This Might Be One Of The Best Audio Listening Systems You Can Buy!

The most incredible audio system you’ll ever find!

I’ve finally uncovered a “lifetime ownership” heirloom audio system that can interest almost anyone in your family. You and they can pick up each component!

No one piece is heavier than the power amp. The 300B tube amp that I recommend weighs approximately 32 lbs. The Bricasti M3 DAC weighs 10 lbs. Each Hagen weighs 8 lbs. Each BOB is 24.25 lbs. My recommended Class D amp puts 150w/ch (for the BOBs only) and has a volume control. It weighs 3.08 lbs and measures 7.87″ wide x 6.1″ deep x 1.61″ high. All items meet my 40 lb max weight per component requirement.

ALL OF THEM!

My recommended 300B amp sounds superb. I could easily quit here if I didn’t build audio components and couldn’t afford to go further. However, I will purchase one from a known builder with a 2-chassis system (substantially beefed up power supply that weighs 35 pounds for each of the two chassis) that is interstage coupled (on the 2nd 35-pound chassis) rather than capacitor coupled like this amp. Will I get better sound quality? Maybe, but I’m going to find out. However, this builder will have to come as close to what I do with my amp, or it won’t sound as good even though it’s much bigger and more expensive. Unlike the custom amps, I find other buildings, and my 300B build is controlled at every critical stage. Time will tell.

Whenever I’ve used costly solid-state amps, I’ve found that you gain better transparency as you pay more. But that transparency will “cut your head off,” and only those who have done it will back away. They know. I’ve done the same and won’t do it again. I’ve learned. I used to believe in using all the most expensive parts I could purchase. I obtained tremendous transparency but then had a very thin sound quality. Now, I’m very selective and focus instead on the replaceability of those parts down the road and their resulting sound quality. Building an amp is very much like cooking. The best recipes end up being an integration of the correct ingredients. A good amp is no different. I’m most interested in creating a good amp, which I’m recommending you do, too.

You might think you know best, but you probably haven’t experienced this and tried the many combinations that I have. The 300B amp I’m recommending is excellent and provides the most realistic sound quality I’ve experienced for the type of music I listen to. I’ll report what I find when I upgrade to another 300B amp, but I am in no rush to integrate another 300B amp into this system. Maybe this system with an even higher-priced 300B amp (and much larger and much more weight) will play louder before distorting, but I don’t need that since I’m a near-field listener, and the sound quality needs to be turned down as it is. However, I’m going to find out.

If you add an excellent turntable system, you can easily spend another $20,000 on top of what I just shared. You don’t need a turntable with this system. The digital sound quality is as good as that of a high-end turntable system, but the user interface comfort and control are so much better, and you can steam Tidal or whatever digital service you like the most. I no longer connect a turntable to this system, even though I can connect it to my Bricasti M12 DAC. The Bricasti M12 DAC isn’t required, but if you want the best, it’s the one to purchase, in my opinion. The much lower-cost M3 DAC is what I have used to voice this system. I use Titdal and Audirvana player on my desktop Mac Studio computer. That’s it! Roon doesn’t provide the same audio quality, and I quit using it.

I think the Bricasti M3 DAC is excellent and better than when using the Lampizator Baltic 4 DAC, the Kitsune May DAC, or the Terminator DAC. But . . . all of these are good and should sound good if you already have them. However, the optional $1.000 Bricasti network card is better than these other options and provides the streaming service you’ll need to pay a fortune if you use the other DACs. The Bricasti is impressive and is the only way I use digital now. All of my Tidal files are unrolled inside my Bricasti DAC via i2S, and my computer is used only to play the database. It has nothing to do with the sound quality and can be inexpensive. You can use a low-cost computer of any brand. I love this combination. This cost is lower than any other streaming option I can find (and it’s much cheaper when using the Bricasti network card). This is probably the best value in high-end audio that I know of, and I’m an Innuous dealer who can order any of their streaming devices.

I’m a dealer for Voxativ, Closer Acoustics, Bricasti, DH Labs Silversonic, VHaudio, Furutech, and WBT, and I can direct you to the websites you will need to place your direct orders for companies that I don’t represent but use.

Various tube combinations can help you fine-tune your listening situation. I don’t get involved with that other than suggesting what you should use. I will provide a price lower than retail but do this as a system concept, so I will need some information from you and your serious commitment to have me do this.

It takes considerable time, and I’m not interested in those who want to window shop. I’m already providing what you need and have spent my money and time doing this. Any profit I make is a bonus. Owning this system is what I’ve done for myself, and I am willing to share it with anyone else who is a serious audiophile. I’m a former professional jazz piano player and know what real live music sounds like. I’ve been searching for this system for a long time (all my adult life) and finally found it.

