My CH Precision/Magico System

MadFloyd

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It's been a long time (5 years?) since I posted anything about my system... and there have been changes so I guess it's time! It's been both fascinating and insightful to go back and view my threads from 2015/2016 so if anything this thread will provide me with a record that I can look back on.

I've had my Magico M-Project speakers and Kronos turntable for over 5 years now but electronics have fluctuated. I've enjoyed the journey and learned much about the strengths and weaknesses of various components and my tastes (which have evolved over time).

So here's my system today:

system without listening chair.jpg

What hasn't changed in 5 years:
Magico Projects
Kronos turntable

I've also had my CH Precision P1 for 4 years or so.

I have CAT JL7 monoblocks which were upgraded last year to Special Editions (where I also changed from KT-150s to KT-120s). You can see one of them on the right side as they're obviously not in use at the moment. I think very highly of these amps.

I was using a Dartzeel preamp for a couple years but last August I decided to try the CH Precision L1 and loved it. Interestingly I had tried it 4 years ago (when I ultimately purchased the P1) but I didn't appreciate it at the time. Now I think it's the best preamp I've ever heard (and I've had more preamps in here than I care to list). Live and learn!

While I love many aspects of tubes, there are drawbacks, so you could say I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love the spatiality, imaging, body etc., but I can become distracted if there's a softness and too much distortion. The added 2nd harmonics that many tube components bring to the system can really help 'fill in' what gets lost in the recording process and evoke emotion while solid state has tended to sound more forced, grainy and sometimes brittle to my ears. I have more or less come to the conclusion that tube preamps are not a good long-term match for me because I always seem to perceive some degree of coloring and softness of the sound that distracts. That said, I do enjoy them short term and of course in other people's systems; they certainly have their strengths.

But tube amplifiers, especially CAT, are fantastic products. They do not have a typical 'tube' presentation and they are incredibly impressive in bass control - better than some solid state amplifiers and are fairly neutral sounding. My CAT JL7s have a leaner mid-bass presentation than many solid state amps I've heard.

That said, they're still tubes and over time I always found myself wondering if the distortion I was perceiving originated in the recording or was an artifact of my system. This was sometimes very tough to discern since I happen to enjoy listening to a lot of older classical LPs. I have two other systems that I listen to: a near field pro audio rig (home recording studio) and a high end mobile (in-ear) system that over time became my go-to tools to evaluate what my main system was doing right or wrong. I found myself enjoying my mobile rig more than my main system. Part of that is that the room is removed from the equation (and my room is challenging) but I found myself enjoying what I perceived as a purity of sound - or very low distortion.

The CH Precision L1 made a huge impact on my enjoyment of music, especially classical, where I value the accuracy of timbre and lack of artifacts.

So it was inevitable that I began to get very curious how CH Precision amplification would sound in my system. How different would it be from my beloved CAT JL7s? How significant would the tradeoffs be? This past February I found myself in a position to try them in my system and did so. They stayed. There are tradeoffs and while I don't plan to sell my CATs, I've been totally immersed in my system for the past 4 months.

OK, enough words, time for a few pics:
components.jpg

Kronos Pro Limited Edition / SCPS-1 / SME 3012R / Lyra Atlas SL Lambda
Kronos turntable.jpg

CH Precision P1/X1
CH Precision P1.jpg

CH Precision L1/X1
CH Precision L1.jpg

The mighty CH Precision M1.1
CH Precision M1.1.jpg

The 'David vs Goliath' of digital, the Schiit Yggdrasil DAC (which I've modified thanks to tips from member ack)
Schiit Yggdrasil.jpg

Digital server & networking: InnuOS Zen Mk2 music server, Edison ethernet switch
InnuOS Zen music server.jpg
EtherREGEN and dCS Vivaldi Upsampler/streamer
dCS Vivaldi Upsampler.jpg



Listening area
Listening 2.jpg
 

MadFloyd

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View from kitchen with contentious ceiling treatment
view from kitchen.jpg


One of my 'reality check' references, my mobile Astell & Kern SP-1000 high rez music player with 64Audio U18t in-ear monitors.
I have well over a terrabyte of music on this guy and the sound is superb.
A&K mobile.jpg


My studio near-field Focal setup:
near field focals.jpg
 
Last edited:

MadFloyd

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Some more thoughts on CH Precision electronics (enthusiasm forthcoming!):

Besides the sound characteristics, the design and engineering of these products is something I've never experienced before. Aesthetically they are modest but very elegant. IMO they will 'fit' in any environment and look beautiful in person. One gets the feeling that much thought and brainstorming went into every aspect of the design.

Ergonomically they are a pleasure to use. The front panel controls and remote is very well thought out.

