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Old 08-06-2019, 12:57 AM
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For The Love of Music For The Love of Music is online now
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Default A Trip to an Audio Mecca

This past weekend, 2FastDriving, Marc and I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Lavigne at his home about 30 miles east of Seattle in the foothills of the Great Cascade Mountain Range to hear what he has assembled using his experience over several decades.

Upon introduction, it was clear above his system, Mike is a genuine person; selfless in sharing his efforts, his home and his time for people who appreciate this so called crazy hobby of ours.

Mike immediately offered us cold beverages and then took us on an eager tour on what he assembled. Mikes approach to getting the room right is nothing short of spectacular, especially when you realize this once emanated originally as an actual barn housing horses.

As we listened to Mike explain the construction, room tuning, his system choices and the catalog of albums and music, we eagerly awaited the system to warm up. Mikes choices of equipment seemed to come from outside the State and included the amazing dartTZeel’s battery powered preamp and solid state mono blocks (these monos are crafted as things of beauty taking 160 hours of just machining and finishing) along with the complimenting speaker towers by Evolution, there are 3 Studer tape reels, and a heck of lot more - Mikes commitment to both the analog and digital was simply unwavering, no shortcuts.

Image1565067281.921684.jpg

The room acoustics were carefully thought out. Mike’s room was so tuned to support playback, even when you spoke your voice sounded better.

Electrical and passive grounding was paramount that incorporates a massive dedicated panel for power and his use of Tripoint and Entreq devices supporting many, if not, all the components, including the powered speakers. And something I never heard of or seen was “active isolation” platforms. Just the description alone was draw dropping and when Mike had me clap my hands in front of one that supported a mono amp the screen displayed real time vibrational noise emitting from my hands. All these tweaks and efforts purpose is to get to as neutral in sound as possible, and it clearly can be heard.

Image1565067306.562924.jpg

We started out first listening to albums, and it was clearly evident once the needle dropped that the dynamics of sound were at a captivating level. The midrange was so controlled and natural. It was so good that I was afraid of standing up without being embarrassed. The sound emitting from the Evolution speaker system was simply amazing, it easily made me think on several live tracks that I was at the venue and I know this a virtual impossibility, but it did. Nothing in the sound was exaggerated, the amps gripped those towers and allowed them to emit a non-assaulting wave of timbre harmony that was so open, real and pure. The sound literally drew you in probably like a bug light does to insects except, we were only zapped with one hell of a listening afternoon.

Image1565067325.233705.jpg

Interesting enough, Mike’s center chair was located near field, and I must admit it was intimidating at first as the speakers are massive, but you became used to the scale very quickly and undoubtedly it is the best seat in the house leaving you relaxed to enjoy all to be had.

I now better understand curating a music collection one will never fully get to hear is for everyone to enjoy. Collecting is half the fun, and having a collection of this magnitude allows visitors a good chance to hear their specific requests. Mikes album collection is not only extensive, it is cataloged equal to his version of a Dewey system proven by finding our requests lightening fast. To give you an idea, assuming I estimated correctly, there are enough albums to support 24/7 listening for over a year, and forget about how many of hours of playback from the server, and streaming.

Moving on, we got to the digital setup where the MSB Select is serving duty along with its two power supplies; one for the digital and the other for the analog. Feeding the MSB is an over the top Taiko Audio 34tb server that has a catalog of roughly 17tb of music. The MSB allows streaming of Quboz and Tidal which are all controlled by Roon. It clearly showed off how beautiful Mikes efforts were placed on the digital side of things.

While there is so much more to write about, what struck me most was having versatility with analog and digital which allows one to select the best playback of a particular recording.

Mike is a believer in Native playback, and it was easily heard why and it too makes sense to me. I'm taking the position Mike invokes, not as a follower but as a believer; native source first then the quality of recording - it’s all about choices and I also realize despite being native doesn’t guarantee a good recording. IMO, nothing is more discouraging then to have bad recordings playing from these great systems we all assemble, no matter analog or digital. I only want to hear the best, and now this visit begins my analog journey.

