Description

This is my main system which I have put together over the past three years (with the tacit understanding of my better half). Largely settled for now with no major upgrades on the horizon. 

The updates that I have made to my system are posted in the e-mails below. 

July 2022
Replaced my ProAc R30S speakers with the ProAc D48R speakers in April. It was not an improvement as I unfortunately lost the magic for a couple of months due to excessive bass. However, I consulted the postings of other Audiogoneers and after checking with my go to HiFi guy, I upgraded my Townshend Audio speaker podiums (by going up to the next weight level). The problem has been somewhat resolved but I will need to do more testing with felt inserts and as otherwise recommended my fellow Audiogoneers.  

January 2022 
My Gamut Audio Lobster Chair has finally arrived! The sound (in particular the sound stage and clarity of instruments) seems to have improved, as far as my ears are concerned that is :-) What an absolute relief! 

November 2021
Added an Entreq Silver Tellus II to my system, specifically to ground my digital sources. Upgraded the main power cable from the power socket to the Isotek Aquarius, to Shunyata Research Delta V2 XC. The bass and mids improved tremendously but as the highs were on the anemic side, replaced the stock fuse with a MS HD Power Rhodium fuse, which brought back the highs that I previously enjoyed.     

October 2021 
Replaced Isoacoustics Gaia III isolators with Townshend Audio speaker podiums. Bass became tighter, noise floor dropped, clarity and sound stage improved. This proved to be more than a minor upgrade.

September 2021  
Moved from QED Genesis Silver Spiral speaker cables to Silversmith Audio Fidelium speaker cables; installed another layer to the Quadraspire rack.

August 2021
Added 2 units of Isotek Aquarius EVO3 power conditioners; upgraded interconnects from QED to a Siltech Classic Legend 380i; installed Isoacoustics Gaia III isolators on my ProAc speakers.
Read more...

Room Details

Dimensions: 18’ × 16’  Medium
Ceiling: 12’


Components Toggle details

    • ProAc Response D48R Floorstanding Speakers
    • Silversmith Audio Fidelium speaker cable
    • Townshend Audio Seismic Isolation Podiums
    • Rel T9i Subwoofers
    • Primaluna EVO 400 Preamplifier
    • Primaluna EVO 400 Power Amplifier
    • Hegel Mohican CD player
    • Marantz Ruby KI SACD player
    • Chord Hugo TT2 DAC
    • Chord M-Scaler
    • Innuos Zenith Mk3 streamer
    • Innuos Phoenix Reclocker
    • Isotek EVO3 Aquarius
    • Entreq Tellus Ground Box
    • Entreq Silver Tellus II Infinity Ground Box
    • Siltech Cables Classic Legend 380i Interconnects
    • Shunyata Research Delta V2 XC Power Cable

Comments 33

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Hi @dcpillai ,
Sorry to hear about your health issues. Hope you are doing good now. And thanks to our hobby - you have one of the best possible medication. Just a dose of 1 hour of music should help you bounce back!

Thank You for sharing your experience with the Chord Hugo TT2. And going through different upgrades myself, it is easy to understand how the power cord could make a difference. I have been advised the same by a few folks - to upgrade the power cable to my conditioner. At some point I will do it - just not in the near future. I have to replace the Oppo with a dedicated DAC - I know this will make a positive change. The Oppo sounds amazing in my system - but I keep dreaming of what a dedicated DAC would bring to my system.

By "scale of music", I meant the vastness or expansiveness. Like going from an apartment to a single family home - feels huge - right? The ease of generating realistic space is something that the smaller ones take a lot of effort and sometimes cannot achieve. As far as "losing the mid-range magic" is concerned - I think this might be because the speakers are loading your room with lot of bass. I do not see bass traps in your system. If you notice my room, I have bass traps in all corners. These speakers can generate a phenomenal amount of solid bass - but you will need a big room OR control the bass. Fortunately I have not experienced loss on midrange. But then I have so many traps in the room. In fact I went to audition the D30RS, but ended up getting these because of the way they make music - especially the realism.
Your room looks so amazing. Love the setup. I think the newer panels from GIK or the Vicoustic panels will look great in your system. My room is in the basement and is a dedicated audio room. So the plain-Jane traps don't look out of place. You might need something more eye-pleasing in your setup. I suggest that you look into this before giving up on these amazing speakers.

Hope you feel better soon and are back to normal. Good luck and take care.

milpai

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Owner
Hi @milpai ! Apologies for the long delay in replying. Have had health issues lately unfortunately. But life must go on, much like the never ending hunt for perfect audio synergy!

