Previously posted as "Workingman's Rig", the current listing reflects the move to a new and roomier listening area as well as the "evolution" of the system.  

Gear has progressed from a Scott Receiver with SuperEx Headphones back in the 70s to a Yamaha receiver w/KEF 101s and an M&K sub (80s) and, eventually, Polk SDA speakers (90s).  The Yamaha was replaced by a JoLida 502B integrated in 2000.  In 2007 a pair of (B-Stock) Totem Forest speakers were purchased.  The JoLida gave way to a pair of Consonance Cyber 800SE EL34 mono blocks paired with a Consonance tube pre-amp.  The reality of cathode-bias  tube amps was learned painfully with the purchase of many quads of Winged C 6CA7s and EL34s.  

Eventually, a form of sanity imposed itself.  The Consonance gear was sold and replaced by a Merrill Audio Class D Taranis power amp paired with first gen. Freya 6SN7 tube preamp.  Sanity was short-lived since in relatively short order, a Hegel H200 integrated, First Watt F7 amp, and Prima Luna Prologue Premium EL34 integrated were purchased.  All demos.  Something about having a "back-up" played a part in the buying as I recall.  Along the way, getting a well-priced pair of Silverline Prelude Plus speakers from Underwood HiFi seemed like a good idea for pairing with the 20 wpc F7.

Sources are an Aries G1 Music Server feeding into to a Schiit Gungnir MB DAC via Shirt Eitr USB/SPDIF converter, a TEAC CD-3000, and a KAB-mod'd. Technics SL1210M5G (using Grado cartridges) w/Heed Quasar phono pre-amp.

A former cable skeptic.  A Venom HC power cord applied to the Taranis amp opened my eyes to what Shunyata's power cord tech could do vs other well-marketed power cords.  Similarly, I've fallen in love with Cardas for signal wire...speaker cables and interconnect.   

I'm blessed to have the gear I own today.  It allows making changes and keeping things fresh if the sound starts to get "old".  Most importantly, it enhances the enjoyment of listening to recorded music.

Thanks for looking.

[Avatar  photo by Heinrich Klaffs; Jack Bruce 1972]


Room Details

Dimensions: 21’ × 19’  Large
Ceiling: 7’

Components Toggle details

    • Auralic Aries G1 music server
    Digital file player and streamer.  Has become the #1 music source in the system.  Used for Tidal, Spotify, Internet Radio, & ALAC files from ripped CDs.  Cardas USB out from Aries into Schiit Eitr USB/SPDIF converter.
    • Schiit Audio Eitr
    USB to SPDIF converter.  Used between Auralic Aries G1 and Gungnir DAC.
    From Eitr to BNC in of Gungnir DAC signal carried by RCA/BNC terminated Black Cat Silverstar 75! digital coax.  Eitr supplied by Schiit w/Linear wall wart power. 
    • Schiit Gungnir MultiBit DAC
    Returned item purchased from Audio Advisor without USB.  USB converted to SPDIF input via Schiit Eitr.  Upgraded to Multi-bit in 2017.  The MB upgrade made a huge step-change improvement in sound quality.  A key system component.
    • Teac CD-3000
    Demo unit from Quest for Sound. CD/SACD player.  This unit took a VERY long time to break in.  Sound quality greatly improved using Cardas Clear Reflection XLR interconnects to Schiit Freya preamp.
    • Technics SL1210M5G
    KAB mod'd. TT (tone arm damper, strobe disabler).
    • Grado Prestige Black w/8MZ stylus
    • Grado Prestige Red
    • HEED Quasar
    Solid state phono-pre amp.
    • Schiit Audio Freya Preamp (Gen 1)
    Multi mode, balanced preamp: pure passive, JFET buffer unity gain, or 6SN7 tubes (4).  Very pleased with the performance.  Nicely detailed but not fatiguing.  Replaced a more expensive dual 6H30, EZ80-rectified Opera Consonance tube preamp.  

