[2021 Updates] Swapped the Rainmakers with Totem Arros and added the BorderPatrol DAC SE.

We moved at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been slowly setting up our first listening room. In our previous house the system was in a mixed-use family room. These components have been pieced together over the last 5 years and am very happy with the current setup from a limited budget over the years. Of course there's still a lot to improve on and always thinking about the next upgrade or change. The small desk is a sewing machine table from the mid-twentieth century. It's very solid and heavy.

Our approach is format agnostic and love to stream, spin records, and play CDs. We listen to a wide range of genres and find the Heed/Totem combo does well balancing it all. Whether it's noisy, crunchy, distorted guitars, articulating the timbre of acoustic instruments, or maintaining tight, rhythmic pace that's needed for electronic music, it's all handled with ease. Plus imaging is outstanding.

Open to tips and tweaks.

Cheers from Portland, Ore. - Matthew


Room Details

Dimensions: 13’ × 14’  Medium
Ceiling: 10’

Components Toggle details

    • Heed Audio Obelisk
    Their SI Mark III integrated amp with phono board installed. Resting on Herbie’s Audio Lab’s Tender Feet on top of a very dense chopping board from Hay Design.
    • Totem Acoustic Arro
    Compact floor standing speakers with Totem Beaks
    • Clearaudio Concept
    w/ Verify Tonearm and running with a Russ Andrews PowerPak II PSU. Sitting on a solid granite slab for vibration isolation.
    • Soundsmith Otello
    The most recent addition to the setup. Amazed by the amount of detail and micro dynamics it's able to retrieve.
    • Border Patrol DAC SE
    D/A Conversion for the Node 2i and RCD-02 via SPDIF.
    • Bluesound Node 2i
    We enjoy streaming Qobuz, Spotify Connect, and a collection of downloads. Herbie’s Audio Lab Baby Booties offer support, and a simple cutting board to get the Node 2i off the rug.
    • Rotel RCD-02
    Picked up used for only $100 and it's a workhouse in the system. Analog out sounds terrific. Resting on Isonode feet on top of that classic Ikea "audiophile" chopping board.
    • Chord Electronics Ltd. Mojo
    D/A Conversion for the Node 2i -- For 24/192 files and headphone listening.
    • HiFi Man HE-300
    Open back headphones
    • Signal Cable Inc. Various Cables
    - Classic Speaker Cables
    - MagicPower power cord into the Obelisk
    - Digital Optical between the Node 2i and the Mojo
    - Silver Mini cable going from the Mojo into the Obelisk
    • AudioQuest Various Cables
    - NRG C7 power cable for the Node 2i
    - NRG-X power cable for the Rotel RCD-02
    - Sidewinder interconnects from the Node 2i (for when the Mojo is charging)
    - G-Snake interconnects from the Rotel RCD-02
    - Power cable and Coax for BorderPatrol DAC
    • AudioQuest PowerQuest 2
    Budget friendly power strip and conditioner. Love the handy USB port for charging the Chord Mojo. No wall wart needed.

Comments 19

Do yourself a favor and try some Morrow Audio cables. I wasn't a believer that cables made a difference til I won a pair of their entry level cables. Oh my!!! My 8 year old daughter noticed the better sound as soon as she walked in the room. Enjoy.


@jperry Thanks!  Love those albums.


Nice looking system. I like the album wall art.


@coltrane1 Thanks.  Certainly feel fortunate with how the last handful of months have gone by.  Jazz is very much alive here!


Very nice having a dedicated listening room! You’re doing much better than many. Keep that jazz alive too!


@jond Thanks for your comment.  I have thought about running coax from the Rotel to the Mojo, and I'm sure it'll be a big jump in SQ, but the Mojo requires an 1/8" input for Coax.  Once I get a cable or an adapter that can accommodate it it'll be a fun experiement.


Congrats on your new listening room! And great little system you've put together I bet it sounds fantastic. Love the multi-format approach just curious though have you tried running the Rotel into the Chord Mojo? If it has a coax out it might give you a nice improvement in sound.


@yuvalg9 Thank you.  Feel like we found perfect balance of value to performance with each of these components.


Looks like a very nice system! Read a lot of positive reviews about the Totem 'speakers, the BlueSound Node 2I, the Mojo, and the clearaudio Concept!
Wish you many years of enjoyment!   


@troutki50 Thanks!

@therobert Thank you. We're still working on tidying up a the room a bit, and are experiencing with acoustic panels too, but it's sounding very good right now.  I started getting into the hobby right when our son was born so I've always been chasing bargains, trading up, and finding used deals to help support my habit ;)

@jma6 Thanks.  It sure does!  


Great, clean looking system!


Very good looking room, and system. And it’s nice to see a system that doesn’t cost more than my condo for a change.


Matthew ,

Congratulations for putting together a very balanced system at a down to earth cost .
I am sure it gives you and your family a lot of musical pleasure .


@robelvick Thanks for commenting.  I’m a die hard RDJ fan. Have been since me early teens and can’t get enough of his work.  Lately one of my favorite tracks to demo is "abundance10edit[2 R8's, FZ20m & a 909]" from the Collapse EP.


Very well done!  Love the framed Syro poster too!  Huge Aphex Twin fan here.


@adeep42 Thanks!  Enjoyed look at your systems too.  Appreciate the comment.


Very nice!!!!!!!!


@hificrazed Thanks. It's coming together. Hoping to install bass traps next. Out of frame from the photos are additional acoustic panels; same as the grey panels that are behind the speakers. These certainly makes a difference. Looking forward to hearing how additional room treatments will affect the room.  


Excellent!! Nice working with what you have to create a great listening space.


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