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Your "World's Best Audio System"

post #1 of 1216
Thread Starter 
Some of you guys might know that I write a column on Ultra Audio titled "The World's Best Audio System." Of course I'm under no delusions that I have a system that lives up to that billing, but what I do attempt to do is to write about gear that could be included in some of the finest audio systems. The first column I wrote, way back in 2004, however, was somewhat of an attempt to put together the best system I possibly could. It had Wilson X-2s, Halcro, Shunyata and Meitner gear. You can see the link here: http://ultraaudio.com/features/2004_02_01.htm. I was hamstrung by mediocre acoustics among other things. Still, it was very, very good sound.

So on to 2009. I'm planning another event, not in my old living room, but in my Terry Montlick-designed, Alpha Certified Music Vault listening room. I'm in the planning stages now and would like to solicit opinions on what system, if you were me, you'd like to hear. The sky's the limit. Please break down your selections in these categories:

Digital front end

Of course logistics will play a part in what I can put together, and the manufacturers that are chosen will have to want to participate, but let's, for the sake of this thread, just throw caution to the wind and put together what our heart's desires would be. Thanks in advance for your participation. Oh, this is a two-channel pure audio system; no video.
post #2 of 1216
Rockport Arrakis or Alexandria Mk2
Lamm ML3 set Amplifier
Shindo Giscours or Petrus3 Preamp
Playback designs digital
Siltech Signature Emperor G6 cabling compass lake interconnects

A nice system
post #3 of 1216
Revel Salon2s, a pair of B-15as driven off of dual DEQX HDP-3 processors. After that, the rest of the ancillaries would barely matter because the performance would be well beyond what anyone on earth has experienced thus far. Drive it from a Squeezebox if you like and it would still be well beyond the previous system you did. I could ask Kim Ryrie and Mark Glazer if they'd consider getting together on something like that. Or at least help convince them to collaborate.
post #4 of 1216
Magico Model 6 or YG Acoustics Anat Ref

Boulder 2050 or MBL 9011 Monos

Boulder 2010 Preamp

EMM Labs or dCS stack

Transparent Opus or Nordost Odin Cables Throughout

I thinks these components would do a good job of representing the best available today, as well as draining your bank account.....

To have a laugh it would be fun to have a listen to the Goldmund Telos 5000 monos see what $400,000 gets you!
post #5 of 1216
Nice thread. For me this is rather easy.

Speakers, Depending on the size of the room: "Smaller room": Ino audio i32s for everything over 80 hz and Ino audio ProfundusY-6 for the bass.
For big room: Ino audio i64s for everything over 80 hz and Ino audio ProfundusZ-8 for the bass.

Crossover filter, Ino audio cr80es.

Amplifier, Two Bryston 14B SST, one for the top, other for the bass.

Source, I would go for a rather cheap DVD player or the squeezebox with a Benchmark dac1.

Pre-amp, If I use a analog pre-amp I would go for a Holographic audio Pre TwentyFive. Otherwise I would use the new Benchmark DAC with pre-amp section.

Cables, I don't believe in voodoo or adding coloration so I would buy some cheap good cables.

"Tweaks", Most importantly, I would fix the room.

Not a cheap system but much cheaper than many other system. I would say its the best system.
post #6 of 1216
Great thread.

I just started building a dedicated stereo room with Terry's help. I'll follow this thread with interest (I would anyway).

My plan for electronics, which is subject to change when I get a chance to audition, will be for a Meridian 808.2i feeding a pair of Meridian DSP8000s.
post #7 of 1216
Speakers: This would depend on the distance from the listening position. Off the cuff, there are more than a couple of great speakers on the market that measure well and sound top notch, while not costing stupid amounts of money (e.g. Revel Salon2, Dynaudio Confidence C4, Magico V3, KEF Reference 207/2, ATCs with active crossovers, etc.). Personally, though I have never heard them, I would like to see how the Magico Model 6 measures. I'm not interested in just a subjective opinion though. My speaker choices from the above options would change depending on distance from listening position. At a certain point all these speakers would distort and you would be left with only the ATC as a decent choice if the distance and power needs become great enough.

Amplifiers: This would depend on the speaker choice, since some require more power than others. If the speaker distance from listening position is not too high and speaker sensitivity is not too low, then the Bryston 28B SST. Otherwise, a Boulder amp with some serious extra power. If the speaker would require being driven to the point of distortion to get the sound loud enough, then I would go with the ATC speaker with an active crossover...

Digital front end: The Denon AVP-A1HDCI, or the TACT TCS Mk II with a robust preprocessor in the equipment chain, or the Trinnov Optimizer with a robust preprocessor in equipment the chain.