    The Freya is an essential companion of the Taranis and First Watt F7 power amps.
    JFET buffer mode works great with the very powerful Taranis.   The high gain of tube mode is perfect for the much lower power F7.  
    • Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC Taranis Amp
    Powerful Class D amp.  Paired w/Freya preamp it was the "go to" amp in the system.  It makes the Forests stand up and talk.  Class D critics need to hear one of Merrill's creations.
    • First Watt F7
    Demo unit from Reno HiFi.  One of Nelson Pass's "low power" Class A amps. 20 watts into 8 ohms; 30 watts into 4.  Extremely musical yet with great detail and very well-defined sonic imaging.  Excellent stage width and depth.  Bought mainly to pair with 92 dB Silverline Prelude Plus speakers but produces surprisingly wonderful sound driving 86 dB Totem Forests.  There's watts and then there's FIRST WATTS.  Not much talk about First Watt but seems an incredible value.  Nelson Pass is an audio Zen Master.
    • HEGEL H-200 Integrated Amp
    Bought used.  A sweet sounding (but not "syrupy" solid state amp that works great with the Silverline speakers and the Forests too.  Non-fatiguing and powerful.  A solid contributor to overall enjoyment from this system.  It works as a full integrated or as power amp with pre by-passed in deference to the more "flexible" Freya.
    • PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium Integrated
    A recently purchased (July 2019) in-store demo unit that was a steal.  It's an amazing, over-achieving amp that packs way more wallop than expected based on the 35 wpc power spec.   It has quickly become the favorite in the 4 amp "fleet".  Will be hard to give the others playing time.  Plenty of oomph to drive the 86 db sensitivity Forests.  Sweet & detailed.  Very musical.  All the positive reviews seem to be true.
    • Totem Acoustics Forest Speakers
    B-stock; intended buyer could not complete transaction.  Have owned these since 2007 and don't tire of music from them.    With appropriate cabling choices and amp pairing they produce a non-fatiguing sound with full mid-range and great bass.  Listenability (metal dome tweeters!) when playing older digital sources with hot treble also benefits from cabling.  They generate amazing amounts of well-controlled bass, image like crazy and completely disappear.
    • Silverline Audio Prelude Plus Speakers
    A higher efficiency design (92 dB as per mftr.) with a silk dome tweeter.  Wanted something like these as a change up from the Totem Forests.  They convey a lot of upper range detail.  Tonal balance is "tipped up" perhaps due to smallish bass drivers.  Fantastic imagers and project a wide and reasonably deep soundstage.  They are ported and have a claimed bass response down into the 30 Hz range.  Perfectly adequate most of the time...e.g., with upright bass.  The addition of a pair of SB1000 subs certainly fills out the sound below, say, 80 Hz.
    • SVS SB1000
    Added a pair of these powered subs to fill out bass from Silverline Prelude Plus speakers.
    • Cardas Audio Clear Reflection Speaker Cable
    Wonderful sounding cables...great body, texture and detail.  A perfect balance to these ears.  Purchased from Parts Connexion at a huge discount due to minor cosmetic changes in new production cabling.
    • Cardas Audio Clear Reflection Interconnect
    Both XLR and SE (purchased used) in use from source to preamp or amp and from pre to amp (mainly Taranis & Prima Luna), as needed.
    • Cardas Audio Clear Cygnus Interconnects
    Both XLR and SE in use from source to preamp or amp and from pre to amp, as needed.
    • Cardas Audio Golden Reference XLR Interconnect
    Bought new from Parts Connexion at a great discount over the original list price.  At one time Cardas' top of the line interconnect.  Matched properly to electronics it provides a huge sound stage, deep bass and good detail with no muddiness or slowness.  Very musical.
    • Cardas Audio Parsec SE Interconnect
    Used to connect Heed Quasar Phono Preamp (singled ended output only).
    • Cardas Audio Clear High Speed Serial Buss (USB 2.0 A-B)
    • Black Cat Silverstar 75
    Digital coax between Eitr and Gungnir.
    • Stereovox XV2 Digital Coax
    Used from digital output of TEAC CD 3000 to coax input of Gungnir DAC.
    • Isotek Aquarius Power Conditioner
    • APC H-10
    Used as power source for digital gear:  Aries G1, TEAC CD3000, and any switch mode power supplies.
    • Furutech e-TP60 Power Distributor
    Supplies power to subs via 3 Venom HC cables; 1 cable in, 1 cable out to each subwoofer.
    • Hubbell outlet Cryo'd. duplex from Cabledyne
    3 Hubbell outlets for 3 dedicated 20 amp lines.
    • iFi AC iPurifier (2)
    Power conditioner and surge suppressor.
    • Isotek Evo3 Isoplug (2)
    Power conditioner and surge supressor.
    • Shunyata Research Alpha NR v1 Power Cord
    Used to deliver power from wall to Isotek power conditioner.
    • Shunyata Research Alpha EF power cord
    All copper 8 awg power cord without Shunyata's CCI noise reduction tech.
    • Shunyata Research Delta NR v1 Power Cord
    Delivers power from Isotek power conditioner to Gungnir DAC.
    • Shunyata Research Delta NR v2 power cord
    Delivers power from APC H-10 to TEAC CDP.
    • Shunyata Research Venom 3 Power Cable
    Supplies power to the Schiit Freya preamp.
    • Shunyata Research Venom HC power cables
    Used to power SVS SB1000 subs.
    • GIK Acoustics various products
    Two 244 panels behind Forests. Two Soffit traps (front wall corners). Four 242 panels on side and rear walls.

