Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

06/15/03

Dick,

I enjoyed your review of the Kronzilla DM. Recently I purchased the stereo version (used with Avantgarde Duos), and I was amazed at how my impressions jibed with yours. I just wanted add a note to your preamp observations -- I use a passive (autoformer-based) pre in front of the Kronzilla, and love the combo. Given the power and tonal authority of the amp, my feeling is all it needs upstream are suitable sources. It truly is an amp you don't have to add to or subtract anything from.

David Zigas, CFA 


Hi David,

Many thanks for your feedback. Your observation about suitable sources is right on. With the Kronzilla in the chain, distortions in the front end have no place to hide.

Enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher

 

06/15/03

Neil,

Thanks for your review of the Vectuer L-4.2 CD player. As a Vectuer D-2 transport owner I was curious for a comparison of the two as transports. Did you keep the L-4 or are you still happy with the D-2?

I am sure there is improvement. I usually keep audio equipment for three years before I change it out. So I may have to wait for the D-3 or L-5? I also have a problem with dealing with Mutine. They never return my e-mails and don't provide much information on their Web site on their products. You might pass this along to them next time you talk to them. I am not the only one who shares this frustration with them. 

Their products are great thought. Wish they were easier to find in the United States. Keep up the good work at Enjoy the Music. I really enjoy the Web site.


Jay Johnson


Jay,

I admire your calm and your patience. I think that, as a reviewer, I sometimes get caught up in the cycle of upgrade, upgrade. To answer your question, I no longer have the D-2 nor will I own the L-4 for much longer, having chosen to upgrade to an L-4.2.

In terms of transports, there is now available the D-2.2 which, the distributor tells me, contains all the transport goodness of the L-4.2.

Regarding your difficulties with Mutine, I will pass your comments on to him.

I have been startled to find so much that is so good in one small catalogue. The only explanation is that Pascal Ravach has an incredibly sensitive ear and the intelligence to grab a good line quickly.

For this reason, I truly hope that the owner soon addresses his customers' complaints.

Thanks very much for writing. Writers are often though of as quiet and bookish, but in truth, they are enormously egotistical beasts whose monstrous ego must be fed lest they shrivel into small-minded cynics. So thank you for tending so quickly to my ego; now I will be quiet and bookish for a few days.

Neil Walker

 

06/15/03

Dear Mr. Flood:

I truly loved your article on the wave 8s. Is there a tube tuner you would recommend to go with this configuration? I am getting ready to purchase. I am thinking about building the The Hammer Dynamics Super 12 Loudspeaker Kit.

What do you think?

Joe Peter


Thanks Joe,


I’ve listened to the ASL Wave 8 tube monoblocks on a few occasions after my serious audition of them for Enjoy the Music.com. I remain very impressed with their exuberant musicality, if not their linear accuracy or low-frequency authority. When used with the right loudspeakers, in the proper situations, they remain one of the most amazing bargains in stereo amplification available today.

I know as much about tube tuners as a politician knows about the truth – they are foreign to me! I am only generally familiar with the Hammer Dynamics loudspeakers and would love to give them a serious listen. If you can construct a bookcase well enough to earn moderate to high Wife Acceptance Factor scores – I say go for it!

Yours in listening,

A. Colin Flood

 

06/15/03

Steven,

Great job on the Furman review.

Thanks!

James May

PS: enjoy the music

 

06/15/03

Wayne,

I keep mine on my workbench. I use the hole in the back to insert the hose of a shop vac. I extended the cover by using some packing tape. I shaped it so there is just enough room to move the lever. This prevents debris from flying out the front. I run the shop vac when I am using the unit and with the front gap closed off by the tape, most of the debris is sucked away. If some sticks to the blade, I just whisk it way with the brush and the shop vac sucks it up. Beats having debris all over everything.

I skip the black edge part.

I also bought the Furutech demagnetizer. I was using Vivid (Auric and Optrix before that). I thought Vivid worked the best but after using the Audio Desk and Furutech, my ears told me that Vivid was unnecessary and adversely effecting depth retrieval on some discs. I also ditched the Marigo mat I was using before. 

I use VMPS RM 40s. They are very revealing. The midrange ribbons cover 166hz to about 10khz. A lot of solid state gear sounds tizzy with these ribbons. Any CD unpleasantness is starkly revealed. The Marigo mat and the chemical treatments seem to have a positive effect mainly on upper midrange detail retrieval. The Audio Desk improves the whole spectrum. I can hear positive effects of the Audio Desk even on my car player.

I cannot recall a single disc sounding worse after the Audio Desk. Some sound a bit bleached our after using the Furutech. Those I just leave near the player so they will accumulate a magnetic charge.

You may wish to try using the Audio Desk on CD-R blanks if you can find a brand that it won't damage. Most CD-R blanks extend the label material fully to the edge so when use the Audio Desk, the label material is disturbed possibly destroying the disk. I was able to get a few Memorex blanks to cooperate and determined that the bass response was better when the blank was beveled prior to burning.

Bob Wilcox


Dear Bob,

Thank you for your comments and suggestions on using the audio desk CD trimmer. I think prospective buyers will find your input interesting and worthwhile. Btw, I have also found that trimming CD-R blanks before recording seems to help. 

