A Discussion About What Level Of Analog To Stop At

So this is a bit of a friendly discussion, a sharing of information, and perhaps a bit of a what if thread.

As we acknowledge, the rooms our stereo’s reside in are a significant factor in how our audio systems sound. Now this discussion takes place mostly in the arena of speakers, and perhaps amplification for those speakers. I don’t believe I have read threads where it comes up in context to our source components. But I am wondering if it should?

In terms of myself, I only run one system unless you count my headphone rig. Truth is I rarely listen to that and I wonder if it is worth the money I spent there. But I am a consolidator and climber when it comes to audio gear. I also have an understanding with my patient spouse that I keep the audio gear in one room. I suspect if I tried taking over another room with audio gear, she would bury me in a shallow grave in the back yard.

So I have run of the living room within reason. Now this is the best room for audio in the house, but it is by no means perfect. it is 16’W by 20’ L with 8’ ceilings that are textured with acoustic popcorn. The flooring is short pile carpet with heavy pad. There is a dining room off the left wall, so only a half wall on that side. The right wall has a picture window in it. 6’L and 5’T. The back wall has french doors with glass panes. There is a little notch in the back left corner about 3’L by 1.5’D, its where they put a small bathroom on the other side of the wall. Equipment rack is on the side wall under the window. The speakers on the short wall on each side of a fireplace. Listen chair is 4 feet off the french doors.

Stereo consists of:

Martin Logan CLX ART speakers w dual Velodyne HGS12 subwoofers

Classe Omega monoblock amplifiers

Trinov Amethyst pre-amp (the DSP functions are a prime consideration in buying)

Cen Grand DSDac 1.0 Deluxe DAC

BPT 2.5 Signature power conditioner

Now all the analog gear is where it gets messy, and my consolidation thoughts are kicking in

Turntable #1 SOTA Cosmos Eclipse/SME V/Transfiguration Audio Porteus

Turntable #2 Scheu Analog Das Laufwerk No2 with Schroder CB-1L and Ortofon Verismo. Second arm Dynavector DV505 that gets used with an Ortofon MC2000/Ortofon MC3000 II/Kiseki Blackheart

Phono stages are a BMC MCCI Signature ULN, a standard BMC MCI Signature, and Esoteric E-03. Have an Ortofon T2000 SUT to use with the MC2000.


As a consolidator I sometimes wonder if all of this is necessary. The money is spent and this is kind of my audio kitty funds. I tend to keep those monies separate and often save and then sell pieces being upgraded to afford that next step. The reality is that often I cannot have to expensive pieces side by side and decide which I like the best. Since I also shop Audiogon and USAM for used gear it’s not possible to listen to candidates. As a consolidation I look at what is out there. For instance, when I tally things up I could possibly afford a Walker Proscenium that happens to be on Ebay at the moment. I would be down to one table, one phono stage, and two cartridges. One thing that stops me is that gold on the Walker is damned ugly, secondly, I am not sure I got room for the pump assembly. My system is a bit large for this room as it sits.

As I am writing I wonder if this room can really support a higher tier of analog gear than I got. I think some would argue that this room is limited in ways to compromise even what I have. The sound is very nice, better than I hear at many shows, and in other audiophiles’ homes I have gone to. We have a local audio group, and I haven’t heard anything I like better. In the past I have used the MC3000 II cartridge as a casual listening tool, but with the CEN GRAND DAC the sound is so nice I really don’t need to do that anymore. Still need the Dynavector arm though if I want to play the MC2000. Now all of these cartridges sound very very nice, and I could live with any of them. Truth is I like the Transfiguration the least. Or I think so till I spend about a weekend listening to it.

One thought is to choose one table and sell it all off and maximize that one. The other is to keep the Verismo and probably the Kiseki. Buy the very best table and arm I can with all the funds gathered once I sell all that stuff. The question I cannot answer for myself is ...is this worth it given what my room allows this system to do? I have a small amount of room treatment with wood diffusers, ART series acoustic panels, and the DSP function of the preamp. But I cannot turn this into a full-on treated room because of the basic limitations of it.

I have probably made posts in the past in other threads putting ideas like this forward. But I don’t know if I ever made a comprehensive post with all these thoughts. laid out. If you feel its repetitive, I do understand. However, if you have thoughts or ideas, I would surely be interested in reading them. Take the conversation wherever makes sense, as this is meant to be a wide-ranging discussion. Thanks for any of your contributions!



no way I’m going to read all of that and try to digest it, but good luck with whatever you are trying to accomplish

moving on

I have Multiple TT's and a selection of TA's that will be a dream combination for many.

I am a owner of a selection of Cartridges LOMC, HOMC and MM, some are immediately usable some need a visit to a Third Party Service to be returned to a version of a former glory and a few are Specifically purchased to be not used as the purchased Cart'. These are donor models for a rebuild Cart'. 

It would not be much more than a £1000's to have all owned Cart's in a condition I would like to see them.

Like Yourself, I can get caught up in Cart's and have a keen interest in what can be offered as a result of using them. At present one of your Cart's in use is a Cart' I have keenness to experience, and another is one I have always been keen on, and once nearly bought into the model.

When it comes to experiencing Vinyl Replays, I have always been contented with One TA>Cart' immediately available, the option to have Two TA's and another Cart' has seemed an attractive option, but not enough of one for myself to put into practice as a permanent option.

As a personal undertaking, I do like to experience how the audio experience can be impacted on by changing electronic interfaces down stream of the Cart' and TA Signal Path.

To do this I have TA's that enable the Tag Wires to be exchanged, and PC Triple C has been the Tag Wire that has superseded all other tried out Tag Wires.

I have used Din>RCA Interconnects produced with both Silver and Copper Signal Wires and PC Triple C Wire has been to one that has superseded all other wires used as a signal wire for a Cable.

