I Figured Out My Love Of Audio After 61 Years


Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
Jersey Shore- waterside
It took 61 years. for me to get it with regard to audio. Last Friday, I finally got to hear a very close approximation of what my Bucket List System is going to sound like. I have dreamed and fantasized about this since I promised myself when I was 10 years old and at an audio show in SF with my dad. (I have written a number of pieces on this forum about my trip to My Bucket List System under my user name mobiusman) for anyone who cares about the life impacting aspects of this very unusual and personal hobby.

Here’s the short version of my promise to myself that just began the beginning of its reality last Thursday. I decided at 10 that as I approached retirement somewhere way off in the future, I would buy myself the best audio system I could afford that used the best, in my opinion, technology to produce the simply most realistic sound in my ultimate system. There were two proviso’s: 1) everything I bought had to be paid for in full before I could buy it. This was designed as a reality limiter because there was and always will be something bigger and more expensive, BUT the main reason was really more important and somewhat surprising that I realized it when I was 10---IF WHATEVER I PUT TOGETHER IS TOTALLY PAID FOR, THERE IS NO REASON TO SECOND GUESS MY UNDOUBTEDLY EXCESSIVE PURCHASE OR FEEL GUILT; AND 2) The second proviso is it had to be completed and paid for by my retirement date, which was April 30, 2020.

The good news is that I essentially achieved my goal, with several major unexpected changes:

  • I was 5 times over budget even after using every connection I have
  • It was much harder than I thought because I learned so much during the past 3 ½ years of working on this project, because the more I decided on what I wanted for equipment and the type of sound I was seeking, the more it became obvious that what I was seeking is something that many talk about, but few, very few, actually achieve it. So, the more I learned, I realized that EVERYTHING MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO CREATING MY DESIGN FOR THE BEST SOUND.
  • This is the point where reality became a very small part of this project, because once I decided some part of the system design was essential, it had a guaranteed place, although this kind of stuff tends to be very specialized, made to order and it takes a long time for each piece to become reality, not to mention the amount of money I had to assemble since my budget increased to 5 times my original low 6 figure budget.
  • It turned out that as I became more advanced with my system construction plan and more committed to my path, I finally started realizing the true cost of this project was way more than I had been allowing my self to believe because I only used ,money that I had already earned. As I had always done in the past when projecting system design costs, I never really included the costs of cabling into previous project designs and thus had purchased many “special cables over the years, but they were not factored into the system cost. Although I put it off as a form of denial, I knew to achieve my goal, I had no choice but to use a full loom of MasterBuilt Ultra interconnects, speaker wire and power cords. Even though my system is very simple and physically compact, keeping my run lengths relatively short, the retail cost of the cables ended being considerably more than the retail cost of my Von Schweikert Ultra 9 speakers and substantially more than all of my VAC electronics, including a pair of their top of the line Statement 452IQ Musicblocs, I simply could not achieve my system sound without the MasterBuilt Ultra products everywhere signal and power play a role.
  • The MasterBuilt Ultra products are different than most high-end cabling which are more like a tuning tool, whereas the MasterBuilt Ultra products are designed with the top priority of keeping distortion or any signal path alteration to a bare minimum because they are aerospace sourced where reducing distortion to the lowest possible levels is a top priority. It helps that the key engineers at MasterBuilt are not only aerospace cable engineers, they are also audiophiles and distributed by Von Schweikert, who uses their ultra wire in all of their ultra products, like my Ultra 9’s.
  • By the way, I also could not produce the amazing sound I am starting to expect as normal without the amazing synergy between VAC electronics and Von Schweikert’s Ultra speakers, like my Ultra 9’s. I originally had a VAC Statement 450IQ Stereo amp, for cost reasons, because I was simply maxed out financially. It was a wonderful amp and will now be the ultimate voicing amp for Von Schweikert speakers and all of their new designs.
  • But part of what I sought from my ultimate system was enough power to make it feel like “you are there”. I simply did not have enough power to do that thus I frequently ran the amps into soft clipping, but never had a tube failure due to the IQ system. I still thought the system sounded great.
  • Then I became all moral and admitted that I was under powered and through a series of steps shifted my plans to buy a pair of VAC Statement 452IQ Musicblocs, each of which would run as a monobloc with 450 watts instead of the 225 watts from the 450 Stereo which Von Schweikert took back in trade so that they could upgrade their design voicing system. This was a big expenditure, but it was needed, and I had no idea just how much better my system would sound powered by the 452’s. Oh BTW, I had to buy another MasterBuilt Ultra PC because now I have two amps instead of one.
  • As soon as I turned on the amps, I knew I was dealing with a totally different beast than the Statement 450IQ Stereo, even though I knew I had at least 500 hours of break-in ahead of me, if not 1,000 hours before I would know the real sound contribution from the 452’s. Simply put, the 452’s sound nothing like the 450 Stereo other than you cannot determine if they are tube or solid state in design.
  • What I heard within several bars of the first cut I played, was that these amplifiers don’t just have more watts, they have much beefier power supplies that produces much more authority, than the 450 series. In fact, each 452 amp running in mono has four times the power reserve of a 450 monobloc running in mono, despite producing the same number of watts. So that means since I have two of these beasts, my power supply reserves are now 8 times what they were with the Stereo.
  • All I can say is that I can hear the Ultra 9’s saying “thank you” regardless of the program material. Kevin Hayes, the owner and head designer of VAC made changes all along the single path and due to the vertical configuration, can keep the noisy components like the transformers farther away from the amplification components, but use less wire for their component to component wiring on all Statement level products because the path is more direct.
  • The net result is these amps are the quietest amps I have ever heard, and yet can go from dead quiet to “you are there” without producing even a single drop of sweat. You hear this all of the time, and then you start to realize that you are hearing more, somewhere around 300 hours of break-in (which can be pretty brutal at times). My take away is that through his work with VSA and vice versa, both companies have become more aware of reducing distortion and have taken all possible efforts to reduce the overall system distortion, hence my speakers now sound much better thanks to the addition of the 452’s because everything else has remained the same and is totally broken-in.
  • In this post I have overlooked another essential component and is now required in my systems and that is CMS footers under all of my components, but not yet my speakers because their underside has to be modified by Leif Swanson, which he will do at my home, when he can travel again. Simply put, they are amazing, but have a god awful and prolonged break-in cycle, that can take up to 2-3 weeks to stabilize, making the system unlistenable at times during the early break-in.
  • I will not go on and on, other than to say, I am so lucky to have this system, not only because I filled a life-long dream, but, I have a sound system that is so involving that everything sounds much better and for the most sounds enjoyable even if you do not like the content. It took 500 hours to get there about 5 days ago. I suspect that during the next 500 hours there will be slight improvements in the three dimensional cues and even more movement toward Albert Von Schweikert’s goal that the speaker should be the inverse of the top quality microphone used for the recording.
  • When we get vaccinated people who are interested are welcome to come visit and listen. I am about half way between NYC and Philly on the NJ Shore. In the meantime, it is finally time for to seriously tweak my Bergmann/Galder turntable and ZYX Universe Optimum cartridge outputted via MasterBuilt Ultra single ended Bocchino equipped cables running to a VAC phono pre connected to my VAC preamp. Of course the turntable is sitting on a Vibraplane which sits on 600 pound marble electron microscope stand.

I have to admit that sometimes when I am home listening to this amazing system by myself, I feel a bit guilty because my emotions are in such a positive place because of the system. But then, if I do not listen, why did I do this project and besides someone has to do it!


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WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
Metro DC
Sounds like a visit to Disneyland.

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