System Two now has two racks

… and system Three has none.

Both RixRax equipment racks are now over on the second system. We wanted the added capability to compare two turntables, two phono stages, and the Audio Note Ongaku to the Kegon Balanced to the Kegon.

We put the Kehon Balanced amps on the Kharma Mini Exquisites.

The tops have been off so we can stare at the internal electronics for awhile 🙂 But the tops will be back on soon enough… 1) they take up a lot of room just laying around, 2) the safest place for the tops of the chassis is on the chassis, and 3) just to get the aesthetic effect of a system that does not have exposed tubes.

Since our Audio Note M9 Phono preamp is still to arrive, we are using the Audio Note M1 phono preamplifier to drive the Kegon Balanced. We also had the M1 on the Ongaku integrated for awhile, to get a feel for the sound of the M1 in the system that we are so very familiar with.

The M1 is a very nice pre and I, personally, want to keep it here forever. At the price it sells for on Audiogon sometimes, $700, it sounds more like a $5K to 10K pre – and it always surprises me.

All the low-end AN gear surprises me – I keep expecting a more discordant and harsh sound – like the low end of every other line of equipment. But nooooo, this has more harmonics and warmth than the top-of-the-line, which is more neutral and detailed and transparent and realistic.

The end of the rack is now ALFULLY close to the speaker. But we figure the trade-off is worth it – that we can configure some great sounding systems that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to hear.

The Audio Note Kegon Balanced on the Kharma loudspeakers.

The Audio Note Kegon Balanced. On first blush, the M1 pre + Kegon Balanced amps is very, very competitive with the Ongaku integrated amp.

I would say more neutral [OK, nothing has that 211 sound except 211-based tube amps and the Kegons are 300B-based amps] and more transparent – more separation …and solidity?

We’re still listening…

The Soundlab system without a rack looks pretty darn cool itself. The Audio Aero Prestige is sitting on a Rix Rax amp stand.

Yes, that is a Nordost ODIN between the Prestige and Edge Signature One amps.

The Ongaku is now in System Four in Listening Room Three (L3). We haven’t hooked it up yet – this is still a AN Oto integrated-driven system.

Leap Day 2008

Just an update as we finally, for the first time since the lightning strike, have all 4 systems powered up at the same time. A little worrisome… but it is a good feeling.

The main system, with Lamm ML2 amplifiers, Nordost ODIN and Jorma Design Prime and ELROD doing the cabling

Digital for the front end, Audio Note and Lamm.

The Brinkmann Balance turntable is not hooked up, no phono preamp and no shelves, we purloined them for a system downstairs for a bit.

The Kharma system with the Audio Note Ongaku integrated and EMM Labs CDSA SE Upgraded.

The Walker Proscenium Gold Signature turntable – also for sale up on Audiogon. The Audio Note TT3 Reference turntable and Lamm LP2 phono preamplifier.

The Soundlab system driven by the EDGE Signature One amps and Audio Aero Prestige CD/SACD player with linestage.

The little Audio Note system with OTO integrated amp.

Our Listening Rooms Today

[… previously on Audio Federation…]

[… as we return to our story…]


The Kharma Mini Exquisite speakers [the Lamm ML2.1 amps are out on audition]. At reasonable volumes, this combo is SO seductive.

Sometime we should all have a sit down and talk about what is a reasonable volume. This is probably the area of most divergence among audiophiles, by which I mean some people like it always around 80 – 85 dB and some like it always around 110 dB, and lots like it in between these SPLs. This is a WIDE range, and a system optimized for one level may not necessarily do so great at the other extreme.

The equipment driving the Lamm ML2.1s [The Walker has been moved so that work can be done on the light switches that melted during the lightning strike]

The room from the Kharma’s eye view. Those are the soundlabs in the back there and the red leather command chair in the front.

The equipment driving the Ultimate Soundlabs. Neli set up three digital on this systems: Audio Note, Emm Labs, and Audio Aero for people who want to do a digital player taste test. It is somewhat compromised, everything running through the Audio Aero Capitole CD Player’s built-in preamp, but it does help people understand the CHARACTER of the different player’s sounds.

And the main system upstairs. Still not positioned 100%, as Neli annoyingly reminds me. We just need to play a few dozen records and start the speaker positioning rumba: play, listen, move, listen, move, play something else, repeat.

The 3rd listening room is still a mess: Adagios, our RMAF Audio Note system and rack, trade-in Nolas, DeHavilans, cables galore,…. it is a very expensive Mess.