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Fretless's ♪♫ Slicker 'n Christ On A Stick Dipped In Butter Sauce ♫♪ System
IP Address: Last Update: June 24, 2017 at 18:04:06
Amplifier: Audiomat (France) Prélude Reference 30WPC tube integrated. Push-pull; no negative feedback; primary passive volume; direct-coupled between the first two stages; class A to mid-power.

Fire-bottle complement: (4) Mutine sourced EL-34 output and (3) Early '60s green label Sylvania JHS 12AX7 phase inverter/driver.

Preamplifier (or None if Integrated):
Speakers: J M Reynaud (France) Offrande triangular transmission line stand-mount monitors with 1-1/4" thick solid beech batten-board cabinets and stands (spiked to the floor). 89dB; stable 4Ω minimum impedance; 6.7" Woofer and 1.1" wide-open cone tweeter; three-way (woofer has separate voice coils for mids & bass) with crossover frequencies at 600Hz and 3800Hz; solid in-room response down to mid-30Hz.

ACI (US) Force Subwoofer with domestic class AB 250w amp; down-firing ten in a sealed cabinet; continuously variable low-pass 24db/octave, increasing to 36db/octave crossovers, and continuously variable 0-180º phase (the all-important 'timing' control). The only time you know it's there is when it's switched off.

CD Player/DAC: Philips CDB-650 (Belgium) w/domestic Maggie badge. I've tried several decent seedy spinners, but I keep coming back to this inexpensive, heavily-modded* vintage deck with the Philips CDM-2 swing-arm transport and the "legendary" TDA 1541 chip set. System synergy, I guess.

*Non-oversampling DAC conversion; upgraded PSU transformer, caps and diodes; upgraded clock, output caps, op-amps, regulators and connectors; various structural tweaks; no muting transistors, etc.

I've always liked the dark, dynamic, non-fatiguing sound of this old player, but its rhythm and pacing performance was just mediocre. The extensive modifications, particularly the beefed-up PSU, gave it a nice kick in the boogie department. Like most digital, it lacks the vigorous drive, timing subtlety and natural flow of a good turntable, but it doesn't completely suck.
Turntable/Phono Stage: Michell (UK) Gyro SE Mk II with a dynamically and statically balanced three-point spring suspension, carbon/vinyl/acrylic copolymer platter with brass peripheral weights, DC motor, inverted oil-pumping bearing, Orbe screw-down clamping system with rigid reflex spacer and HR "never-connected" PSU.

Morch (Denmark) UP-4 unipivot tonearm with a hardened steel pivot resting, point-down, in a concave polished sapphire, running with minimal damping fluid in the bearing housing. I'm using a yellow-dot (8g effective mass) silver wired armwand, with red-dot (6g), and blue-dot (14g) wands in reserve.

Silver Audio "Silver Breeze" (did I mention that it's silver?) DIN/RCA phono cable.

UP-4 specific WallyTractor mirrored alignment protractor that directly aligns the cantilever; so much more precise than eyeballing the cartridge body.

Dynavector (Japan) XV-1 0.3mV low-output moving coil cartridge with multiple Alnico magnets. Line-contact stylus retip on the original boron cantilever by Soundsmith. Overkill? Possibly, but I got it in a rather bizarre lopsided trade with a rather bizarre lopsided inmate, and the Michell/Morch combo seems to be up to the task. Also have a Dyna 20XL and a coupla Denons as backup.

Art Audio (UK/US) Vinyl One triode MC/MM phono preamp with internal Lundahl Mu metal SUTs w/70dB total gain and 1KΩ load. I'm using the tighter, more pace-y and direct sounding "A" outputs, as opposed to the richer and more spacious (but far less lively and focused) Hovland MusiCap-filtered "B" option.

Fire-bottle complement: (2) NOS ribbed-plate Telefunken 12AX7s for amplification; (1) Tung-Sol 12AX7 (using both halves, one per channel) for the cathode follower; (1) NOS RCA clear-top 6FQ7 for power supply regulation.

Other Source(s): Nakamichi 480, various R2R decks and analog cassette porta-studios for live recording and a mediocre Technics DD turntable w/auto-lift as a backup.
Other Accessories/Room/Misc.:
Speaker Cables/Interconnects: Ric Cummins (the Argent RoomLens guy) Pursang silver IC from phono stage to amp (replaced Audience Au24).

Cardas Golden Cross bi-wire speaker cable.

Audience Power Chord for the amp.

Acoustic Zen Tsunami power cord for the Vinyl One.

Acoustic Zen Matrix IC for the seedy player.

DH Labs Subsonic IC for the Sub.

Other (Power Conditioner, Racks etc.): The entire system is rigidly-coupled on spikes or points all the way to the floor, with nothing compliant anywhere save the turntable and cartridge cantilever suspensions, and no mass-loading except for the subwoofer support.

