My journey began with a goal to put together a system that allows you to forget about the components and let’s you completely immersed into music. I believe, it’s not so much about a single component, big or wide sound stage or I’m blown away by that one upgrade.....when you have the music on, it’s more like being at a live acoustic event in the comfort of your own space. 

Speaking of Tannoy Canterbury GR’s....I knew as soon as I first laid my eyes on the brand that there is something very special about that dual concentric design that grabbed my  attention like no other speaker brand. It's quite easy to understand the major advantage of the dual concentric design, the low and high frequency sound radiation is generated on the same axes – both the vertical and horizontal axis and all the others in between – sending out a single integrated wavefront of multiple waves instead of waves from multiple locations (as pretty common with speakers with multiple drivers). The high frequency driver mounted in the middle of the center pole of the bass driver is an exponential horn, perfectly capable of rendering natural detail with excellent pace, rhythm and timing. The midrange and treble literally “feels” like it’s embedded within the bass. There isn’t anything artificial about the Canterbury’s......the unmistakable combination of detail, warmth, depth and power is nothing short of a very musical tour de force. 

The music simply transcends the physical limitations of my room; it’s like ceiling has been lifted. That wholesomeness of soul stirring musical bliss is finally here. The magical midrange, sweet and never harsh highs, meaty bass notes, it’s all here and they come at you together as a whole. I must have heard my favorite tunes 100 times and heard the same details I had always heard, but nothing like this. Accuphase Integrated offers intoxicating synergy with Tannoy''s like match made in heaven.  

Of course none of this possible if you don't have good source to feed the downstream components. My digital front end, EMM Labs DA2 with Aurender N10 renders everything so beautifully. Last year, I finally had a chance to meet up with Ed Meitner at RMAF. The three things that define Mr. Meitner and EMM Labs more than anything else is his bespoke design, freedom and doing things the right way.  The man is a legend in digital world and it shows in his designs. There are no off the shelf parts in his DAC's.....everything is designed in-house. There are no magic components in use. The real magic is in intellectual property, software, and firmware. Together with aurender N20, the DA2 is easily makes up as heart n soul of my digital audio system.  

And lastly, the backbone of any good system is Clean power. When I inserted the Shindo Labs Mr. T in my system, the sound of my system became more alive, and the music flows from note to note more like live music.  It’s design goal is simply to provide the equivalent of a stable power source, for up to 6 components. But I believe it does more than that….It conveys music AS IT’S BEEN RECORDED AND MASTERED, period. Exactly as in the studio, exactly as it was intended by the engineers and producers, exactly, no less, but even more important, no more!  

Just like clean power provides a solid and fundamental foundation to any good system, equally important is the component isolation from floor and airborne vibrations. In comes exquisite and solidly built Core Audio Designs PlyKraft racks and isolation platforms. They are hand built by hard core audio enthusiast Mr. Arnold Marr @Core Audio Designs. My choice of wood is gorgeous African Bubinga which have a stunning grain quality, its base color can range from lighter pinkish red to light to medium brown. Not only they provide solid foundation (and isolation as each PlyKraft shelves are milled with hollow chambers and preloaded with dampening materials like lead, clay and silica), they also look spectacular. 

Tweaks….No one tweak is better than other but together they elevate your system sound to new heights. I am quite pleased with my audio system, the vocals sound natural and the uncolored rich mid-low range gives a unmistakable grace to the overall sound. 

System Edited***March 2021
Nordost QPOINT

System Edited***Feb 2021
aurender N20

System Edited***Dec 2020
Accuphase AD-50 phonoboard

System Edited***Oct 2020
SME Model 15A-V
Hana Umami Red ML

System Edited***Sep 2020
Added GIK's Tape Op Acoustic Panels. 

System Edited***Jul 2020
Thorens TD-1601
Hana M
Parasound XRM phono

System Edited***Nov 2019
Added Accuphase E-650

System Edited***Oct 2019
Added Shindo Monbrison Preamp

System Edited***Aug 2019
Added room treatments from GIK Acoustics. 

System Edited***Apr 2019
Added Aric’s Audio Super 300B Mono’s

System Edited***March 2019
Added Leben Preamp

System Edited***Oct 2018
Tannoy Canterbury’s 
EMM Labs DA2
Marantz SA-11S2
Audio Space Reference 3 (805) Mono’s. 

Room Details

Dimensions: 15’ × 30’  Large
Ceiling: 8’

Components Toggle details

    • Reference System - Toggle for Details

    1) Loudspeakers: TANNOY CANTERBURY GR
    2) Super Tweeter: TANNOY ST-300Mg
    3) Integrated: ACCUPHASE E-650
    4) Turntable: SME 15A-V
    5) Super Audio CD Player: MARANTZ SA-11S2
    6) Compact Disc Player: RAYSONIC CD-128
    7) Streamer: Merging Technologies +player
    8) Server: aurender ACS100
    9) Digital to Analog Converter: Merging Technologies NADAC
    11) Subwoofers: REL Acoustics Carbon Limited Edition
    12) Room Acoustics: GIK Acoustics / Core Audio Designs
    • Analog - Toggle for Details

    Turntable: SME Model 15A-V 
    Phono preamplifier: Accuphase AD-50
    Phono Cartridge: HANA UMAMI RED
    Tonearm (9”): SME V 
    Record Weight: SME
    • Digital - Toggle for Details

