Speakers are Focal Grande Utopia EM in black finish
Analog music sources,
Technics SP10 MK3 with two Kuzma 4 Point 14" arms. Koetsu Blue Lace on one and Air Tight Opus One in the other. Studer A820 half track tape machine with three sets of cards, each rebuilt by Studer electronics experts so I can compare upgrade performance.
music source is Aurender W20 Special Edition into Soulution 760 LEEDH. THe best input for music so far is Purist new USB cable and AES/EBU close second place.
Soulution 725 preamp, Soulution 755 phono stage Soulution 760 LEEDH and Soulution 701 mono block amps for electronics. See image posted Nov 18, 2022 to see how it looks.
Cable is 100% top tier Purist Audio design. All latest 35th Anniversary, all ten AC cords are the new Purist 35th 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 concrete pier and beam. Two sheets of 5/8 epoxy
lamination sheets make up the floor with two inches of
concrete topped with India multi color slate.
rail system and fine textured acoustic cloth covers the work, making everything appear as a normal room of
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. The combo of all new electrical and acoustical treatment resulting in best sound I’ve ever had.
A few hour ago I received the new Kuzma 4 Point 14" with sapphire-ruby bearings. Currently burning in with a modified interconnect cable thart routes my CD player signal through the tonearm wire. This would take forever with the .5MV cartridge and put unnecessary wear just for break in.
Probably 200 hours or more since it’s silver wire, then mount the Air Tight Opus One cartridge and back in prime position on the turntable.
I have another Kuzma 4 Point 14" in the second tonearm position with standard bearings. I hope within the next month or so to determine if the bearings are an audible improvement or just a long term reliability upgrade.
The new Soulution 760 LEEDH is fully broken in now and it’s the first time in my long history in high end audio that I have actually ENJOYED digital. The Soulution 760 is way beyond just acceptable, it actually exceeds some of my LPs (same album) and I have a top flight LP playback system.
For me the main advantage of a DAC was access to music not available on LP. Now if an artist has an album I want, I download or purchase the CD and enjoy it rather than waiting for a release that may never happen.
My only regret is having had to wait so many years for digital that sounds right. I've had a dozen DACs and although some were "good" they constantly reminded me of why I preferred listening to LPs or tape.
Much credit must also go to new Aurender W20SE and it’s matching Conductor
app. The Soulution could not perform at this level without best files and the Critical Listening Mode Aurender now offers.
I will be selling the Purist Audio Design AES/EBU and also the Purist SPDIF/BNC. The Purist Diamond USB is still the winner with the Aurender + Soulution just as it was with the Aurender + Bricasti M1SE MDX.
When I made this change it was strange to not have tubes, then as the Soulution got more hours on it I fell in love with the tight deep bass, impossibly low distortion and dead quiet signal to noise. I guess my goal to have both tube and solid state was dissolved, although I was very close to having all VAC system.
This mess with Russia had not occurred, so I'm lucky to have made the decision when I did. My favorite power tubes are Russian, meaning harder to find and horribly expensive.
Hope you come and listen, comments welcome as to where you think my system landed. Just let me know, we will make a spot for you !
I began with solid state when I built my first stereo system many years ago. It was not until Counterpoint Electronics stunned me with the SA9 and SA11 somewhere in early 1980s that I owned my first tube gear.
After Counterpoint there were lots of tube product in my system, Audio Research, Wolcott, Atma-Sphere, Air Tight, Tube Research, Viva, VTL, Aesthetix and Allnic to name but a few. I honestly never thought I would own solid state again.
I am no longer distributor for Allnic, but when I was, I wanted solid state to offer to customers as an alternative. After listening to Soulution 7 series it was 1984 all over again, time to flip the switch the other way.
What ultimately drove me to Soulution was the beauty and weight of the music, which is much like the best part of tubes. That coupled with unbelievable bandwidth and signal to noise in a presentation that revealed more of the music than I have ever experienced I was hooked.
