Archive for Pacemaker Blog

Our First Annual “Music Appreciation Event” at Audible Images AV in Melbourne, Florida

Our First Annual “Music Appreciation Event” was a good time, and probably had a lot more mingling and less music listening, but it’ll only get better next year, and actually every year.

We could not have asked for better weather at 71 degrees and standing on the front porch overlooking the beautiful Banana River.  (If you stand on your toes you can see it across the street 😉 )  See the photo gallery below.

Folks had a chance to chat with Bill McKiegan, President of Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems.  Bill Peugh from Wilson Audio.   We give thanks to both of them for being here.

We also give thanks to Tony Magner , and Dennis Chern at Martin Logan, and thanks to Trent Suggs at REL Acoustics.

The Photographic Art Display was incredible as was the Food array, both provided by Erika Masterson, Ed’s wonderful Wife.

We had some of our wonderful long time customers here, as well as some first time visitors.  

Folks brought in their favorite tracks on CD, USB or whatever, and it gave everyone a chance to here something new, either Artist ,Album or Genre.

The event was held on Saturday from 12 to 5, December 8th.  And we will probably have a similar date for the event next year.

So be sure to watch for our posts about next years event.  And for those of you that stopped by, thank you!

All of us at Audible Images AV.


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Dan D’Agostino’s new viewpoint on Measurements have changed, interview by Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac

Excellent video interview by Steve Gutenberg Audiophilliac, about how Dan D’Agostinos viewpoint about sound measurements have changed since he left Krell and started Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems.

I share a few excerpt/quotes below from the interview that are pretty fascinating in contrast to the past.


“The Momentum Amplifier was a quest for the Ultimate Goosebump Amplifer.”

“At Krell, I was looking for the best distortion, best speed, best slew rate”, but now it’s about sound. Listening more and not being concerned with the numbers as much.

“The Momentum had approx. .1% distortion at full power, and at Krell he wouldn’t have allowed the product on the market.” 

Enjoy the video.  Steve Gutenberg did a great job with this as always.  Wonderful insight from Dan D’Agostino at D’Agostino Master Audio Systems.

To watch more of Steve Gutenberg’s videos, check out Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac YouTube channel here.

Dan D’Agostino doesn’t care as much about measurements as he used to

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What do the new McIntosh MC462 Amplifier and a Mountain Lion have in Common?

I think most folks would say that you might approach them both with caution.

But those feelings shouldn’t hit you at all with this new Mac 450 Watts per channel, stereo powerhouse amplifier.  In fact, we’d all have to agree, they both look really beautiful, and when they’re screaming, they sound really awesome.

The new McIntosh 462 light up in the Mac stack.Now granted, this new MC462 is for you who wants to step into High End Audio with plenty of playing power and at the same time, you may be working with a specific  budget but certainly not an unlimited budget. 🙂 Well, regardless of who you are, this is a fun piece of electronics to crank up and make you feel like you’re back at that concert.  (Note: 1st image to the right, light up is the new MC462)

Now for starters, Who am I? The guy that I’m not, is a Product Review whiz at Stereophile Mag , The Absolute Sound or any of those other excellent magazines. I’m the guy that Ed Masterson my friend, boss & owner of Audible Images AV told to come in a couple days a week and amongst my duties, he wants me to test out new gear, compare gear and then blog about the fun I had & what I learned while experimenting in this gathering place/showroom for Audiophiles. (Note: I’m learning many “terms” of Audiophilia so as we all know, sometimes new guys get carried away when trying to learn, so I’ll ask you to grin over my learning curve, thanks 🙂  )

Dan D'Agostino Momentum Integrated AmplifierSo today, I get to play (or continue playing with in this Part 2) of testing with this $9000 brand new amplifier (the debut was in July of this year from McIntosh, see the Absolute Sound magazine announcement here), and in order have a reference point (something to compare power, transparency, etc), Ed suggested I compare it to the Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated Amplifier. (a $45,000 amp/preamp)  Well, also because it was already sitting right next to the new Mac 🙂 (2nd image, shown left on top of marble is the Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated Amplifier , See the product here, with the dCS Rossini lit up just under the marble in the color black)

You might be saying, “Now that’s not really a fair comparison, going up against a piece of electronics that costs 5 times the price of the MC462?” .  Isn’t it?  Well this is the 3rd or 4rth McIntosh Amplifier that I’ve had a chance to experiment with in our showroom and I say Mac gear consistently rises to the occasion just fine.

