The system has evolved over a 20 year period and will probably continue to evolve. It is in a dedicated room that is approximately 19' by 27' by 10' with oak floors and oriental carpets. I also use a minimal number of diffusers on the wall behind the speakers and eight of the 16" ASC Tube Traps. The room has 5 dedicated circuits for the audio.
There have been a number of evolutionary changes over the last year, primarily with respect to the power cords, speakerwire and interconnect and one rather dramatic change, the replacement of the EMM Labs XDS1 with the Esoteric P-02/ D-02. This yielded lower noise and increased detail and bass control while maintaining the musicality of the EMM Labs. I would consider the Esoteric pieces breakthrough products. Funny how you sometimes deviate from your plans. My system seems to go through extended periods without major changes, then have a number at the same time. I do have my eyes on a new cartridge and perhaps a new preamp.
I purchased an early Sirius from Andy Payor thinking that I had purchased the ultimate turntable, only to spend the next five years updating. The updates have included the air isolation base, a series of different motors and tonearms, an outboard power supply for the motor, a 50# platter, new arm wiring and a variety of different belts culminating in a custom aramid fiber belt. As currently constituted, I think that it combines the high definition of the Sirius II without its tendency toward coldness.
Einstein The Tube Mk II
Similar in many ways to the CTC Blowtorch but harmonically richer and more complex with greater dynamics and significantly better image density. Phenomenal bass, ultra quiet, very extended upper octaves.
Ebony with black faceplate. Particularly nice top end coupled with an ability under the best circumstances to recreate a three dimensional soundstage. After owning a number of Magnum Dynalabs, this has been a real eye opener.
The Triolons are an imposing sight. Two woofer towers, each 14" by 28" by 7' tall, each weighing 650# plus a cross piece holding a plasma tweeter attached to the woofers and a sword bearing two horn loaded speakers, one horn 30.5" in diameter, the other 18.5" in diameter. The Triolons can be driven by a single amps of 18 watts or higher power but must be triwired and have an efficiency of 97 db. Each side weighs 850# total. The crossover points are 200, 700 and 5000 hz. The sound from 200 hz up to 40,000 hz emanates as a spherical wavefront. The Campanile Highs are similar but crossover to their woofers at 700 hz, use the plasma tweeter plus a single horn and are much lower in efficiency (92 db). The Triolons are typically a 6 ohm speaker but have an impedance at 30 hz of 28 ohms. The same is true of the Campaniles. Neither is a particularly easy load for an amp to drive; however the greater efficiency of the Triolons does open up the possibility of driving them with the right low power amplifier. Unlike the ribbon tweeter of the Magnepans, the Acapella's tweeter does not over shadow the other drivers. Extremely dynamic.
The Jorma Prime, either in balanced or single ended configuration is superb, particularly between amp and preamp but also on other inputs. I still use the balanced 7N Mexcel on the X01 and the Valhalla on the TT but otherwise have switched to the Jorma Prime.
Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference
5 shelf version installed as well as the amp stands. Again a nice and very audible improvement. Amazing the things that you blame on the equipment until you solve the resonance problems. Basically a no brainer. More improvement than changing a major piece of equipment.
I have been mildly dissatisfied for a number of years with my JC-1 amps when used to drive the Acapella speakers but have yet to find something that combined the ability to drive the speakers and give me the other characteristcs that I desired although I have been much taken with some tubed amps (small, single ended or OTL within their power limits. Let's just say that the insertion of a combination of Bi-wire and single wire prime has cused me to re-think the amp question. The Primes are simply the most musical natural top to bottom cables that I have ever encountered.
I apologize for the time which it has taken to respond but I have been overseas on business. I still am loving the Ypsilon phonostage and the step up transformer. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to hear much else in my system since the Ypsilon went in. It is heavy, hard to move and moving it almost always results in a long tweaking session to eliminate hum from the plugs on the Nordost Odin cables.
System edited: As many of you will know, I owned an Esoteric X01-D2 for a number of years replacing it with the EMM Labs single box player which to my ears sacrificed a bit of detail and bass slam but was more musically natural. After three years with the EMM Labs, I had the opportunity to listen to the P-02/ D-02 over an extended period and found it to have much of the midrange magic of the EMM Labs but with significantly more detail. Six months after the initial purchase, I remain very pleased.
System edited: I have recently replaced the EMM Labs XDS1 with Esoteric's new P-02/ D-02 which are significantly more detailed with greater extension and control in the bass and more extension at the top while maintaining the musicality of the EMM Labs which I owned for three years. I could honestly live with either.
