Best HOME system you've ever heard


Hopefully its your own. For some of us were still taking steps to get there. One thing I have realized is that its not all about money. 2 examples.

The best system my Uncle has ever heard was from a friend in Calgary who used a CAL audio cd player, Ayre K1-X preamp, Halo speakers (???) and a budget NAD power amp. My Uncle and the owner of the "Audio Room" had both said it was by far the best home system they had ever heard. To the extent that the Hifi Shop owner was purposly trying to build a room which sounded better using much more exotic electronics, but simply could not.

Second example is when I heard a system that got me into this whole mess back in the 90's. It was simply a Nak cd player, SimAudio Celeste pre/amp and Mirage M-3 speakers. The sound that came from that system was just jaw dropping. Soundstage and dynamics have not been matched since then to these ears. Perhaps I have warm and fuzzy memories of inferior systems of past but that system destroyed a system the same owner put together 8 years later including Totem Mani 2's, copland pre, Moon power, Nak cd. It wasn't even close.

I was curious of the BEST HOME setups you've heard. I hope to hear of stories of how people have come up with crazy and sometimes weird combo's and pulled off reference musical system from them. The $7k Ayre preamp with the $800 NAD power amp had everybody scratching their heads and made quite a few people "angry and puzzled" that story always made me chuckle, who would have thought.
lush
Glad to see that the Ayre K-1x was the cornerstone of that system. (I use that preamp in my system.)

That being said, the best I have ever heard was my friend's, who has the following system in his dedicated sound room. (By the way, it is the best period! Including: home, or store or even stereo convention.)

His system includes:
VPI HRX TT, with Koetsu Urushi cartridge; ARC Ref. 2 preamp; Aesthetix Rhea phono preamp, Lamm M2.2 monoblock amplifiers, and Avalon Eidolon speakers.
I am not sure about the interconnects or the cabling, but I do know that he is currently using Audience Au24 speaker cables, which are about to be replaced with Nordost Valhallas.

This is an incredible system. It just got a whole lot better with the introduction of the Lamm amplifiers. (It was very good before, (the best I had ever heard) but now it is unbelievably good.) The amount of detail is astonishing. The soundstaging and imaging is spot on. The frequency response is awesome. He used to use VTL 450s, which sounded great, but were a little weak in the bass response. Now, the bass response is very deep and very quick. The Lamms seem to impart a sense of life to the music. Some call it soul and some have referred to it as an organic sound. Whatever it is, they really make the music come to life.

Care to guess what amplifiers I want to get now?!
I think 80% of the formula is matching the speakers to the room. I had some vandersteen 2ce sigs awesome sound stage, I also had a set of canton horbal in my apartment but when I moved to my house grate soundstage. I have since gone to vandersteen 5a I have lost a little of the openness Far more refined speaker and I wouldn't go back my cantons with a onkio receiver would give it a run for it's money in some facets. Your right it's not the level of equipment so much as the blending. But I find the hard thing to get is the soundstage and full frequency response nice and even.
I don't know about "Best" home system but I can relate the challenges I've overcome which enabled me to get excellent sound in a difficult room. I have a 13x19x9 room with wood floors frame construction. It has a 6x7 opening at the rear into another room and a 6x7 opening into a hallway on the side next to the right speaker. On the side of the left speaker is a large window, all of which makes a room that leaks mid-low bass (big suck out in 40 - 50hz) has a glass first reflection point on one speaker and none on the other. I love finely focus sound WITH a big sound stage - don't like diffused sound at all. What to do, what to do.

I pulled my speakers (dynamic type) out about 5 feet from the rear (short wall) placed them within 18 inches of the side walls (not usually recommended) so that from tweeter to tweeter they are about 10 ft apart. My listening position is triangulated and about 10'6" from each tweeter. Then I toed in the speaker so that the axis of each speaker crossed well in front of me (the angle corresponded to the angle I would have used in larger room without my problems, had the speaker been pointed straight ahead). With this set up I avoided the problem of the 1st reflection points. This gave me tight image focus and, when the recording contained the into, a huge and deep sound field which apparently exceeds the boundries of the room behind the place of the speakers. Not bad for a small and far from ideal room, IMHO!
To my mind there are two challenges in building a great home system (three if you count assembling thse initial bank balance...) The first one is figuring out what kind of sound you're after. The second is putting together a room that will do provide the right acoustic environment for that sound. After that, it's mainly a matter of experimenting with enough gear to figure out what design philosophies provide the sound you're looking for, and maximizing those qualities when you find them. In my experience the best gear for a particular system is usually not the most expensive available, but at the same time it's never inexpensive.

I'm after a natural, organic, tonally dense, highly focussed, ultra-transparent sound, with a natural warmth, speed you don't notice and dynamics that sound real rather than impressive. Intimacy is more important to me than scale.

This has led me to a system consisting of a very high quality single ended amp, highly efficient dynamic (non-horn) speakers and a tube-based, transformer-coupled, non-oversampling digital front end. The system is housed in a medium sized, well proportioned, symmetrical, well-damped (but not over-damped) room.

