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Stephen Mejias
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If you had the hi-fi funds...

In a response to another thread, Jeff Wong wrote:

"I have several upgrades for my system in mind once funds allow, but, my present system makes me grin with delight often enough that I can afford to wait."

First of all, congrats to Jeff! Second, now seems like a good time to revisit the question:

What tweaks or upgrades to your system do you currently have in mind? What will your next hi-fi purchase be?

ohfourohnine
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

Like Jeff, and for the same reason, I can afford to wait. Unlike Jeff, my next upgrade will need to be a significant step up the ladder for me to appreciate it. As my system has improved, my hearing has undoubtedly gone the other way. Old beats dead, but it ain't exactly a picnic. Turntable, cartridge, phono pre: that's my list.

Since doubling my current investment will probably be needed to provide me with a readily discernable improvement, and since making that jump might jeapordize my "best sound for the money" merit badge, I may just be waiting quite a while. Waiting, and grinning as I listen that is, but waiting nonetheless.

bobedaone
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

My amplification is in dire need of an upgrade. I'm having a difficult time choosing between the NAD C325BEE and Rega Brio3. After the amplifier, I want a turntable. I suppose that's not an "upgrade" so much as a new source altogether, but it's certainly an upgrade to the sound of my system, as well as the joy of discovering and listening to music. But I know, Stephen, that you and Clay are fairly well informed of my audio wants and needs. Beyond the turntable, I'll focus on digital, probably with an investment in a good external DAC, or perhaps a music streamer/hard disk storage device. I might also try out a more substantial antenna on my tuner. The speakers have served me well for years and will continue to be my strongest component until the turntable makes an appearance. Great topic, Stephen! If there's one thing I love, it's dreaming.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

If I am not mistaken the Brio comes with a phono stage, and, since it is Rega I doubt that it is a "throw away piece" as far as entry level phono stages go.

With something as efficient as a pair of Triangles the Brio could be a home run, and easily down the road a great 2nd system amplifier.

Monty
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

I don't have the room to accomodate a worthwhile upgrade right now. In fact, I don't have the room to properly evaluate what I have in mind as potential upgrades.

My next upgrade is still a year or so away and will start with a dedicated room built from scratch and with the sole purpose of audio in mind. There really is nothing that I intend to use in that room that I could also use in my small room.

I'm going to be having one heck of a garage sale one of these days.

Naturally, that isn't going to stop me from playing around with the sound in my current room. That would be too rational. I'm more into the learning mode right now. Even a little room will accomodate that within obvious limits.

I have learned enough to know that what I'm after isn't going to happen until I start with the room and work my way towards the equipment after that. Even then, I have a funny feeling I'm going to have two systems in that room. That's it! I could go ahead and upgrade my listening chair to one that swivels!

Yiangos
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

I am 100% happy with my system as it is.If i had the extra cash to blow,i'd go for a full acoustical treatment of the room.

bifcake
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

I'm actually looking for a set of speakers right now. I'm having a difficult time finding speakers that I like and that I can afford. It seems that for some reason, getting full frequency response costs a lot of money. I don't quite understand why, but that seems to be the general trend with few exceptions. There are quite a few affordable speakers that sound really good, but they don't extend very low and those that do, don't sound all that great to me. So, I'm exploring the possibilities to see what can be done with that.

Elk
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

Good quality bass is very difficult to produce and is expensive. Many speaker designers thus opt to forget about the bottom octave of 20-40Hz as so little musical energy is down there in most music. For example, the bottom string of a bass guitar (E) is a little above 40Hz. A kick drum is also above 40Hz. The thumps in rap music have most of their energy around 100Hz.

However, the 20-40Hz range is critical to fans of pipe organs, synthesized music, etc.

Let us know if you find an affordble speaker that reproduces 20-40Hz well. At some point someone is going to figure out how to do it at a reasonable price.

Colnmary
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

I finished the last of my major hardware purchases last year. It is the hardware to see me through life.

I bought it over a period of about 2-3 years, and the other day I replaced my first ever Tube in my CDP output stage.

It was my oldest componant and had close to about 10,000 hours on it and the system had 'dulled' down, so I thought I may as well buy a new tube and keep the old as a spare.

I replaced a JAN Philps 6922 tube with a NOS gold pin Philips E288CC tube which was only US$60. Replacing it with a new tube replaced the lost sparkle to my highs, and to my and my wifes ears, sounded better. Perhaps it was the fact the tube was new and my other one had 10,000 hours on it, but it sure sounded different to my and my wifes ears.

