Focal Grande Utopia EM in black finish

Analog music sources, Technics SP10 MK3 fitted with twin SME V-12 tonearms, Studer A810 Archival half and quarter track IEC EQ tape machine.

Digital music source is Macintosh Mini, late 2015 version with solid state drive and maxed out  RAM. JRiver operating system for music.  Play mostly AIFF, plus DSD and HD Tracks Downloads and Image File SACD,

Allnic H-5000 DHT Phono, and Allnic L3000 preamp feed Allnic M-3000 MK2 mono amps, Bel Canto e.One 600 or Stu Remington Eico HF60 monoblocks.

Computer USB cable to Allnic D-5000 is new Purist Audio 30th Anniversary.  Computer cable from Mac to Data Tale 4 bay 16 TB drive is Audioquest Thunderbolt Coffee. 

All other cable is Purist Audio 25th Anniversary Luminist.  A few are the new 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.
    • SME V-12 ( two each)
    Their best 12" tonearm
    • Air Tight Opus
    Air Tight new top of the line phono cartridge
    • Air Tight PC-1 Supreme
    Newest and best Air Tight, mounted on SME V12
    • Koetsu Coralstone Platinum
    Top tier stone body Koetsu, perfect alternate to Air Tight Supreme
    • Lyra Atlas
    Newest from Lyra
    • Allnic Puritas
    Allnic MC cartridge with unique design that mimics cutter head.
    • ORB-DF03 USA version DF03
    Excellent LP flattener, simple to use and so far perfect result
    • Macintosh Mac Mini (2015 model)
    OCZ solid state HD, Amarra Pro, Pure Music, JRiver and Play software.
    • Purist Audio Design Purist 30th Anniversary USB
    Never thought anything could displace the excellent Audioquest Diamond USB but Purist finally did it.   If not for this new 30th Anniversary AQ would still be in the system.
    • Atomic Audio Labs Mac Mini Platform
    Isolation platform.
    • KECES DC216
    Regulated 12A capacity linear power supply. I have two of these, one for Mac Mini and the other for DataTale 4 bay Thunderbolt drive.
    • KECES Cables
    I added this to show how KECES connects to Mac Mini via C7 AC jack (hole).
    • Allnic D5000 DHT DAC
    Direct Heated Triode, transformer coupled DAC.
    • Allnic L3000 MK2 Line Stage
    L3000 MK2 is newest revision, available Oct 2013 through today. Larger output transformers and improved caps and bias.
    • 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
    • Bel Canto Design e.One Ref 600M
    Newest class D monoblock amplifiers from Bel Canto.  These are back up amps, expecting good things from them, new design with high impedance input and improved circuity.
    • 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 Phono X 2
    1.5M and 1.7M Purist 25th Anniversary phono cables. DIN to RCA
    • 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.
    • Purist Audio Luminist 25th Anniversary AC X 4
    Purist 10 gauge pure silver, triple filter AC cable. (1ea) Technics MK3 power supply (1ea) Studer A810 (2ea) Linear Supplies for Mac Mini and four bay Data Tale digital storage drive
    • Leica Disto D2
    Super laser measuring tool. Indispensable for setting distance and alignment of your speakers

Comments 4589


Is there more to your test method or full disclosure as posted?   I'm new to this  tester but impressed so far.   I had a KT150 power tube that was behaving in an odd way and the Hickok showed it was fine.

I tested via the Amplitrex and it showed short + partial gas problem.   Not much gets by this tester.

I bought a cheap refurbished HP Windows 10 laptop and installed the software  provided by Amplitrex.  Now I can type in the tube number and it loads.  No more scrolling through the electronic roll chart.

The HP is not yet set up to print data but it's  capable via WiFi. The Amplitrex folks suggest a Brother brand label maker for addresses.  That way you can print then peel and stick data to a "white" tube box.

That reads to be a great option, especially since there is an option for curve trace matching.  Once I'm caught up I want to test all the tubes I have hanging around here.   I have several hundred popular types, would be nice to know which are great and dispose of any that don't cut it.


Albert, I have the Amplitrex as well (about 3 years now). It's a great tester, but you have to interpret the figures. It's not just a simple reading like the other testers. I made a chart that may help you. I use the Fixed Bias setting. I use these figures Gm 90 to 100% Better than new, 80% Excellent, 70% Good (Average), 60% OK, and 50% Poor I believe the Gm which is like transconductance  is what most testers give you. The Amplitrex also does Current. Enjoy Albert watch out though because friends will be bringing tubes to you or you will be making house calls. The tube doctor has arrived.


I received the Amplitrex AT1000 I ordered from Chris Terraneau a few weeks ago.  I must say I am more than impressed by this state of the art tube tester as well as the customer service I received from Mr. Terraneau.

