It's been a while...system updates including Viking Acoustics L'Instrument speakers plus plus plus

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
231
36
133
Saudi Arabia
Dear All who may visit here... thanks for stopping by.

I've finally reached Audio Nirvana and thought it was time I updated those who visit about my system changes.

As luck would have it, I found my end-of-search power amplifier in Perth Australia. It was one of a pair being used in mono configuration. The owner said simply, he couldn't tell any difference between using one in stereo or two in mono set up in his system. He was using Wilson speakers but didn't share what else he was using. My luck, I had his unit shipped to my Villa in Riyadh Saudi Arabia via DHL. Its 48kg weight was charged stupidly because the seller gave the full price and the cost of VAT at 15% doubled the cost of shipment, leaving me speechless. Mixed luck...

And so the Luxman M900U arrived safely intact after a few days and 10,000KM's journey. Review and pics/video follow.

I had come by a used First Watt M2 upgraded and found it to be slightly warmer deeper and equally powerful as my PassLabs XA25. Both served the MB2SE admirably well, but if I was going to only keep one probably I'd keep the M2, so that says loads about its tonality vs the XA25 somewhat dryer grip. As it turned out both of these units were later sold through TMR.

Somewhere in the same period, my HiFi guy in Nevada suggested I consider some Audio Research gear. Specifically, he lauded the LS10 preamp, one of the first solid-state preamps they've made and apparently a fully balanced dual construction. He also pushed me to consider a pair of D240 Mk II power amps. All would pass through his hands to be upgraded, as is the rest of my system. These came well before the Luxman and made quite an impact through my PMC MB2SE.

Then the Luxman arrived and soon after the L'Instrument horn speakers arrived from David Counsell in sunny New Mexico this time via FedEx/TNT/SAB Logistics (local franchisee). This purchase had taken over two years from payment to delivery across the COVID19 period. The carpenter for the horns contracted COVID19...

The speakers were packed in Kuboxes and seemed to be ok until I unpacked them and found someone, most likely Saudi Customs, had used a razor cutter to cut through the plastic wrap to inspect the speakers and had lightly cut into the wood on the front baffle of the speakers. Some oil would make that disappear I hoped and later did so effectively. Just as well they missed the cones... oh the joys of third-world country shipping.

Briefly, I had taken the Luxman upstairs to try with my PMC MB2SE's before the horn speakers arrived. It was a huge amp that offered plenty of control and full range power to the MB2SE. Two people to carry upstairs were required. Dreams of owning the partner Control amp filled my head...

Then I found an Estate sale in the USA that had an Audio Research Reference CD9 available for sale. I was thrilled, jumped at it, and negotiated a great price and shipping to my HiFi guy in Nevada, for upgrading before shipping to me. Again I was cursed, this time by a failed power supply unit internally that turned the CD9 off after less than 20 seconds of audio output upon arrival in Saudi. It went dead. I reached out to find Sen Alagic in the USA who could fix this upgraded unit. Oh dear, this return trip plus fix was going to add another USD$1K to my purchase price; bummer to say the least.

Meanwhile, I'd been playing with the M2 and the XA25 and enjoying the comparison. These two units were soon pushed aside as the ARC LS10SE AND D240 MKII SE arrived. I teamed these units up with an upgraded Pioneer N70AE SE. And this gave me loads of warm yet powerful digital sound via Tidal better than Spotify. The system at that stage was resolving enough to make this difference clear to me.

Then after their arrival and unpacking, I was able to insert the new L'Instrument speakers with the super tweeters option taken, into the system with the Luxman. I hauled the 105lb Lux downstairs again myself, great weight training that day I must say. Thus the speakers began their burn-in period. Along with the ARC preamp and Oppo 205 Blu-ray payer serving SACD/CD duties.

My immediate impressions of the horns were surprise and pleasure at the super soundstage, despite my earlier use of the Berlin's from David at VA. These were approx 30% bigger and far more full range as they had two 12" woofers in each cabinet.

Ultimately I got back the ARC Ref CD9 and put it back into the system to burn in after repair.

Then I read about feeding digital into the DAC of the CD9. I then tried this way using the CD9 as DAC from the Pioneer streamer. And wow! It was such an incredible uplift against the upgraded Pioneer streamer. It had become an analog sound with a wide frequency range, deep bass from the 2x 12" bass units per speaker, as well as airy especially because of the super tweeters that push out their soundtasge and totally create a powerful really analog soundstage. The Ref CD9 is fully balanced, via XLR into the LS10SE that is fully balanced into the Luxman M900u that is also fully balanced, an amazing exercise in synergy. The results can be heard and are incredible.

I wil try and link a video here if WBF allows me otherwise I will put a WeTransfer link to a sample recent recording.