As to my experience with the Chord (in my system), I was initially questioning why reviews of the Hugo TT2 and M Scaler were so favourable when I could not discern all that much improvement in the clarity, separation, airiness, soundstage, etc of the music. In fact I preferred the internal DAC of the Hegel Mohican CD player over that of the Hugo TT2 and M Scaler. This all changed for the positive when I upgraded the power cable from my AC mains to my power conditioner, from the Shunyata Venom XC to Delta XC, as well as replaced the stock fuse in the power cable with a MS HD Power Rhodium fuse

From that moment on, I have only used the Chord and everything else pales in comparison, be it the DAC in the Hegel Mohican or the Marantz SACD player. My system images really well, the separation is just fantastic (in my limited experience), the soundstage extends beyond the speakers, the sound is "clean", and I do not have to listen loud to enjoy the music.

However, some caveats now. I suspect that the above experience is the cumulative effect of everything I have done to my system (as described above and more). But the primary contributors are (1) the Chord Hugo TT2 + M Scaler, and (2) lots of power treatment (ie MS HD Power Strip + Isotek Evo Aquarius + Shunyata Venom Defender + Shunyata Delta cables). The Shunyata Delta cables in particular were game changers for me and lifted up the imaging, separation, emphasised the mids, and toned down the brightness of the highs.

I did largely utilise the same test tracks in assessing the D30R and D48R. I am not sure what you mean by "scale of music" but what was clear to me is that the D48R emphasised the highs more than the D30R, and also has significantly more bass (which was a big issue to begin with for me). Where the D48R lost out, was in the mids. The mids of the D30R are just so, so much better. There was no contest. I listened to them side by side at another dealership and was so tempted (still am actually) to get a pair of D30R speakers again. We will see. 

As for the Chord Hugo TT2 and M Scaler, I am toying with the idea of moving on to the Chord Dave, finances permitting. But I will definitely need to test it in my system prior to making such a decision. Upgrading to the Dave will likely be my project for 2023!

dcpillai

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Forgot to ask - did you listen to the same music on the D48Rs, as you did on the D30Rs? What did you think about the scale of music when you compared the 2 loudspeakers?

milpai

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@dcpillai 
Congratulations on the ProAc D48R. This is a fantastic speaker that you will enjoy for many many years. I have them for 5 years love to listen to them each time they make music. Great idea on the Townshend. For me the Gaias worked better then I replaced the granite plinth beneath them, with the matching spikes which contact the floors directly below the carpet. Try some toe-in with these speakers. Mine are toed-in such that I see a sliver of their inner side from my seat. So the tweeter axis crosses, just slightly behind my head. Of course each room and listening preference is different.

Please do share your experience with the Proacs+Chord DAC. That is on top of my mind.

milpai

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Owner
Many thanks for the compliments @milpai and for dropping by! The system is sounding great and I think I am arriving at a plateau where I will spend some time rediscovering my music collection rather than on upgrading my system. But there will certainly be one or two tweaks every so often!

dcpillai

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You system is looking great! I am sure it sounds amazing as well. Nice additions to a beautiful setup.

milpai

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Owner
Hello @mikempls. Honestly, I am not sure that it helped from a sound / musical perspective. At the worst, it did help bring some level of order to my cable jungle!!

dcpillai

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Owner
Hi @lalitk / lalitk. Not at all! FYI I have just added a Silver Tellus II to ground my digital sources. I will post an update about the difference it makes to the digital sources of my system after some time has passed and it has settled down in my system. Until then, happy listening!

dcpillai

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Owner
Hi JD / @curiousjim. Thank you for the compliment! 

As to the Hegel Mohican, I think that musically it is a very good (if not excellent) CD player, that unearths more detail than other CD players in its price range. The CD/ SACD players that I have compared it with are the Marantz KI-Ruby SACD player and the Metronome CD Player. The on-board DAC of the Hegel Mohican seems to be part of this "magic". In fact the on-board DAC of the Hegel Mohican is rated to be on the same level of the Hugo TT2 DAC by John Darko.

However, it is not all positive news. I have had some build issues with the Mohican, i.e. skipping on brand new CDs and a rattling noise when reading CDs. I am actually on my third Hegel Mohican (in the span of nearly 2 years) and fingers crossed, no problems so far. Hopefully it is third time lucky! If you are going with the Hegel Mohican, I would strongly recommend that you acquire it from a hifi store in your city/region. However, having said this, I think that my case may be an outlier as I have not read of anyone having similar problems. 

Hope I have cast some light on the Hegel Mohican CD player. Do let me know if you have any further questions in relation to the Hegel.

All the best and happy listening!

dcpillai

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How did you like the Fog Lifter cable elevators — do you think they helped?

