THE FRONT ROOM
The h2g2 Hi fi club rooms bulge with equipment, from dusty Quad II valve amps and Thorens TD 124 turntables to DVD players and Naim monoblocs. Loudspeakers from B+W Nautiluses to Rogers LS3/5a's are constantly being wheeled from room to room in search of the perfect front end /amplifier combination and acoustics. There is a wall hung with exotic cables to experiment with, and a huge rack of shelves holding all the recordings that give the systems a good work-out, and even some we like the music on.
Here in the main meeting room, we slump into sofas with tea or coffee from the ever-replenishing urns, or perhaps sip something stronger in the evenings, while we chat until the sun comes up about whether to spike our speaker stands or use Vibrapods, is a pre/power amp combo better than an integrated, is vinyl really superior to CD or do we just prefer the ritual? and so on.
Our main room has only a simple system to play music on, because we chat in here and keep all the big stuff in the rooms off the corridor. When you join us you get your own room in which you can either keep your own existing system, or assemble a fantasy system way beyond the reaches of your wallet. And of course, there are shelves for your favourite recordings, the only condition being that we can all borrow them from time to time.
SPINY Founder and administrator for the club.
The Nitpicker African music specialist.
Pheroneous Member the third!
Dogster Impecunious Student
james Eclectic Collector
Warlie the analogue Vinyl Head and soldering iron wielder
This is my current system at home:
SOURCES: Arcam Alpha CD player (now 10 years old), Systemdek turntable with Audio Technica arm/cartridge, Sony and Tascam DAT machines, Revox A77, Denon tuner
AMPLIFICATION: Musical Fidelity Elektra 200 pre-amp, B+W MPA10 monoblocs (120 watts, 8 ohms)
SPEAKERS: Tannoy Definition 500's (8" dual concentric for mid and treble, plus 8" woofer in twin-ported cabinet for bass)
I have all the sources at one end of the room and the speakers and amps at the other. Thus although the interconnects between pre- and power amps are long, they're on balanced XLR connectors; the great plus with this arrangement is that the monobloc amps sit next to the speakers and that means really short speaker cables. I've found through experience that the shorter you can keep speaker cables, the better: more bass control, smoother treble and better imaging. The speakers are about 8 feet apart: they have to be to avoid putting huge purple splurges on the TV screen!
In general I'm happy with this set-up. The Tannoys have a characteristic "big speaker" sound which gives a sense of scale to orchestras, big bands, organ and choir music, etc, and the amps never seem to run out of steam. I've never had the bottle to turn it up full, and often it's only when someone comes in and tries to speak to you that you realise how loud you're playing it. The room is a bit of a problem, however, as it appears to suck bass energy out just round about bass guitar and kick drum frequencies, so sometimes rock music can lose a bit of drive. Yet you know there's bass there with low synth or organ pedal notes - in fact, the room seems to resonate with them. There's also a penalty to pay for the lack of colouration in the bass from the speakers: it's the same problem you can get with electrostatics, I guess. My Holy Grail is to hear acoustic piano reproduced naturally at lifelike levels, but I think I might have to upgrade my ageing CD player for that.
Music I use to test the system
Details to follow
THE NITPICKER'S SYSTEM
In my room I have a Fons CQ 30 with an SME (model 3009 Series II improved) arm and a Shure cartridge. An Armstrong 600 Tuner/Amp provides the amplification for my IMF speakers. An AIWA AD-WX 515 casette player and a JVC XL-Z 464 CD player complete my sound system. I have, on occasion, turned the volume up as high as I can stand - mainly in response to the DROSS that my neighbours play which brings me to my main point ...... It is not the equipment that is interesting but what do you play on it?
My system recreates the sounds of all my favourite African bands perfectly - some of it sounds better in my living room than at live gigs but, sadly the visuals are somewhat lacking.
I have a MF A3 CD player (which is new and a great improvement on the old MF CD1) an MF Typhoon bi-amped system (about to be replaced by the new A3 Integrated, thus losing two boxes!) and Tannoy 638 speakers. Also an MF A3 FM Tuner which is not much better than the old T1 it replaced, which was miles better than the Arcam unit before that, a Nakamichi tape deck and a Bang and Olufsen turntable. As you might suppose, I have special access to MF and Tannoy, but nevertheless am as happy as I could be with the system.