I have also experienced Cart' Pins to RCA continuous wired TA's using both Silver and Copper as the Signal Wire. Admittedly all TA's tried using this wiring method, have not been the same, I am expecting a experience to be had before the end of the year where that is to change.  

I have experienced the same TA's with different Copper Signal Wires with the same Cart' and TT, on the same Audio System and the TA' using the PC triple C wire for the Signal Path has proved to be extremely impressive and is the one I will aspire to.

I started working on Mechanical Interfaces a very long time ago, this is a continued experience and commenced working on electrical interfaces about six years ago. When PC Triple C was discovered and later D.U.C.C Wire, there was not much else to be done with the wire types, wire gauges and wire terminations/connectors, that is another area of learning about interfaces.

There has for myself, the need to be listening to music as the main area of participation in all this, and not in a analytical/critical way, just getting the opportunity to switch off for months at a time and experience Old and New Musical encounters is the Goal, forgetting the influence of the equipment and bespoke treatments for the equipment and ancillaries.

Additionally the use of a CD Source does not stimulate any ambitions/intentions for the Source in the same way the Vinyl Source does. This enables numerous hours of music to be replayed and experienced in a variety of moods. It is also a an attraction to have in use a CD Source that is as attractive to have in use as the Vinyl Source. In the past year the CD Source has travelled more than the Vinyl Source to be used for away from the home demonstrations, it really does create a very positive reception. 

Every so often for myself and as for many others, the urge comes to experience something new.

I have developed my own way of doing this, that is pretty much contained around the Phono Amplification.

I have a few options on Phonostages > SUT/Head Amp.

I can use a LOMC straight into a MM Stage, or with a selection of permutations across the available supporting ancillaries. A lot of alternate experiences can be had, and a stimulation can be produced to try out specific recordings with a particular permutation.

Over the past 18 Months I have encountered a New to myself Brand of SUT's and a SS - MM/MC Phonostage I am keen to experience in the home system. All roads lead to the idea, these devices might just be very worthy additions to already owned devices. The reason I stick tight to this as a method, is that these device types are not anything like being extremely fragile or sacrificial like a Cart'.

Using the method where supporting ancillaries are in use, the opportunity to experience alternative presentations is not so precarious, as is a exchanging of Cart's as the other option. 

A EE friend feels they have discovered a easily reversible tweak that can be incorporated into my DAC, that will most likely lift the performance to be a a little more impressive, I am keen to have this experience.

I am not a trader in equipment to keep my interest in audio equipment in control financially, even though I have bartered in the past to have a EE, carry out work for myself. I have very few sales under my belt and the last was probably a TT I have duplicates of approx' 4 years ago.

I am a hoarder and doesn't those that know me, know about it.

I have a audio/man cave room, it has been treated for absorption and diffusion, the work undertaken seemingly works a treat.         

I have ESL Speakers as my main Speakers, but also have a Floor Standing Cabinet Speaker and until recently a Stand Mount Speaker.

Rules are Rules, and the Stand Mounted Speakers had overstayed their welcome outside of the listening room and were gifted by my wife to a family member.

My away from home listening sessions have introduced me to a variety of Speakers both ESL and Cabinet, some of the homes visited have both design types at hand to be put to use. I do feel as a result of these experiences, I am homed in on the virtues of both design types when used in a particular environment.

It is no secret on this forum, that over the past Six Years I have been closely associated with a EE/Engineers work being carried out on their own design for a TA'. The parallel and interesting outcome is the EE/engineer has been improving on the Speakers used within their system and I am now convinced that a search for a New Speaker Type will be one that I get a real beneficial outcome from.

Another friend who is using the same TA as above as well as having produced their own design for a TA, has extensive experience with producing Speakers. I have been demo's a few designs of Speaker against the same ESL's I own in their own home. I am always impressed with what a carefully thought out Cabinet, Driver and Xover can produce in comparison to a ESL.

As a summary and in response to the OP's request to receive thoughts and ideas.

How the Audio Systems Source is created is a personal choice and what is a stimulation is not really a restriction if pursued, even if putting it in place is requiring a additional cost and real estate to have it readily available to be used.

Open minded about interfaces has been the most important factor in keeping certain devices of audio equipment kept and not exchanged, with the correct for the end user interfaces created, there does not seem to be a stimulus created to exchange old for new.

When interfaces are perceived as being of a condition that are to be kept and there is a certainty there is no want for these to be exchanged. The idea of having a device in use, that can be perceived as really capitalising on the presentation of the sound capable of being created, does become an unavoidable stimulus, hence in my most recent evaluation of where I am at, the Speaker becomes the audio device in use with a scrutiny being placed upon it.                    

Just my thoughts, keep your favorite turntable, tonearm, and phono. Swap out cartridges at your leisure. Both your turntables are very nice. It would be a difficult choice for me, but I think the SOTA is a keeper. 

Best of  luck with your decision!

Post removed 

None of tyhat is necessary. Rational people will buy a nice table radio and just listen. If they want a real experience, they will go to live music.  The rest of us are crazy.   Where to stop? Well, do you hear a defect you want to correct, or just have that "next box will be magically better" bug that supports the audiophile hobby?  If so, you never stop. 

I am way too poor, or cheap, so I only am targeting specific issues that get in the way of the music.  I am stuck with the room as it is a living room, not a listening room. I did just re-built my speakers changing from SEAS to SB tweeters and a very different crossover. Fixed the top in "air" and maybe a little of the vocal sibilance.  Looking as the big bucks ( for me) maybe a Denafritz or Cord DAC. My DSP box for my sub should get here this week.  Specific changes for specific problems.  Sure, as an audiofool at heart, I would love a Boulder or Roland amp, Dave DAC, top of the line Sonas Fabers...    Only if I won the lottery. 

I only know tables from " back in the day" but have highest regard for SOTA. Easy to set up. Just plain worked.   I do not know your DAC, but I have concluded a lot of the issues I hear are actually DAC related. Some I fixed in JRiver configuration, but others are intrinsic to how DACs work.  Might I suggest looking into a Chord? 

