Audio and Retirement--Is There A Linkage? AND, Do I Have An Antidote That Will Make Me Happy? Luckily I Do!!!!! My “Almost Bucket List System” Pt 1

Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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As anyone who has read any of my original thread posts knows, they are not typical WBF posts, because while they are definitely based on my lifelong audio experiences and typically about the latest in my life-guiding quest to have my ultimate audio system that will help maximize my daily pleasure during my retirement. This post is woven into one of my life stories that was significantly influenced by my love of audio

If you are looking for the typical WBF post, you will probably not like this description of my latest attempts to merge my happiness with audio. But if, like me, audio is about personal joy and not just loving and listening to music, hopefully you will continue to read this and hopefully end up happier from some of the points within, especially if being enveloped by your system is important to you, as it definitely is for me..

There is no doubt that this post is stimulated by the merger of number of factors in the forefront of my current thinking as I sit home by myself during this lockdown and as I prepare for one of the most life changing events we all will or have already encountered—retirement, which for me will occur at the end of this coming Thursday, 4/30/20, when I formally retire.

Central to this post are several audio and life related things that are about to happen to me simultaneously, or at least will become undeniably carved into my consciousness because of Thursday’s retirement deadline, a true transition point in my life that I started thinking about when I was 10 years old at my first audio show in SF with my hero and dad, who was actually one of the main stimuli for my lifelong devotion to audio, not just listening to music. It was also where the idea of My Bucket List System sprouted. It was also where I promised myself that I would have My Bucket List System by the time I retire, or said another way, Thursday.

The first of these upcoming merged factors was that day in SF at 10 years old when I truly discovered audio and the passion that those of us who have it derive from the hobby. The following three paragraphs are about the first of those life factors that helped shape the balance of my audio love affair and my life that happened to me at that audio show 60 years ago. It was right up there with going with Marty (WBF) to hear Jon Iverson’s Force Field, visiting Mike Lavigne and hearing his system for hours with the other two of the Three Amigos (Marty and Steve Williams) or sitting next to Arnie Nudell in a small room at the Jockey Club with Dave Wilson at his first CES in the early 80’s when Arnie and I heard for the first time what would become the next audio reference system for most for the next 40 years, the first WAMM,, clearly superior to Nudell's IRS's, permanently dethroning Nudell’s various IRS iterations, not to mention meeting David Wilson (who I talked to at length) after Nudell rudely left in the midst of a panic attack triggered by the undeniable end of the IRS reign.

As I have written elsewhere on WBF, the next four days is my last chance to fulfill my childhood dream and deep-seated desire formulated as a 10 year-old at a SF audio show with my dad and listening to a full Marantz system Amp, Preamp and straight tracking turntable all being demo'd by owner and chief designer of Marantz, Saul Marantz, through a JBL Paragon 2 channel speaker, that was audibly respectable and certainly so curious looking that I have quested for one as a piece of furniture that makes sound since that date. Luckily, I do not have room in my house to act on that dream!

Confused and clearly moved by the sound and the overall experience and realizing Saul Marantz was the same guy whose name was on all of the equipment I was newly lusting for, probably my first girlfriend. And then in walks Frank McIntosh whose McIntosh tube pre's, amps and tuners were so highly regarded. His room was across the hall and although I did not know much, I quickly realized that my dad and I just happened to be at the right place and the right time when these two reigning audio powerhouses came together with their mighty egos with an intensity that sparked my nascent desire for audio and the moment that I discovered that audio and passion are linked. Both Marantz and McIntosh commented to my dad that they could see the look in my eyes that proved I would be a lifelong audiophile, and boy they were spot on!

It was then that I started dreaming of my final ultimate audio system created from whatever would be state of the art at the time (BTW I thought that would happen when I was 50, but instead it is happening 2 weeks shy of my 71st birthday) when I would be actually building this system. I also realized this would be expensive because I knew the emotions linked to this idea already = a lot of money (my sense of what a lot of money means has also changed dramatical), and accepted that I had no interest in compromise as long as I could pay for it so that at the time of my retirement, I would own the system outright and could just enjoy it without having to write big monthly checks and constantly be looking for the next big audio thing, rather than listening.

