It's going to be interesting rebuilding a vintage audio system. The two digital recorders and the various mics & Sennheiser headphones are "imported" from use with my photography and occasional videography. The Holman preamp and the Dalhquist DQ-LP1 are holdovers that were missed when my system was stolen back in the mid-'80's. The rest I've purchased in the past couple of weeks. There will be more....

The original version of this system consisted of the following:
  • Thorens TD-126 Mk III turntable
  • SME 3009 series II improved pick-up arm
  • Shure V15 type III cartridge
  • Technics SP10 Mk II turntable
  • SME 3009 series II improved pick-up arm
  • ADC model 100 cartridge (w/ styli for stereo, mono & 78-rpm)
  • McIntosh MR-78 FM stereo tuner
  • McIntosh MPI-4 oscilloscope
  • Studer/Revox A702HS half-track open-reel recorder (7.5, 15 & 30 ips)
  • Nakamichi Dragon cassette deck
  • Apt Holman pre-amplifier
  • Dahlquist DQ-LP1 active crossover
  • Hafler DH-500 power-amplifiers (3 of them, assembled f/ kits)
  • MartinLogan Monolith speakers
  • an assortment of headphones, microphones & accessories
I'm not going to try to duplicate everything. I certainly have no use for the open-reel and cassette decks these days. And I'll hold off on amplifiers and ML electrostats for a short while as I have no place for speakers at the moment (I'm retired and living with my 91-y/o mother who doesn't want to move out of her home and cannot live alone anymore, thus no place for the prospective Monolith III behemoths).

Given the impracticality of serious amps and speakers, I've been investigating discrete headphone amps. Based on a number of threads here and elsewhere in audio fora, I've ordered, unheard, the Schiit Asgard 3, sans DAC (got the MM phono preamp instead - will probably add DAC later in the form of the Modi multibit, or, maybe the Bifrost 2). In the meantime, I'm using the AudioQuest Red DragonFly with my computer (I haven't tried the Cobalt).

Okay, so I lied. An amp I lusted after became available at a price that more than tickled my fancy. Now it will have to sit patiently until it gets one or two brothers (maybe an MC2500) and some modded M/L monolith III's to absorb its raw power.

I'm probably going to sell the MR80 -- don't need two tuners and I love the older MR78 -- even if it does need a total refurb. In fact, most of the electronics I've bought need TLC. But, that's okay. It's part of the fun. Some I'll farm out and some I'll do myself. I can relive my teenage years immersed in a Knight, Heath, Dynaco and Hafler mindset.

Just found a pair of ML Monolith 3 speakers that have been a bit battered physically and missing the crossover. but are described as being in excellent working condition. I've seen extensive pictures and have paid a small deposit. I've been promised a refund of the deposit if I don't like them upon inspection. I don't care about the cosmetics -- that's fixable. And I don't care about the missing crossover -- I'll use my DQ-LP1. I'm taking my crossover and an extra amplifier when I go to examine the speakers later this month. Now I have to convince my 91-y/o mother to let them dominate her living room with its otherwise 18th-century decor.

I've managed to acquire three of what could be classed as the best of the moving-magnet genre of cartridges: the last of the Shure V-15 series, Pickering/Stanton's 681 series and Pritchard's ADC XLM series. Long ago, I owned top-of-the-line cartridges from all three manufacturers. It will be interesting to see how my ancient memories interact with their similarities and differences today.

Bought the Monoliths. I'm in love. Bought an MC-2500 to go along with the MC-2255 I already had. The MC-2500 is a strange beast. In addition to the standard taps off the autoformer, it has one labeled 70-volts -- custom for PA system use. It was one of four in a church sound distribution system. It failed (caps shot). I got it cheap. The church is replacing everything, figuring that one failure predicts another in the not-so-distant future. Regardless, the three working units were long gone when I heard about the deal. I made a low-ball offer (at least I thought it was low-ball) and they jumped on it. It's off being resuscitated as I type.

