VR-4jr or Gallo Nucleus Reference 3

Von Scheikert Audio VR-4jr or Gallo Nucleus Reference 3 with it's Gallo subwoofer amplifier (see the great review in the new Absolute Sound- cover story) . I have finally narrowed my choice in loudspeakers down to these two. The difference in the amount of money is not the issue here, but the sound is. Has anybody heard both speakers? What are your thoughts? Or does anyone just have an opinion on either one that they would like to share? My room is 13Ft. by 15 ft. It's main use is for the audio system (the TV is in another room. My amps are dual monoblock Quicksilver M80s (80 strong watts per). I like all types of creative music. I am looking for speakers with a great soundstage and imaging. I like good dynamics and low base when it is called for. Any helpful suggestions on which speaker to decide on would be greatly appreciated. I don't have the luxery to listen to either one before I order them. Thanks, Edward
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ATC SCM20-A2 ($5K)perfect for your room size which is too small for both of the speakers you've selected.

Infact SCM-10's passive might even do the trick but you might find them a just bit light in the bass.

In your size room a sealed speaker system that is flat to 45 hz like the SCM20's will be -6dB at 25 hz due to room gain.

The ATC driver complement is much better than the VR7 let alone the VR4jr. The gallo is in the same boat, it does not have the parts to remain in the league with the ATC's

The SCM20's will unfortunately not require your amplifiers, since they have a built in 200 watt and 50 watt amplifers. As for dynamics in that size room the 20's will redefine your definition of dynamics.

Hope you have a dealer nearby. Call Flat Earth Audio the importer on occasion they will arrange an in home trial through your closest dealer.
I have not heard the VR4 Jr's but I have heard lots of good reports, particularly for small rooms (in contrast to what D Edwards says). I too have a small room and will be searching out a pair of VR4 Jr's to listen to. I have heard the Gallo's, though not in my room. I was very impressed by them but do not know if they will work in a small room. The subwoofer amp may not be necessary in a small room, probably should talk to Gallo about that. Be careful about assuming a product is good based solely on the components used, it's the execution that makes a good product.
I've heard the VR-4jr. They are truly giant killers. I'm usually one to nit pick what a speaker does right and wrong--including my own reference speakers which are far more expensive. However, the VR-4jr have about the perfect balance. They don't do one thing right at the expense of other things. If you are building a $25,000 speaker, well you should do that, but for a $4,000 speaker getting that balance becomes far more difficult. This is one speaker I can highly recommend particularly for smaller rooms. They sounded absolutely fantastic at HE2004 NYC in a smallish hotel room.
"Be careful about assuming a product is good based solely on the components used, it's the execution that makes a good product."

Well this is a valid point but the SCM-20 has been refined for years and its active crossover and amplification sets it miles apart from the VR4jr in execution. ATC is regarded as one of the worlds best driver manufacturers and speaker designers. FYI

Other than the bass of the 4jr, in a side by side comparision, it wasn't better than the ATC SCM35 which ate its lunch when it came to low distortion, driver integration and musicality. SCM20 is better than the 35.

The ATC's balance and resolution is without peer in this price point.

"They sounded absolutely fantastic at HE2004 NYC in a smallish hotel room."

Nice, this from acoustics expert? How much bigger is a smallish hotel room, than 13X15X8? Maybe 21x24X9? Did you have control of the demo, volume and source material? You have the software to roughly model the speaker run it and tell us what it says about the VR4jr speaker in his room...+5 or 6 dB at 30 hz? I'm just guessing...

I don't want to argue with you guys but to dismiss my recommendation with generalizations is pretty lame. Clearly neither of you can fathom that something is better than the VR4jr, or you would have heard about it. No knowledge of the speaker I selected and yet we have an opinion that its a notch down. This guy is using reviews to make a decision, so he doesn't know what the speakers sounds like, so he cannot have a bias which is why I went around his predetermined preferences.

It always shocks me that I have to get into these conversations about ATC, who has built some of the best speakers in the world for sometime. JGH of Stereophile in a review called the ATC SCM70's speakers the best in the world not 4 years ago. Did you guys miss that? ATC is not a fly by night company, they've been around 35 years and are as no compromise as any high end speaker. If you don't know who they are then there's a big hole in your knowledge base.



