My Bucket List Audio System , Now Complete, Is Beyond My Wildest Dreams

Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
596
195
455
Jersey Shore- waterside
For the past 2 ½ years, and actually the past 60 years, one of my highest priorities has been to complete a project that began when I was 10 years old at high end audio show in SF with my dad. At that show I promised myself that as I was approaching retirement, I would assemble the best audio system possible given the technology of the day, AND I would do it just before my retirement, when I projected I would be best able to afford what I desired, BUT there was a proviso, it had to be paid for in full by the end of my last day of work.

This proviso was wise beyond my 10 years of life, because I knew, that if I had already paid for the system, I would have no guilt if I went way over budget (I did by a factor of 5!) because all that would be left was to enjoy it and pay for the electricity. I started in earnest about 30 months ago thinking I would point toward Vivid G1 Spirits and started going around southern CA with Steve Williams auditioning the best we could locate.

There is a pretty good summary of my quest for what I have come to call My Bucket List System on WBF in two parts https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...t-bucket-list-system”-pt-1.30548/#post-645603.

What happened from that point forward bares absolutely no resemblance to what actually happened and is still happening. What I got was so far beyond what I dreamed about. There were many bumps in the road during the journey, but in retrospect, the destination has been so far over the top of my imagination and growing. Said another way—it has been life changing sonically, life direction altering a powerful vehicle that helped me back from being way close to the edge of my life. I also developed some wonderful new friends, several of whom are amongst my closest currently.

The single biggest and first gift came from Steve Williams when the formal search began by taking me around SoCal to audition high end systems. Since we could not coordinate a visit to the the VSA shop at that time I decided I instantly decided I would go to Axpona 2018, in Chicago in several month so I could hear their top of the line Ultra 11 powered with a full VAC Statement system, Masterbuilt Ultra everything and every thing else they could do to make it the BEST. I instantly linked with Damon and Leif heard the mega system that was still not settled for the show and Everything Changed. I heard something in their speakers that I instantly knew I had to have as part of my final project.

When I met Leif and Damon at Axpona, they treated me like a prince and introduced me to a wide array of people in the high end audio industry. They are now amongst my closest friends. Over the next several days, the system settled in and began to sound pretty special, maybe almost the best I had ever heard, but it was hard to sort out what component was doing what and it was clear I was listening at an entirely level than my reference. I was also getting use to VAC electronics, which took a short bit of time to fully appreciate because of their realism and total lack of tube or SS sound. The role of the MasterBuilt Ultra cables was impossible to comprehend, although their cost was hitting me between the eyes.

The VSA speaker that I thought would be right for me (Ultra 9) if I won the lottery, had not been invented although I knew what it sounded like because it has half of an Ultra 11, but in a better form factor for my room, $100 k+ cheaper and needed less of the very expensive VAC equipment and less MB cabling. Several months after Axpona and Munich, Steve took me to VSA in Riverside where we heard the prototype 9’s with one hour break-in on them and I became more friendly with Damon and Leif. Still not clear what the 9’s would sound like and what I also needed to get the best out of them I decided to take the leap and put down a deposit and work out the electronics and cabling later when my feet hit the ground. (How much could it cost?)

Later that day we went to Leif’s house and heard two of their entry level speakers that were more in the price range I was familiar with. I was blown away and started to realize what Albert Von Schweikert’s genius was about and began to better understand the Ultra 9’s and 11’s, and now it was not if, but how I was going to pull this off by my retirement and have everything paid for by that point. Fortunately, everything was being made especially for me, which gave me some time to make the much needed money by my retirement date.

I will skip many of the valuable stories along the way and just decided that I would buy a somewhat scaled down mega-system because each of the parts are essential to the end sound, but I would save on buying VAC statement 450 mono blocks and get a Statement 450 Stereo which sounded essentially the same, but less power although enough for most, just not me! The Master Built Ultra IC’s, PC’s and speaker wire were necessary, although I purposely never added up the MB part of the bill because it was the single largest number, but I would figure something out on that front, so I told myself.

Some of the stories I am skipping were time consuming, a pain, but a blessing in disguise because they each pushed me down the right road to perfection, if not further. The music server I bought did not work with the MB Ultra USB, a deal breaker, so, with the encouragement of Steve Williams, a Taiko Audio Extreme joined my system and my sound has not been the same since. Now I am totally committed to MB Ultra all the way through. You have to hear what a full loom of MBU sounds like to begin to understand. There is no way I could have my sound without it. MB Ultra cables are very labor intensive and in limited supply due to the wire needed, which tends to go to the ISS rather than audio systems.

