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I don't think we ever "reach nirvana", but I feel I'm getting much closer. In the past I've owned a lot of different, fairly upscale equipment (ML ReQuest, Mirage M3Si, Levinson 27.5, Jadis Defy7 MkIV, VTL MB150's, Theta GenVa Balanced, ARC and Theta Transports, MIT and Transparent cables and interconnect, various ARC line stages and preamps). My current system consists of Avalon Eclipse speakers, Manley Designers Ref 240 mono tube amps, ARC LS15 linestage, MSB LinkDAC3, Pioneer DVD transport, Synergistic Sig#2/Sig#3 Shotgun cable, Tek-line Balanced interconnect, Tek-line digital cable, dedicated 20 amp outlets (no separate audio ground yet), Synergistic AC Couplers, Powerwedge 114. I know my front-end is not on par with the preamp/amp/speakers, but it is making music as I wait out the format war for awhile. In fact, I am much happier with the sound of my system today than I was with my Theta Data Basic/GenVa/LS15/Jadis Defy7MkIV/Avalon Eclipse system! The Manley amps, along with the Avalon Eclipse speakers provided the two greatest improvements/revelations I've ever had in my quest for audio nirvana. I've also just had the Manleys upgraded to the latest transformers and MIT MusicCap capacitors. Another revelation! I am confident that as I make improvements to the front end of my system, audio nirvana will be near at hand. IMHO, it takes a fair-to-alot of experimentation to match your equipment to what moves you about music. I am there! The remaining improvements will merely add the last ounce or two of realism.
I have a split personality. The equipment junkie side of me will always want something else. The music lover side is usually pretty happy with the way things sound right now. My system is Monitor Audio 50, REL Stadium (2), Pass electronics, RPM/Benz phono, Revox FM, Sony/Sonic Frontiers CD, Revox and Nakamichi tape, Discovery and OCOS wire, PS Audio power conditioners, SolidSteel w/ BDR stands and various RoomTune products. I'm a junkie, but I admit it. I'm always looking for another fix.
What a great question.I have wondered the same and can relate to the previous response about the "equipment junkie" inside myself. There is alot of great equipment out there and I have sold equipment I wish I could get back. There are nights where I have met Audio Nirvana but for some reason it goes away the next time I listen, which is probably all psychological. To me one of the great things about the hobby is hearing the different equipment offered. Also what might be one persons Nirvana won't move another. It comes down to personal taste for you and the synergy that each component in the chain does for each other. I am waiting for the day when Nirvana hits and stays. I have tried many different amps from tubes to solid state/Speakers: cone drivers,ribbons,electrostats and many different cables and cd players and have to say there is alot of great stuff out there that have different strengths. It comes down to personal taste. Sorry for the rambling but I know on the whole I am having a great time in search of Nirvana. Thanks to the internet also for it has opened our world to realistic prices to demo the equipment out there without losing a fortune. Enjoy!
AS GOOD AS IT GETS!!!! Multi fold improvement when I added Avantgarde speakers to BAT, VK-60 amp, VK-50SE pre, Sony super CD player and dCS Delius D/A. Nordost top of the line cables. Result is music that is ALIVE with smooth ultra detail. I'm in process of up-grading power cords, possibly the new Black Mamba. Check out the Avantgarde, even their smallest eclipses speakers 4 times the price. Happy hunting.
No but.........Magnaplanar 2.7s, AVA Super Pas 4i, Quicksilver KT-88 Monos and a Sony XA777ES is a my vehicle of current choice. Won't play real loud but paired up with some good Jazz and the journey is pretty pleasurable. I agree that the vehicle isn't so much the equipment but if you enjoy the ride.
I've been at this for almost ten years now and I've probably listened to or owned just about every mainstream high end product out there. I'd have to say that my current system is as close to "Nirvana" as I've ever been. How do you know when you're there? When you're listening and your eyes are closed and you really believe she's there singing just for you and you can count her fillings, you're there! When your listening and the foot is tapping and you're just really enjoying the music, you're there! When your listening and finding yourself focusing in on whatever it it is that you want to...background vocals, the bass guitarist, the separation between instruments in a three dimensional plane, you're there. When you've got it really cranked and its been cranked for at least a half an hour and you find yourself still wanting to turn it up..you're there. And finally, when that special passage hits or a favorite part of a favorite song and you get goosebumps...you're there!!! And that's why we spend the crazy money that we do. After all, you can buy a Sub-Zero refrigerator for the price of a pair of cables..go figure.. so having said all that, my system is Genesis 350 speakers, conrad Johnson Premier 16LS pre-amp, VAC 30/30 (don't let their 30 watts fool you-and its worth putting the Western Electric 300B's in it), VPI Aries with JMW Memorial, Benz Mo9, and Audio Research PH3 SE, Sonic Frontiers SCT-1, Sonic Frontiers SFD2 Mark II, Assemblage Anti-Jitter/Upsampler. Speaker Cables and interconnect are all Harmonic Technology. Hey it does it for me. Isn't that all that really matters?
