Natural Sound

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
4,655
1,135
North Shore of Boston
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I contacted David Karmeli two years ago to discuss what he referred to as Natural Sound. Thus began a series of experiments that resulted over the last two months in the complete replacement of my SME/Pass Labs/Magico based audio system. That system was the context around which I wrote my Sublime Sound virtual system thread. This new system thread is about a new vintage system based on the Micro Seiki SX 8000 II turntable, Lamm Industries electronics, particularly the ML2 SET mono amplifier, and the Vitavox CN-191 corner horn speakers.

My interest in audio began in boarding school with a Dual turntable, NAD integrated amplifier, and AR speakers. A few years later in college I bought a Denon direct-drive turntable and Symdex speakers, but it was not until about 1993 when I left New York City to begin a new life in Boston that I decided to get a bit more serious about audio. The first system that I would consider “High End” was an SME Model 10A with a 309 arm, a Sumiko Pearwood Celebration cartridge, Pass Labs Aleph 3 amplifier and Eggleston Rosa speakers.

For the next twenty eight years, I made steady and deliberate upgrades to this system. I got the SME Model 30/12 turntable with V-12 arm, the Magico Mini II to Q3 speakers, and a long series of newer and better Pass Labs solid state electronics. I read the forums and reviews, Jim Smith’s book “Get Better Sound”, hired Jim to voice my system, visited Vienna to hear closed rehearsals at the Opera, and began to regularly attend the BSO and local small chamber and jazz performances. I started to meet local audiophiles, and we formed what we loosely referred to as the “Boston Audio Group”.

I really enjoyed the hobby, meeting others with the same interests, and finding ways to improve the sound of my system. I reported on my progress in a virtual system thread called Sublime Sound, here on WhatsBestForum. Here are some photographs of the system’s various iterations arranged in chronological order.

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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
4,655
1,135
North Shore of Boston
Sublime Sound
(the formative years)


I was really quite satisfied with that evolving system, and listened for a couple of hours a day. However, after years of the same basic sound, the more I listened to live music, the more I began to realize that I was missing some fundamental connection to the music. I was chasing sonic attributes and becoming lost in the hopeless pursuit of the Absolute Sound. I aspired to regular and predictable upgrades and found myself listening to sound, not to the music on my recordings. I deconstructed the sound and focused on specific attributes rather than on the whole musical message, the gestalt and the beauty of music.

Jim Smith taught me my first important lesson: to value Tone, Dynamics, and Presence and to strive for an emotional connection to the recordings. I prioritized those attributes while trying to also improve soundstage and imaging. The second big lesson came from my mentor in Vienna, Dr. Peter Poltun. He helped me to recognize something more fundamental: the energy created by the cellist’s bow against the strings attached to the resonating hollow wooden body; How that energy expands to fill the space and define the timbre of that specific instrument. We listened to the Soprano and Tenor energizing that great hall with their glorious voices. We tried to understand Strauss’ genius when he composed Ariadne’s aria. He told me about the corruption that took place during the process of getting that pure idea down on paper, and then how the composer later interpreted that idea and then how later generations of musicians transform those notes into sound. He asked me to absorb how the hall changes those sounds based on its design and where one sits.

I kept returning to my system to listen, to upgrade, to chase the goal. I wanted more from my system. I wanted to get closer to the intent, to the genius of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. I wanted to be at the Blue Note hearing my aunt Carla White singing with Manny Duran blowing his trumpet through the smoke filled room. I kept searching and improving the gear, and yet I knew I was missing something critical. This is when I contacted David Karmeli to discuss the set up of my system.

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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
8,362
4,655
1,135
North Shore of Boston
Eighteen Months of Experiments

Over the next year and a half, David suggested a series of experiments that changed my appreciation of what an audio system could do. He never told me what I would hear. He simply said, “Ask yourself one simple question: Does it sound more natural?” Each time I tried something, this is the question I asked myself and tried to answer. This is how I began to understand the importance of set up and it’s overall effect on the sound of a system. David began to slowly offer advice about specific area to consider.

