Having had, for decades, a dining room in which I never dined, I finally decided a while back to turn it into a dedicated 2-channel space. One of the great advantages of being a single person is not having to ask permission. I got a good price for the dining room table on Craigslist, and then had Sandtown Millworks in Baltimore build me a one-of-a-kind audio table. I had some nice mid-fi components before essentially losing my mind (and espousing the "we're all gonna be a long time dead" point of view) and deciding to dip my toes into the high end. Granted, it's just one of the bottom rungs of the high-end ladder, but it's as high as I need, or intend, to go. And I couldn't be more pleased with what I'm hearing.
The only change I envision for the next several years is to try an LOMC cart on the MoFi deck. Not because I'm not pleased with the AT 740, which both my ears and the folks at MoFi have told me is a very good match for the Ultradeck, but because I know that Keith Herron's phono stage isn't breaking a sweat running a 47 load MM and I'm curious as to what it would be capable of on the MC side, for which it comes with a wide selection of RCA loading plugs. I'm inclined toward either the Hana SL or the AT-ART9, but of course, they ain't giving either of of them away.
Even though about 80% of my listening is to the analog side, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Yamaha 2100 SACD/CDP has been a revelation. It replaced a very capable and admittedly, much less expensive, Marantz 6006, but the difference was immediate and stunning. The Yamaha is a beast at nearly 35 lbs., but a beautiful one, with silver fascia and piano black real wood side panels. It's got an excellent 32-bit ESS DAC and the sound is crisp, clear, bright (in the good way) and resolving from top to bottom with none of the harshness or shrillness often associated with the digital side of the house. If you're in the market for a spinner, audition this one with Bela Fleck's "Live Art" or Ronnie Earl's "Grateful Heart: Blues & Ballads." Or perhaps on SACD: Norah's "Come Away With Me" or The Floyd's "Dark Side..." or "Wish You Were Here."
Since I'm talking about music, I'll mention some LPs currently in heavy rotation:
- MoFi's insanely good 45 rpm remaster of Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms." As I said (smugly) to an audio buddy before I played it for him, "You think you've heard 'Brothers I Arms.' You have not. You think you know what Mark intended on the album. You do not." Yup; it's that good.
- QRP and The Mastering Lab's brilliant remix of Patricia Barber's "Café Blue." Never imagined I'd be blown away by a cover of "Ode To Billy Joe," but there you have it.
- QRP and Analog Production's "The Wonderful Sounds of Female Vocals." A "must-own."
- QRP and Analog Production's phenomenal remaster of The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds." I bought my first (crap) copy in 1967; 52 years later, I felt as though I finally understood what Brian was trying to say. Glorious.
And no need to waste your time raving about the Pass Labs unit, except to say, it's just stupid good.
Enjoy the tunes.