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From Europe with Flair | My Stereo story

Wharfedale EVO4.4

Mi_10

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So when i joined HFV, 2 months back with confusions on what approach to take for Home AV, i did get quite a lot of opinions. Few Suggested HT that can double up for decent music. Few Suggested dedicated ST and HT separate. All along i have been a music person, and my inclination towards movies was very less (of course it has now improved by leaps and bounds - thanks to HFV).
However, as a typical common man who tries to see most bang for buck, i ended up making an awful decision that was completely out of sync with my interests and taste. Yes, I started off with a Pioneer AVR. My excitement lasted exactly 25 min, since that was the time taken from product delivery to powering it up. As if that was not enough, i made another impulsive and idiotic move buy getting speakers that were more movie oriented and needed more grunt to move. Like anyone else in that position, i started tweaking, trying all sorts of things from Speaker positioning to Auto EQ to Isolation to camping in the setup in different rooms hoping to get the sound i craved for! Alas, everything proved futile, the setup didn't budge one bit. Even tried my hand at DIY room acoustics which maybe contributed to very minor improvement. Nevertheless, this was far far away so far away from the sound i have been accustomed to !

It was then i decided to Plan and step up in a sane fashion. Because i very well know where my problem was. Highly Impulsive, Act first think later with a patience quotient less than that of a rabid dog ! For this i formulated my own set of rules.
Rule 1 - Be clear on what you want.
Rule 2 - Do not carry cash or card worthy of buying an Hifi
Rule 3 - Audition; Preferably with your equipment in the mix

My first Purchase was the Musical Fidelity M3i - I was kinda of limited with my options since the dealer was willing to take back the Pioneer AVR. I had to choose between Couple of NADs, Cambridge Audio CX60/80, Marantz 5005/6006, M3i, M3si and Bryston. Oviously the last one was way out of my budget and league. I really liked the M3i for its extremely pleasing mid range and a completely natural bass without any sort of injected punch ! The Highs might not be as airy or open like few others, they sound a touch dark, almost forcefully curtailing certain types of high frequencies . Nevertheless they produced extremely good sound compared to the rest of my contention pack.
With the AVR sold, i needed a DAC so that i could feed the Amp from the Laptop. For time being i got the Fiio D03k DAC from Amazon. A simple, compact 1,700 bucks DAC. I hooked them up to my SVS Prime Towers and Voila !! The Sound just burst through my room, through the door sills, through the walls and through the crevices ! It was as though these were completely different set of speakers. They are rated at 67 rms per channel @ 8 ohms. And to compare that with that of the Pioneer AVR which claimed a 135 rms @ 6 ohms per channel. Really makes me wonder why we even need numbers! :p

Since 90% of my Music collection is in Digital format, it made good sense to invest in a DAC. I am a separates person, so much that i have run separates in car audio too (complete with Transport - DAC - Pre - Power Stages). So i didn't mind spending for exclusive DAC. I have heared many DACs, Burr Browns, ESS, Delta Sigma, Wolfson etc..) and understand that the implementation and quality of materials matter more than the type as such. I had narrowed down on couple of DACs, but since my source was predominately Laptop, i wanted an Async USB DAC. The Naim DAC V1, ticked not only my key boxes but also had a lovely lovely Class A Headphone Amp (more on that latter), and a Very good Pre stage built in. Although i couldn't audition this, i had gut feel about the sonic likability of this item.
The Moment the DAC V1 went into the chain, is when the Audio turned into Music ! (powerful statements :p) Naim brought in the much needed Resolution into the mix. The Imaging and the Staging too received major upgrades. For once i was able to feel the surreal emotions surrounding a music. The Naim simply lifted up an average sounding setup, booked a flight ticket and transported it to a different dimension.

While i was enjoying this setup, sometimes, i could sense the ruthlessness in upper mid / lower high frequencies. In Certain songs, one could clearly indicate portions where the sound was tad too forward for comfortable listening. I knew where the answer for this lay. I started again to audition the most important part of the chain - the Speakers.

