All components in BOLD are loaned; all components in standard face are owned by me.


ATC SCM 20-2A powered speakers. Two sealed DIY subwoofers Acoustic Elegance AV15D4 subwoofers, in two 3.5 cubic foot cabinets powered by a QSC RMX2450 amplifier, crossover and equalization by Minisp 2×4. AKG 702Mk and NAD HP50 VISO headphones, through Oppo BDP105.


YBA α 1 preamplifier and Onkyo PR-SC885(b) preamplifier/processor for home theater, Playstation 3 and Wii U duties.


Oppo BDP-105. LampizatOr Euforia DAC fed by i7 Windows, HQPlayer and Mike Evans’ “Superstreamer.” Utilizing Fidelizer to great effect. Amazon Model 2 turntable sitting on a Townshend Seismic Sink, with a Moerch DP6 arm and Dynavector XX2MkII cartridge and Kubala Sosna Expression phono cable.


Interconnects: AQ Emerald interconnect, Supra Cable Lo-Rad power cords, DIY power cords, Silver Audio interconnects, DIY balanced cables, Canare digital cable, a full complement of Kubala-Sosna Emotion power cords for all equipment requiring power, S/PDIF, interconnects, including tonearm cable, Kubala-Sosna Anticipation power cords for all equipment requiring, S/PDIF, and interconnects (no phono cable).


Sound Application power conditioner, a Lovan Classic Rack, Townshend Seismic Sink, assorted Vibrapods, Final Labs Daruma III isolation bearings, Black Diamond #3 and #4 cones, with Black Diamond Whatchamacallit’s, DH Cones, Discsolution, and Antivibration Magic—this stuff is amazing and worth your while; given the miniscule quantity for $95 this seems like a poor return on investment, but that’s wrong.


Schiit Modi-Multibit feeding a Schiit Vali powering AKG 701 headphones. DIY interconnects. USB cables under scrutiny.


This is at the start/formulation of a second system. I’m spending more and more time at my parents’ house. My father loves music; he got me interested in 1970. When the transformer failed in 1970, he replaced his McIntosh mono amplifier with a solid state Dynaco Integrated – not an equal swap and confirmed by the reduction in the amount of time he spent listening after that.

I am working toward bringing a piece of my system to my dad.  I’m starting with an inherited Well Tempered Labs Classic, along with the original tonearm that currently has a nice but nearly thirty year old Benz Micro cartridge. I am replacing it with another Dynavector XX2MkII cartridge. Initially this will be inserted into a Parasound PHP-850 preamp, a Parasound HCA-1000a amplifier into ATC SCM7 speakers. Wiring is from Zu Cables. I may end up with more of my friend’s system (he’s handing me his Classic, which means the preamp might turn into an Audio Research SP-9 MkIII, Aragon 4004 with whatever wiring he has. 


My hierarchy is this: good timbre is a sine qua non, realistic dynamics are necessary and, realistically, a product must deliver 40Hz to pique my interest. Products that can’t clear those hurdles, probably won’t be written about by me. Imaging and sound staging are nice but not necessary.


I say my job is to tell you what something sounds like in my system, not nit pick the failings – my system may not present the issues in yours and vice versa, so my nit pickings may have no relevance to you – see the last sentence in this paragraph. Reviewer proclamations that “Piercing Delight Tweeters®” are the best tweeters ever or are terrible are delusional for the writer to state and foolishness for a reader to rely upon. My intention is to shorten your path to satisfying sound based on my experiences and articulated preferences. But, getting off your duff to find what works for you is your job.


I can enjoy and appreciate different sonic presentations, so I don’t like just “one sound.” Everything is somewhat flawed, how do the flaws or successes hang together? One importer was surprised I gave best sound at a show to two very different sounding rooms. Good is good and to receive my praise no system need be metaphorically “blonde” to receive my kudos. I’ve had a tube preamplifier for more than twenty years, but am now using a solid-state preamplifier – different but satisfying sounds. I prefer vinyl to Redbook CD, and really like DSD. For me it’s not the individual ingredients, it’s the pudding, damn it!


Perhaps every audiophile needs to suffer through “critical listening” a.k.a. finding faults in reproduction to avoid buying boat anchors. Once you’ve put together your system, I would hope you could forget about it. I have for nearly four years. As a reviewer I learned to play the game of “Where’s Waldo” (find the hidden error) with review gear, I remind myself that the point of a high fidelity system is to enjoy music not keep you thinking about your gear. Of course, if you’ve read this far, you’re still on the hunt for the right gear – my condolences!