Rick Pearson's
Date of "Visit":
27 April 2003

the system and Hannah

side view

DIY amp

Line stage DIY preamp

phono stage preamp

phono stage power supply

CD player

Basis 1400 turntable

DIY speaker


e-mail to:
Rick Pearson

I have loved music as long as I can remember. As a child I studied piano and voice under John Moseley, a man with the gentlest of spirits and a passion for music. I am forever in his debt. I sang in a rock band in high school but gave it up for college. As soon as I had my first job out of university I bought a decent stereo and upgraded it regularly until I met John Day about five years ago; then the fun relay began.

Dr. Day and our friend Lee Roitberg became my mentors in the DIY world. They have helped me take my system to levels I could only dream of on a teacher's salary. Brian Kurtz of Sound Mind Audio in Austin, TX has helped me tweak the front-end components that I am not ready to tackle in the DIY world. My life partner of 14 years accepts and encourages my hobbies just because they make me happy. She appreciates that I try to make things look good.

My audio goal is to have music in my home that is subtle and dynamic, that has slam but no edge, that is detailed but not etched. I want the music in my listening room to draw me in. The components and individual parts of the system are means to this end, thus they deserve attention. However, music is what it's all about.

I listen to music in fits and starts; sometimes it is all-classical for a long time, sometimes it's all pop, then something else. My main genres are classical, classic rock (what they don't play on the oldies stations!), contemporary old fogy's music, American folk, world music, and new age that is not massage table music.

It is hard to settle on one set of evaluation recordings, so here is a scattershot:

  • Neil Young "Harvest", Reprise Records (vinyl re-release)
  • Ralph Vaughn Williams &endash; "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis" (etc.), Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Argo Records (vinyl)
  • Timbuk 3, "Eden Alley" IRS Records (vinyl or CD)
  • Cat Stevens, "Tea for the Tillerman", A&M Records (vinyl or CD)
  • Arvo Part, "Fratres, Tabula Rasa, (etc)", ECM Records (vinyl or CD)
  • "Brasileiro", various artists, Putumayo World Music (CD)
  • Brahms, "Violin Concerto in D", Heifetz/Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, RCA (vinyl)
  • Suzanne Vega, "Nine Objects of Desire", A&M Records (CD)
  • Robin Trower, "Bridge of Sighs", Chrysalis Record (vinyl)
  • …and many more.


System's Components


16' x 14'. Absorption on the front and side walls, Tube Traps in front corners, diffraction on back wall.

CD Player:

Accuphase DP55 with Walker Valid Points for resonance control.


Basis 1400, Benz Glider cartridge.

Phono Stage:

Wright Sound Co. WPP100C (all tube with tube rectification)

Line Stage:

DIY from design by John Day. Single ended with 5687 driver tube. Tube rectification (5V4) and voltage regulation (OD3). Transformer coupled output. Finish by Dale Whistler.


DIY from design by John Day. Full Music mesh plate 300b power tubes driven by Telefunken 6AU6. Sowter power transformer and output transformers. Tube voltage regulation (0A2) and mercury vapor tube rectification (83). Finish by Dale Whistler.


DIY from design by John Day. Cabinet construction by Alan Stephens. Line arrays with (8) 6.5" midwoofers and one 6" SLS ribbon tweeter per cabinet. Approximately 96dB efficient. Sealed boxes.

Power Supply:

DIY using toroidal transformer with 240v dedicated primary and two 120v balanced secondary taps - 5A and 25A. Outlets from Lloyd Walker. Dedicated true earth ground.

Speaker Cables:

Tara Labs 1800 RSC biwire


Tara Labs RSC Air 2

Power Cords:

Tara Labs (and others)


DIY with 3 layers for resonance control. Stainless steel all-thread leveling and spiked feet.


VPI 16.5 record cleaner and Record Research Labs cleaners and treatments.

Listening Companion:

Hannah, the Welsh Springer Spaniel

Rick's comments about his system:

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

RP: "I enjoy this system more and more each day. You could say that it has a "tube sound" but this is only because it lacks harshness. It is fast and detailed without being etched. The soundstage is realistic and nicely defined. The system sounds really good down to about 40Hz; below that, neither the speakers nor the room are quite up to the task. However, the sealed boxes make bass that sounds like a low-frequency melody, making the lower register more than just the beat."

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

RP: "There is always room for improvement. The speakers were the last major project and I think that the crossovers are nearly finished after 6 months of fiddling. However, the crossovers are still out of the boxes and easy to modify… I would love to have a bigger room, but this is probably not in the cards for me in the near future. I am giving some thought of bi-amping so the 300b's experience no strain at any listening levels. I may go with solid state on the bottom end to further tighten and accentuate bass; besides, the IM distortion should not be audible in the bass range."  

AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"

RP: "I just ordered some silver mica coupling caps for the 300b amp. Aside from that, money (or lack of it) will put off any improvements in the foreseeable future."