I didn't say the ATC's weren't a good choice, but I do take exception to someone who insists something is good because it uses the "Best" components. Yes I am aware of ATC's reputation. I also would not second guess Rives hearing abilities, and yes there are many hotel rooms the size of Elb's. Enough said. He needs to hear all of the speakers mentioned to make an informed decision.
VR 4jr. I have mine in a 10' x 10' room from hell. You will need room treatment but they work. I'm still tuning the room, but the size of the speakers is managable in this room.

Hi Elb, the ARC is doing fine & I just upgraded to an Ayre V-1x to run my VR4GenIII's. I don't know if you recall what I said about my room, but the VR's are only 16" from the side wall & 19" from the back & I get an excellent soundstage. My room is 11.5' x 21' so I imagine you could bring them off the side walls even more than I have but as Robm mentioned, you'll have to deal with the room.

I've heard the jr's in a few other rigs but not an in home listen but what I heard was very good. With careful placement & tweaking, they will do a fine job & won't sound out of place at all.
I own the Gallos. At the very least, audition them. My salesman said that since he has had them for audition he has sold 11 pairs, and sold nothing else since -- no other speakers -- above their price point. I'm using a separate stereo amp and low pass crossover set at 43 hz to drive the second woofer voice coils, and you would not believe the bass. They are very tube-friendly; I'm driving them with 12 wpc SET monoblocks, and the people who have heard them have just shaken their heads in wonder. These are fabulous speakers. Do hear them. You won't regret it. Feel free to contact me for more info (I'm not affiliated, yada, yada). Dave
D Edwaqrds - Lighten up. Rives said nothing about the speakers you recommended, and you're jumping all over him. No one said ATC was a fly-by-night company. No one said anything about ATC, except the one GENERAL comment you agreed with, that component quality alone does not make a great product.

Since you brought it up, though, I've never heard or heard of ATC (unless I'm missing the acronym). Does this mean there's a hole in my knowledge? Sure, but have you heard every speaker there is? With your own equipment in a familiar room? Or with a mix of equipment in various sizes of rooms, so you understand what every speaker in existence is truly capable of? Have you even heard the Gallo or VR4 in question under these circumstances? If so, you haven't indicated so in your post.

While JGH is one of the giants in this field, it is hard to find a major brand that hasn't been called SotA, jaw-dropping, etc. by some reviewer somewhere. Even the big names are always finding new stuff they really like.

Maybe people have given you a hard time about these speakers in other posts, but you should re-read what was actually written here, then consider an apology.
I have read from some other posters the ACTs sound like crap on bad recordings, but they sound awsome with good recordings. If you have a lot of rock and pop recordings, the ACTs may not be your best choice. I can't remember what board it was I read this, but I think it was the speaker forum on Headfi. This does not mean this is abosuletly true, it just what I read from an ACT owner who had a love/ hate feeling about his ACTs depending on what kind of music he was listening with. Maybe someone who has heard the ACTs can comment.
Let me clear up some bad sentence structure that implicated Mr. Rives as making a comment on the ATC.

My dissappointment with Mr. Rives post was the lack of technical backup to his singular listening impression in a small room. Something he easily could have provided on a room calculator a speaker similar to the VR4jr models +11 dB at 36hz. It's not a reason not to buy the speaker its just something to be aware of.

It was not my intention, just bad grammar and sentence structure that got Rives wrapped into the ATC comments.

My very recent exposure to the VR4jrs and Gallos, I felt pretty strongly with the cardioid and wide dispersion output of these speakers a small room would not be ideal to getting the best from these speakers and that there are other speakers better suited to this application. That is all.
I recently purchased a pair of Gallo Nucleus Reference 3's. I auditioned the VR-4jr's along with countless other speakers prior to purchase. For my personal musical tastes, I haven't heard a speaker that approaches the Reference 3's for a two channel music-only system.

I upgraded from a pair of Quad ESL-63's, and I wanted to keep the sonic characteristics of the Quad's, but add some dynamics and bass. In the past, I have always been partial to electrostatics and planars, and the Gallo has much of the electrostatic sound with the added bass and dynamics I was seeking.

The Gallo's are very, very fast, transparant and musical. Imaging is first rate, and they are the smoothest sounding speakers I have ever heard. Detail is also incredible. The detail is not harsh or etched as in most hyper-detailed speakers I have heard. The detail is simply right-there in a way that makes you smile and wonder how you never heard the intricacies of certain passages before.