So to get you caught up, I made a mistake, in Part One of my “testing” a few days ago, in that I got so excited listening to the new Mac 462 when playing two R&B artists, Zac Harmon – “Right Man Right Now” album and Joe Bonamassa – “It’s a New Day Yesterday”, of whom I never listened to before, and in doing so I broke the Audio testing protocol that my boss & friend Ed taught me.  Which was:  If you want to test the sound quality of a piece of gear, you need to have a Reference set of parameters to test it with. (a reference room, and reference tracks that you know very well)  So here’s what I learned…but first…

As I mentioned above, in my playing around/testing of the new McIntosh MC 462 two Channel Stereo Amplifier (which replaces the 450 wpc MC452, both are 450 Watts per channel) I will be comparing it to the Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated Amplifier. (200 wpc into 8 ohms, and double downs at 4 and 2 ohms respectively)

dCS Rossini DAC & Media Streamer w CD Transport under the marble top holding the amplifierIn order to have a music source I coupled the MC462 with the dCS Rossini DAC & Player (see the excellent “Rossini” review in TAS magazine, cover photo of mag) as a source and preamplifier. I used Wilson Audio “Yvette” speakers, and a new set of Transparent Audio “Ultra” Speaker cables and Interconnects. (In case you didn’t know, the “Rossini” actually works as a preamp, where you can go into their software app on your iPad, change the output voltage to 6 volts from 2, and now you bypass the need for using a separate preamplifier) (3rd image displayed in picture to the right is the black dCS Rossini DAC, Streamer, CD Player & sort of preamp, just under the marble display table)

Wilson Audio "Yvette" speakers with all the gear in racks at a distanceNo longer berating myself for forgetting the use of “reference tracks” the other day, I decided to take a new Obsessive Compulsive approach. Not wanting to completely strain my memory of sonic & musical details or be at any risk of forgetting subtle or even large audio image details, I figured it would be best if I run through each track 3 or 4 times on the Mac first and then switch over to D’Agostino electronics to hear the same track 3 or 4 times there. Thinking this was wise, I got started. And for the record, the Transparent “Ultra” cables are a bit beefy, so a little tenacity was involved here in making 15 or 20 switchovers. I may be in Air Conditioning, but it’s important to know that Audiophiles do have their own Crossfit program. (4rth image displayed to the left is the Wilson Audio “Yvette” speakers used in the demo test with all the other gear in racks in the background)

The tracks I used for testing were:
“Fade To Black” – by Dire Straits
“Mose Allison Played Here” – Slant Six Mind by Greg Brown
“Tin Pan Alley” – by Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble
“Nature Boy” – Back to Earth album by Lisa Ekdahl
“Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” – by Bela Fleck & The Flecktones

“Fade to Black” we started off with.  The amazing main guitar picking in the beginning of the track takes over the left side of your soundstage.  I cranked it up to about 50% on the Mac. (very subjective as we are using the dCS for volume control )  Anyone that walked into our test room, would be blown away by the “attack transient” or initial energy pulse that you hear in the intro of the song, the lead guitar combining finger picking, plucking, however you describe it, that definitely deserved a Grammy award.  The song is here.  The transient detail on the Mac was crisp, I cannot imagine a spouse asking you to turn it down if they were sitting in the room, let alone the sweet spot.  As you get into the 2nd half of the song, a Steel guitar has a special run in the song, and this steel guitar (I think that’s what it is) clearly defines the right side and literally completes the overall size of the soundstage for the song. You can completely feel and hear the size of the stage.  The signature timbre of the Steel guitar and that of the lead guitar in this amazing song has one’s Audiophile ears perked up at this point.

Track two was “Mose Allison Played Here – by Greg Brown.  Those of you that know the voice of Greg Brown, know that he has a very powerful vocal resonance, very deep, it kinda grabs you by the gut and demands your attention.  His guitar plucking has an excellent and natural sounding roll off and decay.  And the acoustic bass has a timbre so distinct of it being acoustic, that you know had it been electric bass, you’d probably have been disappointed as it would not have fit into this classic piece.  

So far, I have to say that I am pretty blown away by the MC 462 and just how well it delivers the streaming music rendered by the “Rossini” (see the Rossini here). McIntosh has been around for a long time, and it is no wonder.  So far so good.  Okay, a couple more comments about our remaining 3 test tracks.

Track three; “Tin Pan Alley” – by Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble
Even though Stevie’s guitar is the masterpiece of the song, it’s the electric base guitar that I really enjoyed most.  The bass detail is just really nice.  (being a I believe a 1984 production, the digital delivery is quite spectacular from the Mac, well that and also the amazing work of the dCS Rossini DAC)

Track Four; “Nature Boy”, the vocals of Lisa Ekdahl just sound really nice, I should perhaps point out the “articulation” had excellent detail, and the acoustic base really gets your attention and I guess what they call the “transient tail” of the notes have really nice texture. 

Track Five; “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo”, it’s that thump of that really intense base that I like testing out any gear, and the 462 delivers just awesome.  When you hear the contrast of that intense base and that of Bella’s banjo perfection, the timbre of his Banjo plucking into those crisp highs, and the Mac doesn’t seem like it’s having to work at all. 

