No more "High End" for me...Back to Reality Audio

After a 3 year roller coaster ride with so called "Audiophile High End" Tube Amps,/Tube Preamps, multi thousand dollar DAC's, Speakers of all shapes and sizes, and several DIY mods. I've settled on what will be my "forever system" and stop chasing a Dragon that I'll never catch. There's more important things in life to worry about. Plus HIgh End crap can be very fickle at times. It has taught me though what sounds good and how to get there and of course how much it will cost new or slightly used.

For the first time, I'm building a system around the Speakers. I'm an electronics Geek so that has ALWAYS come first. I've always done DIY Speakers as well form High School to College to married life (my Wife puts up with A LOT).

My Bose 901 "passion" will be with me forever. I will defend those Sealed Box odd shaped boxes till I do. Any old Geezer will be told off wherever they knock that Brand down. I did it last last week.

Anyways, the list :

  • Klipsch Cornwall IV's driven by a pair of resto modded McIntosh MC50's
  • Sony UBP-X1000ES (gotta get some more before they and the 1100ES become as rare as the overpriced Oppo crap) with my mods to the Analog Output boards
  • Orchard Audio Ultra Amplifers x6 (I'm getting near the end of hand buiding/soldering the 6 pcb's)
  • Stax SRM-007tA with Koss 95/X Electrostatics
  • Surround Speakers will be 4x Series I/II Speakers with two on Tulip Stands and two more hung from the ceiling (what the Wife can see sitting down but can hear is always a good thing)
  • Center Channel with be two Heresy's resting horizontally angled up towards the screen slightly
  • two double stacked 12" H-Frame Subwoofers on the back wall 
  • All the Electronics will be mounted in the wall giving lots of space for the Cornwall to do their "thang"

To those still chasing the Dragon. Enjoy !




Here's an anecdote:  

My mom has had the Bose speaker system for years.  I purchased and set up a low-end hifi audiophile system ($3,000) for her at her home, and she is amazed.  She loves it and is listening to music and enjoying it like never before.  She is hearing things in the recordings that she never heard before.  

It's a rather simple system:  20 year old $1,000 bookshelf speakers (Revel Performa M20), a 10-15 year old $1,000 solid state Musical Fidelity integrated amplifier, and a 15-20 year old $1,000 Musical Fidelity CD/DAC.  I connected everything using basic 14G OFC cables.  

If you had trouble getting great sound out of your system, it was probably due to mis-matching of components.  There's a world of wisdom in these forums that can help you build a great system!

 Its more about the experience, but this audiophile market pricing is going crazy now have to agree on this. Its putting allot of people off. some people are giving up and sticking to intergrated lower end systems.

Over forty years here.....getting close to getting off the Rollercoaster soon.   I agree, if I didn't revamp my system over the past year I don't think I could have afforded to in the near future.   Bought a pair of Forte IV which I love , that set off a chain of events resulting in pretty much complete upgrade except for tuner and disc player.

Waiting on one piece,  a Toolshed Amps 300b and I should be done for a long time.

Waiting on one piece, a Toolshed Amps 300b and I should be done for a long time

are we taking bets here 

one last toke......

Yeah, I enjoyed the high end roller-coaster more than I should admit, and I still read the monthly audio rags cover-to-cover., But what can I say? I just enjoy my system as it's currently laid out. Whenever something breaks I replace it. But essentially I am now out of the game.

Dr Bond and if you used OCC single crystal wire it would sound even more amazing, nothing OFC out there at any price will sound as good as OCC it's been now proven for over 50 years how Superior OCC single crystal is to ofc.

I’m running loaner KEF R3’s and they are Dull as F until I connected a pair of ICE Power 1000W@4ohm Amplifiers with a miniDSP EQ that I gently boosted the Treble from 8k on up and another gentle boost from 100Hz on down. Passband I did not touch. Sounds incredible but they are still Bookshelf Speakers. Bass response to below 40Hz and the Treble/Upper midrange isn’t killing my ears when I turn up the volume.

