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Hi folks, I have been into audio for 26 years. My first system was a bedroom system comprising Infinity Reference 3's which were large 3 way bookshelf's which bent the wooden shelf they were on! and a Nad lifestyle system including one of the first cd players. The Nad system actually had quite a lot of power & drove my Infinity's with authority. That got me started in this hobby & made me an Infinity lover.
But what got me hooked was a chance visit to Tivoli Hifi in 1991. My brother and I wandered in to have a look & were invited by one of the sales guys to have a listen to a pair of 7 feet Infinity IRS-V's hooked up to massive Electrocompaniet mono blocks. The IRS-V's were Infinity's statement speakers which comprised two lacquered rosewood towers housing 6 x 12" IMG servo controlled bass drivers per tower & two winged towers with a total of 24 emims & 72 emits! The IRS-V's produced incredible sound with etherial "reach out and touch it" imaging and thunderous bass which mimicked the live event. That was an awesome experience & definitely got me hooked on audio.
In 1992 I sold my old system & bought my 2nd system which included Infinity Reference 60 towers, a Nakamichi amplifier one integrated, JVC XL-Z1050 cdp, Standdesign rack and Audioquest cables. I later added a Technics RS-BX626 tape deck & Cambridge Audio T-500 tuner.
In 2009 I sold most of my old system & bought my 3rd pair of classic Infinitys; a pair of Renaissance 90's in black ash which I owned for a short while before moving up to a pair of Martin Coltrane Alto's. I also bought a ClassÃ© Cap-2100 integrated & Vimak DS-1800 Mk2 dac. I enjoyed this system for another year before replacing my JVC XL-Z1050/Vimak combination with an Ayon CD-5 which was a big step up. Warm, rich, liquid sound with plenty of resolution & bass!
2011 saw some major changes to my system. I sold my Ayon CD-5 and stepped up to the latest model (Ayon CD-5s). I also sold my Classe Cap-2100 and bought a Boulder 1060 power amp. My final acquisition was a matching Boulder 1010 preamp which I never actually used and later traded up still new in its box.
In 2012 I upgraded up to an Ayon CD-5s which I had modified with Burson Single HD Discrete Op amps and upgraded matched NOS 6H30P-DR's & Russian 6C4P tubes (cdp/linestage), Oppo BDP-83SE (dvd), upgraded Taoc ASR series racks, Boulder 1060 amp and a combination of Acoustic Revive, Jorma Origo & Jorma Prime cables. I was actually very happy with this system which had good bass, fast electrostatic-like transients and some tube warmth and sweetness from the Ayon. But you know that itch! :lol:
I started my current system by having my sparky install an Oyaide R1 wpo. The next step was to trade up my Boulder 1060 and 1010 preamp for a Vitus SIA-025 integrated. I then sold my Ayon CD-5s and Martin Coltranes which part funded my new Aesthetix Romulus cdp, Magico S5's & a slew of Stillpoints and FE Elemente iso feet. I also traded up my Acoustic Revive & Jorma Origo cables for a full loom of Jorma Primes. So it has been a busy year! My current system comprises -
- Aesthetix Romulus tube cdp (for sale)
- Oppo BDP-103AU (for sale)
- Vitus SIA-025 integrated
- Magico S5 speakers (gloss titanium)
- Interconnects -
- Jorma Prime ic's
- Jorma Prime sc's
- Jorma Prime pc's
- Vitus Andromeda pc (dvd)
- Siltech Classic Anniversary HF (for sale)
- Siltech Classic Anniversary rca's (dvd)
- Siltech Classic Anniversary HDMI
- Isolation -
- Taoc ASR Series racks with upgraded Finite Elemente Cerabase Classic feet
- Stillpoints Ultra 5's with Ultra bases
- Stillpoints Ultra mini's
- Stillpoints Ultra lpi's
- Wally feet
- Tweaks - Various
With my current system I am aiming for a sound which is warm, accurate, resolving, natural/organic, coherent, tube-like, analogue sounding and capable of full range dynamics. I have taken a methodical "no compromise" approach and am aiming to keep my system balanced (ie: no short cuts or weak links). Whilst ultimately I feel that is the right way to go, my approach has demanded a lot of sacrifice and patience and is not for the faint hearted.
My new system has introduced a number of new components including my Aesthetix Romulus cdp which in many ways has a similar sound to my old Ayon CD-5s. The Ayon had deeper bass, sounded sweeter and was a bit more resolving, but the Aesthetix is more natural sounding and fluid, has better image focus, better insulation from EMI/RFI through extensive use of faraday cages and better attention to detail in respect to the circuit layout. This player is very musical and is a high end bargain imho.
I wont add too much about the Vitus SIA-025 which I already covered in my review. Suffice to say the Vitus has great synergy with the S5's and running in class A, offers a sound which is very musical and addictive. The Stillpoints U5's & Ultra LPI's also proved to be a good investment which significantly improved the sound. I now consider the Stillpoints mandatory with the Vitus Sig Series such has been the level of improvement.