Zoethecus rack - rigid, lightweight maple frame, modded with adjustable spikes through the phenolic support platforms.

Stock Zoethecus shelves replaced with various Neuance and Symposium low-mass constrained layer platforms (some not shown).

Ikea Lack light, rigid triangular end-table with glued and spiked legs to support the Michell HR PSU.

Chris VenHaus Hot Box outlet box with modified VH Audio "Flavor 4" power cord, plugged into an Acme silver outlet.

2" maple butcher block to support the subwoofer (with a large sandbag and cone points under the block), with around twenty pounds of granite on top of the sub to improve rigid support coupling. This arrangement also helps mitigate the "sounding-board" affect that a downward-firing sub inflicts on the suspended hardwood floor. It's the only example of mass-loading I've heard that didn't screw up the music.

Tweaks: Tak putty used sparingly to fine-tune the damping characteristics of the Gyro's sub-chassis. A few small blobs helped sharpen the overall focus, but too much begins to dull the music's pacing.

Caig Pro-Gold G5 and R5 contact enhancers.

VPI (Vanquish PRaT Instantly) "Magic Brick" on the amp over the trannies. A gift from a good audio-buddy. It does...something.

1-1/2" copper unions over the power cable IEC plugs feeding the amp and phono stage to close the RFI/EMI gap created by the unshielded plastic connectors. These things actually made a subtle-but-noticeable improvement in the system's clarity.

Three Mapleshameless brass cones under the seedy player and three Audiopoint brass cones under the Vinyl One, along with two small Mapleshady weights on top to improve support coupling and dick with the perforated cover's resonant freq.

22ga hookup wire from the Offrande static-drain connectors to the amp chassis ground.
Room Size (LxWxH): 24' x 13.5' x 8'
Room Comments/Treatments: The room has raised oak floors (not particularly bouncy; no turntable footfall issues) with a large, heavy wool area rug. Four huge antique embroidered silk uchikake wedding kimonos and several silk haori cover various diffusing materials, especially at the side wall first reflection points. The speaker front baffles are about 5' out from the front wall and form a 7-1/2' triangle with the listening area.

This is also a living/dining room, and out of necessity, the listening area is a little too close to the center of the room and the first length and width modes. In spite of that, the room bass response is quite good; tight and rhythmically coherent, with no troublesome midrange clutter. I borrowed some large bass traps and heard surprisingly little improvement.

My two parrots contribute dust, down, bird crap and feathers, all of which lend a gentle avian affect to the upper-mids.

I generally refrain from listening when that big yellow thing is still in the sky. Routine nighttime listening is always 'foreground' in ambient darkness with a bit of tasteless mood lighting and no distractions.

Music Preferences and Comments:
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Classical (mostly 20th century impressionist); hard electric jazz-fusion (no fuzak!); acoustic jazz; modern, "classic" and progressive (mostly British) rock; world; European folk; bluegrass, etc.

Hell, I'll listen to just about anything with real musicians playing real instruments as long as no turd-polishing tools like "Auto-Tune" are in evidence, though I try to avoid audiophile schlock and the tedious use of "reference" recordingzzzzzz.

Four thousand+ cherry-picked LPs--with very few duplicates and no dead wood--on a bunch o' shelves scattered throughout my smallish home have just about exhausted my storage space. : (
System Goals/Comments: I'm far more interested in pursuing fidelity to the performance elements of the music than I am in chasing fidelity to the sonic carrier, but I'd still like the latter to be more or less well-represented.

My goal is a musical presentation that's fun, energetic and emotionally connective. I want a reasonably revealing hi-fi that's still musically satisfying with even the nastiest recordings.
System Strengths: The music is expressive, lively and involving. It has an emotionally emphatic quality that makes you feel as if the performers are looking right at you. I can listen all night long without fatigue.
System Weaknesses: Not cheap (for me anyway). I'm sure the measurement nerds and "absolute" sound fatties could ferret out a few meaningless sonic nits, but I want to connect with the musical performance, not pick it apart until there's nothing left but the usual audiogoober sound effects and sterile spatial trickery.
Video/HT System: Separate
Comments on HT System: The usual pile of disposable consumer AV crap for the wife (though the old pair of modded Minimus 7s aren't too bad). The best thing about it being that, a) It isn't connected to the music system, and b) It's compact and out of the way. I unplug it whenever I listen to music to avoid poisoning the AC line with a concentrated dose of digital hash.

Other Interests/Hobbies/Occupation: I'm a fretless bass (and occasionally cello) player and instructor by trade. Interests include astronomy, Nihonto, coral-reef aquaria, Wing-Chun, XC mountain-biking, photography, travel, literature and jerking off...ur, I mean home audio (as if there's a difference!)

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