Comments 29

Thanks to you both, Pokey and Jon.  I really should have included the Butcher Block rack in the list of gear.


Great photos on your update of your system CA. The components look great on the new rack. Enjoy the music.


Charles nice collection of gear you have and love the rack!


Charles nice collection of gear you have and love the rack!


Hello @subterranean6 

Thanks for the comment.  No...not affiliated with In Sheep's Clothing (though I might wish I were). Like you, it is one place in LA I'd definitely want to visit.  Think I had added that photo of ISC to my system page simply as a convenient way to share it with another A'gon member.  Love those Garrard tables.  

Would love to hear your system...the SFs in particular.  My listening preference also puts a priority on tone and texture versus the last iota of detail.

Take care and hope you are enjoying some great music.



Love your rig! Are you affiliated with In Sheep's Clothing? I love their new site and the concept of a hifi bar / jazz kissa. If I ever go to LA (I live in New England), I will definitely be checking out that place.


Hello @admranger - 
Startled to see my system dredged up from the A'gon virtual systems netherworld!  To answer your question in a word:  YES.  Quite happy with the match up.  Had a costlier 6H30/EZ80 pre-amp before the Freya.  Prefer the Freya.  It is VERY quiet (dead silent, actually) and flexible  The sound is more detailed yet relaxed, if that makes any sense (lower distortion??).  Being a balanced design probably plays into this.  TEAC CDP, Gungnir DAC, Freya & Taranis all balanced. Lack of warmth not a problem with the Freya/Taranis/Forest combo - though, completely independent of the Taranis, I struggled for a long time with taming highs from the metal dome tweeters of the Forests, especially when playing CDs with the TEAC.  Interconnect and speaker cable choices finally solved this issue.  Maybe different wire choices will give you the warmth you want?  I personally ignore the orthodoxy about not using cable as tone controls or those claiming only poor designs respond to changes in wire.  If you are, however, committed to replacing the Thors with an integrated, I can't speak highly enough about the Hegel.  It is a very warm solid state amp.  


Is the Freya a good match with the Taranis?  I have Thors and need a pre. I'm actually considering selling the Thors and getting a McIntosh MA252  integrated but I hate the idea of paying retail for jewelry...but I need to warm things up a bit in the system.


Updated Jan 2018




milpai - Thanks for looking and commenting.  While gratifying (and not to be ungracious) I think your praise too generous.  I would not call myself an equipment connoisseur because I lack the range of experience some here on A'gon possess.  I've been fortunate, I suppose, in being able to collect a few pieces that I'd call "high value".   Some that I heard in actual systems, other choices driven by the constraints of a modest budget, specs, reading reviews and seeing what others on A'gon and elsewhere had to say.  For most pieces I didn't even audition first - not an orthodox approach.  I haven't done the "hard work" some A'gon members have.  I do tend to think good sounding is the norm not the exception so putting together a decent rig is not too hard though putting together something truly spectacular might be.  We're happy with "good sounding", however.  The other benefit of collecting a few different pieces is flexibility.  Things can be "changed up" significantly without spending anew.    

I wanted a solid state amp as backup to the tube gear.  When I started hunting around, there was a lot of good buzz about Hegel.  It had the power to drive the Forests.  Found a demo for sale on A'gon.  A couple of cosmetic blemishes but functionally okay.  For solid state it is warm.  In fact, more mellow than the tube gear running 6CA7s.  Warm was/is okay...nice change of pace "voicing-wise" with the Forests...AND with the newer Preludes I got, a great fit.  The Silverlines have more upper mid and treble energy than the Forests so the Hegel is a nice fit with them.  

