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jazzfan
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Magical Components

bhoyo's recent "Classic systems of the past" thread started me thinking about some of the various pieces of audio gear that I've owned over the years on my never ending quest for the ultimate in home audio playback.

During that span many of those pieces of equipment did their job quite well and then were quietly replaced with something better and often quickly forgotten. But every so often a piece of equipment would pass through my system and leave a mark not so quickly forgotten. Yes, they may have been replaced with something bigger and better but still there was just this magical quality to them that made them extra special and quite memorable.

Here's one example. My first true high end speakers were a pair of DCM Time Windows. The Time Windows replaced these monsterous Pioneer bookshelf speakers which had about 5 drivers, including a 12" or 15" woofer. The Time Windows, bless their little hearts, had a pair of 6" midrange/bass drivers each and were ported. What they lacked in bass output they more then made up for with their clarity and detail.

However what really made the Time Windows magical was their uncanny ability to reproduce classical guitar. During the time I owned them I became a major classical guitar fan and remain one to this day. Yet I've never heard any speakers make the classical guitar sound as good as on those Time Windows.

Have you encountered any magical components on your journey?

Buddha
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Re: Magical Components

Hi, Jazzfan!

I tend more toward magical moments than magical components.

I had a buddy who had a pair of Time Windows with a pair of 901's on top of them. He wired the 901's out of phase and aimed them at some spot he calulated behind the Time Windows...it was magical on the Apocalypse Now soundtrack back in the day.

I pretty much only heard his system while baking with Thai spices, so to speak, so I may be recalling some extra-systemic effect as well.

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I guess for me, constant magic disappears if I stay with a system too long - but given a combination of mood, situation, and the right music, it still rears its head now and again.

Components that come to mind are the Apogee ribbon line, Chario Academy 2 speakers, A/D/S 300 speakers (especially in my old Fiat, top down, driving down Highway One below Carmel), AR 90 speakers (two pair, one inverted on top of the other), Adcom 585's into a planar speaker, Superphon Revelation II pre-amp, an original pair of McIntosh 275's, the Apt Holman (spelling?) preamp, Michel Gyrodec and Zeta Van den Hull arm, the Grace F-9E Ruby, Empire Troubador (508) turntable with the Grace cartridge, Dalhquist DQ-10 speakers with Pyramid tweeters on top, and the first Vandersteens I ever heard...sorry to run long, old feelings started to come back!

I look forward to the other replies and some "Oh! I forgot that one" moments!!!

ohfourohnine
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Re: Magical Components

Carver amp and preamp. I bought them after Bob Carver did his number on JGH and the boys in New Mexico and loved the way they made my AR3's sound. Never did buy in to the hologram gimmic, but, with that switched out they were great.

jazzfan
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Re: Magical Components

Thanks for the response Buddha,

However if we were to focus on magical moments rather than magical components as you hinted at, I fear that a thread like that could take over the entire forum and go on to become something of a cyber legend. "The Thread That Ate The Stereophile Website". I should think that magical components is fodder enough for a long and interesting discussion .

You also mentioned Vandersteens and I'm a Vandi man from way back - yes I admit it here on a public forum - I have been brainwashed by the wonderful sound and great valve of Vandersteen loudspeakers and have owned nothing else since I bought my first pair of Model 2Ci's over 10 years ago. And Vandi's are most certainly magical components. But that's fodder for another thread.

In my first post of this thread I wrote about my first "high end" speakers, however, equally important and equally magical were my first set of "seperates". In the early 1980's I finally made the big step from a receiver to a full set of seperates. I went with NAD once I finally made up my mind and at present the NAD preamp and amp are in use in my daughter's dorm room system. The NAD 2200PE (power envelope) amp most certainly has a little bit of magic in it and sounds much better than its low price would lead one to suspect.

k512
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Re: Magical Components

My current reference system is the most "magical" and deeply satisfying 2-channel system that's ever graced my home, and it consists of the following:

-Moon Andromeda Reference Differential CD Player;

-Moon P-8 Reference Differential Dual-Mono Control Preamplifier;

-Moon W-8 250watt/ch. Differential Dual-Mono Power Amplifier;

-Induction Dynamics ID1 loudspeakers;

-Shunyata Hydra-2 (feeding the power amp) and Hydra-6 (feeding the front end components), with a combination of Shunyata Powersnakes: Copperheads and Diamondbacks;

-Custom wired, 20-amp, isolated/dedicated power lines, with a Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor (TVSS) installed at my home's loadcenter;

-Billy Bags #4803 component stand, and #2020 amplifier stand;

-Signal Cable Silver Resolution XLR interconnects and speaker cables;

dcrowe
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Re: Magical Components


Quote:

Have you encountered any magical components on your journey?

