Visit to Mike Lavigne's house

I visited Mike Lavigne's house on Feb 17, 2024.

The main purpose is to compare the sound through top digital and vinyl sound.

Mike has Esoteric T1 turntable which sounds very nice with magnetic gravitaion and option of external clock to control servo motor.

I had listened to Goebel Marquis speaker driven by Esoteric Amps and T1 turntabl during Seoul Audio Show 2023 which was very musical.

On the other hand, Goebel Divin speaker driven by Ch Dac and amps sounded rather cold and dry.

I quit vinyl on 1988.

But during three audio shows that I attended recently ( Pacific Audiofest 2022, 2023, Seoul Audio show 2023), I found rooms playsing vinyl tend to give more natural and musical sounds.

Mike also has Wadax Dac and servers whose retail price is more than 300k$.

I had listened to Wadax Dac and server twice before.

First encounter is at dealer's show room (Ed Vitto).

After doing home audition of Ideon Absolute Dac, we did side by side comparison of Ideon and Wadax over there using Magico M2 speaker drivn by Constellation amps.

I got very favorable opinion on Ideon Absolute Dac after home auditon for one week, but Wadax is clearly in another league with natural but somewhat mystical tonality.

I had another chance to listen to Wadax during Pacific Audiofest 2022.

Goebel Divin speaker driven by Wadax Dac and CH amps sounded very musical and dynamic.

About five years ago, I had done comparison between MSB Select II and Kronus turntable at dealer's showroom.

YG Sonja speaker was driven by Viola amps.

The results showed that MSB Select II could match the musicality of vinyl playback.

As good as MSB Select II is, I got the impression that Wadax is another league above MSB Select II .

MIke also upgraded from MSB Select II to Wadax around 2 years ago.

We played vinyl Beethoven Symphony No 9 directed by Solti through Esoteric T1 first.

It sounds very musical and dynamic through his Evolution MM 7 speakers driven by Dartzell pre and main amps.

No limitation of dynamics and bass with pure tonality.

As well known among audiophile community around Seattle, Mike's system is top notch.

Then we searched same recording through Roon and played through Wadax.

Wadax could match vinyl in every respect. without suface noise.

We also played Misty sung by Ella Fitzerald thorugh vinyl and Wadex.

The result is more or less same.


It seems that vinyl gave slightly more depth but the difference is rather minor.

We also played Chopin piano concerto played by Marth Argerich thorugh vinyl and Wadex..

This time suface noise bothered me slighty but not enough to enjoy music.

We also played Liberty by Anette Askvik thorugh vinyl and Wadex.

To conclude, Wadax match themusicality of th vinyls played throudh Esoteric T1 without surface noise.

Liberty Wadax

On the other hand, it did not overwhelm the sound of vinyl.

Vinyl played throudh Esoteric T1 sounds almost equal to Wadax and sometimes with little bit more of soundstage depth.

Overall I enloyed 2 hours at Mike's dedicated listening room.

His system gave unlimited and natural bass and dynamics with pure tonality.

The only nitpick is the soundstage depth coud be more if speaker could breath in larger space.

I had got similar impression when I auditioned Magico M9 at Seoul Korea last November.

The dealer's showroom happened to be almost same size as Mikes( 20ft w 29ft d 11ft h)

But I would not down size speakers if I were Mike.

He will miss unlimited bass and dynamics.

The bass was very clean with no overhang.

Thanks Mike for his hospitality as friendly guest.




The only nice thing is I could enjoy misic with my humble system despite having gone through his phenomenal system😀



Thanks for the report and taking the time to upload videos.  That's quite a system that Mike has. Did Mike agree with your finding that digital and vinyl delivered pretty much the same sound quality?  

Mike's system is something to behold. I heard some magic there.

BTW "Magic" is the moment you hear music through a system and it sounds live.

Only lasts a second but damn that second is a forever memory.

Love to see him embark on a building project to make a room as good as his gear.

