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UltraFast69
August 6, 2019, 12:49 AM
This past weekend, I and a close audiophile friend had the pleasure of meeting Mike Lavigne at his home about 30 miles east of Seattle in the foothills of the Great Cascade Mountain Range to hear what he has assembled using his experience over several decades.

Upon introduction, it was clear above his system, Mike is a genuine person; selfless in sharing his efforts, his home and his time for people who appreciate this so called crazy hobby of ours.

Mike immediately offered us cold beverages and then took us on an eager tour on what he assembled. Mikes approach to getting the room right is nothing short of spectacular, especially when you realize this once emanated originally as an actual barn housing horses.

As we listened to Mike explain the construction, room tuning, his system choices and the catalog of albums and music, we eagerly awaited the system to warm up. Mikes choices of equipment seemed to come from outside the State and included the amazing dartTZeelís battery powered preamp and solid state mono blocks (these monos are crafted as things of beauty taking 160 hours of just machining and finishing) along with the complimenting speaker towers by Evolution, there are 3 Studer tape reels, and a heck of lot more - Mikes commitment to both the analog and digital was simply unwavering, no shortcuts.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20190806/8213f8dd3f6fda9826ef68bc2260cd99.jpg

The room acoustics were carefully thought out. Mikeís room was so tuned to support playback, even when you spoke your voice sounded better.

Electrical and passive grounding was paramount that incorporates a massive dedicated panel for power and his use of Tripoint and Entreq devices supporting many, if not, all the components, including the powered speakers. And something I never heard of or seen was ďactive isolationĒ platforms. Just the description alone was draw dropping and when Mike had me clap my hands in front of one that supported a mono amp the screen displayed real time vibrational noise emitting from my hands. All these tweaks and efforts purpose is to get to as neutral in sound as possible, and it clearly can be heard.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20190806/2a47749d19ef56b532dd8c08f0a0a3c7.jpg

We started out first listening to albums, and it was clearly evident once the needle dropped that the dynamics of sound were at a captivating level. The midrange was so controlled and natural. It was so good that I was afraid of standing up without being embarrassed. The sound emitting from the Evolution speaker system was simply amazing, it easily made me think on several live tracks that I was at the venue and I know this a virtual impossibility, but it did. Nothing in the sound was exaggerated, the amps gripped those towers and allowed them to emit a non-assaulting wave of timbre harmony that was so open, real and pure. The sound literally drew you in probably like a bug light does to insects except, we were only zapped with one hell of a listening afternoon.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20190806/de2edd9e64595940d38973fd9c86238b.jpg

Interesting enough, Mikeís center chair was located near field, and I must admit it was intimidating at first as the speakers are massive, but you became used to the scale very quickly and undoubtedly it is the best seat in the house leaving you relaxed to enjoy all to be had.

I now better understand curating a music collection one will never fully get to hear is for everyone to enjoy. Collecting is half the fun, and having a collection of this magnitude allows visitors a good chance to hear their specific requests. Mikes album collection is not only extensive, it is cataloged equal to his version of a Dewey system proven by finding our requests lightening fast. To give you an idea, assuming I estimated correctly, there are enough albums to support 24/7 listening for over a year, and forget about how many of hours of playback from the server, and streaming.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20190806/4552ce6e937a4eda7760cd273ba5c4cd.jpg

Moving on, we got to the digital setup where the MSB Select is serving duty along with its two power supplies; one for the digital and the other for the analog. Feeding the MSB is an over the top Taiko Audio 34tb server that has a catalog of roughly 17tb of music. The MSB allows streaming of Quboz and Tidal which are all controlled by Roon. It clearly showed off how beautiful Mikes efforts were placed on the digital side of things.

While there is so much more to write about, what struck me most was having versatility with analog and digital which allows one to select the best playback of a particular recording.

Mike is a believer in Native playback, and it was easily heard why and it too makes sense to me. I'm taking the position Mike invokes, not as a follower but as a believer; native source first then the quality of recording - itís all about choices and I also realize despite being native doesnít guarantee a good recording. IMO, nothing is more discouraging then to have bad recordings playing from these great systems we all assemble, no matter analog or digital. I only want to hear the best, and now this visit begins my analog journey.