Merging into my “playtime summary”, my test of the Mac MC462, it certainly compared amazingly well with the Dan D’Agostino Integrated Amp.  How did it compare? A number of things, but before I share them, the question needs asking, How was the D’Agostino superior to the Mac?  Simple answer, the D’Agostino Momentum certainly had greater musical Transparency and Detail in pretty much all frequencies. When you want the noise floor completely removed (to the point where a finger sliding down a bass guitar string when not playing a note has a 3 second transient tail just from the finger travel pressure 🙂 , then Dan’s gear will be your pleasure. That extra airy finesse & detail is totally worth the upgrade when your budget is not a deal breaker.

But if you’re in the other 80% of Audiophiles who don’t have unlimited budgets, then I share below what benefits you could expect when a decision for the awesome $9000 MC462 (without using a preamp as a reminder, because the dCS “Rossini” worked as both a streamer, a dac and as a preamp) vs $45,000 for the Integrated Amp was concerned:

  • The Mac could crank out high volume constant without any noticeable distortion.
  • Even though the Mac plays classical music with prowess, it sure plays loud rock and roll with spectacular lead guitar and kick drums as though you were at the concert.  My Zac Harmon & Joe Bonamassa listening time were testament for this.
  • It could handle the sudden spikes in power, I quote right from the McIntosh website about how their Dynamic Headroom got a big boost: “The new generation MC462 stereo amplifier has received numerous updates compared to the previous model. The most prominent is that filter capacity has been increased by nearly 50%, which has resulted in a remarkable 66% increase in dynamic headroom from 1.8dB to 3.0dB. This allows the MC462 to easily handle drastic swings in dynamics and effortlessly reproduce your favorite music with virtually no distortion.”
  • The bass was excellent, so I’ll just paste this from the Mac website: “Bass performance is also improved as a result of the filter capacity increase.”  Now could I tell the difference from the 452 we had before? No because I never tested the two.  But with the new filter upgrade mentioned above, I take their word for it.
  • In short, the 462 had almost a limitless supply of clean clear musical energy 

I’m really glad I made the mistake upfront, by playing some serious cranking R&B, by Zac Harmon & Joe Bonamassa (who had his early influence by Stevie Ray Vaughn), before I did my select “reference” song tracks. Why?  Because Rock Rhythm & Blues cranked up to a couple hundred watts is just a lot of fun.  That’s what it’s all about sometimes when you want to just turn it up. And besides, cranking it up is the way the R&B genre needs to be played.

McIntosh, I thank you for a fun time at work.  YOU JUST CAME THROUGH WITH FLYING COLORS AGAIN on the release of this new McIntosh MC 462 powerhouse stereo amp!


Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA


Key terms and items related to this post:

Dan D’Agostino Progression monobloc amplifiers electronics, D’Agostino authorized dealer, McIntosh MT5 2 channel turntable, Momentum Preamplifier, dSC Vivaldi, dSC Network Bridge.  Ultra high end 2 channel stereo systems designed & installed, in addition to High End Home Theater Systems.  Roon authorized dealer and Roon Nucleus Server which is on our showroom floor.  Wilson Audio dealer, with Alexx Speakers, Sabrina and Yvette on our showroom floor.

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An R & B session while we test the new McIntosh MC462 that will wake up your blase’ music choices and re-excite your listening …

Friday was an R & B guitar music listening day while I was testing the new McIntosh MC462 with the songs served up by the dCS Rossini DAC Streamer, CD Player and sort of, Pre-amp… , lest we not leave out, the Wilson Audio “Yvette” speakers.

If you’ve never been an avid Stevie Ray Vaughn listener, your life isn’t over yet 🙂  But he sure seems to trickle into a lot of artists lives, you’ll see in the names below.

A-New-Day-Yesterday-Joe-Bonamassa-Album-CoverThese two artist choices today are overwhelmingly talented singer/guitar musicians  (with the bands that light them up), who  undoubtedly allowed Stevie Ray Vaughn (and of course other amazing artists) to influence their styles to be, namely, Joe Bonamassa (Thank You Scott for the Joe exposure)  and Zac Harmon.  Two different styles,  one born in New Hartford, New York and the other Jackson, Mississippi, but man, do they both appeal to one if craving some intense Rock Rhythm & Blues guitar.

I’m jumping around in my thoughts today, but I’m in a great mood, I have an awesome selection of music to hear, Incredible high end gear to hear, and I am curious to see how this Mac 462 stacks up against the Momentum Integrated Amp. (I may have to lean toward a part two on this comparison)

So, today is another play & test day here at Audible Images AV, where Ed, my boss says why don’t you test drive the new McIntosh MC 462? (See the excellent writeup of the July 2, 2018 debut of the new Mac MC462 at The Absolute Sound Magazine writeup here.) And then Ed suggested, “How about using the dCS Rossini as your Pre-amp and Source?” Now I think Ed was just as curious as I was how the two would pair up as they would sing thru the Wilson Audio “Yvette” speakers.  So Ed started in disabling the Dan D’Agostino Integrated Amp, so we could bring the dCS Rossini Streamer over to the new powerhouse Mac for streaming media delivery and DAC services.  The really cool thing, is the dCS Rossini serves as not only as a source for the McIntosh MC462 (see the product here), but it also serves up enough voltage to negate the need for the preamp. (normally we’d let the McIntosh C2600 vacuum tube preamp be part of the show) The dCS Rossini software is really nice, just grab the iPad and you can just go right into the Output setting, change it from 2 Volts (normal for going into a preamp) to 6 volts, and now you have a Rossini preamp so to speak.

