Friday, September 22, 2017

The Updated Stereo System

So waaaaay back in 2009, I discussed my stereo on which I listen to all this music. Well, There have been some updates, most if them relatively recently. I replaced my turntable, cartridge, phono pre-amp, and added a subwoofer. So without further adieu, here's the "new" system:

Reference 3A MM deCapo i speakers
Anthem PRE-2L tube preamp
Granite Audio Aspen 800 tube amp
Cambridge Audio Azur 840C
Wadia 170 i Transport
iPod Classic 160 GB
Funk Firm Little Super Deck turntable
Denon 103-R moving coil cartridge
Vacuum Tube Audio PH-16 phono preamplifier
SVS SB-12 NSD subwoofer

Those last four are new. A new turntable and phono preamplifier have expanded the enjoyment of vinyl, and the VTA PH-16 is a truly amazing tube-driven phono section. The optional addition of the Lundahl step-up transformer facilitating completely visceral presentation of low-output moving coils. I love listening to vinyl more than ever (and that is fairly hard to believe). 

I lived with, and loved, the deCapo speakers for twelve years before I finally augmented them with the SVS subwoofer. The SB-12 was on sale as it was discontinued. The deCapos never seemed to lack for bass, but the eight-watt 300B SET amplifier couldn't really articulate bass the way the sub has. Bass notes are much easier to distinguish from each other, and bass drum and bass guitar played simultaneously can be easily distinguished. It cracks me up that the sub has a 400 watt amp built in and I only have 8 watts on the main speakers.

My brother took the MMF-5 turntable off my hands, and has enjoyed it quite a bit. Funk Firm's vector drive is an elegantly simple solution to a complex turntable issue, and I'm convinced that the tonearm is also an engineering design that is a delightfully unique approach, and solves several issues in a lovely way. It's relatively small as quality turntables go, and has an attached dust cover, which isn't always available in mid-priced turntables.

Did I mention the VTA PH-16? This bad-boy is sold as a build-it-yourself kit, but thank goodness, there's also a guy who will build you one for a reasonable price. The amp is classic tube architecture using four 6922 tubes, and the optional step-up transformer makes the deal irresistible, and allows the use of low-output moving coil cartridges. 

I remain enthralled with the second-order distortion of tube amplifiers, and I feel strongly that analog audio reproduction beats the heck out of CD quality digital, even with vinyl's inherent noise issues, in analog's ability to connect to the listener. That, and what was I going to do, replace 1500 LPs?