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  Stereopal Home Vist:   Alex from Toronto  Date:  Sep 8, 2008

               "Alex, to me, has taken the right path on the pursuit of audio excellence".......   Rick, Stereopal.com

                                       

 

 

Aleksander is known by a lot of people in town.   As the moderator of the Yahoo Toronto Audiophile forum, he has been in the Toronto audiophile scene much longer than many people, including myself. 

 

I have been to Alex's place on more than a few occasions.  I must say, they have all been enjoyable.   I cannot recall an evening which I did not enjoy the music, the fine wine, or the pleasure of his company.    The wealth of knowledge which he possess on music and audio, will reward every visitor who spent time with him in his dedicated audio room.

 

There is something very special about Alex's system.    If it is not one of the best sounding setup which I have heard in all of Toronto, it will be certainly be on the top of my favorite list.

 


 The system is not the most expensive I have seen, it is probably not the most detailed or the most dynamic.  But taken as a 

 whole, the system delivers a magical synergy which makes you just want to tap your feet.     Every time when I walk

 into his room, I just want to sit down and enjoy the music.    I can still recall the holographic image of Ella Fitzgerald singing 10

 feet in front of me, or the tune of Pete Seeger's Guantanamera where I was literally taken back to the Carnegie Hall of 1955.  

 There is much to be said about the liveliness of his setup.       

 

 My friend Peter considers it to be the finest he has heard in Toronto.  In Peter's own words:

 

       "You forget you're listing to 2 channel reproduction.   The sound is "toe tapping', involving, and vividly holographic.  

         The sound is not perfect, and there are many things which i can pick on.  But I say this because LIVE MUSIC

         is also not perfect.  The sound of Alex's system is alive and engaging, this is something which you will not find

         in demo rooms or in studios. It is something which I have been trying to, but unable to attain."

 

 As the tunes of fine music play well into the night, another thought came to my mind.  

 

 I have met many audiophiles (including myself) who have burdened themselves with the many distractions of this hobby.  Some 

 are preoccupied with forever wanting to squeeze the very last bit of high fidelity out of their system.   Others are worried about

 what their peers will think when they visit.   Some spend hours on the internet reading reviews or engaging themselves with

 heated debates trashing either vinyl or digital.   Not to mention those who are forever tweaking with their isolation cones, ebony

 blocks, demagnetizers or moving speaker positions, or worrying about their cartridge being 0.3 mm off the axis.   How about the

 ego maniacs who are eager to show off their knowledge on the subject by constantly criticizing ?   "Your trebles are too high,

 the bass is too much, the violins have no texture, the piano has no resonance, the pizza has no sauce ........"

 

 Alex has been able to achieve a fine balance between the purist of audio excellence through his equipment, while maintaining a

 firm focus on the goal of this hobby, that is to enjoy music in itself.     Judging by looks of his setup, you can tell that time has

 been spent on doing the "audiophile things" (note the turntable butcher block, the room treatments, or the cable risers).  Yet 

 those things are never the focus of his hobby, they are only means to a better end.    The priorities are with listening to music,

 and the pleasurable company of others.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  System Components:  
     
  CD Player: Audio Analogue Paganini CD Player
  Turntable: Michell Engineering Gyrodec SE
  Tonearm: RS Labs RS-A1
  Cartridge: Shelter 7000
  Preamp: Song Audio SA-1
  Phono Cable: Furutech AG-12 Phono Cable
  Phono Stage: Herron Audio Vacuum Tube Phono Preamplifier
  Power Amp: McIntosh MC-275
  Speaker: Meadowlark Audio Herron
  Interconnects: Silver One by Audiolimits
Speaker Cable: NBS entry level
Power Conditioner: Chang Lightspeed

 

 

 

 

  Alex's Comments:

 

 

  Rick, first of all thank you so much for the kind words.  My intention with the system was to slowly collect and improve gear until I had the sound I liked.  I wish I had some clear explanation of how I got to where I am - I believe I was just very very lucky.  The combinations of gear seemed to merge and meld well.  One of the greatest improvements in dynamics was going to a push/pull McIntosh MC275.  Before the MC275, I had a triode based Bel Canto SET-40 - about 40 watts per channel - I feel I now have a much more dynamic sound.

Since the details of the system are described above, I would just like to add, that it is a very realistic, musical and three dimensional sound.  I do not have the sheer volume, size and dynamics that some large systems have - but my system has a kind of a quirky almost organic sound that I really like.  My system provides more of a smaller "pretty sister" experience of larger installations. 

I believe now that the 3d effects are due to speaker placement - about 1/3 into the room, and 2/3 for listening... 

A word about the insulation panels.  A friend of mine who is a fine carpentry guy, built these wooden panels, into which I stapled in the audio insulation.  The advantage of these frames is that they can be moved around the room - and they are free-standing - I do not damage the walls by stapling, or gluing them to the wall.

Due to budgetary constraints (cruelly and unjustly imposed on me by my wife), the budget allows for x dollars of purchasing of music - now a days, it is mostly vinyl - typically good reissues...  I also do like to go buying used records both on Ebay and local used shops.  My tastes are typically classical, jazz and some rock and folk - in that order.
 
Until recently, I wanted to upgrade to a better turntable (Transrotor? VPI??) - but, by coincidence, I managed to hear a Shindo preamp in my system.  A pre-amp upgrade is definitely a possibility instead of a turntable...
 

 

 

    

     Michell Gyrodec SE sitting on an IKEA butcher block.

 

 

 

    

     The RS-A1 tonearm is a piece of art.  Both the arm and the cartridge is uni-pivoted,  they are free to move

     in any direction dictated by the record groove.    The arm pod itself is also free standing, it is not mounted

     with any screw or bolt.

 

 

 

    

     This is where the magic lies, note the free standing pivot on top of the cartridge.    

 

 

    

     Herro Audio phono stage, sitting on top of the CD Player.

 

 

 

    

     One of Mr. Song Kim's early production models.   The SA-1 preamps is no longer being made with the

     reflective Chrome face plate as shown in the photos.  They have been replaced by a "green teal" acrylic panel

 

 

 

    

     Guess who helped him buy the MC275, my favorite amp ?

 

 

 

                              

 

 

 After visitng Alex, i stole the idea and applied it into my own

 setup.  Placing absorption panels on the back wall greatly    

 enhances the depth of the stereo image.

 

 

 

Everyman has his mistress, well at least Alex does.

          

 

                

          

           I spent hours trying to figure out what the hell is inside he VPI db-5 Magic Box ?   I can tell you it is not sand,

           it is not lead, it is not stone, nor is it tar.   It is some sort of magic material which makes this block heavier than

           a piece of concrete.  

 

           

 

          

            If there is one thing I'd steal from his room, it will be this "labelography".   I spent years trying to learn how to

            read the difference a DECCA ED1 vs a ED2.  This one photo will save you a lot of time !

 

 

         

 

 

 

         

          The system has nearly 10 feet of open space between the speakers and the back wall, creating a tremendous

          sense of depth perception.   The sonic image is deep and wide.     Not too many people are lucky enough

          to have 10 feet of space behind their speakers.  

 

 

 

 

 

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