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BDH55

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Welcome to my System post! Following is the current iteration of my ever evolving system. While it is somewhat modest compared to many systems here, it's my pride and joy and has evolved over nearly 50 years from my very first 'hi-fi' rig (a Pioneer PL-15D turntable, Pioneer 40 wpc integrated amp, and a pair of Infinity speakers, IIRC).

As with many here, I've combined my two channel audio system, my home theater system, and worked to make them fit into a less than ideal room. Since this is the MLO Forum, let's start with the speaker side of things, then I will move to the sources and control.

IMG_4591.jpeg


My primary speakers are my brand new ML Renaissance ESL 15's. We spend probably four or five times the amount of time listening to audio, as we do watching video, so the 15's (and Para JC 1's) really make it happen! To the left of my LF speaker is a ML Descent i subwoofer (where I am only using the LFE connection) and the Center channel speaker is a ML Stage. This is a 5.1.2 configuration, and the rears are ML Script i electrostats hanging on the rear wall, and a pair of ML Vanquish cones mounted in the ceiling. Also shown in this photo are my main amps which are Parasound JC 1 mono blocks. The screen is a Stewart StudioTek 130 16:9 and is 106" diagonal. Hidden in this photo is a PS Audio Power Plant 12 (if you look very closely, you can just see it thru the grill on the Stage). Everything upfront runs thru the Power Plant 12 except the JC 1's (currently). I have two dedicated 20 amp circuits serving all my AV equipment. One supplies the two separate duplex outlets behind the Stage and feeds the Power Plant 12 (the other two duplex outlets in between the ESL 15's are house power and not used for any of my AV needs). The other dedicated 20 amp circuit supplies my main equipment rack, which we will get to in a minute. I mentioned that the PP 12 is handling all my power needs 'except' for my two JC 1's. Initially, I had planned to connect each JC 1 to the high current outlets on the PP 12. However, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of just plugging each of the mono blocks directly into the dedicated 20 amp circuit. I will likely feed my JC 1's off the PP 12 to see if I can hear any difference. Right now though, everything is sounding really good, so I'm being lazy. For those who really want to 'get in the weeds'... all of my AV outlets are PS Audio Power Port Classic receptacles.

Okay, so you've seen the braun... here are the brains...

IMG_6799.jpeg


Not sure where to start here but since we were talking about power, let's keep on that path. I mentioned I have two dedicated 20 amp circuits feeding my system, with the first feeding my Power Plant 12 up front. The second one feeds the PS Audio Power Plant 20 on the bottom left. Every other piece of equipment here is fed by the PP 20. Above the PP 20, is a Marantz SA-K1 Ruby SACD player, and above the SACD player is a Parasound JC 2 BP preamp. This preamp has the bypass feature which allows me to pull all my two channel sources off my AVP, but also allows me to share my main front channel speakers and amps with my home theater when needed. Moving to the center stack bottom is a Parasound A 23+ that powers our Vanquish height speakers. Above that is a PS Audio DirectStream DAC... above that is a PS Audio Stellar phono preamp... and above that is my an Anthem AVM60 AVP. At the right stack bottom is a Parasound A 31 that powers my center and rear channels. Above that is an Aurender ACS10 Content Server (streamer, ripper, 16 TB server)... and above that is my OPPO UDP-205 Ultra HD disc player. Finally, across the top left to right... a Benchmark HPA4 headphone amp... cable box... VPI Prime Signature Rosewood with JMW Unipivot tonearm, and a Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star ES Low Output cartridge... and finally, a VPI ADS Drive System.

Miscellaneous comments/thoughts...

Cables - all of my analog interconnects are balanced (unless either the device doesn't support balanced connections, OR whatever I am connecting to doesn't have enough balanced connections). All interconnects are Cardas (mostly Clear Sky, with some Clear). Speaker cables are Cardas Cygnus (fortunately, they are short). Digital cables are Transparent. Power cables are all AudioQuest (NRG-4 thru Monsoon and Blizzard. Normally my sources are NRG-4's but as current demand increase with amps and Power Plants, I move up).

Equipment Rack - Likely only the older members will recognize it, but the nameplate is clear on the front left edge. This is a Billy Bags rack, and it is fantastic! I guess I had him build it for me around 25 years ago, You could choose support finish... choose the top finish... choose all the shelf spacing... whether to load the supports with sand or shot, etc. Great guy, great company. Not sure how long it's been, but RIP Billy.

Headphones - Focal Clear, and OPPO PM-1

Isolation - my Aurender, Blu-Ray player, DAC, and phono pre are all sitting on IsoAcoustics OREA equipment isolators.

Miscellaneous - remote is a Harmony Ultimate (but I'm not up to date so using several remotes). Additional video source is Roku Ultra.

Projector - JVC DLA-4800U My projector (and my Script i rears) are my only devices not on my dedicated power circuits. However, all are on good surge protectors.

Future thoughts...