    SACD Player: Marantz SA-11S2
    CD Player: Raysonic CD-128
    Streamer: NADAC +player
    Server: Aurender ACS100
    Digital to Analog Converter: Merging Technologies NADAC +player

    Network: Apple Router
    Platform: Core Audio Design - Purple Heart
    • Cables - Toggle for Details

    Analog Interconnects: 
    • Turntable - Audio Envy Phono Deluxe
    • SACD Player - 聖HIJIRI Million “KIWAMI” HGP-X Balance
    • CD Player - 聖HIJIRI Million “KIWAMI” HGP-RCA Unbalance
    • Digital to Analog Convertor - 聖HIJIRI Million “KIWAMI” HGP-X Balanced 

    Digital Interconnects:
    Streamer - 
    • JCAT Reference Gold M12
    • Acrolink BNC

    • Zavfino Nova OCC - LF
    • Kimber - REL-CU
    • 聖HIJIRI H-SLC “MILLION” (Super Tweeter)

    • AC Power - Toggle for Details

    Power cables:
    • Accuphase E-650 Integrated - HIJIRI “TAKUMI” Maestro
    • Aurender N20 Streamer - HIJIRI “TAKUMI” Maestro
    • EMM Labs DA2 DAC - HIJIRI “TAKUMI” Maestro
    • Marantz SA-11S2 SACD Player - HIJIRI “TAKUMI” Maestro
    • Raysonic CD-128 CD Player - HIJIRI “SM2R” Sound Matter
    • SME Motor Controller - Zavfino Majestic OCC
    • REL Carbon Limited Subwoofer x 2 - Zavfino Majestic OCC

    Power Receptacle: Furutech GTX-D (Rhodium)

    Fuses: HiFi Tuning Supreme Cu

    Power Filtering: 
    • Furutech FLOW-28
    • Furutech NCF Clear Line
    • ADD-POWR Electra Clear
    • Shindo Labs Mr. T

    Passive Filtering:
    • Telegartner M12 Gold - Ethernet
    • Audio Exklusiv Silent RCA, XLR & Banana Plugs
    • Telos Audio Design RCA Caps
    • Anti-Vibration - Toggle for Details

    Hi-Fi Rack: Core Audio Designs PlyKraft 3L & isoPlat CLD v.4

    Anti-vibration platforms: 
    • Auralex Acoustics SubDude
    • Core Audio Designs - Purple Heart for Apple Router 
    • HiFi Stay TriBase - N20

    • Finite Elemente Slimline CERABASE
    • HiFi Stay TriBase
    • Herbie Audio Labs Soft Fat Dot

    • Nordost QPOINT
    • Shun Mook Audio Mpingo Disc
    • Acoustic Revive RR-777
    • Accessories - Toggle for Details

    • ramar TINA Record / Stylus Brush
    • Stable 33.33 Vinyl Center Hole Reamer
    • Stable 33.33 SP-8000 Transit Platter
    • Pro-Ject VC-S2 Record Cleaning Machine

    • Standard Sound Improvement Disc SID

    Cable Supports:
    • Gregitek RG1
    • JWM Acoustics Cable Cradles
    • Cardas Multi Block
    • Shunyata Research Dark Field Mini 
    • GIK Acoustics - Toggle for Details
    242’s - 4” panels to treat reflections off my angled ceiling towards the back of the room and above the 'sweet' spot.

    242's Art Panels - Limited Edition Tape Op Series: Same functionality as GIK’s 242 acoustic panels that are known to address the early reflection points, flutter echo, or general decay in a room. GIK Acoustics partners with Tape Op to bring the amazing artwork that enhances room decor of any serious audiophiles that places equal importance to functionality as well as appearance. 

    244’s - Bass Trap panels with FlaxRange Technology on the rear wall. The wall behind listening position is responsible for large peaks and nulls, not only in the low end but in the mid and upper frequency range. Unlike corners, the back wall is a single boundary that requires different type of treatments. I went with 5.25” thick panels that helped with smooth and tight bass response across the room. In addition, the walnut wood diffusor panels from Core Audio Design were added to enhance low frequency absorption and to preserve the ambiance of the room. 

    GoBo: Free standing Acoustic Panels (gobo). Since my room only have three physical walls, I knew I had to treat the ‘open’ wall space to stop the sound bleeding. After speaking to James L. at GIK, he recommended floor standing panels that addresses the bleeding and reflections. Not only they look good but they tremendously improved the imaging, depth and detail of overall soundstage. 

    Impression Series: 4" Impression Series Bass Trap Diffuser/Absorber with Palomar Narrow pattern. Four narrow panel in 11.5”w behind and in-between the speakers. 
    • Tannoy Canterbury GR
    Since the first listen, I was bowled over by Canterbury’s detailed, warm and dynamic sound. There aren’t many speakers that are capable of connecting you to the music so intimately and emotionally like the way Canterbury’s does so effortlessly. 

    The Canterbury’s are hand built in the time-honored Tannoy fashion to ensure that attention to detail and unique styling go hand in hand in maintaining the exclusive appeal of this highly respected loudspeaker. The thick birch ply baffle and panels are extensively detailed with walnut inlays and machined gold trim. The Prestige Gold Reference takes Tannoy Canterbury’s to new level of refinement in every aspect. 

