Description

I haven't updated my system here in Audiogon for 5 years so here's the current. With Covid-19 I found myself listening to a lot of music at home, while not doing a lot of trades. It's time to truly enjoy the music! Being classical and jazz only, the LFD and Harbeth combo is perfect. I've been exploring a lot of digital streamers last year and I settled with Allo USBridge Sig and Wyred4Sound DAC. Love the sound. 

See my details in the components and some stories behind it. Room treatment and Dedicated power made a huge diff also. My basement is now extremely quiet in suburb Toronto area which I keep below 30db. Perfect way to enjoy music. 

Hope everyone stay home and stay healthy. We'll get through this together with the music we love!
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Room Details

Dimensions: 12’ × 20’  Medium
Ceiling: 7’


Components Toggle details

    • Harbeth C7ES-3 40th Anniversary
    People say they fall in love with Harbeth. I'm one of them.

    C7ES-2, then C7ES-3, and when I saw them started doing the 40th Anniversary versions, I was patiently waiting for the Compact 7 to be part of it. They definitely were trying me, cause it was the very last one to have the Anniversary version, after P3, 30.2, 40.2, and SHL5.

    I was probably the first one to order it from the Toronto dealer (Planet of Sound, great people). Waited a couple of months and picked up in a cold winter afternoon. Patient pays off!!! The Tamo Ash is stunning. It's not a substantial improvement to the normal version but the changes are noticeable in a good way. Yeah I know, owning this and paying the premium does contain some sentimental emotion here but knowing I'll keep it for a long time. It's a worthwhile investment.
    • LFD Mark IV Signature
    It's like a love story here. I have always heard of how great LFD matches with Harbeth so when my local deal Audio Eden had a unit I didn't think twice.

    It was a great amp and all the praises are 100% true. Then I got greedy....

    ... I upgraded to NCSE Mark II. It's like double the price. I was so happy when I got it. 

    And you know what? For some reason I prefer the Mark IV Sig more. The NCSE II is another great amp but for some reason in my room I prefer the Mark IV's sound signature more. I'd say NCSE it more accurate but somewhat cold. Mark IV is warmer and more to my taste.

    So there you have it. I kept the Mk IV and sold the NCSE. It has since stayed with me and it's gonna stay with me for a long long time.
    • VPI Industries Scout
    The Scout is reliable, quiet and I've been having it for a long time. I didn't have enough time to enjoy vinyl so no reason for upgrade these days.

    As an aside, one of the thing about VPI table is no cover. I got a drawing from someone and I went with a plastic crafter to make one for me. We didn't have 3D-printer back in the day, or else I'd love to try. See pic.
    • Dynavector DV-10X5
    The DV-10X5 is a great match with VPI table and the JMW-9 arm. Once you set it up right, years of enjoyment.
    • LFD MMC
    Well, after I got the LFD Mark IV Signature... it's hard not to match the phono pre with another LFD. Lucky my local deal Audio Eden had one. Did not disappoint at all. Warm sound, great reliable phono.
    • VPI Industries HW-16.5
    If you listen to vinyl you owe it to yourself a vacuum based record cleaning machine. Not only it keeps your record clean, the improvement in sound is unbelievable. Hearing is believing. It might look expensive but it's a great investment if you're into vinyl. There's a reason why the 16.5 is in the market for so many years.
    • Allo USBridge Signature + Shanti power supply
    Giant killer. The USBridge Signature with Moode audio is the best way to do streaming and work with my large music library. 

    Two additional topics here :

    1) Power supply plays an extremely important role in digital streamer. A well made Linear Power Supply provides low noise DC power that improves sound quality in a very noticeable way. So don't forget that. Here I use the Allo Shanti which is a great match for the USBridge Sig.

    2) Don't forget the music source esp if you use an NAS. Here I use a small and simple barebone, fanless server from Protectli (search for it on Amazon) with Debian Linux to be my file server. The key reason for this is it has two gigabit Ethernet ports which allows me to connect the Allo player to the server in direct connection without going through the home router. The server is also powered by a Linear Power Supply. I found it fast, reliable and extremely quiet.
    • Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2v2 SE
    I started with DAC-2, upgraded to DAC-2 DSD-SE and then now upgraded to DAC-2v2 SE. With the ESS 9038PRO chip and femto clock. This is the best DAC I've even had and I've tried many. Clean sound, no-nonsense. It's also very versatile, it allows all kinds of connections. DSD support is flawless and whatever hi-res files you throw at it it'll just sing.

    BTW, I did all the upgrades through W4S themselves. Shipped them the box and got back in a week with the upgrade. The customer service is top notch and a great company to deal with.
    • Teac VRDS-7
    I sold my CEC belt-drive transport like a year ago thinking I'll not do CD anymore. But I still have like 100 CD (although a portion of them I transferred to steamer already) that I occasionally listen to.

    The Teac VRDS-7 is circa 1993. However it definitely plays as good as, if not better than any digital players today. It's warm and detail and the drive mechanism is rock solid. Still working flawlessly after 25 years and it's the kind of workmanship and quality that we all should appreciate. 
    • Audio Sensibility cables
    Most of my interconnects and speaker cables are from Steve of Audio Sensibility. He made great cables and is very knowledgeable. Not to mention he's local in Toronto so I got to visit him sometimes at his place and I enjoyed all the convo I had with him.

    I also have a couple pairs of interconnect that're LFD simply because I use LFD amp. 
    • DIY Cable Power cable and dedicate power line
    When I finished my basement, I asked my contractor to add a dedicated breaker and line to my audio system area. Then I went to Audio Sensibility and bought the cryo-treated power cable from Steve. They key benefit of doing this is that you get the consistency of the power supply all the time. A lot of people said they hear their system sounded differently in different time of the day and the week.... a lot of this can be reduced by having a separate and dedicated power line. Trust me on that. If you have a chance to do it, do it.

    As for power cable, I DIY a bunch myself. It's easy enough with the Belden 19364 and Marinco plugs and IEC. I prefer the 19364 with the drain wire so that you can drain the noise to ground.
    • Inity Acoustics Room Treatments
    Don't forget your room. It's the most important part of the system.

    To get your room quiet and avoid reflection, you need to treat your room. I met Mike of Inity Acoustics a few years ago when he was starting his business. Gentle and knowledgeable young man and he made some fabulous sound panels. The Equinoxer Acoustic Panel was the one I got from him and it helped quiet down the room a lot and reduced first reflection. They're very reasonably priced and it's become a crucial part of my investment. 

    The improvement is immediate. 

    • Target Audio Products 4-shelf stand
    A stable stand is actually important. It's a small investment with Target Audio Product. Solid wood, no MDF here. Or build your own.
    • Skylan Manufacturing Ltd SKY-4P20
    For the Harbeth C7, I use the Skylan 4P20. Proudly Canadian. Noel is extremely knowledgeable and nice. 

    $500-$600 investment seems steep for speaker stands but trust me it's absolutely worth the investment. It's well designed, keeps a stable foundation for the Harbeth. It sounds great. 

    Don't forget to fill it with something solid. That's the fun part. Some people say use rice, I used cat litter. It works well !

Comments 4

Center
I still need to hear Harbeth. They look great!

subterranean6

222222&text=jo
Really cool system and classic LFD/Harbeth pairing I bet it sounds fab!

jond

222222&text=b
Awesome set-up!  👍👍

b_limo

222222&text=mj
Wonderful system.

mjcmt

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