Senna’s 2-Channel Audio System

Rather than clutter up the System Photo’s thread with dialogue, I’ve decided to document my journey in this thread. I’m going to capture a bit of background, then focus primarily from my date of joining the PS Audio forum in April 2020.

Backstory: I grew up in the 70s and 80s with my dad in a band and begin playing drums in 1975 at the age of three. My dad got me into entry level “HiFi” while he worked part time in a “HiFi” audio shop. We built Halfer amps and started gaining interest in listening between the age of 5-8.

Over the years, I’ve continued to dabble in entry level “HiFi”, but always busy and with an eye on value, I’ve never moved beyond what I would consider entry level of $1500 or less, and always used.

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For the last 5+ years, my system primarily consisted of the following:

Music Hall CD25 CD player
Modwright SWL 9.0SE pre
Adcom GFA555 amp
NHT 2.9 and NHT 3.3 speakers
All entry cables (less than $100)

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I remodeled my basement and created a dedicated music room (Dimensions are 13’1” W x 22’4” x 7’11” H) in late 2019. With its finish, I made the first investment beyond what I considered entry level in late 2019 with the purchase of my Pass Labs XA60.5 mono blocks. I also wanted to help my soundstage, so I removed my old DIY full rack and inserted an IKEA bench to lower my components below ear level.

I noticed the better sound immediately, and wanted to play some of my SACDs, I quickly followed with the purchase of an Esoteric SA50 SACD. This was my setup in April of 2020.

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A really nice journey for sure…with more to the story
coming…I’m sure…

Thanks Senna
Happy trails!!

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Hello Senna. Its great having your own listening space. Can I ask what the room dimensions are and any acoustical treatments?

Enjoy your music!

Those are some of the best amps ever made. They have almost a cult-like following!

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Have you tried pulling those speakers out from the wall?

Excellent. I must observed that you didn’t just take a step up, you used a 24’ latter! Admirations from from a follow music lover. May happiness be your companion always.

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I like the color of the rack because it ties the carpet, polished stainless and black colors together, brilliant.

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Not knowing anything about the speakers, I read a Stereophile review. Very interesting design with real “out-of-the-box” engineering.

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image

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Oh snap! I just decided on tonight’s movie.
Regards Dan

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After years of listening to CDs, some audio friends pushed me to try streaming, so with a bit of reviewing, I purchased a refurbished Cambridge Audio CXN V2 in May as my “gateway” into streaming. While it fits my entry level mindset, it allows some flex to stream from my laptop (a handful of DSD64 files), plug in external drives via USB, can leverage its DAC or leverage an external
DAC. I quickly A/B’d the internal DAC vs a coax out to my Esoteric SACD player, which allowed me to leverage it as a DAC. The Esoteric won out.

Here’s the link to the Photo thread:

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Technically yes, however, I’ll explain the pros/cons in an upcoming post.

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Thanks for the reminder - I’ve added dimensions to my 3rd post (13’1” W x 22’4” L x 7’11” H). I will share latest room treatments in an upcoming post (no treatment at the time of that picture).

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Continuing to document my journey, I had never had a balanced system, but was curious about its sound, so in June of this year, I took some XLR cables I had for mics and ran them directly from the Esoteric player to the amps, and while it was a bit too analytical, there were some things I liked in resolution. This led me to “borrow” a BHK from a friend who was considering selling it. Once it was here, I was immediately enamored with the sound, as it had that natural tube sound, but kept all the resolution that was added, and for the first time I really started hearing more of that 3D type soundstage and image I enjoy. The BHK Pre has not left my system since.

Here’s a link to my post in the pics thread:

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You’re building a really nice system there! You’re probably starting to hear dimensionality, the soundstage, and imaging the hi-end has to offer! You know what would really bring your system to live? Get a PS Direct Stream DAC! That is the one component that will really make you system blossom!

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Thank you! A DS Sr is definitely on my shortlist; I’m saving my pennies as streaming / DAC are my next areas of focus (realistically early 2021).

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In July, I purchased a used P10, and moved my gear to the side, and resulted in the soundstage opened up top to bottom - when I moved from a full rack to the “1/2 rack” ikea base, it helped some, so I shouldn’t be surprised that getting it out of the way helps even more.

At the same time, I added some DIY sound treatment, using semi-rigid mineral wool that are 47”x15”x3.5”

https://www.thermafiber.com/products/commercial/ultrabatt-insulation/ 3

I’m using it as a semi-temporary solution for bass traps in all 4 corners and 1st-reflection points.

Link:

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Adding a bit of notes from my testing, as it was at this point I really began to notice the nuance in small changes to my system. While this is not a new experience - being able to adjust my system, and not just hear fabulous sound from dealer setup, was a pure joy.

Good or bad, I was able to begin pinpointing certain strength/weakness as well. For instance, @RonP when I pulled the speakers off the walls 4-5 ft, it added a great amount of depth and dimension of the soundstage! However, I lost most of my real deep bass (below 30Hz).

I didn’t worry too much as I just marked this spot and noted a 2nd spot to push back near the wall for when I played some organ tracks or similar ultra bass options.

However, during this period, I noticed I was gaining some listening fatigue when playing an hour or more; I also noticed a slight glare on many songs. Through some dialogue with the original designer of the speaker, he noted that what I was more than likely noticing was not only a drop below 30 hz, but also a drop in the lower mid bass all the way down, causing the speaker to sound slightly “bright.”

That was news to me, but to validate I measured and, sure enough, I lost anywhere from a 1-3 db from 160 Hz down to 26 Hz and then it took a nosedive below 26 Hz when I had it 51” off the wall - compared to when I couple it (2” or less) to the wall.

So I’m left with 2 different sounds - the awesome soundstage, but a slightly bright option when pulled off the wall; or a better neutral sound with proper bass, but decreased soundstage when coupled as the designer intended.

It was at this point in the summer, I was off to research some speakers to compare…

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