System Rebuild

Fellow Agoners!

  Need some input assembling “the last” system. (Famous last words!) Cannibalized system to pay for doctoral studies and now I’m suffering audio DT’s and need to get my music back! However, funds are very limited @15K and I need speakers, Tube preamplifier, and digital source. I listen to 95% jazz, all idioms. (60/40 vinyl preference) Imaging and tonality are most important. Last speakers I owned were Scansonic MB2.5’s….and no, I never got rid of the bass boom despite owning for over a year and putting many hours through them. My dedicated listening room is 16 x 30 with 7.5 ceilings! I have Ethernet connection and power direct to panel just for this room.

Former components were PS Audio Direct Stream with Bridge, AR LS17, Primaluna Dialogue Pre, Aesthetix Calypso. Cables are all Analysis Plus Silver Oval or Solo Crystal Oval.


What’s left is my analog setup – anchored by ZYX 4D and AVID Pellere phono stage, and Quicksilver V4 mono tube amplifiers – KT150 version. What I’m considering:

Speakers in order of interest (used/demo):

1.     Nola KO I

2.     Acoustic Zen Crescendo I

3.     Harbeth 40.1

4.     Focal 1038Be

5.     ScanSonic MB-6


Digital in order of interest (used/demo):

1.     AYON CD-3sx

2.     Lumin D2

3.     Mytek Manhattan II


Tube Pre in order of interest (used/demo):

1.     BAT 33SE

2.     Primaluna Dialogue Premium

3.     Audio Research Ref 5


I’m also remotely considering all-in-one such as Lyngdorf 2170/3400 or Micromega 150.

I don’t listen loud. Emmerson into the musical experience is my goal and passion.


Thanks in advance for any comments.

iF i had to pick from your list it would be Ayon, Acoustic Zen and tge ARC

my list would be Aesthetix CD dac/, Vandersteen Quattro ( so you can tame the odd room ) and the REF5 but tube roll her with a big nos TungSol in the power supply and get it up on Ayre blocks...

your Quicksilers are awesome.....they will also run Vandersteen 5a....
immersive indeed.....

my $1.50
Thanks tomic601. The AYON is a dac/pre/CD player with tube pre and regulation. It's at the top of my list for that reason. I forgot to mention that I've never heard these speakers and there's no where to audition. I've owned Alon's so I have a good idea as to what to expect and I owned the Scansonic which I found to be awesome...above 125Hz! There is the option for Sopra 2's also....
I am not familiar with the electronics you listed (as in, I haven't heard them), so I can only comment on your speaker choices, some of which I have heard.

I have always enjoyed the Acoustic Zens, especially their ribbon tweets.  Hard to see how you could wrong there.  

Harbeths and Jazz are a good combo.

Personally, I am not big Nola fan.  I have never "gotten" them.

My suggestion, though, a bit outside the box, so to speak, would be to try a home demo of Ohm Walsh 3000s.  I have had the 2000s for nine years, and love them.  Even though my front end has been upgraded numerous times, the 2000s have improved with every upgrade.  The 3000s are the correct model for your room volume, and will only set you back $4000 (but less if you wait for a sale, like they usually have on Labor Day).  I am not all-Jazz like you are, but I listen to a lot of it.  These are great sounding (and just okay looking) speakers, that sound great at lower volumes and higher volumes.  They do like a bit of power, so a decent amp will get more out of them.  That will leave you around $11K for your electronics, which should help.  I know it sounds silly to put $4K speakers in front of a $11K+ front end, but I have learned from experience that, like most things in audio, it just depends.  In the case of the Ohms, which punch way above their class, it is not a silly concept at all, IMHO.
bond, how’s the soundstaging and imaging with the Ohms? I’ve only heard them at shows and always felt they had more of an “enveloping” and diffused sound and a blur soundstage. Of course the hotel rooms in shows are never ideal.
Everyone will finally mention how much your room affects the sound. The Lyngdorfs with Room Correction will have a major effect. I would team the Lyngdorfs with the speaker of your choice. 
The Aesthetix Romulus is a CD player DAC preamp also just get the volume control option, they are reasonable used
It has tubes Analog section with fpga filters, excellent DAC, upgrade path, Faraday cage, etc
i have heard the Ayon it’s good, quite good
i chose the Pandora Sig with a REF5se 

Agree with Nola KO given what you're looking for.  Upscale Audio selling off version 1 for $6900, which seems like a great deal.  I'd have Don Sachs build me one of his SP14 preamps with upgrades for around $3000, and add a non-upsampling DAC like a Metrum Pavane Level 3 (last I heard Mytek seems to be unresponsive, so I'd be wary there).  Given what you're looking for I think that'd be a killer system.  Anyway, best of luck in your quest. 

