The Truth Seeker's Audio System

Quadophile

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While we were in Dallas attending the Lone Star Audio Festival, we had a visitor, Paul who spent considerable time in our room and visited us on both days and stayed back till the wee hours of the morning on Saturday/Sunday. According to him ours was one of the best sounding rooms at the exhibition. He requested us to pay a visit to his house and give him some feedback on his system. We agreed to oblige him and visited his home in the outskirts of Dallas a place called Sunnyvale (about 15 miles from our hotel) very late in the evening after the show at LSAF.

Once we arrived at his abode we were greeted by his wife and cheerful daughter. later was treated with a great tasting mug of coffee (brewed from fresh beans in a sophisticated coffee maker which can only be appreciated by die-hard coffee drinkers, yours truly included)

He finally took us to his listening room, what I saw in there was not something one would expect, it was a truly dedicated listening room fully treated with acoustic paneling and seating position in a sweet spot measured with a tolerance of +/- an inch or less. Anthony was the one sitting in the Sweet Spot when we started and I was behind him, When it was my tyrn and finally the music started playing, that is when I realised that I was not listening to an ordinary system, it was a system put together to achieve perfection, yes it is not possible but this was a system I heard for the first time which came close to that.

The noise floor was so low that it put the depth of Guam Pacific to shame. Stunning silence between the notes, the instruments were spead out as if they were really there in the spot they were vibrating from. The speakers disappeared altogether giving an impression of the music being played out live on stage in front of me. I was using a compilation I had made for LSAF comprising of 14 tracks from 14 different aldums. The few tracks that I played made me realise how different the soundstage was on each of them. some had such wide sound stage that I thought there were speakers placed on my extreme left and right parralel to my ears. Not many systems can portray sound in this way, T.he center image was so focussed that I swore the singer was really there in the center. When I moved my head from side to side it was not the case, hence my reason for mentioning the tolerance about the sweet spot. I have yet to hear the realism of reproduction of the symbols the way this system was able to reproduce.

The whole system was not perfect but many attributes for good sound were there and in my opinion were almost perfect.

I think that these pictures may tell the story better than my rambling.

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https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share?s=541nnzdLQ-stfX-ubW6tFU

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share?s=nD-OcXzyQQ4kbWoW4l6wiE

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share?s=HT19WjcYRRcprja5YQh5L4

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share?s=IRhGWUZ6TtsoRGNqrfsHh4

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share?s=BTQAE6cwR80rheimkO_ol0

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share?s=Dsk1GUEbSi4hYwS0Dq3b2c

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share?s=AkpDDpp4Qt4hUDDU03l_s4


Boy was I glad to have been invited, this was one hell of an experience for me and something I will have a hard time forgetting for a very long time to come.
 
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Coor blimey Quad makes my 60 quid little PC Microlab (which I was so proud of) look absolutely crap, you have realy spoilt my day:eek::cry:
 

crazylegs

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The equipment looks good but for gods sake somebody clear that room up, driving me mad all that clutter and mess everywhere! :nod:
 

floppybootstomp

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I wanna go of that thing, can I please mister, can I?

Ok, what was that equipment? Curious souls wish to know :)

And crazylegs, you sound like my Mum ;)
 

Quadophile

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Bootneck02 and Crazylegs calm down guys, what you are looking at is a DIY'ers room, besides Paul is an average electronics guy. If you ever see one DIY'ers room you need not see another ones as they all look identical :lol:

These folks are tweaking, testing, listening, moving, adjusting, aligning, upgrading, replacing, removing, adding components all the time. This is their so called, play place. Do you ever tell a toddler to keep his toy room in order and tidy? You don't!;)
 

Quadophile

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I wanna go of that thing, can I please mister, can I?

Ok, what was that equipment? Curious souls wish to know :)

I do not have a full list of equipment in the chain but Paul did say that the Horns were Dutch made and cost $1100 by themselves, the source was an old highly modified Philips CD player with a TDA 1541 DAC, You may remember that this chipset got rave reviews back in the late 80's early 90's and was in production for a long time. My first cd Player was a Philips and had the same chipsets but it was as I remember, sounding anywhere near as good as the one in this system.

I am not sure about the pre amp and power amp but will find out from him next time I have a talk with him and post it here.
 

floppybootstomp

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Aye, those early CD players much sought after, my first CD player was a Marantz CD52 Mk II. I still have it. And the remote :) I was always pleased with it's sound, have no idea which DAC it used but I recall that at one stage Philips were making CD players for Marantz, or at least some of the components.

I've seen those horn speakers before on other forums, they seem to be very popular in the EEC (Europe). However, quoting how much a piece of audio equipment costs holds little truck with myself, my personal view is it's not always relevant as imo money spent does not neccessarily equate to quality of sound.

In fact if I may be so bold I think I've proved this.

However, I am not so blind as to ignore expensive Hi-Fi, I am always curious and always open-minded, surely the only way to be ;)

I've used a lot of sound equipment in this lifetime and heard a great deal more and sometimes I wonder whether I'll ever come close to owning a system I consider perfect. Probably not.

Having said that, at this time I'm very happy with what I'm using at the moment although I know and recognise what's lacking with it and I think the first seperates system I ever bought in 1976 gave me a helluva lot of enjoyment, though that may have been down to the novelty of owning a 'real' Hi Fi system for the 1st time.

Right then Mr Quad, get hitting those keyboard keys - we await ;)
 

Taffycat

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Sounds like you had a really great listening experience Quad.... but I may cry... no pictures showing here, just a blank space. Aww...! :cry:
 

Quadophile

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Aye, those early CD players much sought after, my first CD player was a Marantz CD52 Mk II. I still have it. And the remote :) I was always pleased with it's sound, have no idea which DAC it used but I recall that at one stage Philips were making CD players for Marantz, or at least some of the components.

