OK, I'll show you mine


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Nov 11, 2021
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I use two quite different hi-fi set ups.

The first which is in my office at work is Vincent CD-200 CD and SV-200 amp through QA 3030i speakers and 3070S sub all connected with Chord and QED cables. Both the Vincent units have valve outputs with custom tubes. The amp has a matched pair of late 1950’s Russian military valves and the CD a single 1960’s Russian military valve. The amp really drives the 3030i’s and gives the speakers more middle and bottom and the sub plenty of depth and punch. I would note that the 3070S sub was not well liked in most reviews and when driven through solid state amps I would tend to agree, but through a valve amp it’s a very different beast! Most of this system was bought on eBay second hand or in the sales. I did not pay full price for any of the units/cables and for the investment made it takes some beating even if it is not well known or as ‘sexy’ as other more mainstream systems. Vincent hi-fi can be difficult to come by but worth auditioning.

The second set up is in my study and is much more of a traditional reference system. A Cyrus 82 DAC, PSX-R2 and CDt transport, Pro-Ject X2 turntable with an Ortofon Bronze cartridge through a Tube Box S. I also use a custom/upgraded Arcam rBlink aptX/Bluetooth receiver/DAC (again from eBay) to connect my PC, iPhone and an A & Norma SR15 portable player. All this is then heard through B & W 706 S2 speakers and ASW610 sub using Wire World, Chord and QED cabling as well as Van Damme Pro Grade Classic XKE instrument cable for the short connections, under 200 mm.

Having two quite different systems gives me options and the ability to change out/test components on different types of hi-fi.

The first thing of note is the difference in volume needed to drive the sub. With the Vincent amp both the QA and B & W volume control is around 25%. With the Cyrus, I need to be between 60 – 75% for the same output/volume. Don’t know why, but there it is.

I have been waiting for months for delivery of Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M, probably along with everyone else around the world. The lack of components/units is not being well reported and it should be…they’ll be hefty price rises on the way too no doubt. So, when I saw the upgraded Arcam rBlink I jumped at it and at less than half the price of the 200M and similar performance who wouldn’t? The upgrade includes a low noise and larger power supply unit, toroidal Tx, upgraded capacitors and faster diodes. There are a couple of people who upgrade older components and they do seem to improve the sound quality.

Although I like the 3030i/3070S combo (bang for buck I don’t think they can be beat), they definitely sound much better through the Vincent than the Cyrus system. I put this down to a combination of the valve output pushing the speakers in the middle and bass frequencies and the Cyrus highlighting the limitations of the speaker price point. The opposite is true with the B & W speaker combo, albeit the difference is smaller, they have all the depth, width and detail you’d expect from B & W but more so through the Cyrus.

The two sub’s offer different characteristics, the QA is ported with twin 170 mm drivers and the B & W is sealed with a single 250 mm driver which means there is a noticeable difference in the sound out of each. There is no question that the B &W’s go lower but the QA is better than the reviews would have you believe especially through the valve amp as a 2-channel speaker. I doubt it would be as good in an AV set up which is the direction most reviews come from.

I also use a TEAC twin cassette deck W890-R and am currently experimenting with different tuners; I listen to a fair bit of these very old fashioned formats!


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