Sublime Sound

Jan 29, 2012
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Yesterday I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Peter in person and getting a chance to listen to his wonderful system. As a fan of the work of Nelson Pass, I've followed Peter's audio journey for several years, first on Audiongon and then on WBF. He has a beautiful colonial home in Marblehead, so the scene was set for a great evening.

Much has been said about Peter's system on this forum. I will echo the sediments that this system is extremely well thought out, literally no stone is left un-turned in regards to squeezing the last amount of fidelity out of his components. Dedicated power coming into the amps, appropriate and not over damped treatment of the room and relatively few tweaks other than vibration control. I found the sound to be full, detailed and extremely engaging. The Pass XA160.5's maintained perfect grip of the Magico Q3's, exacting deep tuneful bass from these speakers. Those who shun Magico's as bright need to listen to them with Pass, it's really a perfect match for my ears. Lastly I will say that the imaging from Peter's system is amongst the best I have ever heard in any system, Peter has tamed the issue of a fireplace in the middle of his listening room.

Thank you again Peter for an excellent evening.

PS. I think an Air Tight PC-1 Supreme is in my future.
 

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
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Great that you got over to Peter's to hear his system. One day I hope to have you over to my place.

I totally agree that the PC-1 is a fantastic cartridge!
 
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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Peter in person and getting a chance to listen to his wonderful system. As a fan of the work of Nelson Pass, I've followed Peter's audio journey for several years, first on Audiongon and then on WBF. He has a beautiful colonial home in Marblehead, so the scene was set for a great evening.

Much has been said about Peter's system on this forum. I will echo the sediments that this system is extremely well thought out, literally no stone is left un-turned in regards to squeezing the last amount of fidelity out of his components. Dedicated power coming into the amps, appropriate and not over damped treatment of the room and relatively few tweaks other than vibration control. I found the sound to be full, detailed and extremely engaging. The Pass XA160.5's maintained perfect grip of the Magico Q3's, exacting deep tuneful bass from these speakers. Those who shun Magico's as bright need to listen to them with Pass, it's really a perfect match for my ears. Lastly I will say that the imaging from Peter's system is amongst the best I have ever heard in any system, Peter has tamed the issue of a fireplace in the middle of his listening room.

Thank you again Peter for an excellent evening.

PS. I think an Air Tight PC-1 Supreme is in my future.
Thanks for the kind words, Jeff. I appreciate your comments and experience, especially since you are also an analog only guy and have a horn/large woofer system driven by Lamm. It was a real pleasure to meet you and to share some listening time. I plan to visit the LA area when Ron's listening room is complete and perhaps tour some systems there. I look forward to hearing your system and seeing you again. I agree with you about Magico speakers. Opinions are often based on the sound of the rest of the gear, amps in particular, because most models are fairly transparent and contribute little to the overall sound of the system. At least, that has been my experience.

I have now had the AirTight PC-1 Supreme in my system for a month or so. I am getting ready to switch back to the MSL Sig. Gold. Ron heard the system with that cartridge.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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Great that you got over to Peter's to hear his system. One day I hope to have you over to my place.

I totally agree that the PC-1 is a fantastic cartridge!
Ian, I used to own the PC-1 which is the lower model. I directly compared it to my current PC-1 Supreme over a two week period around the time I got my new turntable, six years ago. Once I heard the Supreme, I HAD to own it. I found it to be considerably better than the standard PC-1, though at a higher price. I would love to hear your AirTight Opus1 someday in my system to see how it differs from the Supreme.
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,635
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Boston, MA
It was my turn to listen to Peter's significantly updated system yesterday, and thank you Peter for inviting me! New preamp, new phono, new speakers, new Colibri Platinum, some Burly wires. I hadn't been to Peter's place for a perhaps a couple of years now.

The changes over the previous Mini-2-based system is transformational. From the very start, it was obvious that electronic system noise has dropped significantly, simply by clearly hearing the arm screws threading through, as Peter adjusted VTA before each record. This is always a sign that resolution will be unhindered by such noise.

Sure enough, resolution and articulation have gone up many, many notches. I've heard Colibris over the years a number of times, and they always excel in resolution, and that quality came clearly through here as well. It is obvious to me that the Pass XP-22 and XP-27 are a major leap forward for the marquee, and still not crazy expensive; impressive!

I really enjoyed the fantastic micro-dynamics and the string tone - really highly resolving system for this material, just excellent. Very tight and well defined bass drum, beautiful voices and overall midrange, and very smooth and well articulated treble.