Back to what was the first sentence of this post when I started writing late Friday/early Saturday although this post has become much more important (to me) than it began---I am retiring from my psych and addiction medicine practice on 4/30 and still have a lot to do and am somewhat anxious about my upcoming retirement because of both the positive and negative changes my retirement will have on my life going forward. Up until my formal decision to retire on 4/30/20, made at a dinner in early December, 2019 with my longest and closest friend and partner in audio explorations for more than 50 years, Marty from WBF and his wonderful wife Lisa, just before going to see Bela Fleck and the Flecktones for the fourth time during the past 2 decades. At that point April 30 was 5 months away, an eternity or so I thought that night.

Back to Friday-- I made the "mistake" of sitting down to listen to my system at 10 AM for an hour or two Friday (2 days ago) and other than about 2 hours of calls on Friday, as I started writing this post, I was still sitting listening at 1:20 AM Saturday and nowhere ready to go to bed. During the lockdown, I have had more time to listen to music than I did during my way too busy crazy work days. I also received my SGM Extreme from Emile, and finally inserted the amazing MasterBuilt Ultra USB cable connected to a MSB Reference DAC for a sublime and totally believable sound, further enhanced by Center Stage 1.5 Footers (Steve again). Linked to my total VAC system, especially the Statement 450 amp, the sound is not just real good, it is totally enveloping and a great way to get out of my head – something I clearly needed last Friday.

The MasterBuilt Ultra USB cable is so good that inserted into s full MB loom of MB Ultra throughout my entire system, there was still a substantial, if not SEVERAL FOLD sound improvement, especially full spectrum spatial cues and incredibly sense of being totally believable. As I am writing this I am smiling thinking about an earlier comment in this post about the cost of the mental etc’s that are part of putting together a top notch system, because you know whatever they are, they are “must have's”. The true cost of a full loom of MasterBuilt’s Ultra line exemplifies this for me to a T!!!

Back to the original reason for this post, my thorough enjoyment of listening to my Almost Bucket List System. Granted my $225, 000 Ultra 9's should sound good for that amount of money and their truly deserved reputation as one of the best speakers available today regardless of price. Add to that the electronics and cabling driving them, but I keep forgetting that my greatest listening pleasure in my 60 years as an audiophile that is still occurring during this lockdown and pending retirement (very anxiety provoking because it means letting go of what has been my life for the past 45 years) is being wonderfully removed from my thinking by albeit a great multi $100K electronics and cabling system playing through a $9,000/pair of Von Schweikert/ Endeavor 3 Mk2's that are standing in for the Ultra 9's until Leif can get back to my house (NJ) to visit and to install a couple of replacement parts that an unexplainable mega voltage surge took out my Furman Pro 20IT (no easy task) and the 1000 watt plate amp for the 15" subwoofer and the 15" driver on one of my 9's.

One of the key points of this post is how good the Audio DNA of VSA is that one of their entry level speakers is doing just fine as a stand in until its big brother VSA Ultra 9 (costing 24 times as is much as the E3 Mk2’s) are back up and running. Given the same great carefully chosen electronics and cabling playing through Ultra 9's which makes it one of the best systems you may have ever heard, and clearly better than even the VSA, VAC, Audio Company, MB, Kronos, ETC multi "best of show" winner systems, because my system has many of the same components driving it, and in my opinion a few that are better, but most important is it is not in "show conditions", which makes an amazing difference. Said another way, if you have heard the VSA, VAC etc. Mega Show systems and loved them as most do, despite weird rooms and no time to settle in, I can state without hesitation, that once in your home and allowed to settle in and be tweeked as us audio propeller heads are want to do, you'll see that there are at least several levels of even better sound to be had in your home than what you may have heard if you go to shows.

Continued in next post due to length
 
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Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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Continuation of previous post

Amongst those tweeks, that I now consider essential and no longer a "tweek", are the Center Stage footers throughout my system which make an amazing difference that is hard, if not impossible, to believe. Unfortunately, their break-in time takes too long to stabilize for a show, and thus would probably be worse than nothing until stabilized. I also have a full loom of MasterBuilt Ultra IC's, PC's, speaker wire and most important their Ultra USB cable, which as I previously stated, brought the rest of the loom from great to a definitely better, almost unbelievable level that make VSA's tag "the sound of reality" undeniable!!!