I've added a Sony CD player (actually BR/DVD/CD) and a Bifrost 2 DAC to the mix. I think that makes my system essentially complete. I may never be cured of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome); however, for the time being, it appears to be in remission.

Now, I'm buying music. Chasing down vinyl I've lost is time consuming and expensive. Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party -- Jimmy Buffet. Plus, there's so much new to explore!

Room Details

Dimensions: 29’ × 19’  X large
Ceiling: 9’

Components Toggle details

    • Thorens TD-521
    belt-drive turntable (works w/ 9/10/12-inch arms)
    w/ TPN-2000 power supply
    big brother to the TD-320/321
    replaces long-gone TD126 Mk3 and SP10 Mk2
    will probably not pursue an SP10; their prices are stratospheric
    • SME 3012R
    12-inch pick-up arm
    replaces long-gone earlier 9-inch models
    came from a retired radio station engineer who once had 30 of them
    • Shure V15VxMR
    moving-magnet cartridge
    described as NOS (?) w/ new JICO boron cantilevered SAS stylus
    (New Old Stock? then why the new JICO stylus?)
    as good as the Shure beryllium cantilevered original?
    who knows? it is what it is....
    if I can find an original VN5xMR stylus -- even worn -- I'll find out
    there's a company in the UK that re-tips them
    my originals were types II and III
    FOUND: from a fellow audiophile who has moved on to MC
    one each, still sealed in their packaging
    -- a V15VxMR cartridge, and,
    -- a spare VN5xMR stylus
    • Shure M97xE
    moving-magnet phono cartridge
    again, labeled NOS sealed in original (sealed) packaging
    the last of Shure's "broke-audiophile" cartridges
    mine was an M91ED - its predecessor - back in the day
    also, picked up a spare N97xE stylus
    • Shure M78S Mono
    the last of Shure's specialized monophonic cartridges
    with a stylus designed for 78 rpm records
    and, an extra N78S replacement stylus
    • Stanton 681EEE Mk III
    moving-iron phono cartridge
    labeled LNIB in original packaging
    another last in a long line of well-regarded cartridges
    also picked up a NOS extra stylus
    if memory serves, mine from years ago had one less "e" and no "Mk"
    • ADC XLM Mk III
    induced-magnet phono cartridge
    also snagged an extra NOS stylus
    gotta love eBay ... sometimes
    I believe this was Peter Pritchard's last design at ADC
    he then started Sonic Research and created the Sonus Gold Blue series
    I had a custom prototype, the ADC model 100, sadly, stolen
    it would have followed the 25/26/27 series, but was never marketed
    • McIntosh MR-78
    FM stereo tuner
    FOUND ONE !!!
    considered one of the best three FM tuners ever designed
    this was the first FM tuner to surpass the Marantz 10B in performance
    the Sequerra Model One being the third (Dick S was co-designer of the 10B)
    got a great price - cracked glass faceplate - but everything works
    found a replacement glass faceplate, too
    still need the plastic bezel that surrounds the tuning dial scale
    going to need a re-cap refurb and alignment, also
    • McIntosh MR-80
    FM stereo tuner
    replaces long-gone MR-78 -- one of the three tenors, um, er, classics
    the other two being the Marantz 10B and the Sequerra One
    if I find an MR-78 at a price I can justify, I'll buy it -- I like the dial ;-)
    • McIntosh MPI-4
    maximum performance indicator / oscilloscope
    useless -- or not -- but, you've gotta admit, it's pretty
    • Sony UBP-X800M2
    BluRay/DVD/CD player
    gets rave reviews for video (although I'm using it almost exclusively for CDs)
    its audio output directly to my Holman preamp or the Asgard HP amp is very good
    its digital audio output routed through the Bifrost 2 is noticeably improved
    • Schiit Audio Bifrost 2 Multibit
    Well, it's a DAC
    seems to have a better reputation than many
    was/is a LOT less expensive than many considered its equals or betters
    (plus, I've sorta drunk some of Schiit's kool-aid)
    the difference between the direct audio output
