Enjoy the Music.com

Your Letters To Us

April 2004

Steven,

It has been a while since i "did it myself", surfing the web for a tube project for a first timer made my head spin.... Would you please suggest a DIY pre-amplifier or MC phono pre-amplifier. Something to get my CD player and my soon to be hooked up again record player sounding better.

Thanks,

Stan Thomas

 

Stan,

Thanks for your e-mail. There are two different DIY pre-amplifiers i can suggest. One is at by Audio Consulting and the other is by DACT. As for phono stage, we recently reviewed one and it can be seen by clicking here. Always glad to be of service.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Dear Wayne,

Your review of the JC1 brings up a question I have been longing for an answer. Perhaps you can help. If the JC1 takes such a long period of time to break in, will it lose its "broken-in-status" if one were to leave the amp switched off for a long period of time say, one month, 2 months or a year? Does it need to be broken in again?

Thanks,

Al

 

Hi Al,

Good question. My experience has been that an electronic component that has been unused for some time will not need a lengthy break-in from scratch like a brand new piece. However, I do remember occasions where it took some hours of playing time before a component "settled" fully into its characteristic sonic presentation. These intervals are determined by, among other things, reaching thermal equilibrium throughout the circuitry and "re-forming" capacitors whose residual charges have fully drained. I do a system "tune-up" every month or two by putting a frequency-saturated break-in CD on repeat for about three hours; that tends noticeably to restore dynamics and low-frequency extension. 

Best wishes,

Wayne

 

April 2004

Steven,

I enjoyed your review of the Almarro A318 tube amp and have questions about speaker matching. I am learning more about tubes, since I have never used them, and want to make sure I'm headed down the right path. Specifically, what speaker recommendations would make to pair with the Almarro? My room is 12' by 18'  and my budget is up to $2,500. I know that offers a decent amount of opportunity, but give me your best of suggestions, please. By the way, I am also very interested in the De Capo-I and am currently auditioning the Dulcet.

Regards,

Craig

 

Craig,

Congratulations on the wonderful road of tubes! Yes, the De Capo-I would be a great match in my opinion both sonically and also in that the loudspeakers are an easy load for any amplifier to drive. Alas, never reviewed the Dulcet, so can not comment accordingly. In the end what really matters is that you...



Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Dick, 

I enjoyed reading your review of the AH! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. As an owner of one I was particularly interested in the substitute tubes that you recommended.

I checked with Richardson Electronics, and they offer a number of Amperex tubes. I am not absolutely sure which of the tubes they offer is the one that you recommended but I have narrowed it down to 2: 6DJ8/ECC88-BB and the 6922/E88CC - BB. I would be grateful if you could put me right on this matter as i am a bit of a novice with tubes.

Thanks in anticipation of a reply.

Andrew Harrison

 

Dear Mr. Harrison:

Welcome to the world of tube rolling. The Richardson re-branded Bugle Boy tube I would recommend, and the type I'm currently using is the 6922/E88CC - BB. These are typically new old tock, made-in-the USA, tested on the original Philips/Amperex test stand, and selected for performance.

Best regards and ... enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher

 

April 2004

Hi Steven,

I fell for the little Almarro 318 amp at CES this year. Ordered it right then. I am now a dealer and am demo'ing it. It makes music! and I agree it is a very balanced performer. I have not been a fan of lower priced SET amps because they weren't a reasonable balance to my ears. Yes so how does he retail this sweet thing for $1500?? Wanted to let you know we're a dealer and are in the Portland, Oregon area.

Best Regards,

Ron Hedrich

 

Ron,

Congratulations! Yes, it is indeed a wonderful performer that is very well-built, uses very good iron, etc. So how does he do it for $1,500? Magic pixie dust? Sold his soul to you-know-who? Whatever it is, the point is to simply sit back and bask in the money saved while you...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Wayne,

I saw your recent review of Jolida and had read Dick Olsher's review of the AH! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 (upgraded aka Super). (I also saw the earlier plain 4000 review) I am a fan and frequent reader. You both have very educated ears and I enjoyed the reviews.

My budget for a new CD player is a little lower. Unfortunately it is hard to audition together the players I am considering (and of course the Tjoeb can only be auditioned after a purchase). I find the magazine published reviews to be either inconsistent or contradictory. For example, Absolute (?) Sound named the new Rotel 1072 product of the year and raved about it while one of the British magazine reviews listening panel's found it second rate, not up to prior Rotel CD players and critical of it for using a lesser Burr-Brown HD chip for a player in this price range. If some of the experts disagree so much what are the amateurs supposed to conclude especially when AB comparisons are not often possible. I am considering the new Cambridge Azur 640C, the Rotel 1072 and the basic Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. Have you or any of your peers at Enjoy heard these three or even two of them either together or apart?. I am more interested in your opinions after reading your reviews than those of certain other magazines. (Do you have any general thoughts on buying an older used CD player on Audiogon in the same price range $450 to $700 -- Would any older used but originally priced a little higher player be able to provide superior sound to these three newer players and would you hesitate to but a used CD player? Overall is there certain equipment (amp/pre-amp or speakers) you would buy used?)