So we got the Mac and Rossini together, then the Mac plugged into the  Yvettes with our new Transparent Ultra speaker cables and interconnects, and We / I were ready for a test run.

I actually have no idea how I came upon Zac Harmon, but when I did, I then thought about Joe Bonamassa and decided these two would be the menu for the day. (I was curious to check him out because a customer of ours really enjoys Joe Bonamassa’s music).  In fact, both Scott and Ed went to the Joe Bonamassa concert here in Melbourne at our own King Center and were both blown away with just how good the show was.  A slight tangent here, but if you’re an Audiophile, invest a few minutes to watch a video of friend & special customer Scott Hurley talk about Ed’s passion for this stuff, also how Ed enjoys tweaking your System, long after it’s installed in your home and also how he enjoys just talking Audiophilia if you want to drop by the showroom to ask a question or chat.  So back to our new Mac test run…

The concert YouTube video below, is a blues song that really depicts the talent of Joe Bonamassa as a Singer & Guitarist, now the words to the song are actually great to get your wife thinking about tonight’s dinner in a left field what’s my husband thinking kinda way.  It’s a version of the song off the album “It’s a New Day Yesterday” that I listened to by Joe.

Joe Bonamassa : If Heartaches Were Nickels - LIVE at the Beacon Theatre - around 2013

Now, technically, going from the D’Agostino Integrated Amplifier ($45,000) with the dCS Rossini/DAC/Streamer/Player ($28,000) to the Mac MC462 (at $9000) with the Rossini (used as a preamp and a streamer/dac) would seem to make for a dramatic step down in audio quality.  To the contrary.  Now with both setups, the Wilson Audio “Yvettes” ($25,500) were the speakers.  

Tangent here: Start with this scenario because you want your wife to enjoy music and your system as much as you.  Let’s say you just walked in the door after work and had a great day, and want some really upbeat music to celebrate; 

And let’s also say you just made your Wife or Better half smile big, with a nice little surprise for her.  You say, “after some great music honey, let’s go out to dinner.”  Plus, you knew her ADPI Sorority (or whichever one she was in) reunion was coming up in 3 months and she only brought it up to you once a week or so ago, as she wanted to get your opinion on her going going out of state for 3 days with 25 Sorority Sisters for the first time in 20 years, and you decided to give her a nice dinner out tonight so she can talk about things. You just now told her that the reunion is a great idea, and you encourage her to talk about what it will be like, sharing the memories with her sisters over dinner.   So right now, you’d like to spend 20 minutes with your Happy Wife, jamming to 3 or 4 R&B songs because of your great mood . Now, comes the major Sacrifice… you say, Honey, would you like to sit in the “Sweet Spot” center chair? 

And you start it off with Joe Bonamassa – “If Heartaches Were Nickels” – LIVE at the Beacon Theatre”.  And she is mesmerized the incredible sound of Joe’s guitar, his singing on that McIntosh MC462 system that you are so happy you have…

And back to my story, here is what I heard from Joe:

Joe’s voice comes across with his deep Resonance texture voice that literally has that glorious magic to fill a large concert hall with sound even without electronic amplification. His tone comes through his mouth, throat, nasal passages and possibly his shoes. … okay not, but he does command a crowd.  Now the album says Gregg Allman does vocals, but they are very sub-dued if he does.  Because Joe is the one I hear coming across in the album, much like when you see him on stage in the different venue video recording I shared above.  

The saxophone that sneaks in from the right side of the sound stage  is very subtle, the timbre is actually subdued a bit, but the composition of the entire piece is certainly high-lighted by that short set of notes by the Sax, especially just before the halfway point of the song.

But Joe’s guitar, speaks most of the emotions for the song.  You can feel that bit of Chicago blues influence coming thru to the New Yorker Joe.  

It’s interesting that Gregg Allman is on the album, because what I actually feel in the “If Heartaches were Nickels” song, is Duane Allman’s style with slow relaxed tempo and cadence (very bluesey) w Boz Scaggs singing my favorite blues song of all time “Loan Me a Dime” on the “Anthology” album.