Recently, I get a wild hare and decided to try changing power cords on my Rockport Sirious. Note that the power supply converts the AC to DC then uses an analog oscillator to recreate the frequencies needed for the motor. I erroneously thought that a good but not great power cord, heavy on the copper should work well. Let me only say that I substituted a Stage 3 Minotaur and the differences were quite pronounced, particularly in mid bass heft and top end extension. I am also playing with a Talea 2. At this point I will only say that it is a phenomenal arm and works exceptionally well with my Ortofon A90.
I spent much of the weekend comparing rectifiers on various recordings with some unexpected results. For the sake of simplicity, I will describe the sound of each in my system and then try to make a few brief general remarks. The results are with respect to the sound of these tubes on my Audio Note Balanced Kegons and may not hold true on other amps.
National Union 5U4G ( my reference)
Less top end than either of the following rectifiers, somewhat dark Somewhat damped in comparison to the others Highly dimensional with excellent depth and stage width Not much shimmer in the top end/ somewhat less exciting than the others Voices significantly more intelligible, particularly on some of the cuts from Graceland
Tungsol 5U4G (1942)
Very extended top end Punchy bass, almost to a fault Some dynamic compression Hint of roughness in the top end Soundstage very 2 dimensional with little or no depth Somewhat forward Lacking subtlety
Sylvannia 274B (1942)
Extended, natural top end More depth tp the soundstage than the Tungsols but less than the Nationals Bass well controlled and well integrated with other frequencies Most top end of the three
With both the Sylvannias and the Tungsols, there was an audible increase in 60 Hz hum through the speakers in comparison with the Nationals. Also, I am unable to say how the sound of the Tungsols and Sylvannias would change after more break in. Based on my listening, I would like to do more listening with the 274Bs in the system. I think that they are clearly superior to the Tungsols. If the National had a bit more top end response, they would be the clear winners. I should probably note that until playing with rectifiers, I would have said that the Western Electric 300B's were a bit soft at the top. Now I realize that they are actually much more linear than I thought but that the sound of the amps is dependent on all the tubes in the circuit and how they interact.
Strange, I had assumed that the Prime power cords did contain a Bybee module given the wooden oval that is attached which closely resembles the wooden element on the interconnects and speakerwire. Regardless, I can say that the power cords, at least in my system are quite good.
Hi Fred... Congratulations on putting together a beautiful audio rig ... I have been reading this thread with interest and would like to point out that the Jorma Prime Power cords are the only cables in the Prime line up which do not incorporate any Bybee filter modules. Happy Listening to you .
I returned from London last Saturday and installed the Takatsuki TA-300B tubes which I had purchased Sunday morning. The TA-300Bs now have over 100 hours on them and are sounding very good, extremely dynamic; excellent impact on drum heads, nice extension in the bass and treble. I am hearing significantly more low level detail. They are extremely quiet and very detailed and open without being bright or irritating. I found that with the black bottle Shughangs that certain massed violin records could at times sound a bit steely. At this point, I wish that the Takatsukis were a touch more lush in the mids like the Western Electrics, but that may come in as they approach 200 hours. Likewise, the Westerns seem to do a somewhat better job of causing my speakers to disappear, although this varies from record to record. All in all they are definitely keepers.
It is superb on masssed strings. With other phono stages sometimes as the massed violins get very loud there is a hint of stridency with other phono stages which I had attributed to mistracking. That stridency is now gone. Needless to say, string tone is lovely, very dense and liquid.
Massed strings are a good evaluative tool, irregard of format, i.e., analog or digital. Congrats, Fred!
It is superb on masssed strings. With other phono stages sometimes as the massed violins get very loud there is a hint of stridency with other phono stages which I had attributed to mistracking. That stridency is now gone. Needless to say, string tone is lovely, very dense and liquid. I was listening to Mischa Elman on an early black label Vanguard Lab recording last night and it was spectacular. I am also finding that surface moise bothers me less. It is still there but for some reason, I don't seem to be focusing on it as much.
The Ypsilon VPS-100 is far superior to any other phonostage which I have auditioned by a rather significant margin. I think that I can best communicate this by comparing it to my previous reference, the Einstein Turntable's Choice. In comparison, The VPS-100 1) is better able to recreate the space of the recording venue or in some cases the lack of any spatial cues, 2)it is particularly good in differentiating among different drum heads, 3) highs are clearer and more distinct without any hint of stridency, 4) imaging is better with excellent focus and specificity, 5) dynamics in the mids are better but the real achivement is that dynamics are consistent throughout the frequency range with no particular frequency band singled out, and 6) bass is astonishing in its power and abikity to plum the depths. So far my only nits with the unit are that in combination with the MC16 transformer, gain is somewhat less than with the Einstein and the unit is very susceptable to hum unless all cables are optimally grounded.