Finally, I will admit to having some old (perhaps some would say antique) equipment (Adcom-GFA555 amp and NAD 1155 pre-amp). I am replacing the old Philips cd player first. Should I replace with newer separates or an integrated amp if my budget is $1,500 or so. Any specific suggestions? Is the NAD the weaker link and even if so does it also have less impact on the sound.

As long as I am writing I will impose with one more-- What floor standing speakers in the $2,000 range do you like? I am just starting to search but based on reviews so far would consider the Cain and Cain speakers Enjoy reviewed, Triangle Celius, Paradigm 100v3, but welcome comments and suggestions. I would like a speaker that is not only lifelike but not fussy with room placement.

Thanks so much for any help you can provide your opinions are valued!

J. Kropp

 

J,


I certainly sympathize with your frustration about inconsistent and contradictory reviews. As to the specific CD players you mention, I'm afraid I haven't heard any of them, and I really don't know whether any of my
Enjoy the Music.com™ colleagues have done so-- as a "virtual" magazine with staff scattered around, it's not as if we get to assemble around the water cooler and chat about things. :) 

As to your general question, buying used equipment can certainly allow you to shop for originally higher-priced equipment. Generally, core electronics are a fairly safe bet. I would be a little more cautious about components with mechanical aspects, e.g., CD players, transports and turntables, but even there you can find some very good values. 

I think your Adcom and NAD components are in pretty much the same class, giving decent value for the price. If you plan to replace both of them, I would suggest you do check out some integrated amplifiers, which will probably give you better sound within a $1,500 budget. I haven't reviewed an integrated for a while, but I Invite suggestions from my colleagues. 

Finally, to your preliminary list of $2k loudspeakers, I would add the Meadowlark Kestrel2, a Dali (whose name I have forgotten), and if you want to stretch your budget a little, the Von Schweikert VR 2, which I recently reviewed. 

I'm sorry I couldn't give you more specific advice. Take your time, and trust your own ears. 

Best wishes,

Wayne

 

April 2004

Hello Wayne,

I have read your reviews for many years now and have always them to be concise, very informative, and most of all helpful, in my own quest for "sonic nirvana".

I currently own M.L. Prodigy's, with the Parasound Halo JC-1's (party due to your 2003 Best Amp pick) and am mostly satisfied, but (well I wouldn't be a true "afflicted" audiophile if I wasn't always thinking about other gear), so...

This brings me to my question. Do you still have the Meadowlark Blue Heron's, or were these strictly review "loaners?"

If so, (or not), how do you think they compare to some of the newer things that are out there now? I have a chance to perhaps buy a pair, but due to the fact I'm an average working stiff (with three kids, wife and a dog!) can't buy 'em without unloading the Logans first, nor do I have the luxury of hearing them prior to purchase, so I'm looking for some professional guidance.

I certainly would appreciate any thoughts, advice, etc! Thank for your time and great reviews. Keep up the good work!

Dennis Francis

 

Hello Dennis, 

As much as I liked them, I did not keep the review pair of Meadowlark Blue Herons. They were shipped on to the noted reissue producer Steve Hoffman, and to my knowledge he is still using them. 

I appreciate your kind words and your confidence in my judgment, but I hesitate to dip my toe into this particular audio pond. Broadly speaking, your Prodigy and the BH are in similar groups for both price and performance. I have never lived with the electrostatics, but I have been favorably impressed when I've heard them. Given your "no going back" scenario, you could be letting yourself in for some true buyer's and seller's remorse. The one distinction I can make unequivocally is that the BH has the better bass performance of the two. Whatever you choose, you're still going to have terrific sound. 

Best wishes,

Wayne 

 

April 2004

LOVE THIS SITE!!!

Steve sez: Awww, now you have us all blushing :)

 

 

April 2004

Karl,

I have a question about the Musical Fidelity A3.2 CD player. How does this compare to the MF pre-24 CD unit? That unit is now available for approximately $1,500 and seems to be a good deal. Thank you for your assistance. 

Martin Nussbaum

 

Martin,

Sorry for the delay. I have been meditating about your situation. I have not heard the other model you mentioned -- I wanted to, plus a couple of their other offerings but I heard and reported on a slightly irritating quality on one of their models. Seems as if that is a no-no with them, as no one else ever mentions a flaw and I believe as a result I am no longer sent their products for review. 

