The desk with monitors for computers (PC and Mac are good friends here) and in the background the Macbook on which I make 24bit/96khz lp recordings on location at audiofriends using an Apogee Duet firewire interface.
This is an overview of a previous reference setup that was in use for many years. In this setup most components, cables and accessories mentioned on this site, were compared.
For more background information and photo's covering the development of this system, click here. The more recent component-reviews (from march 2009) were done in the Current Setup
Complete setup as it was on december 2008. From left to right: Martin Logan SL3 hybride electrostatic speakers, Rel Quake II subwoofers mostly for surround, Jeff Rowland model 6 mono poweramps, Audiomeca Mephisto II cd transport, Audiomeca Enkianthus DA converter, Jeff Rowland model 2 poweramp for the center speaker, DCS Delius/Purcell dac and upsampler, Jeff Rowland synergy preamp, CEC TL1x belt-driven cd transport, Marantz CD94MKII cd player, Philips CD880 cd player en Martin Logan Stage hybrid electrostatic centerspeaker.
Audiomeca setup on Solid Tech Rack of Silence. And believe it or not: the rack is more important than you might think. It does a lot for the sound. The Audiomeca components are made from stainless chromed steel and black perspex. This last material is very expensive and difficult to aquire and difficult to work with. That's why you don't see this material a lot anymore. Dutch producer Sphinx quit using it for the same reasons. Too bad since it really looks very classy.
The DCSses are genuine reference components. You can't find better resolution or finer finesse. The empty spot beneath would house an upcoming digital lens but this was ultimately postponed until PS audio would bring out their new and improved version of it.
It's a real odd landscape...
This may be the most important link in the chain: the CEC TL 1x Belt-driven cd transport.
Not only disc rotation is done via rubber belt but also the movement of the lensassembly. It doesn't stop there because the transport has more tricks up its sleeve: for example gyrostabilisation using a contraweight at the bottom of the rotating axe. All the steps taken result in a very big sound that's fluid and refined and actually sounds somewhat like analogue lp playback.
Very special and unique transport designed by Pierre Lurne in cooperation with Rene Boonen (designer of the famous Philips CDM4 transport). Lots of attention has been paid to both hard coupling of parts for quick energyflow and damping to prevent ringing. It has to be seen in the flesh to be appreciated. The spindle is extra large: in fact it has been made larger than the maximum diameter specified in the red book. They just experimented making it larger and larger, until the TOC couldn't be read anymore, then went back a little. The actual size is now a fraction smaller than is needed to be able to read this part of the disc. The large diameter helps a lot to make the disc more stable during rotation.
The resulting sound is well-detailed, quick, snappy and airy. But not over analytical, sharp of grainy. Strangely enough this transport matched really well with the Enkianthus dac from the same maker but failed to shine in combination with the DCS combo, where it sounded restrained and flat. Almost like it was badly adjusted and had too much jitter and while the Audiomeca DAC apparently handled this well, the DCS combo did not. But this is just guessing and I don't know the reason. Perhaps it's also about system synergy.
The CEC TL1-x belt driven transport with its latch open. Visible is the big and heavy puck that has to be placed over the cd.
The same transport with the puck removed. As can be seen on the photo, the spindle is different from regular spindles in that it has a springy middle part that compresses when the puck is laid over the CD. The stock-photo below shows how the transport is built on the inside.
Martin Logan Stage hybrid electrostatic center speaker. Mid- and high frequencies are reproduced by the electrostatic foil and the highest frequency is done by the dynamic tweeter, to make for good horizontal spread of sound. Without the tweeter the sound would be very beamy and only good for the person sitting in the middle. Low frequencies are reproduced by two smallish woofers. The speaker can go really loud, much louder than you'd expect from the woofers and their relatively modestly sized cabinets. In use, it sounds like no speaker. Literally. During movies you never notice that it's there, it's just that transparent. But probably because it is mounted to the wall and the main Logans are setup 2 meters from the rear wall, the center doesn't blend in, nor does it project forward as well as you'd expect and for some reason I never was as happy with it as I was with the active Meridian M60 that was mounted in this place before the Logan.
Martin Logan SL3 electrostat in closeup. On this photo you can see its construction very clearly: two perforated steel plates and plastic foil inbetween. The foil produces the sound.
This picture shows how transparent they are
From the rear. You can see the closed bass cabinet. It doesn't look much but the speaker can go really low and is very fast and tight.
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