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  • Audio Federation's Large System

    Nope, we are no longer on the top of a mountain overlooking Boulder and Denver. We are in a plain old Eichler-style home in Palo Alto. The pluses are that there are a lot more audiophiles here and this house is similar to that which many audiophiles live in. The minuses are that we are no longer on the top of a mountain overlooking Boulder and Denver.

    The LARGE SYSTEM:

    Acapella Audio Arts "High Cellini" loudspeakers
    Acapella Audio Arts "LaMusika" integrated amplifier
    Audio Note UK "CDT Five" transport
    Audio Note UK "DAC 5 Signature"
    Harmonic Resolution Systems "SXR" equipment rack and "M3X" platforms

    The flowers are a rare treat in this listening room - accidentally harvested when one of us was pruning a blossoming tree of dead branches just a little too aggressively. :-)

    A simple system, but extremely high performing.

    This is a 13 foot by 18 foot room. One wall is all glass. Yes, there is a mirror surrounding the fireplace - what can we say, this is a rental.

    The hyperspherical horn, plasma tweeter and isobarically supported woofer are so well-integrated that each of these best-in-class most-suitable-for-its-task technologies is able to support its corresponding frequencies without calling attention to itself.

    Speaking of magic, the DAC 5 is high resolution and yet sounds like music. More like music than any digital we have heard. No matter what you feed it. Music player? Yep. 1980's CDs? Yep. Oh, the more well-recorded the music, the better it sounds, of course, but the music is presented without emphasizing the flaws. You can all read elsewhere how they do it, but it works. No fuzziness or blurriness or muddiness. It just works.

    The CDT Five transport has a special tube-buffer designed to optimally connect to the DAC 5, so CDs sound pretty good on it :-)

    The LaMusika integrated is a very good solid-state amp. Not saying much, I know, with there being so many poor solid-state amps out there :-) But we like it and our ears are really picky when it comes to solid-state sonic artifacts.

    Similarly with the rack. This isn't the new VXR, but the SXR is a very good rack, especially with there being so many poor equipment racks out there. If you can't afford these, we typically recommend basic steel and wood racks, like Mapleshade, or putting things on the floor, over the vast majority of racks that are out there.

    The cables are a mishmash of Acapella, Audio Note and Belden. No conditioning. No room treatments [unless you include the carpets]. Sounds great however loud we play it, though it is still settling in after coming back from CAS 2017 [We are just so very happy with the current positioning of everything ... something just has to go wrong :-/].

    At some point we are going to put the Audio Note 22 watt Kegon amplifiers on these speakers. That is why that naked amplifier platform is sitting there....

    Audio Federation main listening roomAudio Federation main listening room
    Mike
    Audio Federation
    Palo Alto, California (Silicon Valley)
    We are a wife and husband importer, dealer, website and blog all about creating ultimate music experiences at the push of a button or drop of a needle.

  • #2
    Welcome to California, Mike. System looks great. I bet it sounds even better than it looks!

    Comment


    • MrAudioFederation
      MrAudioFederation commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, Audioraven.

      It often sounds shockingly good. As I have [frequently :-)] reflected on the ups and downs in this business, it is the reaction when people are expecting standard hifi sound and hear something they really like is what I enjoy most and keeps me from getting a real job ;-).

  • #3
    nice system
    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Teac A3300SX R2R, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, DIY Silver Interconnects

    Comment


  • #4
    Welcome to the SF Bay area. It's good to have another high end dealer in the area. I'm located one town over in Los Altos.
    I've read your show reports over the years and always appreciated your ability to make the shows come alive to people scattered around the world.
    I hope that the new environment is good for business.
    ---Gary
    Analog: Scheu + Immedia RPM tonearm + Koetsu Black + Pass Xono or Threshold FET 10pe
    Amps: First Watt F7, HK Citation II
    Pre-Amps: CJ Premier 14, Threshold FET 10e, DIY 417a with output transformer
    Speakers: Horning Eufrodite, Reference 3A mm de capo
    Tuners: Sansui TU9900, McIntosh MR78
    Digital: i7 Server (Roon) + SSD, Sonore urendu + Mutec MC3+ USB + Berkeley Alpha Dac, TEAC VRDS-T1 (modfied with G+D clock and driver)
    Power: Audience AR12, Torus Tot, DIY filters

    Comment


    • MrAudioFederation
      MrAudioFederation commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, Gary. Oh, Los Altos. It seems nice there, too :-) So many awesome towns here. This small-town boy still has big eyes looking at all the sights out here.

