Here you will find reviews and commentary on equipment I own, have owned or purchased and installed for others.
I am now reviewing equipment for AVNirvana.com. Check it out!
Over the years "Audiophile" cables have become one of the most contentious and downright baffling aspects of this hobby. Join me as I try to make sense of it!
I love music in most of its forms and genres. I'm pretty much stuck in the 60's and 70's though. You are more likely to find a review on Jimi Hendrix circa 1969 than 5 Seconds of Summer.... But Hey! the classics never go out of style :-)
Reviews and commentary of Movies and Television (both Network and Cable).
This current Media Room is the result of three previous media rooms, countless stereo systems, and quite a few years of planning, growth and tweaking :-) I still have a way to go and have several upgrades/tweaks planned for the upcoming months. It is a labor of love and many hours of both listening and watching have been enjoyed here. My goal was that the media room would be a dual purpose space for both listening to music and watching movies. For the most part I feel I have succeeded.
We moved into our current home in 2008. The Media room was custom built over the oversized two car garage and is 18.5' x 22.5' with 9.5' ceilings at the center. All four walls have about a thirty degree tilted in soffit area where the side and rear surrounds are mounted. The ATMOS speakers are ceiling mounted and the front speakers are freestanding. Wiring for the surrounds were pulled by the builder/contractor and are 14 ga. I pulled the ATMOS wiring myself adding it later (now, THAT was a lovely job!). The front speakers (LCR) are wired with my take on "audiophile" speaker wire.
Signal Processing and Amplification
Marantz AV7703 Pre/Processor
Parasound Halo A21 - 2 Channel Power Amp - See My Review!
Parasound Halo A52+ - 5 Channel Power Amp - See My Review!
Parasound ZoneMaster 450 (for the ATMOS) - 4 Channel Power Amp
Yung 300 subwoofer plate amplifiers (2) for the Tactile Transducers
OPPO UDP-203 - UHD 4K Universal Disk Player
Yamaha CDC-755 - CD Changer
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable with Ortofon 2M RED Cartridge - See My Review!
Apple MacBook Pro (circa 2019)
Mackie 12 Channel Mixer
JVC DLA-RS600 Projector
Vutec Fixed BriteWhite 2.35:1 Screen 136" diagonal
2 - GoldenEar Triton One.R Speakers - front left and right - See My Review!
1 - GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference Center Channel - See My Review!
4 - BG Radia SA320i in-wall Planar Ribbon/Hybrid Speakers for surround and rear
4 - Polk CS-6 In-Ceiling Speakers for the ATMOS (Middle and Rear ATMOS)
2 - Rythmik F18 - 18" sealed box powered subwoofers (900 watts RMS) - See My Review!
2 - Earthquake Sound Q-10B Tactile Transducers (AKA Buttkickers) One mounted on the
rear row raised seating platform and one mounted on the front row shaker platform.
Note: all in-wall and in-ceiling speakers have custom backing boxes lined with 1-inch multi-layer damping material (purchased from Parts Express).
Custom shaker platform built for front seating Tactile Transducer.
2 - Furman Elite 20A Power Conditioners
3 - Leviton 20 amp in-wall surge protectors at equipment racks
4 - Leviton 15 amp in-wall surge protectors at all subwoofer positions.
URC MX5000 Remote Control
URC MSC400 Master System Controller
Passive Acoustic Panels
4 - GIK 2'x4'x2" Diffuser/Absorber Panels
4 - GIK 1'x4'x4" Diffuser/Absorber/Bass Trap Panels
Middle Atlantic 19" double width rack
Tweaks and Gimcracks
Isolation Platforms - I've created isolation platforms for the OPPO Blu-Ray player and the Pro-Ject Carbon DC Turntable. The platforms are 18"x18" concrete pavers sitting atop Penn Elcom rubber Isolation feet. In the case of the OPPO, it did nothing positive or negative to the sound or picture. For the turntable, it did help the sound in the respect that the sound is more defined at higher volumes. There seems to be less smear, and the sound is more "focused," for the lack of a better word.
