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System #137 (Vantage)

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ralflar

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Name: Ralf
Where: Houston, TX

Music (stereo) system
Logans: Vantages (Dec 2006)
Sub: Depth-i (May 2007)
Sources: Squeezebox 3 & DAC (FLACed CDs), Arcam DV137 (SACDs, unFLACed CDs)
DAC: CIAudio VDA-2 plus CIAudio VAC-1
Pre: CIAudio PLC-1
Amps: CIAudio D-200
Headphone amp: CIAudio VHP-2 plus CIAudio VAC-1

HT "system"
Speakers: Polk Audio SurroundBar, Hans Deutsch Light Style 2 Mk I for rear surround channels
Sub: Depth-i (May 2007)
Sources: Playstation 3 (movies in Blu-Ray Disk format), Arcam DV137 (movies in SD format, upscaled to 1080p)
Display: Sharp Aquos 37" 1080p LCD
Receiver: Yamaha RX-V1600, soon to be replaced by Emotiva DMC-1 pre/pro (inbound) and LPA-1 amplifier (pictured).
Eventually I will have a real HT system with discrete speakers, and build a second stereo system around the Light Styles.

Furniture
Chair: Stressless Reno by Ekornes
Rack: BDI Axis
Room treatments: ATS Acoustics and GIK Acoustics

Power line & surge protection
APC H15: this is a voltage regulator with a transformer inside. I think this one may actually sound better than the Belkin PF60.
Dual Belkin PF60: one feeds and protects one Vantage and one Depth-i (left side), the other one Vantage and one Yammy HT receiver (right side).

Cables
Analog & digital interconnects, speaker cables, power cords by Zebra Cables and Signal Cable. My cable credo is: custom lengths and good looks, good specs, workmanship and shielding. Bull(y) somebody else with cable vodoo :).

Comments
Since I got my first Logans less than 14 months ago (Aeon-is which were replaced by Vantages 6 months later in Dec 06) I have spent more time listening to music at home than I had in almost 14 years.

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(Unfortunately, the images do not show up in Opera. They do in IE and Firefox 2.)

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The posts below refer to my first ML system, Aeon-is bought in June 06, driven by a Yamaha RX-V1600 receiver and a Denon 2910. That original post was only one year minus two days ago. Seems like ages now!
 
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twich54

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Ralf, Welcome ! ithink all our systems tend to be "work in progress", I for one think it goes hand in hand with our hobby. It is good though at time to relax our heels as well as the pocket book, sit back and enjoy the music !

BTW, I wholeheartly agree with your sonic observation on your need for a good pre-amp / amp. I believe Viking may have a Pass Labs 350.5 for sale in the near future.
 

Scumurculum

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Back in march when I first got my brand new Aeon i's, I also felt the sound quality was great but still somewhat disapointing.

At the time I was running them from an av receiver (denon AVCA11XV - 140w - biamped)

In response I got a new power amp THule PA350b (350 w) which impoved things immensely especially in the lower and upper end.

Then I upgraded my interconnects to Tara Labs RSC-CS and speaker cable to Kimber 8TC - bi wired. Which improved the details/soundstaging a lot.

Now the system sounds pretty much to my satisfaction. (although I would like to upgrade my CD player)

So these are things to consider, as you indicated, your electronics, although nice, do not quite do you speakers justice
 
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ralflar

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Dave, Your's is one of those gorgeous systems I referred to above, and I am green with envy. OTOH, upgrading my system will be much easier since there is so much more to upgrade ;). Seriously, your setup is immaculate and desirable. What do you use to keep the cables off the floor?

The Pass Labs 350.5 is a piece of beauty indeed, but I think that as an audiophile rookie I'll choose a more incremental approach to reducing my disposable income. That way I will learn more and get to relaxin' my heels a lot more, too. Easing back into the Stressless chair, recline, feet up, eyes open or closed, and listening, is like an exercise in unwinding after a stressful day. I bet you know exactly what I mean.

Recently I have been looking at Arcam P1, Bel Canto e.One, Classe CA-2100. I will ask for forum feedback on these in a thread yet to be posted. Right now I am awaiting a response by John Stronczer of Bel Canto to some questions I asked regarding his products.
 

ralflar

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Scumurculum, Thanks for sharing your experience with me. It confirms that I will definitely need to get a decent power amp next. I am, however, a non-believer in boutique cables and bi-wiring. (Too many Physics lectures at the Uni ;).) Don't get me wrong, I do believe that good electrical and mechanical cable construction will make a difference. And passive bi-amping does work with Aeon-is. But multi-100 dollar per meter interconnects and cables are just clever marketing, IMO. There are two expensive pairs of Kimber and BEL P1 interconnect cables in my system. The Kimber is nice to look at and easy to route. The BEL has superior mechanical construction - the sliding ground connectors are unique, and are easy to route as well. Both do not - thankfully - sound. Neither do my $40/m other interconnects.