    In an ideal world a speaker designer would want to design a single transducer that addresses the entire frequency range – the ideal of the single-driver speaker. That transducer would cover the lowest bass notes as well as the finest details of the upper treble. Alas, that ideal has been very elusive, and drivers that work well for low frequencies don’t work well for the upper frequencies. Speaker designers have instead resorted to the use of multiple drivers and complex crossover schemes. Of course, this breaks up the audio signal into different segments and transmits each segment from and to different points in space, creating all sorts of acoustic problems that have to be addressed.

    Enter the dual concentric driver. The major advantage of the dual concentric design is that the low and high frequency sound radiation is generated on the same axes – both the vertical and horizontal axis and all the others in between – sending out a single integrated wavefront of multiple waves instead of waves from multiple locations. We have all heard multi-driver speakers which sound a bit disjointed, putting the violins or brass or some other part of the orchestra in a different place than their locations at the time of recording, or creating smearing because the multiple wavefronts are not reaching the listener at exactly the same time.

    With the dual concentric driver you have a single chassis that incorporates two separate drive units, integrated into one. The high frequency driver mounted in the middle of the center pole of the bass driver is an exponential horn. Tannoy says that the new 15-inch Gold Reference bass driver is Tannoy’s most powerful and articulate Dual to date, offering over 96dB efficiency. It has a new fiber-enriched paper pulp cone material and the cone is terminated with a twin roll surround of impregnated fabric for improved damping characteristics. The crossover to the bass driver has also been redesigned, featuring Custom ICW ClarityCap™ MR capacitors, low loss laminated core inductors and thick-film resistors, and the final assembly is deep cryogenically treated as a whole unit.

    The expertly crafted wood work with classy gold metal work is all very exquisite. I am now ‘Tannerd’ for life :-) 

    聖HIJIRI H-SLC “Million” speaker cable - HF
    Zavfino Nova OCC speaker cable - LF

    • Audio Exklusiv Silent Banana plugs
    • QKORE6 Grounding

    The  ST-300Mg SuperTweeter has been developed to bring the benefits of truly WideBand frequency response to Prestige GR loudspeakers.  The ST-300Mg extends the high frequency capability of the complete loudspeaker system to over 62 kHz with useable HF output up to 100 kHz. 

    Among the most notable things one would appreciate from SuperTweeters is cymbals. Cymbals would splash and burst rather than merely exploding (like confetti falling from ceiling). There is definite trails of textural nuances such as reverberation trails and delay repeats adding to the sense of excitement. The track ‘And then there was you’ (live at ronni Scott’s) by Norah Jones is one of the example of how the lower pitch ping reverbs and distinctly audible when Brian Blade (drummer) strikes the edge of the ride with a stick. 

    I consider them as extension of Canterbury’s rather than a mere accessory that further enhances your listening experience.

    Audio Envy - NV-SP9
    • REL Acoustics Carbon Limited Edition
    The Carbon Limited is simply superb in producing low and mid level bass definition ....none of the ‘boomy’ or overwhelming bass that’s so hard to overcome with other subs. 

    My ultimate demo track, ‘Why So Serious’ from Dark Knight Soundtrack (Qobuz)

    Kimber - REL-CU
    Audio Envy - Mega 3

    Furutech Flow-28
    Auralex Acoustics SubDude
    • Accuphase E-650
    It’s Accuphase I need say anymore, just kidding. One may ask, why did I sought out to look for Solid State amplification..well variety is the spice of life. And I needed to have a backup for tube pre/amplification. Transitioning from Shindo Monbrison pre and Aric’s Super 300B amp, it took bit of patience to truly understand the virtues of this wonderful integrated. It plays my favorite tunes with a amazing warmth, brilliance and fabulous depth gradation. Accuphase sound is smooth edged (in a good way) and in control at all times, so very fluent and agile. 

    Anyone seeking an alternative to tube amplification should audition Accuphase pre/amp combo or Integrated. Sometimes you encounter a product that makes you reassess what to expect from your system, Accuphase is certainly one of those brands. What a stone cold bargain for what it does!

    Cables: 聖HIJIRI “TAKUMI” 匠 Maestro AC power cord

    • Audio Exklusiv Silent RCA plugs
    • Telos RCA plugs
    • QKORE 6
    • Analog - Toggle for Details

    SME Model 15A-V:
    The sublimely clever SME Model 15 without the price tag of Model 20 or 30. The Model 15 comes fully equipped with onboard adjustment capabilities for perfect fine-tuning as regards to height and isolation by way of adjustable feet, trimming screws in each of the three towers located at 2, 10 and 6 o’clock positions. The resultant performance gains include jet-black silences and near-immunity to microphony. 

    How about those towers suspending the sub-chassis by 30 moulded ‘O’ rings. They work in conjunction with a central fluid damper that both controls the sub-chassis motion and offers a resistive ground path for acoustic signals, eliminates overshoot and gives almost zero ‘Q’ recovery.  In other words, the Model 15 does not ‘jiggle’ when you press down and release it. 

    Initial Impressions ~ The sound of the Model 15 is incredibly balanced, rich and smooth. The platter is ultra quiet yielding to music free of interference and discoloration. No matter what genre of music I played, the TT brought great dynamics to every recording. The bass range is full and stout. The turntable plays very warm and dissolved, the sounds arrive precisely at my listening sweet spot thus creating an illusion of my favorite artists in the room.  

    Audio Envy Phono Deluxe (DIN>RCA)
    Zavfino Majestic OCC Power Cord

    The Umami Red is HANA’s full-blown effort from the master cartridge designer Masao Okada-san, are hand-built by a team of dedicated craftsmen at Excel Sound Japan. In Japanese, 'umami' is one of five tastes, it has been variously translated as 'delicious' and 'savoury'.....well delicious indeed. 

