Visit to Marc C.'s (SpiritOfMusic's) House in England

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
12,112
2,804
653
E. England
Aren't we similar creature dear Marc. Fortunately, Ddk taught me to spend money on what is essential. Kedar taught me to just be stingy like him. Here is my latest tweak ddk sent me all the way from Utah. Actually it is not a tweak it is more like a bandage. Best to choose things right the first time.

View attachment 68283
Aha, the old "debris off packing crate as tweak" tweak. That Dave is a sneaky one Lol.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
12,112
2,804
653
E. England

Lagonda

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Aren't we similar creature dear Marc. Fortunately, Ddk taught me to spend money on what is essential. Kedar taught me to just be stingy like him. Here is my latest tweak ddk sent me all the way from Utah. Actually it is not a tweak it is more like a bandage. Best to choose things right the first time.

View attachment 68283
Yes Tang, you are universally known for your stingy ness ;)
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
12,112
2,804
653
E. England
SOTA Roadrunner tt speed tach installed, and giving me good reason to go for upgrade to Condor/Eclipse motor/controller, possibility of 24V DC LPS change at a later date.

My mate in US running this (we own the same tt), and he's getting a more precise sound, but not at any sacrifice to less natural warmth. Not as dramatic as some upgrades, but at these levels, greater subtlety and sophistication is just as welcome as the fireworks of bigger bangs for your buck changes.

Sean of Zu is also sorting me a solution for my ongoing low level issue of subs hum, providing an external amp and cables package at no charge (to make up for the fact it's taken a long while for him to sort this route).

Soon I'll get installed these PET baffles on my eaves to diffuse ceiling first reflection points, and once fixed, the Kondo Bocchinos tonearm wire upgrade, and Audio Machina V8 anti vibration pad at armwand/cart interface.

A new member on WBF is coming to visit me soon, hopefully on same day as Blue58. One listener, will be exposed to Zu for the first time (love them or hate them, we'll see), the other, a veteran of torture sessions at mine, but his ear and judgement I trust/respect, and he has gauged my improvements over time...will he judge my recent changed sound as highly as I do?

All I can say is, buying five 1973 Decca pressings LP boxsets of Haydn symphonies would have been wasted with my "old" sound. As things are configured right now, I'm truly immersed in a renaissance of classical music enjoyment as I play the first box.

And where I've been even more pleasantly surprised, is running thru my Eric Dolphy original US pressings. Back in London, I just struggled with getting any realistic tone or timbre. In the last 48 hrs I've rifled thru fantastic albums like Iron Man and Fire Waltz, and the music is really connecting via immensely colourful and dense tone, energizing my room fully, and timbral accuracy, flute, bass clarinet and alto sax sounding very realistic...it's these changes that I pick up way better now life (at least pre Covid) involves lots more concert going. The drastic improvements in how recognisable and familiar and full blooded jazz ensemble instruments sound has been more than worth the cost and effort getting to this point.
 
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spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
12,112
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E. England
Other than the realisation of the truth of improved room acoustics (a lesson that came very late, but not too late, in my audiofool pursuits), and the need to be wholly rigorous on analog setup (I now have multiple obsessions on level tt and arm, VTA, LT arm tangency, and soon a holistic attitude to azimuth with Dr. Feickert Adjust +), the late lesson I'm learning is subs adjustment.

I absolutely cringe thinking about how intrusive I had my subs set in London. Zu full range drivers extend to 38-43Hz in most rooms. But because of various room nodes, bass suck outs and all-round harsh reflections and excessive slap echo in my apartment in London, I over compensated by boosting too much subs bass, at one point crossing at 60Hz and 6/10 level.

Every album was a trial, never getting bass right. Indeed I remember re-adjusting those subs three times in the same song (just about acceptable with my prog faves running to 20 mins long Lol).

50Hz 5/10 was the best I could manage, still badly smearing the lower ranges of the full range drivers output.

