This is the configuration of our room on the first day [actually,
Sunday afternoon, as it looks like the amp on the right is not on,
and we are waiting for a tube to arrive to replace one that did
not make it over from the U.K.].
Everything, except the speakers, is on HRS Nimbus Couplers
coupling them to an M3 Isolation Base, and some of the bases are
on the new SXR equipment rack.
We are using Elrod power cords and an Acrolink 7N-DA6100 power
cord [on the DAC5, it just sounded significantly better there than
on the transport, which was the other place we tried it], with
stock power cords on the turntable power supplies.
The speakers, new high-efficiency hemp drivers with the new
ALNICO tweeters, the first of their design ever, were not broken
in, Saturday night was the first time we had applied power to them
[and then only one at a time as we swapped the working tube from
amp to amp]. The KEGON Balanced were also not broken in, as I
And yes, those speakers are not exactly the same distance from
the walls - why bother with spending too much time on setup when
you can only hear the left OR the right channel? Right?
In this photo, we are still waiting for the M9 Phono two-box
preamplifier to arrive, so we are using the little Audio Note M1
linestage. That little M1 did great! No, it had nowhere near the
magic of the M9 - but we listened to the [one channel :-)] system
for almost two days - and it was melodic and tuneful and we really
enjoyed playing our test discs and discs we play all the time at
home and are very familiar with.
The key is, I think, that the Kegon Balanced are extremely good
amplifiers - with both extreme control and extreme musicality. The
new speakers are very efficient and the new tweeter is much better
than the previous generation - anyway it just allows one to hear
what the amp is doing. As far as I could tell, and we did play ALL
of our CDs here, is that the amp scored a 10 in all the ways I
know of to exercise an amp. And then some.
Particularly, it excelled in control of the note development
and decay, and in shades of harmonics [does it do the same thing
the Lamm ML3 did, where it controls the harmonics with an iron
grip? I hope to be able to answer that question - hoping that the
moments were so seared into my ears in the Lamm room with that
particular Johnny Hartman song that I will be able to do a mapping
from there to here].
More about the amp [and speakers] when we get it here and
exercise it in a controlled environment. [i.e. check the blog].
We were happy with the sound here. Very much so. However, the
depth of the soundstage was not what we have come to expect from
AN, which creates a very deep and accurate portrayal of what was
recorded. My thoughts are that this is because the speakers were
very un-broken-in, and the hemp drivers are very stiff drivers
until they are broken in, so much so that some nano details were
not coming through that go into communicating this information to
We also did not work hard enough on the positioning of the
speakers - if just to see if we could get an even better sound
for, uh, no money and little effort. I wanted us to try to move
them back a few inches. Neli wonders about moving them forward a
couple of inches. Peter wondered about putting them up against the
left and right walls. All good ideas - but our room was actually
almost always busy - and we just didn't find time. Next year, when
we bring these speakers, they will be broken in and we will know a
lot more about their particular characteristics and setup [and
some of the other issues that occupied our
playing-with-the-speaker positions time will also be handled
upfront - because 60-70% of the system will not be hot off the
U.K. presses.... right everybody? Everybody????].
Our room, the more uptown of the two Audio Note rooms, was not
like our usual room at RMAF. Peter Qvortrup, founder of Audio
Note, has a lot of friends and business associates who come to
visit. He will also just sit down and talk to dorky people like
Neli and I [well, like me, anyway]. So there would be lots of
times when no music was playing, Neli was talking to someone with
questions and I would be gone doing the show report or in the room
uploading photos. So there would be quiet times, talking about
what have you.
Then it would be 110dB. Unusually, someone would request this
or that, and then this, that and the Other Thing would be played.
I think next year we need to have a sign that says, "Want to hear
something? Ask!" because some people just did not want to
interrupt and Neli was busy and so they did not get to hear the
It was great to hear Peter's selection of music. I heard some
of the most emotional, poignant music I have ever heard - some of
it very noisy, it was so old. I also got to enjoy a lot of Tool
and Dream Theater. And as far as Acid Bath goes... well, I hardly
ever listen to lyrics anyway - my brain does not process verbal
streams well, to start with, so it was all good.