My HIFI consists of an Arcam Alpha 7SE CD Player, a Naim NAIT-3 amplifier which put me into debt (I was intending to buy an Arcam amplifier, but the guy in the shop suggested I listen to the Naim before deciding and after hearing it I couldn't possibly go back), a (relatively) cheap Yamaha KX-393 tape deck with no frills and finally, a pair of Acoustic Energy AE100 floorstanding speakers. Everything is black which is a whole lot better than the repellent beige of my computer, which I also run through the amp. It not only makes playing computer games a whole new experience, but lets me play my MP3 collection properly too. As far as I can tell my system is perfect, but I'm sure if I listened to better equipment I'd realise that it's far from perfect, so I'm trying my hardest not to go to the hifi shop and test out their amazing equipment! I'm a student so both myself and my system are constantly moving between my house and my student rooms. My room at home is small which certainly makes the music exhilarating at high volumes but unfortunately means that I can't separate the speakers much (about 4 or 5 feet, which is just enough). At college, I have a much larger room and I can separate the speakers by about 6 or 7 feet which is nice, but because the room is a lot bigger I have to pump the volume up to rather antisocial levels to get the same visceral sound I can get at home at lower volumes. None of my neighbours have complained yet. While I'm at college I mostly listen to stuff like Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead and the like, because my friends find that less offensive than the rest of my musical tastes. While I'm at home however, I indulge in hard-bop jazz (Coltrane is my favourite), Indian classical (I'm listening to Hari-Prasad Chaurasia most at the moment) and early choral music (Hildegaard of Bingen is my favourite, possibly followed by Byrd). Recently I've been trying to learn to appreciate classical music more (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart et al) which for some reason I don't really like.
my modest system,front mains,infinity Qa 10 inch woofers conventinal sealed full size cabinets,rear mains acousti-phase 10 inch woofers rear ported full size cabinets.front and rear have rubber surrond woofers the rear are now two way to macth the front and all four have macthing epicure inverted dome tweeters. these set on top of full size cabinets with 12inch full range speakers. for the mains im useing a sansui av reciever with surround sound.the 12s are powered by a oki reel to reel with a utah,studio4,ambience regenerator doing the surrond matrix bit.a sae preamp eq runs off one of the tape loops of the main amp before the oki so anything imputed to either amp can be played on the other one. two macthing philips electronics turntables,one with a shure cartridge the other with an empire.a onkyo ta2025.a technics rs-tr355 dubbing deck and a old technics m6 single deck with big ole vu`s take care of my cassette tape needs(the onkyo sounds as good as any cd player ive heard so far)a magnavox five disc cd player,a rca home theatre vcr and a mitsubishi vcr with full size phone plugs on the front that let me dub sound on sound on vcr tapes and a six band per channel numark eq for the vcr's rounds it off.oh yeah a sega dreamcast gives me a single play cd and cheap internet access some mp3 downloads. last but not least a model vv 4-3 victrola
WARLIE THE ANALOGUE
My SE mosfet is actually a copy of a Pass Labs design, it has only 1 gain stage and produces 10 W of extraordinary music.
The disc stage is a tweaked version of a Hi-Fi world design using Analog Devices electronics, 0.1% resistors and a whopping power supply - it is excellent, makes CDs sound anaemic.
The system is like this -
Thorens TD150 MKII with RB300 and ATF5 m/c cartridge. External class-a power supply for 33/45. Silver cable to passive pre - home design, Alps blue velvet pot and high quality switch.
Leak Troughline valve tuner
Sony TCK611S dolby S tape deck
Philips CD303 16 bit 4X o/sampling cd player with reworked analogue output stage. Silver-plated interconnect to pre-amp.
Sugden A48 - pre is bypassed, bias current increased, whole amp has been rebuilt with high quality components - sounds very good.
TDL RTL3 floorstanders (reworked crossovers) connected to Sugden via triple and earth household single core wiring cable - really excellent.
The whole system runs off a 625 VA isolating transformer from the mains.
Most important of all are the 800-900 lps that lurk in my listening room, covering nearly all types of music.
Also hiding in the room is an SE valve amp that uses 2 EL34s a channel to give 8-10 W of almost identical sound to the Pass labs copy. In fact, the circuit diagrams for each design are almost identical.
( I also have lots of kit in the garage - Leak Sandwich speakers, Bang and Olufsens, more amps, a Garrard T/Table with the world's most extraordinary arm etc. )
In an ideal world, I'd love a Townshend Rock Reference for my LPs, but it's a bit dear, perhaps one day.