I investigated five aspects of my system’s set up:
  • Power cords and signal cables
  • Room acoustic treatments
  • Speaker placement and orientation
  • Equipment supports
  • In-wall wiring and outlets
The first thing I did was experiment with power cords. I owned fancy audiophile cords, heard them in friends’ systems, and auditioned a number in my own system. David sent me some NOS Ching Cheng power cords. Music became less homogenized, energy increased, and the bass in particular, improved. I was pretty surprised. I then asked a retired electrical engineer friend to design and build signal cables for me. I listened, switched, listened some more and found that my cables imparted a signature to the sound. They were actually quite colored. Everything sounded exciting, but there was a sameness to recordings. Fancy cables and cords seemed to draw attention to themselves by highlighting certain sonic attributes. It all made me think more about the sound rather than the music. The Ching Change cords and DIY cables sounded more natural.

I then started to gradually remove the acoustic treatments from the front of my room. To my surprise, the sound opened up, the room became livelier, the music started to breath. This was great because those treatments detracted from the aesthetics of our traditional living room and reminded me of a High End dealership. Each time I removed something, the sound became more natural. I eventually took them all out.

Next, I experimented with my speakers. I paid close attention with my eyes closed to the sound of voices and instruments and realized that one does not hear “pinpoint” images in real life. There are no sharp contours and outlines. My Magico speakers are so precise that when toed in at the listener, images were overly defined. I decided to orient them straight ahead. This was difficult because of room interactions. It took a long time to find the right spot, but when I did, everything came together to present music in a much more natural and convincing way. The room filled with natural, expanding sound.

I then experimented with the pneumatic isolation platforms under all of my gear. I deflated the Vibraplanes and Townshend Sinks. The sound became less damped, more alive. I then replaced them with 1” thick stainless steel plates. These rang slightly and were too lively by themselves, so I had to figure out a way to tune them. With David’s help, I first tried felt sheets under the plates: not enough. I then placed some large 3” rubber O rings under each plate and played with the placement and number until I found the right balance. The steel plates mass loaded my rack for stability, reduced the transmission of vibrations, and separated the components from the highly damped birch plywood shelving and amp stands. The result was more natural middle and lower frequencies and increased weight, body and warmth. Again, a more natural sound.

Finally, I compared the audiophile In-Wall cables from JPS Labs that I had been using for twenty years to basic commercial wire with commercial grade isolated ground duplex receptacles on four dedicated 30 amp circuits, one for each amplifier and two for my front end equipment. The basic wires and outlets sounded better. As with the other comparisons, the simpler, non audiophile alternative, sounded more like real music and less like “hifi”.

These series of experiments resulted in very consistent outcomes. Each time David suggested an area of investigation, the result was the same: an increase in natural sound.

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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
4,655
1,135
North Shore of Boston
Sublime Sound to Natural Sound
(Time for Change)

After hearing the improvements from these various experiments, I realized that I had taken my system about as far as it could go in this room and with this equipment. Everything that David had suggested I try, resulted in better sound. After eighteen months of experiments, I was beginning to realize that to take my system to the next level, I would have to consider changing a major component.

At heart, I am a vinyl guy and just love turntables, cartridges, and vinyl records. I started to read about the “Beyond” turntables in ddk’s system threads and specifically about the large Micro Seiki tables. I had heard the AS 2000 at Rockitman’s house. I began to seriously consider getting one of these rare and vintage tables.

In December 2020, I contacted David to ask him if he could locate a Micro Seiki SX 8000 II for me. I told him I was in no rush and would be willing to wait as long as it took. I gave him a budget. He told me he would know in about a month. Wow, that was exciting.

A mint condition sample was found in a private collection in Japan. David contacted me and told me that it was being shipped to Utah. I asked David if I could visit to see the turntable, to hear his much discussed and admired system, and most importantly, to meet the gentleman who had taught me so much over text and telephone conversations.

I had planned to stay for four days and ended up staying for a week. I learned more in those seven days than in many previous years in the hobby. It was a full immersion into what David calls “Natural Sound”. This exposure, day after day, and to four completely different systems, made me reevaluate my whole approach to the hobby. We stayed up late each evening just listening and enjoying the music. I shared my observations, and David explained to me what each part of the system did and how it all worked together to produce the sound we heard. I had not heard music presented so naturally before. Resolution was extreme, but not at all in the way I had previously heard it. The resolution simply was there, presented naturally without drawing any attention to itself.

