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  • Building An Audio System

    I was thinking about how speakers and front-end components--or even cables--are so much sexier to talk about than electronics.

    So when what was/is your philosophy when you assembled/are assembling your dream system?

    Call me old school, but I still believe in getting the front-end right and subscribe to the philosophy of crap in, crap out. I don't care how much money you spend on room Rx, it isn't going to fix crap (but one does have to start with a reasonable, say not a square room). All the system will do is sound like crap.

    Then the next choice is speakers. I want to choose something that I am going to be happy with for a long time. In my experience, speakers are often much better than we realize and are another victim of the crap in, crap out syndrome (of course, careful room placement is rule number #1). So I would spend more then on the speaker and then build the electronics around the speaker. In fact, maximizing the electronics for the speaker; it might seem crazy to run a $20K amp on a 10K speaker (or any other price range for that matter) but when you have maxxed out your investment and are ready for the next jump.

    Now I will add having a good dealer makes this journey less precarious. While you may spend more money up front, a good dealer will save you money on the back end and not making bad choices! Or ill considered choices. Then again, many audiophiles don't have a nearby dealer and we have to consider their situation.




    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    Great thread Myles. From my experiences I say get the best speaker you can afford and go from this end as far as your budget. Electronics and turntables are so much better for less than when I started this hobby in the 80s. I went from KEF LS50 to Joseph Pulsars to the Von Schweikert VR5 and the changes were major dramatic. One example in electronics is I have a ARC LS27 and then a ARC REF5SE, the change wasn't as near as dramatic. Just my philosophy and YMMV.
    Marty

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm more of a speaker first type of guy. They are the most colored of components, so pick your poison slowly and carefully. Then find the amp that pairs well with it. Then get the best front end(s) your remaining budget allows.

      Having a good local dealer is rare as dragon eggs nowadays. Showroom auditions are only slightly better than audio show demos. In home auditioning is the best way to go, but so difficult to do with so few local dealers. Sigh...

      Kronos Sparta -> Trinity Phono -> Trinity Pre -> CH Precision A1 -> Magico S7s

      Comment


      • #4
        For me it's the front end first. You can't put back what wasn't there to start no matter what follows it. That doesn't mean you can't ruin what comes first either.
        TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter matte & weight; Arcam R Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

        Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer

        VTL 6.5 preamp Series II
        Pass Labs 150.8 Amp

        Piega C711 Loudspeakers

        Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls

        Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator

        Shunyata Hydra 8; Shunyata AC Cords; Synergistic Research Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 power cord, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates & Blue Outlets, Furutech NCF Booster Brace, Audio Art Ref balanced ICs, MIT Oracle IC and Magnum Speaker Cables

        Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD1200s Headphones.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by nc42acc View Post
          Great thread Myles. From my experiences I say get the best speaker you can afford and go from this end as far as your budget. Electronics and turntables are so much better for less than when I started this hobby in the 80s. I went from KEF LS50 to Joseph Pulsars to the Von Schweikert VR5 and the changes were major dramatic. One example in electronics is I have a ARC LS27 and then a ARC REF5SE, the change wasn't as near as dramatic. Just my philosophy and YMMV.

          Nothing will be as dramatic as changing your speakers out. I never heard the LS-27 so I have no idea how it compares to the Ref 5SE. It would be hard to imagine that the Ref 5Se isn't the better preamp though. I can say the difference between the Ref 5Se and the Ref 6 isn't subtle.
          Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

          Comment


          • #6
            Mark don't get me wrong it was a definite upgrade from the LS27 to the REF5SE but the switch in speakers was my biggest change.

            Originally posted by mep View Post


            Nothing will be as dramatic as changing your speakers out. I never heard the LS-27 so I have no idea how it compares to the Ref 5SE. It would be hard to imagine that the Ref 5Se isn't the better preamp though. I can say the difference between the Ref 5Se and the Ref 6 isn't subtle.
            Marty

            Comment


            • #7
              Allen I agree, find your "flavor" in a speaker you like and build from there.

              Originally posted by allenh View Post
              I'm more of a speaker first type of guy. They are the most colored of components, so pick your poison slowly and carefully. Then find the amp that pairs well with it. Then get the best front end(s) your remaining budget allows.

