A new year, a new beginning. The beginning of 2023 saw a number of changes to the system so let me get right to the point and start with the biggest change. The arrival of a new, integrated amplifier.
I wanted to get rid of my pre- and power amplification because I mostly test all-in-one and integrated models and therefore never really had an integrated reference amplifier to compare meaningfully with. After much research and rigorous selection, two candidates remained. The Pass Labs INT25 and Moon Audio 600i V2. Both sound great but it became the Moon because it has many more features and I can test much more smoothly with it. Of course, it is and remains a tool for me.
The Moon has a balanced input, enough power (2×125 watts), enough inputs (5 of them), lossless volume control, a balance control and adjustable gain per input. In addition, the Moon does not get bloody hot like the Pass and is a beautiful thing to behold. The easy-to-read screen is also a big plus as far as I’m concerned. And also in terms of playback it is totally my thing. Fast, dynamic with lots of control and unprecedented refinement. Very complete as far as I am concerned. By the way, the first 5 watts are in class A. Lovely.
A second change came because of the weight of my previous power amplifier, the Bryston 4B³. My old furniture could not handle the weight anymore and so I started thinking about a real hi-fi furniture. After some research, like colleague Jaap, I ended up with the Italian company Bassocontinuo. During my last visit to the listening room in Haarlem, I took a close look at the Cymbalon 2.1 furniture on the audio/video side. This cabinet , from the Classic series, possesses a lot of technology and materials from the more expensive series.
It is certainly not a cheap piece of furniture but after unpacking and installing it, I find it absolutely worth its money. It is completely handmade in Italy and the materials used are high quality. The workmanship is truly impeccable. The Cymbalon cabinet has a limited height (30 cm) and is nice and wide (115 cm), allowing for plenty of room to place multiple components on it. That rather limited height also keeps the stereo image from being disturbed. This design fits perfectly in my space and it looks great among the Revels. Of course, I went for the all-white version since the Revels are white and the rest of my home is also almost all white. By the way, the furniture is even more beautiful in “real life” than in the pictures. An absolute added value in my system.
The latest change came when Jaap went down to picturesque West Flanders a while ago. That was not only the ideal opportunity to catch up but also a great chance to measure out my space. Jaap was quite satisfied with what he heard subjectively and the measurements didn’t indicate anything crazy either. However, there is some reverb. This makes sense because the room is open, ceilings are high and the furnishings are minimal. In addition, there are two windows and a built-in closet that creates a balance problem. Far from ideal, in other words. But the bass can run freely and when I don’t play too loud there is no sharpness and everything is right.
Still, I wanted to tackle the space to get rid of some of that reverb. So I made some adjustments here and there. I bought the biggest and thickest carpet I could find and behind an existing painting I placed acoustic material from Akotherm. On another wall I hung a large acoustic painting from Novisono. Finally, I bought three Vicoustic VicPattern Ultra Wavewood panels to hang behind the speakers. These panels provide absorption as well as diffusion. All together this creates more calmness, fewer reflections and less reverberation.
Voilà, we are again all set to test a lot of great stuff in the coming year. In any case, make it a great musical year yourself!
Reference from January 2023:
- Revel Performa M126BE
- Moon Audio 600i V2
- Sonnet Digital Audio Morpheus
- Sonnet Digital Audio Hermes
- Musical Fidelity M1
- Mutec MC3+
- Audioquest Powerquest 3
- Bassocontinuo Cymbalon 2.1
- Driade Flow
- Ricable Magnus
- Grimm TPR
- Roon Core on a Nuc.