    After listening to Umami for a month, I concur with Ken Redmond’s takeaway about this wonderful cartridge....nothing stands out yet everything stands out. There is nothing outlandish or overly emotional here, this is a cartridge with a sense of decorum that seems to characterize cartridges of Japanese origin. This is a design whose midrange offers delicacy and precision but without any hint of the uncouth, bass is firm and characterful but never clumsy while treble is full of detail. 

    One of my favorite albums by Anne Bisson (Blue Mind) is a fantastic recording features a rich and warm midrange, with sultry tones that envelops and embrace. Umami captures and renders Ms. Bisson very sultry but clear voice beautifully. Umami lets me appreciate the way she floats between notes often creating an impression that she is slightly off key. 

    The Hana Umami Red has an effortlessness to the way it approaches music-making that deserves to be heard. It is beautifully detailed and can be particularly enthralling when it comes to acoustic fare, which only serves to make it all the more compelling as a musical companion.

    Accuphase AD-50:

    High- performance phono equalizer amp with internal DIP switches control and subsonic filter on/off. 

    Moving Coil typeGain : 66dB
    Input Impedance :30/100/300 ohms (selectable)
    MM :Moving Magnet type
    Gain:40 dB
    Input Impedance :47 kilohms
    • Digital - Toggle Details
    Raysonic CD-128:
    Every now and then, you come across a product that catches your attention like no other. I feel very fortunate to cross paths with Raysonic CD 128. What caught my attention with the CD128 were four items: top-loading operation; a quartet of 6922 triodes in the output stage to suggest fully balanced operation, built quality (it's built like a tank) and sticker price under $2K.  

    The CD128 sound is amazingly balanced, no treble fatigue or etchiness, bleached or flatness through this player. The CD128 does body and density in spades yet it doesn't feel thick or opaque. The CD128's warmth and color saturation go hand in hand with wallop to present crescendos, climaxes and boisterous bass lines with impact. There are no fuzziness that would give the anti-tuber a reason to complain. There is plenty of airyness, warmth and lushness (a trade mark of well executed tube circuit) one can appreciate through this player.   

    The supplied Russian 6922's tubes are used here to excellent effect but once I swapped the russian variant to NOS Telefunken's 6922's, the CD128 elevated to another level. The sound exhibited the finest of detail, nuances and spatial finesse thus elevating your musical enjoyment. There is a good reason why the CD128 remained a crown jewel of my system for so many years. Easily one of the best 'analog' sounding digital player ever produced, period! 

    聖HIJIRI “SM2R” Sound Matter AC power cord
    聖HIJIRI Million “極KIWAMI” HGP-X Balanced

    • Audio Exklusiv Silent RCA plugs
    • Telos RCA plugs
    • NOS Telefunken 6922’s
    • HiFi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuse
    • Finite Elemente Slim Cerabase Footers
    • QKORE6 grounding

    Marantz SA-11S2: How does the SA-11s2 sound when playing SACDs? From the very first spin SACD’s never sounded better (compare to my Krell Cipher). I truly believe what a reference digital player -  sound is warm, dynamic and very musical. I heard more detail, better harmonic structure and timbre, far superior dynamic range and punch, extended bass, and a more complete and less digital type rendering of the music. Not to mention, top notch build quality and exquisite champagne finish. 

    聖HIJIRI “TAKUMI” 匠 Maestro AC power cord
    聖HIJIRI Million “極KIWAMI” HGP-X Balanced

    • Audio Exklusiv Silent RCA plugs
    • Telos RCA plugs
    • Finite Elemente Slim Cerabase Footers
    • QKORE6 grounding

    EMM Labs DA2:  Ed’s finest work to date, where we would be without his contributions in digital today. Ed is a analog designer at heart, he is as well versed in analog as he is in digital domains, in fact a legend in both disciples. This DAC sealed the deal for me....Exceptional detail, musicality, warmth, deep and wide’s all here in spades. Voices conveyed with utmost ‘you are there’ faithfulness. This DAC is a game changer, I am feel very blessed to own one of the best DAC’s currently available, regardless of the price. 

    聖HIJIRI “TAKUMI” 匠 Maestro AC power cord
    聖HIJIRI Million “極KIWAMI” HGP-X Balanced

    • Audio Exklusiv Silent RCA plugs
    • Telos RCA plugs
    • QKORE6 grounding

    Aurender N20: My review of N20 is about the improvements and its features over my previous reference N10. 

    Let’s explore features and appearance
    The chassis design is all too similar to N10 or W20 except that you get a gorgeous 8.8” LCD screen, first introduced on A30. In addition to album art, you get large text display that is easily readable from 12 feet away.  On the rear, the newest and welcomed addition is the word clock input. I have yet to test this feature but it is definitely on my wish list once I find a suitable external clock. Aurender cautiously suggests that in some cases, using an external clock may improve upon the SPDIF audio performance in terms of musical rhythm, pace, timing, and phase coherence. Also improved are the USB and LAN inputs. The USB input is shielded from electronic interference and module-type design is chassis mounted for strength and durability. The LAN input is 2X isolated and helps with any noise introduced by the router. Another welcomed feature on back panel is User-Installable Hard Drive Storage (upto 16TB). I absolutely loved the flexibility of the type and capacity of drive that can be fitted in N20. There is also a dedicated ground terminal. 

