Audio Physic Virgo loudspeaker Associated equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated equipment

For most of my listening the analog front-end consisted of a VPI TNT turntable with all the latest updates, including the Flywheel (footnote 1), fitted with either a Rockport Capella air-bearing linear tracking arm or the Graham 1.5t with ceramic armtube. The cartridge was either a Clavis DC or a Dynavector XX-1L. The 'table sat on a Bright Star Audio Big Rock TNT isolation platform, which rested on a TNT stand filled with lead shot and sand. I also listened on the Rotel RP-900 turntable/Sumiko Blue Point combo.

The digital source was an EAD T-7000 transport/DSP 9000 Mk.III (with HDCD$r) combo. Preamps included an Audible Illusions Modulus 3 tweaked with Marigo dots and an Audio Research SP-11 Mk.II—an oldie but a goodie. The Rotel/Blue Point fed either the Creek OBH-8 or an Audio Alchemy VAC-in-the-Box.

I drove the Virgos with a variety of amplifiers, including my reference VTL 300s, the outstanding Belles OCM 500, the latest version of the Muse 100, the Aragon 4004 and, just for fun, a vintage, 30Wpc Pilot 264 tube amp.

Cabling consisted of XLO phono, Yamamura Systems Millennium 5000 interconnect between amps and preamp, A.R.T. and XLO Signature speaker cable, and A.R.T. interconnect between the EAD 9000 and either preamp. I used AT&T glass and either Yamamura 5000 or WireWorld Gold Starlight digital cable between the transport and the processor. AC cords included WireWorld, A.R.T., TARA Labs, and Transparent Audio.

Accessories included Shakti electromagnetic stabilizers on top of electronics and both Harmonix feet and A.R.T. Q-Dampers under them. And, just to destroy my credibility with some of you, I kept the Coherent Technology clock (the original and still the greatest) plugged-in to the hospital-grade jacks of the dedicated AC line I use for the "front-end" components. Digital components were plugged-in to a Power Wedge line conditioner. Amplifier AC was from another dedicated line with hospital-grade jacks.

Room treatments included Harmonix RFA-78 Room Tuning Devices, ASC Tube Traps, and a Japanese violin-maker who, after about an hour of walking around and scratching an aluminum disc, poked a series of holes in my ceiling with an ice pick. This had a profound effect on the sound of my room—a positive one—which I hope to report to you in greater detail soon. A vintage-violin dealer's audition room in the Carnegie Hall office building was also so treated, and musicians who were unaware of it and couldn't see anything different commented on how the room sounded so much better for some reason.

The Modulus 3 is a wonderful piece of gear—I own it, and I'll review it here soon; but it doesn't do an outstanding job controlling the bottom end, and so is not of reference quality in that area. I thus found it impossible to use the Modulus 3 to assess the bass control of the Virgos. The Audio Research SP-11 does a better job there, so I was confident that I was hearing the Virgo's bottom end and not that of the electronics.—Michael Fremer

Footnote 1: A real flywheel, with genuine inertia—not a dental-floss-driven one that can be stopped with the pinch of a child's finger. Does this mean war, J-10?