kalali - The Ohms are a little different than standard dynamic loudspeakers.  Yes, they have a really large soundstage, tall wide and deep.  I have found, however, that they image surprisingly well, especially for an omni.  Part of this is that the tweeter is not omnidirectional, and part of it is that designer John Strohbeen just knows how to design and voice loudspeakers.  As my front end has improved over the nine years I have had the Ohms, every aspect of their sound has improved, including the imaging.  Now, I won't tell you they have razor sharp imaging (which, IME, you don't get with live music, either).  But there is enough imaging so that you can clearly point to an instrument or vocalist within the soundtage.  On decent source material, the speakers completely disappear into the soundstage, too.  So, I guess it depends on where your priorities for speaker are.  To me, the Ohms are a Goldilocks speaker - affordable, fun to listen to, and respond really well to electronics and cabling upgrades.  I have heard the Ohms at two audio shows.  Both times, I thought my own system with Ohms sounded better, a lot better.  John Strohbeen likes to demo his speakers with mid-fi gear.  They work well this way, and I suspect Ohm does not want their speakers to be known as tweaky, or demanding of high-end electronics.  Yet, they are so well designed, IMHO, that they just keep getting better as your source gear, cables and amplification improve.  At list prices, I now have about $8000 worth of electronics (excluding my vinyl rig) in front of the $2800 Ohm Walsh 2000s, and I do not see this as a mismatch at all.  (Disclaimer:  I do run them with a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq subs and crossovers, because, well, I am a bass freak.  Many Ohm users run their speakers full range with no complaints about the lower octaves.)

Look at it this way:  You get a 120 day in home trial (which you will need because they do take a while to break in).  There is no better way to audition a speaker, as far as I am concerned.  If they aren't for you, you're out the round-trip shipping.

(I have no affiliation with Ohm Acoustics other than being a satisfied customer.)

If you close to NY or NJ ? 
Atlanta is home to Alan at Hi-Fi buys ( and other great shops....
you can demo great gear
i think you should listen more, read less on development of your lists of prospective gear, my two cents

bondmanp, thanks for the detailed response. Appreciate it. 

Good to have you back in the game - communique1

In Atlanta seek out HiFiBuys operated by Alan. This will re-introduce you to fine gear. Keep us posted.  Happy Listening!

Thanks to all for suggestions. Been to HiFiBuys several times. A big Vandersteen/ARC shop. There's also The Audio Company with 15 minutes of my home with huge inventory of ultra-HiEnd gear. (Focal- Sopra and up, VAC, Von Schweikert Audio, Magico, Constellation...)
 To be honest each offers impressive options, Yet I'm not moved. I understand that to stay in business they can't' carry everything and I'm seeking items that may not have the press coverage...but offer as good or better performance for the money. Secondly, I rarely buy new! I don't buy new homes, cars, books, etc. I like others to wear the new off. Just bought a new-to-me Porsche Panamera and enjoy it just as much as if I spent the additional $50K to buy new! (However, my analog front end was purchased all new...). As far as speakers go I'd rather avoid the speaker break-in process.

What I seek is long term experiences with the particular loudspeakers and digital front ends mentioned. My analog front end is magical as well as the VR4's that's why I won't part with them. The highly vaunted PS Audio DS even began to sound mundane over time as well as the Primaluna pre....ho-hum...(to be fair I never indulged in tube swapping to get the best out of the willing to give another chance...)

More suggestions are highly welcomed.
Based upon your criteria, Harbeth M-40.1's are a great choice.   I owned them about 9 years ago and foolishly sold them to try something different.   I bought another pair about 3 years ago and they are here to stay.  They'll sound great with your Quickie's!
Thanks pdreher! The Harbeth's made my want list because of opinions such as yours. What size room do you have them in?
i understand four out of five of my Porsche’s were  used including the X-50 Turbo

but I drove Em all before buying....

good searching !!!!!
Have you considered the KEF LS50 loudspeakers? I personally haven't heard them, but between the awards and reviews, they may be well worth auditioning. 
My current room is 14' wide x 26' long x 7.5' high.   In my previous stint with 40.1's my room was 16' x 20' x 7'.  Both rooms where finished basements and had modest room treatments from GIK.

Try the Mytek Brooklyn as your DAC /  phono and pre. :) 

I think it can save you some money and be an awesome combo. 

I'll also take the Nolas above all others. 
  I already have  a great analog front end, so I phono capabilities aren't a priority. It's also a preference to stay with tubes if at all possible. If going Mytek, I am considering the manhattan...trying to get the best possible performance for the bucks.
So just updating that I went to hear the Sopra No.2 this weekend. Was not an ideal setup, room too small, and listened through Naim streamer and VAC integrated. Given the environment, I was not moved. Dealer admitted that setup was not ideal and was invited back to audition in their main demonstration location as well as listen to other options in same range i.e. Von Schweikert.

great !!! an impression if not a datapoint !
Narrowed down to two speakers. Acoustic Zen Crescendo or Nolo KO. Same price for either. If anyone has listening impressions of either or have compared either your input would be greatly appreciated. I listen to 80% jazz at a minimum, but not necessarily wimpy jazz!. Fusion, etc...
Got neither. Got a great deal on Sophia 1's. I've actually heard these before unlike the other speakers. Also partnered with Bat Pre.