Clarity, which I value A LOT, has skyrocketed, evident by instrumental separation, timbral accuracy, and high articulation. I felt that this system, like Al's I heard just the week before, is also moving in the same direction as mine. Treble in particular was also so clear this time, and so well behaved as well, with no fatigue. Any sign of darkness that I heard years ago is gone. We played the Berioz Symphonie Fantastique on RR, and the system handled it with utter ease and clarity.

At times, I could not stop bobbing my head at the rhythm... I've said it before, and I'll say again, the Q3s are a classic speaker. To this day, I am still struggling to identify any improvements in the new M3, so for now, I'll just say that the dealer set-up is just not doing it justice, and I take every M3-owner's word that it's a better speaker.

Loved every minute of my visit, and congratulations to Peter for elevating the performance of his system by spending judiciously.
 
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Tango

VIP/Donor
Mar 12, 2017
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Peter. Did you stripped off audiophile cords? Or you ended up putting them back in.

Kind regards,
Tang
 

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
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Great to hear that you finally got to hear Peter's system again, Tasos, and more importantly that you enjoyed it. Like you, I feel that the Q3s are a significant upgrade from the Mini-IIs and that generally all Peter's system changes have been very positive.
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,635
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Boston, MA
I am particularly smitten by the XP-27, and I may order one in here as well. It is just as quiet as my modified XP-25, but I also feel it is timbrally more accurate. For example, I commented to Peter how clear and realistic nylon guitar strings sounded, not to mention that notes went on forever, like my own phono. I am tired of waiting for the Spectral phono, which is pushed out to 2020 and perhaps beyond, having recently found out that there is yet another board being put in there. Just not sure if I want to unload another 5 grand or so, right now.
 
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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
Loved every minute of my visit, and congratulations to Peter for elevating the performance of his system by spending judiciously.
Tasos,

Thank you for sharing your listening impressions here on my system thread and for making the effort to battle the Boston traffic and come out to Marblehead to visit on a summer weekend. The system has certainly seen some changes since you were here two summers ago. Of course it is all relative, but I have tried for a long time to make slow and deliberate improvements while spending my resources carefully.

We spent some time yesterday discussing the importance of "voicing" a system. You found that as you modify one component or make an upgrade to your electronics, other things in the system must change too. In my case, the higher resolution and greater capabilities of the Q3s enabled me to hear other weaknesses or specific sonic attributes that were not as clearly audible before. These observations were reinforced by the increased number of live performances that I attended since the last time you visited.

After I upgraded the speakers, I tried to lower the system noise with the newer preamp and phonostage. I also started experimenting with cables and powercords. I re-examined cartridge loading and tonearm adjustments. As the sound evolved, I re-adjusted room treatments. All of this was in an attempt to "voice" the system, or individual components, to achieve a sound more reminiscent of what I was hearing live.

I really started to pay attention to the timbre of instruments and the way they create and project energy. How that energy is made, and how it then fills the room became important references for me. I started to first pay attention to this energy when I spent five days observing rehearsals at the Vienna State Opera. The difference between the origin of the sound, whether from a soprano or from a cello down in the pit, and how that energy is then projected into the hall, influenced my understanding about natural sound in a space. I then tried to better achieve that in my listening room.

I enjoyed the Mini 2 system for years and primarily listened to smaller scale music. With Jim Smith's help, I thought the system had reached a fairly high level. But without a better reference, I was simply not aware of where the system could go until I auditioned the Q3s in my own room. It is a testament to Jim's approach toward better sound, and to his ability to teach others, that I was able after a couple of months to position the Q3s so that they disappear from the listening room and better portray the difference between the image and scale of the singer or instrument and the projection of that energy into my room. All of the various adjustments and changes to my system have been made to reflect those differences, to portray a realistic sense of instrumental timbre, and to increase overall clarity. As a result, Tone, Dynamics, and Presence (Jim Smith) all improved as did my level of emotional engagement.

The system is now more capable of portraying larger scale music in a convincing manner. Interestingly, as some people drive their speaker choices by their music preferences, my system has evolved to a level where it now enables me to expand the scale of the music I enjoy. I now love that Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique or Holst's Planets as much as I do a Bach violin partita or Beethoven string quartet. Though I resisted your' earlier criticism of my system as sounding dark, I now better understand what you meant. You were right. That coloration along with the smaller speakers being less able to handle complex musical passages, did not allow me to fully enjoy orchestral music. The system simply lacked the requisite resolution and scale to convey the power of the orchestra. It can now handle the larger scale stuff much better and the smaller scale stuff is more convincing than before. I now more fully appreciate those comments, and my approach and understanding of the hobby have improved.