Thank you for sharing, Thomas. It sounds wonderful, even on a phone. Unless the coffee hasn’t kicked in, the difference between vinyl and CD is pretty stark on the Anette Askvik.



I do not think he has plan to build a larger dedicated room.


Altough his speakers seems to need more space, they still sound good enough in his medium large listeing room of 21 by 29 ft.



Thanks @shkong78 for your write-up. I've followed Mr Lavigne on WBF for awhile now and I believe he spent considerably $$$ on the design of his room, hiring engineers and having converting an old barn into his listening room. Hundreds of thousands of $$$ I'd imagine. Quick question since Mr Lavigne has 3 high priced turntables each with a different drive system why did he / you choose to use the Esoteric? Just curious.



Esoteric has lot of new functions so Mike is using it more than other turntable recently.


Also I asked him to play Esoteric since I had listened to it on Seoul Audio show 2023.



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Good read.

You can hear a great setup even on a cell phone.

ML's setup if one of the few you can just look at and expect great things.

Ella's version of Misty was a good choice. I take the 1960 LP soundtrack-"Let No Man Write My Epitaph" to demo rooms/shows.

The OP's setup has the disadvantage of room layout compared to ML's but I'm thinking it's equally satisfying.

shkong78- perhaps you're already familiar with another great vocal/simple arrangement from the golden age-Julie London's  1955 "Her Name is Julie"?



Thanks for kind word on my system.


I like several Julie London's song including "I left my heart in San Francisco" and "Something cool".



Thomas did you ask Mike what speakers he is thinking when He put those speakers for sale?

Thomas I listen to Mike system and yours , I cannot imagine listening in person . Good selection of music as well. 



I wish I could have been a fly on the wall listening to Ella singing to me through that amazing setup!

Thanks for sharing!



If you attend Pacific Audiofest to be held early Sept. then you can make an arrangement with him.

Mike invited lot of people who attended Pacific Audiofest last year.



Somehow I'm not getting a good sense of the sound via my computer and crappy headphones, but it's fun to watch speakers playing music.

Beautiful room and system.  Thanks for a peek at one of the world's best examples of "getting it right."


The following is from someone elses question.

Everyone hears differently and has different opinions on what makes a great sounding system

What are your most important attributes or qualities to get right in a sound system ?

What makes you prefer one component over another?

(please add or edit anything I missed)

Tonality - People who are sensitive to tonality generally can play musical instruments by ear; can tell when an instrument is out of tune and; can also easily pick up problems with wow and flutter in recordings better than others (see the debate on the early Tone Poet releases). Accurate tonality is probably a priority for you if you hear live music and then you can’t stop repositioning your speakers (or trying new ones) until you match the tonality that you heard live. This isn't just frequency range, although that's part of it. It might be quantified as a "flat" frequency response; or qualified as the ability to faithfully reproduce the recording without colouring (emphasizing / de-emphasizing) certain frequencies over others.

Dynamic Range - A critical part of the artistic expression and emotion of the music. It’s the difference between forte and pianissimo in a classical piece of music. It’s hearing a triangle playing along side a tympani; it’s hearing the notes of the acoustic guitar playing in the mix of the rest of a loud rock song. On a sound system it is range of sound pressure level between the quietest notes and the loudest notes. Some music is mastered to come across louder on your sound system but this has been done by compressing the dynamic range - sounds great in the car but considerably less so on a full range home system.

Speed / Transient Response - Attack and decay of notes and percussion is realistic. Note changes on instrument (especially brass, violins and percussion instruments) are clear and sharp (but not edgy). Piano sounds more like a piano; the "thwack" of a snare drum is realistically snappy; hand claps are realistic sounding. Overall it makes music exciting and foot tapping. Somewhat related to.....

Pace, Rhythm and Timing - Have you ever heard the difference between a “tight” Jazz band and one that is not, it is similar in a sound system with good PRAT: Players are in perfect synchronization with each other; the entry and exit of the instruments and notes is right on cue and in perfect time signature with one another. It’s part of what makes the difference between good orchestra conductors and great conductors. On a component with this quality the music is presented so that all the notes and rhythms arrive at your ears in perfect timing. If you’ve heard the difference in a component (or system) than you are probably sensitive to this attribute and it is likely a priority.

