Stacking Order - Suggestions & Advice

Looking for some advice and suggestions on stacking order. When I bought my Isoblue rack it was with future system upgrades in mind, so I bought as many shelves as I thought i’d need - 5 stacks of two. It’s been pretty sparse until now, but am about to acquire two components on my want list - Superline (replacing the P-75) and XPS DR for the NDX.

Contrary to forum wisdom, ideally i’d like the control components/brains on the right, as the left stack is somewhat hidden and more difficult to access, but this means putting my TT there, which is close to the speaker so not ideal. Also think the stock mains lead for my P9 PSU might not reach the right stack so not sure how viable it is to place it there. Current stack order is:

STACK 1
Rega P9
[empty]
Dynavector P-75
[empty]
P9 PSU

STACK 2
[empty]
NDX
[empty]
Supernait 2
[empty]

Remaining steps will be adding a HiCap to the Superline, and replacing the SN2 with a 282/250/HiCap.

I know this question gets asked a lot but few set ups are identical, so each situation is slightly different. Looking forward to hearing what suggestions members have to offer.

1 Like

Do a search :pleading_face::pleading_face::pleading_face::woozy_face::woozy_face:

As my system grew over the years I have tried a lot of setups and found that the shared knowledge and wisdom here in the community is of great help and usually spot on.
I would suggest to try having the brain stack on the left hand side. The better the components, the more these details matter.

Thank you, I did. The search revealed that forum members took the time to answer courteously and while the search was useful, there are few if any systems that are identical to mine - hence the qualifying statement in my original post that each situation is slightly different.

I am well aware of the brains and brawn separation but was curious as to other nuances I may have missed. For example should the XPS DR be above the SN 2 or vice-versa?

2 Likes

Nothing wrong with your question Chris. :+1: I just wish I had the savvy to advise you. :grinning:

2 Likes

@ChrisNZ - The simple TL;DR version is - Power Supplies as low as possible, Preamps and Sources as high as possible.

I have a left stack from bottom of Supercap, phono stage and rega power for TT, 252, P8.
Right stack from bottom. 300PS, 2i and qutest, 300, bare next to the TT.

OK so have been playing around with configurations and this is what I have come up with.
I’ve tried to keep the Superline as far away from large transformers as possible. While the P9 PSU probably warrants being on the Brawn side, the transformer isn’t huge and it will only be on when listening to the P9.

STACK 1 … STACK2
Rega P9 … [empty]
Superline … [empty]
[empty] … [empty]
NDX … XPS DR
P9 PSU … SN2

The [empty] spot in STACK 1 will ultimately be filled by a 282, while the top second and third empty spots will be filled by 2 x HiCaps and a 250 DR will replace the SN2.

I was suprised at how warm the NDX gets even when powered by the XPS DR. I was expecting it to run a lot cooler.

1 Like

I understand the brains/brawn approach to mean basically anything with a mains connection should be on the right. Is that correct?

I’m slowly working towards building a rack unit to hold LPs on two lower shelves and HiFi boxes above.

Which would be something like this:

Left side
On top: record player plus motor controller
1 Stageline
2 NAC 282
3 empty shelf for now

Right side
1 NAP 200
2 ND5 XS
3 Hicap DR
With the NAPSC banished to the floor, I understand, rather than next to the Hicap.

At some point I’d like to replace the Stageline with a Superline. And maybe move the streamer to the left side by adding a power supply for it on the right.

Is this the right approach? (Noting the limitations of a non-Fraim approach and using a single unit rather than two freestanding.)

Thx

Yes, that is the right approach. There are nuances to the approach though, like pre-amps above sources, although i’m unsure as to whether that applies to phono stages. Then there is also the factor of positioning for good cable dressing (apparently Burndies don’t like touching the floor for example).
It is these kind of nuances that i’m looking for advice on.

In general yes, but e.g. phono stages that include transformers are one common obstacle, like Rega. Ideally you want to keep them away from pre because of the mains connection & transformer, but at the same time they handle delicate signal and you want them away from PSes. Best compromise I suppose is to put them into brains stack with as much vertical distance to other stuff as is practical.

2 Likes

I have my system on two stacks of isoblue too.

My choice of ordering, certainly on the power supply side, is for ease of connection. It looks like you’re pretty clear which items go on which side so I’d try a couple of options for ordering on the brains side and let that dictate the brawn.
The reason for normally having the brawn stack on the right is that many of the power supplies have their big transformers in the right side of their cases - putting the brawn stack on the right keeps them as far from the brains as possible. You seem to have a sensible reason for not following this, however.