Unfortunately, these comments are rather a poor description of what makes this unit so much better than any other with which I am familiar.
First, you would be welcome to drive down to Houston to listen. Given that I have ordered the phonostage, there is no real hurry. With respect to the transformer, the reason for an external transformer is that different cartridges require different transformers or perhaps more accurately, they require a different number of windings to create a proper interface with the cartridge. I had the opportunity to compare two different transformers with my A90 and the MC16 was much better than the MC20 which is better suited for a Lyra Titan i. It would be more convenient to have everything in one box but would not allow optimal matching. There are currently 3 transformers available and Ypsilon will wind custom units as needed.
I have much enjoyed reading your posts in Audiogon. You are correct. I should have said that I used a pair of the Primes for the phono but had a friend build a separate ground wire which the Prime lacks. In any event, the Odin was significantly better in almost all areas than the Prime when used for the phonostage. You should not assume that is the case when the Odin is compared against the Prime in other places. At this point, I will only say that they are very similar in some ways and very different in others.
I broke down yesterday and ordered the Ypsilon phonostage and the MC16 transformer. Again, when I have the full measure of the unit, I will post more detailed comments. I will say that if anything Michael Fremer's review understates how good this unit can be. I should note that my friend's unit has two very important tweaks: 1) the fuse has been changed out for an Isoclean fuse and 2) the rectifier has been replaced with a 1950's Mullard. If you have read my comments about changing out the rectifier in my Balanced Kegons, you will understand the magnitude of the change. I believe the unit which you heard at Albert's did not have the hotrodded rectifier but came with the factory supplied Sovtek.
hi Fcrowder. i'm confused. Jorma does not make a Prime tonearm or phono cable (or at least that's what he told me when i last checked). are you using a pair of regular interconnects in place of the phono cable?
I have used a number of different cables from my tonearm to the outboard phono stage over the last 10 years. After much listening, about 5 years ago I had Nordost fabricate a tonearm cable for me from their Valhalla cable. Note that normally I do not find Valhalla to be my cup of tea but in this one application, it worked well. Last night, I inserted an Odin tonearm cable and it was dramatically better than either the Valhalla or some Jorma Prime that I have been playing with. I should note that I also have some additional lengths of the Odin interconnect and will be trying it in my system.
On a separate note, if you have not auditioned the Ypsilon phonostage, I would suggest that you do so. A friend recently loaned me his VPS-100/ MC16. For about 4 years, I have used the Einstein phonostage and while it is not perfect, found it to be very good, certainly better than my previous stages, Vendetta SCP2T and Curl Blowtorch. It was certainly less sterile without loss of detail. I expected that the Ypsilon would be warmer and more organic; however, I did not expect that the VPS-100 would annihilate the Einstein in all areas that matter. More to come after this weekend.
I recently had the opportunity to audition the new Audio Note Fifth Element 3 piece Red Book digital plaer ($189,500) over a period of 4 days. While it is difficult to separate the sound of the system which is described velow from the sound of the digital front end, the mere fact that the sound of the system was clearly one of the two or three best that I have ever heard speaks worlds. The system displayedbelievable image height, and differentiated well between the heights of the different instruments. The string tone on violins was very natural. PRAT was good as was the integration between the upper and lower frequencies. Drums were very taut with excellent impact. The top seemed extended and detailed without any bite or harshness. Most noticeable was the ability of the speakers to create pressure gradients within the listening room which were noted as density changes in the air of the room. I have heard few large systems capable of doing this as effectively. I should also note that the bass was not ''one note'' or overblown. This system had no problem separating the bass lines. Male voice was excellent, particularly in capturing the expression of the singer. I found myself drawn into the music and my foot tapping. The sound was totally effortless, unbelievably liquid and incredibly dynamic. There was a certain magic to the sound, a rich warm tonal balance coupled with an ability to look deeply into the texture of the music. Female voice was particularly nice. If I had to nitpick the sound, I would say that leading edge and transients were somewhat soft, depth was foreshortened, and there were times on complex works when a bit more power would have been nice. . This system was true to the music and an absolute pleasure to listen to for long periods. If I failed to say so, the new three-box Audio Note Fifth Element (FE) may well set a new benchmark in digital reproduction. In comparison, to an EMM Labs XDS1 which was also available for comparison at the same time, harmonic complexity and low levwl detail were better on the Fifth Element. This was somewhat of a surprise as I would have expected the XDS1 to have superior low level detail.