    and the digital output routed through the Bifrost 2
    is sometimes very subtle and sometimes as apparent as
    a brick out house (couldn't resist)
    comparison to the Dragonfly Red is logistically more problematic
    (delays rerouting cords and signals play havoc with sound memory)
    however, those Norse deities vanquished in the end
    the Dragonfly has been relegated to travel
    • Apt Holman
    from my original system (wasn't stolen - maybe they knew something I didn't)
    purchased from Tom Holman, himself, after it won in a shoot-out with the Threshold FET-1
    • DBX 14/10
    computerized equalizer
    yeah, it's not an audiophile thing; but it is a useful tool
    found it on eBay at a very good price - couldn't resist
    • Schiit Audio Asgard 3
    headphone amp
    ordered sans DAC
    there's a Bifrost 2 in my future
    added optional MM phono preamp module
    an interim while my Apt Holman is being refurbished
    one of very few "new" things in my system
    • AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - MQA Enabled
    USB DAC / headphone mini-amp
    bought this soon after it appeared on the market
    it transforms computer audio into something worth hearing
    • Koss ESP-950
    electrostatic stereo headphones
    everyone laughs and looks down their noses at the ESP-950
    they shouldn't; it might not be Stax but it's not chopped liver, either
    at $495 (on Amazon about every 3rd month), they were a bargain
    unfortunately, I think it has finally been discontinued
    UPDATE: apparently [mass]drop has arranged a series of special production runs
    see their web site for information
    • Sennheiser HD-600
    stereo headphones
    one of Sennheiser's most enduring classics
    • Sennheiser HD-650
    stereo headphones
    the other of Sennheiser's most enduring classics
    • Dahlquist DQ-LP1
    active crossover
    originally, left over from a double pair of DQ-10 and a pair of DQ-1W speakers
    repurposed to bi-amp the Martin Logan Monolith electrostats
    that replaced the older DQ speakers
    left behind when the rest of my system disappeared
    will be put to use again once power amps & speakers return
    • McIntosh MC-2255
    stereo power amplifier (w/ meters)
    250+ watts/channel into almost anything (Mac's autoformers)
    I didn't need this now; didn't even want it now; however,
    it existed and the price was way too good
    so much for the old Haflers I loved so well
    • McIntosh MC-2500
    stereo power amplifier (w/ meters, black panel)
    500+ watts/channel into almost anything
    this one appears to have been a custom job
    in addition to the 4-ohm, 8-ohm and 16-ohm taps
    it includes a tap labeled 70-volts
    • MartinLogan Monolith 3
    hybrid electrostatic speaker system
    located, deposit paid, awaiting inspection before concluding purchase
    described as having minor damage to the exterior (with pictures)
    woofer grills need replacing
    described as being in good working condition
    lacking required crossover (I'll use the DQ-LP1)
    so this is tentative -- but I'm excited !!!
    • Olympus LS-100
    2-track portable digital audio recorder
    a really great device for serious interviews
    built-in mics are quite good
    AVC is of questionable value
    • Sony PCM-D100
    2-track portable digital audio recorder
    probably the best handhold-able digital recorder on the market
    • Audio-Technica BP-4029
    shotgun mid/side stereo microphone
    decent separation and very good audio quality at moderate distances
    • Shure VP-83F
    'lenshopper' monophonic shotgun microphone w/ integrated audio recorder
    beats DSLR and MILC in-camera audio by a country mile
    • Shure VP-88
    cardioid mid/side stereo microphone
    the classic for single mic stereo
    • Sony ECM-957 Pro
    cardioid mid/side stereo microphone
    one of the earliest m/s electeret stereo mics and a bargain at $100
    went through many incarnations (and price increases) w/ the 957 Pro being the last
    again, sadly, discontinued

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