Description

Audio Nirvana has arrived. Being involved in this hobby for the past 40 years proves that this is a journey and not a destination. Over these years I have had countless iterations of too many systems to mention. Over the past 15 years I have become a loyal fan of Wilson Audio speakers and have steadily moved up their production line. Four years ago I never thought it could get any better than my Wilson X-2 Alexandria series l until I heard the X-2 series ll this year. Suffice it to say the X-2 Series ll speakers were added in October of this year in Black Almondine and now occupy the center of my sound syatem. For the past 3 years I have been seriously considering a return to vinyl and was ready to make the move until I began reading about the resurgence of reel to reel tape recorders and The Tape Project. Recently I found a fully restored Studer A810 tape recorder and added it to my system as well as becoming a Charter Subscriber to The Tape Project. Needless to say I was smitten. Recently I also swapped out my much beloved Meitner digital gear for the newer Playback Designs PDS MP-S5 and have been more than happpy with that decision. Earlier this year the video side of my room underwent a complete change and installed the Sim2 C3X1080 triple chip DLP with an Isco lll anamorphic lens. This allows me to enjoy either 16 X 9 format as well as 2.35 on a CIH Stewart Firehawk G3 132 inch curved screen. When I did this I upgraded the subwoofer(s) in my room by swapping the Wilson XS for two JL Audio Gotham subs. It took the better part of four months to get these subs dialed in for my room but once done they are simply better than I could have ever imagined. As far as what the future holds in the hobby, I am in a holding pattern but I never say never.
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    • Wilson Audio X-2 Alexandria Series ll
    I am in awe of this speaker both from the way it sounds as well as the way it looks. After 3 months of anxiously awaiting, the speaker finally arrived. Color is Black Almondine with Parchment Gray grill covers. The speakers weigh in at a cool 720 lbs each and stand 2 inches taller than the X-1's I had. Simply put, I have never heard a speaker as real as this. The soundstage is huge, more open than even the X-2 series l. The ease of setup as well was amazing. It took us only 2 hours to get the speakers operational. The wonderful thing about the X-2 is that the upper modules can now be meticulously set to image at ear level. The X-1's were always imaging just a bit high. These speakers are truly Dave Wilson at the pinnacle of his game. Just when I thought my X-2 series l's put me at audio nirvana, along comes the X-2 Series ll. The best way to compare this speaker to anything else is with a big smile rather than with hyperbole. IMO this speaker has brought me to Audio Nirvana.
    • Lamm Industries ML 3 Signature
    The ML3 is a single-ended (SE) tube amplifier utilizing a very powerful direct-heated triode GM-70 (125W plate dissipation) and a separate power supply. Combining the most sophisticated technologies and electronic design with graceful looks reminiscent of the classic era of tubes, the ML3 is our top-of-the-line, no-compromise product. It is a 32-watt amplifier that operates in pure class A and utilizes no overall feedback. The topology is absolutely unique and incorporates one of the most advanced power supplies ever featured in an audio device. These factors, along with the designer’s unique vision and understanding of the underlying principles of audio electronics, make the ML3 an amplifier without peer. With the ML3 as the centerpiece of a high-end system, the recorded event is recreated in one’s listening room with astonishing verisimilitude. The listener is able to experience an ephemeral yet tangible connection to the essence of the music. These are not empty claims. Those who have listened to the ML3 firsthand have unanimously acknowledged this phenomenon and have reported it to be utterly unique in their collective experience. IMO this amp rises above all others and is the the new king of the hill. Audio Nirvana has arrived
    • Lamm Industries LL1 Signature Dual Mono Line Level
