Visit to the Cessaro Zeta System of Audioquattr

I visited audioquattr last week and, after I swore to him that I would not say a word about this amazing new system, I had to have Tinka put duct tape over my mouth because I have been bursting at the seams wanting to tell people what I heard from this system.

From the one-of-a-kind Cessaro Zeta system we all heard in Munich this year, to the Alieno amp (which I heard at Jeroen’s over a year ago), to the Grado Epoch on the absurdly complicated looking but amazing sounding Reed 5T on a brand new TechDAS AF3 Premium sitting on a Stacore platform, to the lengthened dedicated listening room, to the in-the-wall giant subwoofer drivers this is, to my ears, one of the two or three best systems I have ever heard in my life. (Jeroen also has the world’s first client copy of the brand new Alieno line stage preamplifier.)

Now that Jeroen has posted a photo of his stunning system on the AF3 thread I can finally spill the beans. This is such a unique system, with multiple presently one-of-a-kind components, I told Jeroen that, like MikeL’s system, among the systems I have heard personally, I think this is a system of real significance in the world of high-end audio.

After I visited Jeroen I did not write a coherent, comprehensive visit report like I normally do. So my observations on this thread are going to be more stream of consciousness rather than my usual coherence.

I did not even take any photos while I was there because I almost did not trust myself not to post them. I did take a cool video, but I do not know how to upload it here. Update a photo here:

aqCesZ1.jpg
 
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Ron Resnick

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I would point to the phonostage for what you reported on the Epoch...the phonostage is VERY important to the overall SQ of analog.
What has been your experience with the Epoch? What were the associated components?
 

howiebrou

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Jun 29, 2012
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I think the SGM Extreme + Lampizator Pacific equals or exceeds (I have no idea which) the best digital I have ever heard.

It confirmed my general view that digital recordings should not be converted to vinyl. We played a couple of current pop songs which were digitally recorded and which sound noticeably worse on LP than through the streamer.

It definitely is great to have streaming for guests to be able to play their own favorite songs.
Ron, was the Pacific connected via USB or ethernet?
Edit: i think i saw mention of a FTA cable but i will wait for Ron to reply.
 

Ron Resnick

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Ron, was the Pacific connected via USB or ethernet?
Edit: i think i saw mention of a FTA cable but i will wait for Ron to reply.
I have no idea. Audioquattr will have to answer.
 
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Many congratulations, Jeroen! Your system and room look incredible. I can only imagine how amazing it must sound with the Vyger, Red Sparrow, Mayer combination.

Thanks for the report, Ron!
Thank you Bill!
 

Taiko Audio

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Many thanks to Jeroen and Alice for another unforgettable visit!
I may aswell add my 2 cents having personally experienced Jeroen's system recently. I met Jeroen when he visited our workshop in Hengelo after expressing interest in acquiring an Extreme server. Funny enough I was completely unaware of this high level system sitting here in The Netherlands, just a 30 minute drive away from us. I did come across the impressive online photos but I had no idea it was located this nearby in Lochem. Imagine my surprise delivering a brand new Extreme to Jeroen 6 days ago.

This is a very transparent and revealing system. It places every minor adjustment under a microscope. For example just moving a single footer underneath the Extreme by .5-1" can have a dramatic impact on tonal integrity and tension in the sound. There is a crystalline clarity quality to its high section which is very appealing and which adds to realism of the musical performance. It very clearly shows the energy and power intensity / density of dynamic instruments with endless decays. Attack and control are impressive. At this performance level systems are more different sounding, tuned to personal taste and adjusted to the space/environment they're located in, but in an absolute sense this is all the way up there, indeed proudly positioning itself amongst the very best I have heard to this date.

Funny story, I returned to Jeroen's place Tuesday evening, so Ron and Tinka must have been in Lochem already, for some finetuning. Normally we don't do that as the sound changes rather dramatically over the first few weeks of burn in, but Jeroen was complaining about a certain processed quality to the sound and discontinuity in image placement which seemed to be too fundamental to be burn in related. As it turned out the Jplay driver did not do well with the Amanero USB interface in the Pacific so we switched drivers which solved that issue. It was quite obviously there, Jeroen's high system resolution clearly showed what was going in, I could hear it myself in just 30 seconds. Meanwhile I have managed to replicate the effect in my system, in technical terms, only for those who are interested, Amanero does not support higher speed USB feed rates, it tops out at 45Hz, Xmos interfaces which probably make up 90-95% of the higher end dacs can do anywhere between 200 and 1000Hz and don't seem to have this problem. 45Hz causes a discontinuity in imaging, dividing a piano keyboard into separate sections. I am just mentioning this as I was completely unaware of this and visiting Jeroen exposed this issue with Jplay and Pacific. I have contacted a few Extreme owners using the Pacific to test this as well, and they have better sound now as well. So thank you for that Jeroen on behalf of me and our Lampizator clients!
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Ron, was the Pacific connected via USB or ethernet?
Edit: i think i saw mention of a FTA cable but i will wait for Ron to reply.
This is like a litmus test for vinyl geeks or digital fiends. If you love yr analog, you'll want to know all re cart loading, phono cbl brand, how the stylus is cleaned etc. If digital wins yr heart, you'll be forensic on knowing what clocks are used, stacking of switches, Usb or Aes or Spdif etc.