Now we jump over to Zac Harmon.  Here are the 2 songs that pulled me in quick.  “Feet Back on the Ground”, a slow blues song that alone could launch a musician into his career.  The guitar had such a depth and range of detail that seemed to continue the decay of his notes as if you were 5 seats back from the stage. This is not a song nor a system, that your other half sitting in the sweet spot would ever ask you to turn the music down.  It just sounds too good. This is the beauty of well matched & chosen high end pieces. You are actually there, at the concert.  Or in this case a studio recording that has Zac’s guitar etched so crisp and clear and engaging, you’re almost ready to buy tickets to his next show even if it was back in Iraq when he played for US soldiers back in 2008.  (something that made me smile for the Troops)  Though, this amazing album was recorded in 2015, his talent was I’m sure powerful in 2008 overseas 🙂

“Ain’t No Big Deal on You” – Zac Harmon, same album as Feet Back on the Ground (“Right Man Right Now” is the album), might get both of you (back to You and your wife) off the listening chairs, to step into the sound stage, and see if you still have some dance chemistry stirring in you.  Oh, and the keyboards, they accompany Zac’s persistent all around guitar jamming.

Well, afterwards, Ed mentioned to me that listening to two new albums, totally different music, on a “New System” can really confuse your objectivity in your Audio Equipment analysis.  So I ask myself, did this great music confuse or distort my expectations?  Am I actually saying to myself, that the MC462 and the Rossini are superior to the D’Agostino Integrated Amp & Rossini?

Like that little voice jumped up on my shoulder (like in Animal House) asking, Have you been Deceived?  How can $37 K possibly stack up against $73 K?  Did the Mac get along better with the dSC and the Wilson Yvettes?  

So I knew it was time to go back to my well ingrained into my head from Ed, those  standard parameters, of frequency response defining, nuance defining songs that have proven tried and true in detecting imperfections or excellence.  “Fade to Black” by Dire Straits, “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bela Fleck, “Mose Allison Played Here” by Greg Brown, and I also went back to “Affirmation” by George Benson and  Norah Jones “Come Away with Me”.

The highs and mid-range detail were so good, and plenty, plenty of base range.

Do we need to go back to Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated with the Rossini to determine a final conclusion?

I think so. 


Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

Key terms and items related to this post:

Dan D’Agostino Progression monobloc amplifiers electronics, D’Agostino authorized dealer, McIntosh MT5 2 channel turntable, Momentum Preamplifier, dSC Vivaldi, dSC Network Bridge.  Ultra high end 2 channel stereo systems designed & installed, in addition to High End Home Theater Systems.  Roon authorized dealer and Roon Nucleus Server which is on our showroom floor.  Wilson Audio dealer, with Alexx Speakers, Sabrina and Yvette on our showroom floor.

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Passion or Obsession?, the Ultimate Loudspeaker demonstration of Wilson Audio’s “Wamms” with Audible Images AV

Taking a trip to hear the finest sounding Loudspeakers in the world made by Wilson Audio in the beautiful state of Utah, could be considered both passion and obsession.  

Ed Masterson, passionate Audiophile had the opportunity to share a Wilson Audio “Wamm” demonstration in Provo Utah, with one of our wonderful customers, a couple of the Dr’s friends, and of course, Ed’s lovely Wife Erika, whom is not only a gifted fine art Photographer but also a talented Videographer/Editor in this case.

WAMM Demo with Audible Images AV and Wilson Audio - July 2018

The demonstration was in the home of the late Dave Wilson. Dave is almost universally regarded as the greatest loudspeaker designer of his generation, and the company he led is one of the most respected and admired in its industry. (Their website and a special bio about Dave is here at Wilson Audio. )

This opportunity to hear the “Wamms” was a rare gift for any High End Stereo showroom owner, but for Ed it was perhaps a culmination for his passion as an Audiophile. (well that and to hear the “Relentless” amplifiers 🙂 )

We thank Erika for the beautiful and concise clip of the presentation. (her fine art website is )

If you would like to browse our showroom , visit the Listening Rooms page here.

We also encourage you to come in and hear a demonstration of the Wilson Audio “Alexx” speakers that we have in our “Transporter” listening room.

I would like to give credit to the family friend of Ed and Erika, their friend Jay, providing the beautiful acoustic guitar music in the video.

Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

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Sonus Faber has written a beautiful Sonnet or Sonetto for Audiophiles.

As some of you know,  I live in a very biased world of Audiophilia here in our showroom at Audible Images AV.

Every day I can and do listen to Dan D’Agostino electronics, dCS Vivaldi & Rossini, Wilson Audio Alexx  speakers & other models along with the other ultra high end complementary gear items in the “Transporter” & “Great Room” reference rooms.

So how can I possibly enjoy listening to modestly priced, yet not ready for shipping, Sonus Faber bookshelf Sonetto 2’s and the new floorstander Sonetto V’s,  at $2300 & $4999 respectively, without developing a holier than thou perspective?

Because I love this stuff at all levels.  Ed’s Audiophilia is contagious around here.

