The System is built around the philosophy that everything matters. Everything either contributes or detracts, and no one single component is any more or less important than any other. Even details as small as where a component goes or how the wire is routed make a difference you can hear. Everything matters.
The System is also built around the philosophy that the ideal component does nothing. The perfect component does not sound a certain way. It does not impart, it does not detract. It is not there at all.
This is why The System looks the way it does. It is extremely difficult to make a rack as good as no rack, ie the floor. A rack puts everything up high closer to ear level and reflects sound more because its all in one block. So The System is mostly on the floor, and with components at differing height and spacing the components diffuse more than reflect. This also provides for shorter and more direct cabling with greater isolation between signal and power cables.
The Solution Turntable rack is the result of extensive testing and comparing and shows the extent one must go to be better than the floor. Its as low as it can be for comfort, and as close to center as it can be for the screen. It could not be much closer anyway, and by happy coincidence happens to be in a bit of a bass null zone- not that acoustic energy is likely to have much effect on 700+ pounds of solid granite and concrete!
The System is dual use. The frame around the screen is a custom Miller creation, identical in dimensions to and covered with the exact same incredibly light absorbing black velvet fabric as the Stewart Filmscreen frame. At 92x52 it provides nearly the same apparent viewing size as seated a little further back than the middle of a typical movie theater.
The single biggest factor in video quality is contrast, and ambient light is the single biggest challenge with projectors. The upper walls and ceiling are a neutral gray for accurate colors, while a darker fabric and carpet combine with window shutters to control ambient light. Most of the light then comes from the screen itself. Direct side by side comparisons show the Grayhawk screen performs much better than a white screen in ambient light.
Stewart Marcantoni taught me it all begins at the wall. The System begins with 4 ga wire at the panel. This 4 ga brings 240v power to a step-down transformer located just beneath the system. Now at 120v, it is only about 5 ft from the Medusa power center. The step-down transformer and Medusa are both grounded to the same ground rod the same 5 feet from the system. Power wire is all cryogenically treated.
Pure silver wire Swiss transformer, 240v to 120v. Plates, bolts, and all terminals treated with Total Contact. Mounted on BDR Cones in a 2" thick MDF cabinet with one Perfect Path Solutions Omega E-mat. Dedicated copper ground.
Miller Medusa Power Center
The Medusa power center is built on a custom Black Diamond Racing Black Beauty Shelf. Incoming power from 4 ga copper is hard-wired direct to a Jungson transformer with filter caps. Point to point Audio Consulting pure silver wire connects the Jungson to Oyaide and Synergistic Research Blue outlets strategically located on the four faces allowing short direct power to components from the centrally located Medusa.
Two Synergistic Research Michael Spallone modified MPCs are also hard wired in silver.
Two Synergistic Research Michael Spallone modified Tesla MPCs hardwired in silver to an additional Audio Consulting silver isolation transformer.
3/4" MDF mitered pyramid cabinet. MPC transformers and all connections treated with Total Contact.
Dedicated copper ground.
Miller Carbon Turntable
Based on the Teres Audio turntable bearing, platter, and Verus Rim Drive Motor, the Carbon features a Black Diamond Racing carbon fiber plinth, arm base, and feet. The brass bearing screws directly into a large 4" diameter by 1.25" thick threaded BDR carbon fiber nut for extreme rigidity and vibration control. The Teres bearing is modified with a silicon carbide bearing and tungsten carbide thrust plate. The Verus motor is modified with a BDR Source Shelf base, Cones, and mini-Pits.
Miller carbon fiber record clamp together with the carbon fiber washer clamps records so secure and flat that when released it takes a second for the record to pop loose, as if held down by vacuum.
One Synergistic ECT and One Perfect Path Solutions E-Card on the motor. 2 ECT and 2 Orange fuses in the motor controller. The motor controller umbilical is modified with Active Shielding added using another Spallone modified MPC. The Verus motor controller is on BDR Cones and Round Things, with a BDR Shelf on top. Internal connections, caps, transformers and other parts treated with Total Contact.
