Room total dimensions: 12.416’ back wall behind speakers, 2’ from left speaker outer edge to short hallway, fireplace angled wall (to right of right speakers) is 5.67’, adjacent wall is 9.75’ long, 9.583’ to front edge of sofa (soundstage middle sweat spot), 16.25’ to front of kitchen island behind sofa, 25.166’ from component rack front edge to kitchen backsplash, 10’ ceiling in living room, 8’ ceiling starts at kitchen island. Not the most ideal dimensions (certainly not the golden dimension custom sound room these speakers once occupied); however, there is little reflection issues (helps that wall paint is matte finish).
Apogee Acoustics Duetta Signature Series II Magnetostatic Speakers
My dad was the original owner who bought these speakers in 1988. Since the early 90’s I have coveted these speakers and looked forward to one day inheriting them. To me ears they are the best sounding speakers I have every heard. I acquired them recently. Zero buzz. They sound as good as the day they were bought. Actually better. I’ve always favored their very organic, wall of sound energy (if that makes any sense). I think I got lucky and have the optimal core system built for these speakers.
Balanced Audio Technology VK-5i
Preamp bought ~2 months ago in mint, practically new condition with the coveted VK-R3 billet aluminum remote.
Balanced Audio Technology VK-600 with BAT Pack
Bought on Audiogon ~2 months ago in near mint condition.
Jason Bloom match recommended specifically for the Duettas.
Silnote Audio Morpheus Reference II
XLR to XLR interconnects between amp and preamp; XLR to native RCA between preamp to audio streamer. Crisp, neutral imaging, large soundstage, tight bass are hallmarks of Duetta’s and strong attributes of Silnote’s interconnects sound signature.
Bluesound Node 2
Great streamer with built-in DAC for the money.
Sanus Systems EFA31 component rack
MHDT Laboratory Orchid
With upgraded “classic” sound category Tung-Sol 2C51 DAC tube installed.
Silnote Audio Morpheus Reference Classic digital coaxial interconnect
I’ll add, Terry, who wrote the 6Moons review of the Orchid gave me his phone number to further discuss future tube options for when I feel like playing around with its sound. I’ll let you know what I find out.
Wow is all I can. The Orchid was a bit bright, as expected, out of the box yesterday. I was also using a brand new Silnote Audio digital coax cable. It still sounded noticeably better than the Node2’s DAC in every category. Listening to it today is just astounding. The brightness is already gone. Jiun, the chief designer at Orchid, told me to expect about 7 days for it to fully break-in and no need to leave it on all the time for optimal sound quality (tube). Break-in is only needed for the 14 caps surrounding the TDA1541A. Silnote Audio’s CEO told me yesterday that the cable only needs about 48 hours to break-in fully. He also said their speaker cables, “classic” in particularly, are now the reference for Magnepan. Magnepan recommends them to all of their customers. Great milestone for them. I have their entry level interconnects and power cables and couldn’t be more happy. Highly recommend them to everyone. Same goes for MHDT’s Orchid and their main U.S dealer Linear Tube Audio. All provided exemplary customer service and answered all of my questions thoroughly and in a very timely manner.
Agreed. I’m expecting a solid month of playing before I expect it will be mostly, if not completely, broken in. I bought it new. I don’t think the used tract is viable with the Orchid. They seem to be hard to find and are not much less than new.
I bet you'll be a happy camper! Let us know how it goes... may need 100 -150 hours of break in to settle in, unless you bought it used, but even then I'd let it run in for 48 hours before making judgement.
I’ll let you know how I like the MHDT Orchid. I bought it a few days ago with the upgraded Tung-Sol 2C51 tube along with a Silnote Audio digital RCA cable. Both are scheduled to deliver on Monday. It will feel like Christmas morning on Monday!
I don't own the MHDT DAC, but others on Audiogon whose opinions I respect speak highly of the Orchid... and at around $1,000, it would be the primary DAC I'd consider if I were in the market at that price range. I agree with your sentiment of experimenting with tubes in search of the classic sound vs. modern. That's the great thing about tube DAC's in that you can tweak the sound inexpensively by experimenting with NOS tubes.
Interesting you mention the MHDT Orchid. I zeroed-in on that tube unit. I also considered the MyTek Liberty, but then talked to MHDT and figured out as long as I use RCAs (analog out being key) the Node2 will perform the MQA decoding prior to sending to the DAC. Do you have the Orchid? If so, have you done any upgrades with the tubes or chip? Their lead designer thinks it’s best to leave alone since it was an early design where some capacitors are built around the td1541a. I am looking at buying it with the upgrade Tung-Sol 2C51 tubes. Want the “classic” sound as opposed to the “modern” sound one gets with the JJ6386 tubes, for example.
Beautiful room and nice selection of gear... but you need a good external DAC for your Bluesound streamer! I have Bluesound Vault 2 and it's DAC is not so good... do yourself a favor and buy a decent external DAC, connected via optical cable. MHDT Orchid is about $1K new.
