes; i did have the Talea 2/A90 on both The Beat and the NVS. and the last few months with The Beat i was using the darTZeel phono stage which i have used with the NVS/Talea 2 too.

comparing the 2 tt's; my initial comment would be that when i describe differences, it's in degrees of good. the NVS is better, but The Beat is a wonderful tt. and i do think that for around $20k it's the tt i prefer. i continue to recommend it to people.

last November, when the prototype NVS appeared in my room for the second time, was the only occasion when both tt's were there together. during that session, it was interesting that playing music The Beat speed sounded excellent. then you'd play the NVS and it was simply more solid and continuous sounding. then we played the grooves between cuts and it was quieter (less groove noise) on the NVS. the NVS projected a larger soundstage. was this speed? the platter? can't say exactly.

since last November the prototype was said to be improved by CES. and then more improvements prior to the production version i recieved in July.

my perceptions since then are that compared to my recollection of The Beat the NVS has a better foundation, it nails the solidity and footing of the music better, and it has this ease on busy passages that is uncanny. The Beat is not 'wrong' in those areas, just not nearly as right. i'd also say that the production model of the NVS has this rightness to tonality and musical flow that is intoxicating. the visitors to my room that have experienced both tt's remark consistently that the NVS is better.....but all of them liked The Beat too. again; the differences are in degrees of good, but it's not a subtle difference.

over the last year i had various versions of what eventually became the Durand Telos 12" tonearm on first The Beat and then the NVS, and now i have the production Telos. i remember the comments in the room when we went from one session with the Beat to the next session with the NVS. the Telos prototypes told you everything that was happening; and revealed deeper differences than the Talea 2....in favor of the NVS.

another way to put this might be that The Beat is closer to the Dobbins SP-10 Mk3 that i owned than it is to the NVS in performance. it's better than the Mk3, but not by a ton. i do hold the Dobbins SP-10 Mk3 in high regard.

mikelavigne

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sometimes (maybe more than sometimes :>)) I get pretty caught up in the excitement of a new addition to my system. that's why we do this stuff; right? And when that happens I might write or say something that later I wish I had not.

Earlier this year I sold my Rockport Sirius III turntable to a fellow Audiogon member Alan Farris (Unoear). After that sale, and the sale of my other 2 turntables; I received my new turntable, the NVS. I was asked a few times about how the NVS compared to the Rockport. I had never actually had the final version of the NVS in my room at the same time as the Rockport. I should have declined to compare the 2 tt’s. Not only since I never compared them directly; but also in respect to the spirit of the sale to Alan. Yet; in my excitement I did rationalize my own view of how they compared. Which was wrong of me, as well as disrespectful to Alan after his purchase. Further; it’s possible that my set-up with the Rockport and the Olympos cartridge (sold to Alan along with the Rockport) might not have been as optimal as it might have been……did I hear the best the Rockport-Olympos combo could offer?

Of course; it’s impossible to un-ring the bell.

In any case; my apologies to Alan for going where I should not have.

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Teck,

it's always great having you and Gary over, both for the fun and the unrestrained feedback feedback. you're my 'reference' listeners. and last night the music was really, really special.

i agree that once the 2a3 monoblocks get another 50 hours or so they will be even better.

see ya in December.

mikelavigne

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the 'halo' i think is an aluminum alloy. i think milled from a billet. very stiff, no flex at all. the arm boards are stainless steel.

mikelavigne

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picture of the Telos azimuth adjustment.

Telos azimuth

mikelavigne

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Dev and Palasr,

thanks for the kind comments.

i will try to post impressions as best i can; although it does take effort to concentrate on typing while listening to this. :^)

mikelavigne

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Eddie,

thanks. i like the look of the larger halo quite a bit better myself, and my guess is that it adds something to the sound too. good choice. and then you will be ready for a.......

i do see a Telos in your future. :^)

mikelavigne

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i'm currently listening to the NVS/Telos/A90 on a recent DG pressing of Ingolf Wunder playing a Chopin Sonata, #477 9822.

simply astounding precision without strain. evrything nailed down. the most complex tonal colors and nuance. microdynamics are like live. overtones decay forever.

beautiful, involving.

you have no sense of a reproduction chain. the music just is there.

i have a big smile on my face.

mikelavigne

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Peter;

i prefer no clamp unless i need it related to warps.

the VTA is adjusted by raising or lowering the bearing column--there's a printed scale on it to help for reference. you cannot do this while playing.

Azimuth is adjusted by raising/lowering the black platform that is attached on top of the bearing column; that's all clearly visible on the 3rd photo; the change in height of the platform makes the rod that extends from the arm wand go up and down, thereby modifying azimuth. the little weight on that rod is used for fine tuning of tonality and imaging: yesterday after initial setup Joel used the cymbals on a particular track we heard yesterday (when they suddenly revealed more timbral nuances and were in better focus). all he did was there was to move this weight by a very small amount. No change in azimuth, just change in position of the weight. again, you cannot do this while playing.

mikelavigne

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pictures of the clamp.

my opinion is that part of the magic of the NVS is the platter material. the clamp appears to be made mostly of the same material.

i use the clamp mostly for Classic 45rpm single sided pressings.

on record

underside

on platter

mikelavigne

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yesterday was a big day at the old barn. i installed the new larger halo on the NVS with the large stainless steel arm boards, recieved and installed the new 'Shaker Table' isolation shelf under the NVS, and Joel Durand delivered and installed my new Telos tonearm.

waahooo!

Joel also installed my Talea 2 on the other side with my Miyajima Premuim Mono Be which had been on the Talea 1.

the Shaker Table is new beacuse it is now adjusted for the heavier large halo with the large stainless steel arm boards and the much heavier Telos tonearm.

Thursday night i had my new Found Music 2a3 monoblocks delivered; so it's been a wonderful few days. all this stuff has been many months coming; and now it all happens in 48 hours.

after the Telos was installed Joel, Scott Sheaffer who built the amps, and myself enjoyed some vinyl.

it was amazing. later last night i threw the dart amp back in so i could listen to the Telos with my long term reference. whichever amp; the Telos (with the now Telos friendly NVS) is truely a monumental achievement. a true Halo deck.....space machine......magic carpet...whatever way to say it........

and i love the look of the Telos, it's breathtakingly beautiful, and the level of finsih work is astonishing!

Telos and Talea 2 on the NVS with large halo

Telos

Telos base

pointy end

head on

mikelavigne

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But its a bargain when you do the cost per watt ratio! ;-)

i've had 1000 watt monoblocks based on the B&O ICE module. they were $1800 retail. Rowland sold essentially the same amps for $7k.

they sounded fine for the dollars.

but i gave them to my son for a reason. and getting a good deal per watt has little interest for me; although not everyone would agree. i know your comment was in jest and i took it that way. but cost per watt is sadly the way many do look at things.

all watts are not created equal.

mikelavigne

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mine are the first pair and i don't exactly know the list price. there are variations since you can choose 2a3 or 45 tube and 1 or 2 mercury vapor tubes for rectification.

i think it's $20k-$25k the pair of monoblocks.

here is the website you could email Scott and ask him directly.

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

yes; i'd love for you to come down soon. i think you'd like these amps.....very liquid and low distortion.

i'll have the Telos tonearm later today. i'm pretty excited about it.

best,

mikelavigne

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Charles1dad,

i'd write a few impressions but it's changing so often i'm just going to wait a few days.

i did find that moving my seating position to the exact top of the equalateral triangle (118" each leg) worked better than my 'darTZeel' position of about 10"-12" behind it. in my very large room (29' x 21' x 11') 3 watts does require some small adjustments. gain was a small concern on a small percentage of cuts; but not after i moved my seating position.

the amp was built with RCA input at 75-100 ohms. with that there was plenty of gain. yesterday Scott switched it to the BNC's (for the zeel interface with my dart pre) and 50 ohms; so i lost a bit of gain. however; everything tightened up and gained definition. so it was better.

the amps are still getting their legs and finding more dynamics as i go along. so this seating change may not be permanent with these amps. but for now it's better.

mikelavigne

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hi Kevin,

i'm using Absolute Fidelity power cords on the Found Music 2a3 monoblocks. i have 10 Absolute Fidelity power cords in my system.

mikelavigne

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Allan, glad you approve. :^)

you can even listen to them during your next visit.

mikelavigne

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the Found Music 2a3 monoblock amps built by Scott Sheaffer arrived yesterday. i've only listened for a few hours so far and they are changing (for the better)every 10 minutes or so. but i love where they are going. holographic, open, vivid, smooth as butter. and even with 3 watts they are able to energize the room without strain....a compliment to both the amp builder and speaker designer.

here are a few pictures.

three amps

front view

rear view

mikelavigne

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Ki has a couple of Nagra T's; but i'm not 100% clear on their operational status. i think one is pretty nice and is fully functional. Doc B has his Nagra T with the bottlehead repro in the meter bridge....which he'll have at RMAF with the headphones 'CanJam'.

mikelavigne

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The "Nagra full length" photo makes me think of E.T.! ;-)
i can see that; there is something impish about the Nagra T.....small, complex, elegant, and maybe possessing a certain exotic nature. it's also full of surprises as i look deeper.
Nice shots of the tape decks Mike.
Sure to make even Thuchan jealous :^)
until i get some tubes go'in i'm not sure Thuchan will get that interested.....it's just some pretty faces to him. maybe when the Ampex 350 joins the herd. :^)

mikelavigne

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I missed a chance at a Nagra, recently -- oh brother! Was this the Nagra T from the UK?
Sam, mine came from Florida off ebay. i had tried to buy a Nagra T from the U.K. which turned out to be a scam. there were 2 listed on London Craigslist at about 40% of market value trying to lure someone to wire money and then....'poof'. i pursued it until things did not add up. i did not see any legit Nagra T's in the UK in the recent times.
Thanks, Mike...I just acquired another A820 :-) It's 1/4" with butterfly rec/repro heads. I may go with 1/2" Flux Magnetics heads...we'll have to see.
congrats Sam. let us know about how the 1/2" conversion goes. is it easy to source the 1/2" tape path bits, and 1/2" hubs?

mikelavigne

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ok Sam...here's your Nagra T pictures....

