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Old 01-13-2019, 10:44 PM
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Pygmy Twylyte

Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: New York
Posts: 320

Originally Posted by wawa_chan View Post
Earlier in December, I was graciously hosted by Ivan at his beautiful home in Cape Cod. It just so happens that my daughterís first skating competition of the season was held in the Cape, not too far from Ivan. I had messaged him months before about the possibility of meeting up for a beer however, he immediately offered to host at his home to listen to his audio systems. Unfortunately, due to the competition schedule I was only able to visit for a few hours.

I arrived at Ivanís house around 3:30pm, driving directly from the skating rink after the competition. After greeting me at the door, Ivan was kind enough to give me a complete tour of his beautiful home. After the tour and quick introduction to his listening rooms, we settled into the Canton, Esoteric and Accuphase room for our first listening session. As in all of Ivanís audio rooms, everything is immaculate and in place with virtually no cables or out of place components. The attention to detail Ivan places in his systems is unmatched and it shows. As a note, throughout the day Ivan would place various music styles through his house wide streaming network of Silenzio units.

The Canton K1 were driven with an all Grandioso Esoteric system: K1 SACD player to a C1 preamplifier driving the M1 monoblocks. Ivan also has a speaker switch connected which allows the selection of either the K1s or the Ariel 20V T2 with dual subwoofer units. We began with a mix of music at various volume levels. You can immediately tell the K1 are a commanding speaker. The bass impact was power and quick, having complete control and authority over the music. The highs were crisp and natural sounding mixed perfectly with a balanced fluid midrange. The imaging was focused, with a nice natural sized sound stage. These speakers were very dynamic and exciting, a sharp contrast IMO to the Ariel 20V when we did the A/B comparison. The 20Vs seemed very reserved to the K1s, even with the subwoofer companions (Ivan did match the SPL level as much as possible).

After quite a few sounds with the K1s, we reversed sitting positions to enjoy the other setup in the room. This consisted of the Canton reference K3 and K5 speakers being driven by an all Accuphase system (E-650, DP-550, PS-530 and T-1200 tuner). I love Accuphase gear was excited to hear the new class-A integrated amplifier. The system did not disappoint, with a slightly warm full sound and presentation. The K3 and 5 both had the same wonderful high and midrange as the K1, with the K3 having good imaging but a little more reserved than the bigger sister. The K5s were not in an ideal position, so the imaging was not as focused, but no doubt it would perform similarly to the K3 in a more optimal position. The biggest different between these speakers, taking into account Accuphase vs Esoteric electronics, was the lower frequency capability and extension. The 30W E-650 had no issues driving the K3 and 5 to very high SPL levels, enough power for any small to medium sized listening room. It was time to move on to the next listening room, which I was somewhat reluctant to do so. I really enjoyed the Cantons and would not hesitate to purchase any of their reference speakers.

We next headed downstairs to a small room that Ivan has setup an active Bryston. To be honest, I wasnít quite sure what to expect from this system. I have heard Bryston amplifiers in the past and found them to be outstanding. However, I wasnít too sure regarding their somewhat new speaker lines. I was very impressed by the speakers, which consisted of the Model T in active setup, with matching 21B cubed amplifiers. The sound was very balanced and controlled. The construction quality of the speaker was excellent, a good compliment to their build quality of electronics.

We didnít spend too much time in this or the next few listening areas as we were starting to get pressed from time (unfortunately). Ivan and I walked across over to the Mcintosh wall room, which was quite impressive to look at. I have never heard the MC2301 or Sonus Faber Stradivari speakers and was looking forward to hearing them. I could immediately tell that this was a perfect match of electronics to speakers, which Ivan confirmed. The Stradivari are very smooth sounding with the matching MC2301s. Not to say they were not exciting, but for me they were definitely more laid back than the Canton reference speakers we heard earlier. They are beautifully made as you can tell in the photos, almost like an expertly crafted wooden cabinet from a master artisan.

On our way to Ivanís reference setup, we briefly stopped at the TAD system located just opposite of the room. We didnít stay very long, but I was able to look over the TAD Reference 1mk2 speakers and get a few minutes of listening time. The TADs are beautiful and massive looking speakers. I donít envy Ivan and his task of moving these into his house (along with all the other gear Ivan has on display). Driving the TADs Ivan has Esoteric (X versions I believe) digital sources and pre-amplifier driving Bryston 28B cubed monoblocks. Since we only had a few minutes, I canít really comment too much on the sound characteristics of this system. However, it was very clear that the TADs are very uncolored, balanced speakers. I hope to have another chance in the future to listen to these speakers in depth.

Last, but not least, was Ivanís reference two channel system. I initially thought the TADs were massive, but the Sonus Faber Aida speakers are towering pillars of craftsmanship that I donít think could be rivaled. They definitely stand out, flanking a bank of shiny chrome electronics. Like the Stradivari, the Aida look like master pieces built by an artisan. I canít imagine the team of artisans and engineers it took to design and build such a speaker. To top it off, Ivan has them paired with reference Burmester electronics. The build quality of the Burmester gear was phenomenal and as with all of Ivanís other systems, it was in flawless condition with strategic wiring so that nothing was out of place (I didnít even see a finger print in all that chrome). Off to the right side was a tower of Esoteric Grandioso digital reference units consisting of a transport, dual mono DACs, clock and N05 network player. For some reason I completely forgot to photograph this stack, but it was an impressive sight. After walking around and just inspecting every part of the reference system, Ivan and I sat down and began to listen to some music. Itís hard to really describe just how awesome this system sounds. The Aidaís are powerful and exciting, completely fooling you in believing you are really at a live concert. At the same time, they can be elegant and gentle, morphing into the ideal speaker for any type of music thrown at it. At very high listening levels, the Aidaís never sounded fatiguing or overdone. Although we did not A/B any other electronics, the Burmester seemed a perfect match to the Aidas (Ivan has three 911mk3 amplifiers driving them). Iím pretty sure the Burmester 911s didnít even break a sweat during our listening session . The level of detail that came out during the music was extraordinary, certainly partially attributed to the Esoteric digital stack feeding the Burmester and Aida combination. Nothing we played (music type) sounded wrong, just perfect music reproduction. Ivan is not exaggerating that this system is really the best of the best. Very impressed!

With still the home theater room to demo, we had to break off (not easy to do) from the Aidas and move rooms. Iím not very experienced with home theater setups, but Iím really open to the idea after seeing what Ivanís system could do. The Sony mounted to the ceiling was the largest home projector Iíve ever seen. A pair of Mcintosh XRT2K speakers, matching center channel and surrounds, with JL subwoofers are used with the Mcintosh wall. After we got comfortable in some very nice home theater seating, Ivan selected some of his favorite clips to watch through his digital media system. In addition to the digital movie library, Ivan has all the lighting connected with various programmed schemes for your choosing. This is a serious home theater setup!

After watching some impressive movie scenes, it was time to get back to the family. Donna had just returned back home, and I was able to introduce myself and thank her for giving us full reign of the house for a few hours. I thanked Ivan again and left back to the hotel, giving myself a lot to think about in regard to my own audio endeavors. The whole experience was pretty overwhelming. I donít know where you can get the opportunity to hang out with someone as real, honest and down to earth as Ivan and listen to some of the best audio systems in the world.

Thank you again Ivan for your generous hospitality!

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