    The overall build quality remains the gold standard among music servers/streamers. 

    Let’s take a look inside. 
    Following the tradition of its predecessors, you get another well laid out isolated circuit boards, upgraded full linear power supply and all new UPS, a clever super capacitor-based power supply which allows the unit to stay powered on long enough to automatically power down in case of an AC power outage or momentary “brownout”. 

    The external word clock feature is worth few extra words. This was the feature previously used in W20 & W20SE, which uses a high-quality OCXO and the external clock is connected by a BNC type connector thus enabling high-quality operation with a high-quality external clock input to further improve and increase precision. The BNC connector supports both master clock and word clock input for a variety of scalability. 

    The improvement in processing power has changed from AMD dual-core CPUs to Intel's quad-core CPUs, and the size of the SSD cache has also increased to 500GB.

    Then there is Critical listening-only mode where it shuts of non-essential functions for high-purity playback. Recommended

    How’s the sound? 
    My listening impressions are based on extended listening and direct comparison with N10, which I’ve owned for 4 plus years. 

    The N20 is ultra quiet by virtue of its full linear power supply and attention to grounding scheme. The dedicated grounding terminal I’ve mentioned above helps further produced an absolute low noise floor when connected to a ground reference grounding block like QKORE6. The N20 possesses an unprecedented transparency without any hint of digital glare. The music exhibits rich tonality and uncanny sense of ease, music simply flows. Listening to DK’s Maybe You’ll Be There (Live from Paris), you simply get transported in one on one private concert setting. The overtones in musical passages are crisp, more defined and accurate. There is this new sense of realism in piano keys, spooky quietness and air between the instruments; extra sparkle to those cymbal crashes and a touch more palpability in her voice. 

    Those in pursuit of ultimate streaming playback, give it a listen to N20. 

    a) ACROLINK 7N-D5000 - AES/EBU
    b) Network Acoustics USB III
    c) Network Acoustics ENO Ethernet Ag Filter w/Ag LAN
    d) 聖HIJIRI “TAKUMI” 匠 Maestro AC power cord

    • Audio Exklusiv Silent RCA plugs
    • Telos RCA plugs
    • Nordost QPOINT 
    • Hi-Fi Stay TriBase Feet
    • QKORE6 grounding
    • HiFi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuse
    • Combak Corporation HIJIRI
    聖 Hijiri, in Japanese meaning 'maestro' or 'important leader' is the brand presented by Kiuchi-san in 2015 under the Combak Corporation, the mother company. The cables being discussed here are designed by Mr. Kazuo Kiuchi, who also owns the XRCD24 brand. These relationships are even deeper, because his components and accessories, for example power cables, interconnects and speaker cables, as well as anti- vibration elements, are used in the Japanese JVC studios, where remasters are made for this type of releases. 

    Power Cords:
    HIJIRI “TAKUMI” Maestro power cord is simply exquisite. The cables feature cotton braid and terminated with custom-made plugs by US company WattGate. This custom-make involves applying wooden barrels on plug's endings that acts as dampening vibrations. Just like Nagomi, you also get wooden element the middle of cable length which act as anti-resonant elements. There is a consideration time spent behind the selection of proper type of wood, size of this element and optimal placement on the cable. 

    How does it sound? Again, from the very first note, TAKUMI’s sound is deep, dense, with pitch black background. It presents instruments and vocals in a very natural way, without emphasizing the elements that "tune up" the sound. The liquidity is simply off the charts. The tone and three-dimensionality is spot on, there is this naturally soft attack and smoothness. You can not hear any harshness, because there is none, neither can you point out any signs of coloration, because again, there is none. From the first to the last album I listened to, I marveled its extremely well balanced sound. Moreover the cable beautifully presents the differences in tone, in instruments placement as well as dynamic range. The TAKUMI excels in vividness, fluidity, saturation and differentiation - a rare combination. 

    Emotions, the most important element of music and TAKUMI convey them in spades. It is a cable that will improve nothing in the system, neither will it degrade anything. It simply allows recordings to sound in an emotional, naturally soft, full-bodied way.  Bravo! 

    Speaker Cable:
    聖Hijiri H-SLC speaker cable showed up in its custom exquisite wooden box. Apparently, “Million” speaker cable took three years in development and she shares her DNA with the X-DC Studio Master Million Maestro power cable. The cable are hand made, one pair at a time, custom designed from specially prepared copper that is directional and then terminated with heavy duty solid spades made of silver plated PCOCC. Let’s delve into how H-SLC (Sophisticated Listener Choice) sounds in my system...

    One word comes to mind, natural while delivering delicate musical nuances that were previously imperceptible. H-SLC is a very accurate cable, she digs so deep into the sound that what we hear is no longer just about hi-fi or components associated with it but all about music and how IT changes. Therefore, both the vocals and the arrangement on your favorite recordings sound wonderfully powerful and dense. This is the same density XRCD24 discs are known for...I know we are talking about CD format with its inherit weaknesses but if you have heard the K2HD mastered CD’s, knows exactly what I am referring to....on speakers capable of producing larger soundstage (like my Tannoy Canterbury’s) the spatial prowess of K2HD mastered discs is much more discernible, yielding to a considerable more meticulous presentation and separation of instrument bodies. 