4 RTR decks + King Cello

Nagra T

Nagra playing 2-track 7 and 1/2 ips tape

Nagra full length

another view

the Ampex 350 will be along later when it's finished, but i think i'm done with buying RTR decks. i likely have one more (the Nagra) than i can rationalize now, but i could not resist.

i did order some hubs today which will allow me to play 10 and 1/2 reels, i should have them in a couple of weeks. for now all i can play is a couple of 2-track 50's 7 and 1/2 ips tapes.

sorry the pictures are not better; later i'll take some close-ups so you can really see how clean the Nagra T is.

mikelavigne

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btw, i did recieve my Nagra T last night. this was a one owner Nagra T, said to be pristene and flawless.....and it happily is exactly that. and i played a couple of my 2-track 7 and 1/2 ips tapes on it last night and it sounds pretty good too. everything works correctly.

i do need to locate some hubs so i can play 10 and 1/2 inch reels.

i know these particular machines can be nightmares if they have issues and i'm crossing my fingers that this one will continue to work right.

it is an amazing machine even if it did not make great music.

it's so swiss!

mikelavigne

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Peter,

i don't yet have my Telos, likely shortly after RMAF. when i do have it mounted i will share pictures.

i quote from the 'spec page' regarding the tonearm wire (you don't need to have another phono cable);
Phono cable uninterrupted from cartridge clips to termination connectors (except at the junction internal wires-interconnect cable). The junction between internal wires and phono interconnects is contained in a box made of wood carefully selected for its acoustic properties. The wood is finished with the same technique as the armwand
i'll say that i heard various versions of the wire and this one was better than the others.

everything matters at this level of information......everything!

i'm not 100% clear on the method of adjusting VTA and azimuth. i've watched it being done but not done it. i'll try to get an accurate description of those issues and share it.

mikelavigne

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information on the Durand Telos tonearm.

Telos

Telos specs

mikelavigne

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yes it is; my Grandfather was French Canadian from Quebec, eh?

mikelavigne

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ok guys, enough with the French already. :^)

mikelavigne

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Henry,

when i had the big dart 458's in my room on the MM3's, the most output i recall seeing was in the low 300's as a momentary peak. as Microstrip mentions the MM3's are a 93db, 6 ohm load and that's only down to 100 hz.....so 1000 watts should have melted something.

none-the-less i envy you being able to listen with Herve to his system with the EMT and some great vinyl.

i'm trying my best to resist the mono's and the MM7's too; as i'm enjoying my current set up so much i need to be satisfied.

mikelavigne

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hi David,

thanks for the kind comments. it has been exciting for me to be around the Telos. i would also add the Talea 2 is going to bring you quite a ways to that point of performance. and any Talea 2 user should be thrilled with their arm. since i've been exposed to the Telos, it has not diminished my enjoyment of the Talea 2. i hear both arms in each other (if that makes any sense).

regarding the A90; you are the third person to communicate with me today about it and it's availability. i'm not sure exactly what that means (beyond the obvious).

i know Joel has other cartridges besides the A90, but i have only seen the A90 on arms he has brought to my home recently. i cannot speak for Joel in terms of his cartridge usage other than what i have seen. Joel is typically in discovery mode when he visits.

is the A90 the ultimate truth sayer among cartridges? yes; i do think that based on my listening experiences. but there are many cartridges i have not heard, or heard in in familiar contexts.

mikelavigne

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yes; i am a bit wiser for the experience.

just to end speculation; the 'item' was a Nagra T reel to reel machine offered for 1700 pounds. similar examples sell for $5k-$7k on ebay. with vintage gear you do find them in out-of-the-way places and with people who may not know exactly what they have. so there is a bit of the 'thrill' of the hunt involved.

it seems that vintage gear is much more likely to be scammed than current manufactured gear. likely because it's easy to ask about where stuff was purchased, serial numbers and all that for current stuff and actually be able to check it out. and when you are buying from audiophiles there is many times people you may know in common with the seller.

mikelavigne

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thanks guys, for the help. scams use a great price and buyer's enthusiasim to cloud judgement. the item was close to half the price, and in better condition than other similar examples of that product. he insisted on wire transfer, it was from a Craigslist ad. the ad showed that the seller appraently knew what he was talking about so seemed credible in that way and ths pictures were cloudy but good. he had additional pictures he sent me.

i asked the seller to take a picture of the item with today's newspaper. he replied indignantly feeling offened. he had also previously refused to take a picture showing the item playing. there was not one shred of verifyable information.

it's a scam, i've turned the page.

mikelavigne

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Looney,

good suggestion. i tried it.

the seller is not being fully co-operative at this point and i'm simply trying to find a way around those issues before i pass.

mikelavigne

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Alan, great idea. i could send you and Albert. Scotland would never know what hit it. you'd set Kilt wearing back 1000 years.

:^)

mikelavigne

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i have an unusual request. i'm trying to purchase a relatively expensive item from someone who has no feedback of any kind and i need to wire a good amount of money....so i'll have no recourse if it turns out to be a scam. i need someone who has feedback or is known here, or a trusted friend of a person like that, to go and meet the seller and inspect the item. i'll pay a reasonable amount to this person for their time and trouble.

this would be within 50 miles of Edinborough, Scotland.

i'll get into more details with who ever might be able to help with this. please e-mail me if it's something one can do [email protected]

thanks.

mikelavigne

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what's with you guys from Texas?

:^)

a little slow are we?

Mr. Dev stepped up and told us about the confusion on the Talea and it's level of set-up which was an important aspect (unintentionally....he's not a mind reader) missing from his first related post. he was a man about it. he was man'ing up. admiting the error.

we appreciated it.

mikelavigne

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Dev,

thank you for the explanation about the Talea at your event. no way for you to know the Talea was not dialed in at that event until your friend tells you that. i appreciate you man'ing up and letting us know.

mikelavigne

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Dev,

when you said....
In conversation I was told the Talea is being replaced with the Telos so I look forward to seeing and listening first hand.
....i just wanted to clear up for any readers that the Telos is not a replacement for the Talea. it's a separate arm unto itself. the Talea continues. i realize that your intent was likely that that particular Talea owner simply intends to move up to a Telos.

mikelavigne

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I for one, am excited about what is sitting out there on the horizon.

me too.

mikelavigne

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thanks Dev, for the details. sounds like a very fun evening. those events are the very best this hobby has to offer....great friends and great music.

having owned the Olympos SL for a few years it's easily my favorite cartridge of the one's you mentioned, i definitely miss it's beauty. i don't really know the MSL Ultra BC at all.

were all the arms on the same turntable?

i will look forward to your take on the Telos.

mikelavigne

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Spiritofmusic,

with all due respect to my friend Unoear; i don't think that linear tracking's validity as the Holy Grail of tonearm design is supported by the amazing performance of the Telos.

sure, a 12" arm has the potential to have less overall alignment error than shorter pivoted arms. and a linear tracker can potentially have no alignment error. but having a longer arm than 12" with even less alignement error does not sound better overall than the 12" length. you start losing precision with longer lengths, and the small increases in alignment accuracy are not enough to balance the losses out. very good alignment is only one strong suit of the Telos.

my view is that ultimate performance of a tonearm is about minimizing any compromises. and my view is that a 12" unipivot has the most solveable compromises. there are challenges to perfect execution. but not many real obstacles.

a linear tracker can nail alignment; but it has many other challenges to overcome that are considerable to surpass the Telos.

if we could see into the future we could have a better idea.

regarding the Wave Kinetic A10 U8's; my experience is that most gear needs 4 footers. i have found that my 65 pound darTZeel amplifier is best with 6, and i have the 2 boxes of my King Cello phono/tape pre that use 3 each. they are quite light. on my music server upstairs i use 4; but it's much heavier in the rear so i use three along the rear and one in the front. some gear resopnds alot to actual placement, and other gear does not care exactly where i place them. in general; they do work in a weight range of 4 for around 25-40 pounds, but it's not 100%.

mikelavigne

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Alan, thanks for that :^)

mikelavigne

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hi Dev,

no question that systems are different and set-up approaches can be different, cartridges different, and so on. in my case; Steve Dobbins did the set up on my Reeds and Joel set up my Talea 1 and Talea 2. i never moved the Reed 2P from where Steve set it up until i sold it. as i've said many times; the Reed is a great tonearm; obviously i liked it enough to purchase 3 of them and had 2 2P's in my system until a few months ago that i constantly compared to the Talea's, the Rockport, and the Telos. but i'm only one data point.

i did not have the Talea 2 the last time Steve was here. in any case i cannot say whether Steve has heard the Talea 2 or what his take on it might be. the marketplace on the Talea tonearms has been quite strong; so if there is a Talea owner who was not happy i'm sure there are lots of buyers to take it off their hands at a fair value. personally i've not seen many change hands. whether that is an indication of value or not is open to interpretation.

i can only say what i hear in my room. Joel uses my room for testing because it reveals more to him. Joel has his own pretty wonderful sounding system himself. so will every user of the Reed, Talea, or Telos hear what i hear in my room and the same relative performances?

a reasonable question, i suppose.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

i had thought about your response to my Lp cleaning post and plan on re-thinking my approach to include some of your direction with the AIVS method and even acquiring another Loricraft. not sure how soon i can get it going but that's the plan, so thanks for the feedback. i figure i owe it to the gear to go a little further to optimize the condition of the Lps at least part of the time.

as far how everything seems to be always 'the latest and greatest' trust me, i see your inference. and early this year when i first encounterd what has become the Telos i had that same reaction; what? another leap forward already? didn't we just do this? then i heard the damn 'beast' (which is what i first called it) and i understood. Joel's creative juices had not stopped with the Talea 2. he had to follow his muse. and even in it's early form it was a huge leap.

so i don't blame you for the healthy skepticism about how can we keep 'leaping' forward with greater performance. you will need to visit me and hear the Talea 2, and then the Telos. then you tell me what you think about it.

the Telos is completely new....with nothing in common with the Talea 1 or Talea 2 other than it's a Unipivot and uses a wood arm wand. i'm not sure i've actually seen the final version exactly; but whereas the Talea's are refined looking and the best finished tonearms i've seen like a beautiful Ferrari, the Telos looks like a Formula 1 car without the body. everything purpose built, but nothing more. and the quality of materials is like the F1 car too and every part has had materials science heavily investigated.

as far as design; think 'simple.....with perfect execution'. and i mean really simple. basic. elegant and yet somewhat unpretentious. but beautiful in the form follows function perfection.

i'm not sure how soon Joel will have info posted on his website; but the openning picture when you go to his website is the Telos looking from straight behind the arm.

