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A musician's guide to the enjoyment of digital audio, continued


6 November, 2011


If you have read my previous posts (there's only 2 so far) you know that I have upgraded my entire audio system in recent months. The "upgrade project" was prompted by my desire to hear and compare several loudspeakers of different types: dynamic, electrostatic, planar/magnetic. It had been a few years since I compared new technologies in speakers and I wanted simply to hear what the audio magazines had been describing.


After choosing several speakers to compare I decided it would be wise to begin with only 2 models. I also wanted to hear speakers that sold for under $5k per pair. (Remember, I'm a musician and teacher... disposable income is hard to come by!) I decided to begin my comparisons with models from Magnepan and Vandersteen.


It was my good fortune to find Audio Alternative in Lilburn, Georgia, a well-established audio/video dealer near Atlanta. AA has multiple Magnepan and Vandersteen models in their show rooms and were very happy to set them up with digital front ends so that I could listen at my leisure to familiar recordings. I was in the store for nearly 3 hours that day.


The staff at AA answered questions and asked a few, too. They took the time to understand my needs and wanted me to take all the time I needed to enjoy my comparison of the two very different speakers.


(more to come...)


7 November, 2011


I left the store with an understanding of the speakers that I did not have earlier: the Magnepan 1.7, as magnificent as they sounded, required an amplifier with much more heft than I could reasonably afford in my upgrade. I was also concerned over placement and set up which would be essential to getting the best sound possible from the 1.7s. I loved the sound. But the reality was that I could not possibly use them to their best advantage, so in that first visit to the dealer I leaned toward the Vandersteen 2ce.


At this point my thinking was along the lines of, "I don't really have the amp to drive any of the speakers I want to own. I should focus on the power plant, then choose speakers around that." And that's what I did. My amp at the time, a Creek 4330 mk2, was clean and pristine as long as I did not demand too much of it. So, to sum up where I was at the time, I wanted new speakers but did not have the power to drive any of the potential models that were on my short(er) list... hence, it was time to get serious about amp shopping.


To make the saga a bit shorter, I am a fan of integrated amps. While I considered a few preamp/power amp setups (Parasound, Odyssey) there were no dealers that were convenient for me to visit for a listen. I wanted the best sound for my scarce money, enough power to satisfy my as-yet-undecided choice of speakers, and generally a solid and dependable workhorse of an amp.




I have had a long and prosperous run of owning NAD electronics and had read glowing reviews of the 150W C375BEE integrated. I had heard the smaller C355BEE and loved its sound and its authority on classical and jazz textures. I borrowed a friend's C375 for a weekend, then bought one within a week. One component upgraded.


Next: back to the speaker search.

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I recently upgraded my system and went to a local dealer and demo'd equipment in a similar manor to what you have described so far. I am very interested to hear how the rest of your experience went to compare.




Keep it coming,



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