We plan on quickly getting back to Mikes home as we have original Led Zeppelin master tapes that need listening to on the R2R systems, and probably a Scotch to add in the sweetness of sound and thatís no joke!

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20190806/88ce31098032fa70a45a9b077f12c2c1.jpg

Thanks Mike!




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Nikhil
August 6, 2019, 02:12 AM
Thanks for sharing! What an incredible room!
Those active isolation platforms are very interesting.

Has to be a fantastic experience to listen to music in a room like that.



.

joeinid
August 6, 2019, 05:17 AM
OMG yes, absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.

I think this is what heaven looks like. :)

Adyc
August 6, 2019, 08:19 AM
One day I wish to listen to this ultra fantastic system.

Mike
August 6, 2019, 09:19 AM
While there is so much more to write about, what struck me most was having versatility with analog and digital which allows one to select the best playback of a particular recording.



WOW! What a great time you must have had. Itís great to see folks getting together to share the passion of great music on a world class system like Mikeís. I would love to hear it one day.

Your quote above is exactly what Iíve been saying in other threads and why having a great digital setup and a great vinyl setup is so crucial.

Glad you guys had a great time! Mike is quite the gracious host by the sounds of things. [emoji106]

UltraFast69
August 6, 2019, 09:36 AM
WOW! What a great time you must have had. Itís great to see folks getting together to share the passion of great music on a world class system like Mikeís. I would love to hear it one day.

Your quote above is exactly what Iíve been saying in other threads and why having a great digital setup and a great vinyl setup is so crucial.

Glad you guys had a great time! Mike is quite the gracious host by the sounds of things. [emoji106]

Mike, it was crazy good.

Yes on the quote, itís acknowledgement and agreement

You need to get up here, another friend from Atlanta is beside himself with so many audiophiles up here in the Northwest, I think itís related to our winters.


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Mike
August 6, 2019, 09:39 AM
Mike, it was crazy good.

Yes on the quote, itís acknowledgement and agreement

You need to get up here, another friend from Atlanta is beside himself with so many audiophiles up here in the Northwest, I think itís related to our winters.


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I would love to! Thatís Godís country up there!


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Mike Lavigne
August 6, 2019, 12:14 PM
many thanks to Ed (UltraFast69) for the generous and kind write-up on his and Marc's visit to my room this past Saturday. it was my pleasure to meet Ed and Marc and hang with them. a fun time for sure. and i look forward to hearing their systems in the near future....as well as a return visit back here soon too.

Mike Lavigne
August 6, 2019, 12:22 PM
and thanks for all the kind comments from you guys. any of you would be welcome anytime to visit.

and i do have another turntable in bound to me right now, so more fun coming.

AJ Soundfield
August 6, 2019, 12:30 PM
The ultimate man cave? Looks good Mike

PeterA
August 6, 2019, 03:13 PM
and thanks for all the kind comments from you guys. any of you would be welcome anytime to visit.

and i do have another turntable in bound to me right now, so more fun coming.

Mike, it is clear that you are an incredibly gracious host. That last picture says it all. What a nice write up! Thank you for sharing this with us, UltraFast69.

Ritmo
August 6, 2019, 08:43 PM
Thanks for sharing.

And, Mike L, congratulations on your beautiful room and fantastic equipment, not to mention music collection. Enjoy in good health for many years.

Kingrex
August 6, 2019, 08:46 PM
Ed, did you go home to your system throw something in and go dang it's just not the same. I left Mike's one night after listening to his Led Zeppelin tape. I threw on my digital and vinyl Led Zeppelin II. I was so under-whelmed. It kind of made me want to cry. Mikes setup is just over the top immersion. Very real. Unheard scale and size. As well as true to the source.

I was mulling how I could ever get anything close to what he has. It would be such a massive undertaking. Doesn't he have something like 10 amps driving that system. I could be a bit off, but I think it's 2 pair of amp (4) run the woofer towers and another 2 pair (4) run the 12s in the main towers. The Dartzeel run the 8" drivers and tweeter. Of course trying to blend something together at home is never going to be anywhere in the league of a purpose-designed set of speakers that large. The Von Schweikert might be as big, but Mike has such well tuned front-end equipment as well as resonance control probably owned by no one else in the world. Did he show you the linear power supplies that feed the active isolation stands, as well as the custom wood tops. And one of our favorites, grounding like I've never seen. His system is one of the most quiet I have ever heard. There is absolutely zero detectable buzz from anything in that room. He once said to me it's as quiet as a tomb, and he's absolutely right. And then the music starts.

