August 11, 2009

My HiFi System.

The 10 x 12 x 9ft(Wx L x H) audio cave, with mild DIY acoustic treatment.

The FE Spider clone rack with Ceraball Spider.
There's a saying and it goes like this, "You wont' know where you're going to, until you know where you came from!" With this I'll attempt to introduce you to my hifi journey so far and my possible future direction.

I met OdioSleuth sometime last year, at the KLIAV 2008 show, I would say it was the single most productive show for me, as it was from that point, our friendship blossomed and we decided to start this blog together.

First up, I must confess to prefer the "beautiful sound" over the "absolute sound"as a music lover over audiophile qualities. There are no genre limits to my musical pallete. I'll listen to any sort of music, from any culture, and language, even those that is beyond my understanding. For me, musical soul and rythem must move me above all else.

As any music lover and audiophile will tell you, I'd like to have the best of both worlds. I'd like to enjoy the emotional intent of the music, through the best audiophile qualities an audio system can provide. However, life's no bed of roses, and as everything else in life, our beloved audio/music hobby included, does call for a set of least compromised qualities possible. Qualities that matters to the system owner most. For me that would mean beautiful music, hifi must serve music for my outmost personal enjoyment. Should there be a conflicting call for the need to compromise between beautiful sound and absulote sound, my choice would almost invariably be the former!

As such each end every component in my audio system is set up towards the beautiful sound direction. I'll introduce the system roll call starting with the source.
Marantz CD 7 CD player.

Digital source: Marantz CD 7.

This CD player, introduced in 1999 was Marantz's swan song to the CD format, before moving on to the SACD format in year 2000. Ken Ishiwata, the Marantz designer kept the best TDA1541 S2 chips for the last hurrah. He had only enough to build 750 units of the CD 7. The 16bit DAC chip set with 4X over sampling was considered the most basic and rudimentary way of making a CD players at the time, when the more advanced Bitstream and upsampling DACs was just being introduced to the market. However, if implemented with care, this DAC chipset can sound very linear, musical and tonally warm. Though the design is 10 years old now, I've not come across many modern CD players that can prove a challenge to the Marantz CD 7 so very completely. Yes, many mordern CD players are technically better, like lower jitter, wider dynamic range and higher signal to noise ratio measurements but I have found those figures seldom co-relate to the musicality aspect of musical re-production. However, I did find a modern CD player so convincingly better than the Marantz, only recently. It's the Esoteric X-03 CD/SACD player. I also have reasons to believe the following two CD players listed below have great potential for my personal upgrade choices.
1) ARC CD Reference 7/8
2) Meridian G808.02
Rega P25 c/w RB600 tone arm.

Benz Micro Glider L2.

Analog source: Rega P25 mounted with Benz Micro Glider L2

I've always wanted a Rega P3. I've waited close to 10 years or so before I got the P25 instead. The Rega P25 was launched in 1999 to comemorate Rega's 25th Annivesary since establishment(only 2500 units were built). It had a modified RB600 arm c/w vdH phono cabling and profesional use Neutrik RCA plugs. It also started the Rega's picture frame plinth styling trend of today's P5, P7 and flagship P9. The Benz Micro Glider L2 is another long standing proven choice product for many audiophiles. I especially like that naked nude body design. I am looking to upgrade my analog rig in due time and for now, eyeing a used Linn LP12 or perhaps a Wilson Benesch ACT 0.5 turntable?
Pass Aleph ONO diy-ed clone.

Pass Labs X2.5 line stage.

Pre amps: DIY Pass ONO clone and Pass Labs X2.5 line stage.

I've always had a thing for the Pass Aleph ONO phono stage, but could never quite find one in the used market. I am still considering the real Mc Coy, despite having built a clone. I am also open to the following phono stages one day, when the oppurtunity comes.
1) PS Audio GCPH phono stage
2) Simaudio Moon LP5.3
3) Ayre P5e phono stage

I've always thought the Pass Labs X series pre amp looked oh... so.... cool! It turn out that they sound very good too, and about the best pre amp to match my Pass Aleph 0 monoblocks. Well the Pass XP series does start to look very interesting too, hmmm...........
Pass Aleph 0 stting on dedicated isolation stools.

