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    • Aesthetix Callisto Signature
    Preamp with NOS Mullard, Telefunken, RCA 5692 Red Base
    Shootout: LAMM LL2
    • Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk II.3
    All options & Phono Input (the Phonostage was mediocre at best, I was disappointed from it and that was a reason to sell it after comparisons)
    • Atma-Sphere M-60 Mk II.2
    OTL Amplifier mono Reliable and great sound All options
    • Basis Audio Debut Vacuum sign.
    Turntable with vacuum One of the rare serious Designs of today I learned a lot with it, a true no-nonsense-Design. Best memories ... but I was young and needed the money.
    • Burmester 948 Power Conditioner
     It was a cheater unit. The extra digital section was useless and after a while, when I did disconnect it, my System sounded much more open and uncompressed. Good for nothing. 
    • CEC TL-1
    Belt drive Transport, additionally modified with Super Master Clock. It made me - with its convincing low frequencies, outstanding midrange clarity, righteous sense of musical flow and top measured performance - forget listening to recordings.
    • DaVinciAudio Labs Grandezza
    Replaced with FR-64s
    • DCS Delius & Purcell
    DAC & Upsampler 24bit / 192 kHz
    a good sounding combination
    • EMM Labs CDSA se
    Digital Player with a new German designed and manufactured high-precision disc metal drive mechanism. Pop a CD into the CDSA SE and the player takes the 44.1kHz signal and upsamples it to 5.6448MHz. Rather than address the digital signal as a series of sine waves—as is standard convention—the MDAT-equipped CDSA SE processes (and upsamples CD audio to DSD for conversion to analog) by dynamically adapting to the transient nature of the musical signal. In this way, the CDSA SE is utterly unique and singularly able to preserve the phase, frequency and dynamic integrity of the original signal.

    Very good sound, unfortunately very unreliable. Went down each year, after 5 repairs I gave up.