Isolation Platforms for LCR speakers -
18"x18" Concrete Pavers resting on Penn Elcom Rubber Isolation Feet.
Tactile Transducer Shaker Platform for the first row of seating.
Double ¾ Inch MDF Glued and Screwed together. Resting on Penn Elcom Rubber
Isolation Feet (18)
SVS SoundPath Subwoofer Isolation System on the Rhythmik F18's Subs
I added a turntable clamp/weight and replaced the felt mat with a nice new cork mat. Each of these tweaks made an incremental improvement (at least I perceived an improvement) in the sound I was getting from the turntable.
Record Pro Record Cleaning System - Inexpensive ($65) but effective record cleaning system. See My Review!
Leviton remote control lighting for the main recessed lights, Media Shelf lights, and the rear row riser lights. Controlled by the URC MX-9000/MSC-400
ART Ground Loop Breaker device used on the unbalanced inputs of the Parasound ZoneMaster 450 and the Yung plate amps.
A note on my cable philosophy.... I have been in the business of audio and electronics for a long time. At one time (ah... the 70's! ) I owned part of a 16/24 track recording studio (Analog Baby!) that we wired ourselves (the exception being the AC power :-). We also ran sound for local bands and sold large-scale PAs (one of my partners continued in this business and has only recently retired).
So, that said, I have some experience with cabling, grounding, and power distribution to large and complex audio systems. IMHO, and I do understand that it is JUST MY OPINION! High-end "Audiophile" cables are just not worth the very small differences and improvements if any, they provide. The job of a cable is to deliver, without undue change to the signal, that signal to the next device.
However, with all of that said, I am a firm believer in the idea that quality cables do matter! Especially in the respect that all cables must be BUILT WELL (mechanically sound) of quality materials and components. And, if they are, the cable will perform as well as anything out there regardless of price.
I do admit that I have neither the time, patience, OR MONEY, to truly acquire, test, and evaluate the insanity of the high-end cable market.
So, if anyone wants to send me some $10,000 (or even $1000) stereo pairs to compare, I will do my best to do an honest evaluation and return them to you. If you are right and I am wrong, I will publicly admit to the world that I misjudged the whole cable thing, at least in the respect of the cable evaluated.
And, if you have any of those $2500 per foot power cables lying about, I would love to give those a try as well :-)
Balanced cables between Pre/Pro and Amps - Mogami 3080 cable and Amphenol
XLR's built by "Worlds Best Cable."
HDMI by Blue Jeans Cable
35' BJC Series One - Projector (2)
6' BJC Series One - OPPO UDP-203
all other HDMI are 3' or 6' BJC Tartan 24 Series cables
RCA type interconnects I built (well, most of them anyway :-) using Belden 1694A cable and solder type REAN RCA connectors.
Subwoofer Balanced connects - Hosa performance grade Microphone Cables.
Speakers in-walls and in-ceiling use Belden 14 Gauge contractor grade speaker cable
LCR - Belden 5T00UP 10 Gauge x 2 (7ga equivalent) bi-wire/bi-amp capable with locking banana plug connectors (Wire Pair #1) and spade connectors (Wire Pair #2) at each end. See the Review on My Speaker Cables!
They do look VERY nice and "audiophile-ly"! You can see some pictures below in the Gallery. As good as they look, it made, of course, zero difference in the sound over the simply separate wires.
"Audiophile" Power cables;
DIY 12 gauge Belden 83803 with Hi-Fi King and Aweking Red Copper AC Plugs and IEC
Connectors dressed up with Tech-Flex were built for main power amps.
DIY 14 gauge Belden 19634 with Hi-Fi King and Red Copper AC Plugs and IEC
Connectors and dressed up with Tech-Flex were used on pre/pro, ATMOS power amp, Yung
Power amps, F18 subs, and Goldenear Triton One.R speakers
DIY “Audiophile” power cord using DH Labs Encore - 14ga three conductor – shielded - Audiophile Power Cable DHLABS-75520 Hi-Fi King and Red Copper AC Plugs and IEC
Connectors dressed up with Tech-Flex were used on Apple TV and JVC Projector.
