Swans Speaker Systems Baton System

Sidebar 2: System

The CD player used for my debut Stereophile review was a Kinergetics KCD-20B that I've modified somewhat. (I promise not to modify anything while I'm reviewing it!) Recently, I've been using the best preamp in the world: no preamp at all. What? I don't listen to vinyl? I must not be a real audiophile. The power amplifiers currently in my system are Nelson Pass–designed 15W single-ended "Zen" monoblocks (footnote 1). They have just one large MOSFET in the signal path, and I have to tell you they sound wonderful because I built them. I pick flowers to give to them, and I'm going to host a lovely birthday party for them in December.

Other power amps ready for active duty were an NAD 2100X, a Michael Yee Audio PA-1, and Muse One Hundred Fifty monoblocks. Power-line filtering was compliments of a MagneTek isolation transformer sandwiched between a couple of stages of 0.1µF polypropylene shunt capacitors. (Your mother told you not to play with electricity, so don't go building your own power-line filter and electrocuting yourself.) My Zen monos don't need anything extra because I've built overkill filtering into their power supplies. My long-term reference pair of speakers, the B&W Matrix 804s (also slightly modified), were on hand for comparison purposes.

Interconnects were 1m long, homemade, unshielded, lead-free soldered, Teflon-sheathed, all twisted and goofy-lookin', whatever. Speaker cables were mostly AudioTruth Argent, but I also tried TARA Labs RSC Master Gen.2, Dunlavy DAL-Z8, and 2' lengths of Straight Wire Maestro. Hooray for short speaker cables.

My listening room is 14.5' by 13' by 8'. I placed the speakers in front of the long wall, with a 2' H by 5' W piece of "egg-carton" foam hung on the wall behind them at tweeter'n'woofer height. On the right wall was a larger piece of foam at ear height, and a handsome tapestry. On the left and back walls I have hung some not-so-handsome blankets, but they help out with the imaging and treble balance. My homemade comfy chair sits in the middle of the room, placing my ears about 7' from each speaker and about 34" from the floor. When I stylishly rotate my body counterclockwise in my chair (clockwise for watching gophers), the wooden floor's tuning-focus snappage maximized, so that all the blooming palpitude and harmonic convergence of the rehabilitated deviant electrons gave me radiation bumps.

I like listening close in order to minimize the room sound. Particularly with speakers like my B&Ws, which were designed to measure flat in an anechoic environment, the closer you get, the better they sound (at least until you can hear the different parts of the music coming from different driver locations).—Muse Kastanovich



Footnote 1: See The Audio Amateur 2/94, p.10, and 3/94, p.20.
COMPANY INFO
Swans Speaker Systems
11630 Goldring Road
Arcadia, CA 91006
(626) 930-060
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