Origin Live Conqueror Tone Arm
2007 Conqueror. Leads modified with Active Shielding using Michael Spallone modified Synergistic Research MPC with upgraded caps and diodes hard wired. One Synergistic Research PHT on the arm, 2 ECT on the arm base.
Koetsu Black Goldline
0.4 mV output MC cartridge with body lightly painted with Total Contact, and with one SR Green Dream and one Black Beauty PHT. Pins and leads treated with Total Contact.
Herron Audio VTPH-2A Phono Stage
2018 Herron VTPH-2A phono stage with Synergistic Research Orange Fuse, 3 ECT, 2 Perfect Path Solutions Stop-Its, and all tube pins, transformers, and other items treated with Total Contact.
Miller Solution Turntable Rack
The Solution to turntable vibration control is a modular component rack. Top and bottom shelves are solid reinforced 4" thick concrete with a 2" deep sand bed cast into them. The middle component rack is 2" thick concrete. Legs of polished ABS are filled with concrete, with threaded inserts cast into them. Bottom footers incorporate BDR Cones and are height adjustable for leveling. Assembled on site due to its over 700 lbs total weight The Solution is bolted together for extreme rigidity. The granite machinists plate rests on a 2" deep sand bed.
Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria (Level3) Interconnect
2m Euphoria, grounded to dedicated Earth ground with all connections treated with Total Contact and supported with ceramic insulators.
Melody I880 Tube Integrated Amp
Melody I880 with 4 JJ KT-88, 4 Sovtek 6SN7, and one D100 rectifier tube. Modified with one pair of input RCA converted to pre-out. The factory feet are removed. Three BDR Those Things on the inside of the bottom cover are screwed together through the bottom plate with three Round Things, with the cover sandwiched between them, and with a Cone screwed into the bottom of each. The Cones are supported on Round Things on top of a Shelf, Cones, 150 lb granite plate, and Cones.
All tube pins and connections treated with Total Contact. SR Orange Fuse and 3 ECT. One pair Stop Its.
Synergistic Research Element Copper Tungsten Silver Speaker Cable
8 ft Element CTS with spades and Michael Spallone modified Tesla MPCs hard wired into the Medusa power conditioner with in-line Audio Consulting pure silver isolation transformer. All connections and transformer surfaces treated with Total Contact. Supported with Cable Elevators and ceramic insulators.
Talon Loudspeakers Khorus X
Talon Khorus with X crossover upgrade treated with Total Contact and Perfect Path E-cards. Synergistic Research Speaker Kit HFT treatment. On BDR Cones and Round Things.
Talon Loudspeakers Roc Subwoofer
Self powered dual 12" drivers in an isobaric design cabinet. On BDR Cones with Total Contact on all connections.
Dayton Audio SA-1000
2 Dayton subwoofer amps. Each one drives two 10" subs, wired in series for 16 ohms. Transformers, caps, resistors and all connections treated with Total Contact. Perfect Path Stop-Its on unused RCAs. Amps stack on each other with BDR Cones.
Miller Morel Subwoofers
A Distributed Bass Array comprised of 2 Morel 10" drivers in sealed cabinets and 2 in ported cabinets. All covered in stained Rosewood veneer.
Black Diamond Racing Shelf for the Source, Shelf, Cones, Those Things, Round Things
Every single component in The System is on BDR Cones- including even parts like the Audio Consulting transformers, Talon Khorus crossover networks, and the Medusa Power Center. Most components, such as the speakers, amp, phono stage, and turntable, are also on Round Things.
The Miller Carbon is on a Source Shelf with Cones and Round Things on both sides.
The phono stage and amp are on a Shelf with Round Things and Cones on both sides.
The Verus motor controller is on Cones and Pits. The Verus motor itself is mounted in a Source Shelf, its factory rubber feet replaced with Cones and Pits.