The sound was balanced and I never found myself thinking about sonic attributes or the audiophile glossary of terms. Music was presented in a relaxing yet engrossing way. The room was full of energy like in a concert hall. I was drawn in to the whole of the music, the message, the fun, the excitement. I heard in that room what Dr. Poltun described about the energy created by the instruments and voices on stage. This is what I wanted from my system. From that point on, there was no going back.

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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
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North Shore of Boston
What is Natural Sound?
Hearing David’s four systems play music over seven days allowed me to understand the qualities of a “Natural Sound” system. I came up with this list to describe what I heard.
  • No aspect of the sound calls attention to itself
  • The sound is balanced
  • The system sound is absent from the presentation
  • Wide listening window: able to enjoy most/all genres of music
  • Portrays the character of each recording, nuanced venue information
  • Allows a wide range of volume adjustment for what is most appropriate for a particular recording and still be engaged
  • Superior information retrieval
  • Natural resolution, not “detail”
  • Able to scale up and down, large to small
  • No “sound”, only music
  • Room is energized and music is “alive”
  • Enjoyable outside of listening sweet spot
  • Images are stable as listener moves around the room
  • Draws listener into the music
  • Relaxing, zero fatigue
  • Open, effortless, and dynamic sound
  • No need to crank the volume
  • No added or artificial extension
  • No analysis of the sound into bits and pieces, music experienced as a whole
  • Result is beauty and emotion.
David discusses different degrees of natural sound. Surely more modest systems will not sound like his Siemann Bionor speakers. However, the four systems I heard all exhibited these characteristics, to a greater or lesser degree. The systems simply sounded right. Lesser natural sounding systems will still have these characteristics, but to a lesser extent.

After spending a week listening to David’s system and grasping the true meaning of Natural Sound, I have moved away from the Audiophile Glossary of Terms. Reading reviews and trying to replicate the sonic attributes of the “Absolute Sound” in my old system gave me a sense of achievement and progress, but I now think this approach led me astray. I lost the music along the way. Until I began my eighteen months of set up experiments, I was developing a more and more Hifi sound from my system and ultimately becoming less satisfied as a result.

After Utah, I realized I had to forget about hifi attributes, the glossary of terms, and breaking the music into “bits and pieces.” I needed to get back to hearing the music as it is presented in the concert hall. I wanted to experience the music’s power, its meaning, its gestalt.
 
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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
8,362
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North Shore of Boston
Micro Seiki SX 8000 II (Mid 1980s)
(arrived 2/24/21)


Back at home, I waited for the new turntable to arrive. I had ordered two new 2” thick steel plates to serve as a base and had bought two NOS SME 3012R tone arms to set up. I ordered another armboard for the rear position. The table arrived in late February. David sent seven boxes on two pallets. The turntable was expertly packed in a huge Pelican flight case. David is serious about packaging and safety and leaves nothing to chance.

The turntable is very compact and extremely heavy. It is a high mass belt drive design with an air bearing and vacuum platter hold down system. It can accommodate two tone arms. There is an air pump, a separate power supply and a required 100 to 120 voltage transformer.

I set up the turntable and simply enjoyed music for a while trying to understand its operation and sound. I had a lot of fun comparing it to my cherished SME Model 30/12 which I had bought as a final table for my 50th birthday. I now know why this large Micro Seiki is so coveted. It is very rare, came from arguably the best Japanese turntable manufacturer at the end of the vinyl era, and this, along with the SZ-1, was their flagship model.

The SX 8000 II presents an incredible amount of natural resolution. The SME has slightly blacker backgrounds, images stand in starker relief, and the sound is very engaging, but the Micro Seiki just does more. It retrieves more information from the grooves and presents it in a more convincing way. It just sounds right.

The turntable is very easy to use, and so far has been extremely reliable. It is a joy to own and I feel very fortunate that David was able to find one is such superb condition for me. And I must say that a 200 lb. turntable sitting on 200 lbs. of polished stainless steel plate is a formidable combination on the top of an audio rack.

