Willy, a jovial guy who always has a smile on his face, I met him in this year KLIAV show via a mutual friend. He visited me and listened to my system a few weeks later, and last night was my turn to reciprocate.

It was a good night listening to music for myself and maggielurva. Let’s start with Willy’s system from the top – his frontend was a Marantz CD7, the ‘statement’ CDP from Marantz and Ken Ishiwata, a CDP that I lusted after. Seeing a Marantz brought back fond memories as I grew up with the CD63SE and then the CD17MkIIKI. Marantz never failed to sound musical to me, and Willy’s system with the CD7 in it proved to be even more so in this regard.

The CD7 fed a Pass Labs X2.5 preamp, which in turn was connected to a pair of Pass Labs Aleph 0 monoblocks - 75watts of pure single-ended class A power into 8 ohms, double that into 4. I am a Pass Labs user myself, and once owned the 0’s littlest brother, the Aleph 3. I regretted letting go of the 3, I hope Willy would not make the same mistake with his 0s, they are absolutely a classic from Pass Labs (to me, all Alephs are, and I have to admit I have a bias towards the Aleph sound).

At the end of the chain was a pair of Audio Physics Spark. Slim and elegant these 2.5-way floorstanders were. Audio Physics are renowned for their soundstaging capability, and Willy’s Sparks lived up to this reputation, throwing a soundstage that was nicely 3-dimensional.

Willy has also addressed the electricity quality issue by installing an IsoTek power line conditioner. His cdp, turntable (a Rega with diy Pass Labs Ono, I gathered, which we did not listen to) and pre-amp were plugged into the IsoTek, and the Alephs were plugged directly into the wall.

The listening room was of a cozy size, I estimated it to be 10’x12’ (just a guess). Willy has done some acoustic treatment, such as diffusers on the front wall. He also ingenuously incorporated diffusion / absorption into his CD rack at the first reflection point at the side of the speakers.

Once Willy cued up the music, I was attracted. The sound had a natural body, was coherent, and came with an inviting tonality, it has airiness, richness and excellent harmonic structure. I believe it was the Pass Labs doing their talking here to an extent, it certainly was a presentation that I was well acquainted to. The sound was well-lit but not bright, I personally would prefer a slightly mellower top but that is a matter of taste. Vocals and violin were articulate and attractive. Violin, especially, had sheen and brilliance that came close to real life.

Despite their relatively slim stature, the Audio Physics had a big sound. These fellows were not afraid of big swings in dynamics and indeed they handled any such challenge with aplomb. Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (ASMF, Marriner) presented just such an opportunity, the guitar was intimate but the sound would simply swell whenever the full orchestra came on.

Best of all, Willy’s listening room came with a cute little Miss. That is Willy’s little daughter, ever the daddy's girl, she would accompany her father during his listening session for hours.

With that, what more can a man ask for?


Rai said...

Pass Labs Alephs 0 MONOblocks??!!!

Sweet Jesus!!!!!!

graham said...

Class all the way..This man knows how to play hi-fi.PERIOD>>

Jackson said...

I agree with you hifikaki,I too love the way he incorporates the CDs as part of acoustic diffusers...

He has to be mad to even consider selling the Alephs 0.Those stay with you for life.....

allen t said...

The centrepiece has got to be the Aleph monoblocks.No question about it.

I wonder why Nelson pass has departed from the Class A design.I think it could be the fuel price,But what the heck ,I'd rather walk to work,than Give up on those amps111

kimerty said...

Anybody would have been proud of the system.

Music lover's haven

Young said...

Nice system,Who doesn't like the Aleph?

The only thing I could add is perharps to add Bass TRaps at the corners of the room.I like the diffusers at the centre of the walls,and with the AP speakers, I would Imagine that the Soundstage would be superwide..

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

much to my suprise, the pass alephs have a gorgeous tone that is strictly the purview of tube amps. in fact, i told the host that one can't get this type of tonality in modern solid-state amps.

i have now listened to the aleph series, the x series, the xa series and i have to say i like the aleph series the most, the x series the least.

garbsen said...

I fully agree with you Maggielurva.

What a good observation on your part.

I think Pass Lab"s latest offerings are still behind the aleph.So musical the alephs are,certainly a reminder of tube amps.

Did you guys listened to any Vocals?

jimmy said...

can the mutual friend visit you again?


GCK said...

Way to go Willy. The Alephs monoblocks looks humongous with all that heatsinks.

Anonymous said...


Thank you all for very kind words here. The system is for me to trully get lost in the music for just a few hours every week.

Jimmy, you are always welcomed.]

CK, yeah! those heatsinks are a pain sometimes when I get my legs cut if I brush over them, but all is forgoten when the music is played.



hifikaki said...

Hi Jimmy,

After you visit Willy, you are more than welcomed to visit me too! :-)

jimmy said...

thanks guys! :D

Stax said...

Hi Willy:

I just wanted to say, that if you are ever interested in selling your Marantz CD-7, Please think of me, because I am desperately looking for one of these magnificient players. I anyone knows someone willing to sell one of these please let me know

Sincerely Thomas, Copenhagen, Denmark. Mail: thomaslerche@hotmail.com

Panzer said...


Actually, you're 3rd in line who made me this offer. I have saved up for a good few years, looked around for a good condition unit for another 3 years before I finally found my dream CDP.

I just love the musical sound of the Marantz CD7.


Anonymous said...

allen t:

the latest NP designs directly incorporate Aleph topology...with improved support circuitry. Class A all the way...although fuel IS expensive.