I'm sure everyone here is looking for their next upgrade that brings them the ultimate sound! At least I know I am!!! Easy picks for me would be to upgrade both my Descent i (to a BF212) and my Stage (to an Illusion), both of which would bring down the bottom end when watching movies. That said, I'm more of a two channel guy, so that points me more toward my main amps and my preamp (and several of you have already offered suggestions, thank you). Also, I do need to upgrade my projector to a more current 4K model.

There seems to be a ton of experience in this forum so I anxiously await your comments/feedback/suggestions!
 
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Dan F.

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Have you ever compared the DAC in the Marantz to the PS Audio? I have the Marantz SA-10 and the DAC in that sounds pretty good to me (though now I'm using a DCS Network Bridge streaming to a Mark Levinson 585 and using the DAC in the Levinson. I can't imagine having to connect so many pieces of hardware - that's home theater for you. I have separated 2 channel listening from video. I can see why you need all those circuits.
 

Lightloopy

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Impressive system evolved over the years yet appreciate certain parts like the equipment rack are irreplaceable. Bravo!
 

BDH55

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Have you ever compared the DAC in the Marantz to the PS Audio? I have the Marantz SA-10 and the DAC in that sounds pretty good to me (though now I'm using a DCS Network Bridge streaming to a Mark Levinson 585 and using the DAC in the Levinson. I can't imagine having to connect so many pieces of hardware - that's home theater for you. I have separated 2 channel listening from video. I can see why you need all those circuits.
Dan, great question and it's on my list. Like you, I think my Marantz is sounding pretty good so I just left it connected thru the analog outputs (and I haven't disabled the digital outs either). I would 'hope' that my PS Audio DAC would be an improvement over the Marantz DAC, but I've made a lot of changes over the past year so right now I'm working on getting my new speakers properly placed. I think once I get things settled in, I can start seeing if I can hear a difference between DAC's.

As far as needing 'all those circuits'... according to my electrician, I am over powered (my take is maybe so, but I do think there is a big advantage to having dedicated circuits and not competing for power with the furnace, refrigerator, etc). I just look at is as I've got some big amps... lots of equipment... and occasionally, we like to 'entertain the neighbors' so I would rather be overpowered, than underpowered! 😁
 

khenegar1

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Dan, great question and it's on my list. Like you, I think my Marantz is sounding pretty good so I just left it connected thru the analog outputs (and I haven't disabled the digital outs either). I would 'hope' that my PS Audio DAC would be an improvement over the Marantz DAC, but I've made a lot of changes over the past year so right now I'm working on getting my new speakers properly placed. I think once I get things settled in, I can start seeing if I can hear a difference between DAC's.

As far as needing 'all those circuits'... according to my electrician, I am over powered (my take is maybe so, but I do think there is a big advantage to having dedicated circuits and not competing for power with the furnace, refrigerator, etc). I just look at is as I've got some big amps... lots of equipment... and occasionally, we like to 'entertain the neighbors' so I would rather be overpowered, than underpowered! 😁
i noticed that ur right speaker has nothing behind it but open space going into another room how do u handle this so ur system sounds balanced? and i noticed the ohio state rug i have a grandson going there. what area of ohio do u live in? I live in the akron area. u have a very impressive looking system.
 

BDH55

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i noticed that ur right speaker has nothing behind it but open space going into another room how do u handle this so ur system sounds balanced? and i noticed the ohio state rug i have a grandson going there. what area of ohio do u live in? I live in the akron area. u have a very impressive looking system.
Unfortunately... I have a terrible room shape to deal with! Simple as that, but I continue to try to make it work. ;)

In addition to the little alcove behind my right speaker where my main equipment rack lives (3' D x 7' W), the bigger problem is over my left shoulder (from my listening position) where I have an 8' opening into big another room. Also, as I have continued to pull my ESL15's off my front wall, I am really tight with my main listening position almost right up against my rear wall. All this means that while my left front is 4.5' off its front wall, my right front is 7.5' off its front wall, and at the same time... it is approximately 31' from the left front to 'its' rear wall, while only about 12' from the right front to 'its' rear wall. I'm sure this is hard to picture and I guess I should post a drawing of the room dimensions and let one of the experts up here tell me what to do (and no, moving is not an option :LOL:). It's just not a good room to deal with and I am certain that I am not getting anywhere near the capabilities of my 15's nor the rest of my equipment.

As for area of the State, we are in Cincinnati. Both of us are born and bred Buckeyes with most of our roots in NE OH and the CLE area...
 

BDH55

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Nice looking system DBH. I had never seen this thread.
Thx Brad! Means a lot coming from someone who built your totally amazing rig!!! These photos were taken before I brought my Illusion center in, and I had not yet installed my stereo subs. Unfortunately, and like many, my challenge remains my room...
 

Robert D

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Thx Brad! Means a lot coming from someone who built your totally amazing rig!!! These photos were taken before I brought my Illusion center in, and I had not yet installed my stereo subs. Unfortunately, and like many, my challenge remains my room...
How does that Illusion sound!? It looks incredible. Ive got what it looks like you used to have, a Theater i. I bet it really blows that away.
 