I carefully changed the el cheapo rc4580 Op-Amps with dual OPA627’s on each channel of the Sony Universal Player UBP-X1000ES . Replaced the blue "Chicklet" Capacitors with some SoniCaps that were laying in the same bin as the OPA627’s (TI Samples that were still sealed up). The resistors were changed out from throughole 5% (assumed) resistors with .1% or less Susumu Surface Mount Resistors. $150.00 does not turn it into a $5k DAC, but it sounds a bit darker than the PS Audio DirectStream DAC Sr. when I compared the two. Of course the PSA DSSr. DAC is more "Vinyl like" and very smooth sounding but the Bass extension in my mods beat the PSA DAC. I wasn’t expecting that. The Sony’s Analog stage was very "Wimpy sounding" whether SACD/DSD or PCM was played back though it. I can build my "Forever System" around this sound.

My first "Audiophile Equipment" was the Adcom GFA-345 Preamp with a GFA-545II back in 1993. I drove my friends Boston Acoustics A70’s with them for about a year with a Homebrew Sub that I copied (poorly mind you) the M & K Sub with the front facing and up firing dual Woofers.

When I got the Home Theater bug. in 1999/2000/2001, I traded the Preamp/Amp for a used Adcom GFA 555II. I had a Denon AVR that I also traded for a newer one with more features. I’ve been using AVR’s as my Preamp for the last 20 years !

The 555II gain board caught fire while I was servicing it after (one channel was dead - needed recap) 18 years of trouble free service.

The BAT VK50-SE Preamp stopped working after a Power Surge (the unit was turned off BTW) took it out. Once the Factory is done with it ($$$). I’m not sure if I’ll keep it or sell it. One thing is for sure, I’ve never burnt anyone on a sale and have "taken it on the chin" a few times.

The Preamp fiasco was the last straw for me. All my Consumer "not Audiophile" Equipment works flawlessly. Even had another powers urge last Saturday and this time I was home.


I really appreciate the comments/sympathy. I know I’ve been a bit harsh on some of my posts and sometimes in the rebuttals. But hey, it’s all good now. And I’m still a Schill for Orchard Audio’s Ultra Amplifiers. I like their sound and Dick Olsher did too (the little BOSC/StarKrimson ones from a few years ago).

But don’t worry, I’ll still be posting my crap on here form time to time.

I forgot to mention that I had the PS Audio Stellar Stack (SGCD Preamp/DAC, 3x M700’s, and a S300). Great system but Leo’s Amplifiers to my ears sounded better. Daren’s a brilliant Audio Engineer as is Leo and we need these young GUys along with Sean Casey of Zu and many other younger than me Engineers to keep striving and doings things way better than their very grey haired predecessors !



@mrskeptic Overpriced and overhyped. I’ve heard them played through their own DAC verses external. External DAC’s always won. My friend picked up an $18 Dollar BDP-80 (? - not sure). Anyways he drives his DAC with that $18 Dollar machine as his Transport.

That's awesome @pesky_wabbit ! Enjoy my friend. Tubes ain't for Boobs. I had my fun with them (Jolida 3502p with KT150's). A friend lent me a pair of McIntosh MC30's for a little while. Very nice Amplifiers but for what they are going for now. Not worth it for me. I wish I had my MC50's to compare them too (In repair at the moment).


Good luck with that!

40+ years on the audiophile train and I jumped off one year ago and haven't looked back! Downsized, sold off a lot of speakers and components after settling on a low-end audiophile system that I truly enjoy. I'm just crossing my fingers that the bug doesn't suddenly return.

There's nothing wrong with contentment. It leaves more time & $ for listening more and discovering more good music. 

I guess I have been very lucky. I've been quietly combing through this forum for the last few years and it's really helped me at purchase time. I committed to listening before I bought my biggest purchases and it's made a big difference. 

Biggest learnings were understanding the room acoustics and component matching.

Yep, with you. I’ve climbed the ladder as far as I can within any real reason. System is no slouch, but the peak has been reached!

I sold audio stuff for 30 yrs ending in 2001. When i retired, I brought home mostly Audio Research stuff because that was our lead sales component.

In the last 10 years, I’ve tried to do an experiment with the cheapest components i could find and still deliver more than appreciable SQ.

I have a VPI That listed for $3800 back then, AR amp and pre, Sonus Faber speakers and an AR CD 3 disc player that I traded in for a CD 8. I picked up an old English made Onix int. amp at 30 watts, Primare cd player , Proac Studio 100’s on Target stands and a Rega II tt and a record scrubber.

It is more than passible and quite good.

Sound is clear and immediate and w presence. Players are "in the room" w good recordings and timbres are spot on with good transients and decay.

Now granted, older components may not have given the bang for the buck as well as they do now but I tried to match my acquisitions to the years of the AR equipment w the exception of the AR CD 8 player.