They do not require much warm up time and therefore do not need to be on 24/7. They sound respectable cold, great after 15 minutes and are at top performance after an hour.

I use the CH Precision mobile app (Android only unfortunately) to turn on and off the entire system with one tap. Of course the same app is used for a lot more, including every parameter that can be changed (which is also accessible from the front panel but the app is the preferred method).

The character of the sound does not seem to change with volume. I find this fascinates me and somewhat hard to describe. Obviously there are some changes with volume as the room starts to pressurize, woofers start moving more air etc. When you get up to realistic volume levels there is no lack of body and drive and it's quite impressive that increasing volume doesn't introduce electronic artifacts; my room will get in the way before the electronics do.

I have an audiophile acquaintance who has owned CH Precision components since they've been produced; he has owned CH long before most people knew of them. He's never had an issue with any of their components. I find that very reassuring.
 
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MadFloyd

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(reserved)
 

bonzo75

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Lol @ contentious
 

Audiophile Bill

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Love the room and artwork - looks a very cool place to listen. Enjoy.
 

andromedaaudio

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Jan 23, 2011
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Nice system .
Regarding the amps indeed always nice to have options available.
I d love to hear CH myself , probably indeed a bit cleaner sounding then the CAT s
 
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marty

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Apr 20, 2010
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:) :) :) :) :p
What a pleasure to read about a system from another member of the distinguished Boston contingent who's system we knew the least about! And all this time, I thought that Ian was just a professional listener who visited other people's systems just for the free food and drinks!
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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Thank you very much for updating us about your system, Ian! It has been a long time, and I am happy for you that you found CH and that you are so happy with it!
 
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morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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It's been a long time (5 years?) since I posted anything about my system... and there have been changes so I guess it's time! It's been both fascinating and insightful to go back and view my threads from 2015/2016 so if anything this thread will provide me with a record that I can look back on.

I've had my Magico M-Project speakers and Kronos turntable for over 5 years now but electronics have fluctuated. I've enjoyed the journey and learned much about the strengths and weaknesses of various components and my tastes (which have evolved over time).

So here's my system today:

View attachment 79229

What hasn't changed in 5 years:
Magico Projects
Kronos turntable

I've also had my CH Precision P1 for 4 years or so.

I have CAT JL7 monoblocks which were upgraded last year to Special Editions (where I also changed from KT-150s to KT-120s). You can see one of them on the right side as they're obviously not in use at the moment. I think very highly of these amps.

I was using a Dartzeel preamp for a couple years but last August I decided to try the CH Precision L1 and loved it. Interestingly I had tried it 4 years ago (when I ultimately purchased the P1) but I didn't appreciate it at the time. Now I think it's the best preamp I've ever heard (and I've had more preamps in here than I care to list). Live and learn!

While I love many aspects of tubes, there are drawbacks, so you could say I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love the spatiality, imaging, body etc., but I can become distracted if there's a softness and too much distortion. The added 2nd harmonics that many tube components bring to the system can really help 'fill in' what gets lost in the recording process and evoke emotion while solid state has tended to sound more forced, grainy and sometimes brittle to my ears. I have more or less come to the conclusion that tube preamps are not a good long-term match for me because I always seem to perceive some degree of coloring and softness of the sound that distracts. That said, I do enjoy them short term and of course in other people's systems; they certainly have their strengths.

But tube amplifiers, especially CAT, are fantastic products. They do not have a typical 'tube' presentation and they are incredibly impressive in bass control - better than some solid state amplifiers and are fairly neutral sounding. My CAT JL7s have a leaner mid-bass presentation than many solid state amps I've heard.

That said, they're still tubes and over time I always found myself wondering if the distortion I was perceiving originated in the recording or was an artifact of my system. This was sometimes very tough to discern since I happen to enjoy listening to a lot of older classical LPs. I have two other systems that I listen to: a near field pro audio rig (home recording studio) and a high end mobile (in-ear) system that over time became my go-to tools to evaluate what my main system was doing right or wrong. I found myself enjoying my mobile rig more than my main system. Part of that is that the room is removed from the equation (and my room is challenging) but I found myself enjoying what I perceived as a purity of sound - or very low distortion.

The CH Precision L1 made a huge impact on my enjoyment of music, especially classical, where I value the accuracy of timbre and lack of artifacts.

So it was inevitable that I began to get very curious how CH Precision amplification would sound in my system. How different would it be from my beloved CAT JL7s? How significant would the tradeoffs be? This past February I found myself in a position to try them in my system and did so. They stayed. There are tradeoffs and while I don't plan to sell my CATs, I've been totally immersed in my system for the past 4 months.