Am I correct in guessing you use the T2000 with the MC2000 into the MM inputs of the E03? Otherwise I wonder . I run my MC2000 into my MCCI with its internal gain set at +11db, then into my 3160 which adds linestage gain. I’m thinking it might be even better to set MCCI gain at +14db.

I have 3 systems (no television, except the band, in this house), all vintage (how I say USED or OLD). One system is strictly mono (single driver!) in my "library" the other system in that room is TT -stereo, DAC for Spotify- my "talent booking agent", and CD. My main system is in the "Living room" CD, Cassette (I have sound board pirate tapes, and other live) The SAE 2100L pre-amp lets me switch between 2 TT's, so one is dedicated stereo, one mono, independent gain (and I do run phono pre for my MC. Like I said, everything I have is old. I think about spending on new(er) but don't want to cut back on my media buying, (or shelf construction) which will only get worse if I take the Dokoder out of moth balls... and I am trying to retire. Having said all that, when my sound gets "stale" or I simply have a wild hair, I experiment with headphones for awhile, speaker placement, listening location, and wall treatments (fabric over foam so far) and I have noticed the bookshelf effect, or a different pressing?. A recent re-cap did wonders for a couple units in the main, too. I also try to be diligent with servicing. Sometimes I use a Test record, or a pink noise generator and mic, sometimes I throw a bean bag over my shoulder ;). I also have enough stuff to swap out components on a whim. A re-direct usually lasts a couple of months, although the last shuffle in the library has been fortunately and surprisingly brilliant. Sorry I have no contemporary suggestions on what you should buy next.

As to your actual question, I use Sound Lab 845PXs sans subwoofers in a room that is about 15 X 23 X 9.  So a bit larger than yours but not by much.  Like your room, my Sound Lab room gives way via a double size doorway into our large dining room on one long wall, and at the rear there is a large portal to the foyer.  On the other long wall is a floor to ceiling window framed by porous drapes, which are never fully drawn.  Again, this is much like what you describe.  In this environment, I do not sense that the SLs are too large for the room, possibly owing to the portals that vent the listening space to two other large spaces.  I do favor closing the double doors that lead into the dining room, when listening.  I've never seen CLXs in the flesh, but I imagine they are on the order of the same size as my 845s.

It's impossible (in my opinion) to advise you what to sell and what not to sell or what to buy, unless finances compel you to pare down your equipment list. Otherwise, it's all good stuff. Just keep evolving at your own pace. Evolving is the key.

@tvrgeek has made it quite clear, where there is real enjoyment and memories to be made in music, and that is alongside a Crowd at a live music performance or just a meeting with a Busker in a Public Place, either can have a profound effect and create a stimulus that encourages more encounters.

I first encountered the Sisters from the Band 'First Aid Kit' on a evening Tube Train Journey near Victoria in London. There Public Display of practicing vocal harmonies was a real treat to be party to.

A few years later following the indelible experience, I encountered the Sisters once more at Glastonbury Festival and learned who they were as a Band. Today I own all of their Albums released on Vinyl.

There are over the years quite a few Busker Groups encountered, and out of these encounters, I have ended up with their CD's on offer for 'in car entertainment' purposes. 

In my case anything that is not experiencing live performances, is a secondary interest in experiencing musical encounters. 

The use of Audio Equipment is for myself not of a great importance, its usage is merely a means to experience a Bands work, as a result of recordings of their music being made available as a commercial product.

The Merchandise supplied to be used, is produced via a host of processes, where non-Band material is embedded into the recorded medium.

Embedded material put in place, is sometimes as a result of collaboration or disagreement. The embedded info is mainly a creativity of an individual with no real affiliation to the Band, the process is strictly and fundamentally a design to be a marketing strategy and generate sales.



I would get one the very best turntable that I could afford. It is so important. Then maybe two arms with two cartridges. Maybe.  Probably one set would be enough. But that's me. Some really enjoy playing different tables with various arms and cartridges.

inna makes a point. The difference between playing music and playing with music.

When I sold my LPs, I made the decision I would rather spend my time playing music.  Both completely valid and isn't it wonderful we have the choice!


FWIW, I had a Thorens I modified with a Grace arm and cartridge into a Hafler preamp I built into the base. 

Dear @neonknight  : Are you using those Velodynes as a bass support only or you are crossing the ML ( say at 90hz. ) and from here comes the Velodyne bass running let in that the ML runs with out " distress " and lower system distortions?

The Omega can play any loudspeaker and has very good design those Classé Audio, I like it.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,



You have done a great job so far. There are other more important fish to fry besides a Walker Prothenium which IMHO is over the hill in terms of complexity and I am not in any way in favor of that tonearm. 

You and I have very similar tastes in HifI gear. Both our systems are based on ESLs and subwoofers. We both use Digital preamplifiers. My first suggestion is to get rid of the Velodyne subwoofers and get a pair of ML Balanced Force 212s. 

Next will be to trade the Trinnov in for a DEQX Pre 4 or 8. I almost bought the Amethyst until I got wind of the new DEQX units. They have far more flexibility than the Trinnov particularly in bass management. I will be getting mine in about a month. I was selected along with 119 other people to test the beta version of the software. We get a discount on the units. I think we are all getting Pre 8s which has a full 4 way crossover. I am not sure how ML set up the step up transformers of your speakers. The Sound Labs uses a bass and a treble transformer for each speaker. I am going to biamp the speakers using one amp to drive the treble transformer and the other to drive the bass. The crossover is at 5000 Hz. 

