ULTRA AUDIO -- Archived Article

November 1, 2006

Questions on my Mind

My listening room, the Music Vault, has been an invaluable reviewing tool as well as a source of musical pleasure. It has been a tool because of what I learned of acoustics during its design and construction -- not to mention that since then it’s functioned as a microscope trained on any piece of equipment I’ve placed in it. It has been a pleasure simply because my music has never sounded better. Terry Montlick, the engineer who designed and certified the room (see Alpha Certification), is quite an educator, and he forever altered my views on room acoustics and their contributions to the sounds we hear. It’s too bad I will have spent only a year with the Music Vault, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball.

I’ll be moving soon, into a new house that will better accommodate my growing family. This home, too, will be temporary -- I’ll eventually have another house built, hopefully my last stop. During our stay in our "bridge home" I’ll have a smaller listening room than what I’ve grown accustomed to, which will necessitate drastic changes in my audio system. As anyone who’s kept up with my writing over the past ten years can attest, I typically place no constraints on myself when it comes to the size and complexity of my audio system. I’ve had bouts with Wilson Audio Specialties X-1 Grand SLAMMs and XS subwoofers, and all types of weighty monoblocks and separates. For the past three years my reference loudspeakers have been Wilson’s Alexandria X-2s, and I’ve enjoyed them immensely. But those days, at least for the foreseeable future, are over. I’ll have a smaller room and therefore a smaller system, and I’ve given that a lot of thought over the past few weeks.

What type of system should I put in the new room? Well, that’s really the question. I very well may consolidate my home theater (now in my living room) with my audio system (now in the Vault). This will keep my new family room clean and uncluttered, a thought that appeals to me but poses some challenges. I’ll already be in a smaller room, but if I also have more equipment in that room, in the form of home-theater components, I’ll have to be even more careful in selecting it. Hmm . . . I’ll have to keep things small, and the number of components I select to a minimum.

A pair of Wilson WATT/Puppy 8s are on the way, which you’ll read about early next year. Though they’re much more manageable than the larger Wilsons I’m used to, I’m betting they’ll still display the level of resolution I need for my Ultra Audio reviews. So maybe that’s one piece of the puzzle that’s found its place. What to drive them with, though? I’m toying with the idea of an integrated amplifier. A Vitus Audio SS-101 is on the way, and I’ve requested a Krell FBI. I’ve also heard great things about the Simaudio Moon i-7. All of these are members of a new breed of almost-cost-no-object integrated amplifiers that should mesh well with most high-resolution audio systems. Choosing an integrated would cut down on the number of boxes in my new room -- a definite advantage. My source player is still the Esoteric UX-3, which will have gone back to the company for upgrading to SE status by the time you read this. But my new home is fully wired for a home network, so thoughts of a music server also dance through my head . . .

If I add home theater to the mix, I’ll have to have a unity-gain pass-through in my amplifier (or preamp, if I go with separates). I’ll also need some fairly compact surround speakers for the rear of the room, and something to drive them. I’ll definitely go with a 1080p LCD monitor to save floor space, and pair it with an HD DVD player for video. But what will that do to the room’s acoustics? I figure I’ll enlist Terry’s help to design a treatment strategy, but I’ll likely go with ready-made products instead of customs -- I don’t want to permanently install anything in this new home when I know I’ll be moving out of it sooner than later. Or maybe I’ll just stay with a two-channel home theater . . .

I have a lot of thinking and planning to do. But as most audiophiles will attest, that can be part of the fun of this hobby. I’ll keep you informed of my progress, or lack thereof, over the next few months.

...Jeff Fritz

PART OF THE SOUNDSTAGE NETWORK -- www.soundstagenetwork.com
All contents copyright Schneider Publishing Inc., all rights reserved.
Any reproduction, without permission, is prohibited.

Ultra Audio is part of the SoundStage! Network.
A world of websites and publications for audio, video, music, and movie enthusiasts.