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:


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.


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.


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?


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.
Here's a nice, simple recipe for you:

Replace that Monster Cable stuff with SignalCable copper speaker cables and interconnects. The Monster is smooth and musical, but it definitely lacks detail. Fast transients and nuances will be much better presented with the SignalCable and it's not expensive. The SC Silver Resolution interconnects are excellent, as well. I did an AB with the SignalCable against the old Monster in my system and it was not a close contest. The more SignalCables you use, the better it will sound. Don't just try one set of interconnects and expect a miracle.

Get two PS Audio Ultimate Power Cell AC conditioners. Use one in the high-current mode only on your amplifier. Use the other on your front end gear and separate/isolate the digital from the analogue components. If you're anywhere near NYC, your system will definitely benefit from competent AC filtering.

That should open your eyes (and ears) a bit!
Hey, Plato, thanks for mentioning the PS Audio conditioners. I'd
forgotten about those! But, a look at your virtual systems shows none of
the PS Audio products listed. Do you use PS Audio yourself? Does your
recommendation of their products come from personal experience?
Hi Tvad,

As you know, audiophile systems are usually "works in progress" and some of the things I currently have in my system were not there when I originally posted the virtual system.

I'm actually in the process of evaluating the new PS Audio GCC-250 amp and Paul McGowan loaned me some cables and an Ultimate Power Cell to try and get the best performance out of his amp. After about a week of break-in, I'm happy to report that the UPC made a very nice improvement in dynamics, clarity, and bass articulation. It works great with GCC-250 and also with my reference amp. The UPC has taken them both to higher levels of performance than I was able to attain without it. My only complaint about it is that the blue pilot light is a bit too bright. Then again, it doubles as a night light. I don't believe Paul will be getting it back.

Every once in a while I update my virtual system and will probably do so again in the near future.
Plato, thanks for your reply. I actually misunderstood which product you were talking about...I mistook the Power Cell for an Ultimate Outlet High Current conditioner. Thanks for helping me clear that mistake.
Apparently, the Ultimate Power Cell (UPC 200), which lists for about $499, is an evolution of the Ultimate Outlet current conditioners. It has 4 high-grade AC outlets and contains two independent "Power Cells". Each power cell has two AC outlets. You can use them independently to provide isolation from one Power Cell to the other, or flip the bottom panel switch into the High-Current mode to strap the two Power-Cells together (each cell supports 15amps of current). It has PS's new svelte modern styling and it works very well with large, high-current amplifiers...
I'm thinking that to best utilize my two dedicated 20a outlets, the
Ultimate Outlets might be the better choice. Using dedicated outlets
removes the issue of contamination of digital noise, and provides the
benefit of not limiting current (which I believe the Power Cell does unless
it is switched to the High Current mode, but you then lose the isolation

Cwlondon, sorry for hijacking your thread...
I'm thinking that Paul McGowan wanted his amplifier to perform as good as possible for my upcoming review. He could have sent me either device yet he chose to send the UPC 200.

I fail to see any advantage of using the Ultimate Outlets over the UPC-200s in the application which you've described, other than their slightly lower price tag. The High-Current mode should support 30amps of current and the extra outlets provide flexibility in configuration and use.

Using two UPC 200's, one could be set to the high-current mode for the power amplifier(s), then the other one could be used on your other dedicated line for your source components providing isolation between your digital and analogue components (each having two outlets in the normal mode).

Plus the baluns are newer versions and other improvements have been incorporated in the UPC 200. But perhaps I'm missing something.
Besides the cables upgrades mentioned above. Audio Asylum has a tweakers/diy & plannar asylum.

Your speaker placement & acoustic materials are probably to blame as well as speaker stands for Magnapan's. you can diy or have someone else make them.

some sites

enjoy dave