The system over view, note the Pipe Dreams speakers, just barely visible next to the Harbeths.



I met Mr.A at the time I was covering the CMY dealer focus through a group of senior hifi gurus. We struck up a conversation and next thing you know, resulted in this home visit which Hifikaki tagged along. Mr. A(whom wishes to remain anonymous for this posting) is a vinyl man first, CD man next. I flipped through his LP and CD collection and discovered many gems I have never heard or encountered before. Mr.A has also developed a taste for percusion jazz/rock or fusion music. As they say, your musical taste dictates your system's sound, how true in this case!

Scheu Analog turn table, note the squash balls for damping/isolation? Harmonix record clamp.

Shelter phono MC transformer. Qi cones at the bottom for isolation.



Let us start with introducing his system's cast members, a.k.a. "the equipment list". It starts with a Clearaudio Concerto cartridge equipped turn table, made by German firm Scheu Analog on the vinyl front. The low level signal extracted by the Clearaudio cartridge is sent to a Shelter MC transformer for the first 30db of amplification, followed by Audio Image's potent in house solid state phono stage doing the work of the remaining 40db or so.

Phono stage(on top) with separate power supply at bottom and various other spare TS Lim's Diva pre amps.



On the CD side of things, a Marantz CD67SE, treated to a full mod job by TS Lim( Diva master tweaker in Singapore). All source signals are then sent to a Jadis Gloria tube pre amp. Power amp is TS Lim's Diva Blue Sky, which uses NOS EL34 Mullard tubes(these babies are sweet!) to output 50W per chanel.

Delicate balancing act! Note the TS Lim "full mod" Marantz CD67 SE sitting on wooden Qi cones and the brass Walker cones on Tong Lee supplied Mana clone shelf.



The amplified signal this converted to sound energy by a pair of Harbeth M30 monitors sitting a top it's dedicated stands. Inter connects are FM cable(CD to pre amp), Diva Tocatta and Fugue(phono stage to pre amp and pre to power amp). A pair of lovely Yamamura Churchill speaker cables takes care of the final transmission duty. Power cords are from various sources including TS Lim's Diva Mongoose. A pair of Tice PLC and a unit of RGPC 400Pro cleans power from wall before supplying to system. Mr.A loves to balance his components on Qi Cones and Walker cones of various sizes on top of Tong Lee supplied Mana cloned racks, for every single component's isolation.

Jadis Gloria pre amp (top) and dedicated power supply unit (bottom).

See the Yamamura Churchill speaker cable resting on the Jadis power supply.



The system is set up in the lounge/hall area of his house, with the minimal use of room treatment products. I counted a pair of Tong Lee supplied bass traps at the corners of the speaker back wall and some Micheal Green look alike corner and front wall treatment patches. The speakers are placed well in to the listening area, almost near field like arrangement with no toe in.

Proudly TS Lim's fan club member, Mr.A!



We started the listening session by playing the soundtrack "Warriors of Heaven and Earth", scored by the really talented AR Rahman on CD. The sound of the system shocks me, at first with it's macro and micro dynamics's capabilities, then the overall drive, bass weight and slam really sounds like more than the 50 tubed watts powering a pair of 85db sensitivity speakers had any right to. This full tubed system has pace and speed that can rival any solid state based system with ease. Despite what all that has happened so far, this system also has a mellower side when the music calls for. Female voices(Rickie Lee Jones) breath beautifully, and the lively percussive quality(when playing the CD "Shakti" by John Mclachlan and gang) of this system is top notch! As we proceeded to play some LPs, namely Hugh Masekala's Hope 45 rpm LP and the "Stimela" track, (Hifikaki's fav this!) The low level resolution retrival quality from this LP playback is jaw droping on the very familiar track which both me and Hifikaki always listens to on CD.

Diva Blue Sky EL34 power amp, note the Diva inter connect cable?



While the CD player was spinning, I kept thinking this doesn't sound like a humble Marantz CD63 at all(which I had used for close to 10 years!). And I was right, Mr.A said it's a CD67SE(the CD67 does look exactly like the CD63!, except the model no. print), and a TS Lim full mod version at that! Ahh.... that's why people pay lots a $$$ for an old humble Marantz to be moded by TS Lim. It really is a giant killer!, in the context of this system.

Harbeth M30 speaker on dedicated stand.

TICE PLC and RGPC400 Pro. Note the Tong Lee suppiled corner tube trap?



Time certainly flies when we are having fun. Before we knew it, the time was past midnight and we had to make our way home. I ask Mr. A about his near future plans for the system?


