Yes. I had a company called 12Designs so that explains that, then changed to pete68 as 12designs is now gone. As I don't want to renew the 12designs.co.uk domain I've set up a whole new account.
Yello! I haven't heard any of that stuff for years. Their early albums were both very strange and ahead of their time from what I remember.
Arcam Alpha 9/9P amps and Alpha 9 CD all extensively modified by Fidelity Audio (level 3+), Acoustic Energy speakers, Fidelity Audio NNU X Reference Mains Filter, quality cables & interconnects, Sony AV.
I really like the stuff from the early '80s. It was the soundtrack to a lot of drug-fuelled student mayhem. 'Stella' is wonderful. The production is exceptionally good. Boris Blank is a perfectionist. It's a shame they didn't have more impact. When 'Oh Yeah' was used in the soundtrack of 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', they could have made it big. The next year they released 'One Second', their best album IMO. But they were just a bit too bonkers for the mainstream -- which is why I like them, I guess.
I'd heartily recommend 'One Second', especially the remastered version:
What classical music are you listening to?
With all the focus on the AMS35i and Harbeths that I'm currently trialling in the living room, the dining room has been somewhat neglected.
Since Thursday I've been trialling two small-format power amps for the dining/family room. The idea is to retain the volume control on the Sonos system, mainly for the sake of convenience. My family will tolerate most of my hi-fi eccentricities, but not losing the use of the Sonos volume control in a room where we spend so much time. So the system I'm aiming at is: modded Sonos ZP90 + small-format power amp + Neat Iotas. I might experiment with a sub further down the line; feisty though the Iotas are, they're never going to provide atmospheric low frequencies.
The two amps on trial are:
Musical Fidelity M1PWR (Class D, 60 watts, RRP £799, but seems to retail at £499)
Naim NAP100 (Class AB, 50 watts, RRP £650)
Visually, they're pretty similar:
What these pics don't show is that the MF has nice substantial stainless steel-effect feet, whereas the Naim sits on black rubber doorjams.
The first thing to be said about the NAP100 is that it's unmistakably a Naim amp: bouncy and detailed sound, rolled-off bass, rather lightweight. Think of a miniature version of the Supernait/Superuniti. I like its clarity and rhythm, but I also feel something's missing. The MF by contrast is a full-fat amp, with deep bass extension and also a touch more air at the top end. It also doesn't shout 'Class D'. It's nice and transparent and has no trouble at all driving the Iotas quite loud without any stress. At the same volume settings, the MF produces a lot more sound than the Naim, and even turning the Naim right up didn't generate anything near the scale of the MF.
The other comparison to make here is with the Sonos ZP120 which I've been using until now (Class D, 55 watts, RRP £399, I think, though it's been superceded by the Connect:amp). Both the Naim and the MF are far superior to the ZP120. The ZP120 sounds lean and flat. At moderate volumes it has trouble getting anything out of the Iotas; at higher volumes it's just a bit crude and rough.
So this looks like a pretty straightforward decision. If only everything in hi-fi were so simple.
One further piece of news: I've been using the new Naim V1-DAC (partner to the NAP100) as the source in my living room trials. As I write I'm listening to it through headphones (Grado SR325is). The headphone stage is a single-ended Class A amp, and it sounds utterly lovely. It's wonderfully precise and musical, and it makes the Grados, which are unforgiving of harsh sources, a really relaxing listen. So I do like Naim amps after all ...
Nice, purposeful discussion of the two amps' sound. While Following your AMS351 / Harbeth thread I was going to ask how these two amps stacked ip against each other. It sounds like the now cheaper MF is edging it for you. The V1-DAC meanwhile sounds a gem, especially with such an impressive headphone amp built-in. Single-ended transistor amps are few and far between and I hadn't realised the Naim employed one (is this something found in many other headphone amps?). I assume you are still looking for amp/ speaker alternatives to the AMS / Harbeth combination. Perhaps you should check out Tellurium Q's single ended iridium power amp. It would need a suitable pre-amp like Tellurium Q's own Listen, which also includes a single-ended headphone amp or perhaps something like the Townsend Allegri transformer-based pre. And suitably sensitive speakers: Tannoy might be a good match.
The MF amp is now in place: nice and unobtrusive.
It's still running in, so not giving its best yet. The Sonos ZP90 is to be replaced by a Wyred4Sound modded Sonos Connect, which is on its way. I'm also considering a sub.
The Naim DAC V-1 is excellent. Whether it's worth £1250 is a personal choice, I guess. I was tempted because of the headphone stage, which was a real revelation to me. I'm not aware of a Class AB preamp that uses a single-ended Class A headphone stage; it's a great idea.
Thanks for your suggestion of the Tellurium amps. I'll have a look. At the moment I'm waiting for the new Devialet models to arrive in the UK. My local dealer will be able to do a direct comparison between the Devs and the MF AMS35i, which should be very tasty.
Exciting times in the 49 household!
i look forward to the Devialet / AMS comparison.
in the meantime I need to check out the M1PWR myself, especially at £499. My plan is similar to yours, though Sqeezebox rather than Sonos-based. To use the volume control on the SB Touch to control the M1 into my QUAD speakers, with the possibility of upgrading the source later through a Fidelity Audio upgrade and/ or purchase of a volume control-equipped DAC.
