Focal Grande Utopia EM in black finish

Analog music sources, Technics SP10 MK3 fitted with two new Kuzma 4 Point 14".   Studer A810 Archival half track IEC EQ tape machine.

Digital music source is Aurender W20  into Bricasti M1 and Allnic D-5000 DAC. 

Allnic H-8000 DHT Phono, and NEW Allnic L-10000 preamp feed Allnic M-5000 or M-3000 MK2 Mono Blocks.

Cable is 100% top tier Purist Audio design.  Mostly 25th Anniversary Luminist,  all ten AC cords are the new Purist 30th Anniversary AC.

My space is 18 X 31 and acoustically treated with RPG panels, tube traps and fiberglass acoustic treatment over triple reinforced walls and ceiling. The floor is lamination beams over steel plates to pier and beams.  Two sheets of 5/8 epoxy lamination sheets make up the floor with two inches of concrete topped with India multi color slate.

Whisper Wall rail system and fine textured acoustic cloth covers the work, making  everything appear as a normal room with painted sheet rock or decorative cloth covering.

The room acoustics were conceived by RBDG and the entire space was torn out to bare dirt under the foundation and bare studs in the walls about eleven years ago.

Room Details

Dimensions: 31’ × 18’  X large
Ceiling: 12’

Components Toggle details

    • My Photography
    Commercial + Advertising Photography, Dallas, TX.
    • Focal Grande Utopia EM
    The best offering from Focal, shown with Stillpoints Ultra 5. Amazing upgrade !
    • RPG Acoustics QRD 734 (variation)
    On front wall, now obscured by acoustically transparent cloth, is floor to ceiling RPG (similar to QRD® 734) in foam, so it's partially absorptive.
    • Studer A810
    4 speed version. Rebuilt by Steve Smith of Studer USA, Nashville, TN.
    • Technics SP10 MK3 Rosewood with Stillpoints Ultra 5
    Technics SP10 MK3 Panzerholz + Rosewood shown with Stillpoints Ultra 5
    • Technics SP10 MK3 Panzerholz + Ebony
    Technics SP10 MK3 Panzerholz with African Ebony lumber (no Veneer). This is the original design by John Semrad and myself, copied to death now.
    • TTM Stainless Mat and Oil Damp Weight
    Japan, TTM Stainless mat (6.61 pounds) plus TTM oil filled record weight.
    • Air Tight Opus
    Air Tight new top of the line phono cartridge
    • Koetsu Coralstone Platinum
    Top tier stone body Koetsu, perfect alternate to Air Tight Supreme
    • Kiseki Purple Heart
    Bought this at California Audio Show from Kevin Deal.  This is an amazing cartridge for the dollar.
    • ORB-DF03 USA version DF03
    Excellent LP flattener, simple to use and so far perfect result
    • Aurender W20
    Aurender music server, model W20 with 12TB storage on board.
    • Bricasti M1 SE
    • Allnic D5000 DHT DAC
    Direct Heated Triode, transformer coupled DAC.
    • PS Audio DirectStream DAC
    • Allnic Audio L-10000
    OTL ~ OCL preamp of highest performance.
    • Allnic L-7000 NEW preamp
    L-7000 is brand new preamp with many improvements cosmetically and performance wise.
    • Allnic Audio H-8000 DHT phono stage
    Allnic limit of the art two chassis DHT phono stage.
    • Allnic M3000 MK2 Monoblock
    KT-150 tube based monoblocks. 200 WPC
    • Allnic Audio M5000 Monoblock amps
    Brand new, I have the only pair in existence at the moment.   2.5 feet deep, 400~500 WPC using eight KT150 tubes.  Superb sound, I dearly love them.
    • Allnic H5000 DHT Phono
    Allnic new ultra high performance phono, image shows one of two chassis.
    • Vibraplane 2212-01
    I have two of these powered by Silentaire DR-150
    • Takatsuki TA-300B
    Replaced factory EH 300B with Takatsuki 300B and got a substantial, remarkable upgrade.
    • KLaudio Ultrasonic LP cleaning machine
    Ultrasonic LP cleaning machine made in S. Korea.
    • Audio Desk Automatic LP Cleaner
    KLAudio from Korea and Audio Desk from Germany shown together.
    • Milbank Transocket three phase 750 amp
    750 amp meter base. Pass through design, three phase power is a huge benefit in conjunction with our dedicated transformer.
    • Porter Port Cryo outlets 20 Amp
    14 of these in my system, each to a dedicated breaker in copper based electrical box
    • Purist Audio Design Focal EM Supply cable
    New four conductor cord, replaces stock Focal supply cord from EM drive box to back of speaker. Amazing upgrade
    • Purist Audio Luminist 25th Anniversary XLR X 4
    (1) Allnic H5000 phono to Allic L3000 preamp (1) Audio Research REF 250 to Allnic L3000 (1) Allnic D5000 DAC to Allnic L3000 (1) Studer A810 to Allnic L3000
    • Purist Audio Luminist 25th Anniversary Bi-Wire
    1.5 meter Bi-Wire, Audio Research REF 250 to Focal Grande EM
    • Purist Audio Design 30th Anniversary AC Cables
    New STUNNING cable from Purist Audio, silver and seven stage network box.  This cable brought so much dynamics, resolution and transparency to my system it qualifies as a main component.
    • Leica Disto D2
    Super laser measuring tool. Indispensable for setting distance and alignment of your speakers
    • Furutech NCF Booster
    New NCF Booster added to majority of AC cords in system.  Easy to see against light colored wall, arrow points to NCF Booster at Allnic M-5000 amp.

