November 1, 2006
Questions on my Mind
My listening room, the Music Vault, has been an invaluable reviewing tool as well as a source of musical pleasure. It has been a tool because of what I learned of acoustics during its design and construction -- not to mention that since then its functioned as a microscope trained on any piece of equipment Ive placed in it. It has been a pleasure simply because my music has never sounded better. Terry Montlick, the engineer who designed and certified the room (see Alpha Certification), is quite an educator, and he forever altered my views on room acoustics and their contributions to the sounds we hear. Its too bad I will have spent only a year with the Music Vault, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball.
Ill be moving soon, into a new house that will better accommodate my growing family. This home, too, will be temporary -- Ill eventually have another house built, hopefully my last stop. During our stay in our "bridge home" Ill have a smaller listening room than what Ive grown accustomed to, which will necessitate drastic changes in my audio system. As anyone whos kept up with my writing over the past ten years can attest, I typically place no constraints on myself when it comes to the size and complexity of my audio system. Ive had bouts with Wilson Audio Specialties X-1 Grand SLAMMs and XS subwoofers, and all types of weighty monoblocks and separates. For the past three years my reference loudspeakers have been Wilsons Alexandria X-2s, and Ive enjoyed them immensely. But those days, at least for the foreseeable future, are over. Ill have a smaller room and therefore a smaller system, and Ive given that a lot of thought over the past few weeks.
What type of system should I put in the new room? Well, thats really the question. I very well may consolidate my home theater (now in my living room) with my audio system (now in the Vault). This will keep my new family room clean and uncluttered, a thought that appeals to me but poses some challenges. Ill already be in a smaller room, but if I also have more equipment in that room, in the form of home-theater components, Ill have to be even more careful in selecting it. Hmm . . . Ill have to keep things small, and the number of components I select to a minimum.
A pair of Wilson WATT/Puppy 8s are on the way, which youll read about early next year. Though theyre much more manageable than the larger Wilsons Im used to, Im betting theyll still display the level of resolution I need for my Ultra Audio reviews. So maybe thats one piece of the puzzle thats found its place. What to drive them with, though? Im toying with the idea of an integrated amplifier. A Vitus Audio SS-101 is on the way, and Ive requested a Krell FBI. Ive also heard great things about the Simaudio Moon i-7. All of these are members of a new breed of almost-cost-no-object integrated amplifiers that should mesh well with most high-resolution audio systems. Choosing an integrated would cut down on the number of boxes in my new room -- a definite advantage. My source player is still the Esoteric UX-3, which will have gone back to the company for upgrading to SE status by the time you read this. But my new home is fully wired for a home network, so thoughts of a music server also dance through my head . . .
If I add home theater to the mix, Ill have to have a unity-gain pass-through in my amplifier (or preamp, if I go with separates). Ill also need some fairly compact surround speakers for the rear of the room, and something to drive them. Ill definitely go with a 1080p LCD monitor to save floor space, and pair it with an HD DVD player for video. But what will that do to the rooms acoustics? I figure Ill enlist Terrys help to design a treatment strategy, but Ill likely go with ready-made products instead of customs -- I dont want to permanently install anything in this new home when I know Ill be moving out of it sooner than later. Or maybe Ill just stay with a two-channel home theater . . .
I have a lot of thinking and planning to do. But as most audiophiles will attest, that can be part of the fun of this hobby. Ill keep you informed of my progress, or lack thereof, over the next few months.
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