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Thursday, April 8, 2010


It's probably a good idea ahead of time to set up some parameters and provide some details, so should you be foolish enough to read any information I post here you'll at least be informed.  The room that we do our listening in (that's right, there are two chairs and Susan often joins me, sometimes with a glass of WINE even) is 14x11, and I have set up the primary listening spot in an equilateral triangle with the speakers and listener all 7'2" apart.  Carpeted floor, with large bookshelves on the walls, one window on short wall.  As you might have already read, I use a vintage (25 year-old) Sony integrated amplifier, the TA-F444ES.  Unbelievably, it was entry level in 1984.  Other than a few selector knobs, the whole damn thing is metal, with a thick, anodized aluminum faceplate.  I bought it for $100 with box and original manual on eBay, and then dumped a further $250 into it to have it professionally cleaned, replace caps in the phono stage, replace the binding posts with gold-plated five ways, and replace the stock power cord with an IEC outlet so I could kid myself into thinking swapping power cables would make a difference (sorry Shunyata, I didn't hear nothin').  On that note I am using a 7 gauge cable I bought on eBay from a company called CTRL Audio.  There store link is: http://stores.ebay.com/ZPXR-Store and I highly recommend them.  I am not getting into reviewing the sound of power cables now, but the build quality and eye-candy value is extremely high.  While we're on the topic of cables, I use Audioquest Type 4 with silver banana connectors.  Nice, but not thrilling- I will probably buy a set of CTRL cables for WAY less money in the near future.  All interconnects are by Tara Labs, and are the fairly inexpensive Prism 200a. I have more expensive Tara cables, but the Prism 200a model does not stress the RCA connectors at all when I frequently switch gear.  In a semi-controlled test, I found (along with 2 other listeners, if they will admit it- can we get an affidavit?) that these cables actually do make a difference compared to Monster.  More on that at some other time.  For sources, I primarily listen to a Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/CD player.  It takes forever to cue and has nowhere near the build quality of vintage Sony disc players, but it really does sound as good as the pro-reviewers say it does.  I also use a vintage Sony CDP-605ESD, which loads SUPER quick and plays burned CDs.  Then of course, we have the Rega P1 with glass platter and Ortofon 2M Red for vinyl.  I think that covers everything- I don't currently listen to stuff ripped to a hard drive.  More on that later as well.  The speakers are of course, the Dynaudio Focus 220s (http://www.dynaudio.com/eng/systems/lines/lines/focus.php).  I bought them from the super nice people at Dedicated Audio in Scottsdale Arizona, to replace a pair of bookshelf Focus 140s I got at Audio Den in Lake Grove, NY.  Respective websites are: http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/, and  http://audioden.com/.  Both places are fantastic to deal with, and if you go into Audio Den make sure to ask for Bob.  He's put up with quite a bit of nonsense from me.  The 220s are absolutely terrific speakers, as are the 140s.  I will devote an entire entry to these speakers next, as I think it's important that readers have an idea of what the basic sound is before they can hope to get anything meaningful out comparisons or discussions of gear.   I guess now we're ready to get serious.  Just in time for the weekend!

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