Customer Music System – Stephen D. – Santa Fe, NM

Stephen D

Check out this cozy abode.  Stephen, who is a superb professional photographer, built up this wonderful system over a period of time to include Shindo Masseto Preamplifier, Shindo Cortese F2a Single Ended Amplifier, DeVore Nines Loudspeaker, Ayre C-5xe Universal Player, VPI TNT jr. Turntable w/SDS and Triplanar tone-arm w/Denon Zu103, Auditorium 23 Step Up Transformer, and Magnum Dynalab Ft101 Tuner.  The all important Auditorium 23 Speaker Cable, Shindo Silver Interconnect and Shindo Mr. T wire up the system.

A highly prized Navajo rug adds richness to this already great system. This tweak soon to be all the rage in the audiophile community.  You heard it here first.

Stephen is an original Blue Note Records collector and those shelves are filled with originals. Nice!!

Here is a quote from Stephen regarding his DeVore Nines…read on…


I don’t get these speakers.  They are the most unremarkable speakers I’ve
ever owned–even my early Vandersteens had more going on visually.  To tell
you the truth, even though I knew they were small, as I set them up I was
more than skeptical.   Had I just followed another yellow brick road hook
line and sinker?  I mean the drivers are tiny.  The ports are tiny.  Where
is the base going to come from?

Then I took a listen.  What’s going on here?  This huge sound startling sound
coming from my front wall.  The speakers sat there innocently like no sound
was coming out of them.  I’m tansfixed.  This is way more than I thought I
was getting.  They could be finished in red fur with white stripes for all I

Right now I’m a little speechless.


Another one…


…The Masseto is startling.  It gives such a present and alive
reproduction–the most life-like I’ve ever heard.  If you listen at “live
music level” you have to be prepared–the dynamics will shock you.  I have a
CD of Bruno Walter conducting Beethoven’s 6th.  I have used it for 13 years
as a reference.  What the Masseto did with this is was crazy (and I’ve
schlepped this CD to showrooms and played it on some pretty upscale gear).
The Masseto unraveled the music.  Opened up not only the soundstage but the
complex passages made sense.  You could hear their relationship to each

Then there is this timing thing–the Masseto seems to pull you in not only
with its tone and aliveness but its rhythm–don’t know what else to call it.
It makes the beat or pace of the music infectious.

Also, I’m pretty sure it is the greatest preamp on the planet at playing at
low levels.

…Dudley said the Cortese’s made the music sound BIG when he combined it with

the Masseto.  Right now that’s a scary concept.


Steve, enjoy your system, and thank you for the kind words!

Photo courtesy of Stephen D.

6 thoughts on “Customer Music System – Stephen D. – Santa Fe, NM

  1. Stephen, very nice system. There seems to be a symmetry between Shindo, your original Blue Notes and your Navajo items in that they all reflect the true passion and skill of their makers. Not just mass produced pointless stuff sitting around your home. Anyway, that was the first thing that came to mind when I saw your system.

  2. Steve, did you listen to the standard Denon DL-103, before you purchased the Zu version? We have an almost identical setup (except I’m using the JMW Memorial 10.5 arm), and I’ve been thinking of adding a 103 into the mix as a second cartridge

    1. Chris M,

      Sorry so long getting back. I did not listen to the DL-103 before purchasing the Zu. I did a lot of research with some trusted sources (including Matt of course) and came to realize there was a synergy between the cartridge and the Auditorium 23 step up that I wanted to take advantage of. It is an incredible combination, endowing a living presence to vinyl I haven’t heard before (and I’ve had some pretty expensive cartridges through the years). Stephen

  3. Stephen, Wonderful system, Navajo rug, Santa Fe, Blue Note originals. You have it happening, and congratulations! Matt states that you built this system over time. What did you start with when you contacted Matt? I’m also curious about the Ayre SACD-CD Player. Comments? And do you intend to move to digital server-DAC scenario eventually? As Sbayne relates, your choices for audio, art and display are carefully considered. Much appreciated! No question you are enjoying all. Doug

    1. Doug,

      Thanks for kind words. I started by testing Shindo-pre amps. As you may know, Matt is incredibly accommodating when it comes to trial listening gear. It is the only way to go and once I heard Shindo, I was hooked. My Ayre player is a gem, and given my listening preferences would be the last thing I would upgrade. But you have to realize I went almost ten years with my previous system before building the one you see. That’s not typical for an audiophile, and with the system I have now it may be another ten years (much to Matt’s chagrin probably) before I go nuts again. (Except for maybe a Box rack and maybe those retro Shindo speakers…).

    2. Stephen, nice system. As long as you’re here in town, you should check out the Santa Fe Audio Society. Go to and look for us. Always interested in hearing from new members!


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