ack's system - end of round 1


VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
Boston, MA
My main goal for a high end system is truth of timbre and articulation.


MartinLogan Odyssey - heavily modified, Mundorf crossover (CFC-14 coils & Supreme caps) & M6 binding posts, Mundorf woofer attenuators, structural modifications; see this and this
REL Stadium III
Spectral DMA-500AR monoblocks
Spectral DMC-30SV
Spectral SDR-3000 xport
Berkeley Alpha DAC
VPI Aries 3 table w/ liquid-floating platter/10.5i arm modified/SDS speed controller - granite, Sorbothane, & EAR Isodamp C-1002 isolation
Ortofon A90 cartridge
Pass XP-25
phono heavily modified - see this and video
Revox B77 MkII R2R
Nakamichi Dragon
modified by Willy Hermann Services
Magnum Dynalab Etude FM modified
MIT Matrix 50ic & Matrix HD90.1, MIT MA-X AES/EBU; MIT MA-X phono; Kimber Hero - all with custom shielding
MIT Z Strips; Shunyata Black Mamba CX/HC power cords; MIT Magnum Z-Trap
Shunyata Typhon
Zoethecus stand

System close-up

Amplifier detail - protection, driver stage, output stage with individually regulated power supplies per output device


Preamp detail

Mods/Tweaks: Bass attenuation with adjustable Mundorf 60W 0.5 or 1.16 Ohm resistor network; 2.2 Ohm in-series with 10" woofer; aluminum 10"" woofer; custom-designed Mundorf crossover; Sorbothane & aircraft-grade EAR Isodamp C-1002 isolation under turntable. The speakers' + sub frequency response (RadioShack SPL meter, corrected as per Rives) at the listening position is as follows (ref at 1kHz):


Some great recordings I use for evaluation:

  1. Holst: The Planets/Mehta Los Angeles Phil/LP Decca 6529 and XRCD24
  2. Holst: The Planets/Buzz Brass/Fidelio LP FALP028
  3. Bruch: Scottish Fantasia/Horenstein LSO Oistrakh/LP Decca 6035
  4. Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique/Kojian Utah Symphony/Reference Recordings LP RR-11
  5. Berlioz: Requiem/Abravanel Utah Symphony/Vanguard LP VCS10070
  6. Dvorak: CTO for Cello & Orchestra/Janos Starker/Dorati-LSO/Mercury LP SR90303
  7. Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherazade/Reiner-CSO/RCA LP
  8. Mahler: Symphony #2/BSO, Ozawa/Philips 420824-2
  9. Mahler: Symphony #2/LSO-Solti/Decca LP
  10. Brahms: Violin CTO/Heifetz-Reiner-CSO/RCA LP
  11. Beethoven: Appasssionata/Kamiya playing the Bosendorfer Imperial/RCA Direct-to-disc LP RDCE-4
  12. Beethoven: Violin CTO/Heifetz-Munch-BSO/RCA LP
  13. Beethoven: Symphony #9/Solti-SCO/Decca LP
  14. Mozart: Symphonia Concertante/Oistrakh/Decca LP
  15. Charpentier: Te Deum/Harmonia Mundi CD 901298
  16. Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man/Oue, Minnesota/Reference Recordings 93
  17. Guilmant: Symphony #1 for Organ and Orchestra/Tracey, BBC Phil/Chandos 9271
  18. Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances/Oue, Minnesota/Reference Recordings LP RM-1504
  19. Rutter: Requiem/RR 57
  20. Saints/Saens: Symphony #3: Telarc 80274 LP. Also BSO/Munch/XRCD24
  21. Shostakovich: Violin Concertos No1 op.99, No2 op.99/Scottish National Orch,Jarvi,Lydia Mordkovich/Chandos 8820
  22. Moussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition/CSO, Reiner/XRCD2
  23. Ramirez: Misa Criolla/Jose Carreras/Philips 420955-2
  24. Stravinsky: Rite of Spring/Oue, Minnesota/RR 70
  25. Mozart: Requiem/Dorian 90310
  26. Various: Joel Fan: World Keys (piano)/RR 106
  27. Britten: Britten's Orchestra/RR 120
  28. Liszt: Nojima Plays Liszt/RR 25
  29. Pipe Organ: Felix Hell; Mary Preston/RR 101 and 113
  30. Orff: Carmina Burana/Telarc 10056 LP (BTW, this is back in print)