Lots of gear might sound good but the wild card really is the recorded material.      The better the system (and my ear?) has gotten the more I appreciate those recordings that present great music as well as great sonics.  They are not as much the norm as I wish they were.  

Thanks again for looking.  Hope you find something that makes you forget those Focals you heard!


You have a beautiful setup. I envy the components you have. You seem to be a connoisseur of fine equipment. Can you please compare and contrast the Schitt DAC and the Teac player. Does an outboard DAC make a huge difference. What other DACs that you compare before settling on the Schitt? Also what is your take on the Hegel H-200 integrated? Looke like they are very popular in Europe, but not in the US. I was eyeing the H20 power amp that was offered to me for less than $4K when it was first introduced in the US. But not knowing the company and for the fact that the Parasound was more sensitive, I decided to go with the A21. The price was probably the major factor here. BTW, my power cords are also from Cullen. Good products for the right price I say.


System updated July 31, 2016.


Just a thought. It was the apparent distance to the wall behind the speakers that brought that to mind. If you don't need panels, great. Less stuff to move around. Hope you will update your pic when the Sierras arrive.


I've tried some smaller acoustic panels plus some large foam pads (large enough to sleep on) behind my speakers. Didn't seem to change much. My room is very open on both sides (side wall only on left side and it has a entry way plus a cutout to the office) including a large sofa and small sofa for the listening positions. I hardly get any hand clap echo.


Sbrownnw - Thanks for looking. YES...I spent a LONG time (years) trying different positions for the Totems. Had started much further apart....7 to as much as 8 feet. What got me to this current spacing was a review of the Forests I'd read (can't recall what on-line source). The reviewer had commented "pay attention to how Vince has them positioned at shows." Or words to that effect. I did find pictures of the Forests at a show. Vince was there. Counted patterns in the carpet and calculated the distance he had between them. When I duplicated as closely as possible that spacing in my own room - I was amazed at the improvement. More and deeper bass, more focused imagining. Lyrics became intelligible as never before. Things just really locked in. I'd toyed on and off with getting a sub...not now.

Good luck with your Sierras. Hope you enjoy them. Might I recommend some acoustic panels? Even if you don't mount them permanently and only stand them on the floor behind the speakers while might be a good investment. Of course, get used to how those Sierras sound first. Again - good luck with them.


Nice space. Have you tried the speakers wider apart, maybe where the amps are? Would be interesting to compare the two positions.

I will be getting some Ascend Sierra Towers within a month. Excited to see how they do in my room after trying some Tekton mini lores (did not like). Current system uses some Tekton 6.5t monitors.


Thanks Jax. Should have apologized for the grainy (iPhone) picture when I first posted it. For a basement, it ain't half bad. Able to listen at decent volume levels down there and not disturb my wife. Enjoyed the photos of your system and listening area. Looks very comfortable.


Love your space and system. Very well done!


Mm1701d - Yup the used market is a boon to us "frugal" types. A few things I'd probably not buy used....phono stylus or tubes, probably. But most else - fair game. Thanks for looking.


Hey there, great room and nicely done. Don't ya just love the used Audio market?


Hey Bud - thanks for looking. I really enjoy listening to music on it. The new listening area was lively (very bright) and the GIK panels helped tame things a ton. In particular, the 244 panels right behind the speakers made the most difference. Thanks again.


Nice looking and it's gotta' sing. Great mix of tubes and ss, all with good integration I'd bet. An impressive venue to boot; How do the tiles help out your system? "Good on ya!"


Major upgrades all around. It must sound wonderful, Don.
Can't imagine how much you must be looking forward to getting the Joules.



New amps, preamp, dac, transport, reclocker, phono preamp, turntable and cartridge. Just waiting on speakers. Also new speaker cable, ICs, power conditioner, and power cords. I'll take pics and get my system page updated when the speakers arrive. Heard them at RMAF last October and couldn't get them off my mind. Custom build so I got to pick veneer, paint, and crossover parts.

Sandy and I are good! If you ever get a chance to attend RMAF I would highly recommend it but beware. I spent a lot of bucks since then...



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