My Journey to Digital Nirvana Part 1

Guys, I have been sitting on the sidelines for a few days, before deciding to make any further comments. I want to digest what I have been experiencing, and to define my goal in this endeavor.

1st Goal=Accurate Digital music reproduction, as close to vinyl as possible.

Reason=I have no room, or desire, too embark on the vinyl journey. My listening space, right now has 1 rack SS for HT
1 rack Tube for 2 channel. The main speakers are being shared. I swap out interconnects.

This journey has brought me ownership, and the listening pleasure of many machines. In the past, I have made the mistake of hearing a product in a showroom, falling in love with the sound, bringing it home, and not being able to duplicate what I heard, and loved, in my own home.

I am trying ONLY to judge machines, in my home, with my system, with my ears.

I have owned these machines this year.

Denon 2900
Xindak SACD2
Eastern electric Minimax
Shanling T200C
Sony XA777ES
Exemplar 2900
Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista
Audio Aero Capitole II
Esoteric DV-50
Exemplar 3910
APL 3910

From the best of my recollection, I have heard in my home this year.

Sony 333ES
Tjoeb w/mods
Sony 555ES
Modwright Sony DVD9000ES

There are many, many more I have auditioned in audio salons around Chicago, including the Meitner DCC2(I think with the new transport), the DCS/Elgar stack, and more.

I am trying to formulate a way in my mind to express my opinions on the machines I have heard on MY system, without suggestion that one "blows" another away. I am realizing that, in the pursuit of excellence, and when I get to a certain level of detail in an excallent machine, there are the smallest of details that make the difference. This is the reason I HAVE to listen in my system. I realize my system is evolving during, and after these auditions too. IE pre-amps, Interconnects, Power-cords, mods to my speakers, new dedicated power, conditioning, ect. All these changes have cause/effect.

Bearing this in mind, I will try to be as honest as possible, and relate what I am hearing/or heard in the past.

I definately know what I like best TODAY, plus I realize that 1 machine cannot be enough for me. I need 1 machine for 2 channel, and 1 machine for HT/Multi-channel. I like diffent flavors for each. Thus I have a big problem in determining what is best for me. Writing this is helping me think this thru, more clearly. I am taking the approach of money, not being an issue up to $20k. Any more, and I am out. This budget leaves much room. I also do not like to throw money out. I like bang for my buck, thus have fallen head over heals for audiogon, cause it provides a forum for us AUDIO crazed middle aged guys and our obsessions(yes, younger, older, women, are all included here). I have been able to sample so many fine amps, pre-amps, tubes, interconnects, digital sources, buy them, evaluate them in my home, sell them here, and still have relatively the same money to do it again.

Thank you AUDIOGON, sincerly from my heart, and WALLET.

I will answer questions on individual machines i have owned on a per question basis. I would like to tell you where my journey has ende.


For my 2 channel pleasure

I own the APL 3910

I own this machine because it gives the BEST analogue reproduction I have ever heard. It has a built in digital remote control(for my lazy ass)and sounds better without a pre-amp than with one. The redbook on ths machine is phenominal, the best I have ever heard. The 6h30 supertube give the playback a 3d sounstage that draws me into the music, without making me wnat to analyze the instruments, or vocals. I can close my eyes, pick out instruments, visualize in my minds eye where each performer is on the stage. Instrument sounds REAL, piano is piano, drums are drums, cymbals sound like symbals. The dynamics are incredible, the sounstage is layered, the sound is just REAL. I do not experience or feel any digititis. The trble is airy, the decay is natural, when playing one of my college favorites, Chuck Mangione, The Children of Sanchez, the part when the drums start, I have NEVER heard the bass drums sound so real, tight, natural, strong. I was literally brought to tears on this recording. I had to play it over and over, I am still amazed how my system sounds. This is with redbook, If this player did nothing else, I would own it. Here is the kicker. This machine plays ALL formats, and wonderfully, accurately, DVD-A, SACD, HCDC, DVD, Video, 2-channel, multi channel.

Just for today, I love this machine.

Why do I like it better that the Exemplar?