We plan on quickly getting back to Mikes home as we have original Led Zeppelin master tapes that need listening to on the R2R systems, and probably a Scotch to add in the sweetness of sound and that’s no joke!

Here is Mike and I

Image1565067378.987427.jpg

And this is Marc and I.

Image1565067363.666597.jpg

Thanks Mike!
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Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi S with 4point 9 arm and Kuzma 40 Cartridge
Source Digital: Aurender N10 | Brinkmann Nyquist MK II
Amplification: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Pre Amp and Monos | Boulder Phono 508
Speakers: Wilson Alexias
Cabling: Reference outfitted with Nordost Valhalla 2; Power, Interconnects & Speaker cables | Ansuz; C2 Power & Interconnect cables
Power: Nordost QRT series | Keces P3 & P8 | Furutech GTX D NSF package | Dedicated 20 Amp with Surge Guard
Foundation: HRS M3X | Stillpoints Ultra 6, SS & Mini | Nordost Sort Cones TC, BC | AQ Vox SE switch

Last edited by For The Love of Music; 08-06-2019 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:06 AM
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That about covers it! The only part you missed is when you came back to my place and heard my new room and proclaimed it better than Mike's.

Kidding!
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Audio Research Ref6, GS150 / Esoteric K-01X, G-02X, E-03 / Wilson Alexia / Clearaudio Ovation with Universal Tonearm / Lyra Kleos / Transparent Reference Gen5 / PS Audio P10 Power Plant / Shunyata Alpha / HRS S3 Isolation bases / Roon, Tidal Intel NUC / GIK Acoustics panels
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:06 AM
jzzmusician jzzmusician is online now
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You're killing me! I'd love to hear his system. I'm in Eastern Washington. Only about 250 miles from Mike. Please let me know when you do this again and if invited, I'll bring something very tasty.

- Bob
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by jzzmusician View Post
You're killing me! I'd love to hear his system. I'm in Eastern Washington. Only about 250 miles from Mike. Please let me know when you do this again and if invited, I'll bring something very tasty.

- Bob
Bob, we can definitely try to line something up. I'm always up for company, as is Ed, and I'm pretty sure we can arrange something with Mike if we plan it out.
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Audio Research Ref6, GS150 / Esoteric K-01X, G-02X, E-03 / Wilson Alexia / Clearaudio Ovation with Universal Tonearm / Lyra Kleos / Transparent Reference Gen5 / PS Audio P10 Power Plant / Shunyata Alpha / HRS S3 Isolation bases / Roon, Tidal Intel NUC / GIK Acoustics panels
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:14 AM
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For The Love of Music For The Love of Music is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2fastdriving View Post
That about covers it! The only part you missed is when you came back to my place and heard my new room and proclaimed it better than Mike's.

Kidding!


I gotta still do that. We packed a lot into that day, including when I thought several people were waving at me but realized they were giving you the thumbs up on the 67 Camaro SS going down Interstate 90 East
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Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi S with 4point 9 arm and Kuzma 40 Cartridge
Source Digital: Aurender N10 | Brinkmann Nyquist MK II
Amplification: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Pre Amp and Monos | Boulder Phono 508
Speakers: Wilson Alexias
Cabling: Reference outfitted with Nordost Valhalla 2; Power, Interconnects & Speaker cables | Ansuz; C2 Power & Interconnect cables
Power: Nordost QRT series | Keces P3 & P8 | Furutech GTX D NSF package | Dedicated 20 Amp with Surge Guard
Foundation: HRS M3X | Stillpoints Ultra 6, SS & Mini | Nordost Sort Cones TC, BC | AQ Vox SE switch
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:14 AM
For The Love of Music's Avatar
For The Love of Music For The Love of Music is online now
Ultra-Fast 69


 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2fastdriving View Post
Bob, we can definitely try to line something up. I'm always up for company, as is Ed, and I'm pretty sure we can arrange something with Mike if we plan it out.