as far as how the Telos improves on the Talea 2 i'd say that you hear the Talea in the Telos and vica versa; that same neutrality and energetic attack and foundation. but when you hear the Telos things only hinted at on the Talea are fully developed on the Telos. the music all of a sudden has all this completness, like real life. up till now, only better 15ips 1/4 master dubs have the ease and solidity that the Talea brings to most Lps. it's hard for me to describe. if the Talea 2 used to be a 99.2 out of 100. now the Talea 2 is about 88 to the Telos's 99 out of 100......and every other tonearm i've heard is below 85.

the Telos has destroyed the previous reference points completely in my mind.

so yes, in my world view, the NVS/Telos/A90 would be the top of the heap. i know that Joel is working with Wave Kinetics on the arm board solution; but i am not sure what it will be. i do expect it will be solved prior to RMAF. i think the Telos will be on the NVS and on the Galibier at RMAF as far as i know.

i do ues the NVS screw on clamp for many of my 45's and some 33's, i do miss the vacuum of the Rockport. i purchased a Furutech disc flattner but have not yet used it. i have not done any comparisons with and without the clamp yet; and have not really noticed any obvious differences. i plan on investigating this issue when i get the time.

mikelavigne

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or, i'm right behind Jazdoc in the queue ;-)

i'll add that listening to music thru the Telos has the effect of causing delight and awe of the ability of a system to communicate musical truth. you feel giddy. swept away a bit. sucked into the musical flow.

and this is not something like any 'upgrade' where after a few times it's 'same-o-same-o'. that feeling of overwhelming musical intoxication is what it does every time.

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

currently i'm using 2 arms (1) the Talea 1 with the Miyajima Labs Premium Be mono cartridge, into one of my darTZeel phono cards, and (2) the Talea 2 with the Ortofon A90 into the other phono card in the darTZeel preamp. both are on the NVS.

the new 'news' is that Joel Durand has a new tonearm, the 12" Telos, which i'll have (hopefully) within a month. for the last 6-9 months Joel has brought over various versions of this amazing creation, each one more outragously amazing sounding than the previous, and tested it in my room. initially on the Beat, and for the last few months on the NVS. up till now i've not been able to post about it.

this tonearm has changed how i view the heirarchy of things audio. i've made claims about how unipivots are better than other arms, how arms in general are the most important component by far of the vinyl playback system, and even how vinyl can sound better than the best tapes. i've written about how distortion is prevalent in an audio system, and until you hear it's absense, you really are clueless to reality.

all those 'opinions' are based on my exposure to this game destroying tonearm, the Telos. every session with this arm causes those who have been lucky enough to be witness to babble on about the implications of what we were hearing. you want to pinch yourself to make sure it's real.

and it is real. imagine the concept of a Formula 1 car applied to a tonearm. and this Formula 1 car is not subject to any restrictions. every varaible of tonearm design and execution has been challenged and proven or thrown out, and then every piece has been optimized to the max.

anyway; those are just words on a page. my understanding is that the Telos will be at RMAF to be listened to. i cannot wait for more ears to be exposed to this phenominal product.

mikelavigne

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hello Kostas,

Would you also be kind to describe how you clean your CDs and how you get the max out of them?

the short answer is that i don't currently do anything to treat CD's, and have not regularly for a few (maybe 4 or 5) years. it's not that i don't think they can be improved; i know they can be a little better, and possess the means to make them better. but the degree of improvement that can still be found thru various treatments is simply no longer worth the trouble.

allow me to explain.

10 years ago when i was using the Linn CD-12 for CD's and the Marantz SA-1 for SACD's i typically had a CD demag unit next to my listening chair. i also experimented with various different CD treatments as far as the cleaners, i tried the green pens, the black markers, and all that stuff. most of it made a difference, and mostly a positive difference for whatever reason. then i went to the EMM Labs gear and i found that the treatments made a little less difference, but the over-all performance improved. so somehow the Emm Labs gear closed the gap to the potential of the format to some degree.

i upgraded my EMM Labs gear twice more over 5 years, each time the tweaks made a little less improvement, but the overall performance improved. again; my opinion was that the gap of potential improvement for tweaks was less as the gear improved.

around 4 years ago a friend was working on the Tourmaline Guns (a modified hair dryer) and used my room for some of the research. this treatment went to another step up for CD's, but only lasted 15 minutes. for a few months i was religiously using this treatment on CD's and loving it.

then i got the Playback Designs MPS-5; which again moved the performance up and reduced the net affect of the Tourmaline Gun. later there were a couple of software upgrades for the MPS-5 which further improved the CD performance and reduced potential improvement.

finally; my son burned about 1/2 my 4000 Cd's onto a server, and i got a couple thousand hirez files downloaded onto my server. so my digital listening culture has moved to more server based listening and occasional disc listening. i've made a few changes in my server in terms of reasonance control and software improvement to the degree that my server now equals or exceeds the performance of discs.

between the reduced potential effects of tweaks, and the use of the server, i've stopped worrying about tweaking CD's.

then with the progressive improvement of both my vinyl and tape sources; i'm more and more listening to digital primarily when i'm multi-tasking. i still love the way CD's sound, and there are still cases where new music that i like is only on CD.

i would not argue with anyone who does agressive CD treatments. but with the very top level digital players tweaking is less compelling to do.

It's always educational and fascinating witnessing the evolution of your system.

thanks. it a learning path for me too. i keep getting surprised by things on a regular basis. it would be a bore if that was not the case.

mikelavigne

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hi Gary,

sharp eye there.

last Thursday night i had 30 people in my room for my Club Meeting and they were mostly blown away by the NVS, and almost all were familiar with my previous tt's. the next day Joel Durrand brought over the Stainless armboard to see how it might compare to the wood.

as i expected; it was immediately evidant it is better than the wood. (this was last Friday, i did not get the isolation shelf until Monday night). the differences were similar to the shelf but not as extreme and the largest benefits were in different areas. the stainless arm board firmed up the bass and increased dynamics everywhere, especially increased the harmonic structure of the music and fleshed it out, added transient snap and overall focus, added air and space. the music was more substantive and involving.

i had a sheet of paper with the info on the stainless arm board, but i cannot seem to find it now. i did place my metal ruler on it and it appears to be 4mm higher. when i find the spec on the steel i'll let you know. i think Jonathan will offer the stainless armboard as an upgrade.

i can't say it will help every arm and cartridge equally; but it's a no-brainer with the Talea 2 and A90.....ya gotta do it.

i'm waiting to hear one situation where any metal sounds better than stainless steel for ultimate performance, so far it's like 10 and 0 that i've seen.

on Monday night when i heard what the shelf did added to what the arm board did on Friday, it's almost too much. the damn tt is alive!! i wish my club had heard this last Thursday night.....as good as it sounded.....it's on another planet now.

mikelavigne

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hi Peter,

thanks. as far as my Lp hygiene, i'd say i could be better, but i'm happy with my approach.

my Lp cleanliness philosophy is mostly about maximum listening time. the occasional tick does not bother me, and the better the music, the less i care about surface noise. i'd rather hear the 'life' in an original pressing and a little noise than a squeaky clean mediocre re-issue or later mundane pressing. noise is typically in another 'plane' in the soundstage from the music anyway. and for my own private listening, i rarely worry about it. visitors have a varying tolerance for noise, so i try to be sensitive to their preferences.

in my early years of Lp collecting, i would devote time monthly to cleaning Lps. i used a VPI 16.5 record cleaner, and it made so much noise that i would only do it when my wife was gone. i'd do 50 Lps in an afternoon. over 7 or 8 years i cleaned 3500-4000 Lps. i would occasionally clean new Lps, but not always.

then when i moved to my new room 7 years ago the VPI was too loud for the hallway outside my room; so i puchased a Loricraft record cleaner. it used the thread and quieter vaccuum, but took longer. it did a slightly better overall job than the VPI since it did not allow dirt to be put back on the Lps. but......it took so long a rarely used it.

then last year i puchased a large classical collection, sold my Loricraft, and puchased the Audio Desk Record Cleaning System....from Germany. not cheap, $3500 list price. the Audio Desk cleaner uses both ultrasonics and friction from rotating brushes to deep clean the Lps, both sides at a time, and does it AUTOMATICALLY!!!!!!

which means, i could clean and listen AT THE SAME TIME!!!

which is great because i like to listen, but cleaning records is not fun. so i used it. in 4 months i cleaned 700+ Lps while i was listening. you push the button on the Audio Desk system as many times as you want it to scrub in minutes. for used Lps i typically pushed it 5 times. then i would go in and listen to the Lp i just cleaned while the other one was being cleaned. when it was cleaned it beeped, which i could hear from my listening chair. i would go out and get it and put it on one of my other tt's. then go start the cleaning process on the next Lp. then go back and listen some more. it was a very fun process of hearing great new fresh music in the collection and getting the Lps cleaned.

i think the Audio Desk does the best deep cleaning of any record cleaner i know of. it does not get every last spec of dirt/dust off as well as the Loricraft did (since the Audio Desk filters it's water), but it lowers the overall noise floor better since it gets the deep dirt. the only way to improve on the Audio Desk would be to do a pre-clean with a steam gun, as there is some surface crud which only steam will loosen. i may get one of those (they are very cheap).

a caution on the Audio Desk; some people have had reliabiliy issues with it especially with the early ones. i have had zero issues. feel free to call me or e-mail if i can answer any other questions about the Audio desk.

as far as my cleaning culture as i listen; my approach is that the least messing with an Lp is best long term. i typically brush about one third of the Lps i play. and use the Zerodust on my stylus about every 2nd or 3rd side very carefully. about once a session i will use the Magic Eraser very carefully, and then typically i will use a bit of RR LP#9 liquid stylus cleaner to loosen gunk.

i rarely clean new Lps; and mostly do not reclean Lps once cleaned. it's just not enough fun. i make no claims my approach is perfect.....but it keeps me listening. and with good turntables and great set-up.....noise is simply not a significant issue for me.

the bottom line is whatever approach gets you listening to the most music is the most correct. it's a balance to get the most benefit for the least effort while pleasing your ears.