In any event, unless there is a real reason to hurry, I would suggest you at least consider waiting awhile and see if the situation clears up before long. You might be very unhappy if many future releases were in SACD or DVD-Audio, both of which definitely can and usually do sound even better. My personal crystal ball is a bit cloudy but at CES this year many manufacturers seemed to now be leaning toward DVD-Audio. That would probably not even play in either of the models you mentioned. 

Sincerely,

Karl Lozier

 

April 2004

Hi,

I'm thinking of constructing a passive preamp/volume control. I've seen a simple shunt type design that uses a single resistor and potentiometer, and another that uses a DACT stepped attenuator. The DACT seems a little pricey, but the design is extremely simple and I've read favorable reviews of this product. Can you give me any advice?

BTW, I found the site very informative and entertaining.

Thanks,

JP

 

JP,

Thanks for your e-mail and compliment my friend. As they say, you get what you pay for. The DACT is an advanced design offering very high quality and very short signal path. The only other alternative is a more expensive transformer-based attenuator such as the Silver Rock design we reviewed.


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Steven,

How did the Cabasse room sound? I am interested in the Iroise II speakers and thought I would ask.

Walt Roman



Walt,

Thanks for your e-mail. Alas, do not really listen at shows for obvious reasons. Do you plan to own the exact same products they used at the show? Is your room the exact same size as the one at the show? Is the acoustics in your room the same as the one at the show?

Am not being critical of you my friend, the point being that shows
are not the appropriate venue to judge the sound of a single component. This is especially true with loudspeakers as the way they integrate with a room and their positioning are key factors. At shows, they really have very little time to tweak and tune a setup PLUS the electrical delivery at shows is usually lackluster.

As always, best bet would be to find a local dealer and hopefully be able to have an in-home audition. In the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Steven,

Thank you for your web site that I find really interesting.
I have a question regarding the reviews: are your ratings (blue note) expressed in absolute terms (no matter the price of the element testes) or are they weighted according to the price of the element.

Thanks again,

Vincent Gilles

 

Vincent,

Thanks for your e-mail. The Blue Notes as we rate gear are absolute, regardless of the price. As many seasoned audiophiles know, higher price does not
always equal better performance over lower cost items.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Steve,

If you have a minute I'd like to ask your opinion. I've been laid off and I'm not happy with my B&W Silver Signatures, so to replace them means to sell or trade them in towards something.

I'm not happy with the Silver Sigs. because even though I'm 50, I'm an old rocker who not only listens, has played out in the bars on the weekends for ten years. I like to listen at the point were the emotions kick in, which of course means loud.

I just traded my Krell KRC-3 and KSA-50S for a Musical Fidelity A308cr Pre and Amp, and purchased the Tri-Vista 21 DAC, giving them my conrad-johnson D/A-3. Now I have a lot more transparent sound and 250 Wpc into 8 ohms, 450 into 4 ohms instead of the 50 Wpc into 8 ohms with the Krell.

The shop where I got the Musical Fidelity equipment also carries the Reference 3A MM De Capo-i and would be willing to take my Silver Sigs in on trade. I really, really like the De Capo's, but I wonder if they're 'better' than the Silver Sigs, in turns of sound quality and loudness for the levels I'm looking for. The Silver Sig's are rated at 87 db where the De Capo's are 92dB, but final volume is what I'm looking for with some bass, and the Silver Sig's do go down to 35Hz supposedly.

I talked to Wayne since he reviewed the Von Schweikert's (which I've never heard) and the Meadowlark's (which this shop also carries). Wayne suggesting that I probably would be fine with the VSA VR-4jr's and I don't doubt it with everything I've read. But since I'm limited to between $3,000 to$3,500, my options seem to be the De Capo's, Meadowlark Osprey's, VR-2's or my SIver Signatures.

The shop is so small and only six months old, so borrowing the speakers for a home audition is unfortunately out of the question. Do you have any personal experience with the Von Schweikert's or Meadowlarks, and what do you think of the De Capo's given what I'm looking for music wise?

Thanks for your time Steve, have a great day!

Chuck Davis

 

Chuck,

Thanks for your e-mail. You are right in the Ref 3A do not have deep bass down to 35Hz like the Silver Sigs. The Von Schweikert may be a better choice in your case. In the end what really matters is that you...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

To Dick Olsher,

I have been trying to locate the parts to assemble the "Blue Velvet Pre-Amp for some time now and keep hitting a stone wall as far as 500vdc rated capacitors are concerned. I would greatly appreciate your parts source, as it would make completion of this project much easier.

Thanks in Advance,

Michael OBrien

 

Hi Michael,

There is a good selection of United Chemi-Con 500 VDC capacitors at Newark Electronics. For example, above link is to the product page for 220 uF/500V cap. Please let me know if that gets it done for you. Good luck with the project and be sure to let me know how the Blue Velvet works out for you.

