I am very close to completing a long, long hifi journey that has taken me from Naim Nac 62S, Naim Nap 140, Thorens TD 160 Mk. ii (supered) + Morch UP4 tonearm, Denon 103R + Mission 737R speakers, via Naim Nac 252/SC/2xNaim Nap 200 + Linn Tunebox + Linn Ninkas and too many boxes and configurations to count. It is only in the last two years or so that I finally managed to make everything gel after I decided what to make the centrepieces of my set-up and then managed to sell some kit that I could not get to sound right:
DIY DCB1 buffer pre with Rod Elliot mm - which sounds extremely transparent and musical in my system. Bought last year to replace EAR 802 and Herron VTSP2a.
EAR 516 - bought in 2018. It had to go to EAR in the UK for a service and repair not long after I bought it. Tim de Paravicini spent more time returning it to spec than he cared for (7-8 hours) but told me that it is a perfect match for my Quad ESL-57s. I have to agree.
SME 10 turntable + Kuzma Stogi 9" + Denon DL-103D + Ortofon T-20 mk. I finally got the vinyl playback mojo back with the Stogi and Denon 103D that I bougt this year. It feels like I have come home. Can the next item on my list improve on this?
Paradise Phono Stage - coming in the near future when Simon has finally received the last bits for it from the US.
Line Magnetic 502CA DAC - I have upgraded the three valves in it and may upgrade the opamps to Burson V5 Dual opamps. I find the valve output stage to be very musical and sweet. I feed it from a Win 10 PC with JRiver Music Center via a Nuforce U192S usb to spdif (coax) converter powered by a linear psu. Since I bought it, I have struggled to have vinyl playback as good as through this DAC. But now I am there.
Bang & Olufsen Beocord 6500 cassette Deck
Leak Stereofetic FM Tuner
Quad ESL-57 - with One Thing Bass Panels. I bought these in 2018 and I have placed them on top of book shelves leaning out somewhat. The effect is that of giant headphones in my small study.
When I receive the Paradise phono stage, I feel that I am 99% where I want to be. I have spent way to much money along the way but I have also had the priviledge of listening to some much coveted gear during that roller-coster ride. It has been both fun and nerve-wrecking. So what next?
(1) An inexpensive 12" unipivot arm on an external armpod: The Wand 12", a Morch UP4 12" or a Stogi S 12" tonearm. Just to hear what 122 tonearms are all about.
(2) To complete a DIY Poul Ladegaard air bearing tonearm project that I have all the parts for.
(3) A Magnepan DWM woofer (or two) to make the base a little more solid.
(4) An inexpansive cart to go with the 12" unipivot tonearm.