I'm content that for my tastes, my system is the best I've ever heard. I can no longer think of anything I want to change, or even play with.
mine is the best system I have heard overall anywhere.
To my mind there are two challenges in building a great home system (three if you count assembling thse initial bank balance...) The first one is figuring out what kind of sound you're after. The second is putting together a room that will do provide the right acoustic environment for that sound. After that, it's mainly a matter of experimenting with enough gear to figure out what design philosophies provide the sound you're looking for, and maximizing those qualities when you find them. In my experience the best gear for a particular system is usually not the most expensive available, but at the same time it's never inexpensive.

I'm after a natural, organic, tonally dense, highly focussed, ultra-transparent sound, with a natural warmth, speed you don't notice and dynamics that sound real rather than impressive. Intimacy is more important to me than scale.

This has led me to a system consisting of a very high quality single ended amp, highly efficient dynamic (non-horn) speakers and a tube-based, transformer-coupled, non-oversampling digital front end. The system is in a medium sized, symmetrical, well-damped but not over-damped room.

I'm content that for my tastes, my system is the best I've ever heard. I can no longer think of anything I want to change, or even play with.
I agree that the system-room interaction is exceedingly important--perhaps THE most important factor in assembling a true reference system. I have a basement listening area that I thought was going to give me boatloads of acoustic problems, but after some treatment and some positive compliments from a few "golden ears," I was pretty happy. My system certainly isn't the best out there--and the room, at best, can be described as "quirky"--but it's one of the best I've heard, as presently configured. As gear evolves and improves, I'll likely make some changes, but for now, I'm pretty damn happy.
Hmmm....

Sumo Andromeda amp, Linn LP12, and Vandersteen speakers. Can't remember the pre-amp in that set-up, or the Vandersteen model, but it was the system that started me down this path 15 years ago.

It made a huge impression on me at the time. I'd been introduced to "audiophile" stuff the year before, but that's the first time I heard the music and not the gear.

I'll be bold and say that my system now probably bests that one (but just by a little), but that's the one that counted in my memory. Thanks for the time-warp!

Chip
The best I ever heard was a system at Deja Vu Audio in Mclean, VA. It was an Esoteric DV-50 universal player, into one of Vu's preamps and amp. He builds incredible sounding gear. This system fed a pair of single driver horn loaded speakers he had built, utilizing a tubed active crossover. I think it surprised even Vu when he threw in a plain cd of Mel Torme and it was like he was in the room. Amazing! And I couldn't even afford half of it! Ah well, it's good to dream. By the way, I am in no way affiliated with Vu or his store.
Tuff question, I guess mine as I live in an audiophile starved area for the last 20 years. The few audiophiles I have run across...had the gear, but not the room, or knowledge to set it up properly IMO.

It's hard to bring everything together what with wife factor, room, cost, component synergism, knowledge...ect, ect... so those factors place what should or could be a very nice system at a dis-advantage around my neck of the woods.

If it was not for Audiogon and the other audio sites I visit...I may feel I was the only audiophile left in the world!

Dave
my rig.
About five variation ago at my house. Maybe I should return to the DQ-10's and the Electrocompaniet?
Imin2u,for what they were & how old they are the dq 10's were a killer speaker,i had 2 pair with a pair of dq bass speakers & that set up rivaled alot of big $$$$ rigs ive heard,i kinda miss em.

mike.
My buddy years ago had a system that would just amaze. If my memory serves me correctly he had a Pair of Martin Logan Aerius which he spent about a month positioning. They were ran by a CARY SLA-70 Class A Amp which had a Volume Pot installed with a Rotel Transport and a Micromega DAC for the front end. I think cabling was AudioQuest Diamond and Their AudioTruth Silver Speaker Cables.

You could sit in the sweetspot and just be amazed.. I always think of that system's sound. I mean it had a huge soundstage, dynamics, and air to dye for. I of course have heard much more expensive systems but this set up was just enjoyable..
Again My System is the best I have ever heard.I know I've seen this posted here before,But my system is different in that I'm obtainig such a level of transparency and realism I just have not heard on other systems.The Martin Logan Quest Z's with the ARC VT-60,and CJ PV-5 Moded just simply sound magical together.I am currently making up my own IC's to bring out even much further transparency and soundstaging
with my system.Since the IC's are not something used on the open market it does create a different reference to work with and strive to puch the sound to its ultimate reference
Threads probably don't get any more subjective than this, but why not indulge?
I recall back in the 70's when I was just a "still wet behind the ears" teen, an upper crust family's son wielded an all B&O Audio system. Stunning visually, and at the time also acoustically. Everyman's dream of audio... The image and sound of that system has stayed with me all these years.

Two things have vastly influenced the enjoyment of my home system:
The Room seemed to be the big factor in my system. Building a noise diminishing environment, coupled with room tuning transformed the performance of my economical system. I built the room as a listening room which can also serve as a HT. It seems that wherever I go and listen to equipment even multiples higher priced, when I return to my sound room, my rig sounds better. I guess that makes the price of the room worthwhile (since I have less desire for upgrades in equipment)!

The other factor was trying "stacked" speakers. It was a calculated gamble (what an oxymoron, eh?) in that I had no clue how well/poorly it would perform and it was a sizeable expenditure, but promised to have a huge acoustic payoff. Simply put, running stacked, biamped speakers has catapulted the sound from just entertaining to scintillating.