"What a refreshingly honest blog about listening to music through hi-fi. So happy to see views based upon the enjoyment of music rather than so-called sound 'quality'." - Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Mission / Wharfedale

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Steve's Scottish System

Great to meet Steve last week at his home north of the border.

I went to pick up a pair of Mission 783s which Steve had set up with his system:

DAC XP+  PSX-R, CDXT SE2  PSX-R [IMF on both]
Eastern Electric Minimax DAC+ Missing Link I/C's
X Powers in Mono, with PSX-R
ZP90 + IMF, ML Dark Art
Synology DS212+

They weren't best positioned as Steve had placed them between his new speakers and that meant their bass drivers were pointing towards each other (bass drivers are on the sides of the 783s) which isn't ideal.  Not to worry, it was enough to hear that the 783s were functioning correctly.  They were sounding good on the end of the Cyrus system, despite the compromised positioning with good clear vocals and excellent imaging.  We used a variety of 16 bit and 24 bit tracks streamed through the Minimax DAC.  Once I got them back to my hotel room and positioned correctly they sounded really good - even only using 320 kbps AAC and my tiny Trends TA10.1 travelling integrated Class D amp.

But back to Steve's system and the replacements for the 783s, a rather gorgeous looking pair of Vienna Acoustics Baby Beethoven Grands.  To date, I've only ever seen them (thanks to Cyrus choosing not to play any music at the Manchester show) and read about them on the Cyrus Unofficial forum.  Now I'm a natural skeptic and always find it a bit difficult to completely trust the reviews from people who have just invested a great deal of money in some kit, so a bit of independence is an healthy thing!  Well, as soon as Steve fired them up, it was a moment of shock and awe for me.  These are truly outstanding loudspeakers.  We still had the 783s in the room so I'm sure there's even more to come from the VABBGs, but they are something very special.  My current favourites in the price range come from ProAc, but it would be great to hear a direct comparison. I think the VABBGs would probably win out, in a Cyrus system.  The most outstanding thing about them is what appears to be exceptional transparency - they rival Quad electrostatics in their ability to "disappear" and allow the music to both flow and create a 3D effect across and into the room and out into the virtual distance behind the speakers.  They also have a lovely deep but very well controlled bass - nicely balancing out the sometimes thin sound of the Cyrus electronics.

We listened to a good few tracks and I stayed a good deal longer than I planned as it was very difficult to wrench myself away from Steve's system.

Thanks again for your hospitality Steve, and sit back and enjoy your system - time to expand the music collection to play on it!