Dear Friends,

During a recent trip to Southern California, I had the good fortune to accept a very kind invitation from lomb7 (Craig).

We spent a couple of very enjoyable hours listening to various systems and enjoying fresh, delicious beer in his breathtakingly beautiful home. The beer was a lively pale ale from Green Flash Brewing; based on the tasting with Craig, I also enjoyed their barleywine later that week. Very highly recommended.

Now, all you “Rocket vs. Axiom” and “tube vs. sand” people have to just promise to be nice. This audio stuff is supposed to be fun. Craig and I had a great time together, he continues to enjoy his systems and I continue to enjoy mine. So anybody that has anything less than civil and respectful intent should just close their browser window like porn in the office right now.

We listened to four different systems and I was really amazed how much I enjoyed each, and how my perceptions were shaped by not only the equipment, but also the listening environments.

First, the downstairs theatre room included the Rocket 850 and that big Rocket center channel monstrosity. God, that thing is huge. Also driven by the Denon receiver were a pair of QS4’s and an Outlaw LFM-1. Let me just say up front, this was by far my favorite of the systems I heard at Craig’s, and perhaps anywhere else, ever. The soundstage, depth and detail were simply amazing, and I perceived this setup as noticeably better than the M60’s that I am used to (and that we heard in another room at Craig’s – see below). The big Rocket setup was just great for 2 channel and for movies. However, this is a very “live” room – it has relatively low ceilings, is broader than it is deep, and has a pool table, big windows, etc.

We also listened to stereo Rocket 750’s in a large, cathedral ceiling living room, driven by a big Onix tube amp. Again, a gorgeous but tough room. Lots of windows, VERY tall ceilings, open to other rooms, lots of fabulous furniture. I perceived this setup as wonderfully detailed, but it gave me a very immediate understanding of what people mean when they say that Rockets are “laid back”. The sound of the 750’s with the tube amp in that room was VERY different from the sound of the 850’s with the Denon downstairs.

Third, we heard M60’s in a large bedroom system, driven by an Outlaw receiver. The positioning and configuration didn’t allow for a great assessment (of anything except a drool-worthy LG plasma screen) but it was extremely helpful to me to be able to refresh my auditory memory with the familiar sound of the M60’s while going from system-to-system. The experience really validated my perceptions of the other speakers.

Finally, we heard M22’s in the live downstairs theatre room, but driven by the big Onix tube amp (Craig has wires all over the place, providing a very flexible home audio environment). What a revelation, I think for both of us. The M22’s are wall mounted fairly high and sounded fantastic. In this very live room, but driven by the tube amp, the M22’s produced amazing depth and detail. The bass response and imaging were surprisingly good. I would not presume to speak for Craig, but he left me with the perception that the tube amp made a noticeable, positive difference in how those speakers sounded in that room.

It was a wonderful and memorable afternoon. I want to sincerely thank Craig for the opportunity to spend time with and learn from him. I eagerly look forward to getting our families together for another visit.

Thanks, Craig!

- Tom

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