      Love doing the show reports, though I struggle with trying to make ours stand out these days - there are so many out there now. I've come up with a few new ideas lately, and hopefully the next shows we do help better reflect the fun and passion, if not outright fanaticism, many of us feel for this hobby.

  • #5
    I really enjoy your Audio Federation blog especially the categories that get me thinking about what I want in a system:

    Boy Toy systems: make loud noises
    Gee Whiz systems: use really cool technology
    Practical systems: are easy to listen to music on
    Drug-like systems: evoke intense musical experiences

    Another set of categories used:
    Impressive - Exaggerated bass and/or dynamics and/or detail
    Sweet - Exaggerated harmonics and/or warmth
    Enjoyable - Nice to listen to, pleasant, musical
    Emotional - Music often pulls at heart strings
    Sophisticated - Excessive micro-dynamics and finesse, entertains the mind
    Natural - Timbre/tone is correct, everything else well balanced, especially note attack and decay
    Workhorse - Competent with no real intention to do anything specific especially well
    Real/Truth - Transparent, accurate
    Magical/Spiritual - Precipitates psychological effects other than what might be expected

    Comment


    • MrAudioFederation
      MrAudioFederation commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, Mortsnets :-)

      Yep, categories help is figure out what we personally want in a system. And categories can also be useful to help classify what others want in a system - so when they say it 'blew me away' or 'it was disappointing' we can determine whether their opinion is useful to us or not.

      Thanks for posting these lists. I tend to focus a lot on evaluating particular components for practical and drug-like systems in terms of their mind+heart rankings:

      http://audiofederation.com/blog/2013...end-audio-gear

      but now I am reminded how many of the systems at the recent CAS 2017 show were Boy Toy and Gee Whiz systems - not that there is anything wrong with that :-) If I had a very large home and a lot of money...

  • #6
    I always felt the Audio Note DACs were under rated. When I was out at HP's back in the '90s, he had the AN DAC 3 sitting around. I asked Scott if HP was reviewing it and he said no (knew that because DAC was in his A/V system). So I brought it back, listened, wrote it up and submitted it to TAS. Sat there for ages until Wayne Garcia took over; we spoke and he too thought highly of the DAC and finally ran the piece. It was one of only two DACs back then (the other being the Altis DAC) that I could stand to listen to. Not surprisingly, both used tube line stages.

    The 3.1 came later and FedEx cracked the circuit board in shipping. Couldn't figure why with the power light on the unit wasn't playing. Took the cover off and lo and behold the board was damaged. That was when Mike and Herb were handling the line. Can't remember now but weren't/aren't the AN DACs non-oversampling?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2 cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. 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


    • #7
      Originally posted by MrAudioFederation View Post
      Nope, we are no longer on the top of a mountain overlooking Boulder and Denver. We are in a plain old Eichler-style home in Palo Alto. The pluses are that there are a lot more audiophiles here and this house is similar to that which many audiophiles live in. The minuses are that we are no longer on the top of a mountain overlooking Boulder and Denver.

      The LARGE SYSTEM:

      Acapella Audio Arts "High Cellini" loudspeakers
      Acapella Audio Arts "LaMusika" integrated amplifier
      Audio Note UK "CDT Five" transport
      Audio Note UK "DAC 5 Signature"
      Harmonic Resolution Systems "SXR" equipment rack and "M3X" platforms

      The flowers are a rare treat in this listening room - accidentally harvested when one of us was pruning a blossoming tree of dead branches just a little too aggressively. :-)

      A simple system, but extremely high performing.

      This is a 13 foot by 18 foot room. One wall is all glass. Yes, there is a mirror surrounding the fireplace - what can we say, this is a rental.

      The hyperspherical horn, plasma tweeter and isobarically supported woofer are so well-integrated that each of these best-in-class most-suitable-for-its-task technologies is able to support its corresponding frequencies without calling attention to itself.

      Speaking of magic, the DAC 5 is high resolution and yet sounds like music. More like music than any digital we have heard. No matter what you feed it. Music player? Yep. 1980's CDs? Yep. Oh, the more well-recorded the music, the better it sounds, of course, but the music is presented without emphasizing the flaws. You can all read elsewhere how they do it, but it works. No fuzziness or blurriness or muddiness. It just works.

