Taking two-channel audio for a spin

"Wanting to replicate being there." It’s the common denominator for anyone seeking the ultimate two-channel system. The same was true for California resident Arthur who set out to duplicate the opera music he’s enjoyed since he was a child. To bring this experience to life, Magnolia helped this fan of vinyl build a system with the finest speakers for his ear and his space, the right components to drive them, and a turntable uniquely installed into a rack for accessibility. The result: Arthur is sent to his favorite music hall, fifth row center, with the drop of a needle on his favorite record.

Getting the right sound

There’s an interesting thing that happens when you go to demo a loudspeaker in most places; the sales person will put on his favorite record or CD and say, “Listen to this; doesn’t it sound wonderful?” The problem is, if it’s not your kind of music; your genre, your style, or something you’ve heard before; you really can’t make a proper critique of the speaker. That’s why at Magnolia, we encourage you to bring in your favorite record or CD, and give our speakers the once-over with the sounds you know best. Arthur knew this fact all too well, so when he stepped into Magnolia, he had his favorite vinyl in hand. “I remember bringing in my record to try out. I couldn’t believe the quality of sound in the audio room, and when I heard the Bowers & Wilkins 802s, I was sold.”

Now all he needed was power. So System Designers John North and Brian Chan worked closely with Arthur to make sure his every need was met. “We wanted to make sure that if he’s making this kind of investment on Bowers & Wilkins flagship speakers, we also gave him everything he needed to get the most out of them,” Brian told us. “We’re in the business of making customers happy. So we aimed to build Arthur the type of system he really desired, and we wanted to make sure everything was tidy and spot on.”

That meant bringing together a system that includes McIntosh 601s, AudioQuest cables, a Furman power conditioner and the incredible McIntosh MT10 turntable, all into a single rack. Oh yes, Magnolia integrated a turntable into his rack. “I talked to Mid Atlantic and learned they had a shelf that pulls in and out of their rack, and it could accommodate this 50-pound turntable. It worked out great – because there was really nowhere else to put it. It looks amazing,” Brian said with a smile.

Going for two

The term two-channel means very little to the average audio fan, but as Brian put it, it takes a special kind of client to want this kind of system. “You really have to be an audio connoisseur to have the appreciation and dedication to have just two speakers. It’s kind of a lost art. The same is true with turntables – while they’ve made a bit of a comeback, people are just starting to realize that, if you want to replicate a studio master, you simply must have a turntable. You can’t get that from CDs. Sure, CDs are great, but no comparison to turntables. Digital hi-res can get you there, but a turntable gives you that full lossless audio that’s unbeatable.”

An investment in enjoyment

Any system is only as valuable as the amount of joy one gets out of it. For Arthur, the use outweighed the expense. “One of the things I like to do on Saturdays is stay at home, turn on this system, read a book and drink some wine. It’s very relaxing to me. So for me, this has all been a great investment.”

Working with Magnolia made that feeling even more worthwhile. “I think the people at Magnolia are great. I understand problems will come up with an install like this, where several different brands are brought together in a custom setting, but Magnolia did a great job resolving those issues. I always knew I would be taken care of, and because this level of service was part of the job, it really made it great for me.”

The team that brought this system together Left to right:
Trevor MacMillan: Installer
Henry Wong: Project Manager
Brian Chan: Senior System Designer
David Espitia: Installer

Up next