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 dunno. I think of vinyl listening as eliminating unnecessary gear and leaving it to a very solid preamp, tube preferably, and phono preamp.

I’m not into anything digital into the chain, whatsoever, simply because you can do it. Vinyl was created when? But digital was created much later.

Different strokes for different folks, and each of us has different preferences. I have Electrostats in a smaller than average room that’s completely treated. I just wouldn’t consider having digital anything in the chain. But I respect that you obviously believe much differently. Best of luck!

@coltrane1 A vinyl Source, a acoustically treated room and nearfield experiences with a ESL Speaker in use.

This is Bliss, it is the one that got me totally immersed into Jazz, especially Live Recordings.

Dear @neonknight : " Level Of Analog To Stop At "


It’s weird that you ask " nalog " when your system is running digital. The fact that you or any one owns an analog rig and using digital process does not means you are really in analog because you are not.


Analog is analog if we are 100% using analog technology. I remember the indignation of audiophiles whe discovered that MoFy LPs was digital ! !


Anyway, is each one of us privilege to say " analog " even if we are not. It’s useless t you that I can tell you other changes down there when between other things you are using current phono with a voltage device as the cartridge, never mind.


At least my subs integration advise working for you.



Okay, I'll bite.  I have a high system (room $150K, equipment $70K?, speakers $70K?)  I purchased a VPI VI, super platter on a Townshend seismic sink, VPI power supply, 1989 highly modified SME IV arm, Dynavector 20XL2 L, Zesto Allesso SUT, Grover Huffman phono ICs, power cables and custom phono pre-amp.  Why would I not use a higher end cartridge?  I used up a Benz Ruby 3 ($3K 2006).  Because, the cartridge permits me to enjoy nearly all of my 28,500 LPs.  I've heard many high end $7K to $17K cartridges.  They can extract the maximum signal from my best pressed/mastered LPs.  Often, they fail to provide satisfaction from 50s and 60s LPs, mono LPs and just not well mastered LPs.  My friends have a similar experience.  We also prefer flat frequency response cartridges with no rising high end.  Three best friends use the same cartridge and one regrets buying the Dynavector XX2 and wants to go back to the 20XL2 H, another wants the Karat 17DX as he loves the high resolution as opposed to the more balanced body/resolution cartridge.  

To each is own but I don't intend to upgrade unless I get a bigger pile of cash, then it's possibly a more exotic turntable such as a Kronos or other.  


My other turntable is a VPI 19-4 (originally 19-1),  Funny thing is the sprung base plate on springs around a rubber footer.  Works great in isolation.  

Dear @fleschler  : But for what you post you stay totally in the analog domain.


"" We also prefer flat frequency response cartridges with no rising high end.  ""


Yes, historycal almost all of us prefer flat frequenncy. In the old times all top cartridges ( and not top ones too. ) came with the frequency response chart 20hz-20khz and the channel separation in that chart, today no single cartridge comes with.

Ortofon comes with no flat frequency on purpose from several years ago when in its deep research with its golden ears panel made it " thousands of blind test with D2D LP recordings knows by the panel gentlemans whre in those test they listened the cartridge with flat frequency and that same cartridges ( differents ones. ) with up frequency from 19khz-20khz by around 2db and at the end all ´panel gentlemans prefered the those upper 2db in the cartridges. So it's not that Ortofon can't  offer its cartridges with flat FR.

That panel in many ways was and is rigth because those up 2db compensate for the fall down of the inverse RIAA eq. where HF " suffers " and we can listen that deep/fast fall and when we use ( phono stage ) the 3.18us RIAA pole we can attest it. I normally use that RIAA pole.