Gallo's also present vocals in a way that I have only heard through electrostatics and planars in the past. Vocals are very immediate sounding. The speakers don't just present tone, but also the texture and emotions behind musician's voices.

Finally, there is no boxy sound or crossover oddities from the Gallo's. A person really needs to hear a boxless speaker without crossovers such as the Quad's to understand what this means. The lack of crossovers over 150 Hz and the round enclosures probably explains the extraordinarily smooth and coherent sound of these speakers.

I should qualify all of this by saying that the VR-4jr is also an excellent speaker. It just wasn't what I was looking for. Bass was very good, and tone was nice, but in my opinion, it just didn't compete with the best that I auditioned. It didn't make my short list.

For what difference it makes, my number two choice would have been a pair of Martin Logan Ascents. In the end, the ML's were just too big for my room as they would be for yours.

I am powering the Gallo's with a Wadia 850 directly driving a pair of Cary 805c's. That is plenty of power, and in my opinion, it's a match made in heaven.

One other thing, be aware that the subwoofer amp is not available until the beginning of October. I plan to add one to my system at that time.

Hope this helps.
Wow--I just got back to this thread. Sorry I missed it for a few days. Anyway, I will answer a few questions. I did not physically measure the hotel room, but I would guess it was about 15 x 17 x 8. I had test equipment to take acoustical measurements, but there was no need. Once you've done this as many times as I have you recognize when a problem exists--in this room, with this set up there was no problem. It was not worth even taking an acoustical measurement. They had really good sound. I listened before the show opened and selected my material and material chosen by Kevin and Albert of Von Schweikert. I listened to many other rooms, and many rooms had severe bass problems in the same size hotel room.

The other aspect I would like to mention in these forums, is that Elb asked for an opinion, not a scientific white paper. We aren't doing reviews here--just sharing our experiences.

I should probably also mention ATC (seems to have found it's way in here). A fabulously designed speaker. Predominantly used in recording studios--yes we've designed a bunch of those too. We have also designed listening rooms with ATC speakers, and while many ATC speakers appear modest in size, their bass is not. They are very full in the bottom end and can be somewhat problematic in small rooms. We are currently working on a room in Singapore with ATC (70s I believe). Even with good dimensions we still load the room very quickly.

Then there's Gallo. I've heard them, but only briefly. Not enough to give a strong opinion. I do recall that they were very clear through the midrange, well detailed. But without more time with them there's not much else I can offer.

Your post sound just like what I am looking for. I own a pair of Magnaplanars (Mg3A's). They are great speakers that are seemless with a magical ribbon tweeter. However, not very dynamic and my room is too small. Also, I only have 100Watt tube amp. The Maggies just fall apart with large scale classical music. They need a much larger amp. All the dynamic speakers I have listened to sound, well like a bunch of seperate drivers (in my price range of under $4K) relative to the planars. The virgos sound seemless, but sound thin with no bottom end. I heard the 4jrs and they were very dynamic, but not seemless.

I probably will end up with the speakers in a 12 ft X 15 ft room. What size room do you have them in? Also, did you find a dealer that had them set up properly? If so, please let me know. I have been making a list of speakers to listen to, and I want to put them on my list. Any suggestions on other speakers to listen too would also be helpful. What types of music do you listen too?

My room is 12' x 17 1/2' with a 10' ceiling. The Gallos ended up approximately 8' apart and 8' from my listening position along the 17 1/2' wall with the woofers facing each other.

I enjoy many types of music. My preference is probably to rock and jazz, but I also listen to some classical and a lot of blues and acoustic music. I would recommend more than the 50 watts I am using to anyone wanting the Gallos to perform their best with large scale classical music. I think that 100 watts should be fine.

I bought my pair from Mundy's Audio Video in Cumming, GA. Unfortunately, Mundy's specializes in home theater, with very little focus on two channel systems. I would guess that problem may be very typical of Gallo dealers. Mundy's was very helpful and professional, and I recommend them to anyone looking for Gallos; however, you may want to try auditioning the Reference 3's with your own equipment if possible prior to purchase.

As far as other speakers worth listening to, I auditioned just about everything that I could find prior to purchase, but in the end, I narrowed my choices to these four:

1.) Vandersteen 2Ce - With 100 watts, I would choose the 3A over the 2Ce, but I didn't think 50 watts would be enough power to properly drive the 3A's.

