Ozhan Atalay's 
Date of Visit:
27 November 1999

27 May 2000

Third Visit:
31 March 2001

Fourth Visit:
23 February 2003

the system

the electronics

"stick on the wall" green balls

B & W 801, a classic


e-mail to:
Ozhan Atalay

Ozhan found me through my web site and sent an e-mail describing his system. True audiophile is a rarity and of course I did not miss this golden opportunity.

The layout of his main living room (6 x 7 m) seemed to be around his system. Ozhan told me that his wife was not too understanding towards his hobby during the first years of their marriage but later on she yielded. This proves that most wives have a break in period which can last much longer than 300 hours, and for some others (exceptions?) this period can last a life time. Apparently she still opposes  the speakers being too far from the back wall and also  all kinds of room treatment (which is understandable).

Ozhan uses those slimy, "stick on the wall" very soft green balls underneath his preamplifier and his D/A converter. Twelve of them are trapped between the rack shelf and the thick glass plate (see picture) to create a floating like soft damping. Very good idea indeed!

Ozhan is not a member of the Istanbul Hi-Fi Club, but I think I convinced him to join. He listens to jazz (70%), classical (20%) and others (10%).

The CD's he uses for system evaluation purposes are the followings.

  • George Duke / Muir Woods Suite / 9362-46132-2
  • The Ultimate Demonstration Disc / Chesky
  • Best of Chesky - Classics & Jazz Vol.3 / Chesky JD 111D

System's Components

CD Transport:

CEC 5100 Belt Drive Transport

D/A Converter:

Parasound HDCD 1100

Jitter Unit:

Monarch DIP Digital Processor

Line Preamp:

Electrocompaniet EC 4 1/2

Power Amp:

Electrocompaniet AW 250


B & W Matrix 801 Series 2


MIT MI330 Series II High Energy

Speaker Cables: 

MIT MH750 Series II High Energy

Digital Cable:

XLO, Audioquest Hyperlink, Kimber Digital-X

Power Cables:

Home made using DLS LC-OFC cables


Power Wedge Power Pack 2 mains conditioner

Ozhan's comments about his System:

AA: "Ozhan, how would you describe your system's sound?"
OA: "Its sound stage is wide and deep. It is natural and dynamic."
AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"
OA: "Yes, the bass could be a little more controlled and the upper mids some more sweeter."
AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"
OA: "Yes, I will buy the new upgrade kit for the Electrocompaniet power amp. I will also search for a better digital cable and try to improve the room acoustics."

new setting

smart placement


Re-Visit Notes (27 May 2000)

Ozhan made important changes:

He bought two Cary SLM-100 monoblock power amps (with 4 x KT-88 tubes in push-pull configuration, delivering 100 W per channel). He is using them to drive the mid and treble units of his B&W 801 speakers. His existing Electrocompaniet amp drives the bass units only. Cary's just fit into the empty space of the speaker stands. To balance the sound he placed a potentiometer to the bass output of his preamplifier and spent more than a month to find its correct setting.

He used Stealth Fine Line Reference interconnects between the preamp and the Cary's.

He made his own DIY power conditioners.

He changed his rack system in order reduce its height and thus improved the soundstage.

He added four RPG Flatfussor room acoustic treatment panels. Two of them are placed on the back wall (see picture) and the other two on the side walls. For their proper positioning he first followed the manufacturer's recommendations. This gave very unsatisfactory results: reduced soundstage and dead acoustics. When he mentioned this problem to me, I suggested that he consults Jon T. Gale, the room treatment expert I know (do visit his excellent web site). After receiving his exact room layout and dimensions, John gave him different locations which worked wonderfully. 

I think that the combined result of all these changes were very positive: mids became sweeter and warmer (probably due to Cary's) and the bass more controlled. Soundstage was wider and deeper with good air between instruments. Very well done Ozhan!


the new system

a nice couple

Cary 572 SE

the front end

and the panel

Third Visit Notes (31 March 2001)

It is nice to see that Single Ended amplifiers are slowly becoming popular among Istanbul audiophiles. See also my recent third visit notes to Mahmut Yener's place. But horn speakers are an "Istanbul premier". Yes Ozhan is in fact the first audiophile (to my knowledge) who uses horn speakers. 

In most cases people first intend to use Single Ended amplifiers and then look for efficient and/or high / flat impedance speakers to be used with them. So the starting point is the SE amplifier rather than the speakers. But Ozhan had a totally opposite approach: he first bought the Avant Garde Uno II speakers and tried to use them with his existing system. Hence he had to use the Cary SLM-100 push-pull monoblocks (100 W/channel) to drive the very efficient  Avant Garde speakers (105 dB/W/m !). Ozhan says that the result was not so satisfactory: the sound seemed too forward, too edgy and tiring. He thought that 100W can be an overkill power for such high efficiency speakers and the over power of the amplifiers could be the cause of this excessive aggressiveness. 

He attended the discussion forums of AudioAsylum and then ordered the Cary 572 SE Single Ended monoblock amplifiers (20W/channel). He could even have gone to a much lower power (a 3W 2A3 output tube for instance) with such high efficiency speakers but he said he wasn't so sure at the time (the industry so much biased us with mega size SS power amps!). He thinks that the new Cary Single Ended amplifier solved most of the problems and that the sound became much more relaxed.