I add 4″ high feet to this rack and enjoy its lack of taking up much room.
(The Hagens sit on top of my 12″ open baffle base units, so they are not much different from a large floorstanding speaker system. Except . . . I can pick this system up and move it, and so can anyone in my family! The sound quality will keep up with anything much larger and much more expensive!)

The Law Of Physics As It Applies To Speaker Design

Are you tired of trying to work with the law of physics (WARNING: LARGE PDF FILE!), which tells you that there are three parameters that you can use to determine the size and weight of your speakers and, consequently, the sound quality you can enjoy?

“Cabinet size (the bigger, the better), bass depth (how low it will go), and price (don’t pay extra for bling)

Additional Information

In the end, speaker design is all about accepting trade-offs. Suppose you can live with a relatively large speaker cabinet. High-sensitivity drivers can be used, but large speaker cabinets significantly strain your relationships with others. Take the Charney Lumica speakers, for example. They are huge and use the same full-range driver that I do (Voxativ AC-2.6). Spouses don’t have much tolerance for large speakers, while most consumers prefer speakers with reasonable bass extensions that require large speaker cabinets. What do you do? Can you afford to purchase a Chaney Lumica? Do you need to?

I’ve struggled with this problem all my adult life and have always found that expensive, high-efficiency, and large speaker systems sound the best when used with an adequately powered tube amplifier. But low-powered tube amps don’t do well with the low bass portion of the frequency spectrum. Solid-state amps sound too thin (they don’t have the body a good 300B tube amp provides for the high frequencies and midrange), even though I’ve tried most solid-state designs and like them for their detail. I’ve found that I must use a tube amp to add the body to gain the sound quality of real music. Solid-state amps don’t do this. I’ll use not just any tube amp either (lower powered DHT triode-based only, not push/pull with lots of power, and preferably a 300B tube amp). However, one that is fully integrated with the complete system and doesn’t exceed the power output of a good 300B tube amp (there is a reason for this).

I have finally found a solution that works for me and will share it with you. Every component I use weighs under 40 pounds and produces superb sound quality. It finally works for me, and it will also work for you.

It’s not the quality of the amplifier that creates your problem, even though it needs to be good. It doesn’t need to be exotic, however (i.e., two chassis separating the power and circuit, adding a lot of bling to make the amp look better than it sounds, using a massive number of high-end and expensive parts, and other items that increase cost above $10,000 are unnecessary.) I recommend two integrated amps, and both are reasonably priced. That’s it.

One will cost you about $3,000, and an upgraded 300B amp will be about $10,000. The $3,000 amp, however, is good enough, and you don’t need to upgrade to the more expensive 300B amp. I’ve built this myself and have several optional steps for you to follow. You can have a manufacturer build this for you; the cost isn’t much ($400 extra for the assembly). I’ve changed their stock amp (to my liking), but not in a problematic or costly way. You do not need to do this to the degree that I have, and only if you’re anal like me. However, purchasing the more expensive solution would be even better than upgrading. So start with my 1st option, and maybe you can stop there.

There are still tube costs, and excellent 300B amp tubes are expensive. You will probably want to use the Western Electric 300B tubes, which cost $1,500 a pair. They will provide you with a sound quality considerably different from low-cost 300B tubes, allowing you to change your system’s presentation drastically. But they are expensive, yet I consider them the best.

I use the Western Electric 300B in my amps. Anything else is a compromise, and I’m not willing to compromise. Those tubes provide a sound quality that I like, and even though they are initially expensive, the cost per day of usage (with their 5-year warranty) is superb. Choosing your system’s speaker design makes a huge difference, even though your source is ultimately your most important #1 concern. Your source and your speakers need to match each other exceptionally well. You can only listen to what the source can do IF your speakers can also play all of the information created by your source. In all honesty, they go together if you want the best sound quality.

I’ve built almost everything available: open baffle, sealed box, ported box, single amp, bi-amp, multichannel amp, and everything in between (transmission line, horn, etc). Understanding how to do this has cost me considerable money and time, but I’ve enjoyed the journey and now know what works well and what doesn’t. Do you need to take the same path as I have? No! Not at all. But if you want a sound quality similar to the one I have, you need to accept my recommendations. My recommendations are made for a particular reason, which is correct. This has cost me a lot of money and time.

Choosing an audio system is always a compromise; you must select your compromises carefully, or you’ll waste a lot of money and never be satisfied. I’ve done that for many decades and have finally uncovered a system design that will “tick” all of my boxes, and this system will do the same for you if you let it. I’ve even built my components when I couldn’t find them done the way I would like, and I have become a well-heeled OEM and audio reseller along the way. But that’s me and not you.

