05 May 2002
When you design your system, you can start with the amplification or the loudspeakers that you like. For me, the most difficult part was the loudspeakers as there are very few I like. I choose the Martin Logan Aerius, which I first drove with the Musical Fidelity's MA-100-X (100 watt class A). They were very musical, but they ran so hot that during summer I had to listen in underwear! I changed them for the Mark Levinson, which has plenty of power and current delivery for the electrostatic panels of the Aerius, and which is very musical.
Once you've bought all principal components for your first high-end system, you have less money but more time to concentrate yourself on the adjustments of your system. Since my uncle Bert gave me a self made mains filter to try out about 10 years ago, I'm completely allergic to RFI, EMI and dirty power. It's incredible how hairdryers, the fridge, the bell, microwaves etc. affect sound quality. By that time I still used my Philips CD 104 player, and the result was absolutely fantastic! Before that experience I had already bought the two 2 Sicomin shelves which worked very well under my preamp and CD-transport, the Sound Organisation base for the Pink Triangle, and I've made a base myself of mdf board with asphalt in a sandwich configuration suspended on spikes for the Nakamichi tapedeck.
I also paid a lot of attention to the acoustics of my listening room. I've upgraded sound by about 70% just by using diffusers and absorbers! Actually I have 4 diffusers in front, 2 behind, and a total of 6 absorbers behind and next to the loudspeakers to create the RFZ (Reflection Free Zone). Most audiophiles don't pay attention to this very important problem.
I have at the moment about 800 CD's and 130 LP's of nearly all kinds of music.
These are the percentages of the cd's:
New Age: 15%
Normally I use the Pop/Rock CD's for my car, which I enjoy very much as I drive about 70.000 km/year. My preferences are for pop and rock groups of the seventies. The last few years I have listened a lot to New Age music, that relaxes me a lot. Among my favourite musicians are Lito Vitale, Andreas Vollenweider, Yanni, Chris Spheeris, Jean Michel Jarre and Nightnoise, among others. Concerning Jazz, I'm crazy about Stan Getz and the Modern Jazz Quartet, especially Milt Jackson. Normally I listen to classic music on Sunday mornings.
Alex's comments about his System:
AA: "Alex, how would you describe your system's sound?"
AM: "In my opinion the system is correctly balanced all round for the kinds of music that I listen to. It sounds very transparent, natural, with correct bass reproduction and a wide soundstage with good definition without colouration."
AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"
AM: "I've listened to plenty of systems all over Europe, and from almost every system I learn new things that I try to apply to my own system. As complete systems there are just 4 systems I've heard during the years, which come close to the things I search for in music reproduction, and these systems were not even the most expensive ones!"
AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"
AM: ""After 4 years of audiophile coma, I woke up thanks to a forum here in Spain (www.simple-hifi.com) which has meant a complete reactivation of my audiophile and musical goals. Actually, I'm transforming my system into an active one, with probably a BSS 366 digital crossover with software that enables you to equalize sound with unlimited possibilities. I will also build my own loudspeakers and cables, as this is much cheaper and you can use top components at very interesting prices! I have already bought a pair of Audion 845 Quattro tube amplifiers for the midrange. As you can see in the pictures, my audio rack is a temporary (bad) solution so I have had to build one."
One final recommendation for all melomanes and audiophiles:
When you listen to the music, don't listen to the sound!