Einblicke – Hifistatement in High Fidelity

10.09.2013 // Wojciech Pacuła

Wojciech Pacuła: If you could point out the most interesting recent trends or techniques, what would it be?
Dirk Sommer: Without any doubt hi-res and DSD from the computer, the software players like Amarra, Pure Music and Audirvana – in the world of Macs – and the superb sounding affordable DACs are the most interesting topics today. Never before has the listener had the chance to come so near to the real thing: the master recordings.

Triple A series records contain material registered on analog tape recorder, mixed on analog mixing console and released as vinyl; on the picture Inga Rumpf’s White Horses
Triple A series records contain material registered on analog tape recorder, mixed on analog mixing console and released as vinyl; on the picture Inga Rumpf’s White Horses

Wojciech Pacuła: Please describe your reference system and explain your choices.
Dirk Sommer: First I have to say that I dislike the term “reference system” a little bit, although it is correct in the sense that I compare a component I review with the corresponding one in my set up. Nevertheless, I would prefer the term "personal reference system": That is the gear that I chose and fine-tuned over two decades. As everyone knows, there is nothing like the best cable in the world or the absolute reference cable. Another example: The quality of the mains power is dependent upon the place where you live and even on the time of day. So there are no power generators, filters, or cables with some filtering that are the one and only solution for everybody.    Anyway, the most important component for the sound in my room is the Lumenwhite DiamondLight. That used to be the top of the line speaker from the Austrian manufacturer. I did the first review of a LumenWhite worldwide, the WhiteLight and fell in love with the speaker with its unique shape immediately: It's high resolution, as quick as an electrostatic speaker, but can produce a lot energy in the lower octaves with exactly the same speed as the ones mentioned above. There is nearly no coloration due to the Accuton drive units with ceramic and diamond diaphragms. Because of the special shape of the cabinet, there is not even the smallest piece of damping material inside the “box”. Five years after buying the WhiteLight, I sold it and switched to the larger DiamondLight, which acts with a little more ease at extremely high playback levels. The Lumen are not very forgiving speakers and nothing less than euphonic. But they are very reliable tools for judging High End components. And when the recording sounds great they give you a lot of listening pleasure. Thomas Fast of Fastaudio did some measurements in my room and found out that the reverb time over the entire frequency is quite linear. So I do not employ any acoustical treatment, except a full set of Acoustic System resonators installed by Franck Tchang, the brain behind Acoustic Systems. I used to drive the DiamondLights with Brinkmann Mono power amps, but they were destroyed by the very low impedance of the fascinating Göbel Epoque Fine speakers during a review. So I'm looking for something new – and maybe better. At the moment, the Ayon Epsilon are my favorites. But before I make any decision, I will test them with the brand new KT150 tubes instead of the KT88 – even though, I'm not missing anything using the standard KT88: The Epsilon has a very pleasant, slightly warm sound characteristic, offering a lot of details and revealing a great three dimensional soundstage. It has more than enough power to drive the Lumen or my ears to their limits.
To cut a long story short, I'll give you a list of my equipment – without any further comments: Turntable: Brinkmann LaGrange with tube power supply Tonearm: AMG Viella 12", Breuer Dynamic, Immedia 10.5, Kuzma 4Point, SME V, Ortofon 309, Thales Simplicity Cartridge: Air Tight PC-1 Supreme, Brinkmann EMT ti, Clearaudio Da Vinci, Denon DL103, Jan Allerts MC 2 Finish, Lyra Olympos and Titan i, Ortofon SPU Royal and Silver, Roksan Shiraz, van den Hul Grasshopper protoype Phono preamp: Einstein The Turntable's Choice (balanced) Computer: iMac 27" 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 8 GB, OS X version 10.8.4 CD Drive: Wadia WT3200 D/A Converter: Mytek 192-DSD-DAC Tape machine: Studer A 80, Studer 820, Nagra IV Digital Recorder: Nagra VI, Tascam DV-RA1000HD, Alesis Masterlink Preamplifier: Brinkmann Marconi Power Amp: Ayon Epsilon, Cello Encore 50 with Cello Germany modification Speaker: LumenWhite DiamondLight Monitors Cables: Audioplan Powercord S, Audioquest Wild Wood, Wild Blue Yonder, Diamond USB and Firewire, HMS Gran Finale Jubilee, Nordost Walhalla, Precision Interface Technology Sun Audio Reference NF and Digisym, Accessories: PS Audio P5 Power Plant, Clearaudio Matrix, Audioplan Powerstar, HMS wall sockets, Acapella bases, Acoustic System resonators and feet, Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference Heavy Duty and Cerabase, Harmonix Real Focus
By the way, the gear mentioned above is what you find in my moderately sized listening room. There is another very nice sounding set up in my living room, but the components there have been chosen by Birgit, who really loves music a lot and is totally convinced that you need a good hifi-system to enjoy it. I'm not allowed to select the gear for our living room, but sometimes Birgit follows my advice.

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