Well, In the past year I bought:
magnepan 3.6 speakers new
Bryston 4B-SST2 amplifier new
Bryston BP-26 preamp new
Bryston BP 1.5 phono
Rega P5 turntable with PS, and Benz Glider cart new
Used Kuzma Stogi S turntable with new dynavector 17D3 cart.
Sennhieser HD800 headphones new
SinglePower MPX3 'Exploding' headphone amp (just for the exploding part.. Inside joke)
over a dozen Pangea powercords new
used VAC Standard preamp to use as tube buffer for digital.
used PS Audio P600 A/C regenerator for the Hz variation unique to that series, run at 90hZ
PS Audio PPP new
Furman REF20i used,
New Kimber Hero RCa seven meter pair for pre to amp.
700ft spool of Milspec 12 gauge teflon insulated silver plated wire eBay.
18 pounds of Quartz crystals.
A pile of ferrites
Thousands of new to me recordings used.
Which of these was THE thing?
Any and all.
1. Modwright SWL9.0SE Signature preamp
2. CEC TL-2 Transport
3. Zu Audio DL-103 Grade 1 cartridge
4. Grover Huffman Interconnects
5. Shuguang Black Treasure 6SN7 tubes
I believe I got this within the past five years--a Yamaha MCX 1000 Music Server, I think the list was about $2000 with the larger memory stick. While it is not as good sonically as my (seven times more expensive) Nova Physics Memory Player, it still sounds very good as a digital storage unit playing back through a high-quality DAC like my Audio Logic and EMM Labs units, it is a snap to use in setting up playlists for background music for parties, and it does a very good job converting my analog sources into the digital medium so I can make CDs from records and old cassettes of my choir concerts from the past. A very pleasant surprise. And I understand it has various applications for multi-room installations that I have never used.
Martin Logan Dynamo 700 subwoofer
I replace almost my entire system just over a year ago and have been very happy with all of it, but when considering the value of the different products I'm most impressed with my Martin Logan Dynamo 700 subwoofer. I almost ordered the larger model and was a little concerned that it wouldn't be powerful enough given it's compact size. Much to my surprise, it's actually capable of more than just about any subwoofer that I've been around outside of the hi fi stores. I know there are better units out there, but for the sub $700 price I paid I'm impressed. The one and only issue I have with it is that it isn't heavy enough to stay stationary in the down firing configuration. Once I converted it to forward firing it doesn't move and my subfloor doesn't vibrate anymore. Bottom line, it has more than my house can handle and it sounds great.
Add the Fozgometer to the list.....
Just bought a couple of months ago an SME 10 with the SME 10 tonearm and a Sumiko Celebration cartridge, used. Serial number says it was from its first year of production. An amazing improvement over the Sonographe SG-3.
Tow or three years ago bought a pair of Wyetech Topaz monoblocks and have not looked back.
Each has served the music, making it have blacker backgrounds, more focused, and just plain more addicting.
Haven't made any other significant changes in years.
All of Juana Molina's CD's.
Usher BE-718 speakers, after moving to a house with a small hifi space. The big rig sounded stupid in here and the BE-718's have some good qualities that surpass the big rig when it was in the big room.
NAD M3 integrated so I could use the bass management feature with the BE-718's and the pair of JL Audio F110's-another outstanding purchase.
Dynaco PAS 3x tube pre amp ($250) what a great value!
Many products were purchased in the past five years , all mid fi type stuff and I think all were worth the effort , but the " most outstanding " would have to be the Ayre KX-R preamp and the Revel Salon 1 speakers . They replaced an A.R.C Ref 3 preamp and Revel F50 speakers .Those two new products added the swing and magic that I had heard about . Some better power cords and conditioning was the icing on the cake , oh and a new CD player . Pictures are on my system link .
Dear Sonicbeauty-I have no first-hand experience with any of your kit, but you did a beautiful job describing why these products grabbed you. Well done, well written.
Terrific value for the money in these items:
Well Tempered Amadeus GTAA. The online reviews of this turntable and arm and its stablemates all say pretty much the same thing: you stop thinking about the gear and just let it play the music for you. And for a TT that does that, it's bargain-priced. I'm no different. My LPs have an endless new fascination for me now that I'm playing them on this gem. I even pulled the trigger on a RCM. I'm sticking with this turntable until Bill Firebaugh comes up with a better one.
Air Tight Bonsai. Tiny little micromonitor with no bass at all under about 70 Hz. Single 4-inch driver and a box made by a Japanese cabinetmaker. Running off my EL34 integrated, I never get tired of their incredible focus, speed and neutral richness of timbre. I might get a sub one day but right now I don't care.