The New Sonetto II's by Sonus FaberSo Tuesday, our Sonus Faber rep brought these two members of the brand new Sonetto Collection into our showroom to hear.

Now keep this in mind, I am not a reviewer guy,  I am an experience the fun guy only.  And man was I excited with the new sound.  Made in Italy too!

First, we plugged the Sonetto II bookshelf speakers in, placed up on our 29 1/2 inch from the floor stands.  Which was a little too high to be honest, for the listening sweet spot, but we had to make do.  Our electronics choice was a Parasound Halo combo.  The P7 preamp with the A31 , 3 channel x 250 watt solid state amplifier.  Our source, was the Bluesound Node 2 streaming music server. I had already tested the A31 with a couple other pair of speakers to make sure it would deliver the goods, and it did.

The first thing I wanted to hear was if these new made in Italy beauties could hand out some excellent base response.  And deliver they did, I was impressed! I wasn’t looking for a 15-30 hz gutteral rumble, just well balanced bass musicality. We didn’t spend too much time with the testing of the Sonetto II bookshelves for their mid-range and tweeter success, because the stands were just too high for the room, so my final note on the Sonetto II’s: “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bella Fleck had the base punch I wanted so much to hear.  And the lesser bass in “Tin Pan Alley” by Stevie Ray sounded excellent and gave me the lower end musicality I was hoping for 🙂   

The Sonetto V's by Sonus FaberI was a bit more anxious to hear the Sonetto V’s.  At $5000 a pair, you tend to adjust your Wilson “Alexx” hat a little more closely to listen in.

If it seems that I share many of the same songs over and over again when putting on the listening / testing hat, you would be correct.  Why do I do this? Because Ed has pounded into my head (a bit of hyperbole), to develop a Reference for listening via a few set parameters.  Specific Songs to quickly observe delivery of each of the 3 main frequency areas of bass, mids & tweeter, develop or use a consistent reference room and it’s ambience, and then you can more easily discern nuances in a tune as delivered from the gear you are testing.

So back to the Sonetto V’s. Fantastic, and excellent.  After filtering through my base testing of the V’s, check, and much better than I would have suspected.  I just tested a $9000 pair of speakers a while back, and I can say they were inferior to these new Walnut colored Sonetto floorstanders.  Both had 4 drivers, (being lazy on the comparison), but the accuracy of the V’s was very good.  I now started to look deeper into the mid-range and higher frequency, and the words airy, clean and absolutely no abrupt decay of any instruments are the words that came to mind. (Thank you Stereophile Magazine for your Audio Glossary dictionary to help make my point)

I would love to have these Sonetto V’s in our showroom.  I wish I had the opportunity to test them with the D’Agostino Momentum Integrated amp, but time ran out.

Sonus Faber,  your Collection, or Family name was very appropriate, “Sonetto”, I give them a thumbs up for my Tuesday pleasure time at work. 🙂


Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

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How well do the Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3’s brighten up your Stereo Sound System?

804_D3-Bowers-and-Wilkins-Satin-WhiteI enjoy reading threads in a number of the Audiophile forums on gear that we have on the floor in our showroom here at Audible Images AV.  Especially when they are asking how a particular pair of speakers sound and with what amplifiers would they recommend.

Here I am tasked with the job of listening to gear from Modest High Performance to crazy Ultra High End.

Now granted we don’t have a pair of the “Relentless” monoblocs by Dan D’Agostino,  but I do get to enjoy from NAD Receivers to Dan D’Agostino’s Momentum and Progression monobloc amps on our floor.  If you like test driving Porsche 911’s, then you know how fortunate I feel from a listening perspective in our showroom.

So, we got in some Bowers and Wilkins 804 D3’s right out of the box to test drive from the B & W sales rep.

Well, I got to test these speakers in two reference rooms in our showroom.  Below are the Amps and Receivers I tested them with.

Now keep this in mind, I am not a review guy like at Stereophile Magazine or The Absolute Sound.  I am blessed with just sampling up to the finest candy available comparable to a Sugar Boutique store (that also sells “Rock Candy”) in downtown Manhattan during Christmas time. And I simply share just how I enjoyed the taste. I’m working on the jargon of Audiophilia so I don’t leave you scratching your head. But it’s a work in progress 🙂 


“The Great Room” – demo 

I started off in what we call our “Great Room”, an entrance to high end, but certainly some modest gear is also on display. The Great Room is an open or shared space typical in modern homes, well lit with wood floors and a vaulted ceiling. Its acoustic signature results in rich sound with brightly illuminated stereo images.  That said..

(photo below of “The Great Room” before Bowers & Wilkens 804’s were brought in)

The "Great Room" demo room where we tested the Bowers and Wilkens 804 D-3's.


