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Audio Federation's small system

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  • Audio Federation's small 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. Eichler homes are modestly sized, mid-century modern homes with great architecture [imo] and low-grade materials. The open floor plan tends to result in lots of small bedrooms. One of our small bedrooms is dedicated as our small system room.


    Audio Note UK "AN-E SEC Signature" speakers
    Audio Note UK "Kegon" 300B SET monoblock amplifiers
    Audio Note UK "Soro Phono SE" integrated
    Audio Note UK "M2 Line Balanced" linestage
    EMM Labs "XDS1" CD / SACD player
    Rix Rax equipment rack

    As you can see, a 100% Audio Note system plus the XDS1 player. We don't call this the Audio Note room because AN speakers would also work just fine in the larger 13x18 room. In fact later today we are probably moving the Kegon amplifiers and M2 pre [or, not shown, M9 Phono preamplifier] to put them on the Acapella Cellini High speakers in that room.

    This is a small room. it is 10 feet 9 inches by 9 feet 10 inches. Small. Very small.

    We originally had the bookcase of CDs in here. But we wanted seating for two people, and Neli likes to use nice upholstered chairs, for longer listening possibilities. So, no. No bookcase.

    Sounds quite good in here, though. It takes awhile, but after several minutes there is this sense of intimacy and the sharing of a secret with the musicians while the rest of the world outside the door runs around like chickens being chased by Sylvester Stallone.

    The only problem with this room is ergonomics. If we let the CDs get out of control. Or start leaving powercords around. It gets crowded in here real quick [see photo]. :-)

    The speakers [with crossovers in the stands underneath] are expensive-ish. $75K or so-ish. [Yeah. They sounds great on the similarly quite expensive Kegons in here. In such a small room, you really get to *hear* them up close and very personal].

    We plan on migrating this to a Soro-driven system with $8K-ish Audio Note AN-E SPe HE high efficiency speakers [not that they are not all high-efficiency, these have the hemp drivers]. This would keep the system price in the $20K-30K-ish range. We had very good results with this smaller system in a large 15ft by 25ft room in Boulder. It is a good deal more visceral than the more expensive, much higher resolution AN system, but it was bouncy and alive and many more people could afford it and we really kind of got into it. It was really fun to listen to. For those times when perhaps you don't want an ultimate drug-like, mind-altering, life-changing listening experience [which is a real risk with the high-level Audio Note - don't say you weren't warned] - you just want to put on some tunes and enjoy the heck out of them.

    Many people ask us "Why the Soro integrated? Why not the Oto integrated?" [the similarly priced Oto is more popular on the forums]. The Soro is based on the 6L6 tube and the Oto on the EL84. The 6L6 is a little cleaner and dynamic sounding. The EL84 more dense and luxurious sounding. I think, for us, the Soro is more like the sound we like on the bigger systems. Or maybe... We had the Oto for many, many years - maybe it was just time for a change. For whatever reason, we are digging the Soro these last couple of years - good harmonics, lively, and a lot of fun. :-)
    Click image for larger version

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    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
    That's a nice looking intimate room, I love the rack, is it custom made? I am not familiar with those speakers, are they bass reflex. I have a pair of Fosgate back loaded horns with a 8" full range and super tweeter in my digital room which is 24 x 24 it always amazes me as to how it can fill the room running off a 4.5 watt 300 B SET.


    • #3
      Thanks, Don.

      The rack is made by Rix Rax. They made about a dozen different styles of furniture-grade equipment racks. We were a dealer for several years. We really like them for their simplicity of design [primarily wood and metal - typically these kinds of racks do not mess up the sound, unlike many of the weird complex designs out there]. The general consensus is that Rix Rax is no longer in business [i.e. Rick has retired].

      The speakers are Audio Note UK, which are based on the old Snell speakers. Yes, they are rear ported. They use the corners of the room as a horn, the room effectively becoming part of the speaker, allowing bass down in the 20 Hz region. This ameliorates the typical 'hump' in bass around the port frequency and rapid falloff below suffered by many ported-speakers.

      Yep :-) High-efficiency speakers can not only fill a room with sound - but just sound 'righter' imo [better immediacy, dynamics, impact, more open and relaxed, uncompressed], though traditional designs sometimes use older drivers which lack the ultimate in fine detail resolution. Some people do not mind, and even prefer, a lower resolution sound - perhaps because it is more traditional and natural sounding to them. We, however, like hearing our music at a high-resolution, which is one reason why we chose Audio Note and Acapella high-efficiency speakers over many of their all-too-few high-efficiency competitors.

      That said, if a person was going just for high-efficiency, which does get you a lot of advantages of horns - then there are a very few nice box-speaker-designs like the Wilson Alexandria speakers which are an example of a traditional cone high-efficiency speaker with good resolution, and there are many examples of box-design speakers with active (amplified) bass which are effectively high-efficiency and with good resolution.

      The secret sauce is really that your speakers are driven by your 4.5 watt 300B SET amp, and that amp, no matter what brand or provenance, most likely sounds better than 99% of the traditional high-powered amps out there, both tube and solid-state, required by most other, harder-to-drive speakers. :-)

      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.


      • #4
        nice love