Description

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 or Audio Research REF 250 amps with KT-150 tubes.

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.  Including AC, interconnect, tonearm cable, Focal power supply cable and speaker cable except for Neptune powering linear power supplies for Mac Mini and Data Tale.

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

All the reinforcement and acoustic treatment goes unnoticed, due to Whisper Wall rail system and fine textured acoustic cloth covering everything. In these photos (and often in person) it appears as normal room with painted sheet rock.

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.
Read more...

Room Details

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


Components Toggle details

    • My Photography http://www.albertporterphoto.com
    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 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.
    • Vibraplane 2212-01
    I have two of these powered by Silentaire DR-150
    • 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.
    • Oppo BDP-105 Darbee
    Oppo newest player
    • 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
    KT-150 tube based monoblocks. 200 WPC
    • Allnic H5000 DHT Phono
    Allnic new ultra high performance phono, image shows one of two chassis.
    • 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
    • Audioquest Diamond USB
    1.5 Meter between Mac Mini and Allnic DAC
    • 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 5
    Purist 10 gauge pure silver, triple filter AC cable. (1ea) Technics MK3 power supply (1ea) Allnic D5000 DAC (1ea) Studer A810 (2ea) Linear Supplies for Mac Mini and four bay storage drive
    • Purist Audio Luminist Dominus RCA
    Oppo BDP105 to Allnic L3000
    • Leica Disto D2
    Super laser measuring tool. Indispensable for setting distance and alignment of your speakers

Comments 4556

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Added images and descriptions.

Ordered two more Purist 30th Anniversary to go on my Focal EM drive units. 

I’m close to moving out all my 25th Anniversary AC except for powering linear supplies to Mac Mini and Data Tale and the Technics MK3 motor control,

Still trying to decide if I’ll replace 25th with 30th on Studer A810.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Added one of the new Purist 30th Anniversary USB cables and also the 30th Anniversary AC cable.   AC cable went on my phono.

It took about a week for me to figure out everything these new cables were doing.  I believe this new Purist may have unseated the Audioquest Diamond USB but will test more and report back.

The 30th Anniversary AC is stunning.  More detail and transparency without being bright or forward and very linear in it’s tonal balance from top to bottom.  Bass is especially improved, detail within detail rather than just “power” at bass frequencies.

I’ve ordered three more 30th AC, one for each amp and one for preamp.   I’ll be selling my latest revision 25th Luminist AC here at Audiogon soon.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
You mention below the recommendation that members take advantage of higher-res photos.  Can you be more specific in this regard as to how you are achieving that specifically with Agon?  Have you found a way to get past their current 5MB per photo upload limitation?  Thanks!

If you have a photo editing application you can compress image files so they are larger and easier to view but don’t exceed file size.

All of my images for the old Audiogon opened with lots of blank screen around them.   For example, the first four system images are the new larger files but stop and the Basis Turntable and other images that follow.

I will eventually change them all but it’s time consuming.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
What will the Bel Canto REF600M amps be running in your system? Any thoughts on these yet?

I bought as back up, sometimes I have to loan the M3000 for audition and I wanted something new and reliable.  I bought a pair of Dynaco MK3 off Ebay but they were not as described so I had to return.

I'm going to have a pair of Eico HF60 rebuilt as soon as  I can find a clean pair.

The Bel Canto is very clean and this new model does sound better than the previous 1000 Mono.   Neither will be mistaken for tubes but they do what they are supposed to do.

albertporter

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As always your system and room inspire alot of us,...simply amazing! 

You mention below the recommendation that members take advantage of higher-res photos.  Can you be more specific in this regard as to how you are achieving that specifically with Agon?  Have you found a way to get past their current 5MB per photo upload limitation?  Thanks!

zephyr24069

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What will the Bel Canto REF600M amps be running in your system? Any thoughts on these yet?

paul79

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Technics SP10 MK2 II is excellent and Peters plinths look nice.  The TTM mat is my favorite but there are countless options that will work.   Perhaps easier and a bit "warmer" sounding is the Micro Seiki CU-180.