OTOH if you happen to find a perfectly clean Lp 100% of the time to be most important then be happy and enjoy.

mikelavigne

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Mike, thanks. it will worth the trip to Barry's to hear the NVS.

mikelavigne

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Sam,

Ki has hinted he is 'culling' his herd, so the number may be fluid. i've asked him to list them, he changed the subject. i know he has to bring them into his house when his wife is gone.....haha!!....he has a large house but those decks are big mothers. and he has a number of pretty nice sets of speakers too.

at least i can bring my new phono cartridges into the house and no one is the wiser. :^) although my wife keeps asking me how many tape decks i have to see whether my answer might change. i think she thinks Ki has been a bad influence.

i think i'm bad enough without any help.

mikelavigne

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Pictures of the NVS Isolation Shelf.

NVS on shelf

from lower and closer

from the back. you can see that the platform goes to the edge of the adona top rack.

engraved name on front edge

the isolation shelf integrates nicely.

mikelavigne

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Lets see some pictures!

sorry. i listened too late last night and never got around to taking pictures. i'll try to get that done tonight.

an added note about my listening perceptions; i failed to mention the additional detail and focus the platform delivered, as well as total absense of congestion on the peaks. until you hear confusion/distortion on peaks cleaned up, you assume that's the way it is. these attributes impart an ease and listenability that draw you into the music.

mikelavigne

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yesterday the isolation platform arrived for my NVS turntable. this is an approx 22" x 22" x 1 and 1/2" thick shelf that goes underneath the NVS. there are circles etched into the top surface where the three pods of the NVS are set. this shelf appears to be 2 piece. the top is anodized aluminum matching the finish of the NVS; engraved with 'Wave Kinetics' along the front edge, nicely done. the bottom is some sort of rough texture composite. the top's outside edge covers the bottom, so you don't see the bottom structure when the shelf is sitting on my rack surface. the top floats over the bottom with some sort of de-coupling process.....tuned to the NVS.

seems innocent enough.

i lifted the NVS off the Adona rack, set the isolation platform down, then placed the NVS onto the platform,....and centered everything....and plugged the arms and tt back in.

i played a few very familiar Lps.

big improvement. the first thing that hit me was a staggering increase in bass dynamics and slam. in fact, the increase in energy accross the board was the most noticable thing. very very lively sounding. also, more snap and attack in the transients, improved harmonics and textures. more air and ambience around intruments and increased soundstage.

all those attributes add up to a more involving musical experience. closer to live, all the little things are better. you get sucked into the performance.

WOW!!

until you hear the NVS on the isolation platform you have not heard what it can do.

mikelavigne

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Radhel,

i want to say i am in awe of your approach to this hobby. i completely understand your desire to have a pair or Sirius III's, and the Continuum Caliburn. i did think about trying to do that too....that is, try to acquire a Caliburn to go with my Sirius III. unfortunately, it was not a realistic thing for me to do. but that is not to say i would not have done it if i could. it's great that there are people like you (and my friend Ki) who can take things that far. i think you would enjoy adding the NVS and Talea 2 arm to that group.

someday i hope i get a chance to see that collection, or better yet experience it.

i do appreciate these products not just as vessels to deliver beautiful music; but also as works of audio art, as wonderful machines, and as testaments to the passion it took to build them. i know Andy Payor, i know David Payes of Continuum, and obviously i know the guys behind the NVS. it's great our hobby has such people and products.

mikelavigne

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Radhel, Alan and Charles,

there will likely never be another product built like the Rockport Sirius III. in 200 years the Rockport will still be working perfectly. yes, it may be on it's 4th or 5th set of caps in the power supply, maybe it's 5th or 6th off-the-shelf compressor,and maybe it's 10th vacuum gasket.....but everything else is built to industrial machine tool specs. fit and finish impecable, beautiful purpose and integrated design.

even my Studer A820 master recorder, which has amazing build quality and industrial design, is relatively fragile in comparison.

so i agree wholeheartedly that the Rockport is unique and the ultimate piece of audio gear.

but according to my wife, i'm not a collector.

so for me it's the performance. and the Rockport was designed now 16-17 years ago. and whether we like it or not, technology has moved forward. there are better ways to attain speed accuracy and stability, better materials science for vinyl/platter interface, and better approaches for resonance and isolation solutions.

and trust me, i've never been bored with owning or listening to the Rockport. it is an absolutely wonderful piece of gear to enjoy music from.

but there is better.

with the Rockport it's impossible to be able to isolate the various pieces and judge them, as it's a 'system'. so one must guess as to why and where the combination of the NVS and the Talea 2 arm move beyond the Rockport. my guess is that in terms of spinning the record, and interfacing with the vinyl correctly, and isolation/resonance control that the NVS has slight advantages in degrees overall. but pivoted arms have moved beyond the best linear trackers of 16 year ago design.

it's in the arms (and arm interfaces) where the biggest strides are being made.

as far as me being involved in the development of the NVS, or the Evolution speakers for that matter, and that influencing my opinion....well....i was fully invested in loving the Rockport. for years i've been very active in telling the Rcokport story and loving it. i had Steve Dobbins build 4 different tt's for me, the last of which was the Beat, which i was among the first buyers. Steve is a friend, and i certainly was at least as involved with it as the NVS in terms of communication with the builder and in anticipation of it. it's a great tt, and i really enjoyed it; but it was not quite the Rockport, and that's what i said.

my only involvment in the NVS (other than it being my friend's company) was them using my room to check on the performance comparatively twice.

as far as Cable Cooker influence :^) my first use of the Cable Cooker was a week ago Thursday night, and a week ago Saturday my first listen to the result, so it had zero affect on my perceptions or those of my visitors over the last month.

anyway; i wish i could have a space and funds sufficent to keep the Rockport, the Beat, and other gear i've loved over the years, but i cannot. my friend Ki Choi has over 50 reel to reel master recorders, almost one of every type. i can't consider that approach.

mikelavigne

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as i recall, it's on 63db of gain and 47k ohms loading for the A90 on the darTZeel NHB-18NS phono. i am extremely happy with how it sounds.

mikelavigne

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Radhel,

i just realized i got caught up answering the first part of your question, and did not answer the second.

NVS compared to the Rockport. last summer i first heard the protoype NVS in my room. it showed promise and there were moments of greatness. then a few months later in the fall it was back in my room and at that point it was similar to the Rockport, maybe a bit better in some ways, not quite as good in others. overall at that point i maybe preferred the Rockport.

the NVS continued to be improved and was shown at CES, i did not attend. i was told it was quite a bit better than what i had heard in my room. then the first production NVS (mine) was shipped to the designer in Portland to be tested against the prototype. he told me it was clearly better than the prototype; at which point i drove to Portland and picked it up.

yes; it's better. lower noise, more detail, better bass, more energy, more real. the Rockport still has a similar 'dead solid imaging'. we are not talking 'good and bad' here, we are talking degrees of good. the Rockport still has the vacuum hold-down and is one of the very very best turntables. i don't yet have the isolation platform for the NVS which should improve things.

to be clear; what i'm saying is that the combination of the NVS and the Talea 2 is better than the Rockport Sirius III system.

i did not have the production NVS and the Rockport side by side; but i did have many many reference Lps and my impressions of them, as well as my Studer A-820 as a consistent reference; as well as a number of long term visitors who came to the same conclusions i did.

back on the picture issue; i forgot i also bought another Studer A820 1/2", and some additional power cables.

mikelavigne

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hello Radhel,

you got me there, updated pictures are overdue, sorry.

in my defense; over the last few months i've been busy selling stuff; 3 turntables, 3 arms, 2 cartridges, a set of amps, and a phono stage. some of the sales were international and took considerable time and effort to get done.

i've purchased a couple of new rack systems, a turntable and a cable cooker. the last week i've been working on cooking cables so the system has been blown apart every day.

and then tonight; i'm hosting my local audio club in my room......30 people will be here....so i've been dealing with being ready for that.

so lots of change and constant issues of change.

i have posted a number of pictures of my room as it currently appears on this thread; mostly from mid-July. so scroll up and on the previous page and you will see them.

i will try my best to update the main pictures and gear roster asap.

mikelavigne

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for years i've been using the Nordost CBID 1 cable break-in device. i thought it was still effective relative to other choices.

boy was i dead wrong.

i've known about Alan Kafton's Cable Cooker for a few years and had heard very positive things about it. recently i assisted an audio friend with cooking his cables on my Nordost CBID 1, then he proceeded to try the Cable Cooker to see if it would improve the cables more.

it made many degrees more positive difference than my Nordost. so he called me and told me about it. so i ordered a cable cooker. i got it a couple weeks ago, and finally Thursday night i tried it.

Wow!!

I love this thing. It’s like my room doubled in size I’m getting so much more ambient information; and my bass dynamics have increased by a significant amount. More air and ease.

I spoke to Alan on the phone and he was helpful to give me a feel for times for different cables and power cords based on how much use they have had and how heavy and thick they are. there is also written instructions that come with the Cable Cooker as well as a FAQ on his website.

Thursday night at 11pm I started with my Opus MM2 speaker cables (6 years old), my long (7.5M) and short (1.25M) Evolution BNC’s (almost 2 years old) and a couple of RCA’s (1.5m Valhalla and 1.5m Opus MM2) I don’t use at the moment which I’ve had for 7 and 10 years.

Sat 7 am I pulled the RCA’s off (32 hours), then at 5pm (42 hours) I pulled off the speaker cables and Evo BNC’s (both big thick stiff cables). I plugged them back into the system and immediately was enthralled. Huge difference, much more than anticipated. I listened and enjoyed them all last night.

This morning in hooked up 4 Absolute Fidelity power cords (for my speaker subwoofers (2) and power amp (2—one extra one for my anticipated 2A3 monos), I’ll do the 3 power cords I’ve had for 6-9 months in my system for 2 days; the new power amp power cord I’ll do for 3 days.

Also doing interconnects for all three RTR decks (8m BNC for the King-Cello, 50 foot XLR for the ½”:Studer, and 9 foot RCA/Mic plug for the ATR-102). I had to use a bunch of other cables (and conversion plugs for the Mic plug) to be able to properly daisy chain everything and allow them to stay in place. As the XLR’s and the RCA-Mic plug are relatively unused and raw, I’ll give them 3 days, and the BNC’s have been used for 6 years, so I’ll give them 2 days.

Anyway, after what I heard last night, I’m looking for more big results.

After I get thru this group of cables, I’ll still need to do the power cords on the dart pre and Playback Designs, and then after that I’ll do the power cords on the King Cello, and the 2 Studers. When I do those I’ll also do my Oyaide power distribution bar and it’s power cable. I’ll leave that connected so I can break in the distribution bar.

