The Things of Music

Due to circumstances almost beyond my control, I am rearranging my current stereo situation. Since I am lucky enough to have a “stereo situation”, this is clearly in the category of “first world problems”. On the other hand, I don’t have any real hobbies so I have to obsess with the ones that I do have.

Sometime this week, I’m parting ways with my beloved stereo. I’ve been assured that it’s going to a nice farm where it can play with other stereos lovely state-of-the-art sound rooms (or to the band room at a local university). In any event, it’s my grown-up stereo. Like archaeological typologies, as they mature, they tend to be parsed ever more finely. I had a lovely McIntosh MC275 amplifier powering a pair of nice Focal 836v speakers. A McIntosh MA6300 integrated amplifier served as a pre-amp (it was slated for replacement by a real preamp, perhaps the new McIntosh D100 pre amp/DAC). The amp was connected to the preamp by a pair of Shunyata Research Aires cables. These mated perfectly with the MC275 to make the sound tubetastic. The gentle decay of the MC275 and the slightly airy sound of the cables made blues and jazz sound very nice and made sure the rhythm of a more raucous song like the Beastie Boys Sure Shot was intoxicating. I never did get the Focals to sound exactly how I wanted them. I wonder whether the extra woofer tended to obscure the sweetness of the midrange a bit? In any event, I didn’t ever get the pluckiness from the guitars or the roundness from the piano notes that I aspire to (and remember from the vague sonic memory of a pair of Wilson WATT Puppies heard 25 years ago). Anyway, I could never decide whether I wanted speakers that could rock or sing to me sweetly. 




I’ll replace the lovely McIntosh with three year old Peachtree Audio Decco Integrated amplifier driving a pair of 20 year old Energy speakers. The Decco has a simple tube stage and I think I can hear it in the midrange, but it’s hard to know for certain through the less sophisticated sound of the Energy speakers. I’m also switching from the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic (connected to the McIntosh through a decent pair of Tributary cables) to the Decco’s built in DAC. Lots of moving parts right now, lotta in, lotta outs, and a lotta what-have-yous. Lotta strands to keep in my head.



  1. Do I see a KT 88 in the photo? Wow, ancient! I used to burn through those rather expensive matched tubes on my twin Dynakit 60W amps back in the “60s. For a time I had them mated with the beautiful old Marantz tube preamp till a relative died with it at his place of business. I never saw the Marantz again and eventually the Dyna amps went the way of all things. But 4 KT88s were expensive to keep replacing and, unlike you, I’ve a tin ear.


  2. Vince,

    Yep. Four KT-88s and a little army of 12AX7As and 12AT7s. It has a beautiful sound … vintage without being dated.



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