A worthwhile and cheap 'ugrade' My pre amp that was brought slightly later is comming up to its 10,000 tube change too, and I will be replacing 3 Chinese 12AX7Bs for a grand sum of
US$115.00 total for all three.

All my Cables, from connects and speaker cables, were copper, and while not the cheapest from the manufacturer I bought from, were the copper ones. So it leaves me room to move to copper/silver, or silver/gold etc mixes of Cables as well should I be convinced my ears would hear an audible upgrade.

So I still plan on upgrading come birthdays and Christmas, and will do so tube purchase by Tube purchase.
I have 9 more to replace over the next 2 years.

And if my good wife feels especially generous, then I'd listen to an expensive Cable or 3 on my CDP to see which one completes the very nice sounding hardware I already have to put me in my own private version of audio heaven.

Then again, if 100 Grand fell into my hands,I'd buy those tubes and cables tomorrow, and with the leftover cash, pay some bills.

DLWyattjr
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

My Paradigm Reference Studio 100s won't go as deep as a big bag end, but at 2K for a full-range speaker they go very low indeed. And as a member of a church where the small organ in the sanctuary has 3,719 pipes I know what a 10 2/3 quint ought to sound like.

http://first-church.org/organs.htm

buelligan
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

I'm taking your post to mean optimizing the basic existing core of the system.

Well now,

I'd fix the worst thing first which, like many of us, is my room acoutics. A quad of ASC tube traps would be a good start. Then I might experiment with some of the RPG diffusion/absorption panels.

Then I'd swap out my very elderly Adcom ACE-515 for a Hydra-8 (for front end), a couple of Hydra 2s for my amp and sub and a passel of their better power cords. Speaking of AC, I would also install a 20 amp IEC socket on my Musical Concepts Hafler 220, among several mods I'm thinking about, to replace the pathetic captive power cord.

Upper range MIT interconnects for my sources and the Shotgun speaker cables for my little ProAc Super Tabs made a huge difference when I borrowed (with permission!) them from the store I used to work in. Truly amazing results from, I feel, a journalistically underrepresented company.

And finally, my streaming network system could use a shot in the arm. I'd get the Bolder cable mods for the digital out of my Squeezbox 3. Then there is the issue of getting my dinky (by MF's standard) 1200 (and still growing)LP collection onto my hard drive as hi-rez digital files. I'm thinking Sound Devices 722 for that job.

Whew! My wallet is breaking out in a cold sweat.

absolutepitch
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

My system sounds good enough after the parts and wire tweaks that I can listen to it hours on end. Upgrades are possible but expensive. Turntable may be the first upgrade, followed by current version of speakers if at all. Room treatments do not exist in my room yet, so probably will be a good priority. Further mods of my CD player could be tried.

Recently got a fancy DVD player with individual 5.1 outputs. I use 4 speakers (front and surround); don't need center as front L/R speakers image very well. May consider subwoofer, or mixing the sub channel into the surround amp, as the rear speakers will produce down to 29 Hz in a sealed enclosure design!

jkalman
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...


Quote:
What tweaks or upgrades to your system do you currently have in mind? What will your next hi-fi purchase be?

I was waiting to make a final decision on what speakers I would be using as mains in my Listening/HT room (I finally decided on the Watt Puppy 8s, my first choice was the WP7s before the 8s were released, though I did consider the Revel Ultima2s temporarily during the few months) before saving up to purchase the center channel and surround speakers that would match the mains. So the next purchase I am saving funds for will be the Wilson Watch center channel, and then a pair of Wilson Watch Surrounds.

After that, I will likely save up for the Ayre Preamp that is being built to match the MX-Rs (having to manually set the unity gain on the K-1xe everytime I need to bypass it for surround sound is annoying). Then I will likely upgrade my projector from the Sony VPL-VW50 to something higher-end (I am not sure which one yet since the technology is shifting so quickly and it will likely take me over two years before I can do this anyway).

In the far future, and likely unrealistic fantasies... I'm considering using tube gear eventually. I really liked the BAT monoblocks at the HES2007 (A LOT), and I could conceivably use the Ayre MX-Rs still and interchange them every so often, using one pair in the back of the room, and the other pair in the front. Of course, if I'm going to do that, I should add in the tube preamp and tube DAC, etc, etc... I'm sure you can all start to see why it is a little unrealistic at this point in time, considering the other things I want to take care of first in my setup. I also really enjoyed demoing the dCS stack, and would absolutely love to have that in my setup (I still haven't heard anything that sounds as natural digitally and which retrieves as much harmonic detail, though that isn't saying a lot, since I haven't heard the Meitner stack and some others yet). Oh well, perhaps in a ten years if my latest venture hits big...