When I first auditioned the Magico S5's, my reference was the Magico Q3's which i'd heard on several previous occasions. I was initially struck by the sheer size and presence of the S5's. The next thing which struck me was the immaculate build quality and finish & heavy extruded aluminium cabinet. I expected great bass and wasn't disappointed. There are solid low and mid bass foundations, and bass is tight and accurate. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the S5's is their terrific balance and coherence, together with thier warmer, slightly more relaxed presentation compared to the Q3's. I listen to a wide variety of music, including classic rock right through to world music and classical. My S5's also double as home theater speakers in my 2 channel home theater. These speakers for me tick every box and are great "all rounders". They are the first speakers which have given me the same sense of excitement and awe I experienced with the classic Infinity IRS speakers.
The next step will be upgrading my Oppo BDP-103AU to a BDP-105AU. At present, my 1.0 mtr single ended rca's are a bit like piano strings having to reach to the RH side of my player, whilst the combination of small switcher psu and single ended cables is not giving me enough gain for my amp which means I have to push the amp harder than i'd like on movies. The BDP-105 will provide a bigger toroidal psu and differentially balanced analogue outputs with a dedicated dac chip located on the left hand side of the player which will be kinder on my cables & add +6db in line level gain.
Moving into next year I plan to add a high end power conditioner & am also planning a big front end upgrade which i'll be rolling out in two stages over the next 12-14 months. I'm keeping the details under wraps for now, but it will be worth the wait
Here are some photos to take you through the various evolutions of my system -
1987 - My first serious speakers; Infinity Reference 3's
1991 - Stepping up to Infinity Reference 60's
1991 - Nakamichi Amplifier One
1991 - JVC XL-Z1050
2008 - Vimak DS-1800 dac
2009 - Infinity Renaissance 90's, Classe Cap-2100 & Martin Coltrane Alto's
2010 - Ayon CD-5 is in the house!
2011 - Boulder 1060 and Ayon CD-5s
2013 - My current system
A box full of goodies..
Hi guys, on Thursday 19th July I dropped in Absolute Hi End in Melbourne after I got a tip that Boris had some new acquisitions in his showroom. Of particular interest to me was the pair of piano black Magico S5's Boris had just unpacked...one of the first pair to land on our fair shores. When I arrived, Boris had his first room set up with a pair of gorgeous Avalon Transcendent speakers in natural myrtle matched with a Bladelius Thor Mk3 integrated amp, Macbook pro & Resolution Audio Cantanta Music Centre. I was really surprised how natural sounding the Avalons are. I mean they sounded utterly natural & threw off a a wide accurate sound stage. I know this sounds ironic, but the Avalons sounded exactly as they looked. The Transcendents present an 88db/4ohm load, so they like a bit of power, and the Bladelius wasn't stressed at all...even during energetic passages. The Transcendents are not the most extended floor standers in the top end, but dig down to 26Hz. More importantly, these speakers were coherent and wonderfully integrated top to bottom. You really don't notice any omissions, but simply enjoy the music. This room got my feet tapping which is what it's all about! I want to hear more from Avalon...
Next I walked into Boris's 2nd room which had the new Carver Cherry 180's in black finish connected to the reference Crystal Arabesque's with a Bladelius Freja Mk3 cdp as source. Volume control was via the amp's own volume controls which was cool. This room sounded great with jazz, and sounded rich and bull bodied, yet fast and airy. The Carvers were dead quiet and drove the big Arabesques with authority. And their looks! Oh man, those things look sexy. But I still think the cherry red mono's look sexier Build quality & finish were first class. Given the fact these mono blocks are hand built in the USA with old school point to point wiring by one of the icons in the Industry, they start to sound like a bargain. And for less than $7400US for a pair of 200 watt tube mono's, the Carvers give a good bang for the buck. Given their power, looks, build quality, simplicity & compelling sound, I think they will have a wide appeal.
Next stop was Boris' main room which had a pair of gorgeous (and imposing!) Magico S5's matched perfectly with a stunning Dartzeel NHB-108 power amp & NHB-18NS battery powered preamp. The source was an AMG V12 deck built by Werner Roeschlau who previously manufactured components and turntables for Brinkmann. One of the cool things about this deck is it plays 78's! The big Magico's are awe-inspiring and looked menacing in piano black. Cables were the awesome new Crystal Absolute Dream cables which aint cheap mister. Let's just say the would max out King Kufu's credit card! It's no secret i've been looking forward to hearing the S5's, and I wasn't disappointed. The S5's sounded a bit tight as you'd expect for a speaker out of the box, but left no doubt about their potential. These speakers are remarkable & reminded me of the same excitement I felt when I heard the awesome Infinity IRS-V's. The S5's are clearly built for the real world to reproduce realistic scale, impact and vocal presence. It was all there; awesome bass foundations, clear, rich sounding vocals & resolving airy highs. Imaging for a speaker straight out of the box was very good & created the illusion of a laser-cut image. But don't mistake that for sounding analytical, as there was texture and warmth which provided a nice balance. Bravo Boris for superbly matching these components! Now let me tell you about the bass; oh man, it is freaking awesome!! Again, the only speaker system i've heard which excited me this much was the awesome 7 feet IRS-V's....at almost 3 times the price! I can't wait to hear them with more hours on them
Thanks to Boris at Absolute Hi End for a very enjoyable visit as always. Hope you guys enjoy the photos