And so in London, any material adversely affected by smeared, fuzzy bass, was ruined. Cue my classical library, and most of my jazz, sounding opaque, coloured and lumpy.

Here in the new space, a journey to totally unlearn nearly two decades of sub bass purgatory. Hence the neutral and naturally warm room acoustics has allowed me way more latitude to take those subs down to the point where they support, not dominate.

On day one I was able to get the xover point just at where the full range drivers output drops off. But still tricky to drop the output level...still aware of the subs as seperate from the rest, and thus not integrated.

My final moves to subs equanimity was two years ago when Audiophile Bill demanded I remove Symposium Rollerblocks from under my Zus. He was right, and within months I had Arya Audio Revopods replacing them. Now I'm hearing greater clarity thru the mid bass and I can drop my subs a little further. Again with Bill's help, I sort my analog setup, again a more neutral presentation allows me to tailor those subs a bit more. Blue58 puts me right on my GIK room acoustics panels, subs again respond being tuned down. A massive further step was sorting this final acoustic issue in my room, the floor void acting as a massive bass suck out or Helmholtz Resonator. This so evened out lower frequencies, I literally dropped the subs settings like a stone. All at the cost of £50 for 12 cub feet of Rockwool.

And now, with subs just not audible and only gently augmenting, I've applied currently final setting. I've been using Eric Dolphy and Haydn symphony vinyl to fine tune. And I think I'm getting it right. I'm hearing so much further into the sound, music is fast and warm, and timbral appreciation is greatly enhanced.

Atm, from my nadir of 60Hz 6/10, I'm settling on 38Hz 1/10. I've learnt a lot from Tang's and Steve Williams' examples of getting those subs right down, and thru the invaluable help of Bill and Barry, got to the point where my spkrs don't dominate the music, but the music emerges from the spkrs. And the joy of this is hundreds of albums in my collection that were "meh" before, are now vibrant and compelling. My appreciation and immersion in jazz and classical has truly done a 180.
 
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dsyzling

New Member
Aug 14, 2019
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Marc kindly invited me to listen to his system in his wonderful Victoria Chapel. I enjoyed an afternoon of music punctuated with a pub lunch with Marc and Irana.

I personally find it really difficult to assess a system when played unfamiliar music and especially when that music is generally of a genre that I don't often listen to. Anyone who knows Marc's tastes can sympathise here :) Although I've added Keith Richard doing reggae to Marc's list of pet hates. Equally, when playing vinyl and I'm not aware of the quality of the pressings - I'm not sure if I'm listening to features of the system or possible limitations to the recording.

I've been attending a number of demos recently looking to build a system speakers first. Room size is modest and not dedicated hence my very deliberate audition selection. Speakers I have recently listened to include the Tannoy Kensington, Cheviot, Devore O/93, Wilson Sabrina, Wolf Von Langa SON, Cube Audio Nenuphar. I've also had fun listening to Blue58's Avantgarde Duo Omegas but they are just not going to fit my living room or marriage.

The Druid VI popped up on my radar as a sensitive speaker that may be room friendly and so Marc suggested I listen to his Definitions to get a feel for their 'house sound'. Marc and I have been chatting about my speaker search and corresponding amplifier matching for some time. He's been an extremely helpful sounding board and has thrown me a number of curve ball ideas which have been very useful.

I brought along a few CDs, I've mostly been using Tidal/Qobuz for all my auditions so I have a limited selection of music on CD.

Marc said he had recently tuned the bass on his Definition subs and I think this was immediately noticeable. On Fink's live recording of 'Trouble's what you're in', the bass of the guitar on some systems can sound loose and obscure the rest of the music, here it was tight and tuneful allowing the remainder of the frequency range to play its part. The treble was well extended when it needed to be - cymbals were nicely metallic with air. Again here Marc commented that he thought the super tweeters he had added played their part.