I needed to test common tubes found in high end audio but also the specialty tubes Allnic choose for their designs.

Some of the specialty tubes Allnic uses are:

Kron RS-242  in H5000 DHT phono.
HL2 in H5000 DHT phono. 
3A5 in D5000 DAC 
8233 / E55L Magnoval base (second stage driver) in new Allnic M5000 amps.

Mr. Terraneau not only supplied Zip file with proper test data, but also built three tube adapters that allow Amplitrex testing with and without (optional) Windows laptop interface !

I found some tube errors in my system that did not show with other testers.  Made a few changes and got a significant performance boost.

Of course the new Purist 30th Anniversary AC cables are the other side of this upgrade.  My digital is literally better now than my analog was a few years ago (before the SP10 MK3).

I have 30th Anniversary AC on Allnic M5000 amps, Focal EM power supplies, Allnic L3000 preamp Allnic D5000 DAC and Allnic H5000 phono.  

I moved my Purist 25th Praesto AC cables over to the two linear power supplies that feed Macintosh Mini and Data Tale 4 bay music storage.  Hard to believe how much AC cables effect this position in the system.  Wish I could afford 30th Anniversary here.

I did not think this much improvement was left in my system.   If nothing else it proves it’s best to keep an open mind and experiment.


Regarding:  Albert, thanks for hosting us again last night for a great evening of music. The new Allnic M5000 amps are fantastic, as is the Air Tight Opus I.

After years of setting up phono cartridges, I did not believe that we would hear a miniscule change in tracking force, but we could all easily hear a change of 2/100ths of a gram tracking force with the Air Tight!

Amazing, and this speaks to the overall resolution of your system.


Thank you for that !  We all work hard to try and achieve that magical level where the system gets out of the way and you're transported directly to the emotion of the music.

I agree on the new Allnic M5000.  They just keep getting better every week.  I think the huge custom transformers still have awhile to go to reach 100%.  That's normal for all transformers, improve with hours and these are easy to hear as they change.

Next meeting I want to move the tracking 1/100th of a gram heavier, hope to maintain the fragile perfection in the highs but improve the bass like we had earlier in the evening.   Maybe even back off the anti skate a tiny bit.

As I posted in reply to Jeff, I have two substantial changes coming for the digital, Allnic D5000 DAC.   If you return to hear what the Purist AC contribute I think you will be surprised.

I also want a  3 meter Purist 30th Anniversary AC for the MK3 motor controller.  I know it's a bit insane but every time I've upgraded there the improvement pay off, simply stunning what that cable does for the system.


Regarding:  Albert, I now have 100 hours on the Purist USB cable and it if f-- fantastic. So open, detailed, harmonically right and full in the mids. My system is transformed can you believe just this one cable?


I agree.  This last Tuesday night with friends in our audio group, my digital was working at a level beyond anything I've ever heard.  

My Purist USB is completely broken in now and I found a couple of marginal tubes (and replaced them) in my Allnic D5000 DAC.

Those two changes brought a huge improvement, we listened to several cuts while spinning LPs.    I ordered a Purist 30th Anniversary AC for the DAC and the 25th Anniversary that's there now will move to the linear power supply for computer and Data Tale drive bay.   I think these two changes will make a startling improvement.


Albert, thanks for hosting us again last night for a great evening of music. The new Allnic M5000 amps are fantastic, as is the Air Tight Opus I. After years of setting up phono cartridges, I did not believe that we would hear a miniscule change in tracking force, but we could all easily hear a change of 2/100ths of a gram tracking force with the Air Tight! Amazing, and this speaks to the overall resolution of your system.


Albert, I now have 100 hours on the Purist USB cable and it if f-- fantastic. So open, detailed, harmonically right and full in the mids. My system is transformed can you believe just this one cable? I will have to call Purist and let him know.  I don't know if you know him, but Andre Jennings of the Absolute Sound will be coming to my home for a listen in late September. The best Jeff



That would be a very welcome change,  hot in Dallas (about 89 degrees).  I've been to see Mike Lavigne a time or two.   It's beautiful there.

In any case, DFW is a major hub, maybe if you fly though here you could lay over.

In any case I'll keep your generous offer in mind.


Albert, I've never been east of El Paso, and travel isn't something I do much of at all anymore, but I'd sure love to hear your system. If you are ever in the Seattle area (Whidbey Island is my home), try and make it for a visit, I'd love to have you.



Thank you Dan.   Come listen if you travel this way!


Albert, I was wondering when we'd get an update on the new M5000's. That's really great they are working out so well for you, they certainly seem to be truly amazing amps.