    There is also of course a slight warming of the upper treble, something like "gilding" that makes the cymbals sound nicer, more "friendly" than when presented "raw". There are no colorations to the whole presentation, it is not closed, because the attack and selectivity of the midrange remains strong, stronger than any of my cable brand graced my system in last 15 years. And did I mention excellent dynamics. Since the foreground is placed close to us and the way it grabs our attention, we perceive each arrangement very immersive and natural.

    The HIJIRI H-SLC "Million" speaker cables conveys tonal richness, depth, resolution and dynamics in spades, just what you expect from any top tier cable. For me, they simply connects me to music emotionally. This is a outstanding cable that delivers remarkably natural presentation, reminiscent of the aesthetic choices of what we get with XRCD24 (sorry I couldn’t help pointing out the reference, again).  She is a keeper :-) 

    聖HIJIRI Million “極KIWAMI”  HGP-X Balanced Cable showed up in its handsome wooden box. The cable is well constructed, the exquisite cotton coating of the Million "Kiwami" cable is pleasantly soft to the touch, and its tricolor – black-yellow-red – doesn’t disappoint. It’s also worth pointing out that cable is terminated with grounding extensions which can be connected to the ground terminal or to one of those ‘audiophile’ grounding block (like Nordost QKORE6). In addition, like other cables in “Million’’ series, the wooden block with the inscription Hijiri on one side and Million on the other side acts as a filter for dampening resonance. 

    The Interconnect was the last piece of the puzzle in my system. After “Million” power cord and speaker cable, the XLR further extends the realism of PC and speaker cable. No added sweetness to voices, softening strokes, restrained sopranos or bass, just audio purity. Not only the sound is fuller and neutral, its also most spatial and devoid of any distortion. It is no surprise that HIJIRI cables are the only ones used in the recording and remastering of XRCD’s. 

    HIJIRI cables has this speed and their uncanny ability to transmit transients is pretty impressive. The cables with a “soul” that has elevated synergy between my carefully chosen components. I always believed, in a well-compiled high end system, you will always hear impact of well engineered cables like HIJIRI’s. And by going a step further and using HIJIRI’s complete loom, you’ll unleash full potential of the individual components in your system. I was able to find out about this by adding the HGP-X on my DAC which already powered by “TAKUMI” Maestro power cord. These cables have brought me closer to the state of an audio nirvana, from the very first to the last note. 

    Is this the end of my search for cables, I think so. 
    • Zavfino Nova OCC Speaker Cable
    • Zavfino Majestic OCC

    The Majestic uses PC-OCC conductors that brings together both high performance and exceptional value. As per manufacturer description, the cable employs generous (3x12AWG) highest purity Japanese PC-OCC single crystal copper conductors. 

    How is this cable sound….in one word, fabulous. The cable conveys plenty of warmth, naturalness and dynamically impressive. The cable has exceptional low noise floor thus revealing every nuances in your music. Well done Zavfino! 

    • Network Acoustics USB III
    Without a doubt, the best USB cable I’ve had in my system. The music flows effortlessly and naturally. This cable digs deeper and has revealed multiple layers in my favorite tunes which were previously inaudible. The space and the air between the arrangement is unmistakable....the vocals are much more palpable. I believe isolating the four conductors is a brilliant design and it has certainly paved the way to spooky ultra quiet noise floor. No listening fatigue…nothing over the top! 
    • Tweaks - Toggle for Details

    Telos Audio Design: Telos caps in use are made of copper and then plated in gold. Fit and finish is excellent. Functionally, they protect equipment from stray EMI and RFI. Well, they do more than that....Putting on just a single pair of caps on an unused input made the system sound homogeneous by lifted the haze. Vocals in particular focussed tightly and instruments became more distinct and in sharper contrast to the background. With caps, vocals were presented in a more forward manner, but with a touch of warmth and smoothness. High frequencies also were more extended, bass notes gained both substance and extension. 

    Recommended application, a pair per component. 

    Audio Exklusiv Silent Plugs (RCA, Banana & XLR): 
    These nifty plugs designed to reduce (absorb) resonance and distortion through patented material. Without introducing any colouration or negative dynamic influence, all mechanical perturbations and electrical radiation in the area of the binding posts are completely eliminated. Once applied to unused binding posts on amplifiers or speakers, Silent plugs have a striking effect. Resonances and distortion are dramatically reduced, which makes the sound more sophisticated, more transparent, more detailed, gives more space and tonal color, better dynamics and makes the listening experience more emotionally satisfying.

    Recommend application, a pair per component. 
    • Network Acoustics ENO Ethernet Filter Ag
    When I first learned about ENO, I was was bit skeptical to try ENO since my streaming setup was already sounding great and noise free (so I thought). My system consist of excellent Aurender N10 and power conditioning by Nordost QRT system. Being a tweaker at heart, I said why not, there is very little at stake with ENO’s 30 days in home audition.

    After a day of ENO in my system, first thing I’ve noticed how the sound is more life-like. I heard noticeable reduction in mesh noise, more texture, air around vocals and instruments. The sense of realism was spooky good, bass is slightly more textured too. The soundstage has opened up wide and big. 

    Day 5...ENO is now fully broken-in. The sound from my N10 has further relaxed, if there was ever a very slight digital edge it is now gone. With ENO, I find myself listening longer and I can say unequivocally my digital is just as good as my analog if not better. I recommend anyone looking to improve their digital streaming to try the ENO Ag filter with Ag LAN cable, that’s where you realize the full potential of ENO and how good streaming can sound. 
    • Nordost QRT QPOINT
    QPOINT Resonance Synchronizer:  QPOINT was placed underneath my N20 (streamer). With QPOINT, the changes was apparent; the sound became more pleasant and relaxed. You hear this new level of quietness, maybe ‘calmness’ is more appropriate. There seems to be also less congestion, more clarity and slightly more bloom. The sound has become more spacious, deeper and more nuanced. The treble is less harsh (not that it was harsh before, it’s less forward now). The sound is more fluid, bit darker but more open and articulated. The changes with QPOINT were far from subtle and easily discernible so it simply staying in my system.  
    • Shindo Labs Mr. T
    Shindo Laboratory's Mr. T is an isolation transformer of the noise-reducing sort, as opposed to the sort designed solely for safety; indeed, unlike transformers built primarily for galvanic isolation, the ground tab on the Mr. T's AC inlet is wired to the ground tabs of its six AC outlets. It provides the equivalent of a stable power source, for up to 6 components, by separating the equipment from the mains circuit by the use of a custom designed isolation transformer.

    Inside the Mr. T is a massive Haruna Denki transformer. The rear panel's showcase high quality Meikosha AC outlets (that offers solid grip but thankfully doesn’t not mar the finish of AC plugs blades) plus nondescript IEC socket and fuse holder; and the necessary hookup wiring. The case is beautifully finished, inside and out, in Shindo's trademark shade of green, and it's solidly built—its removable top, adequately damped with a rubber-like pad. 

    So how did Mr. T fared in my system, well Mr. T brought my system one step closer to sounding alive. The sound of my system with the Shindo Mr. T is more lifelike, and the music flows from note to note more like live music. It’s more explosive on loud passages and quieter on quiet passages. The scale of the music is also more diverse, some recordings sound bigger, others smaller. Most importantly, it does not ‘color’ the sound of my system thus allowing me to hear music as transparent as possible. 
    • Core Audio Designs - Various

    Core Audio Designs is a manufacturer of high-end, intelligent audiophile furniture and accessories. Their innovative approach to design does not compromise the science or aesthetics of your listening environment. By employing premium hardwoods, steel, and granite, every item in our catalog is a precision component for the eyes and ears to explore. 

    The craftsmanship, effectiveness in components isolation and flexibility with infinite configurations makes an very obvious choice for the last 15 plus years. 


    • Solid hardwood uprights composed from premium FAS certified heartwood. Eight-quarter stock selected for even grain, density, and stability.
    • 2” high-density domestic apple-ply shelves consisting of 34 layers of hardwood. FSC & CARB Certified.
    • Milled center core provides hollow chamber for damping materials.
    • Chambers preloaded with lead, clay, and silica. Materials sealed within dual 3 Mil poly bags
    • Constrained layer damping provided by butyl resin, aluminum, PVC/NBR/CR closed cell foam.
    • Di-Bond®/ALUPANEL® aluminum composite panels (brushed copper finish) used to conceal damping material.
    • Available in Rift White Oak, Hard Maple, Natural Cherry, American Black Walnut, African Sapele, African Bubinga, African Wenge, and African Zebra.
    • MOHAWK® Professional grade oil based catalyzed lacquer finish.
    • Minimalist design showcasing the beauty and natural harmonics of solid hardwood.
    • Open architecture allowing for maximum airflow and heat dissipation.
    • Includes adjustable 5 piece v.3 deluxe 304 stainless steel spikes & coasters.

    • Telefunken ECC88/6922

    Made in the 1960's, with varying date codes from 1966 to 1968, made in Ulm Germany. This is the best made Telefunken 6922 / CCa / 7308 I have used in my system. These are shockingly good, so neutral and beautiful sounding 6922 variants, pricey but well worth it. 

    • Christopher Knight Tafton Tufted Club Chair
    For most audiophiles, detailed and continued evaluation into components, cables and speakers are part of the ongoing ritual of any high performance system. Irrespective of cost, we want our systems to sound at their peak and continue to do so until they either wear out or we decide to upgrade to something new. Apart from that, paying some measure of attention to the room acoustics itself is probably second, although that possibly should be placed first. Probably coming in last place is the all-important part of any system, the listening spot where one places their backside – better known as the listening chair :-) 

    Once the chair has been decided upon, the next important step is where it should be placed. Because, if you think speaker placement alone matters, you will be delighted to learn that placement of the chair relative to the speakers is directly proportional to the quality of soundstage, imaging and bass response the system delivers. In fact, positioning the speakers should never take place without concurrent adjustment of the listening chair.

    It is quite common and widely accepted to start with an equilateral triangle formed between the two speakers and the chair. It is generally accepted to position the two speakers a distance somewhere between 80% and 100% of the distance from each speaker to the chair. So, if the measurement from the chair to each speaker is ten feet, the two speakers should be somewhere between eight and ten feet apart. This is, of course, conditional on the room and is best evaluated by that time honored practice – listening. Listen to music you’re intimately familiar to evaluate where speakers sound better, worse and finally best. This exercise is typically painstaking and time consuming but well worth the efforts. 

    When talking about measurements, we measure to what exactly? For my own use, I typically place a laser measurer on the chair back and point the laser at a spot right above the tweeter on each speaker. I also measure the distance to each side wall to be sure they match. It is also easily acceptable to use a tape measure and a friend to measure from the listener to the tweeter. Lastly, chair height is also important. Ideally, the tweeter and the listener’s ears should be at the same height. And as with the speakers, it is probably not uncommon to move the chair an inch or so in any one direction based on listening. 