2.) Usher AC-10 - Fantastic speaker, but they really need a room larger than mine.

3.) Martin Logan Ascent - My #2 choice, but once again, too big for my room. I desparately tried to find a way to squeeze these into my room until I can across the Gallos.

4.) Gallo Reference 3 - Obviously, my choice. Just on a whole new level of performance from most other speakers I have ever heard.

Again, I really don't understand the insistence that the Ref 3s require a lot of wattage. With no crossover except between the woofer and mids, 8 ohm impedance, and 88 db sensitivity, they sound spectacular fed by my 12 wpc SET monoblocks. I had used 140 wpc CJ Premier 12s on their predecessor Gallos (the 8-driver Ultimates), and the SETs sounded MUCH better with them. Has anyone else tried the Ref 3s with low-watt tube amps? Dave.
I don't think the Ref 3s necessarily require a lot of wattage as I am perfectly content with 50 watts. I do think that large scale classical music sometimes requires a lot of wattage. The Gallos sound great with 50 watts for the kind of music I listen to, and I'm sure they do well with low powered SET. In fact, I think these speakers make a particularly nice match to SET, and I wouldn't consider changing to anything else.

That said, I listen to large scale classical music infrequently. When I do listen to classical, I prefer listening through large, high-powered amplifiers. I prefer listening to nearly everything else through low powered SET.

In my opinion, a music system should be built around an individual's personal tastes. Very few, if any, systems do everything right for everyone (although the Ref 3s come as close as I've heard). A previous post had mentioned large scale classical music, and I was trying to talk specifically to that post. I wouldn't recommend the use of a low powered SET amp to primarily play large scale classical (with the exception of pairing it to an ultra-sensitive speaker like an Avantgarde), just as I wouldn't recommend a monster 250 watt solid state amp to listen primarly to jazz quartets. Just my opinion.

Hopefully, this clears up any confusion from my previous post.

Hello again. Thanks very much for your opinions of both speakers. How would you respond to the not so positive remarks on the VR4jrs on the speaker forum post 'Who makes a "true" transmission line speaker?' Thanks again,Edward.
VR-4jr hands down.I've heard both at Quest For Sound and Love the 4jr's.

I've heard both of speakers with some very expensive front end gear and well as with mid-priced gear. I believe you will get more mileage out of the VRs. The Gallo's are quite nice, but I fear they will not be able to resolve what your gear is capable of if you start upgrading your source and amplification. The VRs will take you much farther before they become the limiting factor. BTW, neither of these would be on my short list in this price range.

What's your short list? Just curious.


I am a dealer for both loudspeakers. So I have heard both.
These are both speakers that are tremendous at and beyond their price points. And more importantly, they both make music, but in different ways.

Here is your dilema. You've narrowed it down, but haven't heard them. There are 2 analogies, the blind date, or the ice cream.

Here's the ice cream analogy.

Asking a forum which to buy (without hearing them yourself), is like asking someone if you'd prefer cherry to chocolate ice cream. Then someone else interjects "you should like rocky road".

How does that help you?

I'm guessing you are not close to a dealer that carries these.

You should never purchase a loudspeaker without hearing it.
You also should never buy a loudspeaker without hearing it in your room with your equipment.

I urge you to call Von Schweikert and Anthony Gallo and ask how you can audition them. You'll be amazed at how much they and their dealers would like to accomodate you.

Thanks for listening. The blind date analogy is similar but with a bigger downside with purchase.
I auditioned a pair if Gallo's driven by the Cary intergrated. AMAZING imaging but absolutely no low bass to speak of with that amp. I ended up finding a greh
had both in my system...if money is not an issue the choice is easy IMO. 4jrs all the way.
I agree with Zog - neither of these would be on my list. These are both heavily advertised (and therefore hyped by reviewers for the pubs in which they spend their ad dollars.) And this spills over into Audiogon - because there's a lot of people who will hear what they're told they're going to hear. This "they're better than such and such at 3 times the price" we keep hearing is just hogwash.

"I am looking for speakers with a great soundstage and imaging. I like good dynamics and low base when it is called for." - This describes virtually every modern, high-end full range speaker from the current crop of respectable manufacturers.

So basically, all you have done is narrow your choice down to the two current "darlings".

I'm not getting on your case here, but rather trying to save you a few grand - the fact that you've narrowed down to these two shows that you don't have that great a handle on what you want, because these are two EXTREMELY different sounding speakers.