I think with a good dac, the Primare would play as well as the CD 8.


I love my Forte IV's!  I was running Schiit Freya + with NOS tubes into First Watt F7 and denafrips Venus 2 fed by Node 2i.  Sound was really good then I tried the Esoteric N-05dx and sound stage grew two feet wide per side and contained more depth. The Esoteric is a Preamp/DAC/Streamer combo for $9K which is less than high end DAC and Streamer.  When I bypassed the preamp in the Esoteric the sound stage lost some width and definately some depth and resolution. I love playing with this stuff and consider the Esoteric a high end piece (not uber high end).  Best JH

All depends on what peak you're trying to climb, funny thing is one creates the peaks in one's own mind.

Yeah. I just can’t believe how good my system sounds with such cheap "not Audiophile" stuff. I’m listening to MoFo’s SACD of Tapestry at the moment just enjoying the music and not giving a Rat’s Ass how it’s getting to the KEF R3’s.

Did I just let the proverbial Cat out of the Bag ?

Imaging, Soundstage, Depth, Phantom Center. It’s all there ! Can’t wait for the big boxes at the end of the month. Go big or go home. I always say...LOL !

Cheers Everyone !

It’s about the music. Like what you like if it cost $2k or $200k this hobby or obsession whatever you chose, is about you and the music.

Now go enjoy it.

I spent way too much time and money during the shutdowns having lots of fun buying and selling and researching. 


I now have a very satisfying sounding system. 


Property much better than I would have imagined. 


Now it's back to traveling and enjoying the world. 


Will check out interesting comments but done upgrading. 

RIP Covid 🙏 

Glad you have found out exactly who you are and what you want.  I take exception to one thing though:

overpriced Oppo crap

It may be overpriced today, but the reason for audiophiles to love the Oppo was the analog sections.  Even in their less expensive units the sound quality coming out of the 7.1 outputs was superior to most AVR's and processors.  My Oppo kept me from having to purchase $10K surround processors for several years.  I've only now replaced it with an HDMI only UHD player.  Whatever your other opinions are, Oppo BD players were pretty awesome for the price.  They were never crap.

Their headphone amps/DACs however did not sound nearly as good to my ears.

What is the difference between "high end audio" and "reality audio"? Is it price? If so, what price level do you draw the line?

I look for equipment that sounds good, is well made, durable, and not fickle. My Quicksilver and Pass gear pass those tests. Not sure if they're high end, but they're not fickle. 

Even had another powers urge last Saturday and this time I was home.

A power surge should never knock out anything more than a fuse. If the equipment was off at the time, its more likely it was a lightning strike on the AC line, which can take out anything. If this were the case you should be informed of that by whomever did the repairs as this is usually easy to show that something other than a surge did the damage- at which point its covered by homeowner's or renter's insurance.


FWIW, high end audio isn't about price! Its about intention. This is a poorly understood fact and so a lot of people have spent way more getting 'good sound' than was really needed. 

Knowing how to get imaging and depth out of audio equipment without harshness and brightness is useful knowledge for any audiophile!


Well, musicality of sense of hearing is kind a gift. Long time ago my mom and her colleague decided to hire one of the best violin teacher in our area for us, their sons . The teacher performed several special musical hearing tests for us. As I remember the tests were pretty long and kind a strange for our understanding. Based on results my friend was rejected. He’s mom was so desperate, she couldn’t understand the reason but teacher was very strong and steady on he’s decision, keep saying that it’s will be just waist of time for the guy. After that he’s mom hire another teacher for different instrument for my friend, totally unsuccessful, dropped with in the 6 months.. nothing wrong with the guy, we’re still friends he is successful business owner and even more successful wrestling coach, but with zero interest in music or SQ.


Hope you allow me to chime in. Wishing you best of luck. It happens to more audio enthusiasts than you imagine. This happened with me who decided to go the route of downsizing. Four years ago I completed downsizing after 38 years of audio binging and I have been successful in keeping the upgrading crave away. It was hard for me but life has been good paying less attention to reaching the audio almighty. Now I am happy with a very modest system and am I enjoying life more than ever listening to the music and only the music. I know, I know, I know, "say it isn't so".  But it happened.     

In the distant past I never questioned whether High End equals High Fidelity. And then it has happened to me (in 2002) that I heard a guitar recording (made with my guitar) that my musician friend made (without processing or editing, straight recording, only level was adjusted). I have listened to him play the guitar between my speakers and the recording to compare one right after the other. 