Comments 4690

Hello Mike,

Those devices on my AC cables are there to prevent loss of conductivity from vibration.   They are made by Furutech and called NCF booster.

NCF boosters are available in several versions and the ones you ask about are for AC, especially those with Furutech connectors.  Other NCF devices are a similar design but for interconnect and speaker cables.

I tested the interconnect and speaker cable versions without improvement to my system.  Then again, I am wired 100% with Purist Audio cables and they are quite resistant to those problems anyway.   With another cable design it might be a big deal.

The AC cables did get an improvement from the NCF, and I while would not put them at the top of my upgrade priority anyone with top tier AC cables,  upgraded wall outlets and other associated equipment should benefit from them.

Sound is much like the AC cable itself, but in miniature.  If you like your AC cable and want it to be more refined, solid and lower distortion this is what the NCF provides.   It’s not day and night but then again, it costs a fraction of what a good AC cable costs.

If you try them post back results, I would love to read about that.  I think too that the connection to the wall benefits more than at the IEC end but again, it is likely system dependent.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

Albert. Wow. Amazing system. I was wondering what is that ( name of it ) that looks like it is holding up those 2 power cords on your out let. I have 3 Shunyata Research King Cobra and Sigma PCs and the weight makes them sag a bit. Is that what they are for ? Thanks. Mike in NJ

Ag insider logo xs@2xtattooedtrackman

I just ordered a match quad of Emission Labs 300B tubes to try in the Allnic L-10000 and if successful maybe put in the H-8000 phono stage.

Currently my reference is Takatsuki but hoping EM performance will be worthy of recommendation for Allnic users.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

That’s a super looking turntable and since it’s a Technics SP-10R motor it may well be the "best" out there.  

The only problem is price.  Based on what SAT charges for their tonearm the turntable will be hyper expensive.  Do you purchase a Technics SP-10R or pay $xx more for the same motor sitting in a SAT developed chassis?

I am certain I will never have the opportunity to compare all these versions against my SP10 MK3 in our plinth.  The Technics SP10R is still somewhat in short supply and the SAT rig will be even more rare.

All that said, I will eventually purchase a SP10R or SL-1000R (or both) and compare with my turntable and plinth.  

One thing for sure, it's great to see the Technics SP10 motor get the respect it deserves.  When I switched over to MK2 and then the MK3  from my $100,000.00 plus rig many years go I had one reviewer say,

"Albert has taken leave of his senses.”

Funny things is, the turntables that everyone was screaming over at that time are now recognized as less performance. 

For all of us, the SP10 MK3 is becoming more and more of a bargain as Technics releases new  SP10R and SL-1000. 

When I  switched to the Technics MK3 you could find one in almost new condition for $3,500.00 to $4,500.00.  Prices climbed over the years and until the release of the  SP10R the MK3 had climbed to as much as $14,000.00 without plinth or arm.  