Atlas Opus digital interconnect. Now discontinued. Gets the whole spectrum right. No garbage in the highs, no etching or super detail, just clarity, and amazingly full, liquid mids. Who'da thunk there was music in a digital cable?
Honorable mention to a Denon DL-103R cartridge, which might not really challenge cartridges worth hundreds more, but the Amadeus lets it perform at its best.
Yamaha a-s2000 integrated amp and my new BOSE 901's
1. Jim Smith RoomPlay voicing service. Least expensive and by far the biggest improvement. It made me realize what is important.
2. Loricraft PRC4 Deluxe with AIVS cleaning solutions. My ears appreciate it, the LPs deserve it. Followed by demag and new inner and outer sleeves.
3. Magico Mini II. Expensive and worth every dollar both sonically and aesthetically. A contemporary classic.
4. Acoustic Revive RWL-3 panels and RR-77 resonator. I don't understand them, and I can't listen without them. They just make everything sound more natural.
Here are the Products in the last five years where I felt I got exceptional value:
1. Cambridge Audio 840e/840w preamp/amp combo
2. Mac Mini as a dedicated music server
3. Dynavector Karat cartridge
4. Audio Engineering 2008 Turntable
5. Nitty Gritty 1.5 record cleaner
My Squeezebox (both Classic and now the Touch)
Hands down winner for me would be the Well Tempered Lab Amadeus.
Rivals tables of great pedigrees and cost. A most musical device.
Magnepan 3.6 speakers; a truly awesome product for the money. (Actually bought mine used for a paltry $2,800). The 3.6's really sound as good and outperform many speakers that I have heard that cost as much as ten times more! A true bargain in audio and one of the very best speakers you can buy!
My first impressions of the new 3.7's are that they are even better; on my short list for a next purchase.
Cary 500MB SS amps. Can drive anything (1000 watts into 4ohms) and the closest thing to a great pair of tube mono blocks that I have found so far.
Not in any particular order:
Otari open reel tape deck and tubed tapehead preamp by Stuart Polansky.
Dedicated 4" maple bases/footers by Mapleshade for my Gallo Ref 3 speakers.
Aesthetix Calypso and Rhea.
DIY power cords based on Pangea AC-14s with Furutech ends.
Various mods to Jean Nantais-built Lenco L75 idler-drive turntable.
Sony XA5400ES & the Squeezebox Touch
Amps: Pass Labs XA 100.5 "Class A" monoblocks
Digital: PS Audio Perfect Wav Trans and DAC
Analog: Clear Audio Innovation Wood Compact w/ Universal Arm, Shelter Harmony cart.
Speakers: Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 8's
Sota Cosmos MKIV. I set one of these up for a customer who had a 20K+ Basis (Just the table $20K+) We transferred over the SME V with Zyx Universe Cartridge from the Basis to the Sota Cosmos MKIV and let me say I have nothing but respect for the Cosmos because at first I thought Basis was the best I have heard but the Cosmos regardless of price was much better and it only retails for $7300.00USD
Hands down the McIntosh MA6600 integrated amp. Well featured and superbly built and sings. Added with the new guy on the block, the Daber Monitor 3 speakers. Lots of fun and proud to own these made in the USA american roses.
Shindo Auriges preamp
ASL Hurricane power amps
Five things that really stand out in my mind:
#1: Squeezebox/Logitech Duet - in terms of sheer joy, convenience and usage this has got to top my list.
#2: Real Traps - bought used, from a guy not far away, in terms of biggest impact on overall sound improvement.
#3: Gemme Katana V2 speakers - bought 'em on a whim having heard great things from actual owners and have found that they are world class speakers. I'm back and forth between them and my Wilson's and not sure which is better for me.
#4: Thiel 2.2 on eBay used for about $250 - to this day these are a very good pair of speakers that can be had really cheap (but one needs good amplification to match).
#5: A library card - my local library has thousands of CDs, all genres that I can borrow free of charge.
Speakers: Magnepan 3.6r
Digital: M2Tech EVO <-- Finally my media PC sounds good!
Amps: DIY B&O Ice Amp 1000asp solid silver internal wiring
Sophia Baby Elecric integrated under $500 new.
On any speaker about 92 in-room efficency sounds as good as my son's 10K worth of Lamm-I kid you not.
Not that much purchased in the last five years, except music, so I would have to say the best are:
Fosgometer Azimuth checker
Blue Hawaii Special Editon electrostatic headphone amplifier.
Shindo Masseto & Haut Brion - not inexpensive, but wonderful
Vienna Acoustics speakers, JL Audio fathom sub and KURO flat panel.