I want to start out by saying that the Exemplar 2900, made me a believer in modified digital. I had the 2900 on my HT rack for a yearand for video, and multi channel it was very good.(my 5.1 has 5 of the same speakers, my subwoofer is the SVS B4-Plus, Crown K2)But, 2-channel made my ears bleed. The Denon Sucked, sucked sucked, compared to my 2 channel. I had bought modded APL SACD 1000 from Tvad, here on audiogon and was thrilled with the SACD playback, and happy with the redbook. I was spending at least 5 hours every day various audio forums, and review sites. I read so many threads, ect my eyes started going blury. I am into horns, and was reading about the Exemplar Horns. I googled Exemplar, and came accross a thread right here on Audiogon, I believe by Tbg, about the Exemplar 2900, and John Tucker, (A wonderful nice man, and a damn rocket scientist to boot). I was so intrigued I emailed John, about the machine, and tried negotiating to order one. He told me he could not discount the Machine, I asked if there was someone local where I could hear the machine. He put me in contact of his Chicago Rep, a great guy named Ric. i drove to his home, and we compared the Exemplar 2900(without siltech)with my APL 1000. SACD was much better on my APL, but, redbook was astonishingly great on the Exemplar. I was a bit dumbfounded cause after reading the stereotimes review of this player, I thought it would best anything out there. It had done that for all other rivals. My tail went between my legs, and Nice salesman that he is, ric offered to let me bring the 2900 to my home for trial. AAhh this would be the real test.

I bought it, and at a great price. I was so exited I started telling people all who would listen about this Denon Exemplar. I could finally get rid of my HT Denon 2900 and have the EXEMPLAR 2900. I shipped my 2900 to John, and impatiently waited, mine would have all of the upgrades, I wanted it to be the best. At about the same time Alex from APL, received his custom made double dac boards with remote volume control for the APL SACD 1000, so I emailed Alex, and shipped it out for the upgrades.

Yes, I am obsessive, no?

After waiting about 3 weeks I received my Exemplar, my hands were sweating, I was breathing heavy, I tore the box open, hooked it up, but no music, the transport was fried. Very disappointed I shipped the unit back to John. Being the great guy he is, he replaced the transport, and shipped it right back. All the while I was on ebay buying E180CC's, 12AV7's, 5965's, ect, just waiting to roll some tubes. I open it up, set it up it plays music, just not the way I remember. I was on audiogon at the time and asked about this, I believe it was Tbg that wrote 250 hours to get it right. I never in my life imagined this could be true. 10 days for the unit to burn in? Why, it did not compute.

Day 10.5 WOW this machine was amazing, all was right in the world. I started on my new mission to see if this was the best machine out there. I received my APL 1000 back with the volume control, I had already determined the Exception II pre-amp bested the Thor TA 1000 mk ii, so I hooked em both up and voila. The redbook on poorer recording was much better on the Exemplar, but, the SACD was better on the APL. On better recorded cd's they were equal. Now, I was happy, I pwned the IMHO at the time best redbook with the Exemplar, and the best SACD with the APL. I was pretty happy for a while. I could not play my Grateful dead remasters on HDCD.

My friend Bill, importer of Eastern Electric had brought over his CD player for me to use while both players were being modded, and when I put my Grateful Dead cd's in his player, they sounded like SACD, they were tranformed into real music. I had to have HDCD. Thanks Bill. More on this player later, this is getting long enough, I feel like I am releasing myself here from pent up audio/mind/block.

I found that the 3910 had newer betterdacs than the 2900,and played all formats. In my research, and in my belief I had to have the Exemplar 3910, but, while I was at it, I realized I had been comparing aplles to oranges in the APL vs Exemplar, they were different machines. As my DAD always said, 2 heads are better than 1, so, I asked both John, and Alex to med me their versions of the 3910.

My fingers are starting to get tired already, but, my soul is being cleansed.

Needless to say, The 2 3910's are some of the Best digital I have heard anywhere, especially in my home in the under 15k catagory. Yes, I know I said 20k was my limit, I just have not listened to any player that expensive, YET.

NOW, how did Imake my decision?