Another piece of the jigsaw arrived today -- a Wyred 4 Sound-modded Sonos Connect. This is going to replace the unmodded version in the dining room system. It sounds pretty good out of the box, though I won't commit myself to a verdict until I've given it a proper trial up against an unmodded box. That's going to have to wait until my MDAC at long last returns from its holiday in the Czech Republic.
The saga of the MDAC modifications is all documented on the PFM audio forum. (BTW PFM is an absolute hell-hole at the moment; lots of offensive name-calling and idiotic bickering. Makes this place look like a Swiss finishing school.) The original idea was to upgrade a small number of components, but the upgrade grew and grew: level 2 became level 3, and then, after JW ran out of components, two further versions emerged using new sets of resistors. The back story is that JW is using this upgrade process to work on a design for his own 'Lakewest' successor to the MDAC. Which is all well and good, but I want my MDAC back!
So today the long saga of the MDAC upgrade finally reached a happy conclusion, when it arrived back from the Czech Republic. It's now installed in my study system:
Sonos ZP90 (Fidelity Audio L2 mod with outboard PSU) > Audiolab MDAC (Lakewest "Toy" upgrade) > Cyrus X Power > Sonus Faber Venere 1.5s.
I also treated myself to some new cans, the Hifiman HE-500s.
Out of the box, the MDAC sounds great, especially through the Hifimans (Hifimen?). I'm going to run it in for a day before I report more fully.
After the seemingly interminable upgrade saga, my modded M-DAC has eventually come home and had a chance to bed down.
Obviously I can't compare it side-by-side with the unmodded version, but I've had a Furutech ADL Esprit DAC on loan and was able to compare that with the modded MDAC. I had both running in my study with my modded Sonos ZP90 playing ALAC files and the DACs feeding into a Cyrus X Power and Sonus Faber Venere 1.5s.
The MDAC has three very obvious sonic advantages over the Furutech. First, it has a remarkably analogue sound: I mean smooth and silky. It makes the Furutech sound a bit rough and edgy. Second, it simply resolves more detail. Third, the bass seems quite a bit more focused. The bass from the SFs is really very nice: hardly any bloom or overhang; rich and round but tight. The MDAC really makes full use of the speakers' capabilities.
The difference between the two DACs through headphones (Hifiman HE-500s) was also pretty striking, though the improvement in the bass was less noticeable. The modded MDAC has full Class A headphone amplification, and it's very lovely.
So my little study system is now complete. Or is it?
I have the option to get the MDAC's motherboard upgraded to the new MDAC2 spec at cost later in the year. The main difference will be dual mono DAC chips. Tempting, especially as we may be moving house and the study system could be promoted to a bigger room, where it will really be able to sing.
Why didn't you just send the ZP90 off to be modded instead of getting a whole new one?
No signature worth mentioning...
It was only then, in 2012, that I started getting serious about replacing the living room system, which is the main subject of this thread and will be very interesting (honest).
So you now maybe moving house, I thought something like this might happen, at least you have not bought the system before you moved.
Fair question. I got the mod done through Item Audio: they only offer it for new Connect units. Since I needed another Connect/ZP90 anyway, it wasn't an issue.
Is there anyone in the UK that offers the Wyred 4 Sound mod for existing ZP90s? I couldn't find anyone (perhaps I didn't look hard enough).
Interesting! How come?
Well, I'm off on holiday now, so no hi-fi action for a couple of weeks.
By the time I get back, my Devialet 170 should have arrived. Then I'll be on the speaker trail.
Over the last couple of weeks we've been thinking about moving house, but after a few viewings we don't think it's worth it. I'm a bit disappointed because I could see the opportunity to get a good-sized mancave for my hifi, which I don't have at the moment. We'll see ...
I've shamefully neglected this thread for a couple of months, during which I've been busy, but nothing is quite finished. This is a brief summary, with pics to follow:
The Devialet 170 arrived eventually after a protracted delay. Instead of using it in the living room, I've put it in my study, which is the same size as the living room but has better acoustics. These are helped by a pair of GIK 240 bass panels mounted on the wall behind a pair of ex-demo Sonus faber Cremona Auditor Ms. The source is a new Synology DS213J connected direct to the Dev by USB. The decor of the room needs some TLC.
My former study system is now in the living room: Sonos Connect (Wyred4Sound-mod) into Audiolab M-DAC (Lakewest L2 'Toy' mod) into Cyrus X Power into Sonus faber Venere 1.5s. The Veneres are now on stands and look rather elegant.
No change: Sonos Connect into Arcam Sonlink into Musical Fidelity M1 PWR into wall-mounted Neat Iotas.
The pair of Linn Uniks that were replaced by the Iotas have been installed, so there are now two pairs of wall-mounted Uniks fed by a Sonos ZP100. (It's an odd-shaped room.)
Somewhere down the M4
This is my project for the coming weekend. The old Yammy AV amp will be going on ebay. Never got on with surround sound, and in fact most of what goes on in this room is 2-channel audio. So a second-hand Sugden A21a arrived this week. I plan to run this with a Sonos ZP90 (Fidelity Audio mod), Musical Fidelity V90-DAC and some old Musical Technology Kestrel floorstanders. The aim is to pick up some second-hand floorstanders in the next year or so.
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