I thought about toe-in, but I held off. My listening seat is much closer than I would like. I miss when my dad had them setup in a golden ratio listening room he had built in WA state. The acoustics were amazing to where a particular Trifonic song emanated from 10 o’clock from the wall behind you (never heard that effect anywhere else). One of the brothers that created the album was impressed and wasn’t sure how he was able to produce the engineering (himself), out of happenstance. Trifonic - Emergence (album).
As far as the mask providence I need to check. My dad collects museum quality African art that originally served it ceremonial purpose. I’ll ask him again and let you know. He was in the Peace Corp in Niger in the 60’s. He has extensive knowledge of Africa. He recognizes specific languages/dialects and every once in a while startles visiting Africans in the Santa Fe area when he speaks their language :).
I’ll certainly share my playlists with you. My style is to amass and then listen with these particular playlists due to their sheer size. I’ve also got a recently constructed ECM-centric playlist of around 5,300 songs (and running) I’ll share with you. Let me know how you like them. I’ve got many other playlists with similar scale I’ll share once I get an idea of what your ears specifically levitate towards.
Thanks all for your recent posts. I’ll update once I get my speakers restored/upgraded with new Graz ribbons, magnet realignment, new glossy charcoal paint job and possibly additional internal bracing at the end of this year (likely leaving the internal crossovers alone this time around). I have added additional Silnote power cables with just the stock BAT amp power cables left. I’m also planning to add a tube MHDT Orchid DAC. It doesn’t do MQA decoding, but since I’ll be using analog output (RCA to balanced XLR) the Node2 will do the decoding prior to sending it to the DAC.
Good system. I ran Duetta IIs for a long time. Be sure to toe then so the bass & tweeter ribbons are equidistant from your ears, and you may want to try the tweeters to the outside if you are far from the speakers.
It’s definitely nice to hear that you too have a pair of these great speakers. It’s a very addictive sound. I have not even an inkling to change speakers. One day I’ll spend the $5k to get them upgraded and “modernized”. Do you have your system posted here?
Matt. Very nice rig. I've been listening to my stock Apogee Duetta Sigs since 1991. I've changed everything around them, but the Sigs keep singing beautifully. I have Bel Canto monoblocks, BAT VK-42 preamp, Marantz 15S1, and MMF-7 table. It's good to know that Apogees are still out there and being rebuilt.
I really appreciate the in-depth analysis. I’m sold. I’m so in love with the profile of my system that I am convinced that the Duettas with a modern upgrade will hold its own with any system available at most any price point. Now I just need to get it budgeted and pull the trigger. Thanks again!
Hello Matt, Nice setup. For what it’s worth I have heard good things about Bill Thalman and would love to hear a pair of his full rebuilds someday, my guess is they would be very impressive.
On the other hand I have been using Rich at True Sound Works for my Apogee rebuilds for over 10 years. I had him do a complete rebuild of my stock Duetta Signatures first and found them to be truly fantastic. I had been listening to the stock Duetta Sigs for several years and thoroughly enjoyed them as I was fortunate to have a pair in very good condition [and] with no bass buzz.
After their rebuild they were nothing less than sensational. Call me crazy but I was later presented with an opportunity to try Diva Ultimates which, as impressive as their potential was, simply overwhelmed my moderately sized listening room (13’x17.5’x8.5’) as their incredibly powerful bass could not be tamed. Finally I came essentially full circle, returning to my [ room-size-appropriate] Duetta Signatures but this time as Duetta Ultimates which I highly, highly recommend. Everything you love about your Duetta is naturally enhanced with an effortlessness that is breathtaking. Over the years I have fed them both high powered tube monoblocs as well as high powered solid state amplification and these speakers just open up and let the best characteristics of each glow with their very best attributes. You can hear the tube amps embrace you like a graceful ballerina live on stage before you or the grip and speed of solid state amaze you with the precision and dynamics of an Olympic gymnast...
The speakers are stunning and I’m 100% convinced you would agree.
Much appreciated. I’m now considering moving towards upgrading the Apogees to either Duetta Ultimates via True Sound Works Audio (Graz ribbons with stronger magnets for even lower bass) or upgrading with all Graz ribbons that includes replacing all of the acoustic foam (that is surely deteriorated) and tuning the ribbons to a precision that wasn’t available when the original Apogee existed (as well as replacing the magnets) via Bill Thalmann at Music Technology. The Ultimates are described as Duettas on steroids whereas the latter is updated and better than the original parts. but true to the original signature sound of the Duettas. A bit of a dilemma for sure!
Thanks all for the compliments. I haven’t dove down the vinyl rabbit hole yet :). My next step is looking at replacing my power cables with Silnote Poseidon GLs. I’m still trying to wrap my head around power cables. Always a measure of ear return on investment. Until recently it sounded a little crazy that they could have a sizeable impact on sound.