To Jeff Fritz,
I enjoy all your thoughtful reviews and would appreciate some insight/suggestions.
My system is somewhat similar to the one in your Aurender X100L review: currently Ayre KX-R preamp (which has just been sent to Ayre for the Twenty upgrade), Classé CA-M600 monoblocks, Nordost Odin speaker cables, Berkeley Alpha DAC Series 2 (already purchased the new Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference and awaiting its delivery), Magico Q3 speakers, Harmonic Technology cables in most other places, Ayre CX-7e MP CD player used as a transport, and Shunyata Research power cables.
Music server: I love my Sonos-system connectivity so much I embarrassingly find myself streaming music frequently, having it generate fun, random playlists, and listening to music I don't even own. But I need a better music server for critical listening. It seems really expensive to me to buy the top Aurender W20 player, which doesn't even have a CD drawer to rip CDs. If the Aurender X100L compromises sound quality in comparison then I wouldn't buy the X100L. Have you tested other music servers? It has been suggested to me to try the Aria music server. Any experience with Aria or other music servers? What's your "buy this music server" suggestion?
Interconnects: I'm thinking of upgrading to Nordost Odin all around, and I'm willing to but that will be a really expensive upgrade. Thoughts?
Speakers: As nice as the Q3s are, their bass just doesn't "punch" and lets me down when I listen to more outgoing bands like Muse, etc. My last speakers were the current B&W 800 Diamonds, which have marvelous bass, which I miss. Their highs were just a bit too etchy (wow that violin almost sounded like a piece of paper tearing) and I found them tedious to listen to for some types of music or for extended sessions. My system is in a custom-designed move theater so there are two adjacent JL Audio Fathom f112 subwoofers that I could use to augment the Q3. But my experience has been that sonic matching with subs is difficult. I'm toying with moving up to the Magico Q7s, but, again, it's a very expensive step. I'm concerned that while the room was designed and built by an audio engineer, the speakers really cannot be moved more than a few inches either way so I might be making a really pricey step without being able to idealize the sound. Even though it would still likely be great. Help!
Amplifiers: I like the Classé amps, but think upgrading to the new Ayre MX-R Twenty monoblocks would be a potentially harmonious step. Thoughts?
I appreciate your input. As you can tell I like to make changes! I have always found audio to be fun and wonder what to do next. I would appreciate your help!
Gregory D. Searcy
Greg, thanks so much for the kind comments. Your system sounds phenomenal and I'm sure it brings you great enjoyment. You've asked a number of questions and I'll be glad to tackle them one at a time. You are considering some significant upgrades and they are not to be taken lightly!
First, the music server. I did really like the Aurender X100L. Really liked it. So if I were buying a music server today, I would probably go for the X100L, because I believe it to offer outstanding performance while the cost is still somewhat reasonable. In short, I think it would be a nice addition to your system.
As for the cables, Nordost's Odins are, I'm sure, quite something. As to how much difference it would make in your system, I can't really say. In this instance, I would see if your dealer has some cables he will loan you so that you can decide for yourself. This is the most prudent step, I think. It won’t surprise me if you end up liking what you hear.
There is absolutely no question that the Magico Q7 loudspeakers are vastly more capable in the bass than the Q3. If you like the Magico sound -- and your room can handle the size -- then I can hardly imagine that you would not find tremendous satisfaction with the Q7s. Bass will definitely not be an issue if the room placement works and you have the power to drive them satisfactorily.
As for your last question about the amplifiers: I have not heard the new Ayre MX-R Twentys in my system. I can tell you that the original Ayre MX-Rs have been a wonderful match for numerous speakers I've had in for review -- everything from Rockport, Sonus Faber, Kaiser, and on and on. The one speaker they don’t match well with in my experience is the Magico Q7. The sound is thin and light. Might that change with the introduction of the Twenty upgrade? Time will tell. Big congrats on the KX-R Twenty -- you'll be thrilled with that one, I'm sure. It's a real gem.
Do keep me informed as your auditioning process continues and you zero-in on your upgrade strategy. I think you're in for one heck of a ride. . . . Jeff Fritz