I finally broke he Exemplar fully in, yeah I know those painful 250 hours, and had about 150 hours on the APL. I used my Exemplar Exception II Preamp connected to my Wavelength Cardinal X'1's, connected to the 2 3910's. I used my trusty ratshack spl meter to set volume(The APL has digital volume control), and started to AB these beauties. I could not believe my ears, their was not audible difference. I have been buying a lot of music recently, and intentionally duplicated MFSL's, SACD's, DVD-A's, and HDCD's.

About a week went by, I was driving myself nutz, cause I could not hear a damn difference. They both were WONDERFUL, musical, accurate, all the accolades of great music. I read AVGURU challenging the DV-50 against other players. I knew mine would be better, I just did not realize I would learn about my 3910's at AVGURUS house.

On his system I realized I loved the sound of the APLa touch more than the Exemplar, and amazing as it was, it was because of the redbbok playback. The APL was always great with SACD ect, but it was now better in redbook.

I am getting real tired, and actually need to go back to work, yeah, I know, I still need to make $$$. Gotta support my hobbies, yaknow.

Okay, real fast, with more to come later

I got back to my place, put the exemplar into the system with pre-amp, played a disc-took the 2 pieces out, plugged the APL directly into the amps, and VOILA, a bit more extension, a bit more air, a better sounstage, i stopped analyzing the instruments and vocals, I was ENJOYING the music. I felt wonderful. The difference is this, my friends. I get absolutly no feeling and urge to analyze, I enjoy my music. I could get a little fatigued with the Exemplar, it reminded me of what I remember the Meitner being. Just a tad analytical. With the APL I get everything the Exemplar has to offer, but, with more musical involvement, I am drawn in, I am not trying to get in.

711, thank you for your candid reportage. Congratulations on your bliss...for now, that is, because you know you’re going to be tempted farther down the road as your “nirvana” is stretched.

Could you share with us what types of music you listen to most of the time.

Best regards,
“Farther” is a lot closer to nirvana than “further.” 8>(
what speakers are you using?
2 Channel system

NOSValves VRD PP 60 watt mono's, 4 NOS gold lion KT88's, Mullard 5AR4 Fatbase, Amperex Bugle boy 12AU7 Phase Splitter, Mullard 1959 12AX7 drivers for high spl listening

Wavelength Cardinal X1's Western Electric 300B's, 1957 metal base phillips 5AR4 12.5 watts for Jazz/Vocals/lower level listening

APL Hifi interconnects
Grover speaker wire

1979 Klipsch Cornwall Zebrawood modded speakers

Wolf Source PC

Music Genres

Rock/Blues 50% mostly classics from 50's thru 70's Doors, Pink Floyd, ELP, Bob Seger, Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Steve Miller, Eagles, Grateful Dead, Joe Jackson, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Elvis Presley, Leonard Skinner, ZZ Top, Animals, Zombies, Yes, Steely Dan, Dire Straits, Zeppelin, Refer to Steve Hoffman Forum for more, and yes, there is a lot more, even hip hop with my 13 year old daughter(I am never to old to learn)

Jazz/swing 30% All types Glenn Miller, Brubeck, Brecker Brothers, Billy Cobham, Stanley Clark, Count Basie, Return to Forever, Al Dimeola, Art Pepper, John Coltrane, Monk, Mangione, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Count Basie, much more

Vocals/Classical 20% Diana Krall, Ricki Lee Jones, Norah Jones, Rebecca Pidgeon, Via Con Dios, Show Tunes, Sinatra, Bennett, Caruso,
You need help my friend. You need to "get a life" as the saying goes. Your preoccupation with audio equipment borders on the pathological. Isn't there an "Electronics Anonymous" somewhere? Perhaps Dr. Phil could help. What you are looking for you can never find because you're looking in the wrong place.

Good luck.
Improbabilitydrive, stop it, your sounding like my wife, geeze, can't a guy have any fun any more?

BTW I hear ya.
Improbabilitydrive, i think you are the one who really needs help !
Any more on your impressions of the EE minimax CDP?