After this play around with cartridges and other sources. I use a Channel D Seta L Plus and use the computer to do the RIAA correction. I can raid my friend's record collections and make perfect replications in 24/192. You can use the vinyl recording software with any phono stage. I have started to stream with Qobuz and can buy files through them. It is a great way to keep up with new music. I still buy records. It is a habit I can not seem to shake. I also use a Sota Cosmos Eclipse Vacuum with a Schroder CB on it. The only other turntable I have my eye on is the Dohmann Helix 1. I would put a Schroder LT on it. I doubt this will ever happen as it is very hard to justify. I use three cartridges, the MC Diamond, the Atlas Lambda SL and the MSL Signature Platinum. At this moment I am not interested in other cartridges.

There is a new control unit for your Sota. Contact Donna and get in line.

I am getting a pair of Audiomica Allbit Consequence power cables for the SLs. skos brought a pair over telling me he heard them on another SL system and could not believe the difference. I thought he was joking! These cables have some type of filter. Darn if they did not increase low level detail beyond the realm of the psychological. For me to pony up thousands for power cables is a novel event.  Something is getting to the diaphragms that is polluting the speakers and I have my own power transformer on the street. I do not know if the same result would occur with your MLs but I would bet it will. You might message skos about them. 

I am going to use the MA 2s (Atma-Sphere) to drive the bass transformers as they are uniquely suited to that role. I will need a solid state amplifier with a very low output impedance to drive the treble transformers. Roger West suggested the Benchmark AHB2s but I was thinking of something more like the PAS XA 100.8s. Ralph would like to sell me his class D amps. This is going to be a tough decision. 


Yes I run the MC2000/T2000 into the MM input of the Esoteric E-03. This morning I decided to reinstall one of my Ortofon MC2000 cartridges. One has a factory tapered aluminum cantilever, and my other one met an unfortunate accident and had to get fitted with a boron cantilever. So by default this one becomes my casual play cartridge. So that is the one I put on the table this morning. Such a beautiful sounding cartridge! 

When working though the dialing in of the system I primarily used digital material. When I did listen to a record, I found myself using the Ortofon Verismo and BMC MCCI Signature ULN. Somewhere in that process I know I spent a weekend listening to the Kiseki Blackheart on the Dynavector arm into the Esoteric MC configuration. I enjoyed both of those cartridges immensely, and I kind of  thought perhaps the MC2000 wasn't really a good match for what the system has become. 

Today has slapped me right across the cheek, and said are you daft? I have the lesser MC2000 playing now with some William Ackerman vinyl, and the sound is so beguiling that you can just sit and let it wash over you. Such a beautiful cartridge, and to think it conceived in the early 1980's. Such beautiful music, I feel fortunate to be able to listen to such a special and unique offering. 

I know someone who bought an MC2000 and attempted to run it on a BMC. He reported that combination did not work out well. I can certainly give it an experiment one dreary weekend this winter and see what happens. 

As I mentioned, I enjoyed the Kiseki Blackheart. The sound is sweet and intimate, and yet still remarkably detailed. I can see what the allure of the Blackheart is, and it is certainly more aligned with a Koetsu kind of presentation, which is fundamentally different than the MC2000. 

What a wonderful hobby we have, and such a remarkable time where we can have craftsmen maintain and restore the gems of yesteryear and yet we have exquisite and rare talismans built by todays artisans. What a remarkable time we are in, as vinyl was supposed to have been dead and buried two decades ago. 

Just a thought but it seems counter productive to focus on top notch vinyl and stick a DSP unit in the middle of the chain. Of course, we have no idea how many A2D and D2A happened before the record was mastered, just like the old analog tape masters that went through dozens of TLO74 or NE 5558 generation op amps and we fuss about one stage.  Maybe t is the masking from less than 65 dB dynamic range covering up all the lower level garbage that comes from CDs?  Maybe just as tube noise and high low order distortions cover up the higher order that seem to be more objectionable. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not denigrating vinyl or tubes at all!  Just want to know why we perceive these differences and why one or the other makes our brain happy.  Why does a Benchmark sound flat and a Hegel so musical?  Lack of masking noise?  Does a tube preamp swamp a CD or class D amp so we don't hear the noise floor modulation?  We go to a live performance and the background is anything but black and the Macke PA speakers with eq like a mountain range sound just fine!

@tvrgeek ,

That is a statement only an inexperienced person can make. I do not mean that as a negative. People who experience a system with a processor like the Trinnov Amethyst in place are, to a person, blown away by the improvement in sound quality. Just subwoofer matching is enough to justify the unit. You can put these units in bypass and compare processed with unprocessed sound and no person could possibly prefer the unprocessed sound. Analog signals are fragile. Anything you do to them creates distortion. The same is not true of digital signals. You can not distort the meaning of a number. You can do anything you want to them without adding distortion. This opens up a world of capability not available to analog systems. If you are old enough to remember analog cell phones then you have experienced the comparison. Purely because of digital transmission modern cell phones are as good as they are today. The DAC only reads numbers. It totally ignores static and other distortions.  

The Benchmark is deadly accurate and the Hegel is not. This is purely a matter of preference. With a processor like the Trinnov you can make the Benchmark sound like the Hegel and take advantage of its superior signal to noise ratio. Hegel is made in China and I personally think at this point we need to avoid subsidizing that country. A processor like the Trinnov allows you to program your system to sound the way you want without adding additional artifacts while providing superior imaging and bass management. 

Humans are extremely change adverse and Audiophiles are definitely worse in this regard than other humans. Digital processors have been around for over 25 years and they still are not utilized at a level their value would suggest. Most of the high end audio companies lack the engineers capable of designing equipment of this nature. The farthest they go are DACs, a very basic item in the digital playbook. Some companies do streamers but not analog equipment. Of the hundreds of audio companies out there only a handful are capable of engineering processors like the Trinnov or DEQX. Anthem is the exception. They are the only company I can think of that does it all. 

The sound quality at many concerts is hideous. Much of the horror is do to the acoustics of the venue and not the equipment. The best sound quality is in smaller situations where the instruments are not sent through a PA. 