The next two tweaks I can afford to do right now, fortunately. I hope no one minds if I post these as well. They are not fund limited, but rather installation and construction employee limited. If it is a problem, let me know, I'll erase them...

The first tweak I will have to make before any of these, is probably going to be to my room. When the WP8s arrive and are voiced, I will have to see if I need to move anything in the room. Absorbers are easy to move, but my door on the right side of the room and the electrical/AC switches may not line up correctly in order to treat the first reflection point for the best speaker location. If that is the case, then I will have to move the entire door again (ROFL, yep, I've already done this once to make it line up with the right side B&W 802D placement). If worse comes to worse, I may even have to move my entire projection screen, since the WP8s may be moved in further from the side walls and moved back closer to the rear walls. I am hoping/praying this won't be the case, but these are my dream speakers, so I don't consider these sacrifices too big in order to attain the highest 2-channel sound quality in my listening room.

Fortunately, as far as the surround sound is concerned, I have the DSP and Room Correction Software/Hardware of the Meridian 861 and the Revel Sub30s to deal with any sacrifices I have made to the surround speakers' setups so that I could elicit the highest sound quality out of the two channel portion of my sound system.

The other major tweak that is already occurring and that should be finished during the next two weeks is a complete redesign of the ventilation system for my equipment closet. I deviced a more efficient intake/out-take system for ventilation in my equipment closet. It is under a staircase, so the heat rises to one pinnacle in the room which is where the out-take is going to be placed (we drilled a whole in the wall a few days ago to place the aluminum pipe there). The intake is at the bottom of the room near the bottom part of the underside of the staircase. At this point we need to wire the fans that will pump the cooler air into the closet and which will out-take the hot air. I plan on having the hot air pushed outside of the house. If this creates a negative pressure zone, then I will have to change the setup to draw and push the air into the same space, but at other end of that same floor in the house, letting the room itself and the cold concrete slab floors act as a cooling radiator for the hot air before it is drawn back into the closet.

That is a lot of stuff for me to stress out about. The ventilation work is easily done, but the possible room changes I might have to make in order to accommodate the best speaker positions, that could be tedious because I won't be able to use the speakers in the proper positions until the work is done. Unfortunately, progress isn't perfect....

drumguy48
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

A pair of Magico Mini's!

Brian E
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

A Dynaco SCA-80Q to replace one that was damaged and a moving coil cartridge for the turntable.

cyclebrain
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

That would take all of the fun out of it.
Trying get the most with what dollars I have is part of the challenge.

Ergonaut
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

My Hi-fi Furniture is crap...

...well, it isnt hifi furniture...

...well, it isnt furniture

Brian E
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

My furniture is a shelf attached to a concrete block wall. The surround sound stuff is in the living room along with the main television and the stereo I use is in the garage, along with a car, books, magazines, spare liquor, etc.

VinnieVeedivicki
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

No upgrades needed for this system as it was designed pretty much as a system that is balanced and solid into class B. Has great air, extension, tight midbass, completely disappears, all the sources have lots of palpable "life" in the dynamics, etc.

Just upgraded my "musical life" by paying to join Carnegie Hall as a member so as to stay closer to the events they put on at the hall. The main room (Isaac Stern) and the basement concert hall (Zankel) both have terrific acoustics and lots of talented artists that blow me away. So I joined finally...

My home stereo sounds EXACTLY like being there except perhaps "better" because the mike placement is frequently in a better listening location than is possible from ANY seat available in the hall. Last time I looked the mikes were flown above the orchestra main sections looking down on the tops of the violin and cello sections. That explains why most recordings "hear" the bow scraping on top of the violin soundboxes somewhat better than I can from the side and in front when I am actually there...

But I absolutely love the experience of sharing a real-time performance with all its quirks.

Now to go hit the Vanguard and the jazz clubs in general. Anybody been out lately to see something hot?

linden518
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

The Radu Lupu recital in January at Carnegie Hall was hard to beat. In terms of jazz, whenever Guillermo Klein comes into town, I try to make it. Also Tyshawn Sorey on drums! Easy enough catching his act in NYC. The Pacifica Quartet has been going through the complete Beethoven Quartets... for free! It's in the Philosophy Hall of Columbia University, open to public. You get to sit RIGHT next to the players, as the hall is small. They only play one quartet at a time & people can bring in their lunches. Love the concept, no?

dcstep
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

I just completed my first upgrade cycle in about 20-years. Other than minor tweaks, the system will be stable until mid-2009 when I expect to move back into a house that will allow a dedicated music room with room for all my trumpets, guitars and 2-channel rig.