In addition, I have a fairly acoustically friendly environment compared to the rooms where these mega demos have been held at shows. While my room will ultimately be tweeked and improved by acoustician, Bonnie Schnitta of Steve Williams fame, and hopefully sound even better than what I have now, I could easily live with what I am listening to currently for the rest of my time, with the $9000. E3Mk2's as speakers. BTW, I may change my mind on that point once the 9’s are back because they are that much better than the clearly incredible E3Mk2’s.

Another benefit my current "standby" system is I have it in a fixed location, with every tweek that I believe helps and the time for all of the pieces to settle in and to become their best, complete system (in some cases 100's of hours of break-in, if not longer with the speakers and cables. Yet on the sonic DNA front I am currently not listening to my VSA Ultra 9's, but rather listening to VSA E3 Mk2's at $4,500 per side that overall produce sound that is better sounding than just about, if not literally any exhibit I heard at Axpona 2018 or 2019 and Capital Audio Fest 2018 and 2019, with regard to listening pleasure and total involvement. I listened for about 14 hours on Friday, and at least as long yesterday and already for 5 hours today, and it is only 3 PM, because it has been so enjoyable and put me in a great mind set despite all that is going on in general, and in particular as I am about to retire Thursday.

Once again bravo to all of the key players that make my system what it is and their ability to work together as they each pursue their individual goals of the ultimate in high end audio and, yes, upper midfi, at least with regard to the cost, not the sound of the VSA E3Mk2 speakers.

I know that some of the claims I made in this post are hard to believe, especially about the E3Mk2's, but then you are welcome to come and judge for yourself.

If you are reading this, then you made it through this entire post and for that I thank you and I hope that you have gained something from it, especially the importance of being emotionally enveloped by your system as mine does for me every time I listen, even with the VSA Endeavor 3 Mk2’s standing in for their big brothers, the totally amazing Ultra 9’s!!!!! That being said, I want the 9’s working again so that I can go from “My Almost Bucket List System” to “My Bucket List System”.
 

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cjfrbw

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Apr 20, 2010
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Kudos, Russ. You'd have to drag me in chains back to my profession. I think I was born retired.
 

Mobiusman

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I would love to hear your system.
Where do you live? Depending on which speaker you are interested in would determine when, since I only have the E3 Mk2"s currently and think it will be at least a month before Leif can get here with the parts and fix the Ultra 9 and insure the 9's are right and set up ideally.

Then we have to insure that the visit would be healthy and safe.

I will do whatever I can to facilitate a visit.

I live at the NJ shore right near Point Pleasant. This is about 50 minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel NJ side as well as the Holland Tunnel NJ side. It is toll roads till the last 5 five miles and then quite simple.

From Philly, it is north on either the NJ Turnpike or up through PA on 95 and then connecting to I 195 to the NJ Parkway South for about 9 miles and then 5 miles of quick local roads. Total time from City Center 5-10 minutes longer than NYC, both traffic dependent.

Russ
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Where do you live? Depending on which speaker you are interested in would determine when, since I only have the E3 Mk2"s currently and think it will be at least a month before Leif can get here with the parts and fix the Ultra 9 and insure the 9's are right and set up ideally.

Then we have to insure that the visit would be healthy and safe.

I will do whatever I can to facilitate a visit.

I live at the NJ shore right near Point Pleasant. This is about 50 minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel NJ side as well as the Holland Tunnel NJ side. It is toll roads till the last 5 five miles and then quite simple.

From Philly, it is north on either the NJ Turnpike or up through PA on 95 and then connecting to I 195 to the NJ Parkway South for about 9 miles and then 5 miles of quick local roads. Total time from City Center 5-10 minutes longer than NYC, both traffic dependent.

Russ
Sam lives in Manila. I had the good fortune of hosting Sam, his wife and daughters a few years ago.Sam has a collection of audio gear that is virtually a museum of every great component ever made.One if the nicest guys you'll ever meet
 

Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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BTW, if it matters to anyone, my listening session has now gone on to include a fourth day with 9 hours already at 7PM the 27th.

