The CA-1 is the connection and control center for most of the system's music sources. My Nakamichi BX-300 is connected into the CA-1's Tape 1 loop, and the ganged dbx 400 switch panels, which swap various analog signal processors in and out of the signal path as needed, are connected into the CA-1's Tape 2 circuit. The CA-1 supports feeding the Tape1 circuit's signal into Tape 2 to enable processing of cassette playback when needed.
The analog stereo output from the Nak CA-1 is directed to an analog input on the AVM-60 for processing. All digital audio is fed directly into digital inputs on the AVM-60. The analog outputs from the Anthem feed the system's amps directly, except for the subwoofer. the Anthem's sub out feeds an Audio Control C-101 for processing before being directed to my powered sub.
The Crown K2 amp drives the main L/R speakers in my system with enough clean, seemingly limitless power to reach (or exceed) live performance levels. It is a Class I switching amplifier that offers all of the efficiency advantages of Class D without the common sonic disadvantages.
The venerable Nakamichi PA-1 amp drives my center and surround speakers.
The Crown CTs-4200 amp drives the four height speakers in my system. Like the K2, it is a Class I (or BCA) amplifier.
- Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L
The Def-Tech ST-L's are my main L/R speakers. They replaced a pair of vintage KEF Reference 104/2's a few years ago. (The KEF's were subsequently relegated to my bedroom system.) Over the years, I developed a distinct preference for the imaging produced by a D'Appolito speaker arrangement, and both the old and new speakers share this design.
A JBL Studio S Center reproduces the center channel audio for my system.
A pair of Emotiva ERD-1's serve as the surround speakers in my 7.1.4 setup. They are a convertible bipole / dipole design. Their dipole configuration setting supports more latitude in placement than than conventional bipoles for this application.
- Definitive Technology ST-L Graphite
A 2nd pair of ST-L's recently replaced JBL Studio S-310 floorstanders to provide sound for the back channels in my system. This was entirely for aesthetic reasons. The JBL's had been more than adequate as rear channel speakers, and now perform the same duty in my bedroom.
I have experimented with multiple subs in the past, both in different locations in the room, as well as co-located, but a single SVS SB-16 Ultra is now my only sub. It's clean, tight, and powerful. Its output is ruler flat down to 15 Hz in my system, and it still has usable output below 10 Hz. It blends best with the rest of the system when its phase is set to 45 degrees.
Four EVID 6.2's mounted on custom 6-ft. aluminum stands produce the sound from the system's elevation channels. Their mounting arrangement enables directing the sound straight at the main listening positions for best results.
Most of my CD's permanently reside in four Sony CDP-CX455 CD jukeboxes. The capacity of each jukebox is 400 discs, for a total capacity of 1,600. Only about 1,300 slots are currently occupied, so there's still some room to expand my collection. I maintain a CD database that is accessible via my home Wi-Fi network, which enables me to quickly locate any particular disc that I want to hear.
A J-Tech Digital JTDSM0402 is a 4-in, 2-out TOSLINK switch that enables independently switching the signal from any of the system's four CD jukeboxes to each of its outputs. Output A feeds my RME DAC, where the signal is converted to analog and fed to an analog input on the Nak CA-1 preamp. Output B feeds a digital signal directly to the Anthem AVM-60. (Sometimes it's amusing to compare the audible differences.)
This RME DAC converts the digital signals from the system's four CD jukeboxes to analog and feeds the analog CD input on the Nak CA-1.
I've had my TD-125 with an SME 3009 S2 tonearm longer than any other component still in my system. It has always performed flawlessly and sounded great, but the isolators in the SME arm recently needed replacement, so I gave the entire table and arm a complete overhaul. It is currently not connected as I await delivery of a new MP-7 phono preamp from Darlington Labs.
Like a lot of others, I own multiple phono cartridges, including the LOMC Klipsch MCZ-10 shown in one of the photos, as well as a couple of different MM cartridges. The Thorens is connected into my Yamaha HA-1, which enables me to swap between LOMC and MM cartridges quickly and easily via a front rotary selector. But the HA-1 provides only amplification for MC cartridges and bypass for MM, no RIAA equalization. It needs to feed a phono circuit, not a line-level AUX input. Hence my eager anticipation of the delivery of a new MP-7 phono preamp from Darlington Labs to complete the signal chain.