For me this system is now an end of search system. I have never had such smiles and surprises every time I turn on the music. Even though the Ref CD9 does not play SACD, I can tell you it is more than twice as good as the Oppo 205 when playing SACD. And all my SACD's play on the CD9 sound way better than playing them in SACD/DSD format on the Oppo. You have to listen to know the presence microdynamics, range, presence, pace rythm and timing, soundstage and tonality are to die for.

Way better than the old K03xs upgraded I had earlier and way better than any dac I've had including the Lampizator AMBER III upgraded version, PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC upgraded version too. The upgraded Ref CD9 blows all of that away.

The L'Instrument blows away the MB2SE, and the MB2SE are much better than my earlier Viking Acoustics Berlin R Type II's. They've been returned to David for a minor fix before being offered for sale.

Other noteworthy discoveries I've made include:

The ARC D240 Mk II is strong enough to make the PMC's sound powerful especially strong enough to power their bass region and as a consequence are a great fit now as fronts for my home theater set up, with no need any longer for sub woofers. I've sold my two Polk DW660 subs... And music sounds superb as always from these great speakers.

As an addendum, I had bought a second D240 Mk II and had it upgraded and shipped USA to Saudi Arabia. Packed by FedEx, they left it so badly packed and hanging loose in an oversize box, I couldn't believe it. They managed to break it internally. I've had to send that back to Sen for repair and buy an original box for re-shipment. The plan was to biamp the PMC's which actually are triampable... I'm not sure I will go to that step now.

The link to video below is of track: Jazz At The Pawn Shop streaming from Tidal MQA through the Pioneer N70AE (decodes MQA) > coaxial to ARC Ref CD9 > XLR LSD10SE > XLR Luxman M900u > Viking Acoustics L'Instrument speakers. It was recorded on my iPhone 11 Pro so it is naturally limited yet...

WeTransfer system demo file

My experience demonstrates the imortance of synergy, persistence and belief, since no chances here to audition gear whatsoever. I've become a shipping expert, a research guru, and an investor. Just ignore the heart stickers on my picture below and in the video... ;-)

A photo follows, the link is above.
 

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Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
4,614
2,007
265
50
Australia
Dear All who may visit here... thanks for stopping by.

I've finally reached Audio Nirvana and thought it was time I updated those who visit about my system changes.

As luck would have it, I found my end-of-search power amplifier in Perth Australia. It was one of a pair being used in mono configuration. The owner said simply, he couldn't tell any difference between using one in stereo or two in mono set up in his system. He was using Wilson speakers but didn't share what else he was using. My luck, I had his unit shipped to my Villa in Riyadh Saudi Arabia via DHL. Its 48kg weight was charged stupidly because the seller gave the full price and the cost of VAT at 15% doubled the cost of shipment, leaving me speechless. Mixed luck...

And so the Luxman M900U arrived safely intact after a few days and 10,000KM's journey. Review and pics/video follow.

I had come by a used First Watt M2 upgraded and found it to be slightly warmer deeper and equally powerful as my PassLabs XA25. Both served the MB2SE admirably well, but if I was going to only keep one probably I'd keep the M2, so that says loads about its tonality vs the XA25 somewhat dryer grip. As it turned out both of these units were later sold through TMR.

Somewhere in the same period, my HiFi guy in Nevada suggested I consider some Audio Research gear. Specifically, he lauded the LS10 preamp, one of the first solid-state preamps they've made and apparently a fully balanced dual construction. He also pushed me to consider a pair of D240 Mk II power amps. All would pass through his hands to be upgraded, as is the rest of my system. These came well before the Luxman and made quite an impact through my PMC MB2SE.

Then the Luxman arrived and soon after the L'Instrument horn speakers arrived from David Counsell in sunny New Mexico this time via FedEx/TNT/SAB Logistics (local franchisee). This purchase had taken over two years from payment to delivery across the COVID19 period. The carpenter for the horns contracted COVID19...

The speakers were packed in Kuboxes and seemed to be ok until I unpacked them and found someone, most likely Saudi Customs, had used a razor cutter to cut through the plastic wrap to inspect the speakers and had lightly cut into the wood on the front baffle of the speakers. Some oil would make that disappear I hoped and later did so effectively. Just as well they missed the cones... oh the joys of third-world country shipping.

Briefly, I had taken the Luxman upstairs to try with my PMC MB2SE's before the horn speakers arrived. It was a huge amp that offered plenty of control and full range power to the MB2SE. Two people to carry upstairs were required. Dreams of owning the partner Control amp filled my head...

