Howard just might be one of my oldest longstanding customers dating right back to the beginning of 2013. His system all the way back then was a interesting mix of Brinkmann La Grange deck, Art Audio phonostage, Canary pre and power and Quad 2905 Electrostatics.
His story was typical of many customers. Someone who enjoys his music literally every single day, very much dedicated into creating a good sound but a little lost having had less than ideal previous dealer experiences and not really knowing how to move things forward. Some people try to read magazines and websites of course but everything gets a good review these days even the truly mediocore kit and I’ve lost count of the number of people I have met over the years going round in round in circles taking pot luck on the secondhand market, being lured by giveaway used bargins and swayed by their friends or worse still internet forums who said “this and that” sounded good. You never assemble a really top flight system that way.
We took a look at Howard’s setup and basically saw a competent turntable (that needed a tune up), a weak Phonostage that was holding things back, ok-ish amplification but that also needed a servicing, into a set of speakers which were severely limited in many dimensions (top end, bottom end, dynamics, resolution) but that did impart some nice qualities to the system like space, scale and rounding over harshness. We did also see an incredible double Edwardian room with tall ceilings and all completely dedicated to music. What a project !
Over the years we have enjoyed many big leaps together. The very first Lotus influence was an H3000 phonostage which really began Howard’s admiration for the Allnic brand. Some time after that we attacked the preamp and the midrange Allnic L3000 made another large difference over the 4 box Canary. Then it was on to Amplifiers and the 50 watt 300B A5000 double parallel Triode monoblocks worked beautifully with his Quads. A few years later we trialled various speakers and he ended up with Avalon Compas diamond. A year later we Entreq grounded the entire system and swapped the La Grange for a new flagship Brinkmann Balance. We also sourced a vintage Fidelity Research FR66 for him, the perfect high effective mass tonearm for his Koetsu Jade although Howard likes to enjoy a range of carts inlcuding his beloved SPU and Decca London.
This then is where we are now. Future upgardes could include the flagship dual chassis H8000 DHT phonostage or the L8000 or newly released L10000 OTL/OCL 300b Linestage but like all my systems they do not need upgrading. Doing so is still fun and gratifying of course but even my cheapest system of a Comet Dac into an Allnic Integrated and a set of ideas does not need ‘fixing’.
Howard loves his church music, choirs and recitals, classical and a periodic smattering of the Moody Blues. He has the Avalons very near field and this is a big big room. The Balance is majestic and very composed and the Allnic chain gives a simply massive soundstage, hugely spacious with amazing 3d. The 300b mono amps have wonderful musicality and beautiful midrange lustre and gorgeous highs and we know that Howard has tried some really expensive £50,000+ Push Pull monos here but nothing can match the high powered Allnic 300b for out and out realism, tactility and tonality. They will be a very difficult component to ever upgrade.
The entire chain is Entreq grounded and feeds out through the Avalon Compas which we know are one of the best image makers in the business. Listening to Choral and live recorded Church music in this room is almost a haunting experience. The whole cavernous space becomes the venue and the sound at times is so deep that it actually appears to extend back out of the house into the garden. With the grounding and high quality VertexAQ wiring there is a lot of purity and linearity here and it’s one hell of an immersive and emotional experience. This is a very special system and tailored very carefully to cater for the customer’s musical tastes in a very bespoke way. A 7 year journey I have greatly enjoyed and with more to come in the future too. I always enjoy returning.