I think very few have the chance for such hard core comparison for fidelity, with an instrument I intimately know, and my musician friend, whose playing I have enjoyed for uncounted hours in my lifetime. Plus, unadultered recording that allows looking into fidelity.

Through my system at that time I had no trouble identifying the exact guitar on the recording - after two notes I knew on which guitar he picked for the recording. (He has about a dozen guitars, all with different tones.) My system gave about 90% of the detail level of the actual guitar being played. The tonality was right, the perspective was right, the image projected was same size as the real guitar. The recording proved to be high fidelity, giving me 90% of the original sound. Now, this was through a heavily modded Dynaco stereo 70 - Fostex Voigt pipes - heavily hot-rodded purist all-silver PAS3 preamp - heavily modded Micromega Stage 3 CD player system - al DIY cabling including PCs (all DIY, yours truly).

The "High End" comparison was BAT and Wilson speakers, and I forgot which very high end CD player & transport & MIT cabling - it was SOTA at that time, and the league of the most expensive High End one could put together in that year. What I heard was very striking, and also a tremendous blow to the head forcing a MAJOR reality check and reorientation of my goals. Yes, there was a jump in detail level, but it did not sound anymore like listening to my guitar from the listeners position. It sounded as if I stuck my head within one foot of the guitar (yes, I have done such experimentation with real guitars). The tonal balance was totally askew, and I did not recognize my guitar anymore. If I was asked to tell which of his guitars he played the recording, I could not have guessed it because it sounded like none of his guitars. And the closest pick would have been a guitar that had a distinctly different tone.

So, while it was evident to all that the HE system in question provided a much higher resolution / detail level, it was also obvious that it completely failed at delivering both the tonality and the perspective / spatial balance, and in general, the EXPERIENCE of the recorded actual guitar.

This experience taught me that High End does not necessarily equals High Fidelity.

Since then, I've been investigating what is the difference between "High End" approach and "High Fidelity" which we could call "Reality" or "Real World Audio" (hence my moniker.... LOL.)

The key components necessary to provide High Fidelity AND high detail level: no feedback, efficient loudspeakers, as short signal path as possible. The more we deviate from this path, the easier it gets to get ultra-detail&freq range &SPL but at the price of the tonal balance. 

To me, tonal balance is essential, and in my experience is the singular parameter that makes or breaks High End to behave as a show host or the translator of reality.


I can relate to what the poster is saying.  Over the last 55 years, I've upgraded my system about 3 times.  Currently I've been on a splurge to create my "final" system. I recently purchased a McIntosh 352 hybrid integrated amp ($5,000 after trading in my McIntosh MA6900 integrated), Bryston BCD-3 ($4,100), Soekris R2R DAC ($1,200), Nordost Tyr speaker cables (purchased used at Audiogon for $4,400 for a 4 meter run),   Synergistic digital cable and interconnects feeding into a Focal 1027 Electra purchased in 2007 at a discount for $5,000, Shunyata power conditioner bought from Audiogon for under $1,000.   Reatively speaking, not an outrageously priced system. My Focals sound great but now this final addiction has me looking at the Focal Sopra 2's at $22k!    I seriously wonder (i) whether I should quit right now with which,  to my ears, is a wonderful sounding system, and (ii) joining a 12-step program for audioholics.

Personally, I'm out on the limb sawing it between me and the trunk to see if I can levitate....*G*

It beats the usual pursuits and nobody else seems to be trying to do so...reasonably assured that I won't croak in the attempt anyway. *L*

(If one asks ' are you up to?', I'm good with that, too.  Stealth is fun in it's way...) 😏

@realworldaudio - I really enjoyed your post. I love acoustic guitar and play as a hobby. Recently I found myself thinking my system sounds really good with acoustic instruments, to my ears anyway. I have a couple different amps and preamps so now I can really experiment based on your post! I have wondered about volume levels, i.e. if someone were playing acoustic between my speakers, would my system sound real if the speaker volume was the same as the guitar? Thanks again for the post!