Best wishes,

Dick Olsher

 

April 2004

Hello Wayne,

I hope this isn't a terribly stupid question, but here goes. I've been looking around (on line) for a preamplifier to mate with an Earmax Pro headphone amp and replace an integrated Classe amp (the CAP-80) that I don't much like because of its dryish sound. I read your review of the VTL 5.5 and my mouth started to water. Okay, stupid question: Would a preamp such as that be a suitable match for a headphone amp, or should I be looking at integrated amplifiers?

Just so you know, my current setup looks like this:

Cary 306/200 CD player (to me, it's to die for!)
Classe CAP-80 integrated amp (which I want to replace)
Earmax Pro headphone amp
Sennheiser HD600 headphones
Stefan Audio Art Equinox headphone cord
BPT CPC line conditioner with L9 power cord
Harmonic Technology Fantasy AC-10 power cords
Alpha-Core Goertz Silver Interconnects, which will be replaced, possibly with Acoustic Zen Silver Reference to the CD player and Matrix interconnects (to the headphone amplifier)

Any information you could send my way would be greatly appreciated! And while we're on the subject, if there's another pre-amplifier or amplifier in the $5,000 price range that you like better than the VTL 5.5, I'd love to know. I'm not a tube fanatic (my beloved Cary isn't tubed) but I do favor a warm, dark, rich sound. My musical diet is strictly classical.

Many, many thanks!

Eric J. Matluck

 

Hello Eric, 

First off, because you are clearly a headphones guy--no speakers at all -- you have no need for any power amplification. So let's forget about integrated amplifiers and talk preamplifiers. The <$5,000 category comprises a good many excellent preamplifiers, with offerings from almost every major electronics company and many fine specialty manufacturers. The VTL 5.5 is terrific at its reasonable price--all the more reasonable since you only need the line stage, no phono. One feature that very few of its competitors offer is remote polarity switching. I am not a headphone listener, but even over loudspeakers I frequently change the polarity of the recording I'm listening to. This needs to be done because there is such inconsistency of polarity among recordings--sometimes even from track to track on a CD. I think that out-of-polarity sound must be particularly irritating heard through headphones. (I must admit that based on my observations at audio shows, the majority of listeners seem blissfully unconcerned about correct polarity. Is it something you notice?) 

If polarity correction is not a big deal to you, and you're willing to spend less money, I suggest you take a look at the solid-state $695 Emeline CA-2 line stage that so impressed my tube-loving colleague Dick Olsher. Just paste the following URL into your browser here.

There is also a new, very simple tube line stage from Dan Wright (www.modwright.com) at the same price. I have not yet heard it, but I think it's likely to be a good one--and I'm sure it comes with a trial/return guarantee. 

Here and there you'll also find some CD players and DACs with built-in analogue domain volume controls. I mention them just as an afterthought since you are so happy with your Cary. 

I hope you find these comments helpful. Let me know what you decide. 

Best wishes,

Wayne

 

April 2004

Wayne, 

I'm thinking about "upgrading" from my B&W Silver Signatures, maybe ignorantly since I've got the stereophile bug. I've been reading your reviews, and I'd like your thoughts if you have the time.

I just traded in my Krell KRC-3 and KSA-50S, along with my conrad-johnson D/A-3 for a Musical Fidelity A308cr Pre-amp and Amp, and the Tri-Vista 21 DAC. The MF dealer also sells Reference de-Capo's and Meadowlark's, but doesn't have the Osprey's in. He's a new, small dealer who has the store on top of is full time job. I've never heard the Von Schweikert's, but read a zillion 'great' reviews about them.

I'm fifty, but an old rock'n'roller who's played music since I was in grade school. I played in weekend bands in the bars for 10 years, so I like my rock loud enough to feel the emotion of it. It seems that the Silver Signatures just won't go loud enough for that.

But it may be that while I had them cranked up to the point where a dealer friend couldn't figure out why I wasn't blowing them, I had my listening position about 8-10 feet from them and they approached the emotional level.

When I replaced the Krell's with the Musical Fidelity at Christmas, I rearranged the room and placed the speakers on the other wall (near wall) so that my listening position is only four feet from the speakers.

I questions are (in your opinion):

1. Since the Silver Signatures are supposed to be so good. Are they still that good and I need to set the listening position back to 8-10 feet, or they're old technology and there's better speakers where trading in the Silver Sigs. isn't a dumb thing to do?

2. You wrote that the VSA's seemed like they might appeal to rockers a little more than the Meadowlark's, though you slightly preferred the Meadowlark's all-around in most areas. At the CES, did you get an opportunity to hear the VR-4jr's? They seem to be in the same area price-wise.

