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System Reviews-Why I love my own system

Discussion in 'audio' started by Del monaco, Oct 9, 2021.

  1. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    I'll have a go.

    Another two-system review:

    System one. This has seen the most change over the years. It started off as a Roksan Xerxes X/Rega RB 300 plus various cartridges (the current one being a Hana ML), an Exposure X integrated amp, and Audiovector speakers. It went through a valve amp phase (Border Patrol power amp), with various active (Tom Evans) and passive (MFA) preamps and phono stages (Tom Evans, again). Several CD players and DACs came and went. I really liked the sound of the second Border Patrol valve amp I briefly owned, but wanted something fuss-free and didn't want the cost of replacing the valves. When I retired and had money to spare, I took a long hard look at all those boxes and wires and decided to go integrated. The Devialet D-Premier became the heart of the system. I picked up a s/h Meridian G08 CD player at a good price, and traded in the Audiovectors for some Spendor D7s. All that remains from the original system is the turntable and tonearm. I have a Stax headphone system for late-night listening.

    What do I like about this system? Mainly, its even-handedness. I listen to a wide range of music, classical, pop/rock, and jazz, and the system doesn't favour any genre or artist. Even crap recordings are listenable, and well-recorded music is addictive on this system. It's also low-maintenance, which is good because I'm cack-handed and useless at repairing things. I mainly listen via CD these days; although the vinyl side of the system is great (the Devialet's built-in phono stage is better than any standalone I've heard) the sheer faff of playing records is becoming a bit of an effort as I get older, plus I've heard most of my records many many times and really don't need to hear many of them ever again. Having said that, I dusted off Exile on Main Street the other day, and it sounded better than I remember having heard it before, despite my hearing being much worse.

    System two. This has basically remained unchanged for many years. The amps and CD player are all Exposure, bought new in 1998, and the speakers are Harbeth P3esr, which replaced a pair of Mordaunt-Short MS20s about ten years back. I have another Stax headphone system, but I use that less frequently than the one in the main system, as this set-up is way up at the very top of the house, so there's no-one to disturb if I use the speakers. The only problem is that the room gets very cold indeed during the winter, so it's mostly a spring/summer system.

    What do I like about this system? It's simple, straightforward and easy to listen to for hours on end. Also, I know it really well because I've had it for so long. I mostly listen near-field, because of the room layout, but if I need to be over the other side of the room, I can turn the volume up and it never becomes 'shouty'.

    I've sometimes pondered swapping bits between the two systems, but the only thing I've actually tried was using the Harbeths in the main system, when the Audiovectors had gone and the Spendors hadn't arrived. It didn't work very well, probably because the main system room is very well damped, with rugs, bookshelves and thick curtains, whilst the room the Harbeths usually occupy is sparsely furnished, and they just sounded 'wrong'. I expect some experimenting with toe-in and placement would have solved the problem, but as it was only a stop-gap solution I didn't bother.

    What the two systems have in common is a lack of harshness and thus listener fatigue. I've been to a few hifi shows in recent years, and sat through many demonstrations at dealer's showrooms, and more often than not I've found them a) too loud and b) too harsh. I usually want to escape after a few minutes. But with either of my systems, I can listen for hours on end, or at least until I'm poked with a sharp stick and told to clean the car, take out the rubbish, or whatever.
    windhoek, Mynamemynaim, RoA and 10 others like this.
  2. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Hand in your Audiophile badge on the way out Joe. Honestly, I've never heard the like: Audio clutter and spaghetti are part of the lifestyle. You are cheating.
    darrenyeats likes this.
  3. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Me too. Arent they monoblocs? They seem to be going for fortunes at present.
  4. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    I too can only remain seated for about 45 seconds only at 9 out of 10 demonstrations at hi-fi shows, glad to see I’m not alone !
    RoA likes this.
  5. say it as it is

    say it as it is pfm Member

    Well I will openly admit am slumming it and enjoying it.
    A series of deals led to a nait XS, am surprised just how much I am enjoying it.
    Only running one source at present the trusty old Rotel 955 but it has been tweaked s fair bit and sounds was better than it should.
    Speakers with this set up just did not get on with naim intro I tried and after much work got them to work. The treble is astonishing truly amazing and scary at times in my room felt like the singer was there. The mids and bass were great on some tracks posted missing on others. Sold them on. On a whim picked up a set of old Sony SS7100 the driver surrounds were stuff then hard that killed them. Put them aside again a few deals later picked up a mint pair of Rogers LS6. They are growing on me maybe not as detailed as they can be but enjoyable laid back sound with decent bass for a standmount. The punchy nature of the XS seems to wake them up and be quite fun. Not the last word but not jarring and seem to work well in my crappy room. Bass is there not bloated but not as surgical as the intro. Mids are nice if not great treble again nice if not outstanding but it all comes together well. This was meant to be a stop gap but it's fun and well that not what it am about?
    The Sony SS 7100 took ages and lots of searching to find surrounds. Eventually tried then wow they rock and literally fast but powerful bass and when left at top setting ( 3 position switch for treble energy at rear) they really do most things right very good mid range. Just the looks my gf can't stand so the Rogers stay.