Cables: Blue Jeans Cable

Misc: Oppo 980H as a transport
post #8 of 1216
Subs: Commercial: Revel B-15a (or Sub30, but they are discontinued) or JL Audio Fathom F113s. Non commercial: one of those tremendous fan blades!
post #9 of 1216
Heck, might as well get the fan blade and some B-15s or Fathoms (number of subs varied depending on room size), and use the fan blade for LFE output on movies, and the Fathoms for music.
post #10 of 1216
Originally Posted by QueueCumber View Post

Cables: Blue Jeans Cable

Sanity in the high end audio forum-- what a surprise !! Great products. I switched from all of the high end stupid-expensive stuff to their speaker wire and interconnects. If the other stuff is better, no one, including me, could hear ANY difference.
post #11 of 1216

Speakers: Magico Model 6, Von Schweikert VR-10, Magnepan MG 20.1

Subwoofer: An infinite Baffle sub with eight 18 inch Blueperint or better drivers.
Amps: Burmester 911 (my personal reference)
Preamp : Burmester 011 (same as above)
DAC Any DAC that can beat my personal reference Burmester 980. I have not heard one as good yet.
Transport: They should not make a difference but to my hears they do so there again a Burmester transport.
Cables: I have moved on the other side with regards to cables. Any good cable of sufficient gauge and electrical characteristics but sane price. Blue Jeans, Belden?
TT: SME30 or Walker Proscenium
post #12 of 1216
Speakers: Rockport Arrakis or Kharma Grand Exquisite
Amps: Tenor 350M or Lamm ML3 or Atma-Sphere MA-2 Mk.III
Source: Full dCS Scarlatti stack (dCS DAC direct to Amp, no Pre-Amp)
Speaker Cables: Kharma Enigma Signature or MIT Oracle MA (long)
Interconnects: Stealth Indra Balanced (short)
Audio Racks/Amp stands: HRS
post #13 of 1216
Originally Posted by Will_Morr View Post

My plan for electronics, which is subject to change when I get a chance to audition, will be for a Meridian 808.2i feeding a pair of Meridian DSP8000s.

OT, the Meridian system is SOTA or near SOTA with one [fatal?] flaw - the drivers. They are in desperate need of an update. For a $60K+ speaker to use <$50ea poly drivers is inexcusable with the advanced materials now out there. Their $10K inwalls have much better drivers than their top end speaker But I would wait for a major overhaul of the speakers which is no doubt going to happen at some point.
post #14 of 1216
I will tell you what to stay away from:

The MILLION DOLLAR system at CES several years ago, Wisdom Audio. Not impressive at all.
post #15 of 1216
Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

OT, the Meridian system is SOTA or near SOTA with one [fatal?] flaw - the drivers. They are in desperate need of an update. For a $60K+ speaker to use <$50ea poly drivers is inexcusable with the advanced materials now out there. Their $10K inwalls have much better drivers than their top end speaker But I would wait for a major overhaul of the speakers which is no doubt going to happen at some point.

Alimental, certainly you have NAD gear you can recommend? You always do.
post #16 of 1216
More Seriously. Take ONEOBGYN's two channel setup, multiply it time 8 to 9 channels plus subwoofers, and upgrade it however ONEOBGYN tells you too. That's gotta sound sensational!
post #17 of 1216
For two years running, my favorite 'complete' system I heard at RMAF was the MBL room:

post #18 of 1216
I really liked your review of the Rockport Technologies Altair! It seems to be a really awesome speaker.


-> Rockport Technologies Arrakis
-> Wilson Audio Alexandria X-2


-> JL Audio Gotham


-> Lamm Industries ML3
-> Krell Evolution 900
-> Pass Labs X1000.5

Digital Front End

-> Mark Levinson No. 502 Media Console


-> Teac Esoteric P-01
-> Krell Evolution 505/525


-> Transparent Cable
-> Tara Labs

Power Conditioner

-> Shunyata Research Hydra V-Ray

Room Correction

-> Dolby Lake
post #19 of 1216

Here is my suggestion:

dCS Scarlatti stack for the front end,
Halcro dm10 for the preamp,
Halcro dm88 bridged as amps,
YG Acoustics ANAT RefII professional speakers.
Sistrum racks.
All Stealth Audio Cables - Dream Power cords, Indra interconnects, Dream speaker cables.
In an accoustically treated room.

With a 10kva power purifier transformer feeding the power to the room and all equipment (except the Scarlatti) running on 250v.