All the Select II DAC owners should take note of what he feeds his DAC. It's not a Roon Nucleus. I'm impressed with how far Sound Galleries has taken their newest design. It's an interesting read to see how they are built now.

When I get back home (on vacation) I have some playing to do with my setup. I have about two weeks of downtime before my next job's break loose. I want to do some grounding such as you messed with. The number six with the ends pounded flat and drilled then bolted to a piece of half inch thick copper plate I bought. I also had a cabinet maker build me a record storage system. I will be better able to lay out my equipment on my racks now. That as well as putting wall racks to my linear power supplies feeding my router switche and modem in my basement. That was a great suggestion of yours. The linear power supply to the router and modem. It did a lot more than I expected it to.

Of course mine is all just jerry-rigged compared to the properly executed set up at Mike's. And the sound quality reflects that too. A chance to listen to Mike's stereo is a chance to listen to one of the best setups in the US and possibly the world. I don't know how many other audiophiles have spent the amount of personal invested time getting it all right as Mike has.

Mike Lavigne
August 6, 2019, 09:53 PM
Rex,

wow! that's a lot to live up to. thank you. i'm humbled by such talk. :blush: i can tell you i won't show it to my wife.....it would only get her going. :rolleyes:

and there are many different roads to finding musical bliss, as well as versions of that bliss. and......some, but certainly not all, connect with mine. this is just my own personal way and personal place i've come to.......enjoying the process.

UltraFast69
August 7, 2019, 12:12 AM
Ed, did you go home to your system throw something in and go dang it's just not the same. I left Mike's one night after listening to his Led Zeppelin tape. I threw on my digital and vinyl Led Zeppelin II. I was so under-whelmed. It kind of made me want to cry. Mikes setup is just over the top immersion. Very real. Unheard scale and size. As well as true to the source.

I was mulling how I could ever get anything close to what he has. It would be such a massive undertaking. Doesn't he have something like 10 amps driving that system. I could be a bit off, but I think it's 2 pair of amp (4) run the woofer towers and another 2 pair (4) run the 12s in the main towers. The Dartzeel run the 8" drivers and tweeter. Of course trying to blend something together at home is never going to be anywhere in the league of a purpose-designed set of speakers that large. The Von Schweikert might be as big, but Mike has such well tuned front-end equipment as well as resonance control probably owned by no one else in the world. Did he show you the linear power supplies that feed the active isolation stands, as well as the custom wood tops. And one of our favorites, grounding like I've never seen. His system is one of the most quiet I have ever heard. There is absolutely zero detectable buzz from anything in that room. He once said to me it's as quiet as a tomb, and he's absolutely right. And then the music starts.

All the Select II DAC owners should take note of what he feeds his DAC. It's not a Roon Nucleus. I'm impressed with how far Sound Galleries has taken their newest design. It's an interesting read to see how they are built now.

When I get back home (on vacation) I have some playing to do with my setup. I have about two weeks of downtime before my next job's break loose. I want to do some grounding such as you messed with. The number six with the ends pounded flat and drilled then bolted to a piece of half inch thick copper plate I bought. I also had a cabinet maker build me a record storage system. I will be better able to lay out my equipment on my racks now. That as well as putting wall racks to my linear power supplies feeding my router switche and modem in my basement. That was a great suggestion of yours. The linear power supply to the router and modem. It did a lot more than I expected it to.

Of course mine is all just jerry-rigged compared to the properly executed set up at Mike's. And the sound quality reflects that too. A chance to listen to Mike's stereo is a chance to listen to one of the best setups in the US and possibly the world. I don't know how many other audiophiles have spent the amount of personal invested time getting it all right as Mike has.

Rex, I could of wrote a novel the size of war and peace, and not sure if that would cover it.

