Hits (And Misses…) Munich High End – 2023

The next steps involved minute fore and aft adjustment of the modules themselves (especially the upper midrange unit) along with adjustments to speaker azimuth and yaw (the adjustment of diagonally opposed spikes/feet).

With the speakers finally coming together it was time to position and integrate the subs. The WatchDOGs were positioned outside of and slightly forward of the Alexx cabinets, minimising phase error. The Wilson spikes, with their course threads and blunt tips were discarded in favour of Track Audio solid footers, whose narrow spike profile easily penetrated the carpet and whose larger, finer threads and locking collars/pry-bars made adjustment easier, swifter and far more stable. (Track Audio feet would have been used on the main speakers, but there was no time to source the necessary thread adaptors).

The subs were again individually adjusted, with weight and integration a function of height and precise position, rather than constant tinkering with the crossover. By now it was getting seriously late in the day and once again, the system was left to play overnight.

Day 3:

The third day was given over to refining the speaker alignment (azimuth, yaw and module position), setting up the record players and establishing record selections and settings/levels for the structured presentations. With two turntables, four tonearms and a range of available cartridges to choose from, this was another full day…

Initial listening indicated that the speakers had again settled overnight, demanding correction of azimuth and yaw, with corresponding corrective action to the mid and treble modules. With that done, work started on the turntables and it quickly became apparent that one of the Thales Statement tonearms had suffered in transit. It was decided to use a single arm and after listening to the system and cartridge options, the Fuuga cartridge was installed and fully optimised on the AirForce III Premium. The AirForce One Premium was set up by TechDAS, with their new air-bearing tonearm, a graham Phantom and their own TDC01 Ti cartridges. A Symposium Ultra platform was used to accommodate the enormous footprint and weight of the AirForce One: otherwise an entire extra, oversized rack would have been required and their simply wasn’t room for that!

With listening in earnest underway, it was finally possible to fine-tune the room acoustics, particularly the mid-bass, which was controlled with the judicious application of ViCoustic Flexiwaves (hidden behind the drapes). Finishing touches were also applied to the system itself. Grounding was optimised using Chord GroundARAYs and Nordost QKore grounding boxes throughout, with CAD USB Controls on the L10 and M10 firmware update ports. A CAD Ground Control GC1 was used on the Router and SOtM switch that was running the CH Control App. Three Chord PowerARAY Pros were used on the distribution blocks, with considerable musical benefit and a Nordost QX4 was sited behind the main rack and amps. HRS damping plates were applied to the pre-amp and phono-stage power supplies, the crossover and the TechDAS pumps.

Day 4 and the rest of the show:

By now, you might think the job was done, but in fact, the system didn’t really lock in until final adjustments were carried out on the Thursday morning. Once again, the speakers had settled and needed re-setting, requiring an early start to proceedings, a procedure that was to continue throughout the show. It wasn’t until Sunday morning that the speakers had achieved a degree of stability, but even then, adjustments to the upper-mid modules brought clearly audible benefits to the sense of timing, musical engagement and coherence.