Then I found an Estate sale in the USA that had an Audio Research Reference CD9 available for sale. I was thrilled, jumped at it, and negotiated a great price and shipping to my HiFi guy in Nevada, for upgrading before shipping to me. Again I was cursed, this time by a failed power supply unit internally that turned the CD9 off after less than 20 seconds of audio output upon arrival in Saudi. It went dead. I reached out to find Sen Alagic in the USA who could fix this upgraded unit. Oh dear, this return trip plus fix was going to add another USD$1K to my purchase price; bummer to say the least.

Meanwhile, I'd been playing with the M2 and the XA25 and enjoying the comparison. These two units were soon pushed aside as the ARC LS10SE AND D240 MKII SE arrived. I teamed these units up with an upgraded Pioneer N70AE SE. And this gave me loads of warm yet powerful digital sound via Tidal better than Spotify. The system at that stage was resolving enough to make this difference clear to me.

Then after their arrival and unpacking, I was able to insert the new L'Instrument speakers with the super tweeters option taken, into the system with the Luxman. I hauled the 105lb Lux downstairs again myself, great weight training that day I must say. Thus the speakers began their burn-in period. Along with the ARC preamp and Oppo 205 Blu-ray payer serving SACD/CD duties.

My immediate impressions of the horns were surprise and pleasure at the super soundstage, despite my earlier use of the Berlin's from David at VA. These were approx 30% bigger and far more full range as they had two 12" woofers in each cabinet.

Ultimately I got back the ARC Ref CD9 and put it back into the system to burn in after repair.

Then I read about feeding digital into the DAC of the CD9. I then tried this way using the CD9 as DAC from the Pioneer streamer. And wow! It was such an incredible uplift against the upgraded Pioneer streamer. It had become an analog sound with a wide frequency range, deep bass from the 2x 12" bass units per speaker, as well as airy especially because of the super tweeters that push out their soundtasge and totally create a powerful really analog soundstage. The Ref CD9 is fully balanced, via XLR into the LS10SE that is fully balanced into the Luxman M900u that is also fully balanced, an amazing exercise in synergy. The results can be heard and are incredible.

I wil try and link a video here if WBF allows me otherwise I will put a WeTransfer link to a sample recent recording.

For me this system is now an end of search system. I have never had such smiles and surprises every time I turn on the music. Even though the Ref CD9 does not play SACD, I can tell you it is more than twice as good as the Oppo 205 when playing SACD. And all my SACD's play on the CD9 sound way better than playing them in SACD/DSD format on the Oppo. You have to listen to know the presence microdynamics, range, presence, pace rythm and timing, soundstage and tonality are to die for.

Way better than the old K03xs upgraded I had earlier and way better than any dac I've had including the Lampizator AMBER III upgraded version, PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC upgraded version too. The upgraded Ref CD9 blows all of that away.

The L'Instrument blows away the MB2SE, and the MB2SE are much better than my earlier Viking Acoustics Berlin R Type II's. They've been returned to David for a minor fix before being offered for sale.

Other noteworthy discoveries I've made include:

The ARC D240 Mk II is strong enough to make the PMC's sound powerful especially strong enough to power their bass region and as a consequence are a great fit now as fronts for my home theater set up, with no need any longer for sub woofers. I've sold my two Polk DW660 subs... And music sounds superb as always from these great speakers.

As an addendum, I had bought a second D240 Mk II and had it upgraded and shipped USA to Saudi Arabia. Packed by FedEx, they left it so badly packed and hanging loose in an oversize box, I couldn't believe it. They managed to break it internally. I've had to send that back to Sen for repair and buy an original box for re-shipment. The plan was to biamp the PMC's which actually are triampable... I'm not sure I will go to that step now.

The link to video below is of track: Jazz At The Pawn Shop streaming from Tidal MQA through the Pioneer N70AE (decodes MQA) > coaxial to ARC Ref CD9 > XLR LSD10SE > XLR Luxman M900u > Viking Acoustics L'Instrument speakers. It was recorded on my iPhone 11 Pro so it is naturally limited yet...

WeTransfer system demo file

My experience demonstrates the imortance of synergy, persistence and belief, since no chances here to audition gear whatsoever. I've become a shipping expert, a research guru, and an investor. Just ignore the heart stickers on my picture below and in the video... ;-)

A photo follows, the link is above.
Beautiful setup.I love the horn speakers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: John57

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
231
36
133
Saudi Arabia
Beautiful setup.I love the horn speakers.
G’day Addicted
Thanks, mate.
They are large impressive and thankfully sound incredible. My wife hated their looks on paper but listening to them she told me I can keep them, phew! They’re works of art actually, that happen to sound fabulous too. Better than any other horns I’ve listened to, including Avant-garde’s.
 
Last edited:

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