@moofoo For me a big part of growing towards "natural sound" was going for higher and higher efficiency speakers. The common view of high efficiency speakers is that they give you "more SPL for your watts". However, there's something fundamental happening: a 112dB/Wm loudspeaker gives us the same dynamic resolution (dynamics shading / range) as the live event does. The lower we get with loudspeaker efficiency, the more compressed the reproduction is, and as a consequence it looses "life" compared to the real instrument. A loudspeaker with 102dB/Wm is although considered ultra-efficient but it already imposes 10dB of dynamic compression to what is encoded on the recording, hence, it will already sound a little less live (=more compressed) than the instrument it reflects. 10dB compression in itself is already significant, as the dynamics has been compressed 10 times in power. Sadly, that is on the verge of what is achievable today with a loudspeaker cabinet the size of a healthy refrigerator, and it's about the limit what a normal person can squeeze into a large room.

However, looking at an average loudspeaker today of reasonably high sensitivity of 89dB/Wm, we get a whopping 23dB of dynamic compression, that is, we get 0,5% of the actual dynamic range! Even worse, most of the current high end loudspeakers roll today around 83dB/Wm (most of the sensitivity ratings are vastly inflated - when you see dB/2.83V/m & low impedance dip, that's the warning that the dB/Wm is often 5-6dB below the dB/Vm spec.) With 83dB/Wm there is a 29dB dynamic compression, that is, the information is coming at an almost x1000 energy compression. This has two consequences:

1. it will not sound like the real instrument - will have less life, radiancy, freedom in the sound. Even though all the textural information is there, it seems to be "resolved", and images sharply, but the dynamic information is severely compressed. Changing volume does not alter this fact, just changes the SPL at which this compressed material rides.

2. When set to same peak SPL as the real instrument, it will sound way more dense, forceful, "tight", "heavy", and tiring as to achieve the same peak SPL, the median energy output has to be much higher. The sounds that would have been soft are now compressed into the loud band. This makes sounds in the middle of the dynamic range more pronounced, and thereby the listener does experience it a an enhancement of sound quality by hearing fainter sounds more prominent. Yet, the very soft part of the dynamic range is lost, and the very low detail level is gone. This is obvious for experienced listeners, and is perhaps the most important aspect that distances real music instrument sound from recorded / played back compressed material.






A power surge should never knock out anything more than a fuse.


Well, @atmasphere  what do you think lightning strikes cause??  😀

Last rainy season lightning took out two unprotected pieces of gear.  One was the cable modem (no protection on the incoming coax) and another was a laptop, which was left charging overnight and I forgot about it. Everything else which was fully protected survived. 



10,173 posts


Even had another powers urge last Saturday and this time I was home.

A power surge should never knock out anything more than a fuse. "

A power surge can knock out your whole house and even the entire block with every house, business, and utility infrastructure!



Thanks everyone for your words of Wisdom (not joking actually). I had a friend over this afternoon (the owner of the R3’s actually). He couldn’t believe how much Bass the Speakers were generating. I put a very basic EQ profile into the miniDSP as I described earlier. It accentuates the 40Hz "room boom", but only when called upon. You see I also have 50Hz & 60Hz room nulls that I boosted with a sharp Q filter so that the lower midrange wouldn’t be muddy as Hell.

He liked the sound they made in my room but I told him, previously, never had to EQ things. Both the Jolida 3502p with KT150’s & the Orchard Audio Ultra Amplifiers had enough juice and were tuned by their designers with flat responses but with enough power/current to extend the highs while maintaining those booming lows.

The ICE Amps on there own have a flat response but they are more suited as Subwoofer Amplifiers. I knew that when I bought them 2 years ago. A little EQ never hut no one....right ?

Oh, the power surge/brown out ? Power Company did it on 2 consecutive Saturdays. I wasn't home for the first one. But I was for the second one. Nothing to do with lightening or bad weather. This after all is Phoenix, AZ in the "Winter".

The fuse in the BAT should have blown ! When I bought it, I never checked what fuse was in there. Why would I if there weren't any problems. I don't use a power "conditioner" cause I do hear a slight bit of noise when I plug my Stereo Equipment whether the Panamax Box or the Monster Power Bar. .

@realworldaudio thank you for that detailed explanation. I sincerely appreciate your time to respond. Are you the same Real World Audio on Youtube?

I spent way too much time and money during the shutdowns having lots of fun buying and selling and researching. 

Sometimes (no just about all the time)....The fun for me is in the research....AND THEN the HUNT!......Trying to find that one piece "everyone is raving about"....Ordering it, waiting for the FedX/UPS truck sittying on the sidewalk, Unpacking, Hooking it up, hating it (can't understand what everyone was raving about), returning it......Can't tell you how many times that happened in the two Covid Years......The UPS store knows me by name!

