05 December 1999
During my study time in Germany I was very interested in building speakers. Altogether I built 3 different speakers from Scanspeak drivers, which I must admit have been only so so but a lot of fun and good experience. A small 2 way monitor was the most successful of my own designs. In 1995 I moved to work in Hong Kong and left my system (at that time a basic Rotel integrated amplifier and a Phillips CD-Player) back in Germany. Since a lot of other hobbies were not as easy to pursue in Hong Kong, I spend more and more time and money on developing a new system. The journey started modest and with a lot of compromises since I had to buy everything at once: Martin Logan Aerius-i electrostatic loudspeakers, a Rotel RCD 990 CD player and an Audiolab 8000S integrated amplifier. As much as I liked the Logan's, I found the stats to be difficult to place under the limited space in the tiny Hong Kong flats and changed the speakers to my current Merlin VSM-SE speakers (see www.merlinmusic.com). They are so good that I decided to re-built the rest of my system around them. There were many changes to the amplification components, until I finally heard the German hand made Emitter amplifiers (see www.asraudio.de) that were a perfect match to my Merlins. The source changed only once from the very solid performing Rotel to an Audiomeca Transport/DAC combination from French analogue specialist Pierre Lurne. My last upgrade was to exchange the Emitter 1 amplifier against the top of the line Emitter 2 from ASR Audio.
Here are some of my favorite evaluation CDs:
Joerg's comments about his System:
AA: "Joerg, how would you describe your system's sound?"
JK: "The main aspect is that the system is extremely effortless without the slightest strain even on very high volumes. It has excellent dynamics, resolution and transient speed, but the sound remains always smooth and musical. As such it is most suitable to indulge in long term listening. Voices and acoustic instruments are reproduced with realistic body and warmth. Another strong point is the good presentation of soundstage with and depth, reflecting the setting and ambiance of each recording."
AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"
JK: "I would already have said no
when I still used the smaller ASR amplifier and was shocked how much more
the Emitter 2 could get out of the Merlin speakers. So I will be more careful
this time and say I don't expect that there is much room for improvement
left. I like systems that sound overall very balanced and have no extreme
weaknesses. My current system produces the most balanced and musical sound
for me so far and I have no intention to replace any of the components
any time soon. I think I have reached a point where upgrades would rather
be changes instead and costly changes as such...
AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"
JK: "I am tempted to play with some power conditioning like the PS Audio powerplant and there is also a new battery powered version of the Merlin Bass Alignment Module (BAM) that I am considering to try."