Thanks for your time Wayne, I'm just trying to figure out if the stereophile bug has given me a fever for replacing the speakers, when it just may be a fever that will be fine after it passes.

Have a great day!

Chuck Davis

 

Hello Chuck, 

Your letter is very timely. I just came back from a listen session at a local dealer which prominently featured the VR-4 jr. More about them shortly. Ever heard the phrase "horses for courses"? Your B&W Silver Signatures were/are very good speakers for the right listener. I don't think that's you. I would characterize their musical presentation as refined and subtle; if you were into smaller-scale music--chamber, acoustic, vocal, etc.-- and preferred moderate volume levels you'd probably be a happy guy. But for gettin' your ya-yas out, I think a loudspeaker change is a good idea. 

Since I don't have sense of your listening room, I'm speculating here: I suspect the four-foot, very nearfield setup reflects your need to squeeze a more visceral listening experience out of your "polite" speakers. Unless there are other musical benefits that you didn't mention, chances are your original setup will be more satisfying (although I wouldn't put the speakers against the wall, but in most rooms would pull them out a foot or two). 

I am planning to review the VR-4jr in the near future, capping off my recent survey of the new-generation offerings from Von Schweikert. But you want answers now, so here's what I think, based on my limited time with them. The VR-4jr is noticeably superior to its VR-2 sibling, as you might expect for $1,500 more. It is much more competitive with the Osprey, and I suspect you would prefer it. It's highly resolving, but it rocks! And the bass response is in an altogether different league from the Silver Signatures. 

Good luck and rock on!

Wayne

 

April 2004

Dick,

I just came across your review of the Volksamp Aleph 30 SE power amplifier, and more than the actual review itself, your comments about the challenge Bob Carver issued interested me. Bob carver just came and spoke at my university, (more specifically to the EE students. I’m a senior EE major at Seattle Pacific University.) He actually told us about this very same incident. But there are two different stories. This is his side, and it sounds very convincing:

Without getting into to much specifics, he verified that the output of his system was the same as the tube amplification system by comparing the difference signal in an oscilloscope. The difference signal was flat, no matter what kind of music he played, and it seems to me that a flat difference signal would indicate that the outputs are identical – at least to our perception, anyway.

So in the actual test itself, which was blind for the testers, he said that the raters actually couldn’t tell the difference at all. And he knew because during a coffee break that the raters took, he looked at the judging sheets and saw that they testers clearly couldn’t tell the difference.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of prejudice against solid state tube emulators that the testers didn’t like the results, so they fudged them when the magazine came out. This makes complete sense to me, considering it is extremely humiliating to lose a public challenge.

That is his story. So anyway, can you tell me why “to my ears, Carver had merely managed to reduce the damping factor of his amp; in essence making it sound as loose and uncontrolled in the bass range as the Conrad-Johnson. There was still a large residual difference in the midrange.”? What if the looseness you were describing existed in the system he was modeling? It hasn’t taken me long to figure out that in the audio realm no one is ever objective though, so if you have a very good reason for why we can pick up a difference between signals that have a flat difference signal on an oscilloscope I’m all ears, seriously. I’m trying to learn about this stuff.

So anyway, after listening to the man himself, I am curious what you have to say. Especially since my area of interest is in the audio/small signal design arena.

Timothy Marston

 

Hi Tim,

My guess is that you still young enough to have a healthy respect for authority figures. A modicum of skepticism is a wise thing in all arenas of life, and especially in high-end audio, which is populated by bigger-than-life egos. Bob Carver is a consummate self-promoter who takes great pleasure in manipulating the unwary. 

You may not be aware of the full scope of the Carver-
Stereophile Magazine past history. The amplifier challenge was probably the beginning of it all. And following a couple of critical product reviews (an amplifier review by Bob Harley and my review of the Amazing Speaker), Carver sued Stereophile alleging that the Magazine's Editor instructed writers to write negatively about Carver products. This was complete nonsense, but under a process of discovery, Carver's lawyers visited Santa Fe and rummaged though files looking for a "smoking gun" memo from the Editor. Several Magazine persona, myself including, were deposed by Carver's lawyer. Bob Carver himself was on hand to enjoy the proceedings. Following my deposition, Carver gleefully boasted to my face that he would bring down the Magazine - expose and destroy it. That he did not do. There was a settlement without prejudice, whereby the Magazine agreed not to review Carver products for a period of five years. The whole process, however, while painful to Stereophile, was extremely costly to the Carver Corporation and its stockholders, who were stuck with over a million dollars in legal fees. This particular vendetta led to Carver's ousting from his corporation.