              Having a good local dealer is rare as dragon eggs nowadays. Showroom auditions are only slightly better than audio show demos. In home auditioning is the best way to go, but so difficult to do with so few local dealers. Sigh...
              Marty

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by nc42acc View Post
                Allen I agree, find your "flavor" in a speaker you like and build from there.


                But don't you think say the cartridge might be the most flavored thing in the system? Or the digital front-end?
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Myles this question may be above my pay grade. In the analog world yes cartridges definitely have different "flavor" but I haven't heard but a fraction of what you and other members have. Funny how the two opposing areas of an audio system are the most "colorful"

                  Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                  But don't you think say the cartridge might be the most flavored thing in the system? Or the digital front-end?
                  Marty

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mep View Post


                    Nothing will be as dramatic as changing your speakers out. I never heard the LS-27 so I have no idea how it compares to the Ref 5SE. It would be hard to imagine that the Ref 5Se isn't the better preamp though. I can say the difference between the Ref 5Se and the Ref 6 isn't subtle.

                    Let's play dramatic roles here:

                    Going from tube to solid-state electronics or vice versa;

                    Going from Class A/B or A to Class D

                    Going from push-pull to SE amplifiers;

                    Going from planar/estats to dynamic speakers;

                    [Going from dynamic to horn speakers;]

                    Going from NOS to new tubes;

                    Upgrading tonearms;

                    Going from stock to better quality, non-nickel plated, AC receptacles;

                    Going from MM/MI to MC cartridges (or throw a strain-gauge in for good measure);

                    Going from digital to analog or vice versa;

                    Going from anything to tape and back;
                    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                    ________________________________________

                    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Myles you just proved how hard it is to put a blanket statement on how to best build an audio system. It is not easy with all the choices and options out there today.
                      Marty

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post


                        Let's play dramatic roles here:

                        Going from tube to solid-state electronics or vice versa;
                        There will be a big difference here too. Unless paired with the wrong speakers, tubes should sound more real.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Going from Class A/B or A to Class D
                        Never had a Class D amp n my system and I'm in no hurry.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Going from push-pull to SE amplifiers;
                        I haven't had a SE amp in my system either and I'm not really interested.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Going from planar/estats to dynamic speakers;
                        Have done that. I owned a pair of the original Martin Logan Aerius for years. Ran them with my 1/4 wavelength transmission line subs that I designed and built. I had many good years with that system.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        [Going from dynamic to horn speakers;]
                        Never had horns either.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        from NOS to new tubes;
                        Total crapshoot. I still have a bunch of NOS tubes (primarily the 12AU7 family and the 6922 family) and NOS doesn't mean it will sound better or be more quiet than current production tubes. It's a case by case thing and a tube by tube thing.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Upgrading tonearms;
                        I have done that and I love my SME 312S arm.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Going from stock to better quality, non-nickel plated, AC receptacles;
                        Haven't done that yet.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Going from MM/MI to MC cartridges (or throw a strain-gauge in for good measure);
                        Have done that as I grew up with MM/MI cartridges. Never looked back after my first MC.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Going from digital to analog or vice versa;
                        Do that all the time and no contest there.

                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Going from anything to tape and back;
                        That's always a reality check.
                        Last edited by mep; 02-13-2016, 09:08 PM.
                        Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          And proves there is no expert only self-proclaimed frauds.

                          Just like that person who says I have the perfect diet for everyone. In that case, run as far and as quickly away as you can.

                          But what one can have is a lot of experience and learn from their experiences. And share their missteps and adventures.

                          And when you think you know it all, it's time to leave the house.
                          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                          ________________________________________

                          -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                          -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                          -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Amen brother, best post of the forum!

                            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                            And proves there is no expert only self-proclaimed frauds.

                            Just like that person who says I have the perfect diet for everyone. In that case, run as far and as quickly away as you can.

                            But what one can have is a lot of experience and learn from their experiences. And share their missteps and adventures.

                            And when you think you know it all, it's time to leave the house.
                            Marty

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Myles, agree with everything you wrote, but you still need to listen to each of those components thru a pair of speakers. They will ultimately color everything upstream and if you don't like that color to begin with...
                              Kronos Sparta -> Trinity Phono -> Trinity Pre -> CH Precision A1 -> Magico S7s

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