I've seen those horn speakers before on other forums, they seem to be very popular in the EEC (Europe). However, quoting how much a piece of audio equipment costs holds little truck with myself, my personal view is it's not always relevant as imo money spent does not neccessarily equate to quality of sound.

In fact if I may be so bold I think I've proved this.

However, I am not so blind as to ignore expensive Hi-Fi, I am always curious and always open-minded, surely the only way to be ;)

I've used a lot of sound equipmewnt in this lifetime and heard a great deal more and sometimes I wonder whether I'll ever come close to owning a system I consider perfect. Probably not.

Having said that, at this time I'm very happy with what I'm using at the moment although I know and recognise what's lacking with it and I think the first seperates system I ever bought in 1976 gave me a helluva lot of enjoyment, though that may have been down to the novelty of owing a 'real' Hi Fi system for the 1st time.

Right then Mr Quad, get hitting those keyboard keys - we await ;)

Yes I remember the Marantz CD 52 Mkii I owned it at one time before getting the CD 63 SE, great sounding players and were hailed at that time as best players under $1000. Yes you are right about Philips supplying most components for the Marantz as they owned it before Denon bought them.

I am a firm believer in the synergy of the system and that is what I strive to achieve, I also have found out that synergy of the system on the whole along with the room is not necessarily achieved by how much you spend, but it is achievable by careful planning and combination of each and every component in the chain, there are audiophools out there who think that by buying more expensive equipment they can improve the sound. Far from it, money surely can help you buy expensive equipment but it cannot possibly buy synergy (period).
unbelievable.gif
I guess we are on the same page in that respect.
 

Quadophile

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Sounds like you had a really great listening experience Quad.... but I may cry... no pictures showing here, just a blank space. Aww...! :cry:

The photos can now be checked out so stop crying and start purring :lol:
 

Quadophile

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Flops,

You were very keen to know the equipment involved in the setup so I asked Paul about it and he kindly responded.

Hi Anis,

Here's a basic run down of the equipment the system currently has.
The cd player and CJ amp(horn amp) have been extensively modified to the point of being non recognizable(sound wise) from their original(non modded) state. So regarding those 2 pieces I'll just go over the main mods even though much more has been done to them.

The CD player started off as a Magnavox CDB-460. Most of the mods with the cd player involve removal of parts rather than adding.
-removed digital filter(non OS mod). Then physically moved the quartz clock (that was feeding the DF) over to the decoder 'A' chip(SAA7210).
-removed output buffer and all associated filtering around it. (note: I have to insure that the input Z of the load, that the cd player sees, is fairly high for this mod to work)
-DAC chip is a TDA1541a S1 crown.
-I/V uses a AD827 biased into class A.

After the cd player the signal splits off into 2 legs. One feeding the horn amp and the other feeding the mid bass amp.

The horn amp is a Conrad Johnson MV52 with the output stage strapped for triode mode. There's a stepped attenuator(volume control) mounted at the input of the amp..
The horn is an Oris 150 with a Lowther PM4a driver. The horn uses no xover and runs full range. I tried incorporating a PLLXO 1st order slope at around 100Hz but did not care for the sonic results. With the xover point higher up(~150hz) the sonic results were even worse. Right now what I do is see where the natural roll-off(~the -3 to -6db point) of the horns starts to occur at my chosen listening position. This is also angle dependent. Somewhere in that -3 to -6db point is where I incorporate the mid bass driver. This is very important and is all about getting the phase right(at the xover point) to the chosen listening position.
This is one of the hardest things in audio to get right. However, when done right the rewards can be great. I see the listening position, phase and xover point as being tightly intertwined(kind of like space/time).
From a sound and phase standpoint all I care about is what is happening at the one chosen listening position. This kind of simplifies things because I don't worry about off axis response. I try and make the room as dead as reasonably possible. In my opinion the room has one purpose in audio life....to screw the sound up coming out of the speakers. Sonically I can't get the room completely out of the picture, all I can do is try and minimize its affect. I believe the recording already has all of the information needed for musical enjoyment and all that the room can do is alter that information(in a not so good way). OK, I'm off my soap opera.

The mid-bass amp currently uses an Adcom 545 II with a couple of minor tweaks performed. I'm also experimenting with an Adcom gfa-5300. There are trade offs with both amps.. At this time I don't know if the Adcom is the midbass amp I'm looking for but it seems better than OK. In the future I may move the CJ amp to the midbass speaker and try a SE amp for the horns.

The midbass speaker is my own design and uses a 10" SEAS paper driver in a 3 cu foot enclosure made out of 1" BB. Getting the midbass and horn speakers in phase at the listening position is one of the harder things to do(as stated above). Currently I'm using a 1st order rc filter at the input of midbass amp set to ~180hz. Originally was shooting for 150hz but 180hz worked out better with the 545 II. The xover point for the 5300 is a different story.

The system also has a subwoofer of my on design that I bring in at ~35hz.. I only use it when the music demands it.

In the end I'm trying to put together a system that does not control the musical signal too much. Control of the signal is great for robotic arms and CNC routers but to me the human conscious(or soul if you will) does not seem to respond well to a musical signal that is controlled too much. The system needs some control....just the right amount.

I know what I want to do in my head but putting this down on text is something that's quit hard for me to do. I hope this all makes sense.

Paul

PS: One more thing I forgot to mention. I'm very happy with the 10" SEAS midbass but want to try the 15" Fostex, FW-405n, in the future. I'll go with the one that seems to blend in the best with the horns.
 

floppybootstomp

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Interesting :) Thanks for going to the bother Quad and of course thanks to your friend.

I hear good things about Fostex drivers, I have a pair of full range 4" Fostex drivers in some cabinets used with my bedroom setup.
 

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