1)      After many iterations I decided this combination sounded best in my room for the broadest selection of recordings. The Lx521.4 baffle smooths the high-mid frequency response hump then dip present in the Orion’s. Those of us who love the sound of a cello (me!) find the Orion more enjoyable but the 521.4 has a flatter mid-range response and is more accurate over the full range of the baffle. Why not have the option of either or both?

1)     I was fortunate enough to hear the Orion's in the Linkwitz’s rental cabin in Sea Ranch and later the LX521.4 and LXmini in Linkwitz’s home in Corte Madera. Many people have tried to “improve” the Orion which is fine. Many submitted their design modifications to Linkwitz and he welcomed that; however, there was always a caveat. To paraphrase, ‘Do what you want but don’t call it an Orion unless you follow the plans exactly.’ In fact, if he saw my system (where I have the option of playing only the Orion or bringing in the other drivers, he would probably say ‘sometimes you have an Orion and sometimes you don’t’ or words to that effect. The meaning is clear. Don’t try to make the Orion into something that it isn’t. The sound (with all of its’ beauty and flaws) is baked in.

The LX521.4 baffles are independently suspended (not mechanically connected to the Orion cabinets) so the resonance that exists in the Orion cabinet is not transmitted into the baffles. I bought the Orion’s used and I built LXmini’s, the LXsub’s, and the LX521.4 baffles.

Having the 521.4 baffles above the Orion’s makes the sound stage taller – like sitting in the middle of the orchestra with the violins straight forward and the horns, reeds and percussion behind and above. The 521.4 baffles push the sound image back beyond the rear wall and out beyond the side walls of the room.


2)    The Orion’s and 521.4’s have independently controlled volume and can be fed from either the Orion active analog cross-over/equalizer or a miniDSP 4x10 digital crossover.  The digital crossover allows me to set delays for time-correcting the drivers when not in the same vertical plane. Schiit Saga+ hybrid tube pre-amp is extremely quiet and if I don’t want the tube in the circuit, one button switches it out to just a wire plus the passive stepped-actuator resistor volume control. But 99% of the time I prefer the tube.

3)      Bluesound Node 2i. It’s an entry level streamer but it does quite well. If I ever get the urge to do any more upgrades I would start here. I can easily tell the difference between the 44.1kHz Tidal stream and the 24/96 kHz Quobuz, particularly on classical tracks. I’m neutral on MQA. It improves some tracks and others not so much. Being able to use my preferred DAC is makes a bigger difference to me than sticking with the MQA hardware unfolding in the Node 2i.

4)    The Schiit Yggdrasil DAC has a much larger (wider and deeper) soundstage than the Berkeley Alpha DAC (see “Head” system below) so I prefer it here. Yes it took a month powered up to sound good, and no, I haven’t the slightest idea why.

5)    Three ATI amplifiers, two 6012, 12-channels each at 60W and one 528NC, 8-channels at 120W. Probably only need two of these going forward. I had an LXmini system in the room as well (configured as a “Watson”, see Linkwitz Lab website) but that proved unnecessary.

6)    Two LX sub’s. These are crossed over at 80hz and have about 15% lower gain than the woofers in the Orion cabinets. Why? I don’t know. I just played with the subwoofer volume until the bass sounded clear and tight. It’s so room dependent the empirical approach makes more sense than an analytical method for these.

7)    PS Audio shows up in four places. The P10 regenerator, the dectet, the powerbase platform, and the power cables. I have a Power Quality meter (from work) so I looked at  my line frequency, THD, waveform shape etc. before I bought the regenerator; now I wouldn’t be without it.

8)    Cables and tweaks. I despaired at trying to A/B signal and power cables, room treatments. I just couldn’t hear a difference with a quick test. But I discovered that for me there is an enormous difference between having all the tweaks in place versus none of them. And the difference didn’t happen immediately but crept up on me over time. I’d be listening one day and thinking “wow, my system sounds really good right now; what did I do? Nothing, but last week I upgraded to (insert name of cable or tweak here). Also the ‘other room test’….my wife would come in from the other room and say, “I thought you had a live band in here, dear.”

I just decided to standardize on the best wire I could afford that I liked and that were also top of the line maybe 10 or more years ago. For interconnects that turned out Synergistic Research Kaleidoscope or Alpha Sterling X2 with active shielding and MPC’s upgraded by Michael Spallone. For power cables that turned out to be PS Audio PowerPlus SC and Perfect wave AC 5 or AC 12.

I do have a physics degree so it would take a major miracle to convince me that basic physics is wrong and skin-effect matters at audio frequencies. Also in the miracle category are audiophile fuses and expensive speaker wire. I’m always open to listening and will accept what I experience without requiring understanding if the sound proves it - but I’m not in a hurry to spend money trying out those things.