One of Arthur C. Clarke's "Laws" goes something like: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I haven't really encountered any components for which I lacked a physical theory, but I have listened to a number of systems that could, with the right music heard from the sweet spot, provide magical experiences. One of these is my current bedroom system with a Marantz SA-8260 SACD player feeding a Creek 5350SE amplifier driving Revel M22 speakers.

jazzfan
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Re: Magical Components

Thanks for the feedback Kurt,

It's quite nice to read that your "magical" system consists of no less than three Moon components. While I've been busy writing about past magical components, I've failed to mention what's presently making music (and magic) in my system. I have a McCormack UDP-1 universal disc player and Linn LP-12 both driving a Moon P-3 pre-amp and Moon W-5 amp with Vandersteen 3A Signatures and one Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofer. I find the Moons and Vandis to be quite well matched and capable of making some very nice music with the large doses of magic thrown in for good measure.

I haven't heard the P-8 nor the W-8 and I'm looking forward to checking them out when the chance comes along.

imispgh
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Re: Magical Components

Years ago - maybe 7 or more I was in Savant Audio in New Jersey. He had a room with ProAc Response 3's set up. The sound was incredible - best imaging I have ever heard by far. I was so amazing I had to do several aural double takes. Now the walls were covered with Sonex so I don't know how much of it was the room or the speakers. Anyway I have coveted those speakers ever since. Haven't found a pair under $2k yet - but I'm patient.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Magical Components

I was curious if you have auditioned the CJ modded McCormack player? That is some music system you are enjoying.

Regards,

jazzfan
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Re: Magical Components


Quote:
I was curious if you have auditioned the CJ modded McCormack player? That is some music system you are enjoying.

Hi Jim,

In answer to your question, no I haven't auditioned or even heard the CJ modded McCormack player. In fact, I didn't even know that there was a mod for the UDP-1 available, but that's quite funny when you think about it. Steve McCormack made his name in the audio business by doing mods of other people's equipment (he was the driving force behind the famous "Mod Squad" of the early 1980's) and now his designs are being modded.

And by the way, thank you the complement on my music playback system, I do tend to enjoy it quite a bit.

RGibran
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Re: Magical Components

Vunderful system Jazzfan. I have no doubt the pleasure it brings to you, but as one trying to decide on a new front end the McCormack is really a head scratcher for me, as it was for JA HERE despite Kals' very very favorable review.

I'm wondering if CJ has addressed this in their upgrade of the unit?

RG

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Re: Magical Components


Quote:

Quote:

Have you encountered any magical components on your journey?

One of Arthur C. Clarke's "Laws" goes something like: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I haven't really encountered any components for which I lacked a physical theory, but I have listened to a number of systems that could, with the right music heard from the sweet spot, provide magical experiences. One of these is my current bedroom system with a Marantz SA-8260 SACD player feeding a Creek 5350SE amplifier driving Revel M22 speakers.

To a Cro-Magnon man and my pets almost everything I own, including my stereo equipment, is magic.

jkalman
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Re: Magical Components


Quote:
bhoyo's recent "Classic systems of the past" thread started me thinking about some of the various pieces of audio gear that I've owned over the years on my never ending quest for the ultimate in home audio playback.

During that span many of those pieces of equipment did their job quite well and then were quietly replaced with something better and often quickly forgotten. But every so often a piece of equipment would pass through my system and leave a mark not so quickly forgotten. Yes, they may have been replaced with something bigger and better but still there was just this magical quality to them that made them extra special and quite memorable.

Here's one example. My first true high end speakers were a pair of DCM Time Windows. The Time Windows replaced these monsterous Pioneer bookshelf speakers which had about 5 drivers, including a 12" or 15" woofer. The Time Windows, bless their little hearts, had a pair of 6" midrange/bass drivers each and were ported. What they lacked in bass output they more then made up for with their clarity and detail.

However what really made the Time Windows magical was their uncanny ability to reproduce classical guitar. During the time I owned them I became a major classical guitar fan and remain one to this day. Yet I've never heard any speakers make the classical guitar sound as good as on those Time Windows.

Have you encountered any magical components on your journey?

When I demoed Wilson Watt Puppy 7 speakers with Ayre equipment I was impressed. The combination was so lifelike and tangible in a 'sitting in the studio' way and was uncanny in its localization of the instruments. I don't know about magic, nothing has done that for me completely, but for the price it had the right gestalt for me.

I had been very impressed by Halcros hooked up to B&W 800Ds as well, with the dCS stack for a source, more so than a BAT SET amp hooked up to AG Duos I was comparing them to, but the amps and sources weren't in the same ballpark.

It was a completely different sound between the Halcro/B&W setup and the Ayre/Wilson setup, and both sounded incredible, though I liked the 'live' sound of the Ayre/Wilson setup more than the enhanced resolution of the Halcro/B&W setup. I suppose if I could hook the dCS stack and Halcros up to the Wilsons, I would appreciate the opportunity to see how much of my preference is the B&W sound vs. the Wilson sound and not the sources and amplifiers.