Power amp: Pass Labs Aleph 0.

I feel in love at first heard with the Aleph amps. I was so crazy about them, I had at one point, Aleph 0 OS, Aleph 5, Aleph 3 and the pair of Aleph 0 mono blocks. But I ran out of space to store them, and under duress from my significant other half, I had to let the rest of them go and only kept the Aleph 0 mono blocks for use. The Aleph 0 was named by Stereophile as amplifier of the 90's decade. I am still turned "on" each time I see an Aleph, and would hope to get a pair of Aleph 2 mono blocks(they are Nelson Pass's favourite child!, he still uses them today, amongst his other projects!). A pair of monster Aleph 1.2 rated for 200 class A watts is a very attractive proposition too!
Audio Physic Spark V speakers with FE Ceraball Universal shoes.

Speaker: Audio Physic Spark V.

These are the last of the Audio Physic Spark series, before being discotinued in year 2008 for the newer Sitara series. With their lute like semi circle body shape, the Spark looks very attractive, and most importantly, with 2 units of five inch drivers and a tweeter, the speaker sonically fitted in to my room's acoutics like hand in glove. My audio room measures 10 x 12 x 9ft (W x L x H) in size, hence my speaker size choice is limited by the room size. The Audio Physic is very transparent sonically and highly revealing of the front end's strenghts and weaknesses. Perhaps an Audio Physic Virgo, or is it the Marten Form speakers are the next upgrade to aspire to?
Torus Power RM8A stting on isolation stool.

Auxilary equipments: Torus Power RM8A PIU.

The Torus Power Power Isolation Units, as they are called, are to me at least, one of the best Power Line Conditioning products available today. It really totally isolates the whole house aplliances and lightnings away from the audio system, powered thru Torus Power. You ain't heard your system's full potential till you've tried plugging it thru a Torus Power.
AQ Sky, Colorado, Cardas Golden Presence and RCA/XLR caps all over!

Cables: Assorted as per listed below.

Audioquest Sky XLR interconnect. (CDP> Pre amp)
Audioquest Colorado XLR inreconnect. (DIY Phono stage> Pre amp)
Cardas Golden Presence XLR interconnect. (Pre amp> Power amp)
Siltech G7 Classic 25th Anniversary 330L speaker cable.
JPS In wall power cables.(terminated with Furutech plugs), [wall> Torus Power], [Torus Power> Wireworld Electrifier, Power amps]
AOR Reference 003 power cables.(terminated with Furutech plugs), [Wireworld Electrifier> CDP, DIY Phono stage]
PS Audio Power Plus power cable. [Wireworld Electrifier> Pre amp]
Furutech FI-11G plug, with more RCA/XLR caps!

Shunyata Dark Field cable elevators with Cardas Golden Presence.

Tweaks and accesories:

Telos Gold/Platinum RCA/XLR caps.
CMY Nickel RCA caps.
Generic plastic RCA caps.
Shunyata Dark Field cable lifters.
Wireworld Electrifier power distributor.
Audio Prism Quiet Line MKIII.
Isotek Isoplug.
FE Spider clone audio racks.
FE Ceraball Spider/Universal.
Tong Lee Mana clone isolation stools.
All Stop carbon brush.
Audio Technica stylus cleaning fluid.
Kontact Gold contact cleaner fluid.
X-2 Cap Filter DIY tweak.
Shoe rack acoustic difusers
Hi Way Laser styrofoam random difusers.
Auralex MetroFusor diffuser panels.

So should you read my product reviews, do keep in mind about my sonic preferences and my system's slightly coloured if tonally warm nature.


Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Excellent write up Big E!

Yours is definitely a dream system!


Big E said...

Thanks Felix,

You're our no.1 feedback!

Congrates! and thank you for the support of our new venture.