All the subs, subwoofer amps, and the CD player are on Cones.
Synergistic Research HFT, ECT, PHT, and Orange Fuses
Level 2 HFT Room Treatment. Several ECT on Melody, Herron, Verus motor, and motor controller, and Conqueror arm. Two Green Dream and one Black Beauty PHT on the arm and cartridge. Orange Fuses in Melody, Herron, and Verus motor controller.
Perfect Path Solutions Omega E Mat
Several, located on the main electrical panel, Audio Consulting step down transformer, Talon Khorus speakers, and Medusa Power Center.
Perfect Path Solutions E-Cards
Located on the Medusa, SR Atmosphere interconnect, Verus motor, Herron phono stage, Talon crossovers, breaker panel, and Dayton amps.
Cable Elevators Ceramic Insulators
Cable Elevators together with ceramic insulators on stands support all wire above the floor and maintain spacing minimizing field interference.
Synergistic Research Power cords
Resolution Reference .5 and Master Coupler power cords to the Herron and Oppo.
Shunyata Research Cobra
Power cord to the Melody integrated.
Electraglide Fat Boys
2 Fat Boy 2 foot power cords to the Daytons.
OPPO Modded DVD Player
Extensively modified player on BDR Cones, with BDR Shelf and dive weights on top.
Sony VPL HW40ES Projector
Ceiling mounted. With 10m cryo'd Cobalt HDMI.
Stewart Filmscreen Grayhawk Screen
Viewable 92x50 screen mounted in custom black velvet screen frame.
Miller Window Shutters
Half inch MDF window shutters for shutting out sound and light.
Miller Solid Core Door
With weather stripping for sound control.
Miller Corner Tunes
Owens Corning acoustic panels covered in Art Deco designer fabric for acoustic control in corners where walls meet ceiling and ceiling and walls come together.
Radio Shack Bulk Tape Eraser
Powerful handheld demagnetizer for demagnetizing records and cables, and charging Omega E Mats.
Macintosh MacBook Pro
When used for movies, sits on top of the Oppo, with one ECT and one E-Card. Video out to projector via HDMI adaptor. Audio out to the integrated via mic to RCA adaptor.
This system was done like most others, one piece at a time depending on what was needed, around, and affordable. A lot of the tweaks were added after hearing about them from fellow audiophiles, just like you're doing now. Synergistic HFT, ECT were I think David Pritchard, then a bunch of others leading up to Krissy, David Hannant, and Rixthetrick. Some of it like BDR was absolutely random, running into a guy who had some, hearing how fabulous it was. Nothing even remotely close at the time. But times change. When Rick turned me on to springs they were not only way better but way cheaper. David Hannant turned me onto Townshend Pods, which are way better still.
So would I do it the same? Not likely. But don't take that the wrong way. Very, very few regrets with any of the stuff I've had over the years. Its just you never really do anything the same twice, right?
I did consider the Be tweeter but never very seriously simply because the strength of the design is the coherent "as one" midrange coming from all those identical drivers. For sure a different tweeter will have a different signature and so I was already thinking that even before teajay told me the same thing. I try and take helpful advice from experienced listeners whenever I can and so he made that one easy decision.
About the only thing I might do different would be either all of them Be, or go Ulf. But that's dreaming. Really, really happy with these. Would probably have to have one of the others in my room side by side to say. Even then it would be hard, mine have been tweaked, probably better already than those others would be in stock form- at least in some ways - but who knows, really?
The rack and turntable I built, those are about as close to a masterpiece as I will ever get. Whole lot of thought and planning went into them. Still very happy even after nearly 20 years so guess it was worth it.