During the packing up of the table in Japan, the motor pulley/belt dust cover was somehow lost. I asked David about it and told him that I really wanted the cover to complete the look of the table. David assured me that he would get the cover. I just had to be patient. He told me that the agent would either find the original cover in Japan and send it, or David would borrow an original cover from a past client and have it copied. He was confident that I would not be able to tell the difference.

After a few weeks it became clear that the original cover was lost. Unbeknownst to me, David found another SX 8000 II and bought it for the cover. He took the cover from that table and sent it to me. This new table was certainly not inexpensive. I asked him about it and he simply said, “Peter, a promise is a promise.” David is a gentleman who keeps his word. I find the story simply astonishing.

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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
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Lamm Industries
(arrived 3/31/21)


When I ordered the new turntable, I had no idea that it would be the first component in a completely new system. David had sent the Lamm LP2.1 Deluxe and vdH Grail SE phono stages with the turntable. Once the Micro Seiki was set up and I had gotten somewhat familiar with its sound, I spend a couple of weeks comparing the three phono stages. I wanted to see how the two new ones would sound compared to my reference.

I preferred the sound of the Lamm in my system. The Pass Labs XP-27 has lovely tone, good weight, body and warmth. Resolution is good, and it does not draw attention to itself. The vdH Grail SE has remarkable levels of resolution. It is clean and very quiet. The sound is very dynamic and full of energy. I did not hear any artifacts, but it ultimately lacked a bit of warmth and body. The Lamm combines the extreme resolution of the Grail, and the beautiful tone of the Pass. Of the three phono stages, the Lamm sounds the most complete.

I had heard the Lamm LP 2.1 in David’s smaller system, but after hearing it in my own room, I decided to contact David and ask if he could send me the rest of the Lamm electronics chain. I ordered the four box LL1.1 Signature preamp, the M1.1 Class A 100 watt hybrid mono amps, and the ML2 18 watt SET mono amps. The M1 was needed to drive my Magico Q3 speakers and would allow me to hear all Lamm gear driving my system.

I spent about two weeks comparing the all Lamm chain to my reference all Pass chain (XP 27, XP32, XA160.5). I have owned six Pass amps, five preamps and four phono stages over the last 28 years. I am extremely familiar with the sound and quality of these components. They gave me years of enjoyment, but once I heard the full Lamm chain in my own system and room with my speakers and new turntable playing my familiar music, I realized that the Lamm gear is very special.

Like the turntable, it is difficult to describe what the Lamm does. There is more resolution presented in a more natural way. Bass is more defined. Dynamics are improved. There is more sheer information. The rest just falls into place. It sounds utterly natural, and just like the turntable, the sound just seems right.

I then connected the ML2 amplifier to the Magico Q3 speakers. 18 SET watts is not very much for a pair of Magico speakers. The sound was a bit soft, but there was something about it, a bit of the magic and beauty that I heard in Utah. I decided to call David again to discuss the corner horn speakers.

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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
4,655
1,135
North Shore of Boston
Vitavox CN-191 (Late 50s)
(arrived 4/17/21)


I first heard these speakers during my visit to Utah at the end of January 2021. They were set up in the front corner’s of David’s smaller demo room. I had never heard corner horn speakers before. The presentation in Utah was problematic because of his room’s dimensions and construction.

One morning when David was upstairs, I started to listen to the Vitavox speakers alone and decided to slide them out into the room, away from the corners. There is a good zone about six feet out from the front wall, near where his JBL speakers were set up. I pushed the JBLs out to the sides, and brought the corner horns there. Bass extension suffered, but I could clearly hear the potential from these speakers. In some ways, they sounded very much like his large Siemann Bionor speakers. I was very intrigued.