The magic of tubes did not go away, it was just replaced by Swiss technology that does so many things perfect, I was happy to make the change.
Thanks for dropping in to my system, always good to read comments from others.
I owned Aesthetix when you could still find NOS Telefunken and not at super high prices. I contributed to several threads at Audiogon about tube tests in Aesthetix and what my results were.
I did photography for Aesthetix as well as several other high end pieces and was happy with Aesthetix IO and Callisto including the revised models referred to as partial eclipse and full eclipse.
During that time I auditioned ARC, Allnic, Einstein, Upsilon and Messenger preamps and phono stages. I bought and used Allnic for many years and was happy with it's sound. I was Allnic distributor until just recently and that caused me to evaluate all my gear again.
It came down to VAC and Soulution and if I had the money I would have bought both and done a shoot out. As it is, I'm friends with Soulution importer and I took his word at what Soulution was capable of. I've had it in my system for about three months but the 755 phono was back ordered and I just received mine last Friday.
All the guys in my group are tube guys, just like me. Last Tuesday with only a few hours on it the Soulution I got almost 100% agreement that I had reached a new threshold in performance. I did not expect solid state would ever be able to do what this achieved and I'm now considering the 760 DAC with LEEDH.
i don’t know where you live, but if travel ever brings you my way you are welcome to listen with me and our group and see what you think.
Hey Albert I own the Focal Scala Evo Utopias, am a lifelong focal fan. Currently use an Aesthetix Calypso Signature and you are right it's so hard to find quiet 12ax tubes. Really thinking of changing to another pre amp that's quieter and more reliable. Did the solution work well as a replacement with the same imaging and Soundstage the Aesthetix is known for?
as a tube loving solid state user i can relate. i view my swiss solid state darTZeel as sounding like music, not tubes........or solid state. i do think musical reproduction bliss can be fully found with the right solid state. and an appreciation of tubes does help.
congrats on the Soulution gear, it's is at the very top level.
Radical edit on my system, removed all Allnic now that I am no longer associated with them and VERY happy to be listening to Soulution from Switzerland.
Never thought I would go solid state but the rep is a 30 year plus friend and talked me into taking a chance. All I can say is solid state has moved light years since I last owned in in early 1980s when I switched to tubes.
I will be opening up Tuesday night listening sessions again soon since Covid vaccinations are making headway. When that happens you can listen with us. The Studer cards were sent off to be rebuilt, I actually have two sets and two technicians did work on them.
Soren (from Denmark) did the first set and Studer tech in Canada did the second, my plan is to listen to both and see if I prefer one over the other. These two Studer technicians have different opinion as to what parts to use, especially caps.
I've been eyeing your system for awhile, it is very impressive! Congrats on the new Studer A820, it doesn't get any better if you can get it in the hands of the right tech. I'm a fellow Studer owner and not far from you in Fort Worth. Would love to stop by for a listen one of these days. Cheers, Anthony
First of all I apologize for not responding earlier, Audiogon did not notify me about your post on my thread.
I have heard both Magico and Focal Grande EM at audio shows and I was both impressed and disappointed, depending on set up, room acoustics and associated equipment.
When I was speaker shopping I had a dozen on my list before deciding and ultimately it was a set up in Montreal that made me decide to buy the Focal Grande EM.
Something to consider with any speaker are parts and service. Since my Focal Purchase several of the speaker companies or specific model I was considering are no more. Either company changed hands or model is gone.
That makes me wonder, what if there are no exact replacement parts later on?
When I spoke to Focal they told me to my face that they could provide an exact and perfect replacement for any driver or crossover part in my EM Grande for all foreseeable time. Nine years have passed and their promise is still true.
If you have not already found your ideal choice, I hope you are successful and have the will power and patience to match up other pieces in the chain necessary to make your system as perfect as you can.
Ultimately all the other pieces in the system are as important as the speaker. I achieved that in my system and honestly if someone ask to buy my speakers I would not sell. I have no idea where I would go to replace them.