Then something weird happened, a mega voltage surge took out my pro Furman which can handle a 80 Amp surge and then took out a plate amp and one of my 15” woofers. Leif took the amp and bad woof back to Riverside with plans to return in 2-4 weeks so I would be up again. BUT the lockdown occurred and he could not travel and the crated speaker weighed 700 pounds, so I put my VSA Endeavor 3 Mk.2’s in my system driven with great electronics and they sounded amazing for the 4+ months until I finally sent the speaker to CA had it repaired and then shipped back.

It was a wonderful lesson about Albert’s design theories because core parts of his network design were present in the $9k E3 Mk 2’s, but when the $225K Ultra 9’s finally arrived I instantly understood the price difference and then a lot more than I ever hoped for.

Several weeks ago when it was up and running I was in hog heaven, except I was still short two MBU PC’s for the speakers (plate amps and a special linkage to the networks, the soul of the system. I was expecting an improvement, but nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for their impact on the system. The improvement, top to bottom was at least 2 orders of magnitude into an audio realm I did not know existed.

I am still adjusting with the sound improving every hour or so. What I dreamed about when I was 10 or even 4 months ago does not even have a spot on the sound spectrum, that I always sit in awe of even if I do not like the music.

It is a good thing I am retired because my average daily listening is 5 hours and up to 10-15 hours. Yes it was expensive, but it is already paid for so no guilt.
 

jazdoc

Member Sponsor
Aug 7, 2010
2,950
255
540
Bellevue
  • Like
Reactions: Bobvin and asindc

jazdoc

Member Sponsor
Aug 7, 2010
2,950
255
540
Bellevue
It took 60 years and a lot of work to generate the funds. Fortunately, I listen multiple times a day and have a huge sense of joy. You are welcome to visit and audition.

Thanks for the invite. Maybe one day we will travel again...sigh. Congrats and enjoy in good health!
 

steve59

Well-Known Member
Jan 7, 2018
244
39
95
Congrats on your achievement. To assemble a system at home and be happy with it is quite an accomplishment and i'm happy for you. Enjoy
 

DeadWax

Member
Apr 11, 2020
92
84
20
54
Fantastic journey and sonic destination. Enjoy!
 

astrostar59

VIP/Donor
Dec 28, 2015
952
226
250
Almeria Spain
www.ariesceratespana.com
For the past 2 ½ years, and actually the past 60 years, one of my highest priorities has been to complete a project that began when I was 10 years old at high end audio show in SF with my dad. At that show I promised myself that as I was approaching retirement, I would assemble the best audio system possible given the technology of the day, AND I would do it just before my retirement, when I projected I would be best able to afford what I desired, BUT there was a proviso, it had to be paid for in full by the end of my last day of work.

This proviso was wise beyond my 10 years of life, because I knew, that if I had already paid for the system, I would have no guilt if I went way over budget (I did by a factor of 5!) because all that would be left was to enjoy it and pay for the electricity. I started in earnest about 30 months ago thinking I would point toward Vivid G1 Spirits and started going around southern CA with Steve Williams auditioning the best we could locate.

There is a pretty good summary of my quest for what I have come to call My Bucket List System on WBF in two parts https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/audio-and-retirement-is-there-a-linkage-and-do-i-have-an-antidote-that-will-make-me-happy-luckily-i-do-my-“almost-bucket-list-system”-pt-1.30548/#post-645603.

What happened from that point forward bares absolutely no resemblance to what actually happened and is still happening. What I got was so far beyond what I dreamed about. There were many bumps in the road during the journey, but in retrospect, the destination has been so far over the top of my imagination and growing. Said another way—it has been life changing sonically, life direction altering a powerful vehicle that helped me back from being way close to the edge of my life. I also developed some wonderful new friends, several of whom are amongst my closest currently.