Two months later, after hearing the full Lamm chain, and especially the ML2s, in my own system, I asked David to send me his Vitavox speakers. These are rather large and weigh 200 lbs. This is a pair of original series 2 speakers made in England in the late 1950s. They have walnut veneer cabinets with lovely detailing. They are absolutely beautiful. The speakers are 105 dB efficient and are a 16 ohm load. There is a horn for the middle and upper frequencies and a 15” paper cone driver loaded by a folded horn. The corners and walls of the room are coupled to the cabinet and used to extend the low frequency response into the room. The listener is basically sitting in the throat of the low frequency horn. Like the Micro Seiki, these speakers are incredibly rare, and in excellent condition.

I heard a bit of the magic from the Vitavox in Utah, and decided that these would be the final piece of my new system, assuming they would work in my room. David designed two shipping crates and hired a carpenter to build them for him.

Three weeks later, my friend Al M. and our audio buddy Alan helped me uncrate the speakers, slide them up the custom ramp I built, and move them into my listening room corners. What a day that was!

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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
4,655
1,135
North Shore of Boston
What do I hear?

I have now lived with the system for a week. It is still settling in, but I can tell it will be very special. I hear the potential and am very excited about how it will sound when the set up is complete. The wooden speaker cabinets are still acclimating to the new environment and physically settling after the long transport. The wiring, crossovers, speaker cables, and amplifiers all need to be broken in over time. The new rack should eventually improve things further.

David will visit early in the summer to fine tune the set up. Except for the van den Hul cartridges which I have kept (and which David actually sells), this is a complete David Karmeli system: from the NOS tone arms all the way to the power cords. Only my own DIY rack and the one long IC from preamp to amps is not from DDK. Actually the rack, with its many steel plates, is highly influenced by David’s Nothing Rack. I have designed the new rack and hired a cabinet maker to build it. The new rack is designed to accommodate the extra needed space for ventilation of all the new Lamm tube gear, so it will be slightly larger than my existing rack.

The furniture in the room was rearranged in anticipation of getting these corner horns. I can say that the system is really starting to sound excellent. It presents music in a way very similar to what I heard from David’s big Bionor system, just at a smaller scale. It is effortless, open, and extremely dynamic. Tone is absolutely beautiful. Timbre is the most convincing I’ve heard in my room. The bass is perhaps the single area of most improvement. Hollow wooden instruments like drums, acoustic bass, and cello sound convincingly hollow and wooden for the first time in my system. The soundstage on the right recording is huge and fills my entire front wall, side to side, and floor to ceiling.

The presentation is different from my former system. The sound is projected forward from the front corners instead of around the box speaker to form a stage behind and between them. Surprisingly, instruments and voices way back in the stage actually do sound as though they are located behind the front wall.

I have had to make some adjustments to better couple the speakers to the corners and walls. The floor is a bit uneven and the walls are not flat in my 230 year old house, but the materials are solid. I added some dense rubber foam along the top and back edges on both sides of each bass cabinet following a pdf file of the original installation instructions. That modification improved significantly low frequency performance. The Lamm preamp inverts polarity and I incorrectly wired one speaker, so I sorted that out to eliminate what had been a phase issue in the sound identified by my good friend Madfloyd.

The Lamm gear sits on steel plates on temporary wooden platforms with rollers so that I can move everything around when needed. I relocated the turntable’s air pump, transformer, and power supply to the basement to free up rack and floor space and to lower noise. The power supply cable and air tubes come through a hole in the floor behind the rack. I installed two new dedicated 30 amp circuits and outlets on the floor behind the new rack location.

The room has a much more open feeling now with the speakers in the front corners rather than out into the room in front of the fireplace. The living room will gradually become a more inviting space for family and guests. Here are some initial listening impressions:

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto: Large scale classical music now expands to fill the room more completely. The soundstage has expanded to cover the front wall, side to side, floor to ceiling. Separation of instruments, not just in space, but in timbre, is more pronounced. Solo instruments seem more in the same space as the rest of the orchestra. My previous system isolated instruments more with blacker backgrounds and space between instruments, but somehow they seemed less connected to each other. Low frequencies are more defined so there is a better, more solid foundation to the music. Massed strings have weight and swell with beauty while the brass section startles with its energy piercing through. Delicate sounds hang in space more while deep low timpani has taught skins, hollow sound, and more impact and clarity than before. The solo violin is immediate, clear, and full of emotion.

