Reflections of another year in Audio

Well, another year almost done and a time to reflect about our lives in the Audio world and out. As I looked through my threads during 2011, I realized I made many more changes than I remembered.

Lets start with what has remained constant . I still have the Jeff Rowland Capri Preamp. Some years ago, I had one, sold it, then bought another one. I am a big fan of the contribution of the Capri to my system and have thought about another Rowland but the Corus is out of my price range. I think that the Rowland Capri is one of the really good audio buys out there. I have all Cardas Golden Reference as my cable source which includes power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables. I know many people seem to bash Cardas but I have always enjoyed them. It is still the best cable i have ever owned and i have tried quite a few. It is musical and I enjoy its contribution to my system.

I really like Tyler Acoustic Loudspeakers. I have owned three pair and this past year I went from the Decade D1's to the Woodmeres which have the SEAS EXCEL drivers. Very smooth, very musical, and I think another very good buy in audio.

My amplification has changed. I originally got the Pass XA30.5 for the Tyler Decades but needed more power in my room with the Woodmeres. I currently own the Pass XA60.5 Monoblocks and will be upgrading to the Pass XA100.5 Monoblocks and will share my reactions when I get the Pass XA100.5 in my system. What can I say about the Pass XA line. I have owned many amps by many companies, I am addicted to the Pass XA line , that class A power is just so fine. Yes, they get a bit warm and use a bit of electricity but the midrange is what I live for in audio and these are wonderful through the middle. So realistic, the voices and instruments feel like they are in the room.

I changed my CD/SACD source. I tried a number of player which all had their strengths and weaknesses and worked my way through 3 player by Ayon Audio over the last few years. By the way, the last one I owned was the Ayon CD2-S. I also tried the Meridian(can't remember the number but not the highest level in the Meridian line), the Ayre C5xeMP, the McIntosh MCD-500, and eventually purchased the Luxman D-06. For me, in my room, it was the most natural sounding player and et the other components do what they do best. Very easy to listen to and I am very pleased with it.

So where do I go from here. Well, unless I move, this is the room I will be dealing with and I have done my best to work with it. As I mentioned, just added a rug and that has been an improvement. I will report about the Pass Monoblock upgrade. The only other area is the preamp as I would have to know it was a big step from the Capri but /i am happy for now. Some of you might say, what about a music system with files so I can get rid of compact disks (I own about 1000). I have no interest in a conversion to files. That is for others of you. I like owning a disk and looking at it and having a physical product. If they stop making disks at some point , that is ok as I will buy your disks with happiness as you go to files. No thanks on the files for me.

Anyway, on a more important note, it is a time to be thankful if you and your family have physical and emotional health. The rest of this stuff (and it is stuff) is much less important. I am so grateful that I have been blessed with some decent health as I approach 58 in a few days as well as the health of my family. Take care of yourselves, enjoy the holidays, and remember, lets treat each other well on these forums. I cant tell you how many threads I read where someone does not show tolerance for other thoughts, other opinions, different levels of knowledge, and just a lack of respect for each other. Lets be decent to one another. Its great that others have a different view of my system or anything I or others have done. Thats what makes life so much fun. We all try different things in Audio and the most important difference is that we all have different rooms. Enough of me. Thank you all for responding to buy threads this year and I with you all well. Take Care. Stephen
To say that my year in audio has been a roller coaster is an understatement. Financial situations forced me to sell my reference rig. Then good fortune allowed me to build it up again. Whew! I don't want to buy or sell anymore. Just listen and be grateful for the blessings I do have. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
I've been fiddling around all year trying to built a decent little set up after having abandoned audio for a while.

Let's see, 3 sets of speakers, 4 integrated amps, 3 DACS, cables, well lets not get started on the cables that have come and gone.

Think I've got it nailed.

But I've said that before....
This past September, my 2 year old Rotel CDP stopped working on a Friday night. I contacted Rotel and they agreed to repair it under warranty. I didn't have a spare and my OCD kicked in so I went to my local dealer to listen to some CD players. I ended up ordering a Audiolab 8200CDQ, and my dealer lent me a CDP to hold me over until the Audiolab arrived. A couple of days later I realized how much I enjoyed listening to that Audiolab in his shop, and that the speakers I was hearing were Harbeth Compact 7ES-3's. Back to the shop I went, placed my order and sold my 2 year old B&W's. I came to the realization that I prefer monitors in my small home. Some people scoff at the looks of the Harbeth speakers but I love 'em. I'm very happy and will stay this way for a long time, unless I win the New York State Lottery.
My 15 year old son said to me sarcastically about 2 months ago, what's going on you haven't bought any hi-fi equipment recently; I responded that I was very content with what I had. But with not knowing what to buy myself for Christmas I decided it was time to try separates and purchased Modwright LS100 preamp & KWA100 SE power amp, Silnote Audio Morpheous Reference 2 XLR for the amps, and upgraded the tubes for the LS100 - NOS Sylvania GZ34 and Black Treasure CV181-Zs - Merry Christmas to me!
I have not bought, sold, or traded a single piece of gear in 2011 - that makes it a very special year indeed!
Pubul57: You are my inspiration for 2012.
It's a 12 step program - but there is hope!
I was so frustrated with hearing high priced mediocre audio gear that my friend and I finally began building our own gear. Once I heard his preamp design, I knew that there was no other commercially available preamp that could sound like it. We set out to build something that could be commercially produced and right now it looks like the first quarter of 2012. It took over one year to work out the final design of what parts to use. It was fun to learn what worked and what did not work (an expensive endeavor though). We also learned to make a few of our own parts as what was available commercially was just not good enough. The sonic improvement was so much better than any cable, power conditioning, DAC that I have ever tried. If you are involved in an audio club and want to hear one, email me to arrange an audition.

Happy Listening.
March: Replaced Cambridge 640P phono stage with a Jolida JD-9A. A revelation.

April: Replaced Onkyo A-9555 serving as line stage for a Jolida JD5T tube-buffered line stage. More smoothness and dynamics.

June: Replaced 1986 VSP Labs TransMOS 150 power amp with a 1981 Heathkit AA-1600 power amp to stupendous results. That amp walks the fine line between detail and body, between speed smoothness. It simply disappeared into the signal chain and since then all I listen to is the music, not the gear.

October/November: Added a pair of Mirage MM8 powered subs to my OMD-15s. The MM8's are 9" cubes and fit in the gaps between my hearth and equipment stand. I got the pair for $550 when Van's was practically giving them away. Now they're back up to $799 each.

These aren't deep-plummeting subs, but they flesh out the 32-60 Hz region where so many speakers roll off, and they're extremely quick. Somehow adding them in at the bottom has made the sound stage and imaging "pop" and open up.
In 2011, I had my first gear failure ever! My Marantz CD 5400 flashed NO DISC, and it meant NO MO DISC. It was 7 years old and cost 300 dollars, so I got my money's worth. Another reason to buy budget gear. I replaced it with what is essentially the same player, now called the CD 5004. Other than that, all the other gear remained the same. Plays at least 15 hours a day, every day of the year. Can't imagine life without it. I purchased countless CDs, and discovered buying used on Amazon. Highly recommended.