| Apogee Acoustics Centaur Major |
Creek CD-50 MkII/Classic
VPI Industries Scout
Benz Micro Glider M2
Mod Squad Duet
Vibrapods isolation feet
Nitty Gritty 1.5 Record Cleaning Machine Tweak
Gabriel Gold Revelation Interconnect
Synergistic Research Tesla Accelerator Interconnect
Parasound HCA-2200 mkII
Apogee hybrid ribbon system
This system is built around the Apogee Centaur Major ribbon speakers. They are capable of painting an incredible image where musicians are distinctly placed in a 3-D space right in front of you. Incredibly small details (fingers drawn over strings, foot tapping, breathing, keys clicking, individual voices from the audience and their location) are plainly discernible. The goal of this system is to deliver the most accurate image possible with as tone that is realistic as possible. This includes soundstaging, detail, depth, tightness of image, and tonal accuracy throughout the frequency range. I want tonal neutrality, with neither a noticeable leanness or warmth.
I got these speakers from the original owner who is a very accommodating and gracious person. These speakers cost $1,500 and were in mint condition. They were made in ~1992. They would cost at least 7 times as much to purchase these speakers if they were made new today.
I have found that my vinyl player is clearly superior to my CD source. Both my analog and digital sources are Stereophile Class B rated (for what that is worth). Both sound very, very nice, but the vinyl unit is clearly the superior performer. I am shocked by the full-textured beauty that comes from my turntable sometimes.
I have heard several other Apogee owners' systems and they all prefer tubes in one way or another over solid state. I don't dislike tubes per se (I think they sound very nice), but I feel that the right solid state amplifier will give me a more accurate reproduction of the music, which is my goal. Tube warmth and fatness sounds nice, but to me it is not necessarily accurate and does not really fit the goals I have for my system. I want transparent solid state amplifiers with a rich tone that resolves the detail and instruments very well in space.
This system plays acoustic music (or music that is recorded and engineered like an acoustic session) extremely well. Poorly engineered, cacophonic rock music and the like doesn't sound good on this system because the poor recording quality becomes evident and it sounds like noise. Don't get me wrong, I love me some AC/DC and Bad Religion, but I usually listen to that kind of music in my car or on a system with a 1970's monster Kenwood KR-9600 receiver and The Advent/1 speakers. I usually listen to jazz, blues and classical on the Apogee system. My musical tastes are varied, however, including country, reggae and ska, rock and roll, rap, R&B, funk, latin, zydeco, bluegrass, etc.
One half of the living room (my listening room, 16' x 23') is set up as the dedicated hi-fi listening area. The Apogees are 4' 5" from the rear wall, 4' 11" apart from each other at the inner edge, and 8' from the listening position. The best listening position is relatively close to the speakers, which lets direct sound waves reach the listener faster and with greater amplitude than reflections from the rear and side walls. A rug was placed directly in front of the speakers. Vibrapods under the components isolate them extraordinarily well from the sharper foot fall vibrations. Bookshelves were placed on the rear wall and on the side of the speakers to reduce some reflections. Nothing is placed on the wall behind the speakers to amplify the three dimensional image produced by rear-firing sound waves from the dipole ribbons combined with the forward-firing waves. Placing the speakers 53" from the rear wall produces the optimal depth-of-field illusion.
Since I bought the base components of this system, I have replaced the ICs and amplifier. I replaced Nordost Red Dawn ICs with 1 Synergistic Research Tesla Accelerator (preamp -> amp) and 2 Gabriel Gold Revelations ICs (sources -> preamp). The GGs provide incredible frequency extension on the top and bottom and a very rich tone, and the SR provides great 3D soundstaging and detail. They seem to work in conjuntion so that the positive qualities of both are accentuated. I'm very happy with them. I replaced my Classe CAP-150 amp with a Parasound HCA-2200 Mk2 Ultra High Current. This amp is a beast. It has an incredible amount of current and bass emphasis which finally makes the C-Major woofers come alive, and its reputation of rolled-off highs seems to complement the Apogee MRT ribbons perfectly, which can be slightly bright. Soundstaging is deeper and just phenomenal now, with incredibly rich tone from bass up to the highest highs. I also replaced the Parasound power cord with a PS Audio Statement power cord. It has a 6 gauge copper conductor and I plug it straight into the wall. This had a very positive effect on the amp, increasing response and tightness in all the frequency ranges and focusing the image slightly. The rest of my components are plugged into a PS Audio Juice Bar (a star-wired power strip) which is again plugged directly into the wall. I'm going to get another PS Audio power cord to run between the Juice Bar and wall outlet when one becomes available. I'm very happy with the sound from this system now. If you are in Austin and want to hear some hybrid Apogees, I'm amenable to an audition, just send me an email.
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