Saturday, May 22, 2010
I attended the Lone Star Audio Fest and had a great time. I enjoyed hanging out with a local Texas crowd for a weekend. They were all very friendly and interesting. We had dinner together, talked audio, and listened to some wonderful systems. The first room I listened to was the Experience Music room. Jeffrey Jackson and Dave Slagle put this rig together. It was one of the best systems, if not the best system, I have ever heard. The sound was effortless even during dynamic passages. Stringed instruments sounded very natural and nuanced, even in big orchestral works. I bought a choral piece of music while I was at the show. When I played the choral piece, I was stunned by the air around the individual voices and the imaging that was present. It was like I was actually in a cathedral listening to the people sing.
Other people were also impressed with this system as well. I talked with two men who came back to the room at least four different times (I was helping out in this room while Dave and Jeffrey talked shop). One of these men said that he had heard a Shindo system. He said the Experience Music system blew it away. Several people brought their own LPs and played them on this system. They played rock, jazz and country music. The system played each type of music with ease and grace. After listening to their music, most of them commented that they had never heard their LPs sound this good.
I’m not sure what component made the biggest contribution to this beautiful system so I listed the components below.
Cartridge MiyabeTonearm Schroder / Aretmis SA-1
Table Schroder / Artemis TA-1
SUT Experience Music / Intact Audio 1:52 for the Miyabe
Phono Experience Music 7K LCR using the 7788 as a pentode to drive the LCR to a 56 with permalloy output transformers.
Linestage Experience Music 71A
Attenuation Bent Audio Inductive Controls (inside the 71A linestage)
Crossover Intact Audio Inductive Prototype
Bass Amp Jim Rivers modded Heath W3M
Bass Horn BassMaxx B-ZerosAmp Experience Music 50SET German DHT driver directly coupled to a 50 with nickel OT's
Horn Eleven Horns 160hz solid wood
Driver Lowther America Field coil
I also had a chance to spend some time in Bob Spence’s Affirm Audio room. He had a pair of single-driver speakers that sounded wonderful. Because there was only one speaker in each cabinet, the sound was very coherent and focused. The speakers were field coils with an adjustable field current. Bob demonstrated how the sound could be changed by varying the current applied to the field coils. He had a power supply that provided current to the field coils. He varied the current from approximately 1 amp to 2 amps. At 1 amp of current, the system sound very warm and lush. At 2 amps, the system sounded more analytical and detailed. My favorite spot was at 1.25 amps. At this setting the system was nuanced without sounding hard or edgy. It had an organic quality to it that drew me in. All in all, it was an excellent system.
The Speakers were the Field coil prototypes of the Alpair 12's and the cabinets were the Mark Audio Pencil 12's.
The turntable was a SP-10 MkII in a custom panzerholz & basswod plinth from Porterhouse Audio. The phono-cartridge was Dynavector on a SME 12" arm. The phono-preamp was a modified Artemis Labs PH1. Bent autoformers were used for volume control and the amplifier was an Art Audio Carissa 845. The cables and power conditioning were done by Clarity Cable.
all photos courtesy of Clay Grier