Brian Rowe's
Date of "Visit":
05 November 2000

16 June 2002

the room

the electronics

AES preamp

J. A. Michell Mycro


e-mail to:
Brian Rowe


I met Adnan "virtually" a year and a half ago when I discovered Nuance & Fluence on-line, and that chance meeting with a web site and the man behind it nearly resulted in travels to Turkey, a wedding, and meeting various members of this site in person.

Nearly?  E-mail correspondence with Adnan actually lead to all of the above.

To rewind a bit, I should start by relating the beginnings of a love affair with music.  My father dearly loved his Johnny Cash records.  My mother was a talented multi-instrumentalist.  I found my way through several instruments and the requisite lessons-only to eventually dump them all in favor of the double bass (and it's electric brethren.)  Jazz gigs, pop gigs, large venues, small dive bars-the utterly real connection between audiences and musicians is a hard communion to ignore, and that's what drives me to grow my system at home.  I want to be involved.

I hunted through on-line forums and web sites and stumbled upon a world of high-fi that I'd never seen before, and from a group of enthusiasts in Turkey I learned to set my sights a little higher.  Single-ended triodes? This stuff sounded like the electronics work my father did in the basement: tube-testers, oscilloscopes, caps and resistors and diodes...  my ears were re-opened.  It's no secret that most musicians could care less about hi-fi, but this stuff really sparked my imagination.  Slowly and surely, I've brought vinyl back into my life (wow, this stuff never sounded this good when I was a kid!), discovered planar speakers and tube amplification.  The Audio Electronic Supply preamp was my first audio kit project, completed earlier this year.  Talk about involvement!  It's hard NOT to enjoy music at home, knowing that some extra sweat went into the equipment itself. 

And the music.  How sweet it is to really enjoy not only making music, but listening to the music of others reproduced so beautifully.  The corpus of work available on vinyl alone opens up a whole world of new composers, artists and styles.  I might never have seen Miles live, but his performances can live on when the music starts.  Plus, working out James Jamerson bass lines from Marvin Gaye records has never been this much fun!

Fast-forward to just a year ago, when my wife and I were set on visiting Turkey for a few reasons: to explore the city of Istanbul, the ruins at Ephesus and to get married.  Throw in a gathering of Adnan's friends and-voila-the virtual became real.  The nuance here was the charming nature and overwhelming hospitality of the man and his cohorts in audio who took us in and made us feel at home and among friends.

As for recordings, I listen to roughly 50% jazz, 30% pop/rock, and 20% classical.  After being in some wonderful (and some awful) recording studios, I have a much deeper appreciation for the work that producers and engineers put into a record.  Every audio enthusiast should have a chance to see real pros choose microphones and their room placement, select mic preamps, run Studer 24-track machines and ProTools software and manage all the other myriad ancillary gear and details that go into a great take.  They can really make a cut come alive.

For system component evaluation, I refer to the following recordings:

  • Nigel Kennedy-Tchaikovsky/Sibelius: violin concertos, for its amazing, palpable sense of actually being at the performance (and Kennedy is wonderful to see live...)
  • Stan Getz-"Getz Au Go-Go", I just love this LP for Getz's tone and the ambiance of the club venue.
  • Christian McBride-"Number Two Express", great recording of a great bassist-he's another brilliant cat to see live.
  • Sonny Rollins-"The Bridge", a classic LP with deeply moving performances. 
  • Holly Cole-"Temptation", for her voice and those Tom Waits songs. 
  • Ponco Sanchez-"Latin Soul", an album that really captures the excitement and impact of this live gig. 
  • Roger Waters-"Amused to Death", for its soundstage and the ability to draw me in for an entire album.

System's Components


J. A. Michell Mycro


Rega RB300


Ortofon X5 high output MC

CD Player:

Bang & Olufsen 2300

Phono Preamp:

Acurus P10

Line Preamp:

Audio Electronic Supply (Cary Audio) AE-3 w/RCA VT231 tube compliment

Power Amp:

Acurus A100


Magnepan 1.6/QR


AudioQuest Topaz and Transparent Link 200

Speaker Cables:

AudioQuest F-18 and Vampire Wire 12 ga.

Power Conditioner:

Monster Power HT800

Room Treatment:

Turkish carpet and kilim (acquired in Istanbul and Selcuk).


Nitty Gritty record cleaner

Brian's comments about his System:

AA: "Brian, how would you describe your system's sound?"

BR: "It's large, visceral, and very neutral-what they put to tape in the studio is pretty much what I hear, warts and all.  The soundstage is wide and very deep, and I mean DEEP, most likely due to the speakers' placement so far out into the long axis of the room." 

AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"

BR: "I'm looking for more body, more flesh on the bones of the instruments. I plan to experiment more with different 6SN7 types in my preamp."

AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"

BR: "Absolutely.  The power amp is the next item to address.  I auditioned amplifiers like the Bel Canto Evo 200.2, Cary SLM-100, Rogue Audio mono blocks and the Audio Research D130-one or two of which might come home in the future for a spin in my system."

the room



"Re-Visit" Notes (16 June 2002)

Since the initial virtual visit with Adnan, quite a number of system parameters changed, not the least of which is a new house! Well, it's not a new house (early 1920s construction, actually), and the springy wooden floors add a certain bouncy element of frustration to tweaking my suspended turntable. However, the trade-off is. . . wait for it. . . a dedicated listening room. The Magnepan 1.6QRs occupy the best spot possible for such a small room, but the impression is still that they could use a little more space. Bass frequencies load the room quite nicely, and I like the system in this room over the old apartment--even when image depth now is sacrificed for truer timbre and more 'flesh' to the notes.

Equipment changed in stages, with the VTL ST-85 tube power amp taking over for the sand amp prior to our move. The VTL brought an emotional involvement to the presentation that simply was not there before. Other additions include:

* Salamander Designs Synergy 30 equipment rack

* Bright Star Audio Big Rock (turntable support)

* Arcam CD 62 compact disc transport/converter

A note on the Arcam: after auditioning their simply wonderful FMJ CD23 player, I had to hear their entry-line models. After a home trial, I decided the CD 62 offered great value for the money, capturing much of what I loved in the FMJ player at a significant savings. Suddenly, a challenging Shostakovich piano trio became a deeply moving experience, complete with the vodka and Russian winter. I was sold.

The Big Rock came as a surprise, as I didn't expect to notice much difference. Footfalls (as previously mentioned) were a problem, which the Big Rock curbed to a large degree. I also like what it did for the 'table's sonics--tighter bass response and a bit more focus overall.