The MBL Master Reference System without question! I've heard this system several times. I'll probably never have the money, (or the proper room) for it, but hey I can dream.
MBL "The Music Lover"
MBL "The Music Lover"
1) I second the Thiel CS3.7s but if you live in Australia, I'd also look at the Lenehan Audio ML2 Limited speakers.
2) I'd go for the Thiel SmartSub 2.2s (twin) with the S1 integrator or the PX passive version
2) PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium HP monoblocks
3) Audio Research Reference 5SE (or 10 if I could afford it)
4) Playback Designs MPS-5 SACD with USB-XT
5) CAPS v3 ZUMA
I've found my Mac Mini with A+, Amarra, PM to lose out to a quiet/fanless linear PSU PC.
I just did this. Got Vandy Treo, Ayre 7-xe, Basis TT with Heed phono and MB Glider. Music Hall 23.5 DAC with balanced audio quest Niagara. Speaker cables are AQ Castle Rock I love what I have. It would cost a lot more to get close to what this is for my ears. Good luck and enjoy. I listened to a ton of gear and bought a system that the dealer knew worked great together for what I wanted.
you are speaking to me on this one;
I am in the process of starting over. The past 2 years I have been traveling to various dealers/retailers to audition gear since i have no local action. Here are a few thoughts;
I do have my speakers picked-out. THIEL CS 2.7 -
(the 3.7 is too big for my space).
I like Conrad Johnson gear.
I like Pass Labs gear.
I like and endorse REL subwoofer(s) - the best.
I like and endorse Transparent cables, Stage III Concepts power cords (only), and Silent Source cables.
I am still actively seeking a CD/SACD spinnner.
For me it would be:
Townshend Rock 7/Rega RB2000/Groovetracer Counterweight/Lyra Kleos
Rogue Audio Ares w/Blue Cinemag
Townshend Allegri Passive Preamp
Rogue Audio Atlas Magnum with Telefunken/Tung Sol KT120s
StraightWire Maestro II speaker/interconnect cables
Spiral Groove Canalis Anima w/dedicated stands
Shunyata Venom PS8/Defender
Classical music-Lifelike, easy. (Someone else foots this bill!)
JBL DD6700 (rolled of at about 90 hz) 1 pair
Revel Rythm Sub (blended just right) (maybe 2- softly?)
Appropriate DEQX System (the Revel's network can be bypassed)
Spectral Reference Preamp & Amp. (about 300 horsepower)
Spectral 4000 Ref CD player.
Berkely Alpha Dac Reference & Berkeley USB
Best Esoteric player/dac (if only allowed 1 source this is it)
Oppo BDP 105D DARBEE Blu Ray/DVD player
MIT Reference power cords and I/C's!
Some Equitech Balanced Power & Shunyata conditioning!
I'm in heaven :-) What a nice dream! Anything missing?
I started over several months ago after my system (all Cary Audio even speakers) were fried in a power surge.
I opted for simplicity since I didn't have time to do lots of attempted system matching etc. Purchased the Wadia Intuition all in one 180 watt amp, preamp, and up converting DAC. Then Tyler Acoustic speakers here on Audiogon. Set me back less than $5k for everything and in many ways sounds better than my previous $20k system.
Ok it was a home theater setup but it also was Cary gear and sounded very very good in 2 channel.
One good power chord for everything and no interconnects. System comes already matched and sounds fantastic. I hear there's a Nuforce similar to the Wadia that does the same thing for closer to $2k. Supposedly sounds great as well.
By the way, my new system confirms once again (to me) that having stellar electronics matters more than having stellar speakers. As long as the speakers are good enough to be neutral and transparent, your big gains in sound quality come more through your electronics. Of course this is truest with somewhat limited budgets.
The thing is there are many "stellar" speakers of all designs, sizes, costs. At least when matched/integrated into the listening space well. After that, much is about personal preferences.
Getting that good integration into the listening space is most often the problem.
Finding good performing products is not so hard. Getting them all to work together optimally is.
"Finding good performing products is not so hard. Getting them all to work together optimally is."
This is true, and the reason having fewer variables makes it easier. Instead of having to match interconnects, DACs, preamps, amps, speakers, speaker cables, power cords, etc etc - all in one units like the Wadia means you're just matching speakers, speaker wire, and the all in one electronics.
in this age of few high end stores and even fewer home auditions, removing variables makes the task much easier. And at least with the Wadia, no compromise in sound is required - quite the opposite.
It is a sound strategy to buy components that are more integrated our of the box if one aspires to top notch performance but is not certain about how to mix and match to achieve it.
A good modern example is the new Dynaudio Xeo product line, where everything needed for top notch performance is integrated right into the speakers.
The point to buying integrated products is that there's less mixing and matching to do. I think we're all in the habit of tinkering with the stuff, but it's not necessary for good sound if that's what you're after.
I was also concerned that there would be less room for sonic adjustments without all the expensive interconnects, additional gear to buy etc. But the integrated gear has the advantage of only and perfectly matching to itself. Get the one or two other pieces right and you've got great sound.
The Xeo and other powered speakers are another good way to achieve this, and was the direction i was going until I heard (got a deal on) the Wadia.
Depends very much on the room, but I would start with about $1,000 of acoustic panels and bass traps from GIK Acoustics, and work my way out from there. :)
Speakers, if I had to buy them instead of make them, Monitor Audio, Gryphon and Marten would be on my short list. Also possible Sanders Sound. I know this covers a lot of ground and price points.
Subwoofers: Sure, Velodyne is good, Hsu is cheaper and since I like to have a lot of control, I'd rather have a pair of Hsu's and do my own EQ with a miniDSP unit. But this is in an ideal situation. In a living room / family room type of setup, a sub at all might be too much.
Amps: Conrad Johnson Premier 8’s, Ayre, Parasound or ICEPower/Hypex based amps. Depends.
Preamp: Ayre, Audio Research Reference, Sonic Frontiers, Conrad Johnson or Parasound. Would have to listen again. :) I"m out of touch. What I miss a lot really are good tone controls.
Source: I’ve heard several DAC’s driven by a Mac Mini that sounded less than stellar, so I would probably avoid a Mac as a source. I’d love to try the Auralic Aries, but it has no Android app, so that’s a no go. For now, I’d stick with a PC and Squeezelite, or even a Rasberry Pi as my source for my music library and streaming. I can spend a lot more, but damned if I can find a product I feel really deserves my cash. I usually just feel insulted.
Right now I’m really loving my Mytek DAC, and given it’s range of compatability I’d probably stick with it. I might try a 3 Mytek stack for 6 channel DSD or movies though. :)
Cables: Solid silver core, silver Neutrik connectors or Cardas. Made in home. For speaker cables, I’m using cheap stranded copper and staying with it. Everything else has to revolve around them. :)