After a nasty divorce, I elected to build a small home for my son and I on a great bass lake here in Texas. Though we built from scratch, I had some room limitations but I have made the best of it. This room is our main "living room" so I did some built-ins in order to build a small Dolby Atmos home theater that would not mess with my two channel setup much.

I will include my home theater gear in my breakdown as it is really pretty damn awesome when cranking up John Wick. ;)

I am still tweaking, but for going on 20 years now I have been a Vandersteen and Rogue Audio guy. My pre-amps for the last decade have been Audio Research and though I have tried some other gear, this combination has the most synergy. It just works well together.

If anyone has any thoughts or feedback I would love to know. I am currently deciding on my turntable and phono but as of right now I will probably go with a VPI table with an Audio Research or Herron Audio phono stage.

I am super happy with my system as it stands but will update once the table gets in. Happy listening!

Components Toggle details

    • Vandersteen Quatro Cloth Version
    I have always loved the Vandersteen sound and I like their methodology. I bought a new pair of Signature 2CEs years ago and was hooked. I only sold them because of a move. 

    I know a friend with the CT Wood version of the Quatros so I wanna hear them, but if I never had to buy another speaker I would be content. 
    • Audio Research LS27
    Like all AR gear this unit seems very neutral. Everything from AR just seems to work. No frills, no flash...just solid sound. This replaced my longtime friend the AR SP-16.
    • Rogue Audio M180 Dark Monoblocks
    This is my newest piece upgrading from the standard Rogue 150s which I used happily for a decade with no issues or fuss. The "darks" just take everything up another level. The main difference I hear with the 180 Darks is just endless power. I like really rocking out to music at pretty high volumes and these never get close to running out of room. A great addition and these will likely be my amps for another decade plus like my 150s served me.
    • Esoteric UX-1 LTD
    Picked this unit up a few months back for SACD and DVD-AUDIO playback. The sound is stunning. I have always enjoyed Brown Burr dacs which this unit employs. I could have never afforded this player new, but it is killer used. (This replaced my original Rega Apollo which I used for years. Great player for the coin.)
    • Cocktail Audio X50D
    This player is packed with features but gets a lot of hate for it's interface. Yes...the interface blows. But I have a rather sizeable cd collection and wanted a streamer that had a ripper as well as being able to interact with all the big streaming services like Tidal, Quobz and Deezer. I tried two other, cheaper streamers but personally found the main part of the sound came from the DAC. Some may have experienced something different, but now that I have found a DAC I love...I am content.
    • Border Patrol SE-i DAC
    After shooting out multiple DACs like the PS Audio Nuwave DSD, an Ayre Codex and a Wavelength Audio tube DAC, the BorderPatrol was a clear winner. Gary Dews is also wonderful to work with which means a lot.
    • MIT Z Cord II AC
    I have a pair running from my Steens to the wall which handles the built-in amplification for the woofers. They were definitely a step up from stock PCs for just a bit "tighter" punch when rocking out. But who knows for sure. They worked as advertised and look good.
    • Ice Age Audio Copper-Copper PCs
    I have a pair of these massive, cryoed cables from Ice Age Audio. These run from my Rogues to the wall. Once they broke in for about 15-20 hours they slayed the stock power cords. Their build quality and customer service are also second to none. For a well built cable with good cryo treatment...these are a super value.
    • PS Audio Extreme Statement RCA Interconnects
    I have had these for years and they are freaking great. Had these cryo treated back in the day which improved them as well. These run from the Vandsrsteen filters to my amps.
    • PS Audio Extreme Statement XLR Interconnects
    Like my PS Audio RCA IC's, these have been cryoed and great for years. Have shot both pairs of the PS Audio cables out with others and these just always sound a bit better. I am sure some uber priced cables may be "better" but that is for another day down the road. These run from the cdp to the pre.
    • SVS PC-4000 (HT Only)
    Best sub I have ever owned. Just staggering bass for home theater. The cylinder design also helps with my valuable floor space. Amazing for the price and SVS has brilliant customer service.
    These run from my BorderPatrol DAC to my pre. Not much to say except they were more open and detailed on the top end than what I had before. Good deal on the used market.
    • Pioneer Elite SC-LX704 (HT Only) SC-LX704 (HT Only)
    Works great and very intuitive. If you want an Atmos ready receiver you can't go wrong with this one.
    • Panasonic Ultra HD Player (HT Only) DP-UB820-K (HT Only)
    Wonderful Ultra HD player. Supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision with wonderful Dolby Atmos playback.
    • Sony (HT Only) A9G Master Series Bravia 65" (HT Only)
    Simply stunning. If they had a bigger one at the time, I would have purchased it. There are other good OLED televisions on the market but this one is just a bit better picture wise. (Sony still has a slow interface but I will overlook it because of the picture.)
    • Pioneer (HT Only) Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73 Andrew Jones Home Audio
    These shocked me with their sound and build quality. The Atmos speaker is built into the top of the cabinet so no need for annoying add on speakers for the Atmos channel. For the price these guys are heavy, overbuilt HT mains.
    • Klipsch (HT Only) RP-450C Center Channel Speaker (HT Only)
    Great center. I have no complaints in my small HT.
    • ASC (Acoustic Sciences Corporation) Broadband Bass Traps (pair)
    I have had these for a few years. They have served me well and make a sizeable difference.
    • Schitt Valhalla II
    This is my headphone amp. Never had another one so can't compare. It was a big step up from my PC and phone. It's built like a tank and the Schitt guys seem funny as hell.

Comments 4

thosb...thanks for the comments! The Cocktail streamer was a bit of a shot in the dark when I picked it up. It checked off all the boxes for what I wanted but it took the BorderPatrol DAC to make it sound the way I wanted. Tried a few different DACs but the BP always sounded best with my setup.


Very impressive - you have lots of equipment I dream of owning, bet it sounds wonderful.  Curious about how you ended up with the Cocktail/BP digital front end?  My favorite part - the Wilco concert posters - also one of my faves!


Sorry about the divorce but nice system! Sounds like fun for you and your son for both music and home theater, not to mention fishing :). Oh and I personally like Rouge Audio as a brand name over Rogue Audio. :p


Carry on ...


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