Approaching Nirvana? Where is My Achilles Heel?
Thanks for taking a look at such a long post, but I am excited to report that I may be breaking through to a new level of audio nirvana.
For the first time in many many years -- I am getting interested in sitting down and listening to MUSIC, revisiting old CDs etc, because I am no longer distracted by obvious, irritating weaknesses in the system.
This has been primarily due to the installation of MYE stands to my Tympanis (posted other thread) and tweaking the placement of my speakers.
But this has been sufficiently dramatic that it is motivating me to put the rest of the system under a microscope.
So here is a challenge to all of the supreme gurus on Audiogon, give me your best diagnosis please of the final frontier to upgrade my system.
If any of you are passionate about any of the following areas, I would greatly appreciate your advice or ideas or comments on the entire system:
MAGNEPLANAR TYMPANI PLACEMENT
I have spent many hours experimenting with placement and have settled into the following:
room is about 21 x 25 with 12 ' ceilings, very solid, and quite reflective with a concrete slab, hardwood floors and lots of glass but sounds surprisingly good
mid/tweeter panels are now about 6' from rear wall and 6' from side walls, 8-9 ' apart and toed in slightly at about 15 degrees.
(I had them further out in the room from both rear and side walls, but that seemed to make them sound thin. Now bass, is better and images are focused in space between speakers)
There is NOT a lot of image depth, however, nor images floating beyond the edges of the speakers.
The 2 detached bass panels are now almost straight, with the outermost panel almost TOUCHING the side walls. The inner (middle of 3) bass panels are now carefully positioned in alignment with the inside, tweeter mid panels again with slight toe in of about 15 degrees.
This seems to have DRAMATICALLY improved the bass from my previous folded V shape, and is curiously contrary to the factory's advice that you can "pretty much put the bass panels anywhere"
Vintage Monster M-1 and M-1000, circa 1989 (Bruce Brisson of MIT designed?) inexpensive banana plugs, and Home Depot 10 gauge yellow wire with black stripe
I confess I am so stubborn and skeptical about megabuck voodoo cables that I have been THINKING about upgrading them since about 1994.
Perhaps worse, I recently ran out of length on my original cables and patched in some 10 gauge Home Depot extension cables which are now running from my amp to the Magneplanar crossovers boxes which are themselves connected to the panels with BASIC Monster Cable.
Now I still dont want to spend thousands on cables, but if anyone can suggest a modestly priced but sure fire improvement, that would be great.
I did some listening to some $$$ (although used) Madrigal interconnects and compared to the old Monster cables they sounded TERRIBLE -- cloudy, nasally, closed in - as if the system was suddenly out of phase.
FRONT END SONY SCD-1
This player is stock and I think is pretty good for the price I paid ($1800). Would consider the upgrades or adding a tube DAC perhaps.
PRE AMP ARC SP-11 MK II
Have a new set of tubes from Audio Research which I have not yet installed.
Have used present tubes off and on for about 3-4 years, sometimes not using the system for weeks at a time, and at other times leaving it on 24/7 for a few weeks. Would you think they are overdue for replacement? What would this do to the sound?
POWER AMP -- LEVINSON 23.5
Bought this on the highest recommendation from the Maggie factory for Tympani IVa's.
It seems to deliver sufficient, perhaps even ample, but not extraordinary power to the Tympanis. A bit on the dark side, perhaps, but in general a pretty good, liquid sounding amp. Have thought about actively biamping with ARC crossover, Bryson 7Bs and/or tubes on top, but previous threads were inconclusive on benefits of that upgrade.
None. Never have used it or even a surge supressor on audio, video or computers for years and years and years and never had a problem.
(Nor have I ever had a virus or a hacker on my computer.)
If anyone has any thoughts at all here on how I might get more image depth, image beyond boundaries of panels or a tubier, more analoguey, musical sound (other than by adding more tubes and a turntable?!, I would greatly appreciate any ideas, feedback or suggestions.
Successful suggestions will receive invitation for drinks or dinner and audition in NYC area!
Thanks and best wishes.