In the end, the presentation that a good 300B amp makes is what I’ve been searching for. I previously used two 300B amps and didn’t like either of them, so I wrote off this tube. That was a mistake. One was an upgraded Elekit 300B 8600S (I built that for Kevin at Glow In The Dark Audio, and he felt the same as I did – this amp didn’t have the “magic” that a 300B tube is capable of and sounded more like a solid-state amp.) The other was a $10,000 Finale 300B amp (from Canada), and again, I wouldn’t say I liked that amp’s sound quality, so I sold it and moved on. This time, I vastly upgraded a 300B amp kit that cost around $2,000 and put another $4,000 into parts cost. After spending considerable time working on this amp, I now know what needs to be done and what doesn’t, and I will share it if you become a customer of mine. Your cost will be much lower than mine, but the sound quality will be the same.

The total cost of building this amp varies from stock and might add another $1,000 to the original $2,000 kit price plus the tubes required. That amp sounds excellent, is more to my liking, and works exceptionally well with this entire system. I’m using it to “fine-tune” this system and have learned much about what is necessary to gain superb sound quality with a 300B tube amp. I also purchased a Dennis Had 300B amp to have one built by someone else to compare it against. However, my kit amp sounds much better, even though I might be biased due to my extensive research into operating this amp as best I can. Both are point-to-point construction, so why not consider upgrading the kit amp, as I recommend? You will be amazed at the resulting sound quality. It works well.

Hopefully, the final and third 300B amp I will purchase for this system (currently unknown) will result from my research into gaining the sound quality I’ve always wanted and be my final destination. However, you do not need to go as far as I am. The upgraded kit amp is all you need to purchase, and I don’t make money telling you this. I’m sharing this as honestly as I can.

BUILDING THIS SYSTEM

The key to achieving world-class sound quality is adding open baffle bass to your higher midrange and treble speaker monitors using two separate stereo amps (one tube and one Class D) and an electronic analog crossover unit. Separate this stack of speakers (left and right channels) into three stacked boxes per side (total height is at ear level for the treble and mid-range), and you’ll end up with the best sound quality you can achieve with the most flexibility while making your system moveable by anyone. It will sound better and cost less than any other alternative that I know of. My fundamental goal is that one piece weighs no more than 40 pounds and can be lifted and moved by anyone. Forty pounds is probably the most any healthy adult can lift realistically, and I use that as my maximum goal for my requirements. Plus, the entire system needs to be archetypal and be able to be passed on to someone else. That is also one of my goals.

Your sound must also not activate your room nodes. All bass-oriented box speakers do, and that’s a fact of life. So, I no longer use them for the bass element of my musical reproducing system. I’ve given up on using subwoofers for audiophile use a long time ago. The Hagen’s I recommend as my #1 solution is a short horn by design, and the opening on the front of the cabinet is not a port. They are 99 db efficient and are a superb complement to a good 300B tube amp. The sensitivity is suitable and shouldn’t be smaller since the 300B amp can’t operate at full volume to get the best sound quality. It must be set to a maximum of 40% to sound good. 99db speakers allow for that. Anything less doesn’t, even though the amp can be played. It just can’t be played without distortion, and you don’t want that.

Open baffle bass won’t pound you in the chest with its bass (subwoofers are highly unrealistic and won’t sound like music since they don’t integrate well with your primary system) but will provide bass augmentation that is quick, tight and sounds most like real music without accentuating bass nodes. Going in this direction will save you a considerable amount of money for a similar sounding system, plus all components can be lifted by any adult and not two or three people you need to hire. This open baffle bass augmentation system (not a subwoofer design) is the least likely to accentuate bass nodes. It is much easier to listen to than a closed cabinet design with subwoofers. The perfect bass drivers for this system begin at a minimum size of two 12″ in open bass cabinets and are ideally stacked instead of placed in a single cabinet. This is probably the best-sized driver and the best way to mount them. Anything smaller or larger creates issues.

Two stacked drivers also make an ideal stand for the small bookshelf monitors carefully placed on top. Use a DHT triode class A amplifier with the most power (around eight w/ch) available with that design and bi-amp using a Class D amplifier with volume control for the open bass augmentation speakers and my recommended electronic analog crossover. This combination will provide the best sound quality. It will best “the law of physics” that plagues most of us who try to create the sound quality of real music using pre-recorded music and standard speakers (either bookshelf or floor standing.) What’s also really nice is that this system is entirely tweakable for anyone’s taste and room acoustics via the various volume controls on the 300B amp, the Class D amp, and the electronic analog crossover. These controls do not detract from your sound quality and allow excellent flexibility. More than any other system I’ve used and I’m extremely picky and anal about this.

The Closer Acoustics BOB speakers provide a manufactured solution and a bass unit that weighs 24.25 pounds each. Even though their 12″ driver cabinets are made in Poland, and you have to wait while they’re built and shipped across the Atlantic, this provides the foundation for your audio system.

