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!



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.