After visiting and re-visiting quite a few shops in chennai, finally ended up in a Stereo heaven - called AVlounge. To be honest, i knew none of the brands there. Either they were too high end for me to even bother about knowing the name(like Ayon) or their and simply unheard (and difficult to pronounce) ..like this Rosso Fiorentino and Xavian. To me all sounded greek and latin. My first auditions with Rosso entry level Giglio and Xavian's Entry Level Bon Bonus had very good impact. I was more tilted towards the Giglio for its sheer scale and authority of sound. Large bookshelves by nature, they have this uncanny ability to give a very generous sound stage, even with smaller rooms ! While being highly detailed they also went quite low for bookshelves (~50 hz +/- 6db) Compared to this massive unit, the compact and boxy Xavian Bon Bonus looked like a cat near an elephant ! While they packed quite a punch with some resolving mids , open and airy highs their low end was kinda shallow (which is fine for a speaker of this stature) but i guess my inference was hampered by the Giglio's massive impact.
After contemplating for few days, i took my m3i to the place along with my set of songs. Spent 3 hours auditioning and re auditioning these two. While my mind was already filled up to 90% to go for the Rosso Giglio, Mr.Venkat threw a surprise. He showed me a complete Wood veneered (which was also sporting a strange design) called Xavian 125 XN Junior (Bookshelves). He did mention that this was about to be discontinued but we could check this out, just as a third option. with my mind already set, i didn't want to really hear anything more, however as a mark of courtesy i said to go ahead. As he was connecting the speaker wires to this new 125 XN, my hands were feeling and mind unraveling the sensuous Giglio's . I was already thinking about placement, how it'd look in my home, what sort of stands should i consider...
At the backdrop, Venkat had already stared playing of my fav Illayaraja's track. As the song started, i quickly started a discussion on stands for Giglio, about 30-40 seconds into this discussion when i abruptly stopped . The Sound was very different. The shenoy's sounded so warm, the strings were just sooo smooooth. I just refocused my attention to the music and wow ! Music and how ?!! This was unlike any of the Xavians i have heared before. I just stood there letting myself in, the sound waves engulfed me as a whole, like a fire engulfing dry leaves ! I quickly came back to reality. Maybe it was just one song! i said to myself. I changed one track to the other and to my utter disbelief this simple looking, about to be discontinued (wonder why !!!) was roasting my other contenders in front of my own eyes..err..ears. I opened the dust cover to find some robust Scanspeak drivers in there. The Tweeter is the famous Ring radiating with Waveguide Phase plug. These tweeters were known for their extended upper freq response. And with the cherry wood cabinet..they looked an instant classic ! While i was getting sold...Rule 2 checked in: Nice :)

Went back to my home..another 2 days of thinking..couldn't even think of the sound in my then room. Once heard can't be unheard ! And i couldn't take that smoothing sound of my mind. Came back and again went for all three audition. But this time i could very clearly find some aspects that didn't strike me earlier. The Bass in the Entry level Xavian Bon Bonus was not just low, it was boxy. I think with a decent sub, they could very well ignite small rooms with their performance. The Giglio's on the other hand need any ! They are in their own sweet world. It is high end sound for sure, but for a seasoned audiophile, it might be a tad underwhelming . While they do a fine job punching much higher than their price tag, they could do with a touch more subtlety in highs. The Xavian XN 125 juniors are not for everyone. They might not have the sparkle few people like in their sound, they might not have the Authority in vocals, but what they bring to the table is a sweet concoction of Smooth, Laid back, highly sophisticated sound that you can listen for hours together without an iota of fatigue.

Coupled with the DAC V1 and M3i, they sound very uber and classy. The M3i try to invade into the already laid back high's by making it even darker, but that is something i will have to live with ! But the Rest of the spectrum is delivered in a fine way - Like some exotic french wines.

I had ordered the sound foundations stands (Nemesis) which did a nice job of isolating the speakers. Analysis Plus Oval 16 for speaker wires and the Russia made Tchernov Cuprum Junior RCA Cables. Had added the Sony BDP S1500 for Audio CD and USB capabilities via an Audioquest coaxial cable. The Laptop is a standard one, using the Schiit PYST USB cable for transfer to DAC.

Few Pictures ...

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Key specs:
Xavian XN 125 Jr (4 ohms / 86 sensitivity) - Czech Republic
Naim DAC V1 (24 bit / 384 Khz) - England
Musical Fidelity M3i (130+ wpc @ 4 ohm) - England


There is a HT setup that is also brewing, but that a story for another day.
 