    Replaced with Vitus SCD-025 MkII
    • Goldmund Mimesis 39
    Replaced with CEC TL-1
    • Graham Engineering Phantom II Supreme
    A superb piece of engineering and an extraordinary transcription device for all vinyl recordings. It delivers both precision and flow whilst delving into the deepest details with ease. Compared to My FR-64s, sold 2012, Tonearm chapter is closed
    • Graham Engineering Phantom II Supreme Armwands
    Additional Titanium 9'' / 10" / 12" for cartridge comparisons, or Mono/Stereo carts.
    • Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2
    Battery Powered Preamp for the natural, overall realism of the music. Last version without SMPS. Pure DC operation avoids the conducted and radiated noise typically produced by rectifiers and regulators.
    Accurate in realistic tone and spectral balance, resolution, linearity along with weight and dimension based from its inherently low noise and very low source impedance maintained over a wide frequency range. Through them, each note had a realistic sustain, followed by a similarly realistic decay located in real space... Its overall quality comes through in the harmonic content which let you forget the time in front of your speakers.
    Weight 86 lbs surpassed by Omnigon too easily
    • Jeff Rowland Consummate II
    Shootout: Klyne 7
    • Jeff Rowland Model 2 & BPS-2
    Stereo Amplifier with Battery Power Source Running the Model 2 on Batteries opens the Soundstage dramatically (Living Stereo LDS-6065), single Instruments have different depths and space, showing the sound of the hall itself, all is so "alive" that it hits you in the face with its presence... Its all around you and has a specific feeling of "realness" (best word I could think of) to it. When the music starts, that characteristic delivers a sonic reproduction which is rare to hear. In a way a revelation to hear a solid state (!) device portray such a rendering of cymbals, flute, drum, grain in the sound. You can also "feel" the rightness of sound. Bass is even more powerful, tight, with a kind of holographic "Body". A Design done right.
    • Klyne Audio Arts 7LX-3.5.5b
    Shootout: Aesthetix Callisto sign.
    • Klyne Audio Arts 7PX-3.5.5
    Adjustable Phonostage Shootout: Lamm LP2 with special High Gain Sut
    • Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum
    Shootout: Lyra Delos & All others, colored and limited Frequency range, a real Cheater: Does nothing right, but this for a high price.
    • Kondo AudioNote Japan KSL SF-z
    Shootout: Jensen custom made, better specs, better detail
    • Kuzma Reference
    Replaced with Seiki 5000 after 5 min of listening with the Seiki
    Too bad to keep
    • Kuzma Airline
    The Arm was ok, but when I did listen the first time to a FR-64s... this Arm has problems with lower register and the tonal colors... sold it and never looked back
    • Lamm Industries L2R
    Replaced with LL2.1
    • Lyra Delos
    MC Cartridge, superb for its price
    Much more information than Kleos
    • Lyra Dorian Mono
    Mono MC Cartridge, very silent in the groove, no hum
    • Lyra Helikon
    Shootout: Takeda Miyabi
    • Lyra Helikon Mono
    You remember, that most mono LPs were made with 1 microphone & tube electronics without processing.
    The Helikon Mono is completely insensitive to the vertical axis, which dramatically improves the signal/noise ratio without any impact on performance with mono records. The Mono's coil former is a square permeable plate which is oriented parallel to the record surface rather than the 45-degree angle used for most stereo cartridges, and the coils are wound so to generate a signal only when there is horizontal movement of the stylus and cantilever when tracking a record. Nothing else has this level of resolution and detail retrieval! It's a serious all-around performer; all the speed and accuracy you expect, combined with a musical presentation all analog lovers crave! Smooth, transparent and ultra-detailed: The Helikon mono will transform your entire collection of mono LPs!
    • Lyra Kleos
    Shootout: Lyra Delos, the Kleos is too limited in the higher frequencies
    • Lyra Skala
    Shootout: Takeda Miyabi
    • Lyra Titan i
    VERY sensitive to Arms, a Dream Team with FR-64s. No coloration, very linear in all frequencies, a top design but a lot of Arms (Triplanar for example) are not good enough for it. For me, better than Atlas. A outstanding Design, in a top system nearly unbeatable among modern cartridges. A Masterpiece. 

    Specifications Type: Low impedance, low output Moving Coil 
    Frequency range: 10Hz - 50kHz 
    Channel separation: 35dB or better at 1kHz 
    Cantilever system: Diamond-coated solid boron rod with LYRA original, natural      diamond line-contact stylus (3 x 70 micrometers profile) 
    Internal impedance: 5.5 Ω 
    Output voltage: 0.5mV (5.0cm/sec., zero to peak, 45 degrees)
    Cartridge weight (without stylus cover): 10.5g 
    Compliance: Approx. 12 x 10-6 cm/dyne at 100Hz 
    Recommended tracking force: 1.65 - 1.75g 
    Recommended load: Direct into non-inverting RIAA phono input: 100 Ω - 47 kΩ / MC step-up transformer: 4 - 10Ω (not more than 10Ω )