I think the fact that Ron had no interest in the digital cbl that Audioquattr uses proves that even a bleeding edge Extreme/Pac setup is of no real interest to him. I find that highly telling.
 

Taiko Audio

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Ron, was the Pacific connected via USB or ethernet?
Edit: i think i saw mention of a FTA cable but i will wait for Ron to reply.
I can answer that although it seems already answered indirectly, USB.
 

bonzo75

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Ron, was the Pacific connected via USB or ethernet?
Edit: i think i saw mention of a FTA cable but i will wait for Ron to reply.
FTA USB cable cannot connect via Ethernet :)
 
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I may aswell add my 2 cents having personally experienced Jeroen's system recently. I met Jeroen when he visited our workshop in Hengelo after expressing interest in acquiring an Extreme server. Funny enough I was completely unaware of this high level system sitting here in The Netherlands, just a 30 minute drive away from us. I did come across the impressive online photos but I had no idea it was located this nearby in Lochem. Imagine my surprise delivering a brand new Extreme to Jeroen 6 days ago.

This is a very transparent and revealing system. It places every minor adjustment under a microscope. For example just moving a single footer underneath the Extreme by .5-1" can have a dramatic impact on tonal integrity and tension in the sound. There is a crystalline clarity quality to its high section which is very appealing and which adds to realism of the musical performance. It very clearly shows the energy and power intensity / density of dynamic instruments with endless decays. Attack and control are impressive. At this performance level systems are more different sounding, tuned to personal taste and adjusted to the space/environment they're located in, but in an absolute sense this is all the way up there, indeed proudly positioning itself amongst the very best I have heard to this date.

Funny story, I returned to Jeroen's place Tuesday evening, so Ron and Tinka must have been in Lochem already, for some finetuning. Normally we don't do that as the sound changes rather dramatically over the first few weeks of burn in, but Jeroen was complaining about a certain processed quality to the sound and discontinuity in image placement which seemed to be too fundamental to be burn in related. As it turned out the Jplay driver did not do well with the Amanero USB interface in the Pacific so we switched drivers which solved that issue. It was quite obviously there, Jeroen's high system resolution clearly showed what was going in, I could hear it myself in just 30 seconds. Meanwhile I have managed to replicate the effect in my system, in technical terms, only for those who are interested, Amanero does not support higher speed USB feed rates, it tops out at 45Hz, Xmos interfaces which probably make up 90-95% of the higher end dacs can do anywhere between 200 and 1000Hz and don't seem to have this problem. 45Hz causes a discontinuity in imaging, dividing a piano keyboard into separate sections. I am just mentioning this as I was completely unaware of this and visiting Jeroen exposed this issue with Jplay and Pacific. I have contacted a few Extreme owners using the Pacific to test this as well, and they have better sound now as well. So thank you for that Jeroen on behalf of me and our Lampizator clients!
Thank you Emile !

And i am happy i could help a bit. But i'm even more happy you dived in it directly and found a solution, respect! Normally that takes ages with other manufactor's ...
 
Sep 7, 2016
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...
I think the fact that Ron had no interest in the digital cbl that Audioquattr uses proves that even a bleeding edge Extreme/Pac setup is of no real interest to him. I find that highly telling.

I see no fact and i don't believe it's a fact...
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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This is like a litmus test for vinyl geeks or digital fiends. If you love yr analog, you'll want to know all re cart loading, phono cbl brand, how the stylus is cleaned etc. If digital wins yr heart, you'll be forensic on knowing what clocks are used, stacking of switches, Usb or Aes or Spdif etc.

I think the fact that Ron had no interest in the digital cbl that Audioquattr uses proves that even a bleeding edge Extreme/Pac setup is of no real interest to him. I find that highly telling.
False, Marc. I said several times that I think it is fantastic for an audiophile to have a streaming ability so that guests can play whatever music they want. I plan to get a digital streaming capability for this purpose as well.

But I don’t like computers. People claim them to be perfect, but they seem to be oddly organically unreliable and randomly so.

I have no interest in computers or building computers or in how computers are made. The thought of connecting my beloved stereo playing music to computers is anathema to me.

So the question of USB versus ethernet sounds to me like a purely geeky computer (not an audio or a music) question. When the time comes for me to get a streaming ability I am simply going to ask a couple of audiophiles how they connect the streaming machine, and I will shamelessly copy whatever is the standard recommendation. Even then I will have no interest in auditioning myself USB versus ethernet connections.

I also “have no idea” what phono interconnects audioquattr is using. So under your silly argument I have no interest in analog playback, either.
 
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bonzo75

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Ron, what tubes did you hear the Lampi with? :)
 

christoph

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spiritofmusic

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Ron, my comment was a light hearted jest in contrast to all those reports that Extreme plays in the territory of the big hitters in the tt world. My takeaway from yr reports incl digital at the cutting edge is that even at exalted levels like Audioquattr's and MLavigne's, bleeding edge digital still doesn't fully entice you. My guess is if these reports of tt guys going gaga over Extreme pushing the envelope were fully accurate it might grab yr attention more.
 

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