Anyway, I do not want to start yet another discussion about cables. The Internet is full of those :). We can continue this via PMs if you like.

What I do want to say here is that I do appreciate your feedback. We share a beautiful and healthy hobby. And your assessment of my electronics is spot on.

Upgrading it will be fun!
 

twich54

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ralflar said:
Dave, What do you use to keep the cables off the floor?


Recently I have been looking at Arcam P1, Bel Canto e.One, Classe CA-2100. I will ask for forum feedback on these in a thread yet to be posted. Right now I am awaiting a response by John Stronczer of Bel Canto to some questions I asked regarding his products.
Ralf, As well, thank you for the kind words. As for the cable risers they were a X-mas present from my son, I believe he got them through Frank@Signal Cable.com

FWIW the encouragement I received to purchase my Plinius amp came via one of the members of this Forum (Dan aka DTB300) and I must say I couldn't have been more pleased. Having "lucked' into a new / Dealer demo SA-102 @ half price with a full warranty has made listening sweet.

Take your time, listen and enjoy, but also remember the importance of a good pre-amp as well. I have preached may times how the "sonic signature" of ones system has a direct correlation to the pre and thus the importance of it's choice.

Amen, off my soap box !!
 

ralflar

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Father Dave,

Could you get up on that soap box one more time, please? You have some more preachin' to do ;).

I always thought that all a pre-amp should do is to get out of the way, sonically, while still providing enough amplification of the signal voltage to adequately drive power amp inputs. And since most signal sources have a fixed gain, pre-amps need to provide variable gain control via the volume knob.

Lab tests say the pre-amp section of my Yammy can provide all the voltage required to drive any power amp. Analog bypass ("Pure Direct") is supposed to provide a direct link between the source and the pre-amp outs. The only extra thing in that "shortest possible connection" would be the volume potentiometer or its digital equivalent.

What, in your opinion, will the Yammy add to the signal which a "good pre-amp" would not? You have, of course, noted that I did not ask what a decent pre-amp would add.
 

twich54

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ralflar said:
Father Dave,


I always thought that all a pre-amp should do is to get out of the way, sonically, while still providing enough amplification of the signal voltage to adequately drive power amp inputs. And since most signal sources have a fixed gain, pre-amps need to provide variable gain control via the volume knob.

Ralf, Good morning, your statement above is oh so true, trouble is, first off the ability to perform the "straight wire with gain" as simple as it sounds is often compromised. That being said, alot of us , myself included, like to tailor the mid freq (it's where most of musical content is) to what we perceive as warmth, etc. That is why alot of folks utilize tubes in at least part of the signal path.

The simplistic view of variable gain via the volume knob along with verfied measurement of voltage gain, vs. distortion etc. is reminiscent of the Julian Hirsch days @ Stereo Review, where he said if two like componets measured the same then they basically were (this is a generalized statement)
Do all amplifiers sound the same ? No way

It comes down to what you hear or don't hear that makes a difference (percieved or otherwise) In my recent pre-amp change this spring the one thing that I noticed most was that my new pre had a greater ability to seperate instruments, creating air, space call it what you want, better than my then current pre. When I auditioned I A/B back and forth between the two, my back was to the pre-amps and my sales guy @ Overture did not tell me which one was used.

In conclussion I recomend you upgrade to an amp first, use your pre-outs from your receiver and after a while audition some seperate pre-amps of your chossing. My gut tells me there will be a "signature" out there with your name on it !!

BTW, I like die-cast model of the vette in your middle photo, 1957 I believe ! ?
 

ralflar

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Right on. Yes, that's a '57 Vette. Sorry for my late reply. Most of my online time was spent researching amps rather than posting here. A lot of my offline time was spent listening to new amplification, plus I traveled a lot, lately.

I followed your advice to upgrade the amps first. You know which ones I got. At the same time I also bought a passive attenuator instead of a pre-amp. It was only $300, too good an opportunity to pass up, and it made at least as much of a difference. While the Yammy pre-amp outs hold the D-200s back, the VPC-2 allows them to shine. I would be surprised if the VPC-2 costs even $50 to make. Even so, what a difference it makes! Good riddance, Yammy. Well, you have seen my recent posts in other threads.

