Archive for month: April, 2015

29 Apr 2015

Turntable Event Report 2015

Our turntable event was a great success. 50 to 60 people attended. People were amazed at how good the sound was on the Altair system using the Air Force turntables. Many commented that it was by far the best analog they had ever heard. Six of our many turntables offered were on display from under $300 complete, to about $130,000 complete with arm cartridge and cable. All of these tables remain on display, so if you missed the event come on in and give a listen any time or plan to attend one or both of our two spin sessions, this Thursday (April 30) and next Thursday (May 7).

The stars of the show were the Air Force One and Two turntables. This is the first time these tables have been shown to a general audience in the United States. The Sound Environment is the first, and at this point, only dealer in the United States. Most believe the Air Force One is the best turntable made. Below are a couple of comments from some of our guests that attended. 

“Yesterday was truly over the top! I had been under the impression that I had a good analog system, and it’s not bad, but not even close to the Air Force setups… I will survive, but with loss of innocence…”

– Doug R.

“The equipment setup, the demo, and most importantly the MUSIC was the best I’ve ever heard from an analog audio system. What a thrill it was to demo the AF1 and AF2, which are truly state of the art, along with other associated state of the art electronics, speakers and accessories. The musicality, emotion and stability of high end analog that many of us strive for in our own systems, was fully realized by the equipment and your setup last Thursday – well done and congratulations!”

– Corey J.

Robert Graham for Graham Engineering, maker of the Phantom III and Phantom Elite tonearms, presented his tonearms and the Air Force turntables. 

Robert Graham

Stirling Trayle, one of the country’s most adept turntable setup experts, did the final painstaking setup of the tonearms and cartridges. While these arms and cartridges are good to start with, in the context of the Air Force turntables, the final tweak is essential. It took Sterling hours to get where we wound up. If you buy an Air Force One in the United States you will get Stirling at no extra charge. You can also hire Stirling direct for $1500 for a day plus travel expenses. See Stirling’s website HERE.

Stirling Trayle

These turntables are not inexpensive but are at the pinnacle of a long tradition of turntable building by one of Japan’s elite people involved in this craft.

Many things make the Air Force turntables exceptional. Among them is certainly the air isolation of the entire turntable, the air bearing of the platter and the vacuum hold down of the record. The entire Air Force One turntable weighs in at 174 pounds.

Our ultimate record player includes the Air Force One turntable, the Graham Phantom Elite tonearm, and the Lyra Atlas moving coil cartridge together with Nordost Valhalla phono cable and a custom HRS M3X isolation base. The phono preamp used at our event was the VTL TP6.5.

Harmonic Resolution Systems Stands and Isolation Bases

Brad O’Toole, representing HRS, widely regarded as the best available component stand, answered questions about these platforms and stands. We believe that the custom HRS MXR isolation platform is an essential component of any record playing system involving the Air Force One or Two turntables. We have all three of the HRS stands on display as well as all the HRS Isolation Bases. Platform prices start at $1350. 

Mike Marko presented Nordost cable products. We used Nordost Odin in the in the Air Force/ VTL/Rockport Altair system. Nordost and Transparent cables are always in use at The Sound Environment.

Mike Marko

04 Apr 2015

John Quick Visit


John Quick-5

Recently, John Quick, who represents dCS in the United States, paid us a visit to demonstrate the complete Vivaldi digital playback system. At first glance the Vivaldi looks like a four box (Transport, Up-sampler, Clock, DAC)  $100,000 CD player that requires another $50,000 worth of cables to hook up properly.

We worked with John Thursday afternoon and evening and again on Friday morning to explore the ins and outs (literally and figuratively) of the Vivaldi system. It is a system for playback of digital files from CD, SACD or any digital source, PCM or DSD.

You really need to know what you are doing to get the best performance from the Vivaldi system because there are so many setup options. There are for instance six filters to choose from, each with their own sonic attributes. In almost all CD players or DAC’s someone has made that choice for you. Not with Vivaldi.

John Quick-2

The Vivaldi DAC is truly unique. For years they have used their own design “ring DAC” for conversion to analog. This is not a DAC on a chip. It consists of a set of programed transistors. It can be reprogrammed easily by dCS. They have upgraded the software twice so far with the Vivaldi that has been available for three years. For the owner of a Vivaldi, each software upgrade is easily installed by us.

The Vivaldi DAC has an integral volume control. Usually we are dubious about the quality of that facility. Most are bad and the output amplifier is not capable of driving much of anything. We were intrigued when we heard the Vivaldi DAC driving the D’Agostino Momentum amplifiers and the new Rockport Cygnus. The sound was great! That made us curious to try it in our Rockport Altair system, which is so good it will reveal even the slightest degradation in sound. OK, the Vivaldi DAC alone may not be quite as good as used with the Momentum preamp and Transparent Opus interconnect but for savings between preamp and cables of more than $50,000, not bad! If you have only digital sources, this is the way to go with almost any system.

John Quick-1

The Vivaldi is so good that CD’s we thought were trash came alive with a tremendous reduction in digital noise. We were just enjoying the music.

Come on in and hear this remarkable system. dCS loaned us the Transport, separate up-sampler and clock. They will be going back soon but the DAC is our new standard and is in permanent use in our Altair system.

Several people that we trust agree this is the best DAC there is. Andy Payor at Rockport Technologies just acquired one for his listening room.

dCS Vivalde