    But stupid amount of bits laying around various Avondale power supplies. 260z amp, half built ncc200 amp, not started but ncc220 mono blocks. NAC 32.5, nac 72 NAC 102. Set of 821A boards , NJ 321, 729 boards and full set of RSL remote boards.
    Set of SBLs with nos drivers and newly serviced/upgraded crossovers from Wimslow Audio
    Currently getting brought back to life a Naim CD3 which may yet sport a digital out. Sony 337es gorgeous player that I need to get fully serviced to make sure it keeps going.
    Rega DAC still not tried.
    Bluesound node2 still not tried
    Mini dsp and mic not been used yet

    If I ever build a system from that lot then see how that sounds
    windhoek, Jezzer, Miss Ariel and 4 others like this.
  6. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Nice bit of hoarding going on there.... I recognise the symptoms as Im a fellow sufferer!
  7. gx502

    gx502 pfm Member

    Sounds like a really well put together system @DelMonaco. I've read lots and lots of good things about those LRS speakers. Congrats.
    Del monaco likes this.
  8. RoA

    RoA pfm Member

    Not sure about loving my system/s but after having been going active at some expense for some time and now returned to separates I once again enjoy listening to music.

    I use 3 moderate amplifiers in two very simple streaming only systems, occasionally changing the amps so all get a workout.

    Speakers are Quad S2 and Quad 11L Classics, the amplifiers are Audiolab 6000A, Arcam SA20 and Hegel H95.

    As is obvious from my choices, I usually listen at moderate levels. My musical tastes are eclectic and range from D/Metal to Jazz and Classical. The systems, to my ears do all fine with these and other genres.

    What is nice is a/the simplicity ... I only stream via a couple of CCA's and b/ the moderate cost of it all. Whereas I constantly found faults with one of the Actives specifically, especially considering cost, the above just play nice music.

    A set of British made speakers will be next so that I can have 3 room systems and utilise all of the amplifiers. All at a cost barely higher than one of the previous Active systems.
  9. hifi-dog

    hifi-dog pfm Member

    Like many my journey started in early teens listing to an old garrad / leak system my dad cobbled together from bits he’d repaired over the years and then it was all about the how loud I could play Motörhead ( early 80’s here) and did not care about the gear, as long as I could hook into the noise.
    Years passed with many changes and my first Sony cdp in about 1990 leading to my new hobby of box swapping! I tired valves ( world audio kit) class a etc with kit ranging from full meridian 500 series, which I loved, to sugden Naim, creek, leema and many more.
    The most enjoyable but less wife friendly was the michell orca pre with Alecto monos on the floor which I regret selling as they were just so musical. I dallied with naim twice and did not get the fuss so continued chopping and changing much to my wife’s frustration and cost to my wallet over the last 10 yrs with my highlight being ATC SCM19 and Sia2-150 which I loved but got constant complaints to turn it down as it needed a bit of umph imho to sound spectacular. Had several sets of pmc’s and wanted to like them but never engaged with them.
    I hopped onto streaming about 4 yrs ago, and chopped about until lockdown…..
    I bought and don’t know why a Naim nait 5si using a Yamaha streamer into neat sx3 and whether my tastes had changed but i suddenly got it… the naim thing. The 5si became a supernait 3 and the Yamaha an Nd5xs2 with dynaudio evoke 10. It’s a system I play all day while working and I’ve not worried about chasing imaging , eye popping detail and soundstage… it’s like going back to my old teenage system and Motörhead all over again, although more subtle stuff than the three amigos now I’m in my 50’s!!
    JimDog, Darren, Jezzer and 3 others like this.
  10. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    I also listen to my Supernait all day long while working and this is one of the rare amp I can live with for this purpose without any listener fatigue. Interesting to know I'm not the only one !
    hifi-dog likes this.
  11. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    There’s something elegant about simplicity.
    RoA likes this.
  12. Subito

    Subito pfm Member

    iMac/Audirvana 3.5>>>Schiit Modi 3+>>>Rega io>>>Dali Opticon 1 Mk 2

    About as simple and affordable as I could make things while still sounding wonderful.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
    RoA and Darren like this.
  13. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Why did you choose the Opticons please Subby?
  14. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Do all the amps, sounds the same ROA? Or do they all have their own talents? Would you consider a sub at all with your small speakers?
  15. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Do you find the Dynaudios quite smooth Doggy?
  16. Subito

    Subito pfm Member

    In my small living room I wanted something that was compact and could be placed close to the wall. I also wanted a speaker that prioritized bass speed and definition over extension and higher SPLs. And I wanted something that wasn’t made in China. (No bigotry here, I just don’t think it’s fiscally prudent to have one country dominate the world economy so much.)
    Darren likes this.
  17. cheviot

    cheviot pfm Member

    I think I’m about done. Main floor living room is Bryston 4bsst power and bp26 preamp. Spendor S8e speakers, Linn Ikemi and Pekin, Rega P9 and NAD C658 with BluOS. It’s tethered under the floor to a Bryston b60 atop the piano in the dining room, feeding two Spendor s3/5 speakers. The den has a Samsung tv, a Linn Numerik into a Classik plus a BlueSound Vault and a pair of vintage Tannoy Cheviots. Bedroom has another Linn Classik, Bluesound Node, Linn Komponent speakers. Office has another Node, Audioengine speakers, Syzygy sub. Studio has a Rotel duo, Another Node, another Samsung TV, Castle bookshelf speakers.
    So that’s the gear. Tall old house, decent main system I think, but also smooth BlueSound synchronization over four floors (including the kitchen with a Bluesound Pulse). About covers it I think.
    RoA and Del monaco like this.
  18. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    Sounds like a nice system. I owned some Spendor S6 speakers a few years ago. Really liked them. They appeared very neutral and matched the Naim I had quite well. Sold on to sort financial pressures but I was very fond of them.
  19. RoA

    RoA pfm Member

    Darren, they sound different. Funny you mention a sub as I ordered one and then cancelled it. I am mostly happy with bass. What is there is nicely integrated, bouncy and musical. Maybe in the future but another pair of speakers is next.
  20. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    Really enjoying reading the contributions to this thread, keep them coming.

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