We connected those beautiful Satin White Floorstanders with Dan D’Agostino’s Momentum Integrated Amplifier.  This may have been overkill, but Dan is our normal Amp that stays connected to normally Wilson Audio Sabrina speakers and the dSC Rossini DAC with streaming as a source. 

The nice thing about the 804’s,  they can handle a lot of power, and the Momentum Integrated puts out 200 Watts into 8 Ohms, and they responded nicely with the Integrated Amp.  I did find out that they need to be toed out quite a bit more than the Wilson Sabrina’s, and we found the best spot. 

All of my test drives were using Digital Streamers/Music Server DAC’s as a source.  

Definitely a great amount of detail showed up in the upper mid-range.  So I could tell these low footprint floorstanders had great potential, but now it was time to pair them up with the classic McIntosh and Bower & Wilkins marriage that we so often hear about.

So next up, still in the “Great Room” we fired up the Mac MC452 2-channel 450 Watt Amp with our fairly new C2600 Tube Preamplifier.  This was a really nice match.  In fact, it was a much better match up than the Momentum Integrated Amp.   

I went through quite a number of tracks, from Classic Rock, R&B and some Classical.  

“Fade To Black” , is almost always a first test run to feel how the base delivers.  I did have to mentally erase the base punch I get from the Sabrina’s (also the Sabrina’s add $7500 over the 804’s  so keep that in mind), and once that was remedied, the two 6 1/2 inch Woofers in the 804’s clearly came to life.  The guitar intro and further in the song also confirmed the Bowers & Mac marriage. Now just to make sure I wasn’t deceived by this classic Dire Straits hit and the transition from the Momentum Integrated Amp to the Mac 452, I then tapped over to “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones which is so easily done with an iPad and a Roon Nucleus Server.  The Hippo had the thump I was looking for.  The base in the Hippo is pretty extensive and came across very nicely.  The details from the mid to upper mid-range provided the timbre I expected for each instrument (with emphasis on the fact that I am an experience sharer and not a “Reviewer) and would totally satisfy the Audiophile seeking a Mid-Range fix with Classic Rock n Roll delivered from the Mac and Bowers marriage.  

I closed out the test drive with some R&B and Classical, and then decided it was time to experience Audio Research with the 804’s.

Audio Research Reference 75 SE Stereo Amplifier
Audio Research Reference 6 Stereo Preamplifier
Overall a pretty good match, pretty good base, not at par with the Mac, but good, and in no way shameful. One final point, the mid range on the Audio Research was noticeably more transparent and more distinct in detail than the Mac.  So they both had their strengths. Very glad we tried both McIntosh and Audio Research.  The differences were enjoyable to hear as I perused some of my favorite test and personal listening tracks.

Now it was time to walk the 804’s thru a couple amps ranging from very modest to shall we say high performance modest.

“The Escape Pod” room – Demo

I played with (tested) two pieces in the Escape Pod.  Having discovered that the sweetness of 804’s tonal quality became most evident when connected at 4 ohm’s in the other room, I suspected that our Escape Pod playing on modest to high performance modest might be brief.  I tried the NAD T 758 V3 A/V Surround Sound Receiver (110 wpc solid state) and concluded the 804’s certainly like more power.  Then the Rogue Audio – Cronus Magnum took his turn (100 wpc tubes) and of course the improvement over the modest NAD solid state was significant, but without ruffling anyone’s feathers, it was distinct that modest to medium high end tubes are the very best partner for those 804’s, in regards to our showroom.

In summary, those Diamond 804 D-3’s delivered some very nice upper mid-range detail, and I can’t help but see how Bowers & Wilkens really likes to court high end tube amps, and if I was pointing with a laser for an amp & preamp, McIntosh in one of their mid to high-end range lines would be a very special marriage target.

Thank you Bowers & Wilkens for a very pleasureable day in the Audiophile Candy Store.



Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

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A concert DVD listening experience of Chris Botti in Boston in our Escape Pod listening room theater.

I’m enjoying the amazing “Chris Botti In Boston”, Blue Ray Concert DVD in our “Escape Pod” listening / reference room.  If you’ve never listened to this concert DVD from 2008 recorded with the Boston Symphony at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA, you are totally missing out. 

I consider my self pretty fortunate that I work in a showroom for Home Theater and High End two channel stereo and part of my job description is to listen to great music in one of our 3 Reference Rooms.  Ed wants me to enjoy it, critique it and share it,  from a new guy’s perspective to the Audiophile’s world.

The concert is a spectacular mix of Contemporary Jazz, Pop, Classical and maybe some light rock, delivered by an array of gifted guest Artists, and of course the stunning performance of Chris Botti on the trumpet complementing each of the artists.

Who are some of the guest artists?  Well there’s the not too hard to look at Katharine McPhee, there is Lucia Micarelli, Sy Smith, Sting, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Tyler, John Mayer & Dominic Miller.

