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Upsamplers, DACs, jitter, shakes and analogue withdrawals, this is it.

*TERRA FIRMA* Rocks !!!...and is off the Richter...REVIEW ?!?!

Excuse me, but I couldn't help the word play...:-P

Hey peeps thought I'd post my experiences with my "UberClocked" as Allen Wright of Vacuum State Electronics refers, or "Terra Firma" equipped Rega Saturn thanks to Joe Rasmussen of Custom Analogue Audio who managed to squeeze it in along with several other very appreciable enhancements, late last year.

I've now had considerable time with the modded player in literally constant play and have also had the ability to directly compare it to a bone stock factory Saturn which I have, and which I should add is certainly no slouch in its own right, in fact the stock player was preferred to numerous far more costly and exalted players such as is ability to play without the artifice or artifacts common to virtually all 44.1k playback devices I've heard.

But I digress, because the Terra Firma (along with Joes other enhancements) has catapulted the Saturn literally into another orbit entirely.
This really isn't a review as such, but I simply feel compelled to attempt to express an intangible quality of absolute relaxed musicality, fluidity if you like, which has resulted, it is this release of tension which I can most equate to that appreciated when one goes from listening to CD to listening to vinyl.

I will qualify that I also have a half decent ~$18k vinyl rig and that neither fool me into thinking that I'm hearing live performance, that kind of tosh I'll leave for the "pro reviews" which will often tell you how suddenly they could smell the breath of Diana Crawl (sic) in their room etc...spare me already !!

No, what the Terra Firma apparently facilitates is quite simply an easing of the pressure of digital delivery and most pronouncedly an EXPANSION of all dimensions of the aural "bubble" in my room, time AND frequency domain.

Interestingly, and equally, there is more apparent micro detail, reverberant space is more readily discernible/definable in recordings as is the crucial initial envelope of sounds...so essentially there is more detail liberated, greater dynamic nuance and timing is delivered in such a way as to allow you brain to spend less time processing or filtering the medium to get to the essence of the music, the musicians timing, their intonation etc.
Counter intuitively, this enhanced presentation comes with INITIALLY less sense of heightened detail, again, and I really hate to equate, but for sake of a reference I will liken it to a more analogous sound (vinyl like-not really), but certainly more natural. I found myself turning up the volume much louder to "live" volume levels in my room more frequently as it simply was easier to absorb without duress (noted by my better half) :-)

I have very little in the way of music on SA-CD principally due to the fact that MOST of the music I own is not available on this technically superior format.

Yet I can unequivocally say that regardless of price, IMHO, my Saturn now sounds more pleasing and connects me more to the recorded artists than any of the other players which I have recently auditioned, amongst which include the Audio Aero Prestige, Nagra CDP, Ayre CX5e and EMM CDSA.

Until now I was quite willing to pay whatever it was going to cost to find a digital source which didn't leave me unnerved after extended listening sessions, but the Terra Firma with Joes other relatively simple but highly effective mods has really put into perspective how atrociously overpriced and under performing virtually all other so called "ultra high end" digital sources are....I'm not saying they're crap by any stretch, just that I no longer feel the need to pay extortionate $$ for elaborate proprietary upsampling schemes (yeechh), mostly pointless & complex analogue output stages, nor for that matter unnecessarily complex transport mechanisms

As a musician, professional recording engineer and occasionally perverse tweeker of all things related to sound, I have arrived at the conclusion that once again, less is always more, particularly when implemented correctly !.

In the case of the Terra Firma, it appears to address and largely resolve what is perhaps the Achilles heel of nearly all digital audio devices.
The beauty of it's concept is that the equipment to which it is to be incorporated can readily be adapted to benefit almost immediately and without one being required to sell any of their organs in order to do so :-))

PS: for those who are wondering WTF I've been waffling on about, below is a link which elucidates on the subject:


PPS: I'm in no manner related to any of the guys who manifested/manufacture the product, I read about it, paid to have it installed and have been getting to bed at all hours of the mornings since receiving my modded player back !

PPPS: Amp used:
Silbatone JI300B Mk.II
with NOS WE300B & Bendix 6900 and/or
EAT300B & NOS 1948 ladder plate Tung-Sol 5687

Zingali HM115 Mk.II

Kimber Select Silver & Auditorium 23

Dedicated circuits, isolation xformers, VH Audio cabling

Edit > What the heck I realised that I've made no references to any "actual" musical recordings listened to and immensely enjoyed, which may or may not be of any relevance or interest to those who've read this far, but I'll note three particularly outstanding recordings which have had numerous revisits since receiving my Saturn back in Rock Solid form !

Eugene Istomin-Mozart Concertos 21 & 24, Reference Recordings RR68-

What can I say other than that this astounding recording and performance has left me in a near transcendental state on more than one occasion !
A MUST have disc even for non partakers of the classical genre if not for the fidelity alone.

World Circuit Presents..., WCD076

This awesome double cd compilation of globe trotting music produced by Ry Cooder and largely recorded on location direct to two-track, takes you across numerous continents and back, capturing a sense of cultural presence with electrifying alacrity.

The Beatles-Love, Parlophone-Apple 0946 3 81598 2 7

Actually I'd been sleeping on this one until Joe Rasmussen bought it to my due attention, so it's probably old news for most, but if anybody is deserving of turning old into new, George Martin and his son Giles can certainly step into the arena !
Who needs Q-Sound or even LSD to start the trip proper, just toss this one on the spinner and kick back...totally slammin' sound and I don't even usually care for the Beatles

Edits: 01/18/09 01/18/09

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Topic - *TERRA FIRMA* Rocks !!!...and is off the Richter...REVIEW ?!?! - coolhand 21:10:12 01/17/09 (5)


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