What I want to state is the extended and chronic impact of my listening on trying to clear my head of upsetting thoughts, especially my retirement on Thursday has produced less concern and more acceptance even during those rare times that I am not listening. I could not be happier and learning lots of new good music.
 
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mullard88

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Jun 5, 2010
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Hi Russ,

Thank you for your kind invitation. I am excited and happy.

I live in the Philippines.

I don't care which speaker will be hooked up. I totally agree that the visit has to be healthy and safe. I believe the airport here is "shut". I have heard of very few people travelling and it seems like all air travel is only by chartered flights. I will make plans after things and air travel have normalized.

Sam
 

mullard88

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Jun 5, 2010
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Hi Steve,

Thank you for your kind words. I hope Cathy is healthy and safe from the corona virus. Keep yourself healthy Steve. Your system is another one I hope to hear again. I have not heard your system with the center stage footers yet.

Sam
 

mullard88

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Jun 5, 2010
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By the way Russ, when you listen to your E3Mk2s, do you remove the grills and have you tried the Herbies Audio titanium spike decoupling gliders on your E3Mk2s?
 

Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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Hi Russ,

Thank you for your kind invitation. I am excited and happy.

I live in the Philippines.

I don't care which speaker will be hooked up. I totally agree that the visit has to be healthy and safe. I believe the airport here is "shut". I have heard of very few people travelling and it seems like all air travel is only by chartered flights. I will make plans after things and air travel have normalized.

Sam
Sam,

I have heard lots about you, including you are a great guy from Steve, Damon and Leif.

The offer has no time limits. BTW, if you are not using an SGM Extreme, you should look into one--truly system changing. Also the MasterBuilt Ultra cables, especially the ultra USB. And while I suspect you are already using them, the Center Stage Footers.

russ
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Sam has all of the above and then some Russ. He has a veritable museum of vintage components that are all in perfect condition.
Sam was one of the first to use Center Stage
 

Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
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Jersey Shore- waterside
By the way Russ, when you listen to your E3Mk2s, do you remove the grills and have you tried the Herbies Audio titanium spike decoupling gliders on your E3Mk2s?
Sam,

My E3's do not have grill covers, but in general I do not like them. Totally unaware of Herbies. Do you think that they would help under the 9's?

russ
 

mullard88

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Jun 5, 2010
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Russ,

I do not know if the Herbies will help under the 9s. Perhaps Leif can answer that. Leif recommended I put the Herbies under the spiked feet of the E3. In my case, the Herbies extended the lower frequencies and opened up the sound stage. I was just wondering if you also installed Herbies between the E3's spiked feet and the floor.

Sam
 

mullard88

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Jun 5, 2010
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Russ,

Thank you for your unlimited offer. Let me reciprocate with an invitation to you to hear my system should you visit my part of the world.

Sam
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Russ,

Thank you for your unlimited offer. Let me reciprocate with an invitation to you to hear my system should you visit my part of the world.

Sam
I might even go with you Russ
 

Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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This post should probably be on the Creme de la Creme thread, but for me it fits better here because tomorrow is my fabled retirement, otherwise known as Thursday.. As some you know I have been coping with my combined lockdown by myself while trying to get the final pieces together for tomorrow's projected retirement, by listening to hours upon hours of music through the digital side of my system, through standby speakers VSA/Endeavor E3 Mk 2's.

I have been listening for such extended periods and at darn near maximum output for my current Almost Bucket List System it is wonderful for flipping my thought processes to more comfortable places. Yesterday I noted a sonic quality I had never heard before. While the bass was outstanding, the mids and up were very hazy, getting worse with increases in frequency. At first I thought that my tensor Tympani muscles were damping my ear drums due to long periods of 100db+ output. But no it was the Roon signal.

This morning Emile and Christoph from Taiko called to install a Roon upgrade for Extreme owners. It is so cool to be seeing them on the phone in the Netherlands, changing my beloved "almost" system and being told from thousands of miles a way that I am set and hit play on HeartBreak City by the Carrs. I heard the improvement immediately and it was in no way subtle.

It's not perfect, but it never is, that is the human way!!!
 

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