Even better is a pair of 12″ drivers that you build into a DIY ripole bass system. A manufactured solution exists but isn’t worth the money (in my opinion). But you don’t need to go this far. The two C frame (not H frame) stacked BOBs are good enough. If you can DIY, however, you will have an even better sound quality for less money. But you must do some DIY (build the speaker cabinets yourself). A link to learn how to do this is included below:

https://jazzman-esl-page.blogspot.com/2011/01/ripole-subs-are-underway.html

If I built a pair of ripole bass units (one for each channel), I’d attach a front baffle board, cut a slot for the ripole bass and a round hole for the Voxativ driver, and use the Voxativ open baffle (open to the back instead of inside a Hagen cabinet). That would save a considerable amount of money and provide even better sound quality. If I carefully chose a nice baffle board, this could be a beautiful speaker system created precisely how I like it.

I’m sharing this for your benefit. The other components I use are all fine-tuned by me, and I am not glued to any particular manufacturer. Instead, I listen. If I like a system approach I have personally heard, I share it with others. I’m doing that here and have been doing that for many decades. That’s my approach to audio. Making a large sum of money doing this isn’t my thing, as it is for most manufacturers or retail vendors you might have worked with.

This system, however, is the best I’ve assembled, bar none. As a result, I always put together the best-sounding system that can be created using components I genuinely believe in and use myself – first. That’s it. I’m not interested in selling everything under the sun to make money.

Instead, I aim to create the most musical system within my set parameters. If you follow my suggestions, you will benefit immensely. If you don’t, more power to you. Spend your money and learn along the way. The journey is a lot of fun, and getting there (if you ever do) is the cherry on top, but it isn’t necessary if you enjoy the journey and learn while trying to build the most musically satisfying system you can. Most of us, however, are in a hurry, and taking my hard-earned advice will help you greatly if you listen. If you don’t, more power to. you.

Is There Another Bass Solution That You Would Use?

The only other bass augmentation speaker I would use (with even better sound quality) as an alternative to the Closer BOBs is a ri-pole design utilizing at least two 12″ drivers per side (not 10″ or smaller) with an electronic analog crossover unit and a separate Class D amp doing the same bi-amping that I’m recommending.

The BOBs are available with black fronts with walnut sides or white fronts with natural maple sides. A pair of these (two per channel) can act as stands for the small monitors you place on top, minimizing your floor space and the number of components you need to use. The total floor space for a bottom BOB unit is 15.75″ wide x 13.78″ deep. That’s it!

An even better ripole unit is about the same footprint size, so use that if you want the best sound quality and the lowest possible cost. However, you will probably need to build this yourself. Many can’t do that, and the Closer BOBs now make sense.

Good monitor stands typically occupy the same or slightly larger floor space, so you can’t save floor space using just the bookshelf speakers and a pair of stands. You also won’t have the bass augmentation, which is essential and significant. This accomplishes much the same as an excellent floor-standing speaker system but sounds better and is much smaller for a similar sound quality. It also is adjustable. You can purchase the bookshelf speakers first (the Hagens), plus an inexpensive stand, and add the BOBs later when you can afford the upgrade. You can do this in pieces. If you can DIY a pair of Ripole subs, the result is that you will end up with even better sound quality and a lower cost.

The small bookshelf speakers you place on top determine your mid-range and treble quality (plus a reasonable amount of bass), and that’s the sound quality you want to optimize. Closer makes their OGYs, and I would only use their Corian-clad monitors in white or black (to minimize vibrations) if you purchase a pair to save money (again through me). However, they are 91db efficient, and when using a 300B amplifier to gain the best body for your sound quality (the best DHT triode design with adequate power), it puts the 300B at its limits before you can crank these speakers very much. This might be good for lower-volume near-field listening but also limits the genre of music you can play. Ideally, higher-efficiency midrange and treble speakers are needed, and I have the proper solution. Keep reading.

A much better choice is to use the Voxativ Hagen speakers with AF-2.6 drivers. I’ve used those same single-driver speakers in a Charney Maestro Extreme tractrix horn cabinet and like their sound quality considerably. The Charney cabinet design provides the bass, but I now get a much better bass sound quality using a pair of BOBs per channel with the Hagens on top with AF-2.6 drivers in their cabinets. The speaker cabinet is moveable by one person, and everything weighs well under 40 pounds. That’s a serious accomplishment.

If I built the ripole bass cabinet, I’d paint it with my black Duratex paint, select a superb front baffle wooden board, and attach it to the front of the Ripole cabinets. This board would have a rectangular slot cut for the ripole output and a small hole toward the top for the single Voxativ driver. That’s all you would need, and the appearance of this DIY unit will depend on the quality of the baffle board you select and not the cabinet you build for your ripole drivers. If you like, you can build a unit that will equal the nicest-looking manufactured system. If you built it DIY, you don’t have to pay the expensive overhead and marketing expenses attached to most commercial offerings. In my opinion, that’s a win-win combination, and I recommend doing it where you can.