As far as Carver equipment and Sonic Holograms go, I still have fond and loving memories of my Bob Carver system and JBL speakers from when I was in 9th grade in high school. It was my first good system, well, except my parents Marantz tube gear, but they weren't mine even if I did play records on them all the time... And, I was too young to appreciate the Marantz gear when it was cutting edge. I wasn't allowed to move their speakers around either, but I must have moved my JBLs everywhere around my room as a teenager. I do remember the Sonic hologram creating more warmth and/or depth in the soundstage when I had them out away from the walls in my bedroom, that was over 18 years ago so my memory is a little fuzzy on which it was and if they were mutually exclusive in that piece of equipment.

gkc
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Re: Magical Components

You know, Buddha, I used the Grace F9-E Ruby pickup for about 5 or 6 years, in the mid 1980's. I must have gone through close to a dozen stylus replacements. I had the marble-based Kenwood turntable (can't remember the model number -- it was direct drive, but well respected in the audiophile community anyway). I had it fitted with the Infinity Black Widow arm. Remember that baby? I traded it in on a Dual/Grado combo, wanting something that would automatically lift off at the end. This was just after the advent of the Linn, but I couldn't imagine spending a grand for a turntable. I always wished I had held on to that Black Widow...Clifton

kana813
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Re: Magical Components

Remembered magic- Linn TT/Arm/Koetsu Rosewod, Tube God preamp,original Futterman OTL amps driving Quad 63s.

commsysman
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Re: Magical Components

I went through a number of different speakers looking for audio nirvana, and each had its good points, but they were never quite without some "gotcha" or weak point that made them ultimately unsatisfying.

Then I found Vandersteens.

As far as I can tell, after 3 years with the model 2 and now over 10 years with the model 3 and 3A, they are the speaker you come back to when you want it ALL, with no gimmicks or compromises. I know people who have had speakers that cost 10 times as much, and they got "tired" of the way they sounded, and now have either the Vandersteen 3 or 5, and are not planning to change.

The model 3A will not go down below 40 HZ all that much, so I eventually did add a pair of Vandersteen subwoofers for those organ and drum fundamentals under 30 HZ, but the model 5 now goes that low without the subs.

But even the modestly priced model 2 is a speaker you can really live with; its only shortcoming is that it rolls off pretty fast below 50 HZ; not for bass freaks.

Vandersteen delivers accurate, gimmick-free sound at a price that is a steal, in my opinion. It's magic to me.

commsysman
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Re: Magical Components

I am still using the Grace F9E cartridge with a Harmon Kardon T60 turntable ($450 in 1980 or so) and the Audio Research PH-1 and LS16 mark 2. I am sure I could upgrade if I wanted to spend a few thousand bucks, but it sounds awfully good. I have no idea where I would ever get a stylus replacement though; may have to change cartridge some day, lol.

DanS
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Re: Magical Components

The components that turned me into an audiophile were the first planar speakers that I auditioned: Ambience Ultra Slim ribbon speakers (ribbon driver range: 150 Hz - 25 kHz). So revealing... I understood what a sonic 3D image should really be like. That experience turned me towards the realm of Martin Logan ESL technology. I couldn't go back to the electro-dynamic cones; not even after listening to the B&W Signature 800 speakers. I cannot wait now to hear the new Quad 2905s.

JoeE SP9
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Re: Magical Components

My current rig is listed below. I have no real desire to change anything. ESL's are what does it for me. I must thank Magnaplanar for introducing me to the sound of panels.
ARC SP9 MKII preamp
VPI HW19jr
Rega RB300
Marcof PPA1 head amp
Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon cartridges
Marantz CD63SE CD
MSB DtoA
Sony DVP-NS500V
Accuphase T101 tuner
Nakamichi LX-3, ZX-7 Cassette
Lexicon CP1
2 modified Hafler DH200
2 radically modified Dynaco MK3's
1 Adcom GFA545
2 Paradigm xovers
2 12" Subs
1pr Acoustat Spectra 2200 electrostatics (fronts)
1pr Acoustat Model 1 electrostatics (rears)
The woofer cabinet from the Spectra's is connected to the Model 1's for my rears

commsysman
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Re: Magical Components

JoeE;

I used to own an AR SP-9 preamp. They are only fair.

The LS2B is significantly better (I used it for 10 years).

The LS16 Mark 2 is much better than the LS2B (used until recently; for sale at a reasonable price, incidentally).

The Reference 3 is much better than the LS16 Mark 2.

The new LS26 is the best of all (purchased it recently).

The SP9 is seriously compromising your sound, if you are still using it; you can do much, much better. Even the SP16 would be a HUGE upgrade over the SP9, if you want a built-in phono stage rather than buying a separate one.

When I look at the generally high quality of the rest of your system, I wince at the presence of the SP-9. Its quality is SO much lower than the rest of your system that it is really out of place there.

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