04 August, 2014

My Systems: Significant Updates

The Yumcha Diaries 飲茶後記 : 02-08-2014: A day with  feikeung
My Systems: Significant Updates

Saturday was a wonderful day. I started by visiting Wo Sir Sir (WSS) to hear his Quad 2812 (see previous article). Then WSS and I went to yumcha, where we were joined by Ah So, trazom and jules (owner of the 2905). But the real surprise was the unannounced appearance of old friend feikeung, aka on9keung, who lives mostly in nearby SZ.

After yumcha, WSS, feikeung and I went to Elephant Holdings. In their wonderful and comfortable large showroom (pic here, but it's even classier with the blinds up) we auditioned Audio Note's flagship AN-E Sogon driven by Einstein electronics. Sound lacked presence and was a little too polite for my taste. I thank Eddie for his hospitality.

Afterwards, feikeung came to my humble home. Over a bottle of wine, we talked about the world while auditioning my humble systems. I shall take this opportunity to update information about the systems in my "new" home, which has changed in the past year.

System A
This has undergone a lot of change since I last wrote about it (here). Most significantly, I no longer have the luxury of placing the loudspeakers on stands. They are on the wood table now. Normally the system consists of:

CD Transport: Sony BDP-S190
DAC: Arcam rDAC (CAS through dongle)
Preamp: Kondo M7
Amp: Western Electric 124B (original)
Speakers: Yamaha NS-1000

But on this occasion the preamp is the very rare self-powered Brook Model 7 monoblock preamps, recently restored by a dear friend. The fleshy sound has great presence and excellent timing. How wonderful to discover new things in every CD we played!  I am writing a a bigger article on this preamp; watch this space.

On the Yamaha NS-1000: thus placed, they still sound very good. These speakers image so well that the soundstage clearly extends to behind the LCD TV. But when played loud, they have a little too much bass resonance (exciting the wood underneath). I improved things by changing the DAC to the Arcam rDAC (review to come too), which seems a perfect fit. On this occasion, the bass control knob of the Brook 7 works really well. feikeung is a picky man, but he liked the system.

System B and System C
Compared to its original configuration (here) System B has undergone changes no less drastic than System A. The bookcases are now vertical rather than horizontal. System as it is now:

CDP: Revox A730
CD transport: Sony DVP-PR50P
DAC: Micromega MyDAC
(Integrated) Amp: Kondo Ongaku
Speakers: KEF LS50

On that night, performance was so-so, but for some reason, the next day sound was excellent! You will hear more about this later in a cable test.

You will note below System B I added a System C for quick listening. It uses the same Sony player's analog out (not bad). The small Cyrus amp is convenient and I actually listen to this system more than to the others:

Integrated Amp: Mission Cyrus I
Speakers: Harbeth LS3/5A (15 ohm, single wire)

Sound? It is not the best I could do with the LS3/5A, but it is pretty good ! feikeung liked it.

Basically I swapped out the LS-50 for the TAD TSM-2201:

CAS: Dell/Windows 7/iTunes/AIFF/USB
Amp: Dared MP5
Speakers: TAD TSM-2201

Sound in this setting is quite similar to before (described here).

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