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Listening Impression - Shanti's System

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jls001

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Folks,
I had the good fortune of listening to Shanti's fantastic system the other day and wanted to pen my all too short listening impressions. First off, I would like to categorically endorse that he goes by what he preaches to the rest of us folks, which, to paraphrase him, would go something like - go and listen to good systems wherever you can. He was a very welcoming and warm host, eager to let a greenhorn in on what the big boys play with.

The Setup:
A few words about the setup - his setup is the outcome of much experimentation, and it shows where it matters most - in the outstandingly refined sonics. There are no extraneous and superfluous parts in his chain, only essentials are allowed to do duty. The rest are discarded, I guess, without remorse:) The only source he use is a PC computer with USB output. He favours the PC to the Meridian CDP so he must be onto something:indifferent14:

The USB's 44.1 kHz/16 bit PCM stream from the PC is upscaled by a dCS Scarlatti upsampler, which then goes into a dCS Scarlatti 24/192 DAC. Both the upsampler and DAC are fed a master clock from a dCS Scarlatti master clock unit to keep the whole thing in sync (and I guess to minimise clocking jitters). That's three separate Scarlatti boxes!

Since the DAC has an inbuilt pre-amp with remote volume control, the DAC's output goes directly to the Cadence Canasya monoblock power amps (4 massive 845 bottles doing amber duty per side - I think they were Tungsols, but I am not sure). No separate preamp.

Speakers are custom-made Amea Diacera book shelves from Tidal, mounted on stout stands. The Amea Diaceras are huge for bookshelves. Cabling is reverse shotgun, since the Amea Diaceras have only one pair of terminations. Two subwoofers take care of bass duties. I think the interconnects are of the same brand as the speaker cables.

Listening impression:
The first thing that struck me was the air around instruments on familiar recordings. Relaxed and unfatigueing, sending gentle tingles down my spine.

The second thing that struck me was how effectively the speakers made their presence unfelt. They only showed up occasionally when a music passage is on one channel. At all other times, they remained unobstrusive.

The third thing that struck me (hard) was the depth of the soundstage. Shanti has mentioned in one of his posts that he lives in a very small flat. He does really live in a small flat and his listening room is really a very compromised environment. Small, no - make that tiny, by audiophile standards. The listening chair is just about 5-6 feet away from the music rack. The rear-firing ports of the speakers are no more than 6-7 inches from the backwall though ideally they should have 2-4 feet open at the back, and the speakers themselves are barely a few fingers width from the side walls. By definition, he should be having some garbage coming out from any setup he may care to put in that room. But the wonder of it all is that the music shines through without the need for any digital compensation or room treatment. Detailed, clearly separated instruments/voices in their respective spaces in 3D space, and unfailingly musical.

He played me a western classical number which I was not familiar with. In the intro, there was a heavy percussion which I could swear was emanating from his neighbour's flat behind the back wall, somewhere between the left speaker and the rack! The height of the soundstage was also huge - easily floor to ceiling. There was not enough room to be able to feel the width of the soundstage. A real shame there. Given sufficient room, I think it would excel in this department as well. He also played me a demo CD from Taiwan that had The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby sung by a female artist. The cello solo in the intro was like a high-torque, oil-burning SUV purposely ambling down the road, assured and powerful. I have never heard a cello sound so palpable and real, the characteristic grating sound as bow meets string made my hairs stand on ends. The timbre was spot on, and it was being played right in front of me. Ditto to acoustic piano. One can clearly discern each strike of notes. Next, we moved to my current standard - the fusion Tabula Rasa album.
The stand out sonics I heard on this album was the rapid-fire sound of P Srinivasan's mridangam, as human skin strikes stretched animal skin. The passage was fast and furious but one could hear each strike as a separate event, and even discern the rapid decay of the note after each staccato strike, before it merges into the the next note.

The fourth thing that struck me was how well integrated the two subs are to the overall sound. No shouty bass, no overpowering bass at all. Just the right amount as demanded by the recorded material. Available, on demand.

And it was very transparent to the source. Garbage in, garbage out applied. Strictly. And dollops of fast dynamics was available when called for.

All in all, a very well-put-together system, by someone who has put his heart and soul (and a mini fortune) into a pure two-channel setup. He is very knowledgeable about his music and his taste is definitely catholic. And it showed in his vast collection of enviable titles on CDs.

One of the best one-and-half hours of Sunday morning I have had in a long, long time.

Thanks, Shanti for the hospitality and for having me over. My ears are now spoiled:sad:

Joshua
 
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avidyarthy

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Folks,
Thanks, Shanti for the hospitality and for having me over. My ears are now spoiled:sad:Joshua
A reason why I 'try' not to visit and listen to high end stuff. I know, I would be missing something, but .........

Been to GeorgeO in Bangalore recently, and spent close to 3 hours with him, his gracious hospitality, his three DIY speakers & sub-woofers. Had a peek at his new HT room ..... to be commissioned shortly. Had a sumptous listen to his choice .... my choice (from his collection) of music, both Western and Hindustani ... instrumental ... you name it.

End result .... got a shock that DIY speakers could sound and 'look' soooo good at 1/4th the cost .... yes, if with own-procured drivers ... scanspeak, focal, fostex. Don't know, makes me now think as to why I can't DIM (do-it-myself) ...........:mad::sad:. Tough, in the present scenario.
 

bhagwan

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Folks,
I had the good fortune of listening to Shanti's fantastic system the other day and wanted to pen my all too short listening impressions. First off, I would like to categorically endorse that he goes by what he preaches to the rest of us folks, which, to paraphrase him, would go something like - go and listen to good systems wherever you can. He was a very welcoming and warm host, eager to let a greenhorn in on what the big boys play with.