The system's Onkyo T-4555 tuner (FM / HD Radio / SXM) was formerly my primary source component for background music, but now sees very little duty since my recent acquisition of a Cambridge Audio CXN V2 streamer and subscriptions to Qobuz and Deezer. I may eventually retire it. We'll see.
The Cambridge CXN V2 (not shown in the photos), in conjunction with a Qobuz subscription, represents my first dip into the murky waters of hi-res streaming. The jury is still out on whether or not I personally can discern any clear advantage of hi-res over Redbook, but the CXN is a fun new toy that also broadens my casual listening choices with thousands of Internet radio stations (of widely varying sonic quality).
A Nak BX-300 enables me to continue playing my collection of old mix tapes. Since its recent teardown, service, and calibration, those old tapes sound fantastic again!
My Panasonic UB9000 serves as the playback device for my collection of high-res multi-channel Blu-ray music discs, as well as video discs. It is connected to an HDMI port on the Anthem pre-pro.
A pair of ganged dbx 400x units enable switching the system's analog signal processors in and out of the audio path as needed.
The dbx 10/20 pictured at the top of the left equipment rack was my primary room EQ tool prior to the addition of the Anthem AVM-60, with its ARC system. Now, I use the 10/20 only to compensate for the variations at the production end of commercial releases that can be all over the map from dull to shrill and from thin to tubby.
The Carver C-9 sonic hologram generator is an interesting piece of equipment. Its use perceptually enhances some recordings and degrades others. I find myself using mine when I want soften vocals or move the performance back a little farther away from my listening position.
The dynamic rage of commercial releases is typically compressed quite a bit during production in order to be perceived as sounding good in noisy environments like vehicles and on low-fi devices like clock radios. In other words, they are reduced to the least common denominator. A side-effect that comes along for the ride with compression is the softening or rounding of transient events in the music. These contribute to musical reproduction on a good system sounding "canned." My 4BX enables me to compensate for both of those issues to restore realism to the music.
I run an Audio Control C-101 inline between the Anthem's subwoofer output and the LFE line-level input on my SB-16 Ultra. The C-101's EQ and various onboard filters come in handy for taming poorly recorded bass on some productions.
The low bass on practically all commercial releases by the mass-market labels is rolled off below 100 Hz, and many have no content at all below 50 Hz. Ask any studio engineer if you doubt this assertion.
Jacking up the bass control doesn't help, because there just isn't anything down there in the bottom octave to boost, so I run a pair of dbx subharmonic synthesizers to restore the bottom end of my music that was reduced or removed. Both do an excellent job, but the 120X paints with a broader stroke and is less customizable with respect to its operation. I use that one primarily with rock recordings, and reserve the 120X ds for more nuanced genres, such as jazz and classical.
My Crown OC-150A is mostly just a piece of eye candy that I picked up on the cheap. I run it in parallel with the outputs from my K2 mostly just to enjoy watching the VU meters dance, and sometimes to confirm L/R channel balance. A few releases actually were mastered with poor L/R balance. (You'd think that would be the one thing the engineers would always get right, but no.) I can adjust my K2's gain in one channel or the other while monitoring the meters to center the content that should be in the middle.
The most critical component in my system, with respect to achieving a high WAF is a Philips Pronto Pro TSU9600 programmable remote. Since this is a complex system, and most of its equipment is from different manufacturers, keeping its overall operation as simple as possible was crucial to maintaining domestic tranquility, most of the time anyway. Toward that end, I have toiled away at modifying the program that I wrote to control everything each time an old component was swapped out or a brand new one, like the CXN, was introduced. The end result is a control interface that requires only selecting "Watch Video" or "Listen to Audio" on the remote's "Home" screen, and then choosing the desired source device.
After that, custom macros power up only the devices necessary to complete the signal chain, the preamp and/or pre-pro switches to the chosen source device, and there's nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the presentation. Similarly, shutting the system down is a simple process: pressing the "Home" hard button, then selecting either "Quit Audio" or Quit Video", followed by selecting the source device in use. Done.
My wlfe loves it!
Multi-FX digital processor w/ large onboard preprogrammed effects library and extensive memory for custom user programs. Adjusting echo and reverb settings enables changing virtual venue size. Pre-echo adjusts F/B instrument placement.