Kannan

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Congrats @Mi_10
The setup looks divine.

Just add an isolation transformer as one permanent upgrade
 

newlash09

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Lovely journey you've been through. And very nicely put across too. Loved reading it :)

And hearty congratulations on getting your lovely sounding and looking setup. Fondly hope that give you years of musical enjoyment.
 

Kannan

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Superb write-up as usual. I always enjoy the poetic flair with a touch of mischief in your portrayal.

I am yet to listen to the XN125, have not had time to visit Venkat, too tied up with home front in the past couple of weeks.

I guess the journey just begins for you and I won;t be surprised to see some massive upgrades over the time in this thread, or is the Penguin going to hibernate for a while now :)

Now the palms are wriggling for an audition :)
 

Mi_10

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Lovely journey you've been through. And very nicely put across too. Loved reading it :)
Thank you!

Superb write-up as usual. I always enjoy the poetic flair with a touch of mischief in your portrayal.

I am yet to listen to the XN125, have not had time to visit Venkat, too tied up with home front in the past couple of weeks.

I guess the journey just begins for you and I won;t be surprised to see some massive upgrades over the time in this thread, or is the Penguin going to hibernate for a while now :)

Now the palms are wriggling for an audition :)
Ha ha thanks Kannan. Penguin is no more! The Scarecrow already is running a subtle setup, waiting for few items to come up for going full throttle in Car Audio.

Will let you know on the audition. Setting up my HT now, should be done in couple of weeks
 

mpw

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Try the amplifier on the lowest rack

Just for kicks.

And see if any change in sound
 

JayaRaa

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Wonderful write up and congratulations for the new toys. You have made a very pertinent point about the method of going about acquiring gear based on audition & patience. Another noteworthy aspect is the need for a dealer to provide that demo, without whom one cannot achieve the desired results. It's high time people realise this aspect & don't just buy online to get best prices.
 

arj

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I do have one suggestion on the cables. It would be good to eliminate any proximity near Interconnect/Speaker cables with Power cables. If they have to then its better they cross perpendicularly.
Also better to keep the Power distributors also at some distance from the signal cables.

This reduces the effect of RFI
 

Mi_10

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I do have one suggestion on the cables. It would be good to eliminate any proximity near Interconnect/Speaker cables with Power cables. If they have to then its better they cross perpendicularly.
Also better to keep the Power distributors also at some distance from the signal cables.

This reduces the effect of RFI
Makes complete sense. Just moved the entire setup a bit forward, so that the power distribution happens even further. Speakers cables too now don't cross the path of power wires. Unable to do anything about Signal cables though, !

Try the amplifier on the lowest rack

Just for kicks.

And see if any change in sound
PS: I Don't believe in God or Black Magic !

but i just did this, and feel sound is much better. Now i myself don't know to Lol at myself or not !! :I
 

mpw

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Just go by your ears..

And thank god for sane advises

:))
 

mpw

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There is another thing you can try...

:))

Wanna know ?
 

RajithKumar

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Hi Nice writeup!!! I have heard Xavian speakers Bookshelves and Tower speakers at AV lounge ,not the specific model mentioned here ..Its a very nice speakers for stereo. Good choice.Enjoy!!!
 

square_wave

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Lovely setup. Have been reading about xavian since they were introduced many years back. Yet to hear one though.

Had a question. Where did you get that rack from ? Custom made ? What wood ?
 

Mi_10

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Hi Nice writeup!!! I have heard Xavian speakers Bookshelves and Tower speakers at AV lounge ,not the specific model mentioned here ..Its a very nice speakers for stereo. Good choice.Enjoy!!!
Indeed they are! Past 70+ hours on it, totally enjoying it. Extremely well mannered, polite loudspeakers that can dig quite deep for its size when called for! Stand out looks and stand out Sound!

Lovely setup. Have been reading about xavian since they were introduced many years back. Yet to hear one though.

Had a question. Where did you get that rack from ? Custom made ? What wood ?
Thank you !
Tha'ts Indonesian Teak wood shoe rack :D ...but you know... audio nuts get their thrill from using completely zoned out items with their hifi stuff !!
 
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