      The CDT Five transport has a special tube-buffer designed to optimally connect to the DAC 5, so CDs sound pretty good on it :-)

      The LaMusika integrated is a very good solid-state amp. Not saying much, I know, with there being so many poor solid-state amps out there :-) But we like it and our ears are really picky when it comes to solid-state sonic artifacts.

      Similarly with the rack. This isn't the new VXR, but the SXR is a very good rack, especially with there being so many poor equipment racks out there. If you can't afford these, we typically recommend basic steel and wood racks, like Mapleshade, or putting things on the floor, over the vast majority of racks that are out there.

      The cables are a mishmash of Acapella, Audio Note and Belden. No conditioning. No room treatments [unless you include the carpets]. Sounds great however loud we play it, though it is still settling in after coming back from CAS 2017 [We are just so very happy with the current positioning of everything ... something just has to go wrong :-/].

      At some point we are going to put the Audio Note 22 watt Kegon amplifiers on these speakers. That is why that naked amplifier platform is sitting there....

      Audio Federation main listening roomAudio Federation main listening room
      Beautiful looking speakers. Would love to hear the Acapella's again as there was something off the only time heard them at a show (with Einstein electronics and AF1 table).

      When did you move out to CA and what made you want leave the beautiful clean air of CO?
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
      ________________________________________

      Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2 cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. 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


      • #8
        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
        I always felt the Audio Note DACs were under rated. When I was out at HP's back in the '90s, he had the AN DAC 3 sitting around. I asked Scott if HP was reviewing it and he said no (knew that because DAC was in his A/V system). So I brought it back, listened, wrote it up and submitted it to TAS. Sat there for ages until Wayne Garcia took over; we spoke and he too thought highly of the DAC and finally ran the piece. It was one of only two DACs back then (the other being the Altis DAC) that I could stand to listen to. Not surprisingly, both used tube line stages.

        The 3.1 came later and FedEx cracked the circuit board in shipping. Couldn't figure why with the power light on the unit wasn't playing. Took the cover off and lo and behold the board was damaged. That was when Mike and Herb were handling the line. Can't remember now but weren't/aren't the AN DACs non-oversampling?
        Thanks so much for the kind words. I am glad your review got out. Luckily DACs these days almost always sound quite a lot better than those bad old days of digititus.

        Shipping... ugh... when it absolutely positively might get there sometime undamaged.

        Your memory is excellent, the AN DACs were, and continue to be, non-oversampling. We had the AN DAC 4.1x Balanced for the longest time, and as new DACs and players would come in with more and more oversampling, the 4.1x Balanced kept up. It was different, of course, but with quite a bit of resolution regardless, including that in the harmonic domain, and blah blah blah the believability factor, the ability to suspend disbelief that this was real, not a hifi, always kept it as one of our top performers.

        Hearing is believing but in order to minimize cognitive dissonance between being an applied mathematician and what at first glance [non-oversampling] Should Not Work this well, my mental model is this:

        The complexity of oversampling introduces errors to the signal, and when the over-sampler tries to remove the errors, even though it has tried to keep them in the lower bits of some gawdawfully large number of bits [making the poor DSP chips to work so very, very hard], it fails to some extent, leaving artifacts that are audible. e.g. The math says this should work perfectly, but those crazy electrons are always getting up to mischief. :-)

        That said, I really like all the excitement the over-samplers are generating, they can be stimulating to listen to. Though lately I barely have time to just relax and listen to the music ....




        Mike
        Audio Federation
        Palo Alto, California (Silicon Valley)
        We are a wife and husband importer, dealer, website and blog all about creating ultimate music experiences at the push of a button or drop of a needle.

        Comment


        • #9
          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

          Beautiful looking speakers. Would love to hear the Acapella's again as there was something off the only time heard them at a show (with Einstein electronics and AF1 table).

          When did you move out to CA and what made you want leave the beautiful clean air of CO?
          Thanks, Myles. OMG I try not to think about the air quality. Nope. Not going there.

          We have wanted to move out here for decades. There are so many reasons, but various things would make us wait 'until next year'. My daughter was in Boulder for several years so a lot of our decisions resolved around her. Then she moved out here and we had no more excuses :-)

          We love the energy here. Everybody is up to something grand. Everybody seems so passionate about what they are doing - maybe not as crazy passionate as we are :-) - but in that same spirit.

          We would love to have you come visit if you get out this way...!

          Mike
          Audio Federation
          Palo Alto, California (Silicon Valley)
          We are a wife and husband importer, dealer, website and blog all about creating ultimate music experiences at the push of a button or drop of a needle.