Getting back to the amplifier challenge, I don't really know if Carver used a scope, performed a null test, and if he did, what its resolution might have been. I recall that he made a series of (mainly) resistor changes and solicited feedback as to the resultant sound quality. In other words, he was winging it, until he judged the listener feedback was to be to his liking. Clearly, some of the participants could not reliably tell the two amps apart. That wasn't something I had any difficulty with. The distortion spectrum of the two amps was totally different and that's a primary factor in perceived amplifier differences. 

I've just had a discussion with Doug Rife of MLSSA fame re the role of ultrasonic dither in upsampling DACs. His thesis is that "the vast majority of upsampling DACs have slow roll-off anti-imaging filters which permit varying amounts of ultrasonic energy to leak through in the digital domain thus adding desirable ultrasonic dither to linearize the output DAC device." The distortion spectra of various DACs may be as much -50 dB below the signal and requires a state-of-the-art spectrometer for quantification. Yet the effect is quite audible. The point is that instrumentation sometimes fails to account for perceptual differences. That's not the fault of the listener but rather a limitation of the test.

Harry Olson, the dean of American acoustics for many years, was of the opinion that the ear should be the final arbiter when it comes to sound quality. That is really the foundation of high-end audio, that products that are designed to elicit pleasure in people should be evaluated on that basis. I realize that there are some audio designers that never bother to listen to their products, relying entirely on several key measurements to determine a design's success. Sometimes they get lucky. But more often than not, that's a recipe for mediocrity. The objective should be to enjoy the music, to design a product that conveys the music's full dramatic content rather than one that just measures well on a scope.

Best wishes,

Dick Olsher

 

April 2004

Steven,

Great review on the Furman IT Reference. I have a couple questions about this unit -- does it run hot and therefore need lots of space? Does it need to be placed away from other gear or can it sit on a shelf in a rack as long as it is the only unit on the shelf, to avoid electrical interference? Does this measure up to other units you may have used like the newer BPt units? Thanks. I enjoy reading your columns each month -- keep up the great work!

Bob Mito

 

Bob,

Thanks for your e-mail. My unit operates barely warm to the touch and only has an inch or so clearance above it within my equipment rack. It does not need to be away from other equipment per se, yet common sense dictates not stacking your high-gain MC phonostage on top of it. Of course we all practice keeping our electrical wires away from signal wires. Have not used other units as the Furman is sanely designed, uses common sense engineering (read: no snake oil here) and does a wonderful job. As they say "If it aint broke don't fix it."


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Wayne,

Congratulations on your new position Wayne! We believe that the cause of music in our audio world will be better served by you doing what you do so well!!!

Our best wishes and love to you...

Peter and Elizabeth McGrath

 

Dear Peter and Elizabeth, 

It's great to get such encouragement from two of my favorite people. Thank you! 

Wayne

 

April 2004

Bill,

I read your column at Enjoy the Music, and I must say that you managed to sum everything wrong with this hobby in only a few words, even if inadvertently.

Now, if I may summarize:

The $13,000 turntable, which did not work properly, was blown away by your $24,000 (I believe that is near the current retail) 275 lb. fully tweaked table? Do I really need to say any more regarding this to make my point? Oh, I also think Walker Audio is a perfect example of the type of company that is killing the 2 channel scene.

Lloyd Walker may be a great guy, and a great businessman, but you have to be kidding me with most of his stuff. We heard his phono preamp. It flat out sucked. $400 for brass cones and lead pucks? $60 for silver contact lube, which can be purchased at Home Depot for $10. Oh, I know, it is a special blend. I could go on, but why bother. I believe that Mr. Haney would offer a
better deal.

I spent a significant amount of money listening to experts and reading reviews and obviously buying equipment over the last several years, and I now have a system made up of a one of kind modified SAE Mk III amp directly fed by a Sony SACD on a Mapleshade stand with Mapleshade cables driving a pair of Vandy 2ce signatures. It is nothing special, but it sounds better than every other system I have heard, including an awful $70,000 system made up of Krell and Martin Logan components. No special wire or cone is going to make it sound that much better. Also, unlike your $13,000 turntable it works.

I have learned a few things along the way.

1. Bipolars, MOSFETs, jfets, and tubes all have a sonic signature. Pick your favorite poison, but absolutely none sound like the real thing. You need to learn which one you prefer before moving forward.

2. Different tubes have markedly different sonic signatures. I have never heard a KT88 amp that I liked, and I have never heard an EL34 amp that I did not like.

3. Power conditioners, expensive power cords, and expensive cables are rip offs. Yes, they may change the sound somewhat, but they will not change one's heart. If you get the amp and speakers right, you really do not need to worry about cabling.

4. I have found only 1 tweak that really works. Mapleshade Mikro-smooth, or Radio Shack scratch remover, used to buff discs. Clarity is certainly increased, though the disc cosmetically is damaged. Other items may change the sound, but again different does not mean better.