WAudio 10 gauge Audiophile power cable used on OPPO Blu-Ray player (purchased from Amazon)
There are a few upgrades I have in mind;
I have more than a few selections in my eclectic collection. A complete media list is available below in the downloads section.
I love movies. Especially action and Sci-Fi flicks! A list of the movies I have collected can be found in the downloads section below.
I have amassed several thousand tunes and sound effects on my computer. Mostly in the MP3 format. I also utilize Amazon Music HD and Pandora extensively along with a smattering of internet radio.
I designed the Family Room system to provide good 7.1 sound and good music to this large space. It is an open floor plan where the Kitchen, Breakfast, Dining and Foyer is one large, open space.
I really like the sound of the Planar Ribbon drivers. Smooth, fast and articulate are the words I would use to describe the sound. The little Polk subwoofer provides a nice low end bump to the mix. This system is never played that loud (except when my wife is visiting her mother :-) so the sub is never stressed beyond its modest capabilities.
So I used BG Radia again but from BG's lower level contractor offering and all in-wall/in-ceiling. Even though is is a pretty hard and reflective environment it still sounds great, if a little lively :-)
All cables for the surround speakers, ethernet, and TV Coax wires, were pulled by the builder to my specifications.
The HDMI and connecting cables to the TV and the LCR Speaker wires were installed by me.
Samsung 58" - 1080P Plasma TV
Denon 7.1 Surround Receiver
DirecTV Genie Satellite Box
Apple TV 4th Generation
LG Blu-Ray Player
Left-Center-Right Speakers - BG Radia PD6 In-Wall - 2 six inch Mid/Woofers and 3" Planar Ribbon Tweeter
Surround and Rear Surround Speakers - BG P-8's Ceiling Speakers - 8" Mid/Woofer and 3" Coaxially Mounted Planar Ribbon Tweeter
Subwoofer - Polk P-10
Power - Furman PF-18D Power Conditioning Strip
IR distribution from Parts Express
A little no name Blu-Tooth transmitter and receiver to connect the piano to the sound system
LCR Speaker cables are 12 ga Belden contractor cable.
Wiring, in this case, was whatever I had on hand and the speaker cable for the surrounds is contractor pulled 14 ga contractor wire.
It can get plenty loud. I really like the sound of the Planar Ribbon drivers in all of the BG Speakers. Smooth, fast and articulate are the words I would use to describe the sound. The little Polk subwoofer provides a nice low end bump to the mix. This system is never played that loud (except when my wife is visiting her mother :-) so the sub is never stressed beyond its modest capabilities.
The Piano is a 6'1" Pramberger Baby Grand with the PianoDisk Player Piano System.
Major changes just made to my digital rig :-)
The study houses my main computer and digital work space.
This is where I edit video and photos as well as write reviews, stories and novels.
Apple MacBook Pro 2020 16" - 2.3GHz, 8-Core Intel i9 Processor,
32 GB 2667 MHz DDR4, 1TB SSD, AMD Radeon Pro5500M 8GB Video
RSHTECH 4 TB Raid 0
Sonnet Thunderbolt Hub with Blu-Ray Burner, connectivity options and 2 TB RAID 0
Apple DVD Burner
27" Apple Thunderbolt Displays (x2)
MOTU M2 Audio DAC/Interface
PreSonus Eris E5 Nearfield Monitors
Blue Microphones Orange Spark (and some others)
Apple Time Capsule 2TB (2)
Apple Logic Pro
Apple Final Cut Pro 10
DaVinci Resolve Studio 18 with Fairlight DAW
Adobe - Lightroom
Affinity Photo Editor
Microsoft - Word, EXCEL, PowerPoint, Outlook
Toast PRO - DVD and Blu-ray burning and Authoring
Misc. - Airy, HandBrake, Many Others
The full suite of Apple "Gimme'" Apps
New pictures coming!