Then I’ll come back to the speaker cables and Evo BNC’s and try them another 12 hours and listen, see if there is any more performance I can wring from them.

the Cable Cooker is relatively affordable in the context of a high end system, $999 plus shipping for the Anniversary model. then you might buy some connectors to allow you to connect and daisy chain various types of cables.

the Cable Cooker is nicely and solidly built and it looks like it will last a long time.

highly recommended, and IMHO essential.

mikelavigne

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Henry,

i agree. there are products that change the sound. some of them add or subtract color. like adding spice to food. products that affect the power grid do certain things.....like adding filters. other products isolate or add a material impedence changes.

the trick is to identify movement toward the musical truth, away from musical truth, or sideways to a different flavor.....as you try things. and then to identify synergistic combinations of products that work best.

a case in point. my darTZeel NHB-18NS is magnificent product. for a long time it sat 'naked' on my Grand Prix shelf; happy. then i recieved some prototype footers from Wave Kinetics which i tried in a number of places, they ended up under the dart pre. they added nuance and focus, and took away nothing. a nice gain. later, i did get the production Wave Kinetics footers, which i used everywhere, and they worked amazingly well......except....they improved the preamp part of the dart pre, but took away the bass impact in the dart phono stage. so i removed them. jtinn figured it was a synergy thing with the GPA de-coupling combined with the Wave Kinetics. so last week with my new 'grounded' Adona rack (a wood-granite shelf and no de-coupling) i tried the production A10 U8's again. same result. a nice improvement in the preamp section, but it robbed the phono of bass impact to an even greater extent. so back in went the prototype footers.

moral; when tweaking the goal is not change, it's better. and there is no predicting the result.

mikelavigne

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Travis, thanks. noise and distortion is something all us audiophiles can relate to. and thanks for the update, i'll look forward to more of them as time goes by.

mikelavigne

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today i had a friend visit who has not been to my room for about 14 months. he just sent my an e-mail.....
hi mike
good to visit with you today, even if it was a bit short. your system really sounds better than it ever has - the noise floor is the lowest i've heard on any system. despite my penchant for the musicality of vintage style systems, i've always had two big issues with them, one of which i could live with, which is the lack of full frequency range coverage, but the second is that it is nearly impossible to get low noise floor with them. i've heard a million modern gear systems too, the best of the best - never have i heard, or rather not heard, or whatever, so little noise. amazing. i wonder, of the things you've done in the last year plus, what you think is the biggest factor in achieving this - the equitech? the room treatment changes opened up the sound, but shouldn't change the noise floor like that, i would think. i didn't listen to CD today, and was not familiar with those tapes in the context of your older system configurations, but i guess the other factor then, with LP's, is that new record player of yours.

my answer to his question......

As far as how the system has achieved low noise, I can think of a few obvious reasons and maybe a few not so obvious ones.



---yes, the Equi=tech does get a share of the credit. Not only for low noise, but an increase in dynamic contrasts, and it’s contribution to bettering the power supply of every piece of electronics. My darTZeel amplifier has those annoying red lights on the front. When the amp gets to ‘near clipping’ those lights flash. Before the Equi=tech there were many recordings which could push the amp to flash in time with the music. Since the Equi=tech the lights almost never flash. I think the power supply stays much more stable when pushed than before. Every piece of gear has received that benefit, but they don’t have warning lights to call attention to the benefit.



---a lower noise turntable, and lower distortion arm. The combination makes considerable difference.



---all new power cords. I was using the Jena Labs Fundamental One with in-line conditioners. When I got the Equi=tech I re-visited my power cords and found a significant improvement in lower distortion and lower noise with the Absolute Fidelity power cords from Gary Ko of Genesis Loudspeakers. He is a local friend.



http://www.absolutefidelity.com/philosophy.html



these power cords are designed for specific applications. It has improved the synergy of the system as well as lowering noise and increasing vividness.



---the Wave Kinetics A10-U8 footers; I have 7 sets of them ($700 each set of 4). These really improved things particularly under the network pods of my Transparent Opus speaker cables. Don’t laugh. Next time you come over we’ll pull them out, listen, and put them back in. huge issue. Distortion in your speaker cables cannot be ignored. There is no other solution for it. and until you hear it removed, you’ll never know the distortion was there.



---the out of phase subwoofer driver on the right side caused distortion, and made it impossible to adjust the speakers properly.



---closing up the bass trapping in the ceiling, and adding the diffusion reduced distortion.

Remember; lowering noise and reducing distortion are almost the same thing. When things clear up the detail pops out. If the bass is clean and energetic, you hear far into the recording, the foundation and ambience are clear, nuance is easily perceived.

mikelavigne

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correction to my last post; pro level is typically +4db, not +10.

consumer line level is typically -10db, and got them mixed up.

mikelavigne

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there is not yet a 'modified darTZeel phono board' appropriate to a tape head output. what's actually been discussed more is a darTZeel modified sound card to go into the card slot in the Studer A820 and A810. i don't think there is any definite time frame as far as i know. and jtinn and i spoke about it very recently. i agree it would seem easier to change the EQ profile of an existing dart pre phono board than mess with the Studer boards.

i do know Herve wants to do something along those lines.

the ATR single ended output i mentioned has already been EQ'd and amplified some; just not to +10 pro level. so it can be input into an RCA input on the dart without drama.

mikelavigne

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hi Sam,

yes; when Ki installed the switch on the heads of my Studer, he ran a single ended cable to my King Cello and terminated it with RCA's. RTR machines use transformers to create the balanced signal for the XLR outputs. avoiding those is one advantage of the King Cello.

here is the ATR on the other side of the room with the NVS.

when Jeff Gillman (of Precision Motor Works) did my ATR he added a single ended output for me and made a cable with a 'mic' out plug on one end and RCA's on the other. so i have that going directly into my darTZeel preamp input.

mikelavigne

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i use the Cello tape repro/phono electronics built by Charles King for the output electronics for my 1/4" Studer A820. the Cello is solid state. Charlie had recommended i try Mundorf Supreme 1.0 mfd Silver/gold/oil capacitors in place of the stock caps in the input of the Cello. so i purchased a pair of these caps and a few weeks back Ki Choi was gracious enough to install them in the King Cello. initially i liked some things they did but even after 80+ hours of break-in i realized that they darkened the sound and took away the vividness and life.....so Ki again helped and removed them. much better now.

in addition to that relief, i purchased a second Adona rack to replace the $20 plant stand that the King Cello had been sitting on. so now the Wave Kinetics A10 U8 footers and Walker lead filled pucks have more to work with and the sound is now better; more focused and energetic.

King Cello on the Adona

different angle

i like the way it now looks too.

mikelavigne

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Kevin,

i've had 4 different turntables from Steve Dobbins, all with Stillpoints, and every version of Stillpoints was different from the other. and i don't recognize the specific models on the Stillpoint web site. so i cannot say whether i've tried the Ultra SS footers.

i'd say for under turntables they seem to work well. it could be that Steve designs his plinths to be optimal for the characteristics of the Stillpoints.

mikelavigne

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yes; the Wave Kinetics A10-U8 footers do improve things on the GPA rack, although i have not heard them with the standard acrylic shelves. my guess is that an isolation footer like the A10 U8 makes a larger positive difference on a solid rack.....possibly because you can't necessarily add the full benefit of 2 different isolation approaches together.

i would expect that the A10 U8's are a larger upgrade than the Formula shelves, for instance....however that's just a guess.

i've yet to find gear that does not improve with better isolation; although turntables can sometimes prefer a more linear stiffer footer to ultimate isolation. i found that stillpoints worked better under the Beat turntable than the A10 U8's. yet on electronics i preferred the A10 U8's.

as far as specific benefits under specific gear; more modestly priced electronics can be a mixed bag. as adding focus and detail can sometimes make them a bit edgy. they might benefit from a bit of rounding of transients. i would expect that all your electronics would like the A10 U8's, but you need to listen and be open to what you hear over a little time. you can talk yourself into liking change, when it's maybe not improvement.

Barry can likely get you some A10 U8's to try in various places and see how you like them.

mikelavigne

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the Adona shelves do use granite, but it's sandwiched with hardwood. so the wood is between the frame and the granite. i don't percieve any sort of 'hardening' or 'coloration' of any kind. and i think it provides a very solid foundation and high mass for the footers i use and allows them to isolate optimally. my experience is that high mass and grounding combined with a layer of decoupling is a good combo. but it's not the only valid approach.

my hardwood flooring is glued to the concrete, which i find is a great surface for speakers. it's not clinical, it's musical.

i think you either need to commit to an isolation rack and avoid footers and other de-coupling methods, or get a 'gounded' rack and isolate individual gear for what is optimal for that gear. every piece of gear needs it's own tuned solution if you desire the best result. both GPA and the Adona-Wave Kinetics A10 U8's allow for that.

mikelavigne

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as far as the Adona rack; i'm very happy with both the performance and the high build quality and look of it. it's an outstanding product.

my reason for getting it is that it offers a very large top shelf; which i needed for the NVS, which has a very large footprint and did not work on the Grand Prix. the Adona is a 'gounded' rack. it uses spikes and solid connections everywhere and has no isolation per se. whereas the Grand Prix Monaco with Formula shelves that i have been using is a 'de-coupling' rack. it isolates gear with it's frame, and also is tune-able with the different compliance sorbothane discs which are used to fine tune the decoupling isolation for every different piece of gear.

i have a preference for isolation; but have been using the Wave Kinetic A10 U8 isolation footers under my gear for the last 6 months or so. the A10 U8's actually work better with a grounded rack. so between the larger top shelf, and the fact i already own the A10 U8's, it made sense to switch.

i have 7 sets of A10 U8's; at $700 a set. you would need to factor in a set of the A10 U8's for each shelf to compare directly with the GPA rack.

i will be selling my Grand Prix Audio rach system soon.

mikelavigne

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hi Mike,

thanks; i am enjoying my new turntable.

enjoy the Amadeus GTA; it's a fine tt in a good spot on the price value curve. you don't 'settle for' a tt like that, you enjoy it. sure you can spend lots more and get 'some' more performance.....but you are getting performance that 10 years ago might have cost 2 to 3 times as much.

i've not listened to 'live line' cables, but i'll look for them at RMAF and give a listen.