I can also bi-amp my system and provide much better sound quality than using the Charneys alone with a single amplifier. Doing this gives me a super high efficiency of 99db, an easy-to-drive load for my 300B amp. It needs it since the 300B amp distorts if you push it beyond maybe 40% of full volume. Hagen monitors with AF-2.6 (at 99db efficient into 8 ohms), a reasonable cost Class D amp with volume control (around 150 w/ch into 4 ohms) for the two 8 ohm BOBs (94 db efficient bass augmentation), and stacking the Hagens on top makes for an ideal system. That would be my perfect choice if I purchased the electronic analog crossover unit needed for this system. I’d then use my stereo 300B amplifier to power only the Hagens. The Class D stereo amp would power the BOBs. And my electronic analog crossover would combine the two.

I’ve tried every possible subwoofer design, and these Voxativ A2.6 speakers are too fast, tight, and detailed to integrate well with a slower sealed or ported subwoofer, regardless of brand or cost. Don’t even try. You won’t be successful. The Closer BOB or, ideally, the ripole bass augmentation cabinets are your ideal answer, but their use is optional. You should at least start with the pair of Hagens.

The 300B amp also puts out just the right amount of power and is the most powerful and delicate-sounding DHT triode design. It’s ideal for this system. The highly transparent Hagen speakers need the body that the 300B amp provides. The combination is breathtaking. Your choice of tubes then becomes your way to fine-tune this amp further. Any larger power output (more than 8 watts) will create problems, and veering away from the DHT single-ended design will lessen your sound quality. You would need to spend a lot more money to do this well with any other design, and all you would get is more power and less sound quality. I’m not interested in that approach.

The first watt is your best and most important. Beyond the first watt, the extra wattage extends the music you play into your listening room and provides enough headroom to prevent distortion. The Hagens will allow that to be done well enough due to their superb quality and high efficiency of 99db. They are small, and you only need one good 300B tube amplifier to take the edge off those single-driver speakers. This purchase combination is a delight and one of the best you can make.

Of course, you can use two 12″ open bass drivers in a single cabinet. But I challenge you to lift, move, and leave it to others in your family with the same concerns. This solution is just too heavy and difficult to move. I’ve given up on doing that a long time ago. Plus, the BOB’s two stacked 12″ EMS makes drivers per channel in France, and sound is better than the lower-cost 12″ drivers you might use in a DIY scenario. The BOBs are the way to do this and are extremely pleasing when added to the Hagen’s, which will reside on top.

The Incredible Sounding Single Driver Hagen Speaker Sitting On Top Of Two BOB 12″ Open Baffle Bass Drivers Per Side (Left and Right). A good 300B amp powers the Hagen speaker, and a low-cost Class D amp powers the BOBs using a lower-cost electronic analog crossover unit. This is your ideal solution!

I’ve been searching for this audio system for many decades, and I’m both an OEM and an audio reseller. I’ve set this system up for demo purposes in Boston, MA, and can sell any items I mention. Let me know if you might be interested. I can do better than my posted prices if you work with me. The WAF factor for this system is excellent if you acquire the Hagens first.

1. A Low-Cost Beginning Option

Start with a pair of Voxativ Hagen speakers with AF2.6 driver bookshelf speakers on inexpensive stands. If you take time accumulating additional components, this can be an end-game setup or part of an optional BOB setup. Maybe you have the money to spend upfront to do this all at once. Each Hagen measures 8″ wide x 10″ deep x 14″ high and weighs 8 lbs for each cabinet. The front opening on each cabinets is not a ported design.

2. Purchase A Bricasti M3 DAC When You Can Afford It

Add the Bricasti M3 DAC for system volume control, remote operation, and network card (RJ45) capability, and you’ll have one of the most excellent sound qualities you’ll ever hear. This is a serious value even though it might appear expensive initially. It isn’t! Your source is the most critical component, and your speakers will play only what your source can provide. For what you get in sound quality, it’s not expensive! If you use the Hagen approach, you want to purchase a Bricasti DAC. Its sound quality is stunning!

You can start with any DAC you like, but this Bricasti DAC is extremely special and will blow anything close to its price out of the water. Your source is where you should first spend your extra money beyond acquiring your speakers.

3. Purchase an excellent-sounding 300B tube amp for the Hagens. This is your tuning device, so select it carefully! I can help you with this selection since I built my 300B tube amp to power these speakers exceptionally well and have an absolute favorite for the money spent.