Active shielding with a powered drain makes a lot of sense for interconnects because the voltage and current are so low. But for power and speaker cable I decided to just go with a “large enough” gauge for the cable length. Speaker cables I made myself from shielded twisted 10 gauge pairs. 4 pairs bundled together with a braided cover and Neutrik connectors in 10 foot lengths.

Because my room is on the small side I wanted to try some frequency diffusers to remove unwanted reflections. I have one advantage in that sidewalls are lined with dense books from the back wall to 5 feet in from of the speaker plane - good absorbers. Not being able to justify the cost of Synergistic HFT’s, I decided to make some "Qzzinators" (the HFT knockoff’s described elsewhere on this site). They work fantastically for me! The only way I can describe it is by example. Imagine you are at a live symphony performance in a concert hall. You will hear reflected sound from the walls of the hall that signals to your brain the size of the room and where you are in the room.  Without the HFT's, you hear something else, confused reflections maybe but you don’t get a sense of the room. With the HFT's (in the right locations), the room size locks into place as part of the sound image. Much trial and error is required to get these positioned correctly. If you have omni-directional or open-baffle dipole speakers you can throw away the instructions from Synergistic Research about HFT placement - particularly behind the speakers. Those are the reflections you want to keep un-diffused. Trial and error.


Finally I used REW and the UMIK to measure the frequency response of each driver, each set of drivers in each cabinet and the room as whole from various positions. I modified the crossover/equalizer/delay configuration in the miniDSP a little to flatten the room response but not very much changed compared to the recommended standard XO/Eq configuration. I found that using room correction in software did not improve my experience of the sound so I don’t use it.


9)      Rack. The rack I wanted (Mapleshade Samson) was beyond my price range so I built something similar. Each shelf is two one-inch thick pieces of Baltic Birch plywood laminated together. The rods and caps are solid aluminum with center holes drilled and tapped. Double-ended threaded studs hold the rods and caps in place.


Half of my listening happens at night when it needs to be relatively quiet. I’ve always enjoyed Stax headphones so it wasn’t too hard to convince myself to try the new state of the art.

Top shelf is the Blue Hawaii Special Edition (BHSE) electrostatic headphone amp along with the Stax 009S headphones. Supporting the BHSE is a PS Audio powerbase.

Second shelf is another Node 2i, a Schiit Modi Multibit for USB input (streaming YouTube) when needed, and the outboard power supply for the BHSE. Bottom shelf is the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha Series 1 DAC on top of the PS Audio Power Plant 3 regenerator. As above, Synergistic Research Kaleidoscope and Alpha Sterling X2 interconnects with upgraded MPC’s.


Room Details

Dimensions: 25’ × 12’  Medium
Ceiling: 10’

Components Toggle details

    • ATI AT6012
    2x 12-channel solid state amplifiers. 60 W/ch. Each driver has its' own amplifier channel that deals with only the frequency band for that driver.
    • ATI AT528NC
    8 channel NCORE amplifier 120W/ch
    • PS Audio P-10
    • Linkwitz Lab DIY Orion 3.3
    Open baffle dipole speakers
    • Linkwitz Lab DIY LX521 baffle
    Upper baffle with forward and rear facing tweeters. Upper and lower mid-range drivers. No box, just flat.
    • Schiit Audio Yggdrasil Analog 2 Unison
    Multi-bit DAC
    • Schiit Audio Saga+
    tube hybrid preamplifier
    • PS Audio Powerbase
    Isolation base with power supply
    • Bluesound Node 2i
    2x streamer
    • Linkwitz Lab Orion Active Analog Crossover Equalizer
    Crossover Equalizer specific to the Orion. 2-channels in, 6-channels out. Output channel are R/L for each frequency band. The Xover/Eq is upstream of the amplifiers.
    • miniDSP 4x10 digital crossover/equalizer
    Digital crossover/equalizer can be programmed for either Orion's, LX521 baffle or LX subs
    • Linkwitz Lab LXsubs
    2x DIY subwoofers. Crossed over at 80hz
    • Synergistic Research Kaleidoscope and Alpha Sterling X2
    These cables have an active shield with a drain and each MPC has been upgraded by Michael Spallone.
    • PS Audio Power Cables
    A mix of Powerplus SC and Perfectwave AC5 and AC12
    • DIY high frequency transducers Ozzinator
    These DIY HFT's can be made for about $2 each and work great.
    • DIY rack Baltic Birch
    Each shelf is two one-inch thick pieces of Baltic Birch plywood laminated together. The rods and caps are solid aluminum with center holes drilled and tapped. Double-ended threaded studs hold the rods and caps in place.
    • Sony CDP 620ES
    Ancient CD player in case the internet goes down.

Comments 1

Nice bet it sounds wonderful.


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