I still wonder about the one specification that Technics does not disclose.  Torque, it’s what pushes the platter.   The SP10 MK3 produces 16KG/CM and uses a copper 22 pound platter.   The SP10R is 17 pound platter and no torque spec.

Will be interesting to find what that missing spec brings to the performance table.   In my system I have added a super heavy stainless steel platter mat and center weight and it provided a HUGE  improvement.  The MK3 motor still brings the platter to perfect speed in part of a single revolution, that’s what torque does and I wonder if that same torque might be the major contributor to super controlled crushing bass the MK3 provides.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter


Not sure if you've seen this, but it looks interesting. He's using the SP10R motor.


I've been experimenting with tubes, recently purchased triple mica silver plate Mazda 12AU7 and Sylvainia dark glass 6AN8, both of which are required in the Allnic L10000.

It's amazing how much change can be made by tube choices, currently enjoying Holland Bugle Boy 12AU7 and loving the layers and dynamics this provides.

Considering Emission Labs (WE equivelent) 300B to try against my current favorite the Takatsuki.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

I sold my demo pair of Allnic M5000 mono blocks to a customer who I now regard as a friend.

My new M5000 are completed, shipped and due to arrive this coming week.

My Studer is in the hands of a local tech who will replace the meter lamps, realign heads and do a general tune up.  I can hardly wait to hear what these changes bring.

I also plan on testing a few 12AU7 tubes, required in my Allnic L10000. 

On hand are:

(French) Mazda 5 star triple mica
Telefunken (1960s) smooth plate
Mullard 12AU7 square getter
Mullard military CV4003
Mullard 7316 (an ultra low noise version)

One of these should have the perfect personality  to push the Allnic L10000 into even higher performance.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

The web address I provided is Mockingbird Distributon,  Phillip is a friend and the guy that brings in MuTech.

You can contact me via any ad I have running at Audiogon or contact Phillip.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter


Mutech Hayabusa, and fairly reasonable price.   I prefer it to Kiseki Purple Heart which is a great cartridge.   Difference is primary in the high frequencies, Mutech Hayabusa is more open than the Kiseki but still warm.

Mike Fremer is supposed to do a review soon, I will have access to them for people that want to deal with me.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

Hi Albert.

Which cartridge is it? I'm looking for a great cartridge to use, right around this price point. 




A friend has become distributor for a very nice MC cartridge, I listened to it and bought one for my system.  No, it's not an Air Tight Opus but it does share some character of it and yet blends contrast and tonal balance more toward the Lyra ETNA.

I believe the price will be $4500.00, so a bit more money than the Kiseki Purple Heart but only about third of the Opus and Lyra ETNA.

In short I think there will be audiophiles that find it a perfect match for their system.  I'll post more when I get more hours on it and full correct data from manufacturer

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

I did not know about him.   A purchase at Amazon brought up his name and album and from there I listened, read about him and bought both of his LPs.

Turns out he's from Ft. Worth, TX.   I grew up there, only a short drive from Dallas where I live now.

Leon reminds me a bit of Al Green and Sam Cooke, both artists I admire.  Leon is a bit more Hip Hop but also a younger man.

I miss the posts at Audiogon where people discuss new music.   A few years ago I was very strong on the forums over Black Dub, the group with Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade and Trixie Whitley.   I still listen to them and grateful to have in my library.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter


I got to see Leon Bridges in concert last year. He put on an amazing show and the music was spectacular. 


Last night I played a new demo tape, a near first generation Blue Note Jazz sampler and I think this is probably the best sound I've ever had from any system I’ve ever owned.   Not only this superior piece of software but the new preamp as well. 

Ever so often after pushing and working to get everything right you get on the other side of all the obstacles and your system breaks though and delivers like never before.

This new Allnic L-10000 is still in break in mode but I'm happy with it even if it never got a molecule better.

I just purchased a new LP, an artist I only just recently discovered.  His name is Leon Bridges, the album  "Good Thing"  arrived a few days ago.   I played it during our Tuesday night music session.

This is a great music album from Columbia, not an "audiophile" release.  The point is the new L-10000 preamp filled me with joy when listening to this LP.   A sure sign that not only is it a technical win, but equally great at making music where you are filled with joy.

Link to a YouTube video.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

First a warning to anyone who goes for this ultimate preamp from Allnic, break in changes are big time, even compared to the L-7000 with its big transformers.