          Comment


          • #10
            Neli was very awesome to me several years ago when I was having issues with my then L2 Lamm line stage, and Vlad was in Europe for an extended period. A few of the dealers around NY didn't stock any tubes, and Neli offered to send some, just to let me troubleshoot the unit.
            I remember admiring your systems and location back in the day on your website. I never made it to the Rocky Mountain show but in the day, it was supposed to be great. (I have an aversion to trade shows generally).
            May I ask one question without being snarky?
            It appears that you have a mirror between the speakers. I'm not questioning the aesthetic, but what impact that has on sonics.
            regards,
            bill hart

            Comment


            • #11
              Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
              Neli was very awesome to me several years ago when I was having issues with my then L2 Lamm line stage, and Vlad was in Europe for an extended period. A few of the dealers around NY didn't stock any tubes, and Neli offered to send some, just to let me troubleshoot the unit.
              I remember admiring your systems and location back in the day on your website. I never made it to the Rocky Mountain show but in the day, it was supposed to be great. (I have an aversion to trade shows generally).
              May I ask one question without being snarky?
              It appears that you have a mirror between the speakers. I'm not questioning the aesthetic, but what impact that has on sonics.
              regards,
              bill hart
              Hi Bill, Thanks. Glad we could help out.

              The mirror? No. Please. Question the aesthetic. We do. Someone explain it to us.

              Perhaps it was added to make the room feel larger, or to reflect the outdoors seen through the nearby window... but... Most people do not spend a lot of time looking at themselves. In fact, many of us feel uncomfortable seeing what we really look like for extended periods of time ;-) [so much so, that most people learn to ignore the mirror in the first few minutes].

              Sonically? It is just another highly reflective surface [in a home with many of them - it is a live-sounding house]. So it is not much different than a window, real-adobe wall, brick wall, cement wall, etc. We just position the speakers [which have sealed cabinets, no rear-firing ports here] until it works [albeit with some note decay issues at very high SPL].

              So do we talk about putting rod and drape up and covering that front wall? You betchya. :-) Many times :-) And we probably will do it at some point, both to make setup easier and to hide the 'aesthetic' :-) [the raised lip of the fireplace hearth makes it a little problematic, but not impossibly so]. The biggest hurdle has been for this husband and wife to actually agree on what the color of the drape should be...

              Take care,
              -Mike
              Mike
              Audio Federation
              Palo Alto, California (Silicon Valley)
              We are a wife and husband importer, dealer, website and blog all about creating ultimate music experiences at the push of a button or drop of a needle.

              Comment


              • #12
                Originally posted by MrAudioFederation View Post

                Hi Bill, Thanks. Glad we could help out.

                The mirror? No. Please. Question the aesthetic. We do. Someone explain it to us.

                Perhaps it was added to make the room feel larger, or to reflect the outdoors seen through the nearby window... but... Most people do not spend a lot of time looking at themselves. In fact, many of us feel uncomfortable seeing what we really look like for extended periods of time ;-) [so much so, that most people learn to ignore the mirror in the first few minutes].

                Sonically? It is just another highly reflective surface [in a home with many of them - it is a live-sounding house]. So it is not much different than a window, real-adobe wall, brick wall, cement wall, etc. We just position the speakers [which have sealed cabinets, no rear-firing ports here] until it works [albeit with some note decay issues at very high SPL].

                So do we talk about putting rod and drape up and covering that front wall? You betchya. :-) Many times :-) And we probably will do it at some point, both to make setup easier and to hide the 'aesthetic' :-) [the raised lip of the fireplace hearth makes it a little problematic, but not impossibly so]. The biggest hurdle has been for this husband and wife to actually agree on what the color of the drape should be...

                Take care,
                -Mike
                The solution, wearing my Elle Decor hat, is to have a pull down shade with sufficient texture/absorption/diffusion characteristics that you can use if you want, or leave it in an up position. Yeah, I didn't really think of the looking at myself part, I think that would bug me. I'd rather look outside through the window. But who am I as an arbiter of taste? Thanks for replying. Best of luck in your new digs. We just moved to Austin a few months ago, and leaving aside all the work associated with the move, love the vibe here as well as the change after 35-6 years in NY and all of my life in the NE.
                PS: that's a fireplace behind the mirror? I thought it was a glass window. So, without the mirror, you'd have a fireplace cavity which is another issue.

                Comment

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