    The monaural line level preamplifier model LL1 Signature is the ultimate statement of perfection in High-End audio. Just like ML3 Signature is the best creation of its designer's professional career among the LAMM amplifiers, so is the LL1 Signature among the line level LAMM preamplifiers. The LL1 Signature has been designed to complement the ML3 Signature amplifier, and this combination in a system represents a "match made in heaven". However, the LL1 Signature will perform magic with any other appropriate power amplifier. The LL1 Signature features a topology that brings out the most natural sound performance in the audio path. In principle, it is a single-stage unit that basically represents the shortest possible signal path. The preamplifier contains four very linear low impedance triodes paralleled into a single inverting gain stage. The LL1 Signature employs a pure single-ended class A operation, with no overall feedback applied. Also featured are specially selected high-transconductance dual triodes 6N30P-DR/ 6Н30П-ДР (original) in the signal path and TKD stepped potentiometers for volume control - the best available on today's market. The preamplifier's audibly neutral power supply features a full-wave vacuum rectifier. This rectifier, together with a choke-containing filter, allows to practically get rid of the hum and buzz and, in the end, to ensure the verity of dynamic range without coloration. Two solid-state analog voltage regulators supply dc voltage to the tube filaments (heaters). Other features include 3 inputs, one tape/HT processor loop, attenuator (-12 dB) switch, output 1/output 2 switches, protection circuitry designed to enable manual muting of the output signal, and built-in remote on/off for LAMM power amplifiers. The main distinction of the LL1 Signature from any other comparable type of preamplifiers is its practically inaudible sonic signature. When connected to an appropriate type of power amplifiers, especially LAMM power amplifiers, it assures the extraordinary transparency of perceived sound and recreation of a three-dimensional soundstage in the home, recording studio, etc., without boundaries and limitations. Each preamplifier is handcrafted of the finest materials and top quality parts like military-grade DALE metal-film resistors, PRC wire-wound resistors, BOURNS multi-turn potentiometers, CORNELL DUBILIER and UNITED CHEMI-CON electrolytic capacitors, ELECTROCUBE, ELCON and ROEDERSTEIN film capacitors; HAMMOND chokes, gold-plated NEUTRIC connectors, and military-grade low-noise long-life vacuum tubes. A custom-designed massive damping panel installed in the preamplifier unit significantly reduces all types of mechanical vibrations which, in turn, leads to a more extended, coherent and natural bass reproduction. The LL1 Signature features a custom-designed super-low noise power transformer. The LL1 Signature works on all world AC line voltages (100/120/220/230/240V).
    • JL Audio Gotham/g213
    Gotham® Your first look will tell you that you are looking at something special… your first listen will confirm it beyond a shadow of a doubt. The beauty of the Gotham® extends well beyond its exotic design and exceptional craftsmanship, aiming right at the emotional core of musical and cinematic enjoyment. This is a subwoofer system with limits well beyond the needs of the typical home theater application, delivering a weight and integrity of reproduction that can only come from a system that is always in control. Its allure lies as much in its ability to convey subtleties as in its prodigious output capabilities. It is simply devastating. A luxurious, handcrafted gloss-black finish is complemented by machined aluminum and stainless steel accents for a look and feel that fits perfectly with the finest home furnishings. More importantly, the beautiful cabinet houses a pair of JL Audio’s highest-technology subwoofer drivers. When demanded by program material, the Gotham’s amplifier can deliver voltage equivalent to 3,800 watts of RMS power to take full advantage of the twin drivers’ four inches of peak-to-peak excursion capability. This ensures that the Gotham™ can breeze through material that makes other subwoofers go into clipping, limiting or distress. Listening to a Gotham® reveals an entirely new dimension of subwoofer performance... a dimension so satisfying that listening to lesser subwoofers will forever become an act of compromise. Available Models: g213 (click for specs and feature list) Model: g213-GLOSS SKU: 96237 Cabinet Finish: High-Gloss Black
    • Playback Designs System MS5
    I just never thought that I would sell my Meitner gear because for years IMO it was the leader of the pack. Not so fast any more as along came the PDS MS-5 which creates music as close to vinyl as the real thing
    • Studer Reel To Reel A-810
    A fully refurbished state of the art Studio reel to reel
    • Krell Theater Amplifier Standard
    This is used to drive my center channel, surround channels and rear channel. I use it only for home theater however when Krell releases their SACD standard in May, I will delve into multichannel audio. I continue to use a Krell FPB-750 mcX for my Wilson XS subwoofer. I use 6.1 and not 7.1 in my room
    • Wilson Audio WATCH Center Channel
    I have used many center channel speakers but have found this one to outperform anything that I have previously owned. I use it with its accompanying speaker stand centered right under my screen. Recently upgraded this center channel to Black Almondine to match my new X-2 series ll speakers
    • Wilson Audio WATCH Surround (left and right)