mikelavigne

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when i purchased mine in 1999; you could specify quality of leather, long or short frame, narrow or wide back, and whether you wanted standard foam or visco-elastic foam. you could even specify what kind of foam in the head pillow.

i've not seen any 'custom' choices for any 'zero gravity' chair since then. the 'evolution' has been to offer mechanical adjustments and even massage.

i just spent a few minutes looking around on Google to see if i could find anything close to what i have. some look good but they all have wide backrests from the pictures i could see. and none mentioned any customization.

if i do see something like what i have in the future i'll post it.

mikelavigne

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Peter,

yes; content is a good word, also re-focused on the music.

i'm in Napa Vally today for a business meeting at a very nice place. but i can't wait to get back and listen some more.

mikelavigne

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Jason,

having three tt's did present logisitcal challenges; particularly when Joel Durand (of Talea tonearm's) would come over and he would need to do a set-up of the 'rear' tonearm and there was another tt with two tonearms on either side, and then i'd need to do the pretzel thing to disconnect and connect tonearm cables. and then we'd do it again, and again. i did get my workouts.

now i can simply roll the ATR out of the way and stand on either side of the NVS and easily access the rear of the dart preamp.

much easier. and i ilke the culture of simple.

mikelavigne

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Hiho,

thanks. for the Garrard to earn it's place in an environment with the Rockport, the Technics SP-10 Mk3, and then later, the Beat......it had to have it's own magic and unique musical perspective.

mikelavigne

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Rich,

i've had that chair for 12 years; i'll likely get buried with it.

it's the 'Perfect Chair' (also called the zero gravity chair) from the Relax The Back store. it is a 'high back' version and uses viscoelastic foam. it's the most comfortable chair because it distributes the weight of your body all along your leggs, not just on your tailbone. it was developed by NASA for takeoffs for astronauts.

my particular chair is very narrow at the top, and it rounds away from your ears. the head cushion also rounds away from your ears. so there is no 'cupping' or reflections to change the tonal balance. the only audible difference is you don't get the rear wall 'bounce' as much.

i do use the low chair on the right side of the room in the sweet spot when i have guests so they aren't blocked by the high back. but typically there is a fight to see who can sit in my 'perfect chair'.

i can listen for 12-15 hours straight in my chair without back fatigue.

if you search thru the 2000+ posts in my thread i get this question about every 6 months. the answer is still the same.

mikelavigne

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more pictures;

closer

to the side

another perspective

time to clean the A90

i suppose blue vinyl is a guilty pleasure.

mikelavigne

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here are few fresh pictures;

the new look

longer view

the other side, 1/2" Studer on the right

looking forward

NVS aglow

i'll try to update my system info asap.....i promise.

mikelavigne

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'fly disc'? i'm trying to imagine that name and what it's purpose might be.

i suppose that the 'lever' switching of the 50+ year old Garrard could be considered crude....but i prefer to describe it as charming. and remember, 'chicks dig tt's with levers'. a little retro is good for the soul. maybe it does extract a cost in ultimate refinement. in balance; i'm glad Garrards are what they are. and that tweaking a Garrard does not take away it's 'Garrard-ness'.

mikelavigne

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hi Dev,

i have 2 separate phono stages inside my darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp; and that is what i'm using now. i sold the Allnic H3000. i did slightly prefer the dart to the very very nice Allnic.

the TW Black Knight w/Minus K certainly should be an excellennt performing turntable. i've not played around with those phono stages, but i always like the Vac electronics.

i'm not sure when my 2A3 amps will arrive; i know the work on them is proceeding. i'm anxious to hear them. the builder is confident they will be capable of working with my speakers.

mikelavigne

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i'll add about the Garrard; i love it.

i would have kept it had i not also needed another arm, cartridge, phono stage, and have the space and rack to set it on.

mikelavigne

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the Garrard is sold. it's boxed up waiting for the transaction to be complete. i've decided to have one turntable with one arm for stereo and one arm for mono.

Steve Dobbins cleaned up and tuned up my Garrard 3 years ago now, which is when he installed the Kokomo bearing. i cannot say about Mk1 or Mk2 Kokomo. and i've never heard my Garrard without the Kokomo bearing. the biggest change i've seen about the Garrard was when i got Steve's copper-top platter, which lowered the noise floor a large margin. that change cut the noise level difference in half between the Garrard and the Dobbins Technics SP-10 Mk3. the Mk3 was not quite as quiet as the Beat, which was not quite as quiet as the Rockport, which was not quite as quiet as the prototype NVS....the production NVS is a quieter again by a significant margin.

so in terms of ultimate detail and resolution the NVS is a few levels better than the Garrard. i had switched arms around on the various tt's and the current arms on the NVS were both on the Garrard at one time or another.

all that said; idlers are not so much about ultimate detail and low noise, although they can be quite good those areas. idlers are about musical energy and a meaty, robust sounding organic presentation. the Garrard can hold it's own with any of the above mentioned tt's in pure listening pleasure.

it adds fun in exchange for absolute accuracy. if you listen to classical music, the Garrard might sound a bit heavy handed. but on golden age jazz or rock'n'roll it will boggie with the best of them.

the NVS is easily at a higher level of performance than the Garrard; but it should be for $40k list price. but there are things that the Garrard does which deliver music to you at similar levels of enjoyment.

mikelavigne

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yesterday i did have a couple friends over to listen to the NVS, and i've had more time to spend listening.

it's amazing to me how you can get accustomed to a particuar reference, and then limit your expectations to that. it's not until you hear something that breaks thru that barrier of performance that you can see in perspective that the previous level of performance that you were enjoying contained noise and speed non-lineararities. this reminds me of 2002 when i first listened to the Rockport Sirius III. it was a whole new ballgame at that time compared to anything else.

that is how i feel now listening to the NVS compared to my previous references. i'm not sure that the difference is quite as profound as back 9 years ago. the Rockport Sirius III, at that time, was head and shoulders above all comers. but since tt performance has most certainly advanced since then, maybe the NVS's achievement is as significant.

the combined effect of the speed and noise improvements i now hear from the NVS are that the music is much more involving.....passages previously assumed to be fully communicated have taken on deeper meaning and content. much more space and depth, the 'there' is more 'here' in my room. aspects of the venue have come into focus. and this is not detail for the mind, as much as adding to the musical whole and getting the reproduction process out of the way.

yes; i hear things i never heard before, but it's hard to keep your mind in an analyitical mode when listening. you are listening to music. it's more that you are enjoying what the musician did that was previously not recognized.

and the affect on the listener physically is interesting. there is such an ease and relaxed nature to the presentation when the speed is really truely correct (or more properly, more 'really, truely correct'). we all commented on that during yesterday's session. we felt better because of how 'real' it sounded. why? i don't know exactly.

so yes, i'm loving the NVS tt and enjoying the discovery process on what it brings to the table. at first listen you know it's something 'beyond'. kinda like 'we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto' kinda deal. but understanding the implications of what it's doing takes awhile.

mikelavigne

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Ish,

thank you, and my i-tower lights do work great.

those diffusers are just a ballistic plastic shell; they are Auralex T-Fusors. you can adjust their absorbtion by filling them with various types of insulation. for me; i only wanted diffusion, so they are empty. any sort of absorbtion will change the tonal quality of your system.

mikelavigne

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Rockitman,

thanks. i do enjoy the Adona rack. it's got to be one of the better buys in audio, considering it's quality at the price. and it does sound great, i agree.

mine has the 27" x 21" turntable top shelf which gives the 'oversized' NVS lots of room.

tonight i plan on taking things apart so i can have a friend cut off about 7 inches from the legs to lower the top shelf height from 45 inches down to 38 inches. i want to be able to see the surface of the Lp from my sitting position. it's cool that the modular design allows for that sort of customization without build compromise.

mikelavigne

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Mikelakers,

i don't think there will be a 'black' one; but you'd need to ask Jonathan about that.

the production NVS is better than the prototype, and not by just a little. i've only listened to 4-5 hours of vinyl on it so far, so i'm reluctant to make definitive statements; but i'm hearing the music less a recording and more real. i just have a hard time describing what i'm hearing with a sonic checklist. sure, there is more detail, more microdynamics, it's more vivid and lifelike, more growl and leading edge energy. but; it's more that you hear the complete expressiveness of the piano, or violin, or standing bass. the emotional content of the music comes thru less restricted.

i will say that the production NVS exceeds what i expected it to be able to do in terms of improvement to the performance; i was surprised. i was expecting a small step up. this is a big step up over what was world class tt performance.

this weekend i'm having a few friends over who have been in the room 10-15 times in the last year. i'd like to hear their take on the difference and see whether they hear the jump i'm hearing.

mikelavigne

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Charles1dad,

i did just speak to Scott Wedneesday regarding my 2A3 amps; he finally got settled in his new digs and has been working furiously the last few weeks on my amps. he said he's close to being done with the design, and so is in 'build' stage....whatever that means. they might be 2 days, 2 weeks, or 2 months away....i don't really know. we spoke about choices of the power tubes.....reliability and longer lasting verses ultimate performance and higher cost. i said i want it to sound the very best it can.

i'm excited that Scott is feeling very good about the result he is getting, he says it's quite a bit better performing than the 45 tube SET's that got my full attention back a few months ago.

i can't wait.

mikelavigne

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NVS with the 2 Talea arms mounted

i've not yet listened to them, but the arms are mounted.

mikelavigne

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thanks Sam.

the Olympos left with the Rockport.

and honestly, even though i like the Olympos and it has a very special sweetness, overall i prefer the A90.

if i kept multiple tt's and arms i would have kept the Olympos.

mikelavigne

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although it will be hard to beat the rockport i reckon

actually, it won't. although 'beat the Rockport' is not the way i would describe the situation. the Rockport has it's own magic when you consider the high mass, the isolation and air bearing, the vacuum holddown and the linear tracker. it has a solidity and 'rightness' that is unique. but the NVS prototype i heard last year is quieter, and equally speed accurate. and i believe pivoted arms are getting better and i decided i only wanted one turntable and 2 arms.

do i expect the NVS to surpass the Rockport?

my NVS is the first production unit as far as i know. i'm told the prototype has been improved considerably since the last time i heard it last fall. and this production unit is even better than the prototype.

but i have yet to listen to this unit.

mikelavigne

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ok, here we go.....with the Wave Kinetics NVS turntable.

NVS Flight Case

Flight Case Open

that's the power supply in the upper corner. there is only an on and off switch on the power supply so it can be down on the floor out of sight. logistically helpful for rack space and switching speeds and stopping and starting the platter.