The Minimax is a blast tube rolling. Very musical in that it throws a very defined sounstage, just outside the speakers, and a couple feet in front of the speakers. This is in my system. Very good dynamics. I found the best reasonably priced tubes to use were Amperex 6dj8 orange globe A-frame, but the unit gets better with better tubes. They is no digititis to hear on this unit. The remote is well made, heavy, but not back lit. Very good redbok player on the same level as the Xindak scd-2, SEE AA theresa threads. The big surprise to me was playing remastered redbooks, which I did not realize were HDCD, WOW I thought I was playing a wonderful sacd. Bill O'connel, the importer is as good as it gets, he stands behind his product. Probably the most solid player I have owned under 1500, plus the size is SMALL which is very cool.
Thanks 711,

Sounds like it is worth giving it a shot- especially at the current factor direct prices.

How 'musical' is the minimax? I had a stock Jolida JD100- nice tubey soundstage, but seemed lacking in musicality on anything too complex. Now have a Quad 99 CDP that is much better in this respect, but it would be nice to put some tubes back in the sytem.
I would like to answer to Improbabilitydrive (or should it be Improbabilitydrivel ;-) –
711smilin is one of the most interesting contributors to this forum; he listens, has opinions and is not afraid to “push the envelope” and try the new stuff. And most importantly: he shares his knowledge with all of us.
And what was Mr. I-drivels contribution to the subject? Zero, nada, zilch…
Personally I am ingratiated to 711smiling for directing me on the path to Digital Nirvana I would never imagine 2 weeks ago (APL 3910).
Thank you 711…
Nzera, Talk to bill, I am sure if you tell him smilin sent you, he would guarantee the unit. It is slightly rolled off, but you will love what you hear. I actually just listen to music, whenever I hear the minimax. If you are looking to get analytical sound, this unit is not for you. If you wanna lay back and really enjoy the tunes, yes even classical, you will love it. Amperex 6922's d getter's take you to another level, as well as the holy grail, the Amperex Pinched Waist 6922's. Bottom line is, you cannoy loose, make sure to buy all the inexpensive redbooks, remastered in HDCD, you will be in heaven.
Thank you, I am hunbled. I am also having fun, glad to see you are too. Life is just not long enough to let negativity affect me, or us. My MOM was diagnosed with cancer on April 17th this year, she passed away on my 15th anniversary June 11, with her hand in mine. I decided during shiva, to live, one day at a time, and not let anybody, or any thing hold me back. Audio is one of my passions, so, look out world, here I am, willing to explore, try new things, learn, share, with as much honesty, and integrity as I can. Enjoy your journey, my friend. Thanks again.
I'm very sorry to hear about your mother's passing. At the same time, it is uplifting to hear just how you have chosen to live with it. Enjoy yourself, and thank you for your contributions here.
All the best,
Glad to know your mom and dad put the right tubes inside of you.

Burn brightly my friend. LeChaim.
My experience has been somewhat different with the Exemplar. I have a Berning ZH270 amp, First Sound pre, and Merlin VSMM speakers. I absolutely loved the Exemplar 2900 and hear no brightness or harshness. I do hear lots of detail, tons of textures, and a captivating, almost analog sound. In fact, I like the 2900 so much that I am upgrading to the 3910, and I can hardly wait for it to be here!

Recently, I have used the Electrocompaniet dac and a Marantz SA14 player. The Exemplar easily bettered both, and it's the best digital I have heard.

There is no perfect choice for every system, but I would strongly recommend putting the Exemplar on your "must audition" list.
84audio, nicely said...exactly what has been preached for months and months in various threads on Audiogon. And it doesn't just apply to digital but to every component.

711smilin, thanks for taking the bull by the horns and putting your money where your mouth is and buying these units to try. Your reporting and your invitations to others to hear the machines in your system and in theirs has been truly out of the ordinary and has provided all of us with invaluable information.
Good for you 711 that you have found the sonic-nirvanah that brings tears!

I think that's great that you have found it - all the effort and money is worth it if it brings you that much joy. A few things in life is so good and healthy.

Brain scientists are telling us that when we are moved by good music, our body is producing healthy chemicals that's good for us.

I have experienced those precious moments in live music, but I have yet to experience it in my system - still putting together a system with that in mind.

Can you list the units which gave you that joy?