A used Boston carbon fiber would be another option and if you have patience to track down a TTM I like it very much.   Don't forget the clamp or weight is almost as audible as the mat.   Some mat and weight combinations are not so good.   The TTM has a weight designed to go with it and I suggest you use them together if you go that way.

albertporter

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Recently had a Technics sp10MK11 refurbished by Peter at PBN Audio, so I would love to hear your thoughts on the TTM stainless mat.  I am in awe seeing all the time and dedication you have put in to continually improve your system.  All the Best

needfreestuff

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
I've been updating images to higher resolution.  Suggest other Audiogon members take advantage of this, makes viewing easier.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
I just completed photography for Purist Audio Design, new 30th Anniversary cables.    So far a new super USB and an AC cable.

I have not heard the 30th Anniversary AC but the 30th USB may become my new standard. 

I love the AudioQuest Diamond USB and a dozen other cables have gone against it, only to be defeated.   More testing is needed but it looks like it may fall to this new Purist.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Added Bel Canto e.One Ref 600M mono blocks although they do not arrive until tomorrow (Tuesday 8th).

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
The new Air Tight Opus continues to improve with hours, this is the most musically satisfying yet resolved cartridge I've ever heard.  

It and the Koetsu Coralstone are new to the system and both need time before they’re 100%,  but man is the Air Tight coming on strong.  Seems to improve with every LP.

Last night I played a Red Garland album, "Stepping Out," an album I've owned since it was released in 1981.   This is a great recording but with the Air Tight Opus the dynamics are just stunning and colors of the piano are superb.

Other people on this LP are Ron Carter, Kenny Burrell and Ben Riley.  A great one to search out if your a jazz fan.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Did not intend to double post, glitch in Audiogon system.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
John, 

You’re welcome anytime.  Lots of upgrades since your last visit, I would love to get your input as to where the system is now.

The Air Tight Opus continues to improve with hours and I continue to work on the digital system as well.   I tried the iFi USB 3 plus Gemini cable and iPurifier with my Allnic D5000.  The results were clearly audible but overall a negative rather than positive so it’s gone now.

One of my friends dropped off the Audioquest Jitterbug and it was not as destructive to sound as the iFi but still a slight downgrade.   I still love the Audioquest Diamond USB after trying half a dozen highly recommended brands.   There is a new 30th Anniversary Purist USB prototype coming next week and I hope it will  (finally) be the USB that beats the AQ Diamond.

My Koetsu Coralstone has too few hours to be at peak performance but it’s so nice to have both it and the Air Tight Opus.   Both are excellent and deliver a different view of the recorded performance

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
John, 

You’re welcome anytime.  Lots of upgrades since your last visit, I would love to get your input as to where the system is now.

The Air Tight Opus continues to improve with hours and I continue to work on the digital system as well.   I tried the iFi USB 3 plus Gemini cable and iPurifier with my Allnic D5000.  The results were clearly audible but overall a negative rather than positive so it’s gone now.

One of my friends dropped off the Audioquest Jitterbug and it was not as destructive to sound as the iFi but still a slight downgrade.   I still love the Audioquest Diamond USB after trying half a dozen highly recommended brands.   There is a new 30th Anniversary Purist USB prototype coming next week and I hope it will  (finally) be the USB that beats the AQ Diamond.

My Koetsu Coralstone has too few hours to be at peak performance but it’s so nice to have both it and the Air Tight Opus.   Both are excellent and deliver a different view of the recorded performance.

albertporter

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I'd love to get back there soon.  And hear that cartridge...my Allaerts has the speed of the Atlas, better tone and textures, and imaging...but misses the resolution and some of the dynamics.  So yes has me wondering :-)...I always loved your Air Tight Supreme and remember hearing it vs the Atlas in your 2nd arm...I'll let you know when I can get there next...

jfrech

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Thank you John, well wishes deeply appreciated.

If travel brings you this way try to make one of our Tuesday night sessions, the system is up quite a bit from  your last visit and reading reports on your system it appears you have been upgrading as well.