Turntables, I was lucky. Teres was direct sales and DIY, such value, never seen anything like it since. Can't think of anything exact to recommend, except how I would approach it. I would look for as good a table as I could afford, then put a relatively inexpensive workhorse arm on it. Venerable RB300 something like that. With a plan to upgrade to a really good arm. If not Origin Live, then another arm with integral phono leads. After my experience with Graham I am convinced you lose so much in the phono lead connections its not worth it. Not to mention you have to spend a lot on a phono interconnect.
Then if you do this look into modding it to Active Shielding. This is huge! Between that and fO.q tape its like a significantly expensive upgrade for hardly anything. Think $5k arm for under $500. Seriously. The beauty of this is you could get a budget table like you're talking and do this and have a $5k table for $1500, something like that. Put on Townshend Pods, you would not believe.
Those Decware amps are supposed to be super liquid deep and detailed. Very high value. My kind of gear. Get Walker Enzyme record cleaner. Buy the refills, not the kit, use your own brush or even just a 100% cotton towel. Superior cleaning for peanuts that way. I use the VPI to vacuum off the final rinse. But you could do just as good with a pile of clean 100% cotton towels by folding and rolling so only perfectly clean fabric touches the record.
Thanks for the compliments. Come back and let me know how it goes?
One last comment, for you and all, there is an amazing tech that was invented in the 1950's to keep nuclear subs underwater and the crew healthy. It is called a Pulsor. It can be worn on the body, used as a tool, and has an application for the power box as it enters the home or apartment. You will see on the Pulsor site the power conditioners. They can also be placed around the room UNWIRED, as a solo device just sitting there. You'll be more than amazed. A house with one on the box, and a few treatment discs tossed in corners here and there, or 4 in the listening room, will make the place feel like you're inside a faraday cage, and have had 1000 monks chanting for 20 years. What it does is convert clockwise (aging the human body and mind) spinning electrical smog of all kinds and size, into counterclockwise spinning (anti-aging, brain/mind enhancing) dynamic. This esoteric tool changes things... I've used them since 1977.
Hi, Wonderful stuff, reminds a bit of Mother-of-tone thinking process. I wonder if you can give a bit of advice, as I'm in NY. I have Decware 2 watt tube amp, Havana tube dac, Decware up-firing radial speakers, Tekton OB 4.5's with dual powered subs, and all of Decware's wiring. I am about to upgrade to the Decware Zen Mystery amp, similar to your amp, tubes with 2 resistors, that has a 500 volt power supply that allegedly makes the closest thing to DC sound plugged into AC. Also have a set of Tekton Moabs in the checkout before I saw your setup. Great minds think alike, I'm 47 years at this too, starting with buying my high school choir's used system of Fisher tube amp/FM tuner, left/right/center massive cabinet speakers, and AR turntable in 1974.
Amazing how close the Decware amp, radials, interconnects, wall plugs, speaker wires, and power cords seem compared to your setup, and the radials present similar to your pyramidal speakers, and pair so well with the Moabs.
My questions: Do you think adding a single Be tweeter to the Moabs at the center point between to two flowers would help? or leave them all silk? Would you use the same racks, tweakers, cards, wire cards, isolators, etc if you did it all over again? Do you have any experience with a streamer for things like Tidal with MQA? I've had to stream lately, as my system is short a record player, and will likely stay low-priced when I buy one, yet have tons of records, if you have a suggestion for lower price turntable. Planning to try as many of your ideas as I can. Appreciate your work, time, and that you humbly share your efforts with all of us.
Hi Chuck, quite an impressive system! I'm sure you've heard other systems at audio shows, or at friends home. How would you rate your sound quality, on a scale of one to ten? I'm wondering about your Tekton speakers. Not having heard them, can't be sure, but I think you may be able to upgrade to something better. Rocky
Keith (ksnel331) and Deborah were here back on Sept 5th. They posted their reviews on my Tekton Moab thread, and I somehow neglected to copy them over, so here they are now:
First and foremost I want to thank Chuck for inviting us into his home
to listen to these fabulous speakers; and also to see his well thought
out listening room.