Wave Kinatics NVS

NVS

NVS with the light on it

NVS again

the 2 Talea arms will be installed today.

the (de-coupling/isolation) tray that goes underneath the NVS was not finished yet, it's coming in the next few weeks. the Wave Kinetics shelf system is likely some months away. since the legs of the Grand Prix rack do not accomodate large items i've got a different rack coming later today; a 4 shelf Adona GX rack, which will have space for the NVS to look forward and fit on top.

mikelavigne

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Sam,

you are welcome.

Mike

mikelavigne

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Barry,

it kind pisses me off that those EA BNC's sounded so good, but they do.....and agree they are like upgrading the components. you may already be on this issue; but for years i've used my Nordost CBID1 for cable breakin. i understand that the Cable Cooker from Audioexcelence is much better, so i ordered one, it's on the way. the EA BNC's do take lots of break-in to sound optimal. i'm looking forward to the performance improvement from the Cooker.

mikelavigne

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congrats on the Wave Kinetics table.

thanks Mike.

it is suppose to ship to me 'maybe' this next week.....

mikelavigne

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Chris,

forgot to comment on your specific gear; i'd say you should have no issues with gain with an A90 unless for some reason your amp and speakers had low gain, which would be unusual. the 63db of phono gain and the ML380S should work wonderfully.

mikelavigne

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Chris,

i've used both my darTZeel NHB-18NS preamp, which has 2 separate phono cards, and the Allnic H3000 phono preamp with the A90 in my system.

presently i have the darTZeel phono card i use for my A90 set at 63db gain and 47k loading for the A90 and it rocks. i had used the same settings for the Lyra Olympos SL which had .17mv output, and that was marginal with some pressings.

on the Allnic either the top or next down settings both worked great on the A90, i mostly used the 'next one down'. with the Allnic it's not strickly a particular db of gain as the loading and gain settings are interactive. in any case, the .27mv output of the A90 typically is in the sweet spot of the better phono preamps for optimal performance. you look for minimum output and mimimum gain to get the job done for the very best sound. more output on a cartridge typically costs you with a loss of nuance, too much gain adds noise.

the A90 seems perfect in this respect.

as far as the Feickert Protractor and an indentation on the top of the 'pivot point' on the Talea, it's a non-issue. the Talea goes one better. it provides a nice substaintial aluminum template rod that fits over the spindle and under the pivot point onto a cast disc for a snug fit for perfect pivot to spindle distance. you simply can't do it wrong.

i own a Feickert protractor and it does work nice on the Reed since the Reed has that dimple above the pivot point. however, there is still slop in the measurement process so it's not quite as exact as the Talea.

but yes; you can choose to use the Feickert with the Talea, but why would you? i don't recall that there is a dimple for the Feickert to rest in or not.

as far as the actual stylus adjustment as good as the Feickert tool is, the Mint Lp is a more accurate tool for that issue. and whether you use the Feickert or the Mint Lp, at that point you are not dealing with spindle to pivot distance as your arm is locked into position. it's only the cartridge body you are adjusting.

mikelavigne

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Chris,

in terms of ease of use, quality of build, and beauty the Talea likely has a few advantages, as it should be expected to for it's higher cost.

the Reed is very nicely built, and everything is first rate. there are upgrades to higher finishes which get closer to the Talea.

the Talea is like a swiss watch in it's fit and finish. remarkable. stunning.

the Talea has dynamic adjustment of azimuth. the Reed 2P has optional azimuth adjustment on the headshell. the whole azimuth issue is somewhat controversial. my ears tell me this is an advantage of the Talea over any other arm.

the Reed Q has a laser used for a reference for VTA....which may have some merit...i've not used it.

to me, the big deal in any arm is the bearing and bearing design. the Reed is gimbaled, the Tale is a uni-pivot. i 'hear' advantages in this area for the Talea.

as far as mounting and setting both arms up; neither have any issues. the Reed comes with a wood box, the Talea is a spectacular wood box....full of tools, and extra screws and bits. you feel pampered. it even has a nicely made aluminum spindle to pivot template that takes the worry out of getting that essential measurment anything be spot on perfect.

mikelavigne

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hi Chris,

first, this is just one guy's perspective and opinion about subjective performance perceptions in my particular system.

for the last 9 months i've had 2 10.5 inch Reed 2P's and a Talea 1st gen and a Talea 2nd gen in my system. a 2P and Talea 1 on the Garrard 301, and a 2P and Talea 2 on the Beat. prior to that, for a year, i had a 2P and Talea 1 on the Dobbins Technics SP-10 Mk3 and a Reed 2A on my Dobbins Garrard 301.

this is about degrees of good, not good and bad. until i heard the original Talea prototype 2 years ago now in my room the Reed was the best pivoted arm i had heard in my room or anywhere. at that time i also had a Triplaner VII, and a little before that i had a Schroeder Ref SQ. and all during this time (for the last 8 years until a month ago) the Rockport sat there as a reference.

mostly i used two Ortofon A90's in comparing the Reed arms to the Talea arms, although i did have the Lyra Olympos SL on the Rockport. i used the Allnic H3000 mostly with both arms having identical A90 cartridges into it; so it was about as objective an environment as possible.

basically what the Talea does is have lower distortion than other arms; and the Reed arms seemed to have lower distortion than the Triplaner. my experience watching Joel Durand develop the Talea level by level has been a tutorial in how much lowering distortion improves performance in an audio component; and how much an arm dominates the sound of a vinyl setup. every step forward allows more of the information to emerge from the noise floor of distortion.

this process with the Talea paralleled the maturation of my system and room where i found issues, fixed them, and as a result of lowered distortion the system came alive.

so what do i actually hear different with the Talea?

again, more degrees of good. with the Talea 1st gen, it is a matter of less sense of a reproduction process, more note development, more tonal richness and inner texture, more sparkle and life, more transient snap and microdyanics, increased depth, less strained, greater ease,. in direct comparison between the 2P and Talea 1st gen, the 2P has a slight bit of congestion and blunting of transients. it makes you aware of the fact there is an arm and a turntable. between these 2 arms it is not night and day, but it is a clear, easy to hear, difference.

stepping up to Talea 2nd gen, more of everything, especially micro-dynamics.....with this one the music explodes from the grooves and gets up and boogies. the music is released from the reproduction chain and becomes a living breathing entity. you go to a higher plane.

the Talea 1 and 2 have a character (or lack thereof) in common, which is neutrality, vivid clarity, and inner life and energy. nothing is blunted or warmed over, yet it's easy to listen to and natural. it gets out of the way.

mikelavigne

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Sam,

yes; SWMBO is happy! :^)

which is most important.

best,

Mike

mikelavigne

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Ack,

the Equi=tech i had installed is 10WQ wall panel system. i also added the EMI-RFI filter option to three of my circuits, and the OFC option for oxygen free copper to be used all thru the assembly.

posts about the Equi=tech installation process start here and continue for a few posts after that.

and....yes. i've not been good at updating my system info, sorry about that. prior readers of my system page might notice a significant change on my page as of friday, i changed the name of my system page from "Siriusly, the Rooms the Thing" to "Mike Lavigne's system". why would i do that? well......the Rockport Sirius III is now gone. it left 3 weeks ago to a new owner, this morning i understand it is up and running at it's new place.

in any case, in the next weeks i promise to update my page info.

mikelavigne

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Len, look forward to your feedback after install.

Wslam, thanks....the Equi=tech is one of those purchases after which you think 'why did wait to do this?'.

mikelavigne

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hi Len,

i will try my best to quantify performance differences that i attribute to the Equi=tech isolation transformer over a standard power grid.....and to compare it to the room acoustic gains from a dedicated room. obviously, these are subjective differences from one man's perspective, and so it has limited value.......

the Equi=tech isolation transformer lowers the noise floor considerably, cleans up distortion in the power signal, and provides more dynamic kick. and when you think about what each piece of electrical gear does in your system, it's like basically upgrading every piece of gear you have.....all at once. lower noise, less distortion, better dynamics.....on each piece of gear.

an example; my darTZeel NHB-108b stereo amp has 2 lights on the faceplate that flash brighter as the amp goes into 'near clipping'. prior to installing the Equi-tech, i could play certain tracks of music that would predictably cause those lights to flash on the beat of the music at particular SPL levels. after the Equi=tech i can no longer get the lights to flash. the power grid is so much more linear that the amp is much more stable, it's power supply can handle higher SPL's without sensing 'near clipping'. this is an objective benefit that is crystal clear. yes; subjectively, the amp never sounds hard or strained where it had previously. there is more detail, more dynamics, more delicate refinement, more color and and greater sense of ease and effortlessness.

it's way better.

but the change with those lights is not a matter of my opinion. it's proof of a real change.

another change is that if i have a power outage, there is a 4-7 second lag in the system shutting off, compared to prior to the Equi=tech where it would be off right now. or if the lights flicker the music plays merrily along without skipping a beat. no wonder there is such a sense of increased power reserves.

overall, the music simply has an engaging vivid liveness all the time with the Equi=tech that causes it to always seem special and personal....drawing you into it.

as far as how the effect of the Equi=tech compares to the effect of the overall custom room acousitcal design......that is hard to describe, i'll try my best to take a stab at it.

i'd say that acoustics come first, in fact....it might be hard to assign cause and effect without solving gross acoustics issues before trying to assess the Equi=tech....because you would have a hard time knowing what casued what.

i'd say that the Equi=tech was the finishing touch on every acoustic issue, and the current 'over-the-top' holy sh*t!!!, can-you-believe-that? performance i'm now (and visitors are now) enjoying would be quite a bit less magical without the power grid upgrade. is it the last 1%?, or the last 5%, or the last 10%? that's a subjective question with a subjective answer.

maybe recent visitors to my room might have a better way to quantitate an answer.

i hope that helps.

mikelavigne

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yes, i did use the Opus MM2 speaker cables with the 'less than 1 watt' 45 tube amp and will also use it with the 2A3 3-4 watt SE Monos. it sure sounded great with the 45 amps.

i did intend to compare the Odin to my Opus at some point, both speaker cables and interconnect, but it has not yet happened. if someone offers me the opportunity to do that comparison i would do it as i am still curious about it.

i must admit i'm not too motivated for cable investigations these days. everything is sounding very 'together' and my mind is on music and new music mostly......which is the way it should be.