Here is a link to it -


It's also, a theater system, but I primarily listen to 2channel

The theater, includes a Halcro SSP200 processor, an ANAT refII main module driven by two Linn Klimax Solos as the center, Kipod Studios driven by two Linn Klouts as the rear, and 3 Linn Melodiks/5150 for LFE.

I'm on the east coast as well if you would like to have a listen.

post #20 of 1216
Thread Starter 
One other thing I'm considering, and I have not discussed this with Terry yet, so don't know his schedule, but is to re-look at my room acoustics based on whatever speakers are chosen. My room was somewhat customized for the X-2s -- at least in terms of tweeter height as it relates to first reflections. That really will be a first step if the system is to come together as planned.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. There are some good choices in here and certainly some of them seem doable. I am surprised no one has mentioned the new Levinson 53s for amplifiers.
post #21 of 1216
Originally Posted by Steve Bruzonsky View Post

Alimental, certainly you have NAD gear you can recommend? You always do.

Oh, I'd put the M3/M5 up any time on quality, but it sounded like he wanted it to be outrageously expensive as well, which they are not.
post #22 of 1216

There is a difference between what Movie soundtracks are scored with versus the lesser mix rooms. The finest possible scoring room system uses this speakers.

This is my vote for the world's best multichannel audio system.

post #23 of 1216
Hi Jeff

I just got back from parent's weekend in Boulder so am a little late for the party but I would have to say that your partner Marc Mickelson just reviewed in Soundstage what arguably some might have to consider TWBAS (X-2 Series ll and Lamm ML3 Reference. I know that you have moved on from your X-2 series l but I really feel that if your room is optimized by Terry for X-2 tweeters and price is no option you need to have Dave send you a pair of X-2 Series ll
post #24 of 1216
I didn't know they made 'treble traps' for 17kHz spikes
post #25 of 1216

This picture looks stunning even on my computer monitor! wow

I'd love to hear the speakers too.
post #26 of 1216

I've always enjoyed your columns. Those Rockport Altairs are looking awesome and presumably sounding it too.

I can't imagine where you'd go from there unless it just wasn't working up to potential.

Me, I'd like to hear the JBL Project Everest speakers, The Magico 6, and a few others. But if I had the Altairs I'd probably just lock myself in the listening room and shut out the rest of the world!
post #27 of 1216

-> 3 Meridian DSP8000 fronts
-> 2 Meridian DSP8000 sides
-> 2 Meridian DSP8000 back


-> Not necessary with 7 DSP8000 in the room.


-> 5x100W included in every fullrange speaker, each 100W is separately powering each speakercone directly.

Digital Front End

-> Meridian 861 Surround Controller


-> Meridian 808i.2 CD-Player with apodizing filters

-> Pioneer BDP-05FD Elite BD Player


-> CAT6 cables (balanced digital IO) or 75Ohm SPDIF coax cables.
-> Shunyata Anaconda Helix powering every speaker. (I could settle for a standard heavy gauge one, but since it's "free" the anaconda has a solid construction.)

Power Conditioners

-> Shunyata Research Hydra V-Ray's

Room Correction

-> Meridian Room Correction

Room Acoustics

-> http://www.diffusor.com/


-> Meridian 810 Reference Video System (4k by 2k)


-> Stewart Studiotek 130 (solid)
-> Screen Research Clearpix (weave)
post #28 of 1216
The X-2’s have already spent time in TWBAS, but they are now in Series 2 form so could be considered. They are no doubt excellent. But the Rockport Altair outperforms it in my opinion (I've only heard the Series 1 X-2 though), and the Rockort costs 60 grand less. I have heard both the Altair and the X-2 and can say without a doubt that the Altair is my preference.

So I think the next step would be the Rockport Arrakis, this speaker looks heads and shoulders better than the X-2 to me, 4-way, with true midbass and true midrange drivers, in an inert cabinet with smoothe lines (so no diffraction effects). The other contender for me would be the Magicio Ultimate (the Model 6 does not look nearly as good as the Arrakis on paper).

As far as amps go, how about a pair of the McIntosh 2KW mono-blocks or the big Boulders?
post #29 of 1216
How loud (db @5 meter) can 3 Meridian dsp8000 play without frying the tweeters? 125db? I personally fried 13 dsp5500 tweeters demoing Heat on 568 Mix mode. For a closed end system that was unacceptable...no?
post #30 of 1216
Speakers: B&W 800D (or nautilus)
Amplifiers: Classe CA-M400 bi-amped (would require more amps for nautilus)
Digital front end: Classe SSP-800 and Oppo 980 for HDMI SACD
Cables: blue jean
Misc APC-S15
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