Thanks.

mikempls

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@dcpillai,  Thanks for your follow up on Tellus II. I’m not at all surprised by your observation. I hope to end up with Tellus II in very near future :-) Enjoy your journey!

lalitk

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Beautiful system in a beautiful room! I wish I had a room that size.

Question,  what do you think of the Hegel CD player?  I just started reading about them.

All the best.

JD

curiousjim

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Owner
Greetings @lalitk / lalitk. This is a bit overdue, but I finally got around to testing my system with and without the Entreq Tellus II. Essentially, I find that the Tellus II serves to reduce sibilance that may be present in recordings. To confirm this, I played Eva Cassidy's "Fields of Gold" for my wife on 2 consecutive nights, with and without the Tellus II present. To put it mildly, she found the sound of the system to be "piercing" or "screechy" without the Tellus II in place. It definitely has a place in my system. Thanks for the question!

dcpillai

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Owner
Thanks @jafant!! Indeed I find that CDs / SACDs are the optimum blend of physical media and convenience for me. Happy listening to you to sir!

dcpillai

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A beautiful room and system.
Good to see 2 CD/SACD players!

Happy Listening!

jafant

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Owner
Thanks joel_hifi for the kind words.

The Phoenix is a great addition to the Zenith Mk3. I tested the difference this evening both with and without the Phoenix, and took some notes. I found that the Zenith Mk3 sounded quite a bit better with the Phoenix than without. The sound was fuller, more wholesome, cohesive, better stitched together, the bass was deeper and the soundstage slightly wider. After listening to the Zenith plus Phoenix combination, there is no going back. However, while it sounds really good, the fact of the matter is that CD playback is still better as the sound is crisper and there is better separation between the instruments, though the bass is more pronounced with the Zenith + Phoenix. 

In relation to the cables that I use, I run a cat 6 ethernet cable from my router to a SOtM iSO-CAT6 isolator, a SOtM dCBL CAT7 from there to the ethernet port on the Zenith. I use a FTA Callisto USB cable from the Zenith to the Phoenix and then a Danacable Trustream USB from the Phoenix to my DAC. This particular selection was due to the recommendation of AudioBacon / Jay Luong (see https://audiobacon.net/2020/09/08/innuos-phoenix-usb-reclocker-review/).

Roger as to the choice of music :-) 

Happy hunting Joel! 

dcpillai

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Great system, very nicely put together!

Regarding your comment about DACs I have not heard the Tambaqui but some of my audio buddies are raving about it, certainly one you should try to audition in your system if you can.

I also own the Zenith Mk3, it was a significant step up coming from an Auralic Aries (G1), in all aspects. How much of an improvement does the Phoenix provide? It's been on my radar for a while, your honest opinion greatly appreciated!

What cable are you using?

Btw GoGo Penguin great choice of music ;)

joel_hifi

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Owner
@lalitk Thank you for saying so!

I got the Tellus II on the recommendation of a dealer that I have grown to trust. He told me that the noise floor would drop and the sound would be clearer / cleaner, but it would need 24 hours to settle in and have effect. So I added it to my system, and it has remained in my system ever since. I have never thought to disconnect it and compare my system with and without the Tellus II. 

But as you have raised the issue, and I am curious as to the answer myself, I will commence to disconnect it from my system later today, and try my system both without it and with it, and identify if in fact there is any difference and if so, what that difference is. I will update you as and when I have the results in hand. Thanks for the question!


dcpillai

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Owner
milpai in relation to my dad's system, he did offer it to me, but as I did not have a dedicated room at that point (and still do not) I had to decline, and it ended up with my cousin several hundred kilometers away. That was some 5 years back, well before I rediscovered my craving for hifi. In relation to my dad's hearing, it deteriorated due to old age and also partially due to tinnitus, which he probably developed as a consequence of playing music too loud. A warning there for us audiophiles as to one of the dangers of this hobby / passion!   

As to my opinion, thank you for the compliment. I call it as I see it, or in this case it may be more appropriate to say, as I hear it! I came to this conclusion with use, and confirmed it with my fellow audiophile 2 doors away (we "poison" each other) on both our systems. What I can tell you was that I was using a Denafrips Aries II DAC (R2R ladder DAC) with my main system (forgot to add it below), and replaced it with a Chord Qutest borrowed from my audiophile neighbor. I was quite taken aback by how the soundstage opened up and there was more separation between the instruments, so much so that I went ahead and ordered the Chord Qutest myself. I should have stopped there as the huge price delta between the Chord Qutest and the Chord Hugo TT2 and M-Scaler, is not reflected in the increase in sound stage, separation or refinement. I know that this goes against how nearly everyone raves about the Hugo TT2 and M-Scaler pairing, but unfortunately that's what I hear. The differences are there, but not to the expected magnitude. I guess this is where the oft used phrase "diminishing returns" comes in.