Since I was mostly playing CDs it was an obvious test of his Eeera CD player and I have to say I've listened to a lot of digital recently ranging from the dCS Rossini to a Mola Mola Tambaqui and I think it equipped itself really well. I'm not about to pass judgement and compare any of these because completely different systems and to be honest, I think I'm one of those listeners who has to listen to a component for a while and then switch to notice more subtle changes. However I really like the Eeera digital playback - it didn't sound cold or sterile, quite the opposite, a nice level of detail, rich timbre and tone.

Marc's NAT amps do something very special with vocals, they just seem to carve out a three-dimensional tactile vocal projection right there in front of you with the rich textures of the person's voice. I experienced this on recordings that frankly I wouldn't have expected - Marc's vinyl version of Peter Gabriel being one example. Most 80's 'pop' is normally so compressed and flat and whilst this won't be competing with Decca or ECM, Peter's vocal was just floating free, sculpted with more texture than I would have expected. Given the limitations of the recording, this was really enjoyable. Sometimes this is exactly what you want from a system, to allow you to enjoy music to the full.

Marc often talks about the Zu's ability to work well with Rock providing energy and pace to recordings. I played a track from Spoon, 'Everything hits at once' - again not a particularly well recorded. I've heard this sound pretty flat on some systems which made me feel a little unengaged. But not hear, propulsive, foot-tapping drive and thoroughly enjoyable, again the NATs sculpting the vocals combined with some nice texture on guitars.

I want to thank Marc for inviting me over to listen to his evolving decade (and more) labour of love. I very much enjoyed the listening session, the lamb and apple pie wasn't bad either. A big thanks for your counsel over the past few months in trying to narrow down my speaker/amp choices.
 

Lagonda

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Marc, did you start a fake profile just to finally get a positive review of your system ?:rolleyes: Admit it ! I know you did it !;)
 

bonzo75

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For lamb and apple pie even I will write a positive review
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
12,112
2,804
653
E. England
Marc, did you start a fake profile just to finally get a positive review of your system ?:rolleyes: Admit it ! I know you did it !;)
As Manuel of Fawlty Towers once said "I know NOTHING!".
 
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spiritofmusic

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spiritofmusic

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Thanks Darren, the words much appreciated. I know you said you weren't sure you could convey your thoughts, but I think you summarised things nicely.

Sorry for the genre torture session, and I guess we're evens after that Keith Richards CD.

You made some comments that confirmed I'm on a way better path than a few years back. Especially re solidity and texture on vocals, natural treble extension and lifelike imaging. These are all areas I never excelled at before, and all add to the illusion.

You also had the honour of being the first visitor at the point where there is no immediate itch for me to scratch an obvious flaw in SQ. Indeed, it's been months since I made a major or minor change, so content have I been.

As someone who's heard Wilson Sabrinas on tubes and SS, WVL Sons and Cube Audio Nephunars on tubes, in a good room, the fact you felt my Zus held up well is a real plus for me.
 
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Lagonda

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cjfrbw

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Has Darren escaped yet, or is he still hogtied in your basement?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
12,112
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E. England
If I only had one, I'd certainly banish certain audiophiles there. No, I have the ducking pond outside w the creek. If you float, you're an ABS horn, so you die. If you sink, you're a super heavy Magico, Wilson, Rockport, YG...so again, you die.
Simple, and very just in a 17th century kind of way.
 
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User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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Congratulations!

All these dissenters in their alligator shoes when you're all smiles in your crocodiles. I dunno:rolleyes:
 

cjfrbw

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Apr 20, 2010
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Pleasanton, CA
Mikel should send you the schematics for his alligator pit. Much more effective for eliciting olympian reviews!

Sorry again. You can see that I am a terrible person.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
12,112
2,804
653
E. England
You ARE terrible. Keep saying it over and over again as I lower you in.
 
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cjfrbw

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Apr 20, 2010
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I wouldn't mind hearing his system, but he would have to promise to padlock the trapdoor handle to the alligator pit.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
12,112
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653
E. England
Vicki Pollard from Little Britain sums us all up as audiofools "Yeah but no but yeah but no but yeah but no but..."
 

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