Yes, Yes and Yes
__________________
Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi S with 4point 9 arm and Kuzma 40 Cartridge
Source Digital: Aurender N10 | Brinkmann Nyquist MK II
Amplification: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Pre Amp and Monos | Boulder Phono 508
Speakers: Wilson Alexias
Cabling: Reference outfitted with Nordost Valhalla 2; Power, Interconnects & Speaker cables | Ansuz; C2 Power & Interconnect cables
Power: Nordost QRT series | Keces P3 & P8 | Furutech GTX D NSF package | Dedicated 20 Amp with Surge Guard
Foundation: HRS M3X | Stillpoints Ultra 6, SS & Mini | Nordost Sort Cones TC, BC | AQ Vox SE switch
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:16 AM
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Ooo, same here. What a fantastic system.
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"Have you seen the stars tonight?"
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Main system: Linn Klimax Katalyst DSM; D’Agostino Momentum S250 amp & HD preamp; Rega RP10 w/Rega Aphelion; Boulder 508; Sonus Faber Amati Futura; Shunyata Denali 6000T, Alpha NR & EF power, Ztron Cobra IC & SC; Quadraspire Sunoko-Vent T, ISOAcoustics Orea footers, HRS Damping Plates; SonicTransporter i7 & Synology DS412+; Audio Desk Pro
Personal audio: Woo Audio WA6, WA7 & WA8; Auralic Aries Mini, Sonore MicroRendu & UltraRendu, A&K AK100 II, AKG Q701, Shure SE535, Shure SH1540, Westone ES50 Custom, Sennheiser HD800, MrSpeakers Aeon Flow C, Various Moon Audio dragons
2nd system: Luxman SQ-N100, PSB Imagine Mini, REL T-5, refurbished AR XA w/Nagaoka MP-200 & VPI cabling, Linn Klimax DSM Renew, Shunyata Venom PS8 w/Defender & Viper, Nordost Blue Heaven power & IC, Acoustic Zen sc, Symposium Svelte Shelves
Workshop: Vintage Yamaha CA-1010 amp & CT-1010 tuner, Martin Logan Motion 4, Squeezebox Touch, Schiit BiFrost, AZ & WW cables
Video: Sony XBR65X850C; Apple TV-4; Vienna Acoustics Schönberg L/R, Webern center & surrounds; REL T1/T2/T3 subs; Arcam AVR850; Cambridge Audio 752BD; MIT-EXP SC
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:19 AM
For The Love of Music's Avatar
For The Love of Music For The Love of Music is online now
Ultra-Fast 69


 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antonmb View Post
Ooo, same here. What a fantastic system.


You too Tony and we gotta get up north as well to hear what you’ve done.
__________________
Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi S with 4point 9 arm and Kuzma 40 Cartridge
Source Digital: Aurender N10 | Brinkmann Nyquist MK II
Amplification: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Pre Amp and Monos | Boulder Phono 508
Speakers: Wilson Alexias
Cabling: Reference outfitted with Nordost Valhalla 2; Power, Interconnects & Speaker cables | Ansuz; C2 Power & Interconnect cables
Power: Nordost QRT series | Keces P3 & P8 | Furutech GTX D NSF package | Dedicated 20 Amp with Surge Guard
Foundation: HRS M3X | Stillpoints Ultra 6, SS & Mini | Nordost Sort Cones TC, BC | AQ Vox SE switch
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:32 AM
mikel mikel is online now
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my thanks to Ed (for the love of music) for the very generous and kind write up. thank you. it was a pleasure to meet Ed and Marc (2fastdriving) and listen on Saturday with them. i look forward to more get together's with both of you and to hear your systems too.

i am format agnostic; meaning i do want to hear each recording in it's native format as that typically gets us closet to the musical truth.

i would be happy to host another session when you can arrange it.....and look forward to meeting other local AA members. and thanks for all the other kind comments.

Last edited by mikel; 08-06-2019 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 08-06-2019, 02:48 AM
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Mike, I've admired your system already on another forum.
Welcome here also!

Bravo for a job so well done!
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AV: Halgorythme mono block (center) & stereo block (surrounds), Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld SE & E
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