Doron Or's system
By the way, the subs are Thiel SS1's Subwoofers with 400 lbs (!) on each. Mass loading helps a ton in bass output and focus which in turn brings amazing 3D and scale to the system. Without the weights these subs jump 1/8" off the floor on transient so you can imagine how much energy is spent on moving the box rather than reproducing bass without the weights...
The system comprises of:
1. Crossover modified, Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home, 2 X Thiel SS1 subs, modified Thiel PX05 crossover (Duelund capacitor).
2. Room treatment - LEDE (live end dead end) configuration with fiberglass Primacoustic sound panels.
3. Oracle Delphi Mk II, Oracle groove isolator mat, TT Weights Copper Outer Ring, Zeta tonearm, EMT HSD-6 and alternative EMT JSD-5 Gold: believe it or not, I actually like the HSD-6 more than the ultra expensive JSD-5 Gold since in the context of my system, the HSD-6 is more hefty and visceral and the JSD-5 Gold is more refined but less meaty and more tonally unforgiving to mediocre recordings.
4. Heavily modified, McAlister Audio PH-6 phono stage - battery operated bipolar MC stage with 30dB of gain feeding 6922 and 12AT7 tubed MM stage with oversized, separate choked power supply, no feedback with 30 dB gain (so total gain is 60 dB of gain). This baby has Duelund CAST coupling capacitors and NOS tubes (Siemense ECC288 and 1950's Black plate triple mica, square getter Military GE). In a direct comparison to $3,200, Allnic, SimAudio, Various multi thousand dollars Audio Note, Jasmine Audio (a real gem btw) this phono stage was in a different league altogether and with 47K ohm loading (no resistor is the best resistor:-)), a match made in heaven with the EMT cartridges.
I have heard $70K VAC statement phono stage at 2014 CES and I'd stick to my McAlister, thank you very much!
The main qualities are: effortless, ultra dynamic, crystal clear presentation of a wide open sound stage with no tonality compromises.
5. Modified Joule Electra LA-100 Mk III preamp (Duelund CAST caps)
6. Stock Joule-Electra VZN-80 Output Transformer-less tube amp.
After trying many amps including Solid State (Meridian 105's, 557, G57, Various Levinson, Bryston 2BLP, 4B, Simaudio W5), push pull (Audiomat Arpège, Various Audio Research, various Macintosh, David Berning, Rogue Audio, Canary, CJ CAV 50, McAlister Audio PP-75 and PP-130) and SET (Audio Note Conquest, JAS Audio Array 2.1), This is the closest thing to a wire with a gain I've ever heard.
Effortless, ultra clear, dynamic and extended top to bottom. Every other amp I've heard sounds mechanical and muffled in comparison.
Now working on the mass loaded DD Vs Suspended BD to see how much difference there is, given similar cart and arm.
I'm afraid the DD will lose some flow/liquidness and will have higher sound floor than the Oracle.
I've even experienced that when comparing it to a fellow audiophile's, ultra expensive 4 motor BD Kuzma with Air-Liner air bearing, tangential tonearm and Dynavector XV-1 cartridge.
It had slam and drive and explosive macro dynamics but it didn't have the pitch black oracle Delphi background (ultra low sound floor) nor the micro dynamics and the sweetness and the liquid flow.
Now the cartridges I'm using, the EMT's are full bodied and ultra dynamic. Basically they sound like Decca cartridges without the tracking issues and they are a great match with the Zeta so I'm wondering if the Mass loaded DD with this combo
wouldn't be too much of a good thing and will loose some clarity and flow.
In other words: if the Oracle/Zeta/EMT is optimized will the mass loaded DD not mess this balance?
I guess, I'm soon to discover...
Btw, had a chance to listen to Jean Nantais Reference Lenco.Truth is I wasn't that impressed. In the positive it was the smoothest TT I've heard and definitely had the drive. On the negative its sound floor was very high regardless of all the snake oil of taming the idler noise with different means. Compared to the Oracle it sounded muffled, noisy and dynamically compressed/lost the dynamic contrast. Its fullness of sound didn't exceed the oracle's and was highly dependent on the cart/tonearm combination, similarly to the oracle. It was bland and unexciting in my mind and definitely didn't justify the ~$10K price tag.
In Canuck Audio Mart a bunch of veteran analogue guys compared Brinkmann Bardo to a massive, plinth, home made Lenco with similar results (high sound floor, muffled compared to the Bardo...)
But then some people love their Lenco's and Garrard's and you like your TD124 (at least Thorens isolated the idler with a belt).
In the end I believe that every TT is a compromise and you just have to chose the one that you it's strengths and can live with its shortcomings.
So here's a question for you: so after you were impressed with the slam and macro dynamics of the SP-10 Mk II, did it sound a bit mechanical to you?