3. Add 4 BOBs (2 BOBs per side) and a 2nd Class D amp + an electronic analog crossover unit (As You Can Afford it)

If you like bass (4 BOBs in total), two BOBs will become the stand for each Hagen or OGY channel, and you will end up with one of the finest-sounding audio systems you can build. The total sensitivity is 99db for the Hagens with an 8-ohm easy-to-drive load.

You will need a low-cost, volume-controlled Class D amp for the 2nd amp while using the 300B integrated tube amp for the OGYs.

The total floor space needed for the BOBs is 15.75″ wide x 13.78″ deep. Two stacked BOBs provide a stand to place each Hagen on top. Each BOB weighs only 24.25 lbs since no internal power amp exists.

You can also build this optional system by purchasing one component at a time while taking your time to enjoy the journey.

Build One Of The Best Sounding Audio Systems

1a. Voxativ Hagen AF-2.6 Driver Pair (My Only Bookshelf Speaker Choice!)

My choice is the Voxativ Hagen monitors. The Hagen’s are available with a beautiful black or white piano gloss finish, and I can order any of these for you, but I need to check what is in stock and obtain the latest price before you commit to this purchase. This is how to achieve the highest sound quality using a superb 300B amp. The sensitivity of these Hagen monitors is 99db into 8 ohms and is perfect for a 300B amp. If interested, message me using my contact page, and I’ll reply.

99 db Sensitive

2. Bricasti M3 DAC With Network Card & Remote Control Volume Added
(I wouldn’t recommend any other DAC besides maybe my M12 at a much higher price. I’ve owned over 50 DACs in the last eight years. I like this M3 DAC over the Holo May Kitsune DAC, the Terminator DAC, and the Lampizator Baltic 4 DAC. I’ve used and owned all three.)

Bricasti M3 DAC – One Of The Best Sources You Can Use With Bricasti’s Volume Control and Network Card.
Bricasti M3 DAC Interior Photo

This is an easy purchase since you will receive a world-class DAC, a transparent remote volume control, and one of the best network audio streaming solutions that money can buy. The $1,000 optional streamer inside this DAC will keep up with a $20,000 Innous statement streamer, and that alone is worth more than the M3’s cost (just that one feature alone). I use the even more expensive Bricasti M12 DAC but have compared this to the M3 and have both in my system. The texture is different; of course, you receive more for the M12’s $16,000 retail price. A similarly equipped M3 only costs $7,500. The M3 would be my DAC choice if money were a concern. The M12 would be my DAC choice if money were no object.

The M3 blew my Lampizator Baltic 4 DAC with volume control, my Innuous Phoenix USB unit, and expensive USB cables out of the water and quickly replaced that system. I’m now using an RJ45-based system instead of a USB to insert audio files into the DAC. Not USB! Before the Baltic 4 with Innuous Phoenix USB, I used the Halo May Kitsune DAC and the Terminator DAC and found the M3 to provide the best sound quality, and it has the lowest price compared to all other options. The M3 DAC made by Bricasti is a “sleeper,” in my opinion, and few know of its incredible capabilities. To gain this much audio quality for so little is amazing. Plus, it’s made in the US, not China or another country. Every part is made by Bricasti, including the small buttons that form the front panel controls.

3. Purchase a 300B Tube Power Amp For The Hagens

I built my 300B tube amp to power the Hagens and use it to check out various design alternatives I’m working with. I’ve used all of the finest parts I can source and listen to, and by doing this, I can change parts rather than purchase an entire new amp. I’ve worked on this amp for months and now know precisely how you should build it. Your cost can be MUCH less than mine due to this work. The cost of this particular amp and the sound quality is 2nd to none, and the price is reasonable compared to any other options. I’ll share how to do this with my customers only. I make nothing from this recommendation; everything needed is purchased from different sources other than through me.

On the other hand, you can purchase a built-for-you 300B amp (the same amp I use built by the parent company in Japan) and accomplish close to the same thing, and you don’t need to change anything. However, most 300B designs and sound quality will vary considerably, particularly in the price range of what I’ve done. If you can afford to spend over $10,000, other options exist. Under $10,000, it would be best if you purchased what I share. All construction is point-to-point, and all parts are easily sourced from here in the US should you need any future service. This amp can be worked on by anyone (a qualified service rep or even you if you built this amp DIY). You do not need to send it back to Japan or another country if you need service!

If you purchase a different amp, I’ll leave alternatives up to you, but I can already share that the 300B amp I recommend sounds superb with the Hagen speakers and is of the lowest possible cost. It needs to use my tube compliments and incorporate my various changes. If you used this “as is,” you’d never suspect it was the same amp. Of course, you can use alternatives if you like. That makes this hobby fun and causes considerable buying and selling. However, if you want an end-game amplifier, choose what I’ll share or purchase an amp between $10,000 and $20,000. That higher purchase will be a 2nd recommendation I’ll share when I eventually do it.