Joshua
Hello Joshua !
Thanks for the kind words;
I will write a few things - actually go through your full report & comment on the points you have raised. If that is OK with you...
 

bhagwan

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Folks,
The Setup:
A few words about the setup - his setup is the outcome of much experimentation, and it shows where it matters most - in the outstandingly refined sonics. There are no extraneous and superfluous parts in his chain, only essentials are allowed to do duty. The rest are discarded, I guess, without remorse:) The only source he use is a PC computer with USB output. He favours the PC to the Meridian CDP so he must be onto something:indifferent14:

Joshua
True - lots of trial & error - no 2 ways about that. None of the text book theories were to work in my room !

I am 100 % computer audio person.
I do not own a CD Player as of today !
For some one that has 5K CD's that sounds rather crazy...;)
 

jls001

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Hello Joshua !
Thanks for the kind words;
I will write a few things - actually go through your full report & comment on the points you have raised. If that is OK with you...
Please feel free to add your side of the story. My story is very incomplete and doesn't even begin to scratch the surface as I barely know your system. More importantly, you only know the thoughts that made you take your choices.
Joshua
 

bhagwan

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The USB's 44.1 kHz/16 bit PCM stream from the PC is upscaled by a dCS Scarlatti upsampler, which then goes into a dCS Scarlatti 24/192 DAC. Both the upsampler and DAC are fed a master clock from a dCS Scarlatti master clock unit to keep the whole thing in sync (and I guess to minimise clocking jitters). That's three separate Scarlatti boxes!

Joshua
The Chain :-
Computer [Music Server] USB Out - 16/44.1 [Wireworld Platinum]
dCS SCarlatti Upsampler - 16/44.1 to DSD
DSD in from Upsampler to DAC - also dCS Scarlatti - This is done by Firewire 13944 Cable - Revelation Audio Labs -
dCS Scarlatti DAC to Cadence Canasya - Bertram Audio [Denmark] - Proxima RCA to RCA Analogue Cable - Internal Volume [No Pre Amp] of dCS is used - direct drive.
Cadence Canasya [845 Tube Amplifier] Mono Amp to Tidal Amea Diacera - Signature Black Version - Speaker - Silencable [Germany] - Symphony Series - Reverse Shot Gun.
There is also a dCS Scarlatti Master Clock that is employed that syncs all the boxes - digital cable is Bertram Audio - Proxima Digital on BNC.

Power Cords are a 'mixed' lot.

Acoustic Revive - Japan
Echole - Obsession - USA/Turkey
Silencable - Symphony [Germany]
Bertram Audio - Ultima Ref [Denmark]

There are also 2 subs that have been connected - Martin Logan - Depth - Jorma Design Power Cords & Line Level - Speaker Cable - Germany - Acoustic Leibl.

:)
 

santhosh

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Thanks for the listening impression Joshua.

Shanti: Thanks for sharing the details and congrats for integrating such complex gear. Pictures please:)
 

reignofchaos

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Do I see a Bow Tech DAC and a pair of Lars Monos in the picture? Are these too a part of the setup?

Could you please compare those to your existing gear?

Thank you for all the pictures. The system looks beautiful.
 
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bhagwan

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Do I see a Bow Tech DAC and a pair of Lars Monos in the picture? Are these too a part of the setup?

Could you please compare those to your existing gear?

Thank you for all the pictures. The system looks beautiful.
Yes;
That is a BT DAC.
It is an excellent product, but not in the league of the company it was with - poor fellow got walked over in 2 seconds - could not last 2 bars... sad. All said, it is an excellent product.

What can I say about The Lars.
The 'BEST' Tube Amplifier I have ever heard - period !!
Just stupid in its price - else 3 pairs were to be purchased - the owner does not give us a 'good price' !!

The Lars was sent to India for demo - the Indian D & D had sent it to my house for 3 weeks. :clapping:
 

bhagwan

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Do I see a Bow Tech DAC and a pair of Lars Monos in the picture? Are these too a part of the setup?

Could you please compare those to your existing gear?

Thank you for all the pictures. The system looks beautiful.
The pics have an EMM Labs / Allnic Pre / Playback Design DAC & dCS Scarlatti along with BT DAC.
We did play all and compared all.:eek:hyeah:
 

reignofchaos

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The pics have an EMM Labs / Allnic Pre / Playback Design DAC & dCS Scarlatti along with BT DAC.
We did play all and compared all.:eek:hyeah:
How do the EMM Labs and PD compare to the Scarlatti? Are they in the same league?

Those are some strong words for the Lars especially from someone as experienced in this arena as you. Too bad they didn't get a sale.

Cheers!
 

bhagwan

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How do the EMM Labs and PD compare to the Scarlatti? Are they in the same league?
Cheers!
The dCS was 'better' that is why they are still with me;

The EMM came in 3rd.
The 2nd best was the PD.
All said, for me [ personally ] PD is a 'winner'
It does 85 % of the dCS Scarlatti @ 30 % the price !!
So if you want very good sound @ 'legit' price - PD is the way to go !!
It gets my vote !!
 

rikhav

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Hi Shanti
Excellent setup.
Your setup has overcome the biggest constraint (lack of space and a dedicated music room) and this is the problem which is faced by most music listeners barring a few
If you dont mind can you share some ideas as to how you achieved this level of sound and specially the depth in soundstge even after placing the speakers so very close to the back and side walls.
 

Dr.Bass

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Hi Shanti, I like your rack. Can you please shed some details on what it is made of.
 
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