I think we are touching on an old conundrum: whether to take the Dionysian or Apollonian approach to pleasure? Which is to say, shall we visit as many flowers as possible and drink the nectar from many, or simply sit on the best of them all and enjoy that?

I was lucky in being guided to the cartridge I adore above all the others I have heard. I went off the rails when I thought it could no longer be rebuilt when John Wright retired. And now I find myself with six tonearms and cartridges, and most of the time I use the secondary cartridges as ways of delaying the stylus being worn out again on my favourite. This is unhealthy, and I am, in effect, denying myself the full pleasure of the sound I love, leading to the curious paradox of taking the Dionysian approach in order to delay gratification! I might be better off if I simply kept my best cartridge on my best tonearm and used it, maybe accepting that a dedicated mono cartridge on my second best tonearm could live alongside it. Then I could substitute a lesser cartridge when ever I have worn out the stylus, but replace the king whenever it comes back from its trip to the spa. I think this would be both rational, and maximise my listening pleasure.

No doubt, as a deleted post above suggested, some of us are in need of help!


Well, I have been listening to a lot of DACs and several amps. I find very large differences. Yes, the Benchmark amp is dead flat, super low distortion, but to me it sounds lifeless.  Just for fun, I grabbed a Fosi V3 ( also super low numbers) and at very low levels, not bad. Bring it up to moderate levels and it was terrible, well within 10W range on my desk. ( My 2W Rekkr does very nicely). So relegated to my garage system.   I find every class D amp either lifeless or something wrong I can't put my finger on, though they are getting much better. If return shipping was not so high, I would like to try a March. My JDS DAC sounds better  than my Topping or Schiit with traditional numbers a good 50% "better." as well as several much higher priced SMSL/Topping/Cambridge I have sent back and the internal DACs of some almost prestige level integrated amps.  I do want to play with a Qutest for a while. My specific area of concern is female vocal edginess. Not bass weight or some ethereal "air" I don't believe is in the recordings to start with. Maybe a Denafritz. Much worse traditional numbers. 

Simple SNR/IM/THD numbers are valid, but only part of the answer.  The missing component is how our brain processes the information. Also not determined by simple pure tone testing. Good data, but not the full story.  With a speaker producing 0.2% third harmonic, explain why our brain likes or dislikes differences in electronics of .000x.   It seems to, but we don't have an explanation. I propose masking is part of it.  If numbers were all of it, no one would fool with vinyl. We do because it sounds better in the preferences of some people. Clear differences even in a tone arm and we have no idea what measurement describes that. Personally, I found surface noise and ticks and pops to be more objectionable than even second generation digital so I switched. 

If you read my post more carefully, I am speculating on what DISTORTIONS possibly make our music more pleasurable and which make it less so.  Tubes are a prime example. Distortion from moving coils another. High noise floor and limited dynamic range from Vinyl? (OK, most CD's are super compressed too thank you loudness wars)  Something in most DSP I find objectionable. Testing through JRiver identified clipping due to filter overshoot to be one issue ( easily solved). Does pre-ringing mess up our perception of transients?  Don't know, but an easily measured kind of distortion. Lots of issues to explore. 

Again, if you have a better understanding of DACs and how digital filters work, you may not have the same " reads numbers" viewpoint. Reading numbers is only step one.  Even the cheapest dongles do some DSP. The A2D has just as many issues as do all the processing done in the mastering.  To avoid any DSP, well maybe an old Sheffield D-to-D lp.   The King James Version being one of my favorites. 

Where something is assembled is of course your choice. I prefer to select the product for it's merits.  I am tempted to get a Vidar and see how it compares to my own MOSFET.  So far few have equaled it.  It benches pretty well too, better than I can measure through a Focusrite. ( distortion added by A2D). I am not wealthy enough to buy "prestige" amps.  I am not convinced ( yes, I have borrowed some) are any better in any system I can afford. Drop me off a Levenson of Bryston if you wish :) 

We can agree, many PAs are terrible. Many venues are worse, but I find the musical experience to usually be better.  "Why?" is the question.  We did walk out of a MoodyBlues concert once as it was totally unlistenable. Why does a Strat into an over-biased Fender sound great live but a recording of it does not? Why can't we seem to record a single classical guitar or piano convincingly?   We don't know. 

Yea, the Anthem DSP is decent for HT.  Beats Audessy any day, though my old MXR310 is not exactly SOA amp wise. Have not had a MiniDSP with DIRAC to play with. ( digital in, digital out as their DACs are about an Apple dongle level). I do my eq on my main system by careful crossover design and let my brain sort it out without any processing artifacts. Our brain actually does a very good job of eq if it is not too far off.  ( component burn in I propose is 90% our brain getting used to it, 10% actual technical)

@tvrgeek It is all a balancing act, and its a cost versus reward analysis. I tune the room the best I can with acoustic panels and speaker and equipment stand location. Actually the room measures almost ruler flat from 200 Hz on up. Then I allows the DSP to make small corrections, essentially fine tuning the set up. The thing with a quality DSP is if you make modest changes it does not intrude on the music, its when you make giant steps that processing becomes noticeable. Since this is not a custom built audio room and is off my dining room, it has a dual purpose of entertaining guests from time to time. Not frequently though. Its primary function is my music room. So this is the best arrangement I have had, and the Trinov is one of the more formidable DSP systems on the market. It does work well. But it does get the analog purist in a bit of a tither since an analog signal is going AD to DA at some point. 

Dear @neonknight  : Sorry to insist again how is your ML/Velodyne set up.


Thank's in advance,


@rauliruegas A pair of Velodyne HGS12 subwoofers are controlled by the Trinov program. Crossover point is set at 58Hz and the crossover is a 4th order Linkwitz-Riley. I have other crossover types available to me, such as various Bessel or Butterworth. Martin Logan lists 56 Hz +/- 3DB as the bottom end of the speaker. There are separate EQ programs for each channel installed, so I can affect each subwoofers or main speaker. So, I can manually add a bit of extra boost in the small hole that is created by the half wall. I have yet to do so, as I really do not hear a need, but I imagine I will do that one evening to satisfy my curiosity.