BDH55

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How does that Illusion sound!? It looks incredible. Ive got what it looks like you used to have, a Theater i. I bet it really blows that away.
Actually, my old center was a Stage, but yes, the Illusion is a big improvement. With twice the panel size, twice the woofers, frequency response being 24 dB lower, and weighing nearly three times as much, it's a completely different speaker. I remember when ML brought the Illusion out, my first thought was 'who would pay that kind of money for a center channel?' However, once I decided to upgrade my Summits to ESL 15's... it just seemed much more reasonable! :D I guess if I had any criticism it would be that it is so deep (same complaint on my 15's). However, I guess ML needs some cabinet volume to make the low end work, and hide the amp...
 

bikerneil

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Beautiful system. I am a Buckeye too, so I like the rug and room too!

With the huge investment you have made in electronics, cables, and everything else I am little surprised to see no acoustic treatment behind the ML's. In my experience the easiest and most cost effective improvements for sound stage are moving the speakers out and away from the front wall, and then adding some sort of absorption behind the speakers. $200 in absorption would make a huge improvement.

Go Buckeyes!
 

JonFo

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With the huge investment you have made in electronics, cables, and everything else I am little surprised to see no acoustic treatment behind the ML's
Agreed, as soon as I saw the pic, the Theater i without any treatment behind it is the first thing I noticed.

BDH55: You'll have a much better movie dialogue result by placing an absorption panel between the Theater i and the front wall. Something like the Narrow 12" x 48" GIK panel would do nicely. Bonus would be hiding the cabling on the front wall.
The second item would be to set the Thater i stand on a stand that will raise the Theater as high as possible without obscuring the screen. The front soundstage pans would be a lot smoother.

Lovely system and good cable management !
 

BDH55

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A couple others have commented about the lack of acoustic treatments since I posted my original photos. While I still don't have any acoustic panels, I guess the first thing I need to do is to update my system photos. Couple things on that... first, I have replaced my Stage center channel with an Illusion... second, I'm in process of adding REL subs, and finally, this is a multi purpose room. While this is where my wife and I both enjoy our music and movies, it is also my Buckeye Man Cave and home to all Ohio State football games! As such, my walls are completely covered with Buckeye memorabilia throughout the room, leaving little room for panels.

While I don't doubt that someone experienced with room treatments would be able to make a difference, the other challenge is my room is just not a good room 'shape'. So I guess another thing I need to do is post a floor plan of my actual room, and the adjoining room it opens in to. Also, my room isn't overly live. You can see from the original photo that it is carpeted, with drywall (and multiple wall hangings, both cloth and framed prints). All furniture is overstuffed, leather loveseat, recliners, etc. My system is set up on the long dimension of the room, so I'm not sure my side walls are a big issue. Only a couple of windows which are covered by honeycomb blinds that are always down.

When I read things that talk about the 'speakers disappearing', and the 'musicians appearing between them', well... I am not quite there and can only hope to get there some day. Let me try to draw out a good floor plan and post it to see what ideas everyone has. If taking down some of my wall hangings and putting up a few acoustic panels will make the difference... well, sign me up!
 

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If taking down some of my wall hangings and putting up a few acoustic panels will make the difference
Oh, you are actually in better shape than most if you already have a bunch of stuff on the walls. The trick is to turn them into acoustically functional as well as part of the decor. You can take a digital image and have that printed on the treatments, so you go wild with team logos or even pictures, see this:


Or


Art-Panels-Single-rectangle-with-chair-1.jpg


If you have something like a team jersey (the real thing) then it can be framed over a stretch knit fabric on top of a commercial absorber. Many ways to turn things into some form of treatment. See my re-use of the old panels in my custom sidewalls treatment.
 

Robert D

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Oh, you are actually in better shape than most if you already have a bunch of stuff on the walls. The trick is to turn them into acoustically functional as well as part of the decor. You can take a digital image and have that printed on the treatments, so you go wild with team logos or even pictures, see this:


Or


Art-Panels-Single-rectangle-with-chair-1.jpg


If you have something like a team jersey (the real thing) then it can be framed over a stretch knit fabric on top of a commercial absorber. Many ways to turn things into some form of treatment. See my re-use of the old panels in my custom sidewalls treatment.
Wow, thanks! I didnt know they were doing that. So places that make the sound treatments offer this service? Who did you use?
 

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BDH55

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Lovely system and good cable management !
Thx! Not sure about the 'cable management' comment, but I'm doing the best I can. :) I'm on a concrete slab so punching holes thru the drywall seems to be my only option...
Oh, you are actually in better shape than most if you already have a bunch of stuff on the walls. The trick is to turn them into acoustically functional as well as part of the decor. You can take a digital image and have that printed on the treatments, so you go wild with team logos
Very helpful and I had no idea this was even possible! As for my walls, yes, they are almost completely covered. I've got more memorabilia than I can hang, so I have to swap things in and out. :oops: While I guess I could send someone a digital image and have the room effectively 'look' the same, nearly everything has original autographs, and that just wouldn't seem 'right' (of course, if it sounded better???)

I'll work on sketch of my room(s) and post it to see what ideas members may have...
 
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