So, this one was a bit of a slam dunk for me to put together, because it's the system I own. Biased, sure. But the fact that I own it speakers volumes about how much I love it. I mean, I wasn't going to buy shit now was I?
This system is built around the speakers. I fell in love with the TB2s the moment I heard them. I've always like compact speakers. I've never really had the room for big speakers. When I got to Melbourne, I wanted an accurate speaker that I could use for a bit of mixing on the side. I knew that the PMC's had a studio heritage, but I couldn't really afford them. So I almost pulled the trigger on a set of Mission m73s. A perfectly reasonable slender floorstander. It was also good value for money. I reasoned that one day I would upgrade, and the m73s would make a decent home theatre speaker. But they weren't very accurate, in fact, they were extremely polite. The PMC kept drawing me in. The thing I loved, was the bass extension. The folded line was just capable of creating bottom end unlike anything I had heard in a standmount before. So, after much deliberation, and some pleading with the distributor, I saved up a bunch of cash and started this journey.
So with the speakers locked away, I started listening to amplifiers. I had an old Yamaha amp lying around to get me started, but it was a horrible match. The PMC metal dome tweeter can be a bit zingy, but with the Yamaha, it was down right aggressive. I knew I'd need something to tame it down. Thoughts turned to Marantz, Rega and Cyrus.
I tried a Marantz PM17Mk2, but the bass was just a bit too syrupy for my tastes. The Rega Brio was an absolute joy. It still remains my favourite amp at the price point. It sounded beautiful, full of life and with a real sweetness, but 38 watts a side just wasn't enough for the PMCs. I thought it's bigger brother, the Maia would fit the bill, but despite the extra power, it just didn't sing the way it's smaller brother did. So that brought me to the Cyrus 8vs. With 70W on tap, suddenly there was drive. And a fast, punchy sound that really brought the timing to the fore. Feet started tapping, and we knew we were in business. Finally, the smooth sweet treble tamed the tweeter, but the detail still shone through.
With the amplifier solved, it was onto a source. With a fairly limted budget, I knew I wouldn't get a CD player that I really loved. I liked the Arcam FMJ CD23, but wasn't prepared to drop that sort of money on a CD player. I also loved the DAC64, but that was a non-starter price wise too. It turns out I had very expensive taste in CD players. Then one day Martin said to me "If you can't afford the CD player you like, then buy a turntable that you can. It'll probably sound just as good."
So I did. Really, there wasn't much choice, the Rega Planar 2 was a clear standout at the price point. Where I did have a bit more choice was in cartridge. I opted to splurge, buying an Ortofon Rondo Red. I like the Blue too, but the red just had a bit more delicacy in the treble and a slightly more taut bass. I also added in a Cambridge Audio 640P. It's not the last word on resolution, but its a handy switchable phono stage for the money.
So my last tweak was with the speaker cables. and I was sure I was going to go with Nordost. Red Dawn speaker cable. I'd borne witness to a Nordost Hi-Fi demo once before where the system (which featured TB2's) ended up costing 30K, with 24K of that being Nordost Valhalla. I knew I'd love Red Dawn. Until I tried it. I thought the peice was fairly well worn in, but with the PMC's, the treble just howled. Way too much detail in there. So I ended up with some Chord Rumour 4. Chord company may not always be the best cable for a system, but it's a safe bet that it will sound good in just about any scenario. I really loved the Oddessey 4 cable too, but it was just too heavy. It's not really suited to Standmounters.
So all up,the system ended up being:
PMC TB2s, Cyrus 8vs, Rega Planar 2, Ortofon Rondo Red, Cambridge Audio 640P, Chord rumour 4.
It's a billion dollars worth of value, but you can have it for a million.
Oh. One side note. I did find an amp I liked more than the Cyrus. It was a bi-amp Musical Fidelity rig. It was superb. And too expensive. But man, did it resolve some detail. It had so much slam that we ended up sticking the FB1's on it instead. I loved that setup, but I couldn't quite get there price wise. So we sold one to Dean instead.