You and KS Park are to be congratulated. Enjoy!



I have not posted in awhile but must comment on the new Allnic M5000 mono block amps that are now reaching peak break in point.

These are the best amps I've ever heard, rock solid, extreme dynamics plus warmth, combined with resolution that continues to surprise each time I listen.

Part of this magic is the 5749 input tube and second stage 8233 (E55L).  The 8233 is a pentode tube (Magnoval 9-Pin)capable of driving efficient speakers it’s so powerful,  yet it's used to push the (8) KT150 tubes into territory where they perform like you have never heard them.

The M5000 is a CNC machined package that's beautifully crafted and hand built right down to the custom transformers that Allnic owner KS Park builds himself.

Last, this amp gives control much like top tier solid state, my 16" woofer has never punched like it has since this amp went into my system.  

My Focal speakers are 95DB efficient, so it's the M5000 overall design and execution that brings this new level of performance.  

I had enough power with my 200 and 250 watt amps but this is another animal and deserves credit for pushing the limits beyond what I thought was possible.


That's exactly what I thought, why can't manufactures put a mute on their dac's if this happens?


It's happened to me,  more than once but never caused a problem other than inconvenience. 

I don’t know if this is power surge issue, JRiver or just the hard drive momentarily taking a few seconds to do it’s job, causing the playback software to fail.

It would be nice if the default on our DACs was mute when signal lost. 

I’m considering wiping my drive and restoring all the software.  It would take days to do but so many titles have been added and many that need to be removed.


Yes Albert, but the sound was deafening easily over 100db. Your volume must have been lower. This has happened once before with another dac.


That's terrible.  I must admit I've never heard of anything like that.  My suspicion is the computer or Bricasti, the cable is just the messenger.

I remember one time my computer lost sync and a white noise came through the speakers, much like tuning off station on radio.  

My DAC and speakers had no problem with the sound nor did it harm anything.

Is that the kind of sound you refer to?


Albert I switched cd's on jriver with my computer and my DAC lost the signal and a terrible digital noise was heard through my speakers. It blew both of my tweeters. Purist and Bricasti don't have a clue. I hope this does not happen again. 1100.00 for new tweeters.



It breaks in faster than earlier version Purist and faster (if memory serves) than my AQ Diamond.

Or maybe it's just so good out of the box that I quit listening for break in and started enjoying the improvement it brought to my digital.

Direct answer to your question, I think after the first 50 hours or so it's pretty much there.  I've had mine for many months and don't even think about it any longer.   Just punch up the software and listen.

Reminds me, I need to upgrade to this latest version JRiver.


Albert this USB cable is fantastic much more organic and less bright than the Wireworld. What can I expect with break in and how many hours? Thanks Jeff


Swamp, great to hear from you. Glad you bought the Sony A6000 and it was a hit with your wife.

I love mine and actually use it more than my pro Nikon due to weight difference and the fact most people cannot use all the detail and image size the Sony produces.

I lost my mind a bit and opted for the Sony  Zeiss Vario Tessar, E  4/ 16-70. It’s a fantastic lens.   Sometimes it pulls off color and shading that resembles my old Hasselblad.  Of course Hasse was all Carl Ziess.

The only problem with the Zeiss lens is it’s in the light path of the build in Sony flash.  So if you must do fill light, it’s  back to the stock lens.



Good for you, the new Purist 30th Anniversary is the best USB I’ve heard.  I even sold my Audioquest Diamond after hearing the 30th and I was a huge fan of the AQ Diamond USB.

There is a break in with the Purist but it sounds good right from the start.  Post back and let me know what you think.


Hey, Albert- You may recall that a while back I asked you for recommendations on an advanced amateur digital camera for my wife.  Well, I took your recommendation and got her the Sony a6000.  She retired recently and finally got a chance to give it a whirl.  The pictures have been fantastic.  So far, she's been using the various scene-specific auto modes and we are both very pleased with the results.  Once she gets deeper in, I'm sure she'll be even happier. 

So thanks much.  I hope you are well and if there is ever anything we can do for you or your family, please don't hesitate to ask.  Despite all of the internet trolls and scammers, this cyber-village of ours is an island of community in a crazy world. 

All the best. 
Your muddy friend.


Albert, I ordered the 30th anniv. Purist Audio Design USB cable to replace my Wireworld. I hope the cable is more organic in the mids because thats what I am looking for.


I've paid for a wanted ad but if anyone knows of a pair of Billy Bags Pro 24 amp stands for sale let me know.

They are one of the few that are 29“ ~ 30“ inches deep and rated for heavy weight.


Albert. I agree, the new monos are stunning. Enjoy!



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