The first thing that came to my mind when I saw
the Moabs was; Wow these are so big...is the sound going to be
overpowering for the room size? I was also concerned that the DBA would sound confusing. Within the first minute both of my concerns vanished.
imaging was so good that I felt like the vocalist was performing right
in front of me and that I could reach out and touch them. Chuck
played a variety of genres so I was able to hear several different
instruments and they all sounded very distinct...even the Piano! Personally I like Bass and the Bass that came from the Moabs was clear, distinct, and not muddy. I also want to comment on Chucks array of Sub Woofers. He has 5 that are staggered around the perimeter of the room. Overall, the Bass in his room was very good and clear sounding.
the middle of one song (I had my eyes closed) ,Chuck took the cables
off the Cable Elevators; I immediately heard the sound become distorted
I appreciate the time Chuck spent answering all of my questions. The Moabs are definitely at the top of my List, and of course WAF 100%! The hardest part of this purchase will be choosing the color!
Keith's review: Ditto
on thanks to Chuck and excellent wine by the way. Hope you enjoy the
Crown Royal Black but don't worry that's my personal taste. As far as
sound quality we are in total agreement. Your system is fantastic. If it
weren't for a two hour drive I would have let you keep on spinning
As far as the Moabs, a no brainer for me. Ordering a pair like
yours on Tuesday in a custom color of Deborah's choice. Also ordering
four subs and she has also figured out where she wants them in the room.
listening impression was all the detail and nuances were presented to
my ears in a most unique way. Unique to me because it was so far above
any system I had heard including the last set of Monitor Audio Gold with
a Prima Luna Integrated. I enjoyed hearing everything but was most
shocked at Fleetwood Macs "Landslide" Hearing it so many times in the
past and then not recognizing the intro because of the detailed
soundstage. Then Chuck let Stevie Nicks sneak into the room and begin
the vocals dead center right in front of me and the recognition set in.
To sum it up I was more than impressed. Anyone that can take advantage of Chuck's generosity should do so.
Beautiful setup. "pinwa" stopped by my place to hear my Moabs, before stopping by to hear yours. He sent me the link to your system here.
I went with the Be tweeter upgrade. I see your Moabs have the Wavcore drivers as opposed to the Scanspeak, mine do as well. Eric said they were "just as good", I hope that is true.
I find the highs to be very detailed, but "timid" for lack of a better way to put, I guess you could just say quiet. Do you find yours to be that way at all? I wonder if it might be related to the Be tweeter, it is wired out of phase with the rest of the "tweeter" drivers (which makes sense). I would assume your tweeter doesn't need to be out of phase, being the same driver.
pinwa came by the other day. His review in full follows:
Thank you again for spending the afternoon with me and letting me listen to your system. Honestly, the experience was a little overwhelming. Your system sounds so different from what I have and from what I was expecting. I'm still trying to process what I heard and I should have asked you more questions about what I thought I was hearing.
Clearly, there is a massive, detailed soundstage. But the bass was so much more intense than what I think of as normal and I have no idea if that is because I don't know how it should sound or 5 subwoofers is overpowering for me. I wish I had thought to ask if you could turn the subwoofers off to see how the Moabs present by themselves.
Your normal listening volumes are much louder than what I'm accustomed to and that was a little overwhelming/distracting and I should have asked you to lower them so it would compare more closely that what I do at home. And the midrange/vocal presence is huge. Listening to them at your place I thought it might be too much but coming back home and listening to my 1.7's and one subwoofer I found myself missing that big full round sound your system has.
I wonder how much of that is the Melody amp and how much the various tweaks you made. And I think that sound is also characteristic of vinyl and I have no intention of adding a turntable no matter how good it sounds. While I was there I found myself wanting a dryer more clinical presentation but listening to my system just now there seems to be so much missing that was present in your system.