With h the Trinnov and other high end digital preamplifiers, isn’t there a AD conversion as the very first step in any way you use the device? Not just “at some point”? Also, if 53 Hz is the bottom end for the CLX, wouldn’t you want to cross it over an octave or so higher, so as to make for a smooth transition? But maybe you’ve tried that before settling on 56Hz.

@lewm I don’t have the schematic to say at what stage the AD conversion occurs. Is it the first step, or does something else happen? So that is why I say at some point. We can say for sure that it occurs between before the output stage, and it me the exact point does not really become that large of a sticking point.

I can certainly experiment with different crossover points. I have just gotten things optimized for what I have now. What I do know is that anytime I make a change in configuration, and changing x over points will change dispersion patterns, this means I will have to run new calibrations, and that is an involved process. So its just not a matter of changing an input on a screen and saying this sounds better than that.


This is currently what I have set up. Top is before calibration, middle is after DSP correction.


Dear @neonknight  : Thank's. So you are using the subs as bass reinforcement wider bass frequency, nothing wrong with that.


The bass subs wider frequency in that frequency range is not the main purpose of true subs ( as yours. ) but a side benefit. The main purpose for the room/system is try to lower the IMD and THD distortions levels from the main speakers.

Yours crossover at 360 hz and that means that the frequency range from around 35hz to 400hz is running in that part of the pannel developing those high distortions especially the Intermodulation and if you crossover ( high pass ) the main speakers at 100hz and from there the subs you will lower those distortions that certainly affects the integrity of the audio signal reproduced by the ML, so you can win a lot at every frequency range doing that: your system quality level performance will improves over what you have rigth now.

Yes, as you explain it you have to run that " involved process " but you can try and can attest the rewards. There is no way not to achieve those rewards. Of course that maybe you like the change or maybe not but this is a different issue.


I just saying because putting at minimum any kind of distortions in any room/system always put us " nearer to the recording ".



@rauliruegas The thing to remember is the NATURE of the bass. Planar open baffle style bass is different in terms of attack, harmonics, and decay than conventional woofers. Even if they are in sealed boxes and servo controlled. The higher you bring the crossover the greater the risk of hearing the difference in the nature of the speakers and subwoofers.

Dear @neonknight  : Even that what you posted makes sense and is what we normally think things are that you really don't know till you test it.


@mijostyn , owns the top SoundLabs and runs with subs crossing at 100hz and using a high pass filter at more or less same frequency. I f he want it he can chime here about with first hand experiences that I have too but not in my system.




Sorry, but that is not true. ESLs will move their diaphragms in an attempt to make bass and if you take a very near field measurement they would seem to be very accurate... until you move away from the speaker. Because they are dipoles there are interference effects that cause amplitude issues and wors, the longer excursions of the diaphragm Doppler distort everything else the speaker is doing. Not only this but the longer excursions severely limit headroom because the diaphragm has a very limited space to operate in, about +- 3 mm. 

I cross at 100 hz because this takes all the long excursion frequencies away from the ESL increasing headroom and lowering distortion. My subwoofers are passive and use Corian layered with MDF for their enclosures. They are stiffer and heavier than any commercial 12" subwoofer. With digital bass management you can not identify the subwoofers and these are not as good as I had hoped. The next model is almost finished and will be a big improvement. I have been experimenting with subwoofers under ESLs since 1979.

Given your assessment I have to assume that either your Velodynes resonate unacceptably or there is something wrong with the Trinnov's programming. To crossover at 100 Hz you have to use a very steep slope, at least 48 dB/oct and it should be Linkwitz-Riley. I do not remember if the Trinnov can do this. All I can say was when I reviewed the Amethyst several years back I was disappointed in the flexibility of the bass management. Having said this, the only commercial subwoofers that are reasonably accurate are the Magico Q series subs. They are very expensive and HUGE. The best subwoofers otherwise are the Martin Logan Balanced Force series subs. They resonate less because the two drivers opposed each other canceling Newtonian forces. The Magicos do this also and there are two Balanced Force KEF subwoofers that are smaller than the MLs. I know you would be happier with the MLs under your ESLs. I will review the Amethyst's bass management and get back as to what I think would be the best way to set it up. If it can not due 48 dB/oct then you have to cross lower. You do not want the subwoofer getting into your midrange. At 24 dB/oct 80 Hz is pushing it. My old TacT 2.2X could do 80 dB/oct in 1 Hz increments from 20 to 320 Hz. And, you could change it on the fly. There is one simple test. Turn the main amp off and listen only to the subwoofer which are going to sound really bizarre. This is normal. You should not hear any voice coming through. If you do you either have to increase the slope, lower the crossover point or both.

@mijostyn The Amethyst can do 48 dB per octave. I have to read the manual to find that menu. 

Interesting point about diaphragm excursion and unintended effects. Very reasonable points. 


Next weekend I will experiment with higher crossover points. I will look at 80 and 100 Hz. I can create curves for both and select between them. 



Excellent. Remember, any change you make will require taking new room control measurements. You will need to do this for both crossover points then you store both of them in presets.(I think?) This is a PITA but it is the nature of the beast and will take up the better part of a Saturday morning. 