Minimal distortion - Harmonic distortion; Intermodular distortion; Inner groove distortion. Whether or not you understand what all these terms mean or how they are measured, you certainly can hear it. It is anything but musical when it is heard. It can make music sound grating, hazy, screechy, fatiguing. Most equipment has sorted THD and IMD out to a quite good standard. However, for some if this isn’t near perfect than nothing else matters. For others it’s not a huge priority so long as it meets a reasonably good standard. p.s.: IGD can drive some vinyl fans crazy (or at least one)

Detail - Being able to hear the audience murmur; a singer take a breath; the fingers of a guitarist hitting the soundboard; or Glenn Gould humming when he plays Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Fun to hear for the first time when you audition a component but is this a top priority?

Soundstage - How well does the stereo image of the musicians appear in front of you. Are they positioned precisely so that you could point to the position of the instrument as if it was actually in front of you. Soundstage width, depth and height: Some systems you can precisely locate the musicians / instruments but the soundstage is narrow; i.e. image is accurate in detail but small in scale. If you typically spend time looking for that "sweet spot" to sit where the soundstage really locks-in then this is probably a priority.

Power / Scale / Volume : Ability of the system to go to realistically loud levels without distorting. Related to the power of your amplification but also very heavily related to the sensitivity of your speakers. Speakers with 90 db/watt/meter will go much louder than speakers with 85 db/watt meter. Is playing to real life levels a priority for you? (Do your neighbours or family members ever complain when you are listening to your music ?)

My answer to above question is as follows.

Nice question!

Good audio system shall have all the thngs you mentioned.

But in reality, it is not posseible.

About 3 weeks ago, I visited Mike's Lavigne's listing room.

His well respected system has almost all of the qualities but not perfect.

But fortunately after listening to his nice system, I still could enjoy my system with tube pre and amp which give more of soundstage depth and holographic imaging.

If I grade his system and my system from my point of view.

Tonality -

Mike's A* all clean no sibilants due to top grade source of turntable and Wadax the best digital available now

It gave the best tonal purity that I had ever listened.

I do not play vinyl and only digital.

Aurender N30sa, Chord Dave modified with three Farad LPS and Mscaler.

My system A- some sibiliant but smoothed by tube pre and power amp.

Dynamic Range -

Mike's A

Mine A-

Speed / Transient Response -

Mike's A

Mine A

Pace, Rhythm and Timing -

Mike's A

Mine A-

Minimal distortion

Mike's A+

Mine A

Due to lot of drivers in Scaena 3.2, my system is also excellent, but Mike's is kind of supreme.


Mike's A-

Mine A-

Both Mike's and mine does not emphasize super details but musical.


Mike's Soundstage width A- and depth B+

Mine width A-, depth A

Line array of Sceana 3.2 give excellent soundstage and nice placement of each instrument.

Mike's big speaker need more breathing room than his modest large size room of 19 by 30.

Thus depth is rather average although not flat.

Many people prefer Wilson speakers on soundstage width and depth,

I feel that Wilson speakers over exagerrate them

Power / Scale / Volume

Mike's A+

Mine A

I do active tri amping.

Pair of Rel 31 and Scaena 18 inch subwoofers tandem below 90 hz

Altec 15inch basshorn from 90 hz to 290hz

Scaena line arrays from 290 hz up.


In the video, Lansche 4.1 and Altec A7 treble horns are idle.

Could the subs being behind the main speakers be improving or effecting the increased depth over Mike's?



Placement of subwoofer behind does help little bit.


But the most important factor is line array of Scaena speaker.


I also have Lansche 4.1 which give supreme treble due to plasma tweeter.


Lansche also give pretty wide and deep soundstage, dynamics.


But box speaker like Lansche could not match Scaena in realistic soundstage.