 Last week I bought a little, four tube amplifier kit of a fellow on one of the audio classified sites for $100 (s5Electronics K-12G)...Built it in about 2 hours....Hooked it up and compared over a number of days to VTA ST120 Dynaco clone and First Watt F5v2......The amp is horrible. Buzzes like a swarm of bees and hums a tune I don't recognize(if you put your ear up to the speaker)....But it sounds FANTASTIC...You can't believe 8 watts into KEF LS50 Metas would even work, nevermind sound like it does.....Something is wrong with the whole High End HiFi picture.....

Recent "Law Of Accelerated Returns" thread presents opposite argument to this. Perhaps each of us reaches a certain peak, at this point we're either motivated or stimulated enough to seek the higher peaks or turn back since the climb already undertaken has been taxing enough.


Law of accelerated returns says cost/benefit ratio all in favor of benefit, law of diminishing returns say costs quite high compared to benefits, law of no returns says costs far outweigh benefits. The last being gist of this thread.


I've been in all three camps at various times in my audio journey. Spent most time in diminishing returns camp, well over twenty years here. Only recently have I entered accelerated returns camp, the sound quality of present setup has finally reached the peak where live non-sound reinforced music, best sound system ever heard and sound quality of my dreams live. The difference in height between that peak of diminishing returns and accelerated returns is significant.

But it sounds FANTASTIC...You can't believe 8 watts into KEF LS50 Metas would even work, nevermind sound like it does.....Something is wrong with the whole High End HiFi picture.....


Not really: there is a reason Nelson Pass named some of his product 'First Watt'. Most of the time that's all the power most people are using- the extra power is for peaks (most of the time). If you have a good clean first watt, you can do a lot with that, and this has fueled a great deal in high end audio!

Again- high end audio is driven by intention, not price.

(If you worked with that little amp to solve its noise problems, I suspect it could be sorted out.)

what do you think lightning strikes cause?? 

In my world lightning strikes are different from power surges, which are caused by the power company. One way a power surge can occur is if there is an interruption of power, the magnetic field in the power transformers upstream from your house collapses. When this happens, the transformers put out a very large voltage (this is the same principle used to drive spark plugs in a car). Because of the load on the transformers the surge might only be 50-60 volts.

A lightning strike by comparison will do well over 1000 volts! So I draw the distinction in that manner.

@rajugsw The exit from my roller coaster ride aligned with the decline of my quality of my hearing.  I became a much more tolerant of imperfection when I couldn't hear the difference anymore.  Now I have 8 cars, and less audio equiopment.  

Your posted resonated with me on many levels.

First, I wrote a long and passionate post about a week ago in defense of Bose 901s and Bose 901 owners.  I hope you had a chance to read it.  I also wrote a similar post recently in support of McIntosh.  I'm a bit of a speaker geek and received a patent for the Open Line Source speaker back in 1990.  I/we are currently involved in performance mods and had suprisingly good results with a pair of 901 S1s.  In addition to some serious "tweaks" the speakers, we also applied some "high end thinking" to the crossover.  If you'd like to compare notes at some point, I'll be happy to share our approach and results.

Cornwalls:  I have a strong emotional attachment to these speakers.  I become a Klipsch dealer in 1982. When unloading our first shipment off the truck, I was in the process of taking a Cornwall from the truck to the ground by myself when I felt a severe pain in my back.  My immediate impulse was to just let go and let them hit the asphalt.  Then, I remembered how much money I had in the speaker and gingerly took them safely to the ground.  In the coming days, I was in agony.  At the age of 31, it was my first realization of my mortality.  I had an injury that wasn't going heal on its own.  I have the Cornwalls to "thank" for this life lesson.  We continue to do Klipsch performance mods.  We know "stuff" about Klipsch speakers to make them sound better.  I know there are popular kits out there that do a good job.  But, I like the draw the analogy of spending $4k for a turbo upgrade on your car and driving around with the parking brake on.  We start by making sure the parking brake is disengaged.  If you want to compare notes on Klipsch performance, we can compared notes on this as well.

A few years ago, I removed my (really good sounding) modified "industrial look" separates and replaced them with amp/preamp brand that I had aspired to own to my entire life -- McIntosh.  I'm sure your M50s are a great choice to drive the Cornwalls.

I haven't messed with H-frame subs.  Sounds interesting.

Thanks for the post.  Got my wheels turning.