Putting together a music system is a STEREO project. You approach it differently from a home theater system. Here’s my two cents on the formula for building a great hi-fi.
1) Mains Conditioner
You start at the beginning. What’s coming out of your wall? Noise and debris! If you don’t cleanse the fuzzies coming out of your outlet, you’ll never achieve optimum clarity in your music.
Think of the start of your system as a photographic negative, that will ultimately be blown up into the size of a poster. You want that source to be as clear as possible.
There are many surge protectors out there. Most save you from brown outs. Very few IMPROVE your sound quality. Isotek WILL!
We sell Isotek mains conditioners. They IMPROVE your sound quality!
Polaris runs $500.
Aquarius runs $2000.
Both have 6 outlets. Both come with high quality power cables. Point again- the cables are not EXTRA. With most competitors- THEY ARE.
Running Polaris on a mid line system or Aquarius on a high end system, is the right place to start.
2) Power Cables
Polaris comes with an Initium power cable ($100 a la carte).
Aquarius comes with a Premier power cable ($150 a la carte).
Premier is a better cable due to superior metals and an improved dielectric.
I recommend you replace the power cables on your gear that will allow you to do so IF, you get a Polaris or Aquarius. If you don’t get a Polaris or Aquarius, don’t waste your money on cut above power cords.
3) Source Component
Bluesound Node 2 $500.
For only $500 you can stream music in MQA & CD quality. To ignore MQA is to have your head in the sand. Since you can get Node 2 for only $500, don’t decide to be cheap HERE. Get a Node 2.
Emotiva ERC-3 CD Player $500
What a great disc player! It’s a dual rail unit with RCA and BALANCED outs. It sounds better than ANY player you could have bought some few short years ago. If you want to replace you old brand X and don’t want to spend a fortune, ERC-3 is your player. Warranty is generous, 5 years!
Marantz SA-8005 $1200
Marantz SA-10 $7000
The above two disc players (both play SACDs & CDs) push the state of the art at their price points. SA-10 is literally unsurpassed in technology and sonic resolution.
Rega Planar One With Ortofon Red MM Cart $575
If you love vinyl, start here. Anything less, is dramatically less!
Mobile Fidelity StudioDeck + $1150
StudioDeck+ includes MoFi’s new StudioTracker MM cartridge. The performance is smooth/warm with fantastic imaging and information. Not the least bit bright or harsh.
Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck+ $2000
Comes with MoFi’s $500 UltraTracker cart. With silver billet body and more info than StudioTracker cart, these MoFi MMs are dual magnet carts, which emulate the performance of a vinyl cutter head to provide maximum information from the LP.
Affordable separates are ruling the earth right now. Why buy an integrated if you can afford these stunningly fine separates? If you can swing $700…!
Emotiva PT-100 $300
PT-100 is a fine stereo preamp with DAC and phono. You can’t beat it south of $1200.
Emotiva XSP-1 $1200
XSP-1 is a steal at $1200! It’s a fully balanced, dual rail preamp with RCA and XLR ins/outs. With wonderfully open, solid sound and a 5 year warranty, just buy one already!
5) Power Amp
Again, affordable separates are crushing the competition these days. Go with separates.
Emotiva A-300 $400 (150×2)
With a huge toroidal transformer (400Va) and 8 output devices, A-300 kicks fanny. Many highly touted $1000 power amps have less hardware and performance than A-300!
Emotiva XPA2G3 $1000 (300×2)
There’s no better value in high end electronics! With 300×2 into 8 ohms and almost double that into four, you have a built in the USA power amp with 5 year warranty -that kicks sand in the face of the wannabes on the beach. It offers a great combination of detail and enormous horse power!
Ribbons, why not? There are lots of fine speakers on the market. More than any other product, speakers are a matter of taste. Ribbons provide the lowest mass and utmost detail. Consider treating yourself to speakers that employ ribbon technology to give you the finest musical articulation.
Emotiva T-1 Tower $700 Per Pair
This masculine tower is ridiculously under priced at $700 per pair. I’m sure we’ll see the price rise on this over achiever sooner than later. The top end is open and feathery in detail. The lower end has some nice chunk to it. My recommendation would be the same at $1k.
GoldenEar Triton 7 $1400 Per Pair
T-7 is a more refined, smoother speaker than the Emo above. If you have an ear for smooth, mellow, fantastic coherence and imaging, T-7 is worth double the price.
GoldenEar Triton 3+ $2500 Per Pair
Now we’re getting into the big time. With the same smooth ribbon tweeter of T-7, T3+ has a powered sub in each cabinet. It goes much deeper and obviates the need for out board subs.
GoldenEar Triton 2+ $3500 Per Pair
With D’Appolito configed mids and two powered subs per cabinet, 2+ gives you a larger image and bigger kick. It’s only money!
GoldenEar Triton 1 $5000 Per Pair
T-1 takes us to superior resolution. The detail beats 2+ as does the extra weight in the bass. For most people T-1 is a dream come true and as far as you’d need to go.
GoldenEar Triton Reference $8500 Per Pair
The new Triton Ref produces an absolutely HUGE, realistic sound stage. Whether vocals, instruments or the sheer power of a band or orchestra, T-Ref gets closer to the live event than
you would ever expect. When almost too much isn’t enough….!
Magnepan MG .7 $1400 Per Pair
Some folks just love the precision of a full panel design. They are fussier to place and simply don’t kick arse. But if you’re a detail fanatic and will work the room around the hi-fi, Magnepans are a
real consideration. $1400 is just too cheap for these!
Magnepan MG 1.7i $2200 Per Pair
This boy is a 3-way, employing super tweeter. The .7 above is a 2-way. The 1.7i is definitely more detailed and has better imaging if you can swing a few more buxx.
Magnepan MG 3.7i $6000 Per Pair
MG 3.7i is a real stunner. With superior ribbon tweeter design to its two brothers above, it has magnificent cohesion and clarity. It’s a panel that competes with anything out there, sans bass impact of course.
Suffice to say, the Emo electronics will drive any of the speakers we are recommending!
Yes, cables make a difference. There are plateaus of interconnect and speaker cables that make sense, depending on what combo of gear you have. We’ll be talking Mogami, Black Velvet & Kimber. Stop in or call to discuss the nuances. That’s what we hi-fi geeks love to gush on about!