By warning, I mean don’t expect the L-10000 to break in and come around like any other Allnic preamp.   In fact its peak is reached in a different manner than any preamp I’ve ever heard.

For instance the Allnic L-7000 is slightly soft and closed in when new.  With hours it quickly gets more open, extended and tighter in bass.  Extreme high frequencies are beautiful and delicate but not all there until some hours with music through it.

The L-10000 is reverse of this.  Brash, tipped up highs and slight boom in bass, I was worried about it and did not know what would come of this early somewhat disappointing sound.

With time those problems went away and it began to sound more like the best of the L-7000, meaning it gets everything right and in addition is more filled out in its sound stage and VERY powerful.  It allows LPs to deliver contrast and dynamics bordering on my Studer.   All the things the L-7000 does this does better, plus content is delivered that you didn’t know was there.

As for tube swapping, the stock 12AU7 was a military tube and my impression was the music and detail were all there but lacked the emotion and color I wanted.   The NOS Mullard fixed that immediately and they are easy to find and not crazy money.

The 300B was an even bigger shock, the Russian (EH) tubes compared to Takatsuki 300B are rough and slightly dirty.  The Russian tubes delivered uneven dynamics and did not treat all frequencies equally. 

So the short story, the Takatsuki 300B is incredible addition to this circuit but it’s also big bucks.  Don't listen to them if you can’t justify the investment, you will not want to give them up.

However, in the end with sufficient hours on Russian tubes and Takatsuki (both with Mullard input tube) will make you forget just about every other preamp out there.   With the special tubes I’ve described I’ve had to readjust my expectations during every listening session, especially when playing back master tape.  There, the content is so deep and dense that I realize I  had never uncovered all that was there until now.  

Safe to say the big Allnic preamp uncorks the bottle and delivers like nothing else. I’m not sure it’s done yet as each session is more refined and musical but maintains all the positives I’ve already mentioned.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter


How would you characterize the improvement(s) in the preamp, after rolling the tubes?


Put NOS Mullard 12AU7 in L-10000, nice improvement.   Now trying Takatsuki 300B in place of sock Russian tubes.  

This is a very fine preamp, quite beautiful.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

I recently received the new Allnic L-10000 OTL~OCL preamp.   This uses four 300B tubes as outputs and has balance provision to tweak bias on tubes.

I posted images at Facebook if you want to take a look.   Link will probably have to be copy and paste into browser.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

I'm ready for it, just need Technics to catch up on orders.

I saw your other post, I know Steve Dobbins, he and I both were big fans of Technics SP10 MK3 but I don't know how he could possibly make a judgement about the SP10R versus the MK3 unless he had both and did extensive listening.

Also, there are differences in opinion as to how a turntable should sound.   I know several designs that have very low torque, requiring quite a lot of time before the platter is stable and perfectly on speed.   The MK3 has massive torque and I think that's one of the things I like most about it.

The new SP10R has a 5~6 pound lighter platter than the MK3 and my MK3 is run with a 5 pound stainless steel mat.  So nearly 11 pounds difference in mass between my MK3 and the new Technics. 

In spite of that additional mass my MK3 reaches full speed in less than half a revolution and laser testing proves it's dead accurate on speed.   That plus the ability to provide unwavering speed accuracy regardless of intensity of the material recorded on the LP is exactly what is required of a turntable.

Another thing I find interesting is the folks at Technics have not published torque specifications on the new model.  I also heard a rumor that digital circuitry is used in the SP10R motor controller circuit.

If the digital rumor is true I hope they did extensive work to keep the digital from showing up on our AC line.   I've recently had five very high quality DACs in my system and everyone one of them harmed my analog sound,  just being powered on while listening to LP.

Of course there are filters and AC cords that remove this digital noise but it's not cheap.  In fact the best solution I’ve heard cost $10K, so added to the price of the SP10R makes is considerably more expensive if this digital turns out to be a factor (and I admit I DO NOT know if this is or is not an issue).

I just don't know about these variables, I sincerely hope the new Technics is better,  much better and would love to find out for myself by careful,  long term unbiased listening.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter


When you do finally get the R in house, I'll have to make the drive up from Austin to listen to it. 




I'm also hoping it's better. After hearing your MK3, I got a MK2 (from Pablo), but would love to eventually get the R.

