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What Was the Best Audio System (s) You Have Heard?

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  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by Rust View Post
    I heard the Levinson HQDs back in the mid 70's, Decca ribbon tweeters, Quads and huge Hartley woofers. They were driven by a stack of Threshold Stasis electronics, Forget what the table was, Micro Seiki?. The sound scaled nicely but it was not a well integrated sound. But the midrange was exceedingly smooth. The Decca ribbons tended to fail often but were very sweet.
    A system that I sadly never had the opportunity to hear. Jim Aud of Purist Audio has a pair in his attic I believe.

    Years later a most modest system mightily impressed me. It consisted of an Enlightened Audio Devices CD layer, a Plinius integrated amplifier and Meadowlark Hotrod Shearwater speakers. The EAD was IMO a superlative machine with very, very little digital artifact. Unfortunately they mistakenly backed DVD-A and the failure of the format broke their small company. Plinius, less well known than they deserve to be. Meadowlark made very interesting first order two ways and the Shearwater Hotrod had upgraded wiring and crossover components. On female vocals it was stunning for such a modest setup, a very natural and smooth sound. I was saving up for a pair when they went out of business. Likewise the EAD. Such are the visectitudes of life.

    And is you might note, the size of anything I consider impressive is not a factor, only that it impresses.
    I always wondered what happened to Meadowlark. In their day (back in the '90s???), they produced some very nice sounding speakers including the Blue Heron and Kestrel. Just very easy on the ears.

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  • Rust
    replied
    I heard the Levinson HQDs back in the mid 70's, Decca ribbon tweeters, Quads and huge Hartley woofers. They were driven by a stack of Threshold Stasis electronics, Forget what the table was, Micro Seiki?. The sound scaled nicely but it was not a well integrated sound. But the midrange was exceedingly smooth. The Decca ribbons tended to fail often but were very sweet.

    Years later a most modest system mightily impressed me. It consisted of an Enlightened Audio Devices CD layer, a Plinius integrated amplifier and Meadowlark Hotrod Shearwater speakers. The EAD was IMO a superlative machine with very, very little digital artifact. Unfortunately they mistakenly backed DVD-A and the failure of the format broke their small company. Plinius, less well known than they deserve to be. Meadowlark made very interesting first order two ways and the Shearwater Hotrod had upgraded wiring and crossover components. On female vocals it was stunning for such a modest setup, a very natural and smooth sound. I was saving up for a pair when they went out of business. Likewise the EAD. Such are the visectitudes of life.

    And is you might note, the size of anything I consider impressive is not a factor, only that it impresses.

    Leave a comment:


  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by Rob View Post

    I had a similar experience the first time I heard Watts, back then the Puppy wasn't available and this dealer placed them on Entec subs standing upright. The rest of the system was also Rowland and an oracle front end. The element of total surprise (shock?) took me aback and literally gave me goose bumps. Up till then I didn't know a system could do that. I always wanted a pair of watt/puppies but it never came together, what they did well was so right which wasn't often enough. The illusion would collapse as easily on less than perfect recordings. The early Watt's focal tweeter (the yellow one) was like Jekyll and Hyde.

    I had the W/P 5--->5.1 on long term loan a long time ago for a survey of SE tube amplifiers that I was carrying out. I think that most people forget the W/P were originally conceived as studio monitor and the Puppies came along later. I think Gavin Fish now with Light Harmonics has serial number 001 and 002.

    That tweeter was an issue but the Transparent Audio sourced Puppy Tail (the 5.1 update) did ameliorate the problem somewhat. As did a good tube amplifier like the push-pull cj or VAC Rennaissance 30 or the SE tube Audio Note or Cary. I got the W/P sounding pretty sweet from the midbass to the lower midrange especially with the Audio Note tube amplifier. Herb and Mike really liked the sound at my place. The W/P could really throw a convincing stage filled with imagex but what drove me crazy was their lack of image height especially coming from Magnepan 3As and the lack of resolution. It twasn't until the Sashas that I think Dave made inroads in the resolution area.

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  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by allenh View Post


    That sounds like a Bill Parish room as well, when he sold Tenor?

    While Bill was there, I actually think it was more YG's rooms.

    Leave a comment:


  • allenh
    replied
    Originally posted by Rob View Post

    I had a similar experience the first time I heard Watts, back then the Puppy wasn't available and this dealer placed them on Entec subs standing upright. The rest of the system was also Rowland and an oracle front end. The element of total surprise (shock?) took me aback and literally gave me goose bumps. Up till then I didn't know a system could do that. I always wanted a pair of watt/puppies but it never came together, what they did well was so right which wasn't often enough. The illusion would collapse as easily on less than perfect recordings. The early Watt's focal tweeter (the yellow one) was like Jekyll and Hyde.
    Wow, no Puppy - that's super early! Sadly, my great experience with the WPs was short lived however, as I put on classical (Oue/Rite of Spring or Firebird), the Rowland 8T just choked. Oddly, I did get an 8Ti/HC and it drove my Aerial 10Ts easily, with plenty of headroom. Those WPs must've been difficult to drive!

    Leave a comment:


  • allenh
    replied
    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
    I thought the Sonjas at CES three years ago with the Tenor electronics IIRC was a nice match.

    That sounds like a Bill Parish room as well, when he sold Tenor?

    Leave a comment:


  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by Rob View Post

    Brooks Berdan was real high on her designs, there was a time back in the day when her 'table was on everyone's lips as being the best available. George Cardas has one, IIRC.

    I think Ray Shab/Arcici was the first to import Judy's table and then George at least at one time, took up the distribution.