I have never heard the Oppo UDP-205 before, but I can certainly recommend the Hegel Mohican CD player and its on board DAC, other than for some build issues that I have been experiencing. In so far as stand alone DACs, based on my own limited experience, I would certainly recommend the Chord Qutest.

dcpillai

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@dcpillai, Beautiful system! Your pride is easily evident in the choice of gear. Would you please share your impressions on the effectiveness of Tellus II in your system?

lalitk

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hey dcpillai,
That is a great story. And lucky you - that your dad was an audiophile. That makes you start at level 6 instead of level 0 like me. And about the Bose; who cares? Truth be told - when I got my first serious system, way back in the early 90s, I purchased a Bose AM5 Series II + Sony Receiver + Kenwood CD player. But I had no audiophile dad.But one scary common thing is - my dad's hearing has become worse. He has vertigo and damage to one hear. He can hardly hear. So what happened to your father's equipment?

On your opinion on the Chord DAC - this is the MOST no nonsense opinion that I have seen online. Very very few people give such straight forward opinion, especially when they own an expensive DAC. I wish all the online and printed professional reviews were like this. The only problem would be that they would all shut down in a month as no manufacturer would want to let these guys review their products and provide honest opinion. So Thank You for the opinion. I had high hope for the Chord Hugo TT because I recently found that a certain R2R DAC that I was interested in, does not do pure DSD. I was told that ALL R2R DACs internally convert DSD to PCM. BTW, you have far more experience with DACs than I do. I am debating whether to sell the Oppo UDP-205 or to keep it as a BluRay player, and then get a new DAC.

milpai

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Owner
Thanks for the question @milpai.  My experience with the Chord Hugo TT2 and M-Scaler has been only ok. No rave reviews from me. Based on reviews and my own experience with the Chord Qutest, I expected a substantial difference to the resolution, sound stage and detail being gleaned from the music, but it was not so. 

I have a Hegel Mohican CD player which has an onboard DAC, and it can be connected to an external DAC as well. When playing a CD, I can switch between the Hegel with its onboard DAC and the Hegel with the Hugo & M-Scaler. Music just sounds better and crisper with the Hegel and its onboard DAC. I was confused by this until I checked out John Darko's ranking of DACs, and it transpires that the DAC on the Hegel Mohican and the Chord Hugo TT 2 are ranked on the same tier. 

In essence, I am underwhelmed with my experience with the Chord Hugo TT2 and M-Scaler. 

In terms of my experience with DACs, it is limited. I have only ever tried the Qutest, Pro-ject DAC Box RS and the Schitt Modi, all in the span of the past 2 years. I am wondering whether upgrading to the Dave or to the Mola Mola Tambaqui will be better options. But something tells me that it may not be the wise thing to do when your DAC costs more than double the price of your source!  

Any input or suggestions would be most welcome. And do pardon the rather long replies. 

dcpillai

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Owner

Thank you @milpai ! I actually remember seeing your postings on this forum in relation to Proacs when I was researching my dealer's recommendations! How cool is that :-)

 

As to the question, I have always loved music and sound/hifi systems. I remember my Sony FH-7 given to me when I was a teen, and then discovering hifi in university where my setup consisted of Wharfdale Diamond speakers, a pioneer amp and a turntable (which I forget the name of). This was followed by Bose Lifestyle (I know, you don't have to say anything) and a whole house Sonos setup, which was enough for a long time.

 

And then I got my car. It is equipped with a 19 speaker Bowers and Wilkins hifi system and it transported me to another world!! That plus GoGo Penguin (you should give them a listen, especially "Bardo"). I was well and truly smitten. That was the point that I began looking at hifi systems that would enable me to enjoy the same quality of music in the house. So began my descent down the rabbit hole!!

 

There is a side story as well. My dad was an audiophile too, until he had to give it up due to failing hearing. He had a dedicated room, Dynaudio floor standers, Cary monoblocks, Burmester premap, power conditioners, etc. So I guess I have always known that I might go down this path. And it has built a certain amount of immunity to the sticker price of hifi equipment!


Thank you for the welcome and for the company in enjoying this fantastic obsession.


dcpillai

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I also noticed that you have the Chord Hugo TT2. How do you like this DAC? What others had you tried before?

milpai

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You got a nice system going there! The D30Rs were the ones that made a solid impression on me at AXPONA 2017. I love how they handle vocals. You got great components too.
BTW, one of the pics mention "Day 1 of my audiophile journey". So tell me more - did you suddenly get into this hobby or did you listen to some system that made you realize that you are missing on the delicious music/sounds? Just curious. And welcome to this awesome passion. Yeah, this is a passion for me, not hobby.

milpai

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