When you come into the showroom, and your mouth is watering to hear an excellently matched, wonderfully tuned, very affordable 7.1 channel system, that cranks very nicely, the Escape Pod does not disappoint.  The room size is 11.5 feet by 13, You would call it a spare bedroom or home office size room.  It does have some modest acoustic treatment that delivers an impressive sound and visual  experience (emphasis on sound), especially for the person who does not want to make mistakes mis-matching gear for their first home theater setup.

You will want to request to hear Katharine McPhee in her version of Frank Sinatra’s “I Got You Under My Skin”.  Her stage personality will keep you grinning with her pleasant mingling with Chris Botti and then his Guitarist.  Her breathtaking beauty coupled with a remarkable voice is just one of the many magnificent guest performances.

Here’s the system we now have tuned up just right in the room for you to come in and enjoy:

7.1 Channel NAD T-758 Surround Sound Receiver
PSB Imagine X2T Tower Speakers – L&R Front
1 Center Channel – PSB Imagine XC Centre
4 each: Surround L & R, Surround Back L & R in wall speakers
1 Sub Bass – Subwoofer – REL T/7i

Come in and just melt on the couch, we’ll leave you alone to enjoy the concert or your choice of 2 channel listening with music streaming for all of your favorite hits.

Ed Masterson the owner and my friend from way back is an audiophile and just enjoys  shooting the breeze and sharing his passion of High End to Ultra High End listening.

Treat yourself and come in for a listen.

Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

Keywords to this post: home theater, concert dvd, surround sound system, audible images listening rooms, NAD Electronics, High End systems, 2 channel reference listening rooms, PSB Speakers and more later.

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Audible Images AV customer Scott Hurley talks about Ed Masterson

Audible Images AV customer Scott Hurley talks about Ed Masterson’s Acoustic treatment and engineered approach to optimizing Scott’s listening room and Ultra High End system.

An interesting aspect in this wonderful customer testimonial, is how Scott actually had some nice high end gear, but the room was lacking in any engineered acoustic treatment and the most critical step of any AV system, the system tuning, had never been done by someone that was skilled & trained in the fine tuning of a system.

Enjoy the Video!

Scott Hurley speaks about Ed Masterson

“Enabling Your Music to sound Incredible Again”

Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

Keywords:  customer testimonials, acoustic treatment, engineered systems, ultra high end av systems, audible images av, client testimonial, passion

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Do the REL G1 Mark II sub-woofer / sub-base speakers really earn their name as a “Rock of Gibraltar” for your System?

These new stacks of REL Sub-base systems in our “Transporter” reference room have opened a whole new door of musicality when listening to 2 Channel Ultra High End Stereo.  And in multi channel, the combo of the REL stacks left & right up front, and the JL Audio F212’s left & right centered in the back truly make concert DVD’s, Blu-Ray & Cable sound and feel live.  Actually, with your favorite song it takes your breath away.

You might think I owe a minor apology for the cliche’ of my post title, but I do suspect that REL Acoustics wanted that metaphor in place (the “G1” does in fact stand for Gibraltar), even if only in the most subtle manner 🙂

Well, I’m telling you with pleasure, these two Reference Line Array stacks, as REL calls them, transform your system in a bit more then a subtle manner.

In the A/V world, I believe subwoofers occupy the space in most folks minds as the speakers that mostly just go boom, when you’re watching a movie.  

However, when I think about the height, the depth and the feel of the soundstage in a 2 channel stereo system and how we all want that most accurate image of the live concert replayed in our homes, I have recently learned and experienced that having an accurately setup 2 channel sub base system is exactly what is missing from even the best of 3 way floorstander speakers.

What could be better, JL Audio filling in all the deep base punch in the back of the room, and a stack of 6 REL subs filling in the range of music so that the entire 15 to 120 hz bass comes in natural? These REL G1 stacks provide adjustment in each array of 3 that allow you to specify the range for each. Now all the music coming to you is provided at the different height levels of how they normally reach you and  in the most natural way that bass can warm your senses.

I have heard my friend and boss, Ed Masterson speak many times of how it is critical to establish a Reference room that is acoustically optimized and filled with well chosen  ultra high end gear.  Once you have that reference room, you can then gauge other rooms as to what might be missing or perhaps even superior to your reference room.  In our custom built reference room “The Transporter”, I might have thought that the soundstage couldn’t get much better. 

See Slideshow below.

Note, regarding the slideshow.  The first photo shows the front of the “Transporter” reference room before the REL Audio Sub-base speakers were in place. The JL Audio Fathom 212’s behind the left & right Wilson Alexx speakers are now in the back of the room (not because they’ve been bad), they just serve a different purpose then the REL’s and the JL’s finish the multi-channel system.  The next photos show the REL in their Reference Line Array stacks , along with a single sub, and the slides are completed with a couple of iPad photos I shot with the new stacks in place. (Believe me, we are waiting for the Real photographer to capture the awesome, Ed’s wife Erika 🙂

To be continued…

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Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

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