I have a simple rule - if you can't hear them, don't buy them. It's one I've learned the hard way. If you live somewhere that you can't hear these things, wait until you can travel to a city and set up a weekend of fun and listening sessions.

In this price range, I would also consider buying used, which gets you closer to nirvana and also limits your downside on buying something you haven't heard yet. Think about it - are new vr4jr's better than a pair of Mint used vr4-gen3 se's that you can get for the about same price if you're patient? I don't think so. The Gallo's with sub amp will set you back nearly $4000 with tax and/or shipping - you can get REAL high end used for that!

I'm not going to get into what I would buy, because that's purely a personal preference. But if you must pick one of those 2 - my opinion is that the VR4jr's are both more versatile and musical.
Before investing any money into the speaker, I would highly recommend that you find a way to listen to them. What people hear in a speaker is highly subjective. The review helps, but we all hear things a bit differently. I myself have a pair of Thiel CS 1.6. I love the sound, they work well in my listening enviroment, have an amazing soundstage, and are crystal clear. The reveiws were very good as well in Stereophile and Sounstage yet Hi Fi+, in their most recent issue, Fed 2005, the reviewer was very impartial to them.

Althought the Gallos have great reviews, and undoubtedly do to now be named Absolute Sounds overall product of the year 2004, Von Schweikert consistently receives excellent reviews all around the boards!
Despite all the accolades for the Gallos, they tend to get a bum rap because (1) they're small, (2) they're comparatively inexpensive and (3) hardly anyone hears them the first time fully broken in. Mine are now 6 months old and I think the break-in is finally over. But buy them with your ears rather than your eyes and be prepared to wait. It's really worth it. Especially for you tube-lovers.
,y last post got cut off. I ended up with Dali Helicon 400's and these puppies are very efficient for 88 db speakers and they go low. some of the reviewers say that the weak point of the Gallos may be the sub amp. Think about it...what kind of 240 watt ss amp plus crossover could you get for $900 new? But I bet you could find a better amp used on here.
I have to disagree with you jdm61.

The reviewers referring to the SA as a possible weak point are those that did not get a chance to hear it. Those that heard it (especially those that got pre-launch units and had a good few months to spend with it) say it is one of it's major highpoints in fact. Those that did not get their hands on one can only assume. Thus far all the reviews by those who got the pre-production SA had nothing but good words to say about it.

Furthermore you cannot say "what kind of 240 watt ss amp plus crossover could you get for $900 new". Think of how many of the reviewers have said "what kind of full range speaker could you get for $2500 new?" And go on to say that the type of sound, build quality, imaging and soundstaging etc. you get from the Gallo's is possibly worth double if not triple their asking price. It is very possible that the SA features the same value-for-money.

The VR-4JR's are more musical and accurate than the Gallo's by a pretty good margin, IMHO.
Another thing,
Planars and ribbons are my first choice.
BUT, I personally like the Von Schweikert VR-4jr's so much that if I were purchasing a pair of box speakers under $5,000.00, the jr's would be my 1ST CHOICE! They are that impressive sounding to me. Set up and break-in are very critical to hear them at their very best, however.
On the other hand, I have not heard the VMPS RM-30's which are in the same price range, and have a very loyal following.
The excellent reviews by the publications and owners of the VR-4jr speakers are NOT HYPE at all, IMHO.
The former is advertised as time-and-phase-consistent, and the latter as time-and-phase-coherent. In audio gear, being coherent is better than being consistent. On the other hand, in a lover, inconsistency is better than incoherence. Seriously though, I have my doubts about the SA3 amp.
I did not get a chance to hear the Gallo's with an SACD player...they were hooked up to an all Cary system, but when I say there was NO bass, understand that this is coming from a guy who had Spica's for 13 years so I know weak bass..lol. My comment on the on the reviews was just that..don't shoot the messenger. The comments were an aside to a glowing review in TAS. But it makes sense. The current Wilson Sophia/Linn Classik dealer stunt aside, how many of you would hook up a new amp with an MSRP of $900 to a set of $2600 speakers?
I have narrowed my choices to three speakers: VR-4jr, Gallo Ref 3 and Hyperion 938. I've heard the Gallo and didn't like it... maybe it wasn't well broken in at 50 hours.
Please share your experience, if you've heard the Hyperion, how it compares with the other two.
The Gallos at 50 hours are not even close to broken in. Also, to comment on jdm61's remark above on the $900 amp and a $2500 speaker...it is a sub amp, not an amp for the entire speaker. How much do you think the amp costs in a REL sub? How about the amp inside the Vandersteen 5A? These are both considered world-class.
on the Hyperion 938. The bass is much tighter and cleaner than the VR-4jr; the Hyperions can image the position of a double bass with ease whereas on the VR-4jr, I have feel the energy but not "see" the positioning as clearly. The VR-4jr I heard may not be set up well with its cabinet lead/sand filled but the bass sounded woolly and loose compared with the Hyperions. Moreover, I found the Hyperion more balanced from top to bottom while the VR-4jr warmer sounding.