My choice for the 300B amplifier!

I enjoy fine-tuning this system and am bi-amping my audio system to obtain the best sound quality possible for the money spent. You are doing well; however, if you use just a pair of Hagen speakers on stands and an excellent 300B amp like the one I’ll share. You can quit right there and run the Hagens full range. The bass might be light, but you can use this system as a superb, reasonably priced audio system that you will enjoy. And, of course, you should also use the Bricasti M3 DAC as your source, making this a superb-sounding two-component system plus your speakers.

Can You Use A Lower Cost 300B Amp?

I doubt it. The amp I recommend is one of those lower-cost 300B amp options, and if you spend any less, you will run into problems. Don’t do it. Use what I recommend and make the changes I will share, and you’ll have the best sound quality you can obtain for the least possible money. If you are fortunate and want to spend more, you can, and I’ll eventually provide that solution. Plus, I’ll tell you honestly what you’ll receive if you do that. It isn’t necessary, however.

How To Start With Limited Funds

Getting a complete system to sound good is challenging; I’ve already done that for you. That has cost me considerable money and time. You might not like this system if you use something other than what I recommend, so don’t use it.

Many people also eliminate excellent components before optimizing what they already have, which is a learning process even though it’s not the correct way to learn. This approach wastes a lot of money, and I’ve done it over a long period, and I’m an OEM and very anal and know what I’m doing. However, I enjoy the adventure. I’ve gained knowledge over time by spending money and listening firsthand to many different components. If you accept what I share, you can avoid the merry-go-round expenditure, but that decision is yours.

This System Now Provides The Best Sound Quality

Before listening to the HAGENs with BOB stands, my favorite tube amp was my self-built 45-tube amp and a pair of Charney Maestro Extreme cabinets with Voxativ A2.6 drivers (99db). That tube amp wasn’t a problem, except it didn’t play with enough power (about 1.8 w/ch). Nancy didn’t like the size of the cabinets, so I changed even though I gave away my favorite sound at the time. I still remember how much I enjoyed that system, and I am glad I can use the Voxativ A2.6 drivers again. But this time, I have even better sound quality and tremendous flexibility. Plus, none of my components weigh more than 40 pounds each, and I don’t have to call two or three guys to move my speakers or anything in my system. I can do everything myself and eventually pass this system on to someone in my family. That’s always been one of my goals, and this system allows for that.

My A2.6 drivers were 100+ db efficient in the Charney cabinets, but I still heard distortion when playing loud due to the low power the amp put out. At normal listening levels, everything was superb with the 45 amp. So even though the 45 amp was excellent, the efficiency of the amps still wasn’t quite enough. A 300B amp has enough power (8 w/ch versus 1.5 w/ch), so I’m returning to that former design and using those same drivers, the Voxativ AF-2.6. And I can run my 300B amp at maybe 40% of its eight w/ch capacity to obtain the best sound quality. I now have the best sound quality I’ve ever had.

But this time, I’m not concerned about the bass from the AF2.6 drivers. The BOBs take care of that need (plenty of power and current to drive them), and by splitting this system into two parts, I gain a tremendous amount of headroom for the 300B amp. Running this system through a superb electronic analog crossover takes the bass production off the Hagens and places it on the Class D amp that powers the BOBs. I also want my 300B amp to sound close to what my 45 tube amp put out but even better with a more excellent body and to do so with components that I or anyone else can lift easily.

Single-driver speakers sound transparent but can easily be too thin if you use a solid-state amp, so don’t do that. Only a 300B tube amp will adequately remove that edge and have enough power. Any DHT amp that is more oversized (i.e., 211 or 845 tubes) will run hot, cost much more, and not be as delicate sounding as a 300B tube amp. A good 300B amp is the absolute best you can use.

My recommended 300B amp will sound better than any other component, but HEY, this is your system, and you should make your own decisions based on your mistakes, too. I’m just providing you with some honest information, and if you don’t accept it, it’s ok.

I Will Help You Build This System

System integration is vital, and I will gladly help you do that. If driven correctly, the 300B tubes last a long time, but Western Electric 300B tubes cost quite a bit. Those are the quality of tubes you should be using, and if you start with lesser-cost tubes, eventually, you will want to upgrade since lesser-cost tubes won’t sound as good and won’t be as extended. There is no substitute for a good pair of 300B tubes in a suitable amp. Replace your driver tubes to get the sound closer to what you desire. Put some hours on your system, and then get critical.

Get the sound quality close to what you like, then perfect it by purchasing your final tubes. Honestly, this can be enjoyable and allow you to explore a bit. It’s the journey rather than the getting there that is special. If you go too fast, you’ll miss the “forest through the trees.”