I have never said anything bad about the Exemplar, I loved it so much, I bought the 2900, 3910, exception II, am waiting for a Exception II with siltech, and volume control. It is truely a world class machine. John is a GREAT guy, and a genious. He builds wonderful electronics and speakers. I have also never said it is a harsh or bright player. I also will tell you that you will be thrilled with the 3910, IMHO it is quite an improvement over the 2900. Better detail, extension, soundstage, also has much improved SACD performance along with the HDCD(which I love), DVD-A, AND GREAT video. So, There....

I highly recommend the is truely a wonderful Machine.

84audio, I am looking for the BEST 2-channel machine which is not dependent on price. I have not only bought, paid for, broken in, listened to these machines, but, others too. Many much more expensive. That being said, all the while I had the Exemplar in my system, and in between all the others, I also owned the APL SACD 1000, which I am listening tp right now, as a matter of fact. SACD is better on the SACD 1000 than on the Exemplar 3910, it is as extended, a bit more dynamic, and just more analogue sounding to me. I have never said the Exemplar was better in SACD, that is the reason I owned both. In my research I found that the NEW Burr Brown Dacs on the 3910, were newer, better than the 2900. I ordered the 3910, In fact I believe I received the first 3910 John modded. I loved it, and continue to do so. At the same time I ordered the 3910 from John, I ordered one from Alex too. I have stated if you read my comments, that the Exemplar was superior in redbook, and the APL in SACD. I would like a 1 box solution to all formats for 2 channel. I was comparing apples and oranges, Phillips vs Denon. I decided the only way I would really know would be to have both my favorite guys, mod the same machines, with their individual flavors.

John keeps the Burr brown Dacs, adds power supply, rewires adds new capacitors, cardas binding posts, clock, transformer, tube stage, siltech wiring and more. The results are a wonderfully extended dynamic player, which is very highly revealing. It really reminds me a lot of the Meitner I listened to at a salon. I tried to buy the meitner with an in home trial, but was told they are on back order only. At about 14K, I was not willing to go that route. Bottom line is it is the most extended digital I have ever heard, but, I was analyzing the music, as much as litening to the music. This is the issue I had with the Exemplar. It is so damned detailed, and wonderful, it is very hard to find fault. But, at the end of my comparisons, I am more satisfied with the APL, in my system, with my ears.

Alex takes a different approach in his mods, he feels that Crytal makes better, more musical dacs, than burr brown. He really tears the machine apart, and uses basically the transport, case, and video of the Denon. He integrates his mods differently, uses the 6H30 instead of the E1800CC, uses different platinum/teflon jacks. different transformers, powersupplies, caps, dacs, silver wiring, ect. The result is a machine that was so different from what I was use too from APL with my SACD 1000, I was astonished. Now with the 3910, upon receiving both, and using the Exception II as pre-amp. I bought 16 sets of redbook/sacd rock/jazz/vocals to compare. This way I could A/B with the same pre-amp/music ect. I had to adjust the volume on the APL cause it has a remote volume control, and Alex recommends using without a pre-amp.

Anyway, here we go, for more than a week, I drove mayself mad, crazy, nutz. I would put the same cd in each playedr, use the remote, try to get back to my exact spot, and try to hear any difference. I fugured redbook would be easy, cause in the past I could find not match for the Exemplar. I was wrong. They sounded so, the same I was in total dis belif, how could this be. I changed power cords, interconnects, went from sacd to redbook, and they both sounded wonderful, exactlu like each other. Frustrated, I went back to the ineternet, It was then I saw the DV-50 thread and AVGURU boasting about his 1 box solution being the best. Inside I was laughing, cause I had been down this road before. IMHO either of my 1 box solutions would destroy the DV-50, and so I stated that opinion. I received a bunch of flak, from a lot of highly regaurded audiogoner's, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was still confused about which I like better in my 3910's but, I knew I would convert AVGURU, in a heartbeat. I drove 60 miles to his house, brought my Exemplar, and APL out. The Exemplar was fully burnt in, the APL about 150 hours. We listened to the DV-50 for about 3 minutes, after 30-60 seconds, I commented that the sound waqs veiled, 1 dimensional. AVGURU looked at me in surprise, I told him to hook up the Exemplar, did not matter thye interconnects or PC used. The Exemplar would blow him away. Within a few seconds of hooking up the Exemplar, AVGURU was starting to smile, tap his toes, ect.