    A perfect compliment for my Wilson X-1/XS speakers.
    • Nordost Valhalla
    I use this in my front end. An unbelievably transparent interconnect. I was using Tara Labs The Zero which was magnificent but I feel the Valhalla is a notch above even though The Zero was priced at $12,500 for a 2 meter pair of balanced cables
    • Wilson Audio WATCH rear
    I decided on only 6.1 rather than 7.1 and am very impressed with this speaker in my home theater
    • Sim2 Triple Chip DLP Projector C3X 1080
    For those following the buzz on the internet this is the latest triple chip DLP from Sim that has a picture unequaled for projectors of this price and size
    • Isco 2.35 Anamorphic Lens Model lll
    Anamorphic 2.35 lens for Sim 2 projector
    • Stewart Filmscreen Firehawk G3 CineV 130
    A CIH screen with native 2.35 aspect ratio and 120 inch width. Masks to 16 x 9 as well
    • Sony BDP-S2000ES
    Sony's flagship Blu-ray Disc™ player, with astounding audio enhancements and vibration-reduction that deliver phenomenal results in a rock-solid design
    • Lexicon MC12B-HD v 1.2
    Most impressive about the MC-12 HD is its extensive custom processing capabilities. Four 32-bit floating-point DSP engines provide vast resources for such proprietary features as Logic 7, Auto Azimuth correction, five-speaker enhancement, bass enhancement, and dialog enhancement. Lexicon?s bass management system, digital crossovers and tone controls are also powered by these DSP engines. This processing is performed at sample rates up to 96kHz with 24-bit resolution to retain top performance from all input sources. A fifth DSP engine is dedicated to decoding Dolby Digital and DTS sources. Inside and out, the MC-12 HD is designed to accommodate potential hardware and software advancements with internal expansion, a removable rear panel access plate, and two RS-232 connectors.
    • Nordost Valhalla AES/EBU
    A digital cable with XLR (balanced)terminations. Used to connect the Krell kps25sc to the EMM Labs DAC 6
    • Nordost Valhalla
    Simply the best and most transparent cable I have ever used. I sold my Tara Labs The Omega for these cables. As great as the Omega was, I find there is no comparison with the Valhalla
    • Nordost Valhalla
    20 amp IEC power cables (one pair) used for my Audio Research Refernce 600 Mark lll mono amps. This resulted in immediate improvement in bass as well as producing a somewhat more dynamic sound.
    • Tara Labs RSC Gen 2
    Used in my home theater
    • Tara Labs RSC Air One
    5 pair of balanced cables used in my home theater
    • Tara Labs The One
    I have 2 of these in my front end. They made a big difference
    • Absolute Power Line Purifier
    Used in my home theater side. A very solid work horse
    • Aurios Pro MIb
    Decouplers. An absolute must in any system. I use these under my Krell kps25sc and Audio Research Reference ll Mark ll. I have also found dramatic improvement in my bass when used under my Wilson X-1 Grand Slamm speakers. These are sold exclusively at http://www.audionut.com Ask for Bob Williams. he will give you all of the theory behind this tweak.You can reach him at 1-877-944-5505
    • Acoustic Sciences Corporation Tube Traps
    The single best tweak to my room was to have ASC design room modifications (tube traps)according to the size of my room with the type of gear used. I have a total of 38 tube traps in the room in all sizes, varying from Super trap 20's, Super trap 16's and trap 13's, 11's and 9's. I did this in stages according to the plans provided by ASC and once finished I had a true 2C3D room. The walls are virtually invisible.
    • Acoustic Sciences Corporation Sound Planks
    Also part of the design rendered for my room by ASC. These sit at the front wall and have vastly improved the sound in the room.
    • Billy Bags AV Pro
    This is used for my home theater equiment
    • Billy Bags CD/DVD Stand
    Designrd specifically for my room I am able to store over 1000 CD's and/or DVD's
    • Zoethecus component stands Z.2/R (2 in all)
    Great looking, good support and excellent isolation
    • Zoethecus amp stands (3 in all) Z.block/1d
    Great looking with super isolation
    • Musical Fidelity Tube Output Buffer X-10v3
    high input impedance allowing me to drive my new JL Gotham subs without compromising my Audio Research Reference 3 preamp
    • Musical Fidelity Tube Output Buffer Power Supply
    Optional separate power supply for tube buffer which helps bass response from Gotham Subs
    • Transparent Reference (RSE) Interconnect
    20 foot pair from Tube Buffer Output to Gotham subs and one meter pair from ARC Ref3 to Tube Output Buffer
    • See Other Web site For More Details And Pictures
    [URL]http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?10535-Doctor-s-Orders-Part-Two-The-New-Listening-Room-Of-Steve-Williams&p=191656&viewfull=1#post191656[/URL]