This is how you’ll “fine-tune” your amplifier to sound like what you want and how to create your best room projects. This can be a joy compared to using a solid-state amp for everything, so take your time. That’s also how I’ve developed my system, and I know what I’m doing, even though I’ve made many huge mistakes. I’ve been doing this for many decades and have been anal about my journey, and probably more so than you will ever be. There is no way to rush this process, so do it well. Purchasing used isn’t the answer; I won’t work with you if you do that. Purchase all new components, and change them according to my suggestions, and enjoy your relatively easy gain.

Continue Forward & Biamp The Hagens And Add The 12″ Open Baffle Bass Bob Units To Broaden The Low Frequencies (Bass Augmentation For The Main System)

Suppose you decide to bi-amp using a 300B tube amp (that puts out eight w/ch) for the Hagens and the BOBs combined with a more powerful Class D solid state amp (that puts out maybe 100 – 250 w/ch Class D). You can adjust the volume control on each amp so the 300B and Class D amps play well together. You can also use the control knobs on the electronic analog crossover to dial things even closer. Then, you adjust the main volume using your Bricasti DAC without changing the others, and you’re done.

Integrating a subwoofer has never worked for me (no matter how much I spent on the subwoofer system, including using an expensive electric analog crossover unit to get things right). This BOB bass augmentation approach works and sounds like an excellent floor-standing speaker with good bass without the size and weight I usually expect. The Hagens are front-slotted, single-driver horn-loaded designs. The BOBs are open-baffle designs. Combining both designs (the small monitor with two BOBs per side) gives you the best of both worlds (with bass that doesn’t excite room nodes) and as high as 99db sensitivity for the Hagens. Placement is much easier using these two systems as one audio listening system, and low-volume listening is excellent for either the Hagen only or the Hagen/BOB combination.

A Rear Photo Of The Closer Acoustics BOB Speakers That I Use

IN SUMMARY

I’ve just shared how to assemble this system one step at a time, going from an affordable 300B amp solution to one requiring more money and using two amplifiers (one for the Hagens and one for the BOBs). My recommendations accommodate the affordable (and least cash-strapped person) and the most healed audiophile who wants the “best sound” at any price.

This system doesn’t cost that much even when fully maxed out (for this kind of sound quality) and surpasses most systems that cost a lot more. What’s also nice about this system is that you do not need to give up anything other than possibly upgrading your 300B tube amp to a higher level (if you started by using my 1st 300B amp recommendation) and changing your stands to a pair of BOBs per side. Other than that, everything is purchased once and kept.

Do Cables & Tube Selection Make A Difference & Increase Your Enjoyment Of Music Playback?

80+ Reviews

A resounding YES! And Here’s why . . .

Click To Read

Speaker Cables, Interconnects & Tubes

If you want high-quality, low-cost speaker wires and interconnects, I recommend the T14 speaker cables available from DHLabs and their interconnects as a low-cost option. Use these to get started with the Hagens and permanently for the BOBs. The speaker cables can be bulk cables without a connector on either end and just raw cable wire that you terminate yourself for the BOBs. I’d use the silver banana posts on both ends of the 300B amp speaker cable going to the Hagens. The interconnects will need to be XLR-connector-based, and I can recommend what to use with this system.

If you want the best, use what I’m using: the DHLabs Diety speaker cables and my best-sounding interconnects for the 300B amp. That approach will cost you considerably more but provides the best sound quality. My 300B interconnects are very special; if you are a customer, I’ll share that combination with you, but only if you are a customer.

I’m a dealer for DHLabs (as well as other companies) and can help you acquire what you might need. In addition, I’m a WBT and Furutech OEM and recommend using their power cables with their right-angle power plugs and their interconnect materials. My selection isn’t expensive but probably provides the best audio quality and flexibility for the money spent. I use cables to fine-tune once I’ve carefully gone through my entire system. More about that as you assemble a system since wires are used to fine-tune a system after tubes are chosen. The key here is to use all the same company’s power cables in your system. Interconnects can vary somewhat, but power cables should all be the same.

I sell the best-sounding cables as part of my customers’ audio systems, but I won’t recommend the most expensive ones except for my Hagen speaker cables. You can always use something less expensive, however. I recommend using what you can afford and focusing on your sound quality. Spending money isn’t needed to create the sound quality you desire. I tune an audio system for your preferences and environment and don’t inventory or sell cables separately. My cable recommendations are made and used only by those building my recommended systems.

Tubes are also a tuning mechanism; personal preference and affordability are critical when doing this. Everyone’s situation is different, and the tubes I initially recommended best suit my system. You could be different and require somewhat different tubes. NOS tubes can be expensive, and I purchase tubes like this for my system IF I can find them and the price isn’t too high. Swapping tubes becomes a pleasure since you can “tune” your audio system precisely to your preferences. More about this through my contact with you if you become a customer.