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Spendor SP1: The loudspeakers were to play the key role of the system. They should be small, beautiful and survive three to four upgrades in the preceding signal path because it isn’t easy to improve upon one’s speakers without making additional alterations. Hence the speakers had to be good enough to easily show future changes in electronics and cabling. And, they had to be reasonably priced. If you read my Polish review of Spendor’s SA6 model, you’d already know that I admired their sound and although not all aspects proved personally optimal, the concept on a whole was brilliant.


That’s why I chose the SA1, which started some kind of 'revolution' at Spendor. After their launch, the models A5, A6 and ST flagship followed. The SA1 are small two-way bookshelf speakers and straight-line descendants of the LS5/3a  BBC loudspeakers designed by Spencer Hughes, the company’s founder. For treble we have a soft 22mm dome with a wide suspension while the mid/woofer is a 150mm Spendor unit with a milky semi-transparent Polypropylene diaphragm. The single WBT wire terminals are made from a copper alloy and the cabinet is brilliantly veneered in a glossy finish. You can buy them with matching stands and I warmly recommend you do so although I received the loaners without  and relied on Sonus Faber stands instead.


Heed Audio Obelisk Si + Obelisk X-2: I had no problems identifying the right loudspeakers but amplifiers weren’t as easy. They had to fulfill  the same requirements as the speakers yet were to be easily upgradeable. The market only has few such choices but after some research I unexpectedly decided on the Obelisk Si from the Hungarian Heed Audio company I’d not heard from before.

Theirs are really nice small units with a dynamic sound that well complemented the Spendors – not so easy since those small speakers consume much current before showing their full potential. But the Obelisk Si has further assets. It can be easily upgraded by adding the external X-2 power supply. The sonic change is quite substantial and achieves the next plateau of sound reproduction. The same applies to the Cyrus amplifiers but I preferred the sound of the Hungarian. This machine allows also for expansion cards to be installed, say a phono preamplifier or DAC. The latter can be of use when attaching a satellite receiver, DVD or Blu-ray player to it but not for the particular player I picked. That is far better.

Cyrus CD8SE + PSX-R: This is the newest player from the British Cyrus company and a fantastic source built around a newly designed drive assembly called Servo Evolution (SE). I knew that one from an Audio review and the drive from the review  of the CD transport CD Xt SE. That transport actually was one of our prizes in the Cover of the Year 2008 contest. As an important feature, this unit too can be upgraded with the external PSX-R power supply. And as a bonus, Heed’s small credit card remote running off the popular RC-5 codes can also control the basic functions of the Cyrus player. We can thus keep the big Cyrus remote stored in the box and rely on only one nice wand for the system.


Chord/Furutech cabling: The undercurrent of every system is the cabling. I needed precise clean cables that would not add much by themselves. After some very good experiences with Chord Company cables, I selected the Chorus 2 interconnect and Epic Twin loudspeaker cable. These did not cost a fortune while guaranteeing at least good sound. In their case an upgrade would obviously involve an exchange.

Gigawatt/Furutech power: Finally to power delivery which I’m not mentioning last because it’s least -- exactly the opposite in fact which I will discuss in a moment -- but because individual solutions must be chosen after the system has been completed. These should assist the system, not mask flaws and shortcomings. It was simple choosing the power strip. I’ve used the Gigawatt PF-2 in my system for a long time and here selected its smaller brother, the model PF-1. The strip comes with the nice LC-1 power cord and it was a no-brainer to order four more to allow the computer-type stock cords of the components to power for example a - computer. You could move more slowly by starting with the stock cords and upgrading to the LC-1s in stages. While those are nothing exceptional, they can be upgraded later and if we went with the Furutech Evolution speaker cables and interconnects, the natural choice would be the Evolution power cables. To not overstretch the budget, we would use only two for amplifier and player and leave the Polish cables on the external power supplies.

An extra, the Adept Response aR12 Audience power conditioner: Finally true madness, the exchange of a strip for an -- expensive -- conditioner. Listening sessions conducted by me and the Krakow Sonic Society over the last few years showed how in a well-composed system, power delivery is key. That’s why I use very expensive components from the Japanese Acrolink company and why, finally, I wanted to see how the upgraded system would perform if we added something like this. The aR12 is the top conditioner of the American Audience company and named exactly how I like to think about an audio system: High Resolution Power Conditioner. Each of its sockets is separately filtered with a second stage of filtering between them. The unit is also equipped with a splendid power cable.