 Once you have it set up. Turn up the volume and see how loud you can go before clipping. Check to see if you can hear voice coming through. You should notice a big improvement. The subwoofers should be located between the ESLs. If the subs are still obvious than the issue is with the subwoofers. Make sure all the subs extra functions are bypassed. If you can't bypass the low pass filter in the subs turn them all the way up. By 1990 or so I had become so frustrated with commercial subwoofers I started making them myself and I am on the 4th version. The problem is that is is extremely hard to keep subwoofer enclosures from becoming musical instruments. Turn the volume up with a bass heavy piece and put you hand on a subwoofer enclosure. It will be vibrating more or less at different locations. It will also be shaking a little in reaction to the speaker cones movement. With the ideal enclosure you should feel absolutely nothing, no shaking and no resonance. It turns out this is a very tall order. Mass alone will not stop it although it helps. Using opposing drivers to cancel forces helps a lot but is not enough. The enclosure has to be so stiff that any resonance is at a frequency way above the subs passband so the driver can not excite it. This is a lot tougher than you would suspect. Magico does it by using a heavily braced Aluminum enclosure. Not very elegant, but it works. 

I also forgot to mention that the Trinnov is trying to make the bass (350 Hz down) reasonably flat. Is is driving the MLs harder at frequencies where the level is not sufficient making the excursion problem much worse. It is also robbing you of power and head room. If you want a real head turner get a separate measurement system. It will display the frequency response of the system before correction. Your bass will be all over the place +- 5 dB or more!

I have a fairly elaborate system in one room. I can play vinyl, CD’s, Stream music and have Hi-Rez on a dedicated hard drive via a Bryston BDP3, Bryston DAC. Krell, Rel, Revel, CJ, Rega, Blue Heaven cabling throughout. Sounds great to me.

However, In my living room I have Amphion one speakers connected by Kimber 8tc cables to a Naim Unity Atom. That’s it.

I have lately found myself mostly relaxing in my living room and really enjoying the simple set up. I am reminded of that saying about the simple things in life.


OK, the question is why? Is the sound more to your liking or is the environment in the living room more to your liking, more comfortable. 

I spend most of my listening hours in the shop on a mid fi secondary system streaming from the main system over the local network. Sounds OK but not stellar.I spend more hours in the shop then my listening chair for obvious reasons. 

Sorry, but that is not true. ESLs will move their diaphragms in an attempt to make bass and if you take a very near field measurement they would seem to be very accurate... until you move away from the speaker. Because they are dipoles there are interference effects that cause amplitude issues and wors, the longer excursions of the diaphragm Doppler distort everything else the speaker is doing. Not only this but the longer excursions severely limit headroom because the diaphragm has a very limited space to operate in, about +- 3 mm.

My Quad 2905 speakers claim to output down to 28Hz, but I think that will be rather quiet. It suits me well to take the second output of my pre-amp via a Y-connector to an active subwoofer which handles the really low frequencies (crossover set to take over at 50Hz). It's well away from my speakers, low frequency sounds being pretty much non-directional to the human ear) and blends in nicely. So well, that if I were to do it all over again, I'd go for the 2805 or modern equivalent.

Back to the original topic: I've lived for a few days with my two best cartridges alone. I'm still going to add back the mono cartridge when I figure out how to make it stop humming. Likely all six arms will end up in play again, though I hope to keep the best cartridge and the mono cartridge getting the lion's share of the work, with the others for occasional entertainment. I still prefer the sound of my Quad 24p with a source switch box, to the MF NuVista Vinyl that handles five tonearms at once. I guess I'm lucky I have only to please myself with all the fine details, Mrs Dogberry being happy with any or all of it.

In my last post in this thread, I missed a area of using audio equipment that generates a stimulus. 

That is the being able to directly experience the work carried out by a few known individuals. Where they have applied their skillset to produce a design for micro engineering that is beyond a Typical approach. 

In a usual market place the Cost is constraint, it is a pleasure to experience items where cost does not constrain. 

Even though such a discipline is not limited to Audio only, when encountered in my World of Audio, there are levels of performance wanted to be aspired to. 

The importance and in fact the audibility of Doppler distortions in loudspeakers is a hotly debated topic, not a certain problem. And definitely no big deal unless the music contains low bass notes mixed w treble and nothing in between. Moreover it’s the same issue or nonissue with electromagnetic speakers as with ESLs.

Dear @lewm  : Always will be an issue if the main speakers crossover 250-300hz or even a little lower and the speakers goes as the neonnigth around 30-35hz. It's a certain problem depending on that crossover frequency and yes depending of the quality of the drivers will be more lower/higher audibility, but the problem is there. Like it or not.


" low bass notes mixed w treble and nothing in between " this makes no sense to me: do you?  because harmonics are there.





@lewm ,

It is not a theory and there is nothing to debate. It is much less of a problem for two and three way speaker systems because the bass driver's range is limited. It is a huge problem for our ESLs because they are full range. It is extremely noticeable with bass below 40 hz which few recordings have, but it still modulates the sound up to about 80 Hz. You hear it as a warble almost as if the speaker is shaking at high volumes. I think some do not notice it until it is gone. It bothered me right away as I tend to listen to bass heavy material at higher volumes. This resulted in my getting RH Labs subwoofers, a Dahlquist LP 1 crossover, and a pair of used Kenwood L07 M amplifiers. In typical audiophile fashion went things are getting too hot you turn up the temperature. This was back in 1979 and I am still trying to get it right although I think I am very close, 95% of the way there. 


We had a lot of fun with the HQD system back in the day. Even though the Quads were crossed to subwoofers we blew them left and right giving demonstrations. I can still see Peter McGrath running back in the store room to come running back with a Quad on his shoulder, teeter tottering on a ladder replacing the upper unit. That people actually bought these things is beyond me. The Decca ribbon tweeter was even less reliable. I have no experience with modern quads because they are all point source speakers and I am a line source kind of guy. You might message skos and see what he thinks of the subwoofers and SLs. He has heard the system twice and is very opinionated. 

I never said it was a “theory”. But there is plenty of debate about its significance and audibility. The only reason it’s of particular importance for ESLs is because they tend to be full range or nearly full range sources. The best reason to use a subwoofer with an ESL is far and away relieving the main amplifier and the main speaker of reproducing extreme low bass frequencies, not because of Doppler distortion, in my opinion. Also, and with respect, you do tend to choose from a list of causes to explain a list of objectionable effects without much experimental proof of a relationship between the two. If you heard what you heard and it was fixed by adding a subwoof, that’s not proof you heard Doppler distortion.

