My K50 Based System

My current system is the culmination of more than 47 years of fiddling with hifi having started in my student years experimenting with Sinclair amplifier kits and the DIY Sugden BD1 turntable kit. Along the way I found myself entranced with the triode sound from a pair of Audio Innovations Second Audio 2A3 power amps, later upgraded with Border Patrol valve regulated power supplies. These powered an original pair of Spendor S100 speakers bought new in the late β€˜80s and eventually I added a Digital Decoding Engine dac with optional power supply that is how my system stayed through the β€˜90s and for the first ten years after the turn of the century.

Then one day I went to see one of my architectural clients who happened to have a nice Bel Canto front end going into some top of the range modern Quad electrostatic speakers and I suddenly realised that hifi and digital audio in particular has been moving forward, albeit slowly.

My first new purchase after this enlightenment was the original Chord Hugo DAC which was spectacular after my Audio Alchemy DDE V1.0. At this stage of course it was still a CD transport that I was using, an old Meridian from the 90’s which I still have.

Then came a Chord TT DAC followed by a Bricasti M1 SE and finally the Dave and Blu MkII then after that the Mscaler that I now have. The Dave has been modified to take the Sean Jacobs DC4 LPS (one of my best upgrades) and just last month that was upgraded to a prototype version of Sean’s latest ARC6 upgrade.

Along the way my 2A3 amps were replaced by pair of 845 triode push pull mono blocs to drive my new Spendor SP200 speakers which had replaced the Spendor S100 speakers. Then more recently I decided that a pair of Pass Labs XA60.8 monos could give me everything that I liked about the triode valve/tube sound but also with tight and deep bass to go with it.

To follow (hopefully tomorrow). The journey to finding a digital sound to match the quality of CDs on the Chord Blu MkII.


Hello Nick,
I would love to know how the K50 ripped CD sounds compared to the same CD via the Chord Bu Mk11 with Dave or K50 Dave Mscaler what ever option ?
Just wondered if the K50 vs CD transport is worth an investigation …!
Regards Clive

Hello Clive,

Whoops, it looks like I got side tracked and forgot to continue with my system journey. I must put that right.

I also wonder about the ripped CD vs the sound when played on a CD player such as the Blu Mk2 or indeed some of the other high quality CD players that are available.

I still have a soft spot for the physical act of getting up off the chair and walking over to put on a CD then just let it play for the whole album. It is just not as satisfying flicking through the thousands of tracks stored locally on the K50 or even worse the millions of tracks available streaming from Qobuz or similar.

My Blu 2 was sold quite a while ago now.

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Hello Nick,
So no CD transport ?
Kind regards

Clive, I have a vintage Meridian 602 which I have owned from new. I guess it must be about 30 years old! In the day it was well respected with reviews like this from Stereophile.

I really ought to clear some clutter from the table where I have most of my source equipment and fire up the 602 to see how it sounds. I did also have a slightly older Meridian 208 (also owned from new) which predated the 602. This was the first cd transport only that I owned. I only sold the 208 last year having decided that it was slightly silly to keep both. The new owner in Canada was delighted with it.