In ten years of building 3 systems, I reached the end of the line with each only after much trial and error. My first best included Celestion 700SLs in a 12x10 room, VTL 100monos, Kinergetics KCD40, XLO Type 5 speaker, and KCAG- This system defined imaging: I still remember (over 8 years ago) the experience of listening to Andreas Vollenvieder's "Behind the Cavern" and feeling like I was exploring the cave with him. Five years later, I finished putting together a system that was as revealing/transparent as any, including KEF107.2s, VTL 175monos, Nak1000MB transport, Altis Ref DAC, RefLine passive, Nirvana speaker, and KCAG in a 12x21 room. This system was as entralling to listen to as it was frustrating because transparency is truely a double-edged sword--when changing a cable "position" is audible, imagine what the quality of the power does to achieving consistent results. But listening to audiophile-approved recordings such as Patricia Barber or Janis Ian around Christmas when the power seems quietest could be transporting. Finally, 2 years and a lot of heartache later--a system without the usual audiophile gimmicks: same room now with Brentworth Type I speakers, RefLine Sig amp, RefLine passive, BowTech ZZ-One CDP, Nirvana speaker, KCAG. When I sitdown to listen with this system the relaxation is total, yet the music is never dull. With each system I thought I had reached audio nirvana--the difference is that this time I'm ready to end the quest and live with the music. Getting to the summit is possible, but being audiophiles I'm not sure we always appreciate it when we're there. I'm glad to share this with anyone who cares.
If by that you mean that when closing your eyes you are back at the jazz club you went to earlier in the evening, yes! And what makes the difference? Of course the speakers. Read the review of norwex B-2 Nisse in SoundStage! on the web: www.soundstage.com. Click on Audio. Also look us up at http://norwex.homepage.com. If interested contact Harald Aasland at our e-mail adress. I am the owner/designer.
Hi Demar; I've really enjoyed reading the above posts and can identify with much that has already been said. I admit to being an equipment junkie too. Seven to eight years ago, I was listening through mid-fi equipment. My first two pieces of actual high end equipment were Vandersteen 2Ce speakers and an Adcom 600 DAC, and they made a big improvement. Since then, my philosophy has been to "never go backwards" in this quest for audio ecstacy (although I have gone sideways occasionally)-- and it seems to have worked. I made my way through a lot of entry level and Stereophile class B and C equipment. But this year I've finally gotten it all together, and sometimes-- especially late at night, I feel I have reached audio nirvana. Diana Krall, Margo Timmins and the Cowboy Junkies, and my own compilation (CD-R) "Blues and Soul, Nice and Slow" can be beautiful to the point of magical. This spring I had a dedicated AC and ground system installed, and that touched off a bunch of additional up-grades, and yes I'll be in debt for awhile. So I now have Levinson ML 37 transport and 360S DAC, Sonic Frontiers Line 2 pre-amp, and McCormack DNA-2DX amp with Vandersteen 3A sig. speakers. ICs and speaker cables are Synergistic Research Phase two-- about mid-priced wire. Digital cables are Cardas Lightning, and I have Syn. Res. Master Couplers on amp and transport, but I'm also putting them on pre-amp and DAC this week (hope this won't be TOO much of a good thing). Happy Listening Everyone. Craig.
I have achieved Audio Nirvana, (in fact this is my user name on another site). All my friends... audiophiles and non audiophiles agree. We sit spellbound over the awesome imaging and detail in the system. Most would think it a complete fluke. But there is a lot of system synergy. I have a Wadia 860 with audio quest lapis cable, running into Bryston 4b amps powering a set of Infinity RS1 speakers which are flanked by a pair of Entec sw-1 subwoofers. Everyone swears there is a band playing in my room. Even neighbors have come downstairs to ask where I play music because they are convinced it is real. Funny how that works as the Infinity RS1-s are too bright and the Wadia 860 has been refered to as rolled off. The Brystons are a little bright, but my crappy Monster cable dulls that. The Infinitys don't go super low, but the Entecs do and because the entecs pair crosses over at 100hz the 12 8" infinity midbass woofers only have to operate over an octave or so and don't get beamy as a result my off axis response is amazing. Massive massive sweet spot. Sounds better than $250K + systems I have heard. With the 1000 watts of Bryston amplification and 500 watts of the self powered Entecs with 6 ten inch servo controlled woofers I hit realistic live levels. Analog is better than Digital, but the Wadia makes digital real. Don't get jealous yet though. I have had to move out of that place and now have no place for my enormous speakers and now have nothing to listen to. Should have bought a great set of headphones. I''m selling the speakers in this forum .......sigh....... at least I reached it .... don't stop searching for it because it was great while it lasted.