Gustav Holst, Savitri: The stage on which the singers move around is more distinct and present. Singers in the back are further back. The physical movements of the singers are more clearly defined. The voices are more articulate. The supporting strings have a more evident role in the performance. Savitri’s soprano is more piercing, yet smoother and not as fatiguing and sharp. The actor’s emotion is more palpable.

Art Pepper Plus Eleven: The energy of big band sound is more immediate. The individual horns’ signatures are more evident. Dynamics are startling, while the clarinet has beautiful tone with the reed and wood sounds more audible. The bass is full, hollow, and easy to follow. It is not spotlit but clearly part of the rhythm section.

Ray Brown/Almeida, Moonlight Serenade: The guitar has more presence with great balance between the fingers working the strings and the resonant wooden body of the instrument. The tone is incredible. The bass when bowed goes really low but is still clean and articulate. The energy fills the listening room. There is great string texture and the size and scale of the instrument is more evident. When the strings are plucked, they are faster and looser at the same time. The notes are more complete with just the right balance between the initial attack, the sustain, and the decay.

The overall bass performance from jazz drums, to solo cello and massed low strings, to bass trombone and timpani, both large and small scale, together with the now truly startling dynamics of the high efficiency horns, is perhaps the biggest difference between this new system and my former one.

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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,362
4,655
1,135
North Shore of Boston
Reflections

I feel as though I am now at a new beginning, so dramatic is the shift in my thinking about audio. This new system is the result of that thinking. It began with increased exposure to live music and thinking about how we describe sound. Do we really need all of the audiophile accessories? What is really needed to achieve a natural presentation of the information on the recording?

Jim Smith distilled reproduced sound down to three basic attributes: Tone, Dynamics, and Presence, and he emphasized the importance of the emotional impact of the sound on the listener. Dr. Poltun simplified it further by introduced me to the idea of the energy from the instrument as it expands into space and how that essence is the closest we get to the genius in the mind of the composer. A. J. van den Hul introduced me to a truly high resolution cartridge, without which one can not extract the most information from the grooves. These three men formed the foundation of my understanding of sound and music.

David Karmeli put it all together for me by introducing me to “Natural Sound.” He taught me, first by encouraging me to do specific experiments with set up and then exposing me to the systems and gear that would completely change my understanding of what is possible from reproduced music. He told me to always ask only one question: “Does it sound more natural?”

When describing what I had learned over the last couple of years, a good friend told me: “When one is finally ready to learn, the teacher will present himself.” This teacher turned out to be David Karmeli.

This is my understanding of David’s philosophy: Start with Lamm electronics and match the amps to the speakers, preferably ending up with one of the SET amps. Then choose one of the “Beyond” turntables, and find a suitable high efficiency speaker for your room. This gets one 95% of the way there. Cables, cords, platforms, and power delivery, are the final part but they should do no harm: they must not add or remove anything from the potential of the gear. Finally, set it all up to optimize what you have. This is the way to Natural Sound.

David has been this teacher for me over the last two years. He is much more than a dealer of Lamm electronics, and vintage turntables and speakers. He is a friend and mentor, and one who has introduced me to a level of audio and reproduced music that has forever changed the way I think about what is possible with reproduced music.

One can surely wonder if this departure from what I had known for so long is a kind of end to the journey. I suppose it is for the time being. One can always dream of a bigger room, an AS 2000 and Lamm ML3s driving a pair of Siemann Bionors. I plan to next try some vintage MM cartridges.

I want to again share my deep gratitude for all of the guidance David has given me over the last two years. I am happy to know that David’s reward is our friendship and the knowledge that he has helped another grateful audiophile achieve Natural Sound.

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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
8,362
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North Shore of Boston
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PeterA

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North Shore of Boston
Reserved for future use
 
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miniguy

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Dec 18, 2013
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Reflections

I feel as though I am now at a new beginning, so dramatic is the shift in my thinking about audio. This new system is the result of that thinking. It began with increased exposure to live music, thinking about how we describe sound, experiments with system set up and a simpler approach to system set up without all of the audiophile accessories, and what is essential to achieve a natural presentation of the information in the grooves.