AVGURU learned a lesson, we did not bring the DV-50 into the system again, there was no comparison. I had known this up front. I had an ulterior motive. I needed to find out what I liked best.

We set both APL and Exemplar into the system, same way I did at my house, with the same disc's in each. The difference was we has a remote for source changing, and I stayed stable in my seat. They both sounded wonderful, detailed, huge soundstage, dynamic, ect. There was one contant, the APL added a dimension. Where the DV-50 was 1 dimensional, the Exemplar was 2 Dimensional, and the APL was 3 dimensional, and the most analog of the 3 players. The end of the 3 hour session AVGURU wanted to see how cheap, new redbook sounded, as opposed to my MFSL's/DCC's/SACDS, in it went into the exemplar, and we had to turn it off, we heard brightness not heard on the other discs, one more disc into the exemplar, same thing. AVGURU says aha, see, only on great disc's, not regular redbook. AV put the same disk into the APL, OMFG, music, wonderful, analog sounding music. Thats what happened.

Funny thing is, before I left I made AV put the DV-50 back in the system, he had fallen in love with my MFSL Mars Hotel by the Dead, when I put it in, he accused me of switching cd's until I played the 3rd track he had loved, than said, WOW those players are incredible.

I got home, put the APL in the system directly into my mono's and OMFG, I was happy, smiling, tapping my toes, shaking my head, even dancing some. This is MUSIC.

84audio, I recommend you come on by for a listen, but, when you like it better, remember, if you are already reahing for the Exemplar, you may not be able to afford it. It is a bit more Expensive than the Exemplar. Is it worth it? You will have to make your own decision like I did. I think it is.

I have found that it costs the most money, when your looking for that last 5-10 percent upgrade. To me, it is worth a lot more than what I paid,

The APL Is the best digital I have ever heard in my system so far.

And I do not need a pre-amp. This is the first unit with remote volume control, that sounds better without a pre-amp. This includes the shanling T200C, Audio Aero Capitole II, which both advertise world class volume controls. go figure.

I recommend you try to listen and experience all these units, and more. Decide for yourself. I am.

I own and love the APL.

Now I want a different flavor for HT/Multi channel........hhmmm the search is on......
Boa2, Howard,

Thanks for the kind words, I decided to put energy into positive things, like my wife/daughter/business/health/audio/horology


711, I'm not doubting your experience. Like many other audiogoners, I really appreciate your thoughtful approach to finding the best product for you. The APL sounds like one awesome player, and I would love to hear it!

I wanted to say a good word for the Exemplar because I think it's exceptional. I also agree that John Tucker is a great guy, and he has treated me like gold.

It doesn't bother me that very poorly recorded cds might not sound great on a particular player. I think a great player allows the recording to sound like the recording with no colorations. That's not to suggest that the APL is colored in any way, or even that the Exemplar is as good or better. I can't comment on a player I haven't heard. I can say that the buzz on the APL gear from people I trust is that it is spectacular equipment, again, I would love to hear it.

My only reason for posting to this thread was to state my experience that I don't find the Exemplar to sound digital in any way. In fact, I agree with the coungless posts of others and the 6moons review. This is a very analog sounding player, and I think it's worth a listen for anyone who is looking for the best player available.

711, Our systems are very different, and it sounds like the APL works best for you. Perhaps it would work best for me, or perhaps it might be a tad too lush. In any case, I don't think you can go wrong with any of a hand full of great players such as the 2 we have mentioned.
Excellent review and comments "smilin". The digital realm has certainly rendered the life of us audiophiles difficult with all these choices and new iterations, etc that all to often can't quite get us back to the pinnacle of vinyl.
Your comments are valueable and exactly what we need to help us wade through so much hype and technical jargon. These are the things we want to know in regards to life at the top of the digital chain. And, you have been very kind to share and convey your experiences. You're a credit to this hobby and forum. Good work and happy listening.
Smilin711, My deepest sympathy on the loss of your mother. I appreciate your giving us your impressions on an amazing list of state-of-the-art digital play-backs. I have one question, however: The current throne, by popular consensus, is held by Meitner, supported by the long list of people waiting for the CDSD. So, given that, and the fact that you are vague about whether what you heard was the DCC2 with the CDSD in an audio salon, not your home, (>>I think with the new transport<<), do you have any plans to audition the true Meitner combo in your home?