Dear @mijostyn  : I refer to you because lew don't took in count my post to him, aniway here I come with you:


""" It is much less of a problem for two and three way speaker systems because the bass driver's range is limited. """


Not exactly " much less "  because in a 2-way speaker normally its woofer goes from 50hz-60hz up to around 2.5khz and this kind of speakers ( its woofer ) goes down to 40hz even if you don't noted so there exist a really high IMD kind of distortions that subs relief the bass down there and midrange and HF shines as never before. Same with 3-way speakers.


We can't just stop the developed IMD that as you pointed out modulates/color the whole speaker reproduction. Maybe we don't noted because we already are accustommed to that color/modulattion but when we add a pair of self powered true subs and through high pass filters only a deaf audiophile can't hear that new and lowered distortions " color " with ( between others ) additional advantage  that any amplifier will increment its headroom due that now is liberated of that main bass range.. If we like it the new " color " is not the main issue.



@lewm ,

Ok Lew, All I can tell you is what you get rid of when using subwoofers under ESLs does not sound like typical IM or harmonic distortion and it is most definitely modulated by the bass. If this is not Doppler distortion then perhaps you can come up with another name for it.

Seems we are going off-topic again! I used to subscribe to Gramophone, both for advice about recordings to buy, and for equipment reviews. In those days (1980's > early 1990's) it was a given that a serious UK listener owned a pair of Quad ESL63 speakers, but there was a good deal of debate about whether they might be teamed with a subwoofer. My answer to that appears above. Briefly, yes, and easy to do.

Next question?

Holy crap, the question is a book, and so is at least one response. I have not had coffee yet, no way can I even start to read all that....good luck.

I have some data to talk about, but I need a real keyboard and I’m on vacation in Shelburne, VT. Like Wizzzard is fond of saying, I’ll get back to you. It’s an interesting question, Doppler Distortion. Can we agree that DD is a subset of IMD?

@mijostyn So this afternoon after work I hooked up the mic and ran calibrations with crossover points of 80 and 100 Hz. I have 58 Hz saved in slots 1-5, 80 Hz at 6-10, and 100 Hz at 11-15. 


Over the weekend I can listen and compare both configurations and see how things shake out. 


Excellent, 48dB/Oct right? Linkwitz-Riley preferred. Pick a piece with an acoustic bass solo. Play at the right volume, as if the bass were right in front of you and compare. Then play a rock piece that does not have any synthesizer in it like, Little Feat The Last Record Album or a Steely Dan record like Gaucho and turn it up to 95 dB and compare. See how high you can go before distortion becomes obvious. Now try the same thing with a recording that has very low synthesizer or organ bass in it like Pucifier's V is for Vagina (sorry, I did not tittle the record) or Radiohead's In Rainbows. The acoustic bass is for accuracy and the rock pieces for power vs distortion. We wait anxiously for the results.


Lew, It is sort of like IMD but it is not. The change in pitch is dependent on the speed differential and direction of diaphragm motion which is frequency dependent. This motion is significant only at very low frequencies. It does not add side bands but causes a change in frequency (pitch) of the higher frequency. 

I listened to 80 Hz as the crossover point last night. Undoubtedly a better choice. Improved focus, soundstage expanded, most noticeably in terms of front to back depth. Immediacy and definition of singers and instruments has increased. No reduction in bass quality. 

I will listen to 100 Hz tonight and see what occurs. But if 80 Hz is going to be a final stopping point I certainly can accept that. The music is beautiful. 

You say potayto. I say potahto. What is your broad definition of IMD, besides one frequency modulating the accurate reproduction of other frequencies? So I say DD is a kind of or subset of IMD. All DD is IMD, but not all IMD is due to DD. This is why before one can claim to hear DD, one must eliminate other causes of IMD. Impossible to do while listening to music.

Dear @dogberry  : I think we are not out of topic.

The OP thread answers are many dependent of each one of us.

My answer is that that question speaks only " analog "  that's only part of the whole room/system reproduction and " analog " depends of the  overall room/system.

From here my take is that we can stop when our room/system already were truly " fine tunned " at each single link in the overall audio chaIN. wITH OUT THAT " FINE TUNNING " PROCESS there is no satisfactory and precise answer.

That's why I analized the @neonknight  whole set up and my first post here was exactly the integration of those Velodyne subs through a HP filter to the main speakers and neon just did not took in count that post and I insisted with a second post and explanation and he said that the NATURe of the bass in planar vs woofer are different ( I think my self so whaT? ) but Martin Logan used woofers in several of its models and the original CLS model always was demoed by distributors integrated with subs Other planars too as Apoguee and not planar but way different to woofer as horns speakers. In that post I told neon that he need to try it before had his kind of answer and good that finally he did it not for my advise but because I posted that mijos has first hand experiences that I have too but not in my system.

Neon needs to make more test, needs to fine tunning those ML and subs.

@neonknight  , your subs quality signal level can be improved making these ( I own two HGS too. ): first that the input signal goes through its XLR input connectors due that the RCA connectors signal path in the circuit is way longer passing for stages that " affects " the input signal integrity. The other improve comes chaNGING THE WOOFER INTERNAL WIRING THAT GOES FROM THE WOOFER  output terminals to the input of the internal amplifier, I use there KCAG 4 by KK ( silver ), I did it other mods but more complicated at the input/crossover circuit cards. Neon, something that helps too is a top of each sub 30kg. of dead weigth ( please mijos don't come to tell again and again that Velodynwe " this or that " in negative way. Nothing is perfect. ).


I have at least other system change you need to do it from my point of view but I have no time rigth now to do it. 

Btw, IMD and THD always exist in any speaker at different levels.