August 2010. The setup is now completely and utterly tweaked to my liking and is configured in a perfect way. For the first time in a very long time I feel that I can live with the setup for a while without tweaking it…
The main picture above shows the setup in its entirety. The huge speakers are Magnepan MG3.6R magnetostats with a true ribbon tweeter. These are used for music listening exclusively. Flanking them on the sides are B&W N804’s for home cinema use. On top of the audiotable is the Jeff Rowland Coherence II preamp, itself flanked by two digital Mark Levinson products: left the 360s dac, for high resolution computer audio and on the right side the 390s cd player. On the floor are my trusty Jeff Rowland model 6 poweramps and BPS 6 battery power supplies.
The screen is a 55 inch Samsung UE55B7020 LED-TV. That’s an LCD TV with Led backlighting although in this case it is edge lighting, hence its thinness. This one has real blacks and amazing contrast. Even better than a regular CRT TV in this respect. And as long as you feed it 720 or 1080 material, it is also a lot sharper. Above the screen is the world-class B&W HTM-1 center speaker. The B&W Nautilus surroundsetup is powered by the big Yamaha DSP-Z7 in the middle.
The audio components: Yamaha DSP Z7 surround amp, Mark Levinson no 360s dac, Jeff Rowland Coherence II preamp, Mark Levinson no 390S cd player, and at the bottom Jeff Rowland model 6 mono poweramps flanking the matching BPS 6 battery power supplies. The system is aided in the lowest bass (40hz and down) by two REL Quake II subwoofers and above it is the Samsung UE55B7020 LED-TV.
Remember my contemplating to get rid of the B&W 804’s? Well, even if it was decided that they were beaten by the Logans at first, and later by the Magnepans, still there was a part of me that couldn’t separate from them. And after all they worked very well in the cinema setup where they provided a more ballsy sound that better fits movie soundstracks.
Yamaha DSP-Z7 feeding the Nautilus surround setup.
The beautiful Mark Levinson no.360 DA converter. It sounds as refined as it looks. Fluid and well-rounded: no clinical sound here.
The incomparable Jeff Rowland Coherence II battery-powered preamp. This is one gorgeous piece of styling. And it doesn’t only look good – it sounds immaculately smooth, fluid and organic. But it is utterly detailed at the same time. A very luxurious experience. This preamp is so good that it even betters the Synergy 1 and 2.
Okay, so you have to change batteries every 5 years and the 2 components weigh 20 kilograms. Each! But the sound is all worth it.
Mark Levinson no 390S with open drawer which is wafer-thin but fast, steady and quiet. It glides in and out with military precision. Very cool. Revered at its introduction, it’s still a very, very good cd player. It really is much better than I thought. Forget about Levinson supposedly being analytical, forward, cool. None of the above. Maybe it’s only the 390s, but the sound is warm, fluid and very organic. It even challenges my CEC/Audiomeca combo at certain points…
All Rowlands lined up: left and right outer side are the model 6 amps and on the inside are the battery power supplies. I had to order longer DC cables from Rowland because these units are meant to be stacked on top of each other and therefore the supplied DC cables won’t allow a side by side setup. The table stands on top of the Rowlands, coupled by four Finite Elemente Cerapucs.
Magnepan magnetostatic speaker up close. The stand is not standard. It is an optional extra from specialist Soundanchor. The round spike bases are Harmonix RF-909x. They make a tremendous difference to the sound. Compared to regular spkike bases, they make a much bigger difference than I had anticipated.
On the audiotable you can see the Jeff Rowland Synergy preamp sitting in the middle. It is now retired because I finally found a preamp worthy enough to replace it. See the following pages for more info:-)
The Magnepan speakers may be huge but they are also incredibly flat. The Samsung TV is also appropriately flat: less than 3cm! Too bad you can’t also hang the speakers flat on the wall, or many more people would probably own magnetostatics…
Rear of the Magnepan MG3.6R magnetostatic speaker: visible is the ribbon tweeter; a long, thin aluminum strip that is both conductor and tweeter at the same time. To the left of the tweeter are two more panels that are covered by cloth: one for the bass and one for the mids.
Rear of the Magnepan speaker. It is a full range design so it has no conventional woofer. The shiny box on the bottom is the crossover filter.
The left side of the room, showing the left Nautilus 805 surround speaker and the comfy Chesterfield chair. In fact, the sound is still enjoyable when sitting there. True, there’s not much in the way of soundstaging but the sound itself it still open and quite nice.
The B&W Nautilus HTM1 center speaker. I didn’t want to spoil this speaker’s svelte curves by putting it on just any old wall bracket. Plus, with it weiging 21 kilos you need a special kind of bracket. So I set out and designed my own and had a welding company put it together from RVS steel. They did a splendid job: I now have a very sturdy bracket that’s so very thin that it is barely visible from the front. Getting the heavy speaker up there was a real heavy job!
Picture taken from the far end of the room, standing with my back to the rear wall, to get this nice symmetrical view.
The desk is where I actually spend most of my time, working on this site or playing with audiofiles. Therefore it’s perfectly centered between the speakers, enabling me to keep enjoying the system when I’m not in the listening chair. The main computer is hidden away in one of the desk-supporting pillars.
I use a modified Apple Pro Speaker package for my everyday non-critical PC stuff, consisting of two round, transparent speakers and a transparent sounding subwoofer. It is modified because the sub was meant to be driven digitally from an Apple and I use it analog, from PC. But the sound coming out of this system is incredibly good. For computer speakers. Quite detailed and especially spacious and deep, uncolored bass.
I mentioned at the top of this page that the system is now tailored so much to my liking that I needn’t change it for some time… but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I moved house and had to start all over again with the tweaking…