     Sold 2014, FR-7fz is simply better
    • Magnepan MG-3.6r
    My door to High End. But their hunger for power made me look for more efficient speaker Designs.
    • Micro-Seiki RX 5000 Inertia System
    Twin System
    • Magnum Dynalab Etude
    Shootout: MD 108
    • Naim Audio NAT-101
    Very, very rare Naim 2-Box Analog Tuner
    • Takeda Miyabi
    Takeda San says, "I was always frustrated by modern cartridges -- including my own designs in the past -- because they always sounded clean and nice but failed to present a very important element of music. What was missing was the linearity of dynamics. Many cartridges can produce clean sound but the sound is only one element of music. They fail to present the flow of music. Listeners may not realize this if they are not familiar with music that requires a wide dynamic range and delicate gradations within it. Large orchestral works and certain piano recordings are typical examples. I also wanted my Standard to be tonally as neutral as possible. Many cartridges have some degree of coloration to make them sound appealing. I didn't want to do that with the Standard." Another great cartridge from the Golden Age of Analog which is no longer available. When you want one which can follow, go for a Stone Body Koetsu WITH Diamond Cantilever.
    • Nakamichi Dragon cassette
    Great unit with Sony Super Metal Master tapes
    • Omtec CA-25 V3
    Mono Amps from Germany Shootout: Pass Aleph 0
    • Pass Labs Aleph 0
    Mono amps Shootout: Lamm ML2.1
    • Purist Audio Design Phono Cable
    Shootout: XLO Signature Phono
    • Revox PR-99 MK 3
    Tape from a recording Studio
    • Shelter 90x
    Shootout: Modified Denon 103R Blue Shibui nothing to write home about
    • Shibui Phono Cartridge Limited
    Ultra rare MC [0.25mV], made for Custom Order, only 4 of them exist “Shibui” means the type of beauty that doesn’t need announcement; its quality speaks for itself, a survivor after all those years in my System
    • Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 mkII
    DAC modified
    • Sony Super Metal Master
    The Best EVER made. Ceramic-composite cassette shell to minimize any vibrations and Magnesium case. The difference to other Type IV was HUGE.
    • Transfiguration Audio Transfiguration Temper
    Shootout: Takeda Miyabi
    • Triplanar VII i Ultimate tonearm
    Shootout: Graham Phantom, better in all areas (focus, detail, holographic picture, better 'Gestalt') sold it and never looked back
    • Vendetta Research SCP-2T Phono
    Phono Preamp Final modifications 2007 from J. Curl Teflon Caps That was the final version but it is overrated. A Klyne 7 is superior in every area, better resolution, better dynamics, much better Gain stages and Impedance settings ...sold it and never looked back.
    • Walker Audio Precision Motor Controller
    Impressive Combination with the Basis Turntable
    • WAVAC Audio 805
    Original Nobu Shishido One of his last units Shootout: Pass Aleph 0
    • Koechel K300
    Horn Speaker, 99dB, 8 ohms, Midrange:Horn, Tweeter: Horn, Great Speaker
    • Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 6.0
    Shootout: Kochel Horns
    • ZYX Omega x
    Shootout: Lyra Delos Sounding wrong in a lot of Frequency areas
    • ZYX Universe
    Shootout: Takeda Miyabi

Comments 6

Hello Syntax,
Can you please tell more about your experiences with the Köchel horns? How do you see them after all these years? Matching with low power single ended triodes under 10 W?


Hi nice array of equipment. You must have been investing for some years to build this 'reference'. I have a Basis 2500 which certainly give insight into what the debut is capable of. One thing that might be of interest is a dust-o-disc. Check it out I put it on the platter of my Basis to keep the dust of. At $35 its a bargain and very effective. 
I have the Titan i can you describe the differences between the Universe and the Titan i ?


Yes, it will be a more useful investment.


Thank you for your write up.  Sounds like Basis is the way to go.



well, are you prepared for the naked truth? Not everybody will be pleased when I write my impressions about some "Reference" units ....

The Kuzma was one of my biggest disappointments, it is not able to create a deep(er) soundstage. No matter what I made, it was like a wall a few yards in front of you where everything ended. Like a CD Player. A good example for High End Marketing where it is normal to give merits to something average (at best). Reference? The question is: For whom? Well, I kicked it out very fast.
The Basis is the opposite. Really, really good. Neutral from sonics, very clever made, a real reference Player. Very reliable and imo one of the very, very few well done Turntables. But the latest do not have the - replaceable - Armboards anymore (they reduced the profit). You have to buy it with a pre drill for one Arm and can't change later. I wouldn't buy that version. 


Amazing collection of audio gear you have!

I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on the Kuzma Reference and the Basis Debut Vacuum Signature?


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