I heard that Steve Dobbins believed the R to be better than the MK3, and the motor more worthy than the MK3. Oswald Mills Audio has moved away from the MK3 and towards the R, albeit with a not so good looking plinth system. 

I really wish there were (more) reviews and comparisons available. I'll be  happy when you get one and we can read what you find.




I spoke to Technics at Rocky Mountain and they indicated orders were strong and not yet caught up for dealers.

I don't know when I can get one but must first obtain and then test before I decide if the new one is better.   

Personally I  hope the new one is superior since it's so beautiful.  Not to mention cheaper than finding a perfect original Technics SP10 MK3 and then paying for all the updates and mods to make it like mine.

If the new one is better I will sell mine.  If my restored MK3 is better performer I'll not only keep it, I'll buy another MK3 just to be sure I'm covered.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter

Hey Albert,

Are you still planning on getting the SP10R to replace the MK3?




I've owned a lot of amps including Counterpoint OTL, Atma-Sphere MA2, Wolcotts, Viva, Tube Research, Allnic and Audio Research.  

Actually quite a few others including some solid state, class D and vintage designs modernized to compete with current designs.  I'll skip these and stay with amps at hand.

All of these are great amps with performance variations based on their personality and design plus load they must drive.   With Sound Lab speakers, which have near impossible load in deepest bass, the Counterpoint and Atma-Sphere OTL designs did wonders since they don't mind the high impedance.

It was not until I bought the VTL 750s that I owned a transformer coupled amp that had enough juice to push the Sound Labs to their limit.  I preferred the VTL over all the other brands mentioned when driving Sound Lab.  I must inject here,  Audio Research and Allnic amps trials came after I sold the Sound Labs.  So they don't apply to that experience.

When I sold the Sound Lab and moved to Dali Megaline I started over on amp trials and continued with Atma-Sphere, Wolcotts and VTL 750s.  The old Allnic M-3000 (series one) were in the system for a time, driving the bass in this bi amp system.  I often regret not trying four Allnic M3000 on the Dali.  I think it would have been marvelous with the ribbon tweeters.

When I upgraded to Focal Grande EM I kept one pair of VTL 750 and sold the other.  The Focal does not require bi amp like the Dali did and is considerably more efficient.

After Focal got broken in the VTL 750 pushed exceptionally well but the Allnic M3000 MK2 (new version) was more articulate, cleaner and higher resolution with perhaps had a bit less "slam" factor.  Note that slam factor can be fun but often comes off sounding more like a "thud" rather than articulate shading and resolution, so taste and preference is a huge factor here.

The Audio Research Ref 250 with KT-150 tubes whipped the VTL on resolution, speed, signal to noise and bandwidth but did suffer a little from high frequency brightness which I am particularly sensitive to.

I ultimately choose the Allnic M-3000 MK2 (KT-150 tubes like Audio Research) for the Focal and I had everything I needed until Allnic ask my opinion about performance.  When I mentioned how much I loved the sound of super powerful amps but did not want the brightness or loss of articulation they designed the M-5000 amps.

The M-5000 is without a doubt the finest amps I've ever heard.  They are actually more resolved and agile than the M-3000 and equal in every way to the positive aspects of the Audio Research Ref 250 but with zero brightness or hardness.

The M-5000 are easily as powerful as the VTL 750 and Tube Research GT 400 so nothing given up there.   I think the nickle core transformers that Allnic hand makes is part of the magic.    Also, only the Audio Research and Allnic M-5000 use a "power" tube to drive the output power tube.  Both circuits choose the new KT-150 tube final output where other use KT-120, KT-88, 6550 or other older designs.

I think choosing a "power" tube  to drive a power tube opens up a world of dynamics and contrast not available with other options.   I will say that all these are great amps and depending on speaker and associated equipment the owner of same could easily boast they have the "best."

We all know "best" is a difficult thing to categorize and certainly the ultimate amp choice is determined by all the other pieces in the system.  Everything effect final sound.  Source, cable and room acoustics plus the speaker.  Decisions are made to reach a final balance that pleases.

Ag insider logo xs@2xalbertporter


I have not noted that you have shared your experience with allnic m5000. Would you be so kind and share your listening impressions with us? I would also be immensely interested in the comparision with vtl monoblocks you have owned (i have siegfrieds)

Thanks a lot!


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