Blue Circle DAC 509 musically enjoyable; no range over-emphasis
Audio Horizons tube pre amp
Fritz Carbon 7 speakers tops my list.
Herron VTSP 3a preamp may seem expensive, but it is actually a value based on performance with some more expensive stuff I have tried.
I second the Gemme Audio Katana. Might ''look'' expensive at first glance on a Website (photos don't do it justice). In real life, it is breathtaking and sounds like it too. Nothing to envey a 20K pair of Kharmas...
iPad 2. A must have gadget. The computer of the future now!
think I'll add Blue Circle BC6000 power conditioner - added more "umph" w/o any downside
I recently bought a pair of JBL L112's circa 1980. These speakers sound really, really good. Paired with a vintage Marantz 2270, as well as a Linn LP12, this set-up is giving me a serious amount of musical enjoyment. Surprising, considering the amount of very high priced gear that has come and gone the last few years.
Two years back I bought a used pair of Coincident Total Victorys IV .
Last year I bought a new pair of Coincident Frankenstein's to mate with the the TVC's. Using KR 300bxls tubes, this amp is a steal at it's selling price, expecially mated with the TV's.
I wish I had the money to try their Dragon mk II amps , I think Coincident is excellent value.
the 2 box jasmine audio lp 2.0 and the london supergold mi cartridge , cheap and good
Just about everything Coincident Technology manufactures, from the great Coincident Linestage, the Coincident Phono Stage, both the Frankenstein & Dragon amplifiers, and the Triumph Extreme monitors-the Super Victory's-the Total Victory V-the Pure Reference-& the Pure Reference Extreme's.
Einstein The Tube Mark II preamplifier
Clayton M200 Class A 200 watt amplifier
Lansche speakers (No. 5.1 especially) with the plasma tweeters
#1 Tonian Labs TL-D1 speakers
#2 Burson PI-160 integrated
#3 TEAC PDH-600
#4 Zu Mission cabling
#5 HiFi Tuning Fuses
Basically, the whole system. Assembled over the last 2 years. Unless I win the lottery, I feel no need to change a thing. This system gels so exceedingly well that its scary. More of a symbiotic relationship than any kind of synergistic one. An extended family rather than a gathering of components that happen to work, for the moment.
Second hand Pass Aleph monoblocs
The Coincident Statement linestage and Frankenstein MarkII 300b monoblocks.These two components are brilliant reproducers of natural sound and music`s beauty. They are absolute values given their performance/price ratio.
I don't buy hundreds of new items, I still buy too many, I think. The two that stand it and are definitely keepers:
Daedalus Audio DA-RMA monitor Speakers
Pathos Inpol2 Hybrid integrated amp, though it has had some technical problems.
Maybe I will shortly add the Ayon Spark integrated amp I am adding to use as a change of pace to the Pathos. I found an exdem unit I am picking up on Friday, but it sounded remarkable in the shop
For me, the best value for money items that I have bought in the last several tears are 1) Klipsch Epic CF-4 speakers 2)LAT International IC-300 interconnects (presently awaiting arrival of their SS-1000 bi-wire speaker cables) 3)Starsound Technologies SP-101 speaker platforms.
I also wasted plenty of money on various components that didn't work out well in my system. A Reimyo DAC is the first one that comes to mind.
1 Reference 3A Grand Veena
2 Modwright 9.0SE preamp
3 Sophia Baby Amp
4 Wyred Dac-1
5 Magnepan 3.6/1.6
Eminent Technology LFT-8b hybrid ribbon speakers. An absolute steal -- best loudspeaker I have ever owned and a fraction of the price of some that have crossed my doorstep. Fabulous.
I think I will give this a shot:
Jeff Roland model 6 Monoblocks-just had to give this a try;and will never sell them;on my system these are the best solid state amps I have owned.
Audio Valve Challanger 180 monoblocks-these replaced Cary Slam 100 monos;they do everything I was looking for in driving a very demanding speaker.
Soundlab M2's - I bought these as I wanted to experience the planar/electrostatic setup;they replaced Dunlavy sc3's and may never get rid of them unless the old folks home won't allow them in my suite when that time comes;they are a fantastic speaker as were the dunlavy's.
Audio Research ls16 mk2 preamp - this replaced a Klyne 6lx3p as I needed a home theater bypass loop and always wanted to try a AR piece;to me it is a equal of the Klyne
and performs well for its price range.
Integra DHC 9.9 - this unit is the heart of my home theater system and does everything I needed and also has a high waf as extra added bonus.