The single biggest and first gift came from Steve Williams when the formal search began by taking me around SoCal to audition high end systems. Since we could not coordinate a visit to the the VSA shop at that time I decided I instantly decided I would go to Axpona 2018, in Chicago in several month so I could hear their top of the line Ultra 11 powered with a full VAC Statement system, Masterbuilt Ultra everything and every thing else they could do to make it the BEST. I instantly linked with Damon and Leif heard the mega system that was still not settled for the show and Everything Changed. I heard something in their speakers that I instantly knew I had to have as part of my final project.

When I met Leif and Damon at Axpona, they treated me like a prince and introduced me to a wide array of people in the high end audio industry. They are now amongst my closest friends. Over the next several days, the system settled in and began to sound pretty special, maybe almost the best I had ever heard, but it was hard to sort out what component was doing what and it was clear I was listening at an entirely level than my reference. I was also getting use to VAC electronics, which took a short bit of time to fully appreciate because of their realism and total lack of tube or SS sound. The role of the MasterBuilt Ultra cables was impossible to comprehend, although their cost was hitting me between the eyes.

The VSA speaker that I thought would be right for me (Ultra 9) if I won the lottery, had not been invented although I knew what it sounded like because it has half of an Ultra 11, but in a better form factor for my room, $100 k+ cheaper and needed less of the very expensive VAC equipment and less MB cabling. Several months after Axpona and Munich, Steve took me to VSA in Riverside where we heard the prototype 9’s with one hour break-in on them and I became more friendly with Damon and Leif. Still not clear what the 9’s would sound like and what I also needed to get the best out of them I decided to take the leap and put down a deposit and work out the electronics and cabling later when my feet hit the ground. (How much could it cost?)

Later that day we went to Leif’s house and heard two of their entry level speakers that were more in the price range I was familiar with. I was blown away and started to realize what Albert Von Schweikert’s genius was about and began to better understand the Ultra 9’s and 11’s, and now it was not if, but how I was going to pull this off by my retirement and have everything paid for by that point. Fortunately, everything was being made especially for me, which gave me some time to make the much needed money by my retirement date.

I will skip many of the valuable stories along the way and just decided that I would buy a somewhat scaled down mega-system because each of the parts are essential to the end sound, but I would save on buying VAC statement 450 mono blocks and get a Statement 450 Stereo which sounded essentially the same, but less power although enough for most, just not me! The Master Built Ultra IC’s, PC’s and speaker wire were necessary, although I purposely never added up the MB part of the bill because it was the single largest number, but I would figure something out on that front, so I told myself.

Some of the stories I am skipping were time consuming, a pain, but a blessing in disguise because they each pushed me down the right road to perfection, if not further. The music server I bought did not work with the MB Ultra USB, a deal breaker, so, with the encouragement of Steve Williams, a Taiko Audio Extreme joined my system and my sound has not been the same since. Now I am totally committed to MB Ultra all the way through. You have to hear what a full loom of MBU sounds like to begin to understand. There is no way I could have my sound without it. MB Ultra cables are very labor intensive and in limited supply due to the wire needed, which tends to go to the ISS rather than audio systems.

Then something weird happened, a mega voltage surge took out my pro Furman which can handle a 80 Amp surge and then took out a plate amp and one of my 15” woofers. Leif took the amp and bad woof back to Riverside with plans to return in 2-4 weeks so I would be up again. BUT the lockdown occurred and he could not travel and the crated speaker weighed 700 pounds, so I put my VSA Endeavor 3 Mk.2’s in my system driven with great electronics and they sounded amazing for the 4+ months until I finally sent the speaker to CA had it repaired and then shipped back.

It was a wonderful lesson about Albert’s design theories because core parts of his network design were present in the $9k E3 Mk 2’s, but when the $225K Ultra 9’s finally arrived I instantly understood the price difference and then a lot more than I ever hoped for.

Several weeks ago when it was up and running I was in hog heaven, except I was still short two MBU PC’s for the speakers (plate amps and a special linkage to the networks, the soul of the system. I was expecting an improvement, but nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for their impact on the system. The improvement, top to bottom was at least 2 orders of magnitude into an audio realm I did not know existed.

I am still adjusting with the sound improving every hour or so. What I dreamed about when I was 10 or even 4 months ago does not even have a spot on the sound spectrum, that I always sit in awe of even if I do not like the music.

It is a good thing I am retired because my average daily listening is 5 hours and up to 10-15 hours. Yes it was expensive, but it is already paid for so no guilt.

Can you post some photos please.
 

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. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers 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