Audiophiles never reach audio nirvana, its the nature of the "beast". However, music lovers do. Once in a while the audiophile in me crosses over to the music lover in me and I briefly reach audio nirvana. Good luck finding it. My advice is enjoy the music you play and try not to worry so much about the equipment. If I could only take my own advice.
i think slowhand's got it just right. the set-up that helps the audio entheusiast in me cross over with the music lover in me (with fairly impressive frequency): wadia's 850 driven by a pair of cj prem. 12's through jm labs' mezzo utopias. wired with transparent reference speaker & kcag interconnects. simple, synergistic and fun.
I've found it several times since 1975.
I'll probably find it a few more times before I'm done.
Kinda like getting married. You find her, sincerely with all your heart tell the world that you will be together til death do you part. You divorce, find her again and profess your love til death do you part...repeat, repeat....
This is so weird. I've had my main system packed in storage anticipating a move back east (from Las Vegas). After some months, I set up a "temporary" system, just to tide me over (KEF Q1 two-way monitors, Sony C15ESD CD changer, Sony STR-DA1000ES A/V receiver and B&W ASW650 subwoofer. Wire is lower-end Harmonic Technology bi-wire speaker cable and Kimber Silver Streak IC).
My big-boy system was always set-up on the short wall of my 325 sq-ft listening room which had 7 foam wall panels (from Guitar Center).
The current system is on the long wall with no treatment and it sounds tremendously good for what it is. I'm really surprised every time I listen to it. Who would have thought that just moving to a different wall would make such a difference! I think I'm in audio paradise!
The VTL and SL700 combination sounds like a great place to start seeking it. My cherry was popped when I had Luxman and Harbeth together, Sudgen pre power combo. USA made McCormack amp and 3A speakers, with up to 5 8" subs, classe cd player. I find audio nirvana often I’m not critical enough a listener perhaps. Exposure amplifiers are another good place to start. Perhaps it has more to do with building than finding.
Gear (I have other gear as well but these are key ingredients/ones that matter most):
Audio research and Bel Canto amplification
Bel Canto and mhdt DACs
DNM Reson ICs and Pangea Power Cords (to a much lesser extent)
Phono section is Linn Axis, Denon DL103R, Electrocompaniet stepup transformer + Mu metal foil shielding around step up transformer
I’ve found the OHM speakers to be the most irreplaceable for maintaining "audio nirvana".
Sorry, no fuses making this list to-date. :^)
I have heard a large number of expensive/exotic systems that - initially - didn't reach listenability, let alone audio nirvana. As a result, I tend to think too much emphasis is put on equipment and not enough on system/room optimisation.
Not stated as fact, just my observations from voicing hundreds of systems.
I think it's more a state of mind than a state of equipment. Someone could have an exotic system and go through all the various adjustments, cables, all that stuff, but just be listening to equipment. Then they downgrade to a good pair of standmount speakers with a decent integrated amp and realize that they are more relaxed mentally just listening to music and not fooling around with equipment. Something like that at least.
I think I'm "set" with equipment now, after years of swapping things out. The only thing I might do is upgrade to a new music server. I have:
PS Audio P10 Power Plant
PS Audio DirectStream DAC
PS Audio PerfectWave CD Transport
McIntosh MC452 Power Amp
McIntosh C50 Pre Amp
Bryston BHA-1 Headphone Amp
Autonomic MMS-5A Music Server
Sennheiser HD800 Headphones
Focal Sopra No2 Speakers
JL Audio F113V2 Sub Woofers (2 of them)
After many, many years, and much listening I'm finally done. Going to RMAF last year really helped me understand what my preferences were. I changed all of my electronics, cables, source and mostly recently purchased speakers. What I was missing was purchasing speakers that were capable of playing in my 20' x 27' room, with the back wall extending to 24'.
IMO, nirvana exists WITHIN us, as a state of contentment and
satisfaction with what we have. That doesn't mean it can't end, because the
desire to upgrade or change--EVENTUALLY--is there in all of us, so I think that
state of complete satisfaction is ultimately temporary for most audiophiles. For some,
nirvana may last many, many years; for others, it may only last weeks.