Written by 8:39 am Amps

My Retirement Audio System

If Steven Stone ceased reviewing audio gear tomorrow what gear would he keep? That is the question he mulls over on the second day of the new year. Some old favorites combined with new components make up the stuff he couldn’t live without.


Paul Seydor’s review of the new James Bongiorno-designed electronics in issue 219 – Jan 2012 of The Absolute Sound ended with, “If I were closing up shop tomorrow as a reviewer, I would buy them and live happily ever after.” That got me thinking, “What would be my retirement system if I stopped writing about audio?”

My speaker choice would depend on the room. If I moved to a mid-sized or smaller listening room, the Dunlavy SC-VIs at 575 lbs. and 6 ft. tall wouldn’t be an option. I might even opt for an active speaker from ATC or PSI.

Front-runner candidates for the starring role of retirement analog electronics are my Accuphase C-200 preamp (just returned from the spa at Accutech) and my Accuphase P-300 power amplifier. They combine the best balance of ergonomic flexibility, reliability, and neutral sonic character. If I moved to a much smaller house I’d be on the lookout for an Accuphase integrated.

Right now if I was relegated to one DAC it would have to be the Weiss DAC202. It works, sounds like nothing at all, and handles every digital input type except USB. For USB right now I’d go with the Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 4. But long-term (retirement, remember?) It’s a toss-up. I have a vision of the coach in the ad, Play offs?!? Don’t talk to me about playoffs…” “USB? Don’t talk to me about USB?!?” It’s still anyone’s call as to what the reference standard will be a couple years down the road.


For an analog front end I’d keep one of my VPI tables, either the TNT III or HW-19. It might end up being the HW-19, since it’s set up with an original Souther SLA-3 arm purchased directly from Lou Souther (he was a true gentleman) and a wonderful Denon 103 converted by A.J. Vandenhul (another genius in the industry.) 

My retirement disc-spinner would be an Oppo BDP-95 or NuForce BDP-93 NXE, with my Lexicon RT-10 for Cd’s via its EAS/EBU output.

And who’s cables would I chose? Now, that decision does make my head hurt…but, I’ve been delighted with the Crystal Cable Piccolo interconnect in my upstairs home theater. And the Synergistic Research active cable eliminated hum issues on long runs to my subs. I love the neutrality and dynamics of Cardas Clear, and finally the AudioQuest Colorado and MIT AVT2 cables have performed beautifully on my desktop system. Both WireWorld and Locus Designs USB cables have proven their value in multiple USB set-ups. See why my head throbs when thinking about cable?

Final questions on my retirement system revolve around software formatting. Would I get serious about transferring all my digital music to my computer audio library? And which Internet music service would I settle on?

Fortunately, these are all questions that I don’t have to answer yet, but perhaps you, too, are mulling over similar questions for your own system. My advice is to keep the stuff you love and sell the rest..

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