5. All preamps suck. Obviously a phono setup requires a preamp for equalization if nothing else, which should give one some insight into the superiority of vinyl and the problems with digital.

Well, that is all I have. I must tell you that while I will continue to read some articles and reviews. I doubt that I will be buying anything new for a long time, except for music. Another frustrated party departs from the high end.

Best of luck,

Joe


Joe,

Thank you for your heartfelt comments .I may not have stated correctly what I was trying to present. This was not a review of the other turntable, but of Lloyd Walker's products. Actually, I sent the other unit back feeling that I had not heard its potential and have subsequently gotten it back and have completed a review which should appear next month.

I also understand your other points as to whether a product's sound improvement is worthwhile on a dollar vs. % improvement level. Yes, Lloyd's products are expensive, and there are other similar products ot there for significantly less money. For instance, Mapleshade Records sells similar pucks and feet and silver contact enhancer, but I have tried out all of these in comparison to Walkers' and have actually tried the silver goop you mentioned (I still have an almost full tube of it), and found them to work, but not as well al Lloyd's. Whether the improvement vs. the cost is worthwhile, only the buyer can judge. A Chevy will get you to work, and the majority of people are happy with them, but for an aficionado, a Lexus or BMW will do it with more pleasure.

I happily am in a position as a reviewer with a fairly decent side income as physician, to be able to experiment to try to maximize the audio reality obtainable from my room and system. I have also heard execrable $100,000 plus, and some excellent $5,000 systems. I have also been through the monthly amp, preamp, etc., fever, and am mostly over it, thank G-d.

I also agree with you on your points 1. and 2. I also love EL34 amps, but love 300B's and 2A3's more. To each his own. If you are happy with what you've got, then I commend you. If I had not gotten into the high end, I could have retired by now.

I cannot agree with you on power conditioners. The greatest evil your system has to overcome is the junk being transmitted on the electricity coming into your house. While there are rip-offs out there, the biggest single thing you can do to your system is to clean up the AC. If you don't believe me, just listen to your system at 6 P.M., and again at midnight. To make a pun, the difference is like night and day. That's the AC grunge, which can be improved by those power conditioners, AC cords, etc. I have never tried the scratch removers, as I usually rip my CD's to a home theater computer, and store them in a safe place. In my room, the HTPC does everything the expensive CD playback systems do, and more. All pieces of equipment suck in one way or another, so every time you can get rid of one, you'll improve the final result.

I am happy you have reached you audio nirvana. Unhappily, for my bank account I think I'll continue to search for the Holy Grail of the
Absolute Sound.

Bill

 

April 2004

Wayne, 

Thanks for an excellent review of the Jolida JD-100. Two weeks ago I purchased a Jolida JD-100 to replace a mid-fi Harmon Kardon HDCD five-disc CD player. Even though the Jolida isn't completely broken in yet, the sound difference is incredible. A couple of years ago I got into audio through vinyl and I've amassed a collection of about 1000 lps and upgraded to a VAC Avatar Super tube amp and Spendor S5/3se speakers. My analog set up is a Rega P2, with a Goldring 1022GX cartridge (it sounds so good, I haven't been able to justify upgrading). I never really bothered to listen to CDs because they sounded like MP3s compared to vinyl. Now, with the Jolida, there is only a minimal difference between good CDs and good vinyl (played on the P2). This makes me wonder: 1) do really good CD players sound even better (including SACD and DVD-A)? and 2) is it time to upgrade the P2?

My question for you is a simple, probably often asked, question. Now that I have the Jolida and really enjoy it, is there any reason why I should upgrade or add a SACD (or universal) player to the mix? I didn't audition SACD players and the Jolida dealer (who happens to be located in the same building as Jolida!) told me that SACD doesn't sound as good as the Jolida (I find this a bit hard to believe). What do you think? Since many audiophile SACDs are also available on vinyl, I've decided to concentrate my audiophile software purchases on vinyl, rather than get into SACD. In the past few weeks I've had fun collecting redbook CDs, especially since they are so cheap compared to the vinyl I've been investing in. I figure if SACD really takes off in a few years and all new software is SACD, then it may make sense to upgrade or add SACD. 

Thanks for your comments and thanks again for a great review!

Best Regards,

Mark Liniado

 

Hello Mark, 

Your explanation of your priorities and your thought process is so clear-headed that I suspect you can reach your own upgrade decisions without any input from me. But what the heck, here are a few thoughts. 

Given your pleasure with the Jolida player, I wouldn't advise rushing to buy something pricier for a while. Your Jolida dealer may have somewhat overstated the case, as the new formats can surely convey a bit more detail information. But I'm not sure you would automatically enjoy that presentation more. I have some VERY expensive digital components that do indeed challenge the listening experience of my analog rig, but vinyl remains king of my audio mountain. 