  1. Jarrett, Peacock, DeJohnette: Inside Out/ECM 1780
  2. Dick Hyman: From the age of Swing/RR 59
  3. Miles Daivs: Kind of Blue/Columbia LP
  4. Brubeck: Take Five/Columbia LP
  5. Paquito D'Rivera: Portraits of Cuba/Chesky JD145
  6. Mongo Santamaria: Mambo Mongo/Chesky JD100
  7. Bill Evans Trio: Sunday at the Village Vanguard/XRCD
  8. Keith Jarrett: La Scala/ECM 1640
  9. Proteus 7: For Your Ears Only/Dorian xCD 90258
  10. Krall: Live In Paris/ORG LP

More pics at

Last edited by a moderator:
Thanks. Missed that - a good old Zoethecus
Genesis 2.2jr. maybe Gary will make you a deal .
Yes I am speaker shopping - I have the Summit X on my radar, as well as a new forthcoming speaker from Rockport, the Q3 and Sasha on my short list.
Yes I am speaker shopping - I have the Summit X on my radar, as well as a new forthcoming speaker from Rockport, the Q3 and Sasha on my short list.

No Avalon in your options ack?, I understand that Neil himself used to drive his personal system with Spectral amps nevertheless the great appreciation he had with JRDG some time ago...
You know, I've heard from so many sources that they are 'tuned by ear' that I don't bother with Avalons - I really want science too behind what I buy.
These pics are for Myles ;) He loves this grid thing I do with my analog, for azimuth and SRA adjustments; they are of the new Ortofon A90 installed recently


  • a90-sra-2..JPG
    47.5 KB · Views: 8,784
  • a90-azimuth-2..JPG
    43.5 KB · Views: 8,927
Ack-Do you have more LPs lurking around other than what is shown in the photograph? Also, from looking at your pictures, it appears your ML speakers are about 6' apart and very close to the back wall. Is that correct? Since you have hardwood floors with a throw rug, does your sound tend to be on the bright/zingy side of things?
Are you speaker shopping then?

I've heard some of the latest from Martin Logan, still that familiar house sound if you will - which ain't bad.

There may be some new wave speakers (ripple membrane non-NXT) expected to hit the market in the next few years. Maybe something to think about, if you are curious here is a link to a discussion:

I'd disagree with that George. The new Summit-Xs are in a different league and little to none of the ML siggie :)
Yes I have about 1000 LPs all over the place, and was last year donated 250 more from my good neighbor... The speakers are 8ft apart center-to-center, so you're probably right about 6 ft side to side; notice the open space behind both of them, so no brightness at all; the room (not shown in its entirety) is naturally damped with furniture and rugs as can be confirmed with the clap test, but that's not to say it couldn't use bass traps. I have gone to great lengths to attenuate the bass (in-series Caddock 2.2ohm resistor network, sub in reverse phase).
These pics are for Myles ;) He loves this grid thing I do with my analog, for azimuth and SRA adjustments; they are of the new Ortofon A90 installed recently

Made my day :) Along with the Yanks winning of course!
You should try this, it ain't so bad. Put the camera on a tripod, make sure the lens is perpendicular (as best as you can) to the vertical plane of the subject you are photographing and take the shot; then Canon's software lets you put the grid on once you've transferred the picture to your computer, but won't let you save with it (argh); for that, you need to take a screen capture of the composite image; finally, create a jpeg out of it - I use GIMP to paste the screen capture to a new GIMP window, and manipulate it from there on.
I think it's hard to match a speaker as is to a room; since I don't want to mess up the living room with tweaks and traps, the next best thing in taming bass overload is this. This is why I think I will eventually get the Summit Xs that feature two bass attenuators; I believe all speakers should offer bass attenuation and at variable frequencies.
Ack your comments on bass attenuation is an interesting aspect to speaker selection. I am taking a serious look at Vandersteen Model 7. I understand that with speaker sensitivity @ 83.5 dB I'll be needing the power of the DMA 360 series II mono blocks to properly drive those wonderful drivers. It seems the DMA 260 would just run out of gas, so I am told.
Ark-you can get lightroom photoshop-and just bring the photo into lightroom and use the crop overlay-much quicker-I just a different way- but thanks for that Idea -I will be trying that...

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing