One spring day years ago I wondered into a music store looking for the latest and greatest album at the time. Instead, I was treated to a demonstration of Klipsch K Horns powered by a pair of Mcintosh tube amps playing a piano conerto followed by a musician playing the same piece live. That, my friends is where the journey began.

The latest...

This has been a pretty large project getting to what you see here. I built my house around the sound room! I also did all the finish work in the sound room myself. The next one will be much easier! It's cost a fair amount of money and gray hair too but I feel it's cheaper than the professional therapy that I would have needed without the vast improvements the sound room has contributed.

If you ever come past Boise, stop by and we'll have a Koolaid and listen to the latest Marcel Marceau record.

Room Details

Dimensions: 26’ × 16’  Large
Ceiling: 10’

Components Toggle details

    • The Beat SE from KODO Audio
    My new Magdrive® table. A long time coming but worth it!
    • Rockport Technologies Lyra
    3.5 way speakers
    • CH Precision M1.1 monoblocks
    • Nordost Odin 2 wires
    Full loom
    • Schröder LT
    Pivoted Linear Tracking arm. Does what other linear tracking arms attempt to do, namely removing lateral loads on the stylus/cantilever!
    • Lyra Etna SL
    MC cartridge
    • CH Precision P1 phonostage and X1 power supply
    • CH Precision L1 linestage
    Used in the monoblock configuration, one box per side
    • Commonwealth Electronics 12A and 12D idler drive tables
    A VERY turntable
    • Garrard 301 Oil bearing Schedule 2
    Shown is one of my new platters for the 301. This table shows me just how much we have NOT advanced as far as turntables are concerned. Much like British sports cars, it has soul as well as a few quirks. A keeper to be sure.
    • Lyra Olympos
    This is one special cart. A legend.
    • ReQuest THE BEAST
    Full meal deal server
    • CH Precision C1 DAC
    • Equi=Tech Balanced power unit
    • Berning ZH1250's
    250 watt tubed mono block amps. I commissioned David Berning to work his magic into a high powered set of amps that could do it all. In short, he succeded.
    • Schröder Reference SQ 10
    A piece of art
    • Technics SP-10 MK 3
    Mounted in one of my custom plinths. Wish I would found this unit 25 years ago. Would have saved a lot of searching.
    • EMT 930st, 938, 948 and a 950
    German engineering that makes most tables look like Tinker Toys. I have replaced the original tonearms with the Ref and Tri-Planars. These tables are special indeed.
    • Fidelity Research FR-66s
    Tonearm & a work of art
    • DS Audio DS Master 1
    • Custom Stands
    Custom built. Solid as a rock. Dead quiet!

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Steve, thanks for such an informative answer. The Zu modded 103 I've loved since it first hit the grooves, and the stylus/cantilever upgrades since do take it into territory that top MCs exist in. Despite it's shortcomings, esp. detail retrieval and ultimate transparency, I really do believe it has the beating of the Orpheus in terms of dynamics, tone and o'all involvement.
Always struggled with most Lyras, esp. Skala and Helikon which really set my teeth on edge in the higher frequencies. OTOH, just LOVED the Parnassus, which had a fantastic, liquid tonality. Now, that's a cart I could settle for permanently, alas no more. The Titan I heard just didn't do it for me, the tonal balance a little skewed. Clearaudios too analytical, Benz's too coloured.
My tt/arm (direct rim drive/air bearing linear tracking) has pretty good adjustability for vtf/vta/azimuth, and I believe I'm right in saying the S'gauge has adjustments on the cart body for azimuth etc. My dealer says azimuth in particular critical installing this cart, and he would take most of a day dialling it in. So hopefully I'd get the best impression of it's capabilities.
I have to say with the most neutral analogue front end I've ever had, into the most transparent and dynamic spkrs I've ever had, I feel confident a super fast and truthful S'gauge may very well synergise nicely. Can you contribute further thoughts on how the cart settled into your system long term, and whether it's your cart of choice, or if not, what you tend to favour now (I know you love the Olympos).


Hi Steve, I'm about to audition the Soundsmith Straingauge. I'm going for the base SG-200 model, so will route via my pre existing Hovland HP200 tube preamp, no sweat.
What I'm finding interesting is that my previous cart champion, the Transfiguration Orpheus, is well beaten by my...ESCCo modded Zu Denon 103 (mods incl. Paratrace stylus and white sapphire cantilever)! At a third of the price, that is quite something. Like you I run the Zu Def4 spkrs, and there may be a v special synergy going on between the two most characterful transducers in the system, cart and spkrs, both Zu, the spkrs were voiced by Sean with special reference to the Zu 103.
Now, in comparison, I find the Orpheus to be uninvolving, and overly neutral ie boring. But I'm aware the Zu 103 is not the last word in top to bottom eveness, transparency or esp. detail retrieval. Not totally taken by many top MCs I've listened to incl Lyra Titan, various Clearaudios, Benzs etc.
My question is, on the audio spectrum does the S'gauge fit more with the uber neutral, clinical Orpheus, or more on the uber dynamic and involving Zu 103, or is it in a totally separate class? And how does it synergise with your Zu Def4 spkrs?
Your advice is really appreciated.