Jim Smith distilled reproduced sound to three basic attributes: Tone, Dynamics, and Presence, and he emphasized the importance of the emotional impact of the sound on the listener. Dr. Poltun simplified it further by introduced me to the idea of the energy from the instrument as it expands into space and how that essence is the closest we get to the genius in the mind of the composer. A. J. van den Hul introduced me to a truly high resolution cartridge, without which one can not extract the most information from the grooves. These three men formed the foundation of my understanding of sound and music.

David Karmeli put it all together for me by distilling it all down to “Natural Sound.” He taught me, first by encouraging me to do specific experiments with set up and then exposing me to the systems and gear that would completely change my understanding of what is possible from reproduced music. He told me to always ask only one question: “Does it sound more natural?”

When describing what I had learned over the last couple of years, a good friend simply told me: “When one is finally ready to learn, the teacher will present himself.” This teacher is David Karmeli.

This is my understanding of David’s philosophy: Start with Lamm electronics and match the amps to the speakers, preferably ending up with one of the SET amps. Then choose one of the “Beyond” turntables, and find a suitable high efficiency speaker for your room. This gets one 95% of the way there. Cables, cords, platforms, and power delivery, are the final part but they must do no harm: they must not add or remove anything from the potential of the gear. Finally, set it all up to optimize what you have. This is the way to Natural Sound.

David has been this teacher for me over the last two years. He is much more than a dealer of Lamm electronics, and vintage turntables and speakers. He is a friend and mentor, and one who has introduced me to a level of system and reproduced music that has forever changed the way I think about what is possible with reproduced music.

One can surely wonder if this departure from what I had known for so long is a kind of end to the journey. I suppose it is for the time being. One can always dream of a bigger room, an AS 2000 and Lamm ML3s driving a pair of Siemann Bionors.

I want to again share my deep gratitude for all of the guidance David has given me over the last two years. I am happy to know that David’s reward is our friendship and the knowledge that he has helped another grateful audiophile achieve Natural Sound.

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Wow, what a journey, Peter. Looks like you’ve got everything in place to further your journey along the path of musical gestalt. However, I see just one missing element - the cartridge. Those SME arms are crying out for the vinyl ‘gestalt’ masters - the SPU. I struggled for decades with high end cartridges capable of fantastic detail retrieval and soundstaging, but lacking the fundamental rightness of tone and presence. I finally found the answer with SPUs and now use them exclusively. There are several current production models to choose from and many vintage models. It pretty much doesn’t matter where you start, since once you’re hooked, their very affordability will cause you to acquire several. Anyway, big congrats on your marvelous new setup.
-Neil
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
12,912
3,566
763
E. England
Great story and final result, Peter. Dave is the man.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
2,255
2,418
680
Denmark
Very cool, congratulations Peter, the Vitavox are a amazing fit for your room, esthetically, and space wise ! It's like you had a extra 1,5 m added to your room with the corner placement !:)
 
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Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
3,437
2,453
470
UK
Awesome system!! Very pleased for you, Peter. Many congratulations. I think you will be able to kick back and bathe in fantastic music now with no remote sense of listening to “hifi” - when you start madly buying more software you know you nailed it.
 

jeffrey_t

VIP/Donor
Jan 29, 2012
2,348
2,010
615
Wow, what a journey, Peter. Looks like you’ve got everything in place to further your journey along the path of musical gestalt. However, I see just one missing element - the cartridge. Those SME arms are crying out for the vinyl ‘gestalt’ masters - the SPU. I struggled for decades with high end cartridges capable of fantastic detail retrieval and soundstaging, but lacking the fundamental rightness of tone and presence. I finally found the answer with SPUs and now use them exclusively. There are several current production models to choose from and many vintage models. It pretty much doesn’t matter where you start, since once you’re hooked, their very affordability will cause you to acquire several. Anyway, big congrats on your marvelous new setup.
-Neil
I’m hoping to visit Peter in June and will be bringing the 85th and 95th anniversary SPU’s with me.
 

jazdoc

Member Sponsor
Aug 7, 2010
3,004
332
580
Bellevue
Thanks for sharing. Congrats and enjoy in good health!
 

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