Description

I'm no longer really a "naimnut". Eight years ago I replaced my Apogee Centaurus Minor speakers with Quad ESL 63s. That was the beginning of massive changes in my system. First to go were the Naim 135s, replaced by an Innersound Electrostatic amplifier. The Naim 82 preamp/hicap was replaced by the Supratek Cortese preamp. I enjoyed the Naim equipment for several decades but now I really appreciate tubes. Especially the 45 SET.

I have enjoyed learning about the Jazz Kissaten in Japan. Now it seems I've basically created my own private Jazz Kissa in my current listening room. This is where I write.
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Room Details

Dimensions: 24’ × 15’  Large
Ceiling: 8’


Components Toggle details

    • Garrard 401
    Garrard 401 in custom plinth made by Bob Thompson (here in Portland, Oregon). His business goes by the name of "Bobland". I went for a gorgeous veneer of unknown origin (perhaps Sapelle?).
    • SME 3012 tonearm assembled from SME spare parts
    12 inch tonearm
    • Ortofon Royal G Mk.II
    Wow. Just got this to replace the Shelter. I really liked the Shelter 901 but I happened to switch back to my Dynavector 17D3 for a while and it sounded great.
    I've always been curious about the SPU cartridges. I *really* like this cartridge. This is the best cartridge I've ever owned. Amazing slam, detail, tonality and timbre.
    • Naim Audio CD 3.5 cd player
    Nice cd player. It's back in the system because of its ability to read a home-brew cd compilation from my brother that the Cambridge CXC couldn't read.
    • Supratek Audio Cortese with LCR phono stage
    All tube, point-to-point hard-wired, tube-rectified, tube-regulated preamp. Currently running one Tungsol round plate & one other vintage 6SN7. Often have been running CBS 5692 (right? memory hazy this morning) mil-spec red-base 6SN7s.
    • Quad ESL-2805
    Fully serviced by Ken McCollum, owner of Electrostatic Solutions. Most recent service was on-site here in my listening room. My advice, even with the original Quad shipping boxes don't trust your Quads to UPS or FedEx. They don't treat them the way you want.
    • Alan Eaton 45 SET monoblocks
    I compared these 1.5 watt amplifiers to my much-loved AES SE-1 300B stereo amp. The Alan Eatons had better bass (at the listening volume/level that I listen at) and were generally just a more wonderful experience, all the way around.
    I've always been a little bit puzzled by those who are hard-core fanatics of these extremely low-powered vintage triodes. Now I understand why people rave about these tubes and amps. The journey generally goes something like 300B ->2A3 -> 45... Of course, YMMV
    • Quad 909
    Wonderful solid state power amp. Perfect match to the Quad 2805 speakers because it's designed to work properly with the 2805s "crowbar" protection circuit.
    • Nakamichi CassetteDeck 2
    Good sounding unit. Serviced. Reliable.
    • Sony 2251 turntable
    Nice unit but it appears to me that Sony compromised when they decided where to locate the tonearm pillar because I'm not able to obtain a proper Baerwald or Lofgren alignment.
    • JBL 4430
    Vintage studio monitors. 93dB efficient. Very nice speakers. Cabinets show some wear and tear.
    • MHDT Laboratory Orchid
    Tube-buffered R-to-R DAC using the venerable Philips TD 1541A chip. I'm using a tube adapter to allow substitution of a Amperex 6DJ8 Bugle Boy in place of the standard GE 5670.
    • Vinyl records Vinyl records
    Approximately 4,500 phono albums.
    • Yeti Goal Zero 1250
    Lead acid battery generator. Reduces the noise floor to nothing by generating a perfect 60Hz sine wave.
    • Quickmill Lucca M-58 Espresso machine
    Required equipment
    • Bluesound Node 2i
    Nice little compact streamer that allows me to control Qobuz via my cell phone, iPad, laptop, etc. If Qobuz had a feature like Spotify connect I'd probably use that. I have a hard drive attached for downloaded files from Bandcamp and I *hate* the way that Qobuz interfaces with those files. It is not convenient.
    • Altec Lansing A7 Magnificent speakers
    These are the A7 VOTT manufactured for domestic use. I don't know who could have originally fitted them into a domestic environment, because they are absolutely HUGE. The are gorgeous to look at and sound wonderful. I doubt that they will displace my JBLs or my Quads. But they're fun to have.
    • Rotel RCD 855 CD player
    I love this thing. For one thing, the dispay is excellent. And the sound is very acceptable too, though I think it sounds better when run through the MHDT Orchid, even though they basically have the same DAC chip
    • Cardas Audio Neutral Reference interconnects and speaker wires
    I was somewhat of a cable & wire agnostic until recently. I knew they made a difference. I just didn't want to go down that rabbit hole, especially considering the cost of better cables.
    Dame fortune smiled on me, however, and I was able to pick up two nice pairs of Cardas Neutral Reference interconnects and speaker wires. I was very surprised at how they made things sound so much better. Fuller, more fleshed out. More detailed. Better in every musically important way. Plenty of detail, plenty of air, tone, soundstaging, deep bass, "meat on the bone" and beauty. I'm now a big Cardas fan. I'm not saying there aren't good alternatives, but consider that the NRs are nearly 20 years old... Just sayin'...

Comments 14

Showing all comments by markusthenaimnut.

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Owner
@frozentundra 
Thanks for your kind comments. Frankly, the Quad ESL 63s were simply far superior to the Apogees. The Centaurus Minors I had were good sounding speakers for the money. The Quads are simply in a different league.

Regarding the big changes - many factors.
1. Long ago I was able to compare my Naim 72 preamp to a First Sound passive preamp. I was amazed at how much more transparent the First Sound was. The Naim was rolled off at the frequency extremes. In spite of that, I live contentedly for several decades gradually upgrading through the Naim hierarchy. But I felt there was more out there beyond Naim. The Innersound Electrostatic amplifier I bought a little while after I got my ESL63s showed me the limitations of the Naim 135s. The Naims were good. The Innersound was simply better. Clearer. More performance-transparent. :^)

@toro3 Thanks man. You appear to be a person of extreme sensitivity, keen perception and fine judgement! Wish we could share a cup of coffee and listen to to some tunes. ;>) 

@joel_hifi 
Thanks, also for your comments. Yes, I switch between the two systems at will. Neither is perfect but each has something to offer. Regarding the impact of the filled Expedit shelves on the sound... I'm not really sure. I've probably got about 55 inches between the back of the Quads and the shelves. And the shelves are, I think, 15 inches deep. And I listen primarily in the near field.

@jmalen123 Thanks man. I appreciate your comments.

@robert53 Thank you. 

@jond Thanks man. You are kind.

You are all so kind to check out my system. Hope you are having a great holiday.

markusthenaimnut

Owner
@pgaulke60 Those are Ikea Expedit shelves. Don't know if they still sell them. They might have been replaced by something similar.

I am thinking of looking on Craigslist for some used ones to supplement the ones I have.

markusthenaimnut

Owner
With my Naim system I mainly used Apogee Centaurus Minors. I also used Linn Sara 9's. The Apogees were very good for what they did and very good value for the money.

markusthenaimnut