He also renewed his cables: the speaker cables are now Stealth Ultimate Ribbon and the interconnects XLO Signature and Stealth M7.

I wasn't alone during my visit (see the bottom picture: standing left to right our host Ozhan Atalay and myself, seated left to right Cemil Gandur, Cuneyt Borcbakan and Haluk Ozumerzifon). Each of us had brought our test CD's to make a critical listening of this first Horn system in Istanbul.

In fact this wasn't my first exposure to Avant Garde speakers, I had listened to them during different Hi-Fi Show visits and my impression was not so favorable (see my show reports). But what I heard in Ozhan's place was a far better sound: much more relaxed and coherent. Still there was a touch of aggressiveness on certain passages of some music program. Then we decided to try my own Kimber Select KS-1030 interconnects (click here to read my review ) in place of XLO Signature ones. And yyesss, this was it!!! The tiger was tamed, the sound became very natural, open, sweat yet detailed and much less forward! All my friends unanimously agreed on the huge improvements which made the sound very pleasant and musical. The bass performance was also exemplary.

Horns have a different character than the classic box (or panel) speakers that most of us use. They sound very alive, present and dynamic, but a little more forward than most people are used to. These characteristics may be striking when exposed to them for the first time but once properly tweaked and tuned like in Ozhan's case they become very pleasant (especially with the Kimbers in place). They are also ideal partners of low power SE amplifiers.

Well done Ozhan and thank you for introducing the first horn speakers to Istanbul audiophiles.

the revised system

the electronics

Acoustic Art Drive 1

Audio Note Quest



Fourth Visit Notes (23 February 2003)


I asked Ozhan to write about his system's updates and give us his own impressions. So the following narration belongs entirely to him.

"I was generally happy with Carys' sound except the noise. These kind of directly heated SET amps should have such a good regulated power supply, otherwise 50 Hz AC noise directly couples to output signal . The noise was such bad that I was not able to listen to music after 21:00 o'clock (I mean you should keep less volume at that hours and noise was almost at the same volume as the music signal).

I made an investigation from that angle and looked for 300B monoblocks, ended with Audionote Quest 300B SET 9 Watts Monoblocks. AN has 5RG4 tube choked well regulated power supply and problem ended there. Sound was much better then Carys especially with KR 300BXSL tubes.

But I ended up with different problem that ANs provide their full power at 300 mV of input signal, this is at least 5 times smaller then a normal amplifier input level. It made my 12 stepped passive pre-amp unusable. I had to go with 24 stepped ones, otherwise you may imagine I had just 3 or 4 steps in volume control.

I tested the best active line stages I can obtain that consist of Cellos, Pass Labs, Classe, Nagra, Conrad Johnson,Electrocompaniet etc and all limited the purity of sound. They all gave different tonality to the system but worse, all added distortion to the mid range band and to the soundstage. I ended up with Audio Consulting passive transformer preamp which was the cure to the system. This preamp thought me that, regardless of brand and level most active preamplifiers degrade the sound but add their own coloration to the sound. Preamplifiers are generally used to achieve desired tonality in hi-end systems. I am sure not everybody will agree with that but this fact was very obvious in my system. Preamplifiers do not stipulate such weaknesses in most systems but higher efficiency speakers (>100 dB/W/m) reveal them more.

Passive transformer preamp does not have weaknesses of other potentiometer or purely resistive passive ones since it adds almost no resistance to signal path. At that time, power amp's impedance should be driven by the source unit and if you do not have proper impedance matching, you may see lack of dynamics at any sound level. My new Kora Hermes 24/192 tube DAC (modified for me in the factory) did not create such a problem with AN's.

CEC TL 5100 CD Transport is replaced by Acoustic Arts Drive 1 transport.

PS Audio P300 supplied the power of entire system except Avantgarde Uno's. I use PS2 format which gives better depth and soundstage with my system. Emphasis AC Filter supplies isolated AC power to Uno's.

All interconncts are my new DIY air dielectric pure silver cables (it will be in ihifi.org/DIY section soon).

These Avant Garde Uno II loudspeakers really killed me for the last two years: I had to replace three sets of power amps, three pre-amps and other stuff and most of these changes were not to achieve a better sound but in order to get rid of technical problems. I sometimes felt very desperate as the mentioned equipment could not be found locally.

Driving an active speaker of 100 dB efficiency is a big challenge for most electronics, all hidden aspects come to surface, even the noise of a ringing GSM phone in another room is picked up by the system in the living room. My friend Laurent Labat Camy was so kind to bring his studio equipment to my place and to help me to make the speaker adjustments to get a flat 20 Hz - 20 KHz response in my room.

How does my system sound after all these changes? I think it got as close as to the live performance. There has been a considerable improvement in the sound stage's width and depth (I noticed that whenever I reduced the distortion level it had a very positive effect on soundstage). Dynamics have improved and the use of my own DIY interconnects pushed the sound to the back of speakers. To conclude, I can easily say that I'm very pleased with my system's sound for the time being. Although I'm concious that this is an open ended process, I'm intending to enjoy my system as it is today without making any major changes for a while (which is of course very relative!).