Obviously your P2 is delivering outstanding price/performance value, so you need not be in a rush to spend more money. But given your love of vinyl, that is where I would recommend looking first to upgrade. Without breaking the bank you should be able to upgrade your LP platform with very satisfying results. Given your location, there should be a retailer or two who is analog-friendly and knowledgeable, who can offer you some counsel. 

Best wishes, and keep enjoying the music!

Wayne

 

April 2004

Hi Todd,

Nice review of VSM M. Could not agree more and would only add that it's a tube speaker through & through IMO. Curious as to what's in your current reference system?

Thanks,

Jim

 

Hi Jim,

Thanks, of course if a review is any good at all it needs to start with a worthwhile product, and the VSM-M certainly is that. That said, I have to say that I only agree in part with your comment about amplifiers with the Merlins. Like most highly resolving loudspeakers, the VSM-Ms will lay bare the amplifier they are partnered with, and with most solid-state amplifiers that is not a good thing. But with really great, musical solid-state amplifiers the combination can really excel. I have used a Blue Circle BC6 for years with Merlins, and that pairing really sings, and it's one that I keep coming back to over and over.

My current reference system starts with a Dodson DAC and uses the First Sound Presence Statement pre-amplifier. Amplifiers are either the aforementioned Blue Circle, a Conrad-Johnson MV-60 or the Manley Labs 300B Neo-Classic monos. Loudspeakers are the Merlins. Wire is Cardas and Stereovox, power cords are Acoustic Zen and Shunyata Research while power conditioning is by Shunyata.

Thanks for writing.

Peace,

Todd

 

Hi Todd,

I guess I'm just a tube guy at heart : )

Nice system. Always gives the reader a point of reference for judgment. Thanks for your reply. The VSM M would be a reviewers dream as they are such highly resolving transducers and very responsive to changes made in upstream wire and components or as you have stated "laying bare" those changes. Keep up the great review work you do at Enjoy the Music.com™.

Regards,

Jim

 

Hi Jim,

So am I. Notice, two of those three amps are tubed - as is the pre. At some deep, core emotional level tubes just get it right for me. As for the VSMs and reviewers, you're right. But, at least for me what makes them special is that they are even better speakers for music lovers. I mean that, I spend
far more time with them just listening than I do reviewing. If you haven't yet, check 'em out and let me know what you think.

Thanks for the comments and have a great day.

Peace,

Todd

 

April 2004

Wayne,

Congrats on launching the classical music review section. I couldn't stop reading the reviews. The prose was outstanding. Although the individual styles of the reviewers shone through, I thought I detected a "house sound" that bespoke deft editorial work behind the scenes. Well done!

By the way, I am a long-time Wayne Donnelly fan. I went out of my way when auditioning speakers to listen to the Meadowlark Blue Herons because of your review. I fell in love with them, bought them and continue to be thrilled by them. Thanks!

Daniel Labovitz

 

Dear Daniel, 

The writers and I really appreciate your perceptive and most encouraging comments. We will try our best to make every issue equally interesting. It helps to know that there are readers like you who value our efforts.

Wayne

 

April 2004

Dear Steven,

I love your reviews and the industry reports. I have understood that I can trust your judgments since you are not sitting in the knees of the big companies like many mags do.

Good work!!!!!

I have a question, why have you changed from the 1-100 numbered scores to an inexact 5-score ranking for the reviews?

Kind Regards.

Rikard Edsgard

 

Rikard,

Thanks for your compliment and advice. While the new scale system was explained a bit on the February Letters page, basically i felt there were too many 90+ ratings and we here in America see the number 50 as failing. The new system allows a theoretical 50 (2.5 stars) as being average (USA grade scale equivalent of 70). Maybe this sounds confusing, but in the end we made the change in hopes of
better defining the difference without the confusion of USA grade scale (60=D 70=C 80=B 90=A).

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Dick,

I have a question for Dick Olsher regarding tube power amplifiers. Is there a clear winner - from a sonic and/or value standpoint - between the latest versions of the Wolcott presence and the Antique sound lab hurricanes?

Thanks,

Keith Larsen

 

Hi Keith,

As I have no personal experience with the ASL Hurricanes, I cannot offer a sonic comparison with the Wolcott Presence. ASL has established a history for value, hence given the Hurricanes' enthusiastic reception by the Absolute Sound, it is no doubt a fine amplifier. What matters most, however, is the particular context in which an amplifier is used. With regards to inefficient electrostatic loads such as the Sound Lab A-1, I have heard nothing better than the Wolcott Presence.

Best Regards,

Dick Olsher

 

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