The Opus might be right for you, your speakers are superb and would show the improved resolution with no problem.

albertporter

Aqdh8f5yqns5ezk2wvlm
Wow...sounds like a wonderful new cartridge you have!  I always loved your Air Tight Supreme...Hope the holidays were great for you and your family !

jfrech

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Steve,

I still have my Coralstone and love it.   The Air Tight Supreme has better bass than the Coralstone and great midrange.   The new Air Tight Opus is more like a cross between Air Tight Supreme and Lyra Atlas.

The Atlas is very fast and very detailed but the apparent resolution is via heightened brilliance and somewhat forward presentation which is not the same as deep, true resolution such as master tape.

If you love the Coralstone then the new Air Tight Opus might not be for you.  If you like the tonal balance of the Air Tight Supreme but wish for Lyra Atlas speed plus even better resolution, the new Opus will amaze you.

The Opus is true, deep resolution.  Resolution like I've never heard from any phono cartridge.  Makes me wonder why no one else ever reached this level. 

I find myself auditioning all my music over again, experiencing clarity of lyrics I’ve never heard and special effects that divulge exactly how it was done.  Even old favorites like Nirvana unplugged in New York, you hear talk among the band members that previously was thought to be unintelligible.

The Opus delivers this level of detail but also the same flawless, near perfect tonal balance of Air Tight that can only be described as musical.  Funny to include musical and high resolution in the same sentence but this cartridge pulled it off.

As I write this I have to remind myself that everything in the audio chain contributes to the choice and love for a particular product.

The Koetsu Coralstone that both of us love is another animal,  It's completely relaxed listening and does not try to go where Air Tight or Lyra go.  The Coralstone is very tame compared to either of these other two but it could easily win in a listening session.  All depends on room acoustics, cable, speakers and electronics.

albertporter

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Hi Albert,
Excited to read about the results of the Air Tight Cart.  How has it improved upon the Coralstone?  I have both the Coralstone and Supreme, but as of late, been spinning only the Coralstone.  
Thanks, Steve
 

siddh

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
I seldom make snap decisions and even fewer times do I post comments when convinced my decision is worthy.   Today all that changed, I mounted the new Air Tight Magnum Opus (serial number 0003) and played about 10 LP sides from this afternoon late till we shut down at 10:30 PM.

This is a stunning cartridge, the highest resolution I’ve ever heard and boarding on my open reel machine.  Best of all, it‘s tonal balance is just a grand.  

When compared to other great cartridges I own or recently had, the Air Tight Magnum Opus is (much) higher resolution, faster, cleaner, tighter bass, (far) less distortion and rides the LP groove with less noise.

The only thing my Air Tight Supreme did that’s marginally better is the placement of the rear wall soundstage and total front to rear space.  

The Air Tight Supreme did not show best strength when it was brand new so I expect this new Magnum Opus will cross that final barrier to be the best cartridge ever.  At least for my taste.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Mitch,

My understanding is the SE has a couple of small part changes but primary upgrade is that it ships with super matched set of KT-150 output tubes.

When my ARC got 600 hours I removed the factory KT-120 tubes and replaced with a set of curve traced KT-150s.  The KT-150 was stupendous upgrade for REF 250.   

I’ve had my ARC for about 2 years now and have another amp being built that I think will be the end all for my needs.   I can’t discuss it right now but it will be  released to the public first quarter 2016.

albertporter

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Albert, did you consider the SE upgrade for your Ref 250 monos?

mitch4t

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
I just  mailed a check for two Air Tight PC1 Opus MC cartridges.   If the rave reviews about their performance  is accurate, my Air Tight PC1 Supreme will  be for sale at Audiogon.

FedEx air shows Tuesday as deliver date.  I’m excited.

albertporter

Xfu1feuzqueg0rke4zpd
Owner
Jeff,

Nothing wrong with ARC amps, I had excellent experience with them. 

I’m not going to CES this year, it seems less and less attendance in the high end part and certainly not like it once was.  

I still enjoy RMAF and THE Show Newport,  both allow audiophiles in to enjoy the music, not just dealers.  I may go to Munich show May 2016.

albertporter

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