If the space is large enough (it should be since that'll be a leading criteria in house selection), I'll upgrade to Vienna Acoustic Mahlers and use the VA Beethoven Baby Grands in a 2.1 video system. I'll audition amps at the time, but the Conrad Johnson is likely to keep its place. (Rowland is the leading contender for amplification).

Meantime, I'm loading up on vinyl and SACD/DVD-A, spending several hunred per month for new music. I either attend or perform in about 4 performances per month, but I'm thinking of concentrating more on attending classical performance and perhap either subscribing to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra or attending more of the festivals in the mountains this summer.

smejias
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...


Quote:
Just upgraded my "musical life" by paying to join Carnegie Hall as a member so as to stay closer to the events they put on at the hall.

Congrats.


Quote:
Now to go hit the Vanguard and the jazz clubs in general. Anybody been out lately to see something hot?

Last night, I saw Arturo O'Farrill's Sextet at Dizzy's on Columbus Circle. It was my first time there. Man, what a snazzy place. The band plays on a short stage up against a glass wall overlooking the Circle. Marvelous view. The food was only okay, but the drinks were good. The crowd was a great mix of twenty-something hipsters in jeans and colorful sneakers, old-timers, tourists, and suits. The sound was terrific -- you could talk to the person sitting beside you and still clearly hear all the way to the other side of the room and, during the performance, even chatter and footsteps sounded musical. The band was smoking. Hot. I can't wait to go back.

linden518
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

Okay, I guess I can use this thread for a personal update. In December, I asked desperate quesions for help on choosing amps speakers, etc. A total newbie. I think I asked about Harman Kardon 3485 or Onkyo. And I just got sucked into the vortex of this thing, and I'm happy to report that I am almost finished with setting up my systems. Yes. 2 - one for the living room and the other for my study. I don't know how that happened.

So as of now, I have two integrated amps. Plinius 8150 and Leben CS600. One pair of speakers: Harbeth Super HL5. For digital sources: Sony Playstation 1 SCPH-1001 (the hype is real) and Cambridge Audio 840C through which DACs I run Squeezebox 3. AKG 701 and Sennheiser PXC450 headphones. Yes, I can't believe it either.

I need to pick up one more pair of speakers for my 2nd system (okay, jackfish, I am considering Vandersteens... but also want to look into monitors by Bluenote, FJ, or Neat) And a turntable (want to look into Kuzma Stabi/stogi, Nottingham, Bluenote Bellavista)! When Leben eventually releases the RS30EQ phono stage, I'll probably purchase one, too. Then I'm going to stop reading forums and scouring Audiogon for like fifty years. But I think I may be on the upgrade path sooner than I'd like, as I've been corresponding with Walter Swanbon of Fidelis - such a cool guy - and when he's coming down to NYC, he'll be bringing the LFD Zero MKIII so I can compare w/ the Plinius 8150. Although I like the 150w/8 ohms power of the Plinius, if the LFD has its way with music, I might spring for that, especially as Walter's getting me a great deal on the Plinius trade-in.

So many people have helped in my process of setting my system up! Special props go to Glen from Audio Two, Walter Swanbon of Fidelis AV, Jeff Day of 6moons... they were totally hands-on & replied my annoying emails each and every time, stoked the fire. Getting to know them, and you guys, was the best part of the experience, for real.

tom collins
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

i am currently discussing phonostages with my dealer. i might be testing out a naim unit this weekend. oh boy.

tom

Monkey Mouse
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

All I'm in the need for is an integrated tube amp, a pair of speakers, and a quality CD player - have a new phono rig already.

I'm thinking of:

Rogue Cronus
Vandersteen 1C's
Rega Apollo
Wiring

Or if I had the room to accomodate:

Rogue Tempest II
Vandersteen 2CE Signatures
Rega Apollo CD

Not very expensive, I could swing something much better ($$$), but I listen to music, not equipment.....

VinnieVeedivicki
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

Zank you beddy mooch. Let's hear it for enjoyment of "the real thing." Your comments were appreciated.

rvance
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

Man, the equipment names you guys drop just makes me lust with envy. When I retire (5-7 years?) I should be able to afford the Quad set up I've wanted since my friend/neighbor/coworker loaned me his back in '75 while he was on vacation. It was set up by our friend/coworker Mike Moffatt, who designed some tasty triode tube power and a modded HK Citation pre. It was surreal.

Like dcstep, I'm loading up on hi-rez as I can, but it's spendy. Just ordered The Pixies' Doolittle and Surfer Rosa SACD's. Bought most of BMG's limited SACD catalog at less than $7/disc by waiting for the buy one, get 4 free and free shipping deals they are sending out. Too bad they don't carry more titles that I want. Looking at my DVD-Audio/SACD collection makes me wonder what kind of equipment upgrades I could have purchased, but I need the music or its meaningless.