I am grateful to my Boston audio friends for their observations over the years. Their experience and willingness to share ideas have expanded my understanding of the hobby and resulted in increased enjoyment of both my system and of music in general. Thanks guys.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
Peter. Did you stripped off audiophile cords? Or you ended up putting them back in.

Kind regards,
Tang
Tang, I keep going back and forth between all Transparent Audio cables and cords and Burley Wire signal cables and stock power cords. For Tasos, I had the Burley Wire signal cables and Transparent power cords. I am finding that the Transparent power cords open up the sound a bit. It is more effortless and the soundstage expands while timbre does not seem to suffer. I had thought that the expansion of the soundstage was a coloration overlaying all material, but the more I listen, the more I realize that it depends on the recording and that the stock cords close everything in a bit.

For now I am keeping the system as is for a while. With my recent injury, it is too difficult to switch cables around. In time, I will continue experimenting until I reach a conclusion. With the recent addition of the Colibri, I will want to try all cables again before I sell anything.
 

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
2,475
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Hi Peter,

Any chance you could post a video of your system in full swing? It is great to read reviews but also nice to see / hear it all in action.

Best.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
9,063
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E. England
Peter, I'm always fascinated to read about yr system, and how it's evolved. For my part, I know I've said it multiple times, but my impvd room is the key to a totally transformed sound. And from this blank canvas have I been able to both maximise what I love in my system presentation, and also get way more neutrality and transparency.

I've also finally cracked my analog install, and feel somewhat foolish in that my lp playback had never been close to optimal before 6 weeks ago.
Getting full isolation on my tt (170kg of slate isolating 17g of armwand and cart), and proper arm/cart setup, has transformed my lp enjoyment.

I know our system signatures are v different, but our journeys to squeeze the most out of them are more similar than different.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,629
495
83
North Shore of Boston
Hi Peter,

Any chance you could post a video of your system in full swing? It is great to read reviews but also nice to see / hear it all in action.

Best.
Hi Bill, I will give that some thought. I respect Tang for posting videos of his system. They are wonderful. We'll see. I started threads on various forums years ago inviting people to take videos of their turntables playing with the Sutherland Timeline speed calibration device. I had hoped to start some kind of database of turntable speed stability and accuracy. There was a lot of interest in that topic at the time. I uploaded three videos showing fairly good performance for my then new SME table, my DD Denon table, and a friend's SP10 Mk3. No one else posted any videos, even after promising to do so. Those threads suffered a rather quick and unceremonial death.
 
Likes: asiufy
Dec 26, 2018
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Hi Peter,

One thing that doesn’t change, your amp. It’s True the xa160.5 is amazing. After so many years, never wanted to change ?
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,629
495
83
North Shore of Boston
Hi Peter,

One thing that doesn’t change, your amp. It’s True the xa160.5 is amazing. After so many years, never wanted to change ?
NIce observation, Jpspock. I love those amps. I've flirted with getting the XA200.5, but those are real beasts, and the heat in the Summer is already a bit much. I have owned a lot of Pass amps. Here is a list:

Aleph 3
Aleph 5
Aleph 2, my favorite of that series, 100 W monos
XA160
XA100.5
XA160.5

Each amp was better than the last. I have had the XA160.8s in here, borrowed from a friend and we did a direct comparison while I had my old Mini 2 speakers. I preferred my .5, however, the .8 sounded better than my amps in my friend's system who also has Magico speakers, so a lot of this is preference and how it meshes with the rest of the system. It's possible I would prefer the .8 with my Q3s, but my friend sold his .8s, so it would be hard to compare them now.

I am always open to trying new stuff, but upgrading from the 160.5 amps has not been a priority. I'm working on a new project now, so these amps will stay for a while longer. Besides, with all of the other Pass gear and preferring to stay balanced because of my long IC run, it is hard to consider another brand without having to spend a lot of money. I am in saving mode now.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,629
495
83
North Shore of Boston
I had thé opportunity to buy two years agi new xa160.5, aswell they were discontinued , i think they will be my last..
Congratulations, Jpspock. They are certainly excellent amps. What speakers do you have?
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,629
495
83
North Shore of Boston
A new project:

IMG_5351.JPG

IMG_5352.JPG

IMG_5356.JPG
 

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