Comments 1014

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Steve,

thanks again for being a great host during my visit a couple of weeks ago to your wonderful new room. it was enjoyable and the sound was really wonderful.

i also posted a few more thoughts about my visit on What's Best Forum

cheers,

mikelavigne

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OB, i'm glad retirement is fun for you.....god knows you deserve it.

in the three-plus years we've known each other we both have made a few changes.

we both changed preamps once.

we both upgraded our EMM Labs.

our cables have stayed the same although i do now use the darTZeel BNC from pre to amp. i did switch power cables from the Elrods to the Jena Labs. i'm not sure whether you changed power cables during that time.

you went to the Zoethecus racks and i changed to the Grand Prix Audio racks (after 8 years with the Zoethecus).

we both changed power amps once.

i did build a room which resulted in a change of speakers from the Kharma to the Von Schweikert's. you upgraded from the X-1 Mk III's to the Alexandria's.

then recently i did switch to the Evolution Acoustics MM3's.

i've had my Rockport TT for 5 years.....and hopefully you will have a new tt in the near future so you can play that Louis Armstrong i gave you.

i am working on issues such as my power grid and some tweaks (things not completed when i built my room for lack of funds)......fine tuning the system. i suppose i will always be doing a bit of that. and we'll both will always be buying new music.....still the best 'system upgrade' availible.

if my system is 'always under construction'......then i'm not alone. of course; current intentions compared to future reality will need to play itself out. i have read that you are done changing and i applaud that. that is also my intention.

i have the greatest respect and admiration toward you as one of the true gentleman of our hobby so don't take the details of my response as some sort of challenge. i am simply surprised that you would put my history in a different catagory than your own. we are more alike than we are different. you simply view your changes as final ones......and that viewpoint appears different to you than your interpretation of my changes.

i look forward to our continued friendship.

mikelavigne

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OB, belated congrats on your retirement a few months back......and best wishes on the Medspa working out well.

i sincerely envy your time flexibility......and hope to join you in a few years in the life of leisure.

i know you are enjoying the music on your wonderful system.....i expect that the X-2's and ML2.1's are really a terrific combo.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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OB,

it was great seeing you at CES; too bad we couldn't spend a little more time together. i did hear the REF 3 pre and was very impressed.....even though it is hard to 'hear' exactly what a preamp is doing in any system i percieved blacker backgrounds and a lack of grain that exceeds my perception of the already excellent Ref II Mk.2.

i liked the digital readout too although i've always liked the ARC volume dials with the lighted steps.

mikelavigne

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OB, it looks like the room will be done by the last week in September.....so i'm looking forward to your visit soon there after. i will do my best to measure up to the great time you showed me at your place.

best regards,

mikelavigne

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i would like to thank OB (Oneobgyn) for his gracious hospitality last weekend......it was a pleasure meeting him and Mrs. OB and also all his fellow crazies down in the Bay Area.

OB's system is one of the very best systems i have yet had the pleasure to experience and the very best at quite a few different things.

the first thing that comes to mind is that there are many different valid approaches to sonic (or even video) nirvana. also, that one's context, listening biases, aural memory, and references dramatically influence perceptions. as i listened last weekend i found that i was examining why i was reacting to things in a particular way as much as what was happening. my current sonic perceptions are greatly influenced by listening to my system is a very small room in the extreme near-field. to go into 30' x 17' (or 20') foot rooms and listen at twice the distance makes the experience so different that i was always having to recalibrate my perceptions. i do look forward to moving into my own bigger space.......maybe then my perceptions from last weekend will be more valid.

i spent about a total of 10 hours in OB's room in 4 separate sessions. i came away very impressed with OB's system, room and taste. every room is set up with personal priorities. it was interesting to read discussions in previous threads of the set-up of OB's room, his speakers and various room treatments. after spending time with OB and his room my opinion is that he should change nothing.....the system is doing what OB wants it to do. the speakers are where they should be based on OB's priorities. you could apply a different set of priorities to his set-up and change things......but i believe OB has found his 'sweet spot'. we did discuss various approaches to how he could integrate vinyl into his system....which could involve him moving his source gear from between the speakers to the left side.

OB's room has considerable absorption......which based on his listening and visual considerations suits his approach. if he were to remove some of those treatments he would get a few sonic trade-offs that might suit other's sonic visions. the nice thing about what he has done is that he can change things easily if he ever wants to. overall, his room has plenty of energy and has a good sonic balance. when you walk into the room you get a sense of 'ease and control'.

i was impressed by how OB has the big Wilson XS integrated into his system. when you are playing music it never intrudes.....it serves the music. it provides a wonderful foundation for everything. when you do want to 'rip the house off the foundation' with bass.....it will go as far as you dare. even still......it stays in context and doesn't get out of control.

the X-2's do many things better than any speakers i have yet heard......and in other areas are world-class. it's list of superlatives is long. the X-2's energize the sound stage thru the entire frequency range better than any speaker i have heard. even though the speaker is massive......i got no sense of 'box' or 'closed in feeling'. everything has just such an 'ease' and 'flow'.....never forced. with all that energy and complication the X-2's were very fast and had excellent seamlessness and coherence (while not quite the best i've heard in this category). the X-2's do a very good job with soundstage width and height.......i think his set-up priorities do reduce the potential depth and layering that this speaker is capable of.....but that is not the most important thing. tonality and clarity are very good......the ARC Ref 600's are a natural match and the sound is neutral and uncolored; yet natural and not edgy......a very good balance. this X-2/Ref 600 combo really has no weaknesses. it does nuance, it does space, mid-range clarity and dramatic frequency extension. i was damn impressed.

OB's system allows you to really enjoy the music......both the sounds and the event. we were into the music and the performances.......especially on Saturday afternoon as everyone pulled out their own personal cd's......every cut had a little magic......this is a world-class music system.

finally, spending time with OB was a real pleasure. he is a class act that shares my level of commitment to this great hobby. i greatly value his insights and friendship.

mikelavigne