Considering the minimal parts count in both VPC-2 and D-200, I reckon I am pretty close to that straight wire ideal. (It's attenuation instead of gain, though.) Channel Islands Audio now sell a new passive attenuator, the PLC-1. I think I may try it next. A few more, but better parts, and more convenience. Trying an active pre-amp would be interesting. I'd like to try the Arcam C31. Unfortunately that would be a buy-without-try proposition.

The AV rack is now between the speakers, the HDTV relegated off to the side where the rack was. When I get around to tidy up the wires and the place I'll post updated photos. Might be a while, though. Listening is too much fun. On top of that I started to research speaker upgrades... :D
 

lugano

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Ralf, I noticed from your pictures that you have a lamp with a dimmer at the right of your TV set. I would pull it out completely from the wall when doing serious listening - that's a big hum producer afaik...
 

ralflar

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Lugano, that dimmer has been no problem at all in years. However, I know the type of dimmer you were referring to, the type which hums to the extent that one can feel its vibrations, sometimes. The dimmer I have only gets warm, and there is absolutely no crossfeed into the speakers, I assure you. Thanks for pointing this out, though.

The LCD TV between the speakers, on the other hand, degraded the sound in a notable way. The farther away from the front wall, the worse. That is one reason why the TV is now out of the way, its place having been taken over by the AV rack.
 

ralflar

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Snake oil detector goes off.

I watched it just now, and I did read about the Noise Harvester before, also.

The one correct thing the guy says in the video is that energy can only be converted from one form to another. Then he says that power conditioners can not remove power line noise for that reason, and that the NH can because it converts power line noise noise into light. What he does not say is that the filters within a power conditioner convert the noise into heat...

At any rate, an LED does neither produce much light nor heat. It is a very poor sink for all that converted line noise. This harvester thing is a waste of both time and money.
 

lugano

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I for sure will not invest money in that gadget - the only important point for me was that dimmers are really doing nasty things...now, Joey's Plinius running in class A probably doesn't much care about a freaking dimmer, but some preamplifiers might :)
 

ralflar

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Well said. I shall invest some more money in cables, though: to get ones that better fit into my system and room, length-wise. I have some that are too short and many more which are much too long.
 

ralflar

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Oct 25th: Squeezebox and iMac added.

Mostly, I like the results. Next two things up will be better power supply and an external DAC. Also: cables that fit length-wise, to tidy up the mess within and behind my AV rack, as well as in my room.

And who knows, perhaps Arcam will even be able to send me a working replacement for the DV137 before the year is over. I'm not taking any bets, though.
 

ralflar

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Plans change: still no DAC, cables mess unchanged, too, but something is new

It seems like Aeons since I bought my first pair of Logans.

It was in May, really. I wrote that sentence above for pun, but there is a grain of truth in it too. The Aeon-is were nice, very nice. After a few weeks of use my memories of boxed speakers faded away into the distant past.

I wrote that they were nice because a pair of Vantages took their place last weekend. I had a bit of a difficulty to decide on the cabinet color. Dark cherry turned out fine in the end.

Most of the other components in my system changed as well. An updated description and new photos are in order.

The "HT" gear has changed only its location. It is out of the way now. Ignore it. As for the two channel setup:

- Arcam DV137 for SACD and critical CD listening
- Squeezebox 3 for everything else, CD-wise
- a Channel Islands Audio passive attenuator
- a pair of Channel Islands Audio D-200 monoblocks
- and of course: Vantages
 

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ralflar

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Here is a view of the system. The color of the cabinet wood depends a lot on the lighting. Here, with flash light, it looks brownish and dark. In daylight it looks very similar to that of the foot rest.

Those who read the dark vs natural cherry thread know that I wanted silver airframes. This pic shows why.
 

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ralflar

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This picture shows the wood color of the cabinets shot with flash from the side (left) and frontal flash (right), to illustrate the effects of different lighting.
 

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ralflar

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Here is one more shot. What I call my "HT" makes a sideways appearance here. And as you can see, my cables are still tangled like spaghetti. As for the components, I have retired the receiver for stereo and the Denon uniplayer altogether. Arcam sent a replacement DV137 uniplayer which really works. It took them a long time but the results have been extremely pleasing since. The Arcam has more resolution, slam, speed, stage than the stock Squeezebox I added in October. It is very musical. I figure I have to thank the Arcam's D/A converter and analog portion for that. The Squeezebox is similarly ahead of the Denon 2910, and a source of joy because of its quality and utility. An external DAC will let the Squeezebox catch up with the Arcam. Soon!

Those two cubes second from the bottom are Channel Islands Audio monoblocks. Above these are the Squeezebox and the VPC-2, a passive attenuator, also from Channel Islands Audio.
 

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