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I thought some people might find this interesting. Just in case, the term is unclear, ‘Front End First’ is a slightly anglocentric take on Garbage in/Garage out and adhered to the philosophy that spending priorities should favour source and amplification over speakers. At points in the eighties and early nineties, it was absolutely ingrained to UK dealer philosophy and it still manifests itself from time to time. This system is perhaps the most incredible example I’ve ever spent any time with though. It was one of the test systems at a recent dealer visit and the basic breakdown is that it comprised a £30,000 Nagra DAC and PSU partnered with £27,500 of pre and power amp. All told, electronics and cables stood to £85,610. This then ran into a pair of Falcon LS3/5 speakers and stands that were £3,274 all in.

And do you know what? It worked a charm. The argument is that if you like what the LS3/5 does (and I have to say that I do), this is simply the ultimate expression of an LS3/5 system. As you might imagine, a pair of dinky sealed cabinets aren’t going to give the brown noise but the tonal accuracy, transparency and imaging were outstanding. It also works in constrained spaces (which might sound absurd but this dealer is in a part of the world where the wherewithal to spend £100k on a system is not automatically tied to the possession of a vast space in which to run it). It’s very possibly the finest nearfield system I’ve spent any time with and the fact that there are things that have successfully been fired in space that aren’t as well made didn’t hurt either.

 

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It was Ivor Tieffenbrun, founder of Linn, whose first product was the LP12. Still is after endless, increasingly expensive modifications and upgrades. When he toted the original LP12 it around HiFi dealers in the early 70's he was working hard to put forward his perspective that the sound source was the most important thing in an audio system. Up to that point, conventional wisdom was that the most important thing was the speakers. Tieffenbrun took the view that the source was the most important, because once the source was compromised, no matter how good the rest of the system was, you could not undo the sonic damage. Took a couple of years to gain traction, but then became the new wisdom which lasts to this day.

Falcon is only about 10 miles from where I live, by the way. Great little company,

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My first audiophile system was Spendor's take on the LS3/5 speakers, the S3/5 (? I think, def not the S3/5se, but their predecessor) speakers.

I should sell everything I have and get the KEF's (also based on the LS3/5, but concentric).

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On 3/6/2020 at 10:00 PM, Knuckledragger said:

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Yes, the joke at the time was the ultimate cheap Linn system was an LP12 into two strings attached to tin cans.

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1 hour ago, JimL said:

 

Yes, the joke at the time was the ultimate cheap Linn system was an LP12 into two strings attached to tin cans.

...so Grado's?  ;)

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Story

A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine and fellow music lover told me about a newly opened local music lounge he had heard of. Personally, I was completely unaware of the concept before that, but the thought of having a lounge dedicated to providing a music experience above average intrigued me. We settled on a date and last week we went there.

The music lounge was one of several bars and restaurants in a large hotel downtown. Upon entering the lobby, we walked upstairs, through a restaurant and two bars. Once we had passed the second bar, we entered a narrow corridor at the end of which was a small door. There were no signs except for a plaque outside explaining the etiquette of visiting the music lounge.

Inside was a smaller room with moody lighting, cushions, relaxed furniture, plenty of greenery and a small bar. With a freshly made Old Fashioned in one hand, I walked past the drapes by the bar into the music lounge. The room was smaller than I had expected. It was filled with low couches/cushions along the walls, sofas in the center of the room and more greenery. At the other end of the room stood the speakers, intimidating because of their size. On the wall to the right of them was the equipment pictured, together with an abundance of vinyl records.

We sat down on cushions along the opposite wall and took the space in. Some type of mellow ambient music was playing in the background. The other guests were speaking in soft voices. After an hour or two, the music went quiet and the DJ of the evening took over the equipment. What ensued was two hours of soft, playful jazz paired with well mixed cocktails. A guest was sitting in the prime listening position with a drink in his hand, eyes closed and enjoying the music. It was a wonderful evening.

Thoughts

I should preface this by saying that I did not pay much attention to the actual quality of sound during my visit as I was there with a colleague, quietly discussing the gear and our thoughts on the concept of a music lounge. I would like to think that I have a decent system at home so this was not my first experience with high-end audio. However, there were moments where I had to stop in the middle of a sentence because the speakers’/electronics’ presentation of a brief passage in a song that was playing intrigued me so much that I lost my train of thought.

The cocktails were excellent, the room was wonderful and the gear was exquisite. The conclusion that I took home with me was none of that, however. I was genuinely happy that such a great experience was available to me in my hometown. While I can have an incredible audio experience at home as well, I see this as a change of scenery, but most of all as a chance to experience new music that I would never have listened to before. I am already looking forward to my next visit.

This might be slightly different from the usual posts here, but I hope it will still bring something to the community.

Gear pictured:

- McIntosh C1100 Tube Preamplifier.

- McIntosh C1100 Controller.

- McIntosh MC601 Quad Balanced Power Amplifier (x4).

Gear not pictured:

- Custom built KRS speakers from Tokyo (one of seven pairs globally).

- Hand built Condesa mixer from Australia.

- High-end Technics turntables.

 

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I am not sure how this thing is standing -- 601s are 91.5lbs each!

Edited by mikeymad
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I could not sleep last night, it must be because I looked at that photo last night with those behemoth amps stacked on those weaselly wood shelves. 

I looked at it again closely now and it appears that there may be some additional support in those two shelves below. But still... 

How did one get those amps in that space in the first place?

Edited by mwl168
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Meh....it's just smoke and mirrors.  It's actually a fake chassis for the McIntosh gear, and each houses this little Tripath amp inside:

shopping?q=tbn:ANd9GcQnmOGQh9eCrJC4znTOun509LRqoH9IQcj5p9gCAVg0XvFyt9SZsswVSfw_GCd6D838chOunjkZN3bDeo5ArwPqoBcCJ-PB74wVhUtb6g8e3MT2JHby5sNS&usqp=CAY

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1 hour ago, skullguise said:

Meh....it's just smoke and mirrors.  It's actually a fake chassis for the McIntosh gear, and each houses this little Tripath amp inside:

 

Funny you should say that...

In the late 70's, early 80's when big ass amps with big ass meters were all the rage, there were companies in Taiwan that sold amps exactly like that. Except inside the large amp chassis were tiny transformer and circuit boards etc. that could easily fit in a chassis 1/4 the size. I've even heard that some companies actually put brick inside the chassis so the weight is also there although I've never actually seen one.    

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well, the heaviest thing in an amp is usually the transformer and ... the chassis!!!!. The rest is dust in the wind.

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