    Leave a comment:


  • nc42acc
    commented on 's reply
    I hope to meet new friends at Axpona who hopefully will become old friends at future shows.

  • Rob
    replied
    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

    ​Yes. What a beauty.

    And Judy is a very interesting person, brilliant designer and super knowledgeable when it comes to music. She was best friends with Sid Marks for many, many years and used to talk with him on the phone and send him letters (OK this was before email but that wouldn't have changed anything today because Sid still doesn't own a computer! ) with all these interesting tweaks to try in his system. I used to lovingly call her the Israeli Enid but of course now Judy lives in Holland now.
    Brooks Berdan was real high on her designs, there was a time back in the day when her 'table was on everyone's lips as being the best available. George Cardas has one, IIRC.

    Leave a comment:


  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by Rob View Post

    Is that the Spotheim La Luce 'table?
    ​Yes. What a beauty.

    And Judy is a very interesting person, brilliant designer and super knowledgeable when it comes to music. She was best friends with Sid Marks for many, many years and used to talk with him on the phone and send him letters (OK this was before email but that wouldn't have changed anything today because Sid still doesn't own a computer! ) with all these interesting tweaks to try in his system. I used to lovingly call her the Israeli Enid but of course now Judy lives in Holland now.

    Leave a comment:


  • Rob
    replied
    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

    Not to mention nicest gentleman in the world and makes some pretty fine sounding recordings too. It was Winston who finally pushed me over the edge to jump into tape.

    Not sure how current this picture is!
    Is that the Spotheim La Luce 'table?

    Leave a comment:


  • Rob
    replied
    Originally posted by allenh View Post
    Two rooms come to mind for me.

    Innovative Audio used to have a location in Brooklyn. Downstairs was a room with some early version Watt Puppies (5-7 variant), driven by Rowland and sourced by Wadia. Setup with curtain and proper lighting, it looked like a stage to a venue. With the lights turned down low except for the spotlight in the center, it seemed like Holly Cole was in the room singing her a** off. A holographic image, not just of voice, but head and instruments as well. Amazing presentation, visually and sonically.

    The second room was most recent: Bill Parish's big room with the mighty Sonja 1.3s driven with Audionet and fronted by a Kronos Pro. Talk about life size imaging and scale! And so effortless! One of my favorite rooms!
    I had a similar experience the first time I heard Watts, back then the Puppy wasn't available and this dealer placed them on Entec subs standing upright. The rest of the system was also Rowland and an oracle front end. The element of total surprise (shock?) took me aback and literally gave me goose bumps. Up till then I didn't know a system could do that. I always wanted a pair of watt/puppies but it never came together, what they did well was so right which wasn't often enough. The illusion would collapse as easily on less than perfect recordings. The early Watt's focal tweeter (the yellow one) was like Jekyll and Hyde.

    Leave a comment:


  • 1morerecord2clean
    replied
    Originally posted by nc42acc View Post
    I have heard some good systems at the two audio shows I have attended but the conditions prohibit me from saying any were the best. There was always someone talking loudly in the room, people walking around in front of the system, limited familiar music for rooms that will not play your material. I think audio shows are horrible places to gauge greatness. I think you can hear enough to pique your interests and then listen in better conditions of your home or a well set up dealer. These are the places to hear greatness. Just my opinion.
    Totally agree Marty. That's why I limited my favorites to Lloyd Walkers home who I know and have visited several times and Greg Beron's room at the shows. The only reason I included Greg is because I have spent quite a few hours at his evening soirées at quite a few shows. I might include several friends' home systems among the best but they just fall short of my short list.

    Leave a comment:


  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by microstrip View Post
    Until recently the most impressive system I had listened to was Sonusfaber TheSonus Faber (Fenice) speakers powered by Audio Research REF610 monsters and REF40 preamplifier driven by a Metronome Kalista C2A combo. All Odin cabling. It had scale, dynamics and real presence. It is the kind of system that makes you remember that some people have cats as pets, others have leopards or even panthers ...

    However a shorter audition of the Wilson XLF with similar front end using the Constellation Audio Hercules II plus Altair II managed to rise the bar. The effortless 3D layering capabilities of such system, distributing the energy of the sound in the correct places in the exact moment with no hang over in the stage was memorable.

    But if life dynamics of rock music was my main interest I would have no doubt - the enormous German Physics Gaudi was the winner by a large margin!

    I've heard the big Sonus Fabers twice-once at CES in a huge room and once at an audiophile's home on LI. In both cases, the speakers were part of an all tube system (cj and ARC) and were really impressive!

    I heard a very similar system to you at CES where the Fenices were driven by the ARC 600s and the front-end was a SME 30/Palos Santos. The other time the Fenices were driven with cj ARTs/ART preamp and VPI TNT and Benz LP-S cartridge. To my ears, the Fenices don't sound like the rest of the Sonus Faber speaker line. Much warmer and organic sounding. And I totally agree with what you said about dyanamics, scale and presence. Especially presence. And effortless.

    Hmmm....I wonder where those show pictures are.

    Leave a comment:


  • microstrip
    replied
    Originally posted by nc42acc View Post
    I have heard some good systems at the two audio shows I have attended but the conditions prohibit me from saying any were the best. There was always someone talking loudly in the room, people walking around in front of the system, limited familiar music for rooms that will not play your material. I think audio shows are horrible places to gauge greatness. I think you can hear enough to pique your interests and then listen in better conditions of your home or a well set up dealer. These are the places to hear greatness. Just my opinion.
    Audio shows are nice places to meet old friends and look at equipment. Although I can remember a few really memorable sessions at audio shows.

    Leave a comment:

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