OK, enough words, time for a few pics:
View attachment 79230

Kronos Pro Limited Edition / SCPS-1 / SME 3012R / Lyra Atlas SL Lambda
View attachment 79231

CH Precision P1/X1
View attachment 79232

CH Precision L1/X1
View attachment 79233

The mighty CH Precision M1.1
View attachment 79234

The 'David vs Goliath' of digital, the Schiit Yggdrasil DAC (which I've modified thanks to tips from member ack)
View attachment 79235

Digital server & networking: InnuOS Zen Mk2 music server, Edison ethernet switch
View attachment 79236
EtherREGEN and dCS Vivaldi Upsampler/streamer
View attachment 79237



Listening area
View attachment 79238
Nice write up. I am interested in hearing more about what you perceive as trade offs between the CAT and CH amps. Did you ever try CAT preamps? They are not in the romantic school of tube pres...
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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Great stuff, MadFloyd,

You have been incredibly committed to your own internal convictions that you knew what you were hearing, and as many times as you might have struggled to find a system that suited you...you persisted because you believed you were right. And then it appears you have found what a very very high number of super-discerning audiophiles have found. That CH really is a spectacular design that has satisfied some seriously die hard triode fans, tube fans and horn fans...people seeking purity...while also attracting those who come from other diverse systems and backgrounds. It has been quite a noticeable 'conversion' to see JackD201, Arnie of Arrakis fame, you, Gian and more than a few others migrate from some seriously SOTA tubes to the CH for consistently the same reasons. But it is SS and very powerful with all the great things that can come with power and control.

I have also spoken with Roy Gregory who was generous enough to spend some time and share his views on CH, and I have read his recent review of the CH 10 series as well.

Congrats! I look forward to watching if you make the migration to the 10 series...
 
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Steve Williams

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Congrats Ian. I'm looking forward to seeing the picture with the Taiko Extreme in Agust. Guaranteed you will be gobsmacked in comparison to your Innuos
 
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MadFloyd

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Nice write up. I am interested in hearing more about what you perceive as trade offs between the CAT and CH amps. Did you ever try CAT preamps? They are not in the romantic school of tube pres...

The CAT presents more space between instruments and more depth to the soundstage than the CH.
The CH is more authoritative in the bass, not just deep bass but bass in general. Not that I listen to electronic music much, but it demonstrates the differences pretty well.
The CH is cleaner sounding, more pure, easily heard in the highs but also the midrange.
The CH is more detailed/resolving.
The CH is more dynamic with my speakers.

After I purchased the amps, I ended up getting a CAT preamp. It produced a huge sound with lots of body but I didn't like the timbre... e.g. piano sounded a bit too brown for my tastes and I could hear distortion too easily. Other than that though it was pretty nice...
 

MadFloyd

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Great stuff, MadFloyd,

You have been incredibly committed to your own internal convictions that you knew what you were hearing, and as many times as you might have struggled to find a system that suited you...you persisted because you believed you were right. And then it appears you have found what a very very high number of super-discerning audiophiles have found. That CH really is a spectacular design that has satisfied some seriously die hard triode fans, tube fans and horn fans...people seeking purity...while also attracting those who come from other diverse systems and backgrounds. It has been quite a noticeable 'conversion' to see JackD201, Arnie of Arrakis fame, you, Gian and more than a few others migrate from some seriously SOTA tubes to the CH for consistently the same reasons. But it is SS and very powerful with all the great things that can come with power and control.

I have also spoken with Roy Gregory who was generous enough to spend some time and share his views on CH, and I have read his recent review of the CH 10 series as well.

Congrats! I look forward to watching if you make the migration to the 10 series...

Thanks! Watch this space.... ;)
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Thanks for updating us Ian. I’ve been enjoying Ian’s various iterations for many years now I must say he has introduced me to more gear can I ever heard in dealerships And many flag ship components that I would never ever heard elsewhere. I have learned a lot from our hours of listening together. I look forward to reading how things evolve and my next visit to your most comfortable and enjoyable room.
 
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dcathro

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Fantastic system, and love the effort you have gone to to tame your room!
 
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microstrip

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Great move, congratulations. The CH's should be a great match with the M-Project. A good friend has them with Constellation Audio - they need power and control to create a very believable soundstage.
 
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jeffrey_t

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Congrats Ian, I do like to look of the CH gear, excellent industrial design.

Have you tried any of Peter's VDH's with your turntable?
 

MadFloyd

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Congrats Ian, I do like to look of the CH gear, excellent industrial design.

Have you tried any of Peter's VDH's with your turntable?
Thanks, Jeffrey. No I have not tried any of the VDHs here.
 

XV-1

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May 24, 2010
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that is truly awesome system Ian - congrats. the opposite of unnatural - dynamic, accurate, realistic, transparent and musical I would imagine. :)
 
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