Thanks for the kind words, and look forward to getting together in the future. Best to you and yours. Let's keep this journey fun.


I would love to audition the Meitner in my home, any guidence in how to acheive would be wonderful. I am certainly happy to purchase, compare it, if it is better, I will keep it, if not I need a return priviledge, without restocking fee. I have not found this yet. Help me, and I will do it.

It was great talking to you today, you have an open invitation to come over when you get to town.

Best of luck in your audio, and life journey's.



I am interested in your opinion of the volume control on the APL 3910. How would you compare it to that of a good pre amp's volume control? Is it an anolog volume control or digital?

I want to thank you and all the other members that have participated in this thread. It has been very educational for me and has caused me to analyze my front end and come to the obvious conclusion something is missing.

What intrigued me was your comments on the 3D sound in two channel from the APL 3910 whereas the Exemplar was 2D and the Esoteric DV-50 was 1 dimentional. I must be honest with you I never experienced 3D sound where the music came from the front, ceiling, and back. The APL 3910 sounds like one hell of a machine that I have to listen to.
Again thanks for taking me on this journey.
711, work towards getting the Meitner, please give it a go. Music is so powerful that it covers my grief for my dad(RIP) who loved playing and listening to music so much.
The Meitner sound can change from analytical to melodious like solid state to tubes. This happens with differnt power chords and vibration dampers placed below the CDSD transport and the DCC2.
Give the Meitner-250 hours too! It was grief for me till then.
I use a SET amp and horns! No the Meitner is definitely not analytical.
Sorry to hear about your mother.
Irish65, I have used the Thor TA1000 mk ii, and the Exemplar Exeption ii, with the APL, and Exemplar, for comparison reasons. Both these pre-amps are world class, and still, the APL, with it's digital volume contrl, sounds better straight into my mono amps. I believe this is a result of the custom double crystal dacs, alex invented. The direct input to amps, rewsult in amazing soundstage/ imaging/ air/ transparancy. The best I have yet to hear.

If you have any more questions on the APL , or any of the other units listed, just ask.
How does the volume control work on the APL 3910? What remote is used to adjust the volume? Alex says the volume control is switchable. Where is the switch located...externally or internally?
Tvad, Alex provides a seperate remote control, which is used for mute, pause, track change, volume, phase change, and a couple of filters. As for disconnecting the remote, I believe it is internal, on his custom board. I will ask Alex to explain further.
Tvad - the switch to volume control is external. The remote is an additional remote provided by Alex and manufactured by Sony.
BTW. - today I visited Alex to drop-off my unit for modification and coincidentally 711smilin's unit was there almost ready (711's unit was fully broken-in and Alex was installing a new clock in it). I waited for 10 minutes while Alex was doing his magic. And than we listened to the player… What can I say - this was totally INCREDIBLE (and I belong to more critical listeners). The sound was better than famous Zanden (I was lucky to listen to Zanden DAC connected to Zanden transport at friend's house).
Alex was using a tube amplifier of his own design and his monitor speakers sounded better than many of the full size rigs I listened to.
To sum it up, I can only say that we are lucky enough to have a designer of Alex’s caliber here in the country. I am convinced that in few years APL units will become a standard, other units will be compared to. Just in few short years…
The funny part was, that while Alex’s was being distracted by one of the several calls from customers (the waiting line is getting longer and longer), I was able to pack 711’s unit in my car and drive away with it… Guess what a pleasant evening I will have, listening to fully broken APL. Thank you 711smilin (I suspect you will not be smiling tonight ;-)
711smilin, can you please compare the sonic virtues of the APL 3910 and the APL SACD 1000 with Alex's new DAC chip? I had an SACD 1000 shipped to Alex a few months back and now I am wondering if I should just get the 3910 instead. Also, how would you rank Alex's silver interconnects against other cables you have tried? Thanks for your kind input.
711smilin, I just modded mine from reference audio mods. I am curios what was the difference between the new unit compared to 250 hr burned in? I have had mine 2 days; I was told by Doug at audio mods to repeat run unit for two weeks. So any input would be great as I am a bit anxious as to what to expect.
Meta, just so you know, the unit you listened to was not tweaked yet, it is MUCH BETTER, according to Alex. I will have it back tomrrow. I am happy about this. Makes me SMILE.