    Having a comfortable chair to conduct a listening session placed correctly in relation to the speakers will heighten the musical experience. It can transform an average listening session into a breathtaking one. Use of a proper chair in the correct place is, unfortunately, often overlooked or cannot be helped. When the chair is right, it can take the sonic quality to new heights. So, don’t forget to consider the chair. It’s where you will spend most of your time with your system.

    Happy Listening! 

    • Aurender ACS100
    Incorporating a nearly identical feature set and much of the same software abilities as the ACS10, the ACS100 brings an unprecedented level of digital file creation, curation, and management. 

    The SQ from this little beast is shockingly good! The Ferrum’s HYPSOS hybrid power supply on the way to further push the performance of ACS100. 

Comments 70

 Thank you for your kind words @noromance. I am super excited about upcoming changes, both Analog and Digital components being upgraded.


Beautiful system. Super components in an elegant and cosy space. You've knocked it out of the park.


@bikeboy52, I appreciate the feedback and recognition. It took bit of trial and error but it’s all worthwhile given the end result. GIK panels are very effective, offers great value and worth the wait. Hopefully you get your panels soon!


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Wow just Wow, beautiful system and room.You have really got it together here, must sound fantastic. Another of my upgrades scheduled are some GIK products I have picked out, but they’re backed orderd in the Mahogany finish I need to meet the WAF. Looks like you put there products to good use.Really something to aspire to Lalitk Im green here!


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lalitk, you almost  made me blush. I had no idea of your appreciation of my system. I must say though, with the Heron line stage and 3C24 amp, I am enjoying my listening more than ever these days.

Thank you for your more than kind comments, coming from you they mean a great deal to me.


Ag insider logo xs@2xislandmandan

 @islandmandan, Dan: Thank you for your kind remarks. Now where do you think I got my inspiration from :-) Your system is one of my most visited and favorite systems here. I would love the opportunity to hear your system someday…I bet it sounds freaking amazing! 
PS: Never mind the looks, I bet you’re transported to another world each time you dropped that needle. 


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Lalitk, I love your system with a passion! Now, if you could just do me a small favor, and move to my island abode for oh, maybe a couple of months, maybe you could improve the looks of my system to resemble yours a bit more, and a bit less like mine. That would really help!


Ag insider logo xs@2xislandmandan

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A beautiful room and system. I like the Accuphase/Marantz pairing.

Happy Listening!


Heaven indeed. A true audio dreamscape. My compliments.


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Wow, what an amazing system!!


@rixthetrick, I appreciate your comments. I really like my QRD panels, they does a great job of scattering sound in a predetermined 180-degree pattern diffusing direct reflections while maintaining dynamics. Aesthetics are just the bonus as you can tell I favor exquisite attributes of timber furniture. Cheers! 


What a well thought out and executed system. I've lately become a fan of quadratic diffusers, liking your QRD-11 diffusers, and note the other methods of room control in conjunction with them.
I like the warm aesthetics using timber furniture, slice of heaven indeed.

I'm kinda still warming up to jazz, I've got Krall's best of, and I like Paul Hardcastle 8. I'll go look up Hamilton, thanks for sharing your system.


@grannyring, Thank you for high praises, hope you’ve enjoyed your time in my room :-) Last night I was listening to Scott Hamilton’s WHO CARES? This particular DSD recording captures a live performance that took place in an ancient residential palace turned into a hotel in the heart of Tuscany. Once again, my system recreated the ambiance of location beautifully and effortlessly. I was spellbind by the gorgeous sax play for the entire duration of the event. I often speak of connecting with music and the artist, this is certainly one of those performances, a must haves in your collection if you’re a Jazz lover. 


Your system is just beautiful as well as your room.  I’m imaging how good the music sounds by placing myself in your room!


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Trade you my Cornwalls for your Tannoys. Lol! What an amazing system! I can only imagine how it sounds. Those Canterbury’s are stunning! Thank you for sharing a small piece of your world.


@bullot, Not yet Shane. I have been patiently waiting for darTZeel CTH-8550 and it should be here by next week. I plan to bring Entreq once I am done with CTH audition. Since the purchase of Merging trio, I have been tweaking my digital front and it took a giant leap forward with the addition of Telegartner M12 Gold Switch. I am also evaluating tuning feet and tuning bases from Combak. If you like, you can learn more about them in my other system here,


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My friend, did you get the Dartzeel and Entreq yet??  Any feedback?


@dcpillai, Thanks for your kind comments. Tannoy’s are one of those very rare speakers that connects you to music intimately and effortlessly. The pairing with Accuphase is like icing on the cake. You can read about my impressions on Tannoy and Accuphase in my system page (once you click Toggle details). 


Hi Lalit. What a beautiful, well-organized room and what must be a wonderful system too! I have wanted to try out the Tannoys for  some time now but the local distributor has stopped bringing them in due to build issues. I also saw an Accuphase integrated amp in your system. What are your impressions of it?  Thanks!


@kimurastanley, Zavfino speaker (Nova) and PC (Majestic) cables are much more balanced and fuller sounding compared to AE’s SP9 and Ocean Elite’s. Thanks!


Nice! What is your opinion of Zavfino power cable and speaker cables compared to Audio envy?


That looks like a wonderful place to be...


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First, thank you for the kind words on my system.
Your system is amazing! I love those tannoys, they are absolutely gorgeous.
VERY impressive system. Well done.


That is awesome!


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