mikelavigne

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Hi Mike, I'm just wondering if you are planning on using the Dartzeel preamp with the new tubes.

hi Steve,

i have no plans for a tubed preamp. in fact, i'm having the 2a3 amps built with the 50ohm BNC darTZeel 'zeel' interface to optimize the darTZeel preamp and allow me to use the Evolution Acoustics 7.5 meter cables which i now use. the 'zeel' interface allows me to have a long single ended cable and have no issues with length. a regular 7.5 meter set of RCA cables is getting into the length where noise can be an issue.

i love the battery powered darTZeel preamp, and the 2 phono stages i have inside it. i've already listened to the 45 tube monoblocks using the dart pre and loved the combination and a few weeks back i tried a pair of DeHaviland 40 watt per channel tube amps which also worked great with the dart. the dart pre is very quiet and natural sounding, it has none of the mechanical or flat type presentation many, even very good, solid state pres have.

to be fair, i cannot predict the future. and there could be some tubed preamp with my name on it. i could even see having 2 separate 'chains' of pres and amps. but i have no plans at all for that on my horizon.

mikelavigne

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Mark,

thank you for the kind words about my system.

the FIM/Winston Ma 'Steinway' recording session was about as much fun as an audiophile can have. 12 hours with 3 pro audio guys and Winston doing test recordings in my system. and seeing pro audio guys who had never been exposed to high end vinyl playback get their world view rocked.

i'm glad you enjoyed the sound of it.

i wish i could re-record it today in my system as it would sound even better.

again thanks.

mikelavigne

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hi Jason,

i am excited about my new 2a3 amps. they are being built by my friend Scott Sheaffer, his company is called Found Music and some info on my amps is here. each set of monoblocks are custom designed at this point, which is a pretty cool thing to me. i would try to describe some of the details Scott told me about the amps but i'm having a hard time keeping it straight in my head. i will say that each monoblock will have 2 separate Mercury Vapor tube rectifiers.

i might have them late May to June sometime.

mikelavigne

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Charles,

not all very low powered amps are created equal. this one uses a mercury vapor regulation tube, and has a great transformer and power supply.

and not all 93db 6 ohm speakers are equal. the MM3's only ask the amp to drive the ribbon tweeter and ceramic mid-raange and have a low power friendly crossover.

and the power grid in my room, with the Equi-tech isolation transformer, is very amp friendly in terms of a robust, low noise, linear, power grid. i know with the darTZeel NHB-108 before the Equi=tech certain demo discs would trigger the 'near clipping' lights to flash; whereas since the Equi=tech they almost never flash any more. lower distortion, more linear power always helps amplifiers be more stable.

no doubt the 45 tube 1 watt monoblocks were limited in their output on the MM3's in my large room. i could easily get them to strain. but if i kept them within their dynamic envelope they were breathtaking.

4 times the power.....4 watt 2A3 monoblocks with even better transformers and other tricks might be mind boggeling.

i'm not looking to replace the darTZeel; i'm looking for the choice to travel somewhere else when it strikes me.

yes; it should be interesting.

my previous expereince with very low powered amps was on speakers which were flawed in terms of their ability to do full frequency and stay integrated like the MM3's. to be able to have a low power amp with that amazing purity and have a speaker that can touch all the bases and do bass into the depths is almost too good to be true.

we will see how much of that 'dream' can get done.

mikelavigne

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Garret,

sorry for the delay in my response.

as far as amps and preamps used with the MM3's, in my system i've used 3 amps other than the dart stereo amp.

-big darTZeel NHB-458 Monoblocks; i had them in my room for a month last year. crazy good! takes all the wonderful things the dart stereo amp does and adds; a spooky sense of effortlessness, another gear of speed and control, an even lower noise floor and deeper rendering of ambience which expands the soundstage, and greater slam and drive. in a room/system like mine it must be heard to be appreciated.

-Lamm ML2.1 SET monoblocks; sexy, smooth, holographic, and refined. something gets added which i liked. not strictly neutral but not 'golden' or 'cloudy' either. a bit dark sounding but still with nice energy. the bass integrated perfectly.

-custom set of under '1' watt SET monoblocks using the 45 tube. if i sat in my normal nearfield spot and did not play it too loud -1- watt actually worked with the MM3's...even in my very large room. the bass integrated well. i was surprised. these really touched me. i could hear into the music in a way i never have. the speed 'inside the note' and the level of information was amazing. these amps changed my perception of what a tube amp could sound like. i'm having a set of 3-4 watt SET monoblocks built based on the 2A3 tube which should be a better match for the MM3's in my room.

i have not tried other preamps in my room on the MM3's.

i have heard other amps and preamps on the MM3's and have yet to hear any that did not work well.

if less the ONE watt can work, any amp will work.

mikelavigne

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Fred,

i agree with the idea that anticipated retirement is part of my rational for offering the Rockport for sale, and i agree that no one of my tt's is better at everything, but owning three tt's has allowed me to see just what the Rockport is comparitively capable of. and in overall performance, there is a gap between the Rockport and my other tt's. there is less of a gap between 'The Beat' and the Rockport and the Dobbins SP-10 Mk3 and the Rockport.

OTOH, i enjoy and listen to all three.

i can tell you the visitors to my room that listen to all three have strong preferences for the Rockport.

mikelavigne

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Microstrip,

sorry for the delay in my response. i have not done any further Equi-tech tests. however, after almost 6 months i am more and more impressed by what i hear which i give the Equi=tech some credit for. 200 pounds of copper does not break in over night; but i notice an overall gradual increase in the refinement and ease of the system.

last week i had another storm caused flickering of the lights in my room where the isolation transformer in the Equi=tech stored enough power to maintain the sound without interruption during up to 7 or 8 second periods of total power loss. this sort of buffer has got to be kind to power supplies in my gear and really isolate stuff.

the Equi=tech is the real deal.

mikelavigne

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Adamg and Andrewrona,

i love 'The Beat' tt; but it does not equal the Rockport in performance....and i do not expect it to. the sale of the Rockport is equal parts allowing me to buy other stuff (speakers/amps) i might want and life-style priorities.

owning and enjoying three tt's (and three RTR decks) has allowed me to determine what my personal priorities need to be.

and who knows, the Rockport may not sell and i may keep it forever. that will not be a bad outcome and part of me wants that result. i do not 'need' to sell it. only if i do i can make other choices and keep my dear wife happy too (which is always important).

in any case, if/when the Rockport does find another home i will modify the name of my system. for now, nothing has changed.

mikelavigne

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Power grid effect on RTR--Equi=Tech with Ampex ATR-102.

for the last 2 years i've used my Studer A-820 instead of my Ampex ATR-102. Jeff Gillman of Precision Motor Works did a full refurb on this ATR-102, but since it's set up for NAB EQ and almost all my tapes are IEC it has just sat there. it requires more skill than i have to properly adjust it for IEC EQ. i can have Jeff Gilman set up a separate set of sound cards for IEC so i can switch them but i've not yet decided to spend that money.

Saturday i decided to warm it up and play it; i do have a few NAB 15ips tapes and i want Ki to install a head switch so i can listen to it thru the King Cello. so i listened to my NAB Kind of Blue. really quite good (very lively and dynamic) but i could tell it was a bit rough compared to the Studer thru the King Cello.

i had been trying it plugged into the dirty power outlet. i then tried it thru the Equi=Tech powered Oyaide power outlet. it was like night and day. huge difference in refinement, noise floor, and detail. like a whole different tape deck. it was much more like the Studer thru the King Cello.

what does this tell us? i'm not exactly sure but it seemed like something that might be helpful to know. next i'm going to try my stock Technics RS-1500 with both dirty and Equi=tech power and see what that does. i also need to switch back and forth with the Studer; which has been plugged into the Equi=tech along with the King Cello.

i only have one Equi=tech outlet in the vicinity of the RTR decks, so i've purchased an Oyaide R-1 MTB-6 power strip to give me more outlets in that area. they are all analog and there are no high power amps so it should work well.

mikelavigne

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Microstrip,

great point; and i agree.

one of the great things about a product like Equi=Tech is that it has to meet local Electrical Codes where ever it gets installed and it needs to be installed typically by a commercial electrician. not too much room for smoke and mirrors. it's built like a tank as it needs to be.

i got a thick packet of schematics and instructions for my contractor with the unit.

as you say; Tripoint could be wonderful; but for sure it's a bit of a mystery.

mikelavigne

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who says AudiogoN does not listen?

late yesterday the Talea-Schroeder Thread was back.

mikelavigne

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a few days ago i noticed that the thread regarding the Talea--Schroeder 'non' shootout has been removed/deleted/erased by 'father' AudiogoN.

one could debate who might have requested that action.

but the politics of AudiogoN are best left alone.

OTOH i did keep a copy of my post on that thread.....so....for the sake of my own sense of closure here it is without further comment.

*********

i abstained from posting in this thread until now as i had a few strong feelings about the event for awhile after and thought that would be best. as far as how things came together that evening; with the perspective of over three weeks i'll just say that Joel was dealt an unfair hand, but pointing fingers serves no purpose and i don't think any intent to be unfair was present.

i know it was not supposed to be a shootout; but honestly what the heck else did anyone think it could be? even when Frank changed cartridges and phono's, it was still a shootout.

as far as my perspective coming into the event; anyone who cares can read my system page about that, i won't get into it here. i'll just say i have my biases.

i spent some time in that room prior to that evening; i hung out on that floor alot as other rooms there had my interest. then Saturday night i showed up at 7:30pm, an hour early, to make sure i got a good seat. i was in the third row center until around 11pm. so i had a very good seat.

the room was filled with really nice gear; but it never really synergized to my ears. which allowed one to listen for the sound, as the music mostly did not cast it's typical spell. this is not to criticize any of the gear, or Tom, or anyone. Tom has already spoken about this.

i live with multiple arms, cartridges and phono stages every day, and these arms were very familiar to me. not that i'm as good at this as many in this room filled with analog Icons.

my impressions.

i heard nothing that surprised me. is this because i made up my mind ahead of time?

the Talea had much better sense of organization, it had better precision, it had an ease in the groove and clarity better than the Schroeder. the Talea did more space and microdynamics. i will say that the Schroeder went a bit deeper in the bass; although based on my time in Frank's room listening to his phono stage (and knowing from my multiple phono stages how this factor works), i'd assign that factor mostly to the phono stage.

F