I will let you know tomorrow how much better, when I go head to head. The interconnects are the most revealing I have heard. I am also burning in the Empress cable, I have to reserve some time to compare. I did compare to Valhalla in a store, and liked the apl better, I was not impressed with siltech, in my system. The longer you wait on your decision, the longer you will wait for your answer.
Oldcar63, I habe not heard the RAM mods, but would invite you to compare. Ram will tell you there opinion of burn in. These mods are different, each technician, has their own flavor. 1 thing I will tell you is burn in is a REAL important factor.

Sorry I overlooked your post. I have heard the meitner, only in a store setting, not with SET and horns. I would love to directly compare, and look forward to doing exactly that, in my system with my ears, so I can make a genuine assesment of the simialrities, differences, and a final decision as to which one to own. I send condolences on the loss of your father. I knwo how important music is to me, and feel for you. Music can bring us closer to loved ones with the shear beauty, and elegance of the emotional involvement, internally connecting us to our past. I have been brought to tears of joy, and hope remembering wonderful times I had with my Mom listening to my stereo in my younger years.

Life is a journey, to be lived one day at a time, to it's fullest. so it seems is the journey for musical bliss.

If you are ever in the chicago area I would love to spend some time with you.

Thanks 711smilin. I am sure one day we will meet, hopefully in this world. Till then keep postin and let us know how the new modded player sounds. It will keep the rest on their toes!

Since it is within your budget, and is supposed to be the current cost no object redbook player, how about a test drive of the Reimyo CD player?

Kerry Legeard
Kerry, I have talked with Brainwater, A fellow audiogon member who has owned the Reimyo, and felt Alex's SACD 1000 with all the latest mods bettered it. He is now waiting for the 3910. If you look up his systems, you may feel the same trust for his opinion, as I do. Thanks for the heads up. I think I will go to CES and hear whats available, but, I really have to tell you something. For the first time ever, I am HAPPY with my digital. The rest of my system is another matter, heh heh heh.

Did you get the silver RCA IC from Alex? He said it was better than the Vahalla and I just wanted to hear your opinion.
You will be happy to know that I took the plunge and sent a silver Denon 3910 to Alex. He is working on it now but I do not know if I will get it back before CES.
Do you ever go to concerts? Do you actually listen to music? Or do you j just audition equipment and look for flaws?

I have the cable, it is the 1st cable I ever really heard a significant difference with. I definately recommend it, but I do not know if it is still available. I am still waithing for another. I have bought 2 others recently, the AU24, and Empress. So far the APL wins.


Thanks for the response.

I do not look for flaws, I seek the TRUTH.
How do you contact APL ?
No one answers the phone ever!
Ozzy. A busy one man operation like his just can't answere all the phone calls if he wants to get any work done. It's best to e-mail him and hopefully he'll answere when he has time.
Right now he's either in Las Vegas or on his way for the C.E.S. show. Don't expect to here from him until next week. I know it's frustrating but the wait can be rewarding.
Regards, Frank
P.S. It's actually a one man and one woman operation. His wife works along side him. He say's she's VERY good.
Ozzy, Alex is at the CES show now, he does the Mods in his garage with his fiance. Email me with your # and I will give it to him. He has my 3910 with him right now.
I know this sounds sarcastic (and I guess it really is ) but one would think a guy who knows how to mod CD players for Almost $5000 should know how to mod a telephone answering Machine.
When you call the Phone number it is a maze of nothing!
If he wants to show credibility by appearing at shows he could have at least left a message stating that he is out of town and unavailable.