Iím thinking it may be easier for Mike to do a book and have a place we sign for approval.

In the interim, letís get together when you get home and figure out some time to work together and get back out to the Eagles Nest


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Kingrex
August 7, 2019, 07:26 AM
You know Ed, your setup is very well appointed too. You have done way more than others when it comes to grouding, power supplies, cabling, integrating of digital. Where Mike really has you is the vibration isolation and the room. Also his AC to a degree. You have a great opportunity to add 10 AWG OFC branch circuits to your stand. I'm don't know anything on what Mike has in his walls. Only that he has a very nice 12kva Equi-tech ballanced power isolation system feeding the building. And the high quality outlets Joe installed.

SuperDave
August 7, 2019, 11:53 AM
Ed & Mike,
That looks like a memorable trip Ed! I always like seeing Mike's gear and everyone's jaw-dropping comments about what they heard. Is a TT next?

Dave

a.wayne
August 7, 2019, 01:43 PM
Great stuff guys and no matter how many times i see MikeL's room, it's inspirational x100....... :)

Darrel
August 7, 2019, 01:46 PM
Great write up Ed. If you ever need someone to take along next time I think I'm available.

And a truely beautiful room Mike.

Joe P
August 7, 2019, 07:32 PM
Mike is a gracious host (his wife is obviously a saint) and I'd love to hear his incredible system, but I have no desire to visit Seattle.

Mike Lavigne
August 7, 2019, 07:42 PM
Ed & Mike,
That looks like a memorable trip Ed! I always like seeing Mike's gear and everyone's jaw-dropping comments about what they heard. Is a TT next?

Dave

Dave,

thank you for the nice comments.

yes; i have purchased a 2nd turntable, the Saskia II. it's a 250 pound slate plinth'd no-holds-bared idler drive designed and built by Win Tannon. this particular turntable was new in 2016. it's in transit to me and should arrive tomorrow.

i had heard the Saskia II at audio shows 3 times (2013-2015) and was very impressed each time. it was on my very short bucket list of tt's, saw this one and decided it was for me. there is no web site, and little on line info about it other than a few sketchy show reports. very excited to get it set up in my system and dive in.

Mike Lavigne
August 7, 2019, 07:51 PM
Great write up Ed. If you ever need someone to take along next time I think I'm available.

And a truely beautiful room Mike.

thanks.

you would be welcome to visit anytime Darrel.

UltraFast69
August 8, 2019, 01:13 AM
thanks.

you would be welcome to visit anytime Darrel.

Darrel we plan our next trip together.


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SuperDave
August 8, 2019, 02:01 PM
Dave,

thank you for the nice comments.

yes; i have purchased a 2nd turntable, the Saskia II. it's a 250 pound slate plinth'd no-holds-bared idler drive designed and built by Win Tannon. this particular turntable was new in 2016. it's in transit to me and should arrive tomorrow.

i had heard the Saskia II at audio shows 3 times (2013-2015) and was very impressed each time. it was on my very short bucket list of tt's, saw this one and decided it was for me. there is no web site, and little on line info about it other than a few sketchy show reports. very excited to get it set up in my system and dive in.

I'm excited to read about it when you get it set up. Congrats on the new gear. At some point, I want to add a TT, I know nothing about them and don't have the space to start adding boxes but I love the sound I've heard from a few systems plus I still liking buying physical media.

Dave

Mike Lavigne
August 8, 2019, 06:26 PM
I'm excited to read about it when you get it set up. Congrats on the new gear. At some point, I want to add a TT, I know nothing about them and don't have the space to start adding boxes but I love the sound I've heard from a few systems plus I still liking buying physical media.

Dave

hi Dave,

thank you for the kind comments. when the Saskia is up and playing i will share about it.

you have a top level system, i love your gear, and it deserves a turntable. when you are in the mood, PM me and we can talk turntables on the phone.

best,

Mike

astrotoy
August 9, 2019, 12:32 AM
To my mind and many others, Mike is the audiophile's audiophile. Eventually I will make it up to his place for a visit.

Larry

Darrel
August 9, 2019, 11:58 AM
thanks.

you would be welcome to visit anytime Darrel.

Very generous of you Mike and thank you.