I've really been struggling to figure out how to characterize my experience and I think it is a little bit like the first time you taste a new flavor of food or wine. I don't even know how to evaluate its "goodness" because my palette, or in this case ear, is so uneducated. Your system is so radically different from anything I've heard before, even the other set of Moabs I heard, that I feel like I need to educate myself more about what I might have been hearing.
After my Moabs come, and I've had a chance to fine tune them in my system, I would be really interested to come back and give your system another listen if that is something you would be open to. Also, that last track we listened to was by Jennifer Warnes? Do you remember the title of the album or song?
Thanks again for a wonderful and educational experience.
I had something like that jchiappinelli but in my case it was a big thick blanket. Can't post a link but if you look at theanalogdept dotcom in the Systems Gallery you will find pictures of my system from back in 04. There was a TV between the speakers covered with a thick blanket because without the blanket it did very slightly degrade imaging. Even though it was well behind the speakers.
Now the TV is gone, the screen (and wall) are almost 3 feet further back than the TV screen was. The yellow panels are Owens Corning 703 acoustic panels. Several were moved around for testing. So I've heard it every which way. That's how I know the screen being there is not a problem.
Still, there's options, one of which is a motorized cinema curtain. Another is a retractable screen, or acoustically transparent screen, either of which would allow me to put a diffuser panel there. But every time I think of that I realize there's at least a dozen things I could do that will be even better, and so down the list they go. But, you never know. Someday....
Not a criticism, but i thought one of the cardinal rules of acoustics was to avoid flat reflective surfaces on the front wall between the speakers. I built a removable 4' x 6' diffusion panel which covers my TV screen when not in use. Something to consider if everything matters, no?
Very nice, indeed. The attention to every detail is amazing(and, frankly, a little scary! Your wife must have the patience of Job...) As I was perusing through your pictures, the turntable caught my eye and gave me a spark of recognition. Now as I read your commentary I see why. I am lucky enough to own a Chris Brady built Teres Audio Model 245 in African Bubinga with lead-filled plinth but without the leaded platter. I don’t want to hijack this thread, but I could use some practical advice about my table-arm-cartridge situation...involving a cartridge stylus decapitation ( presumably by our housekeeper ). I now am the proud owner of a needle-less Grado The Statement and wondering which way to go...
Good catch. Originally bought for CDs, its now used on records. In both cases when used just before playing it improves SQ. The effect is temporary and not great, lasting only 20 minutes or so. For that short time though its a bit more liquid and deep.
The XLO Test CD demagnetizing tracks are used regularly and they treat the whole system- except for the cartridge, phono leads, phono stage, and their power cords. One day I decided to try the Shack on those and wound up doing all the wires. Once again the effect is not huge but its there, and temporary.
So its used on every record, every side. And for those special occasions like a White Hot Stamper the Shack glides over everything for that last little bit of extra special.
Research shows the lowest frequencies do not even register on human hearing until as much as a full wavelength. The lowest frequencies then travel 40 to 50 feet or more before we even hear them. Given the dimensions of most rooms this means the bass can go back and forth all the way across the room before we even hear it. Timing is not an issue.
My subs are run line level. The Melody did not come with pre-out. System description includes pictures of how this was modified to create a line out for the subs.
The Miller Carbon turntable is an original design based on the Teres Audio bearing, platter, and Verus motor drive designs of Chris Brady. Its a one-off.
I've had the Talons a long time, since before 2004 for sure. They've been extensively upgraded over the years. First with the X-crossover, mounted on BDR Cones. The speakers are of course on BDR Cones and Round Things. Now they are further upgraded with fo.Q tape on the frames and gaskets. All the crossover components, speaker baskets, magnets, internal wiring and fo.Q tape is coated with TC, and nearly half the internal wiring is wrapped in Mats. They are of course treated with a full Synergistic Research Speaker Kit each. The performance upgrade from all these seemingly minor tweaks is astounding. These are nothing like any Talons you ever heard before. You are welcome any time.