Just the 1 stack of Isoblue here… :slightly_smiling_face:

Less Stuff = Just One Stack = Less Complication… :upside_down_face:

Thanks @GavinB, Yes, I totally understand the transformer placement on the right hand side - hence the logic of brawn on the right. Ultimately, I think i’ll need to stick with this layout as, much as it would make ease of use sense for all sources to be on the right, I think this would put the TT too close to the left loudspeaker.
Your suggestions of trying a couple of options on the brain side and letting that dictate the other makes sense. I would assume that an NDX powered by and XPS would be considered brains not brawn?

Yes, in that case NDX = brains, XPS = brawn.
In my case I’d place the streamer where I thought it was best suited, then place the XPS in an appropriate shelf to get the burndy hanging nicely (and not drooping onto the floor, for example).
I was going to ask what you think you’d have on top of both stacks (the TT being the obvious one).

@GavinB Here is a recent photo of my rack. As you can see it is already effectively separated into brains and brawn. The TT is on the top of the left hand stack and the right stack is usually used for taking records out etc. or in this instance, it’s home to some box sets and magazines. The CDs on the empty shelves are just current listening and there so I can refer to artwork, lyrics etc. but will be moved as the shelves fill up. The photo also shows how close the speakers are (approx 22cm)

3 Likes

Hiya Chris…Get yourself Roon, then you won’t need to do the above. :grinning:

Hi Chris,

I know the brain/brawn approach is advocated as the optimum way to set a system up but in many cases, it simply isn’t practical. If you trawl through the system pics thread on this Forum, you will find very few systems that adopt it. I started a thread about it on the old Forum and it provoked some really good discussion. The crucial thing, in my experience, is to keep the transformers in the powered items as far away from the sources as you physically can. In this regard, having the Brain on the right and the Brawn on the left is probably the worst approach as this naturally places all the transformers close to the sources.

Someone else has already suggested keeping power supplies low down and then using empty shelves to keep the sources as far above them as you can. Of course, you have to consider the cable dressing and whether sources play nicely together if they are on the same stack. This particular issue was what led me to adopt the set-up I have. To my ears, regardless of the order I had them, having my 552 and NDS one above the other, even with an empty shelf between them, compromised the sound. Having the NDS at the top of a stack, even with 3 power supplies below it, always sounded better, so that’s what I went with.

I am now fortunate enough to have a separate listening room and was able to go to 3 Fraim stacks. However, the addition of the Rega Aura (which has its transformer on the left side and near central rear connections) made for another headache as it doesn’t fit on a lower shelf without the cables snagging the rear leg and needs to be to the left of the turntable. So, once again, I have had to compromise but it’s a compromise that results in perfect cable dressing (no cables touch each other or the floor) keeps the transformers as far away from the sources as I could and, to my eyes/ears (which are the ones that count!) it looks/sounds better than it ever has before.

Right stack I have NDS, 555PS, 555PS and middle stack, 300, 552PS, 300PS.

I found using medium Fraim legs helps and when I had Isoblue, I used the tall leg extensions on each level to achieve a similar result though appreciate they are an acquired taste.

As ever, experiment when you have the kit and go with what sounds best to you.

Cheers,

Ian

4 Likes

@IanF Thanks for your advice. I remember the brain and brawn threads on the old forum (although went under a different name back then).

I’m curious to know what you think of the Aura and what carts you have tried it with. My dealer rates it highly and I would have seriously considered one had the opportunity to purchase the Superline at a very good price not come up.

BTW - Lovely room and set up!

Thanks Chris,

My current vinyl journey started about 4 years ago with the purchase of a 1980’s vintage LP12 from a mate. It had an Ittok LVII and a Lingo 1. I had the Lingo serviced and added a Cirkus, Kore, Krystal, Tramp 2 and Lehmann Black Cube SE2. I then had the opportunity to listen to an Aura which was available ex-dem at a good price and was a major improvement over the Lehmann; so I went for it. I subsequently upgraded to Radikal/Karousel.

Some time after that I realised that things were not sounding ‘right’. The deck was checked and the dealer said all was well with the set up and that he felt it was sounding as he would expect it to. Unfortunately, I remained dissatisfied and asked to listen to the P10, with the intention of establishing a baseline really. Well, I absolutely loved the P10/Apheta 3; this sounded ‘right’ to me. I concluded that the Linn ‘sound’ just wasn’t for me and kept the P10.

So, in answer to your question, I have only heard the Aura with the Linn Krystal and the Rega Apheta. As a package with the P10/Apheta, I find the Aura to be open, transparent, agile and musical and although different, is as enjoyable to listen to as the NDS. I did ask to listen to a Superline but it was mid-lockdown and my dealer didn’t have one he could send me and wasn’t able to get hold of one. I also know I would have wanted to hear it with a Supercap and that would have been a whole lot more expensive than the ex-dem Aura.

And then, there would have been a whole load more compromises to try and overcome with stacking!

Cheers,

Ian

2 Likes