Creating your ultimate audio system is a process. You won’t get everything all at once or get the best sound quality immediately. It takes time to find the right pieces, set up, and tweak.
Audiogon Featured Member, EscritorJuan, began his journey into high-end audio nearly 20 years ago, as he also began his career. As a result, many components in his system hold a special value to him or their purchases have even commemorated important events in his life throughout the years. That explains why he was at a loss to pick just one favorite piece when we asked. Read more below to find out what gear is shown in his room and how he has put it all together.
- Arcam AVP700 AV processor
- Mark Levinson ML-9 amplifier
- Martin Logan reQuest speakers
- Samsung Smart Blu-ray Disc Player
- Roku streaming player, an Apple iPod dock
- Sony 5 disc CD changer
- Technics 1200 turntable
- Transparent Musicwave speaker cables
- Panasonic 42″ plasma screen TV
AUDIOGON: Tell us about yourself.
EscritorJuan: I am an educator, freelance writer, and editor of an online boxing site based out of the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
EscritorJuan: I had my first exposure to high-end audio while I was student teaching in 1994. When visiting a friend, I was startled by the lush sound emanating from his tall pair of Paradigm speakers. Augmented by a Rotel CD player, preamp and amplifier, his system blew my Bose 301 speakers and receiver combo away! It wasn’t long before I visited an audiophile shop in Chicago. Several months later, I picked up a pair of Paradigm bipolar speakers and an Arcam Alpha One CD player. That was in 1995. Since then, I’ve bought and sold scads of equipment, including a Naim Nait 1 Integrated amplifier, Naim CDI and a pair of Quad 57 speakers that I loved, but which ultimately didn’t suit my purposes!
EscritorJuan: Our listening room, as the rest of our home, reflects the melding of two households – and the results are quite seamless! We use the room to entertain and take in music, movies and sports events. We couldn’t have asked for a better setup.
Both previously married, my wife and I had to do some major editing with our furnishings. Amongst the keepers was the hardwood entertainment center that she’d acquired years ago. It’s elegant and mirrors our china cabinet in the adjacent dining room (not shown). Our wedding unity candles, encased in a bronze Malta Lantern from Pottery Barn, sit atop the entertainment center with other treasured nicknacks, reminding us of our priorities.
The ML-9 amplifier was installed with plenty of space between it and the Arcam AVP700 above, as it generates a fair amount of heat. Moreover, while operating it, I keep the cabinet door open to allow plenty of ventilation.
To maintain audio integrity, I had to place the Martin Logan reQuests partially in front of the entertainment center, as opposed to the sides as we had previously planned; I experimented with speaker placement to get the best sound. Although I am not entirely satisfied, it’s probably about as good as it will get, given the lay of the room.
EscritorJuan: Very much so! When I was researching what amp to buy to replace my Lexicon 212 NT amplifier (nice, but not powerful enough for my tastes), I contacted several sellers and auditioned similar units at nearby retailers to decide if I was going to bid on their equipment. For example, when I was considering a Krell integrated amplifier on sale at Audiogon, I traveled to a store selling a more current version and found the sound a little bright for my tastes. I also leaned heavily on input from the forums on Audiogon in making my decision. Had the Mark Levinson ML-9 been offered on Audiogon at the time, I might have purchased it there. As it was, I ended buying it from a local used equipment store in Chicago.
EscritorJuan: That’s a tough question. I really love the reQuests, as my wife paid them off when I had them on layaway as a birthday present (I was selling a pair of Martin Logan Sequels to help pay for that). In addition to the sentimental value, they sound very detailed and nuanced. On the other hand, I really treasure my Mark Levinson ML-9 amplifier. I had always wanted Mark Levinson gear, but thought it was outside my price range. After careful consideration, I bought the ML-9 as a reward for completing my Masters in Education Leadership program. Its addition has brought a whole new warmth and punch to the system that I had been longing for. The Technics 1200 turntable also holds a special place in my heart, as I bought it as part of a pair when I mixed music as a DJ on the side.
EscritorJuan: Jazz, blues, and rock top my list of favorites. Favorite artists include Pat Metheny, Kurt Elling, Keith Jarrett, and Eric Clapton.
EscritorJuan: Do your research. In addition to the Audiogon forums, there are loads of online reviews. If you get a chance, take a look at the owner’s manuals (many are available online simply by doing Google searches). Also, try to listen to the equipment in person to see if you like it.
Use the best components you can get for the money, including quality cable and interconnects. This is one reason that most of my gear is used; I get more bang for my buck.
Pay attention to the placement of your speakers; experiment with it, but don’t put them too close to the wall. The owner’s manual for the reQuests said to keep the speakers at least two feet from the wall. That’s good advice.
Do your components have a story behind them? What makes your room unique? Comment below and share your info with us here to become our next Featured Member!