As for the Gallo, I felt that they cannot deliver the bass weight I would like. However, to be fair, I auditioned them without their delicated sub amplifier. But then again, why do I need to bother myself with such nitty gritty when the Hyperion can deliver what I wanted with just using my current Audio Research VT100 tube amplifier?

I'm sure there are many 938 owners around - where have they all gone to? Too busy enjoying the music??? :)
Celebrer..Conventional wisdom on the Von schweikerts is that they MUST have the plinth filled, preferably with lead shot, but it adds 80 or so pounds to the shipping weight so who knows whether the ones you heard were filled. As for directionality of low bass, i am a believer. For years, the sub manufacturuers have been telling ups that bass has no directional characteristics. Maybe that is so, but like everything, even the lowest note has higher harmonics. i was astonished at how i could pick out the VERY loud large bass drum's location on the new Living Stereo SACD of Pictures at an Exhibition with my new Dali's. Mybe it is my brain playing tricks on me, but the very low component came from the same exact spot outside of my left speaker as the higher tones from the striking of the head. Go figure ;-)
Hi, I own a pair of the 938 Hyperions. They are the best speakers I have ever owned, but then again I have not auditioned the other two speakers in its price ranged mentioned in this thread.

If it is worth anything , I can tell you my thoughts on how it compared to my megabuck Avantgarde DUO's with modified bass units for improved bass performance (over the much critised standard bass units). After a weeks constant burn in I sat down and listened to my first reference CD. My very first impressions were 'yes, well done Luke, much better than the duo's'. Why?, well they imaged in proportions that seemed more realistic. The Avantgardes had huge images of each musician. The 938 captured the hall ambience and detail. There was more transparency in the midrange, YES that is more transparency. I was able to feel and see the instrumentalists better due to better resolution of inner detail and tonal colours.I was free of that artificial etched quality the Duos always had me nit picking at. The bass, well quite frankly even in its modified upgraded form the duo's bass was either a joke or the 938's had superb bass. They were also seemless from top to bottom. Compared to the duo the dynamics were not far behind at all to my major surprise. I really never once felt that there was a trade off with dynamics! You simply forget you are listening to a speaker and concentrate on the music. That is the first time I can say that has ever happened to me. My previous speakers were Audio Physic Avantis, Harbeth monitors, all much much dearer than the |Hyperions.

I have numerous set ups, that is numerous valve and power amps to switch and change with. Si each speaker hada good run for itys money.
Dear Audiojoy4,
Can you elaborate on the gear you arerunning with your 938s right now? I am trying to get hold of the DK Design VS1 MKII, if the combination matches, this will sure be the biggest bang for the buck system in audio history.

Sorry to hijack your thread but I sincerely feel that you should audition the Hyperions...

Hi Roy,

the set up is as follows:

Manley Retro monos with TJ300Bs
Django transformer based passive preamp.
Verdier platine (battery run,ebony tonearm support)/Graham Van den hul colibra
Stevens and Billington MC step up transformer
Graham slee mm (modified)
APL SACD 1000 cd/sacd player.
All cables homemade.
Audioplan filters.

I own a pair of Vr-4jrs and believe that when properly set up and placed into the correct system they are very good. I am using a 80wpc tube (air tight) amp and it sounds great. However, remember that the most imporant part of any Hi fi system is the recording. People should really spend lots more time hunting for good recordings than switching gear. The gear can only play what is on the source material.

That being said a good front end is imporant as well. I use a Vimak transport and EAD DAC and a Aud. Ill's. pre-amp.

Base is excellent, my only complaint is that the high's may be just a bit too layed back. A little too polite.

Just my 2 cents.