For those wondering how a pair of Pipe Dreams look like, it's a 4 pc speaker design, with the towers taking care of the highs and mids in line array formation coupled to a pair of subs! Hifikaki counted 30pcs of tweeters on each side! The pair in the picture taken from website is the newer model but very much the same.



He replied that he can't wait for the up graded cross overs to come back for his Pipe Dreams speakers(Mr.A's main speakers, the Harbeths are just his spare back up speakers) , and a TS Lim Diva tubed phono stage to come for his vinyl source. Yummy! A follow up visit is due once these up grades are completed.


14 comments:

gerry said...

what a beutiful system,i am sure the sound is even better than it looks.

analogue heaven if there is ever one>>>

km ng said...

Panzer,

You should re-visit A's system again.

Last night Jo and me dropped by.

Jo did some magical touches to it.

I, as usual, didn't move my fat a*s.

Now the system is playing more like Barcelona than Man U.

chris said...

Panzer,

you seems to know where the hidden gem of a systems seems to be hidden .

Very well put system,undoubtly very musical..

cheah said...

really ;love the vinyl set up heard the SA TT a while back;superb TT with speed ,resolutions and musicality

Anonymous said...

guys.....stop prancing around and just say overall, was it a good sytstem. All this..... this is good and that is good but didnt cover the entire spectrum of what makes good hifi. Every system has its downsides. Suppose in your shoes if you pointed out whats bad....u wont get invited to anyones place.

Panzer said...

gerry, chris, cheah,

You guys are right, It's a beautiful system that shows the owners depth in hifi exploration. And it's undoubtly a good sounding system too.

km,

I am very sure Jo(kiarch) can do wonders during his visit. He has that midas touch! I'll make it a point to follow up once the Pipe Dreams are up and running along the TS Lim Diva phono upgrade.
Thanks for showing me the way there.

Anonymous 8.32pm,

Sometimes I feel writing this blog is worst than being in the oldest profession in the world! At least the other profession pays!(ML hint! hint! Ha!Ha!)

I approach this hobby from a positive vantage point. I also write from that positive point of view. Why do audiophiles typically so like to dwell in to the dark side?

Sonic nirvana or audio hell? There's a choice you know?

Anonymous said...

Panzer, well said.

Eth said...

Panzer - understand the position you're in, its hard to be a bad guy reviewer... there's the dealers, the owners, the critics/gurus.. it gets complicated.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys...dont be disheartened. Realise its tough to walk the line. This is from the same guy asking for the low down and dirty.

Come across your write ups on equipment of interest and wonder what it sounds like...the ups and downs.

Having said that hard to judge your evaluation coz we dont really know your preferences in sound, though have fair idea from the equipment you guys own and music you listen to. On the warmer side, smoother presentation and open ....tending on the bloomy & not reigned in as some like it. Maybe wrong!!!!

Hey! just keep doing what you guys do. There are useful tips some many choose to try out, help dealers advertise & sell their stuff (tough times...we dont want the hobby to peeter out do we, not being facetious) and for some, a wonderful way to pass some time on your articles.

So! dont get discourage by those who choose to remain anonymous and cast stones. Anyone can do that.......:-D

Felix said...

I've had the privillage to hear this system a couple of times. I can say this, the TT setup is fantastic! The sound is very clean with resolution to die for. It leaves the digital side wanting.

Whilst the Pipe Dreams was in action, the bass intergration was immensely tuneful with the right weight and impact.

There is a lot going in this setup and I don't think he has maximized his setup yet....regardless, I was foot tapping already. Esp with select Indian tracks he played for us.

Good stuff!

Panzer said...

Eth, anonymous 10.20am,

Thanks for understanding. Yes we do walk a tight rope but the aim is always to give our readers a balanced perspective.

Now, if you know the adage, "don't do on to others if you do not want others to do on to you?"

Finally, if you think what we scribble here is interesting enough to help you while your spare time away, then I sincerely thank you very much for your time.

Panzer said...

Anonymous 10.20am,

You are right about my kinda sound. Quite spot on in fact. So now you know, you can more or less have an idea about my audio preferences and can take what I write with a pinch of salt.

Anonymous said...

The isolation cones, at a glance, have not been optimally placed!

Least diligence seen as the placements of cones only look balanced.

I think no one helped correct the placements because host has shown happy face? Quite a waste!



Regards.

soho said...

The turntables Scheu analog can be bought now in France on :
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Diamond-rouge
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Diamond-bois
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Diamond-rose
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Cello-Noir
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Cello-Bleu
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Cello-Blanc
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Premier-MK-3
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Premier-MK-2
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Das-Laufwerk-No2
http://www.maceria.com/shop/product/Scheu-Analog-Das-Laufwerk-No1