The Marantz 7001 continues to spin all digital formats with competence, but my Philips 212 TT/Grado needs a little help- maybe a new tube phono stage. MusicDirect has a Bellari for $200. That's 8 DVD-A's.

Nice, congenial thread, thank you.

tomjtx
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...


Quote:
I just completed my first upgrade cycle in about 20-years. Other than minor tweaks, the system will be stable until mid-2009 when I expect to move back into a house that will allow a dedicated music room with room for all my trumpets, guitars and 2-channel rig.

If the space is large enough (it should be since that'll be a leading criteria in house selection), I'll upgrade to Vienna Acoustic Mahlers and use the VA Beethoven Baby Grands in a 2.1 video system. I'll audition amps at the time, but the Conrad Johnson is likely to keep its place. (Rowland is the leading contender for amplification).

Meantime, I'm loading up on vinyl and SACD/DVD-A, spending several hunred per month for new music. I either attend or perform in about 4 performances per month, but I'm thinking of concentrating more on attending classical performance and perhap either subscribing to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra or attending more of the festivals in the mountains this summer.

Have you ben to the Aspen Music Festival?
I spent 6 summers there studying classical guitar with Oscar Ghiglia and later taught one summer there.
That is a great festival and lasts for 9 weeks!

I didn't realize how good I had it

VinnieVeedivicki
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

Steve.

Thanks to you I now have Dizzy's posted on my refridgerator. Let you know later what I think of the show and of course the acoustic experience...

Thanks for being bold enough to just wing it and give out an opinion. It is greatly appreciated no matter what.

ctlmd
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

When I have the funds, I will upgrade my speakers, probably to either Avalon Acoustics Eidolons or Mixing Monitors. They would work well with my Spectral DMC-20 pre-amp, DMA-180 amp, VPI TNT IV turntable, Wheaton Triplanar VI tonearm, and Transfiguration Temper Supreme cartridge. I should probably get a CD player/combo unit too, although I'm not ready to think much about that...probably the Spectral SDR 3000/4000.

linden518
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...

If $10K fell off from the sky and hit me on my head, I'd like to try Rountree's omni-directional speakers, the Model 1. If someone threw me another $20K, I'd like to buy either the Shindo Garrard (drool) or try something like the Spiral Groove TT.

KBK
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Re: If you had the hi-fi funds...


Quote:
Okay, I guess I can use this thread for a personal update. In December, I asked desperate quesions for help on choosing amps speakers, etc. A total newbie. I think I asked about Harman Kardon 3485 or Onkyo. And I just got sucked into the vortex of this thing, and I'm happy to report that I am almost finished with setting up my systems. Yes. 2 - one for the living room and the other for my study. I don't know how that happened.

So as of now, I have two integrated amps. Plinius 8150 and Leben CS600. One pair of speakers: Harbeth Super HL5. For digital sources: Sony Playstation 1 SCPH-1001 (the hype is real) and Cambridge Audio 840C through which DACs I run Squeezebox 3. AKG 701 and Sennheiser PXC450 headphones. Yes, I can't believe it either.

I need to pick up one more pair of speakers for my 2nd system (okay, jackfish, I am considering Vandersteens... but also want to look into monitors by Bluenote, FJ, or Neat) And a turntable (want to look into Kuzma Stabi/stogi, Nottingham, Bluenote Bellavista)! When Leben eventually releases the RS30EQ phono stage, I'll probably purchase one, too. Then I'm going to stop reading forums and scouring Audiogon for like fifty years. But I think I may be on the upgrade path sooner than I'd like, as I've been corresponding with Walter Swanbon of Fidelis - such a cool guy - and when he's coming down to NYC, he'll be bringing the LFD Zero MKIII so I can compare w/ the Plinius 8150. Although I like the 150w/8 ohms power of the Plinius, if the LFD has its way with music, I might spring for that, especially as Walter's getting me a great deal on the Plinius trade-in.

So many people have helped in my process of setting my system up! Special props go to Glen from Audio Two, Walter Swanbon of Fidelis AV, Jeff Day of 6moons... they were totally hands-on & replied my annoying emails each and every time, stoked the fire. Getting to know them, and you guys, was the best part of the experience, for real.

Too late dude. You'll be stabbing audiophile needles in the last areas of your body that are sans scar tissue some 30-40 years down the road from now. You're screwed. (Place evil laugh here)

You may even quit for a while. Maybe even spend the odd thought dissin' the audiophile crackhouse.

But you'll be back.

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