Best wishes,

Wayne Donnell

 

06/15/03

Hello,

I just read your review of Cody Michaels' CD at your website, and I want to let you know that his musicianship is even more enjoyable and rich in person.

A friend gave me A Creation Prayer in March and I've listened to it once or twice a week since then -- I don't want to "over-hear" it and ruin the experience. (My musical preferences are generally along jazz and classical lines with many exceptions made for great quality.) The same friend let me know that Cody would be performing at MainStreet Bookends in Warner, NH last Friday night, and I dropped by.

We were a small but appreciative bunch. Between pieces, Cody spoke a good deal about himself and his evolution as an artist and a human being. Mainly, his devotion to his music was what most struck me. He's bright, verbal, emotional, and engaging.

I appreciate the long row he's chosen to hoe, in his refusal to offer his CD to Borders or any of the other mega-stores. He'll never be rich, his followers will always have to track down his next CD and his next gig, but that's kinda fun. We knew him "when."

Cody has another album ready to go to disc shortly, I can't wait.

Hope this gives you a little more background than you had.

Emily

 

Emily,

Many thanks for your wonderful e-mail. Cody is indeed a wonderful man who is very talented. Look forward to enjoying his next music release :-).

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

06/15/03

Karl,

Thank you for the Minimax review. I ordered mine today. Cant wait!

Bob

 

06/15/03


Colin,

I recently upgraded from my old, run of the mill, SS system to a Jolida JD102B, Jolida JD100 and Athena AS-F2 speakers. I am very happy with it but after reading your review of the Bottlehead Paramour, ASL Wave 8 and others of the Decware Zen I am intrigued by how one of these might sound with my CD player and speakers. The Athena's have a sensitivity of 93.5 so it looks like that I might has sensitive enough speakers. 

How would you compare the sound of the Paramour, Wave or Zen with that of the Jolida JD102B?

Rafusec*AT*aol.com

 

Hi,

Well, you have some very nice stuff, so I am not sure that any of the three amplifiers is a big move upwards. With the Jolida integrated tube amplifier, you are already driving 20 Watts per channel into 8 ohms. With the Bottlehead Paramours, you give that up to get only 3.5 watts of the 2A3 tube delicacy. While your loudspeakers have a sensitivity well above-average, compared to the woefully inefficient audiophile fare, the Paramours really should be mated with super-sensitive speakers of 95dB/w/m or more. Same with a switch to the bargain basement ASL Wave 8s; you give up a good, practical performer to get some lower cost, lower power sound. Not having heard the other amplifiers, I would guess that the Decware amplifier would be move of a sideways move compared to what you already have. 

If better mid-range tone is what you are seeking, I would start rolling some of the amplifier and pre-amplifier tubes. Search some of the audio forums and see what kind of suggestions you get. 

You do not mention whether you have a subwoofer or not. Since the Athena’s have dual 8" mid-range woofers, you get something like 35Hz to 20kHz within 3dB for an anechoic room response. This is quite good. I would find out exactly where your in-room response actually rolls off and then look at a powerful subwoofer to shore up the very deepest bass.

Yours in listening,

A. Colin Flood

 

06/15/03

Bill and Wayne,

I have used the Auto Desk for the past year, and I am happy with its results. The other day I spoke to Jena Crock at www.jenalabs.com, and she told me of a test she performed on CD's treated with the Auto Desk. She placed several treated CD's and several non-treated in a chamber at 1,000 psi for several days. At the end of the test the treated CD's had been rendered unplayable while the non-treated CD's played fine. I hope we are not causing the early demise of our valuable music collection.

I wonder what you think?

David Levinson



David,

Leakage of air into the CD causing oxidation of the aluminum reflective surface could be a problem as we are probably breaking a seal at the edge of the CD. I still have a couple of laser discs around with laser rot and a couple of CD's that weren't done on the Audiodesk that also suffer from the problem. On the other hand who will be listening to these CD's in a few years. They are certainly not equivalent to Mercs and shaded dogs, and SACD and DVD-A will probably make most of them obsolete shortly. Its too bad a generation of music has been entrusted to 16-bit/44kHz.

Also I don't know too many listening rooms that are found several hundred feet down in the ocean (1,000 psi).I would think that sealing the edge with a thin layer of some water based polyurethane would solve the problem, but I have come up with a much better solution:

I have transcribed all of my CD's to two hard drives, and play them through my M-Audio 1010 D/A card, on my home theater computer which sounds as good as if not better than the high end DACS I've had here, using Media Center as the program. This also has the advantage of being able to use some very nice digital signal processing of the Media Center such as changing 16-bit/44kHz to 24-bit/88kHz, 5.1 from 2-track, graphic digital equalization and bass management. It can do wonders for poorly recorded CD's. Try it.

Bill

 

Dear David: 

Well, that is not a test that I would have ever thought of performing, and even if I had, my home high-pressure chamber probably wouldn't be up to the job. :-) I certainly don't want to dispute the findings of Jennifer Crock, for whom I have great respect, but I am unable to conceive of a scenario which would involve my CDs undergoing days of 1,000 psi atmospheric pressure. I would be happy to be enlightened on how that experiment would translate to real-world concern about CD longevity. 

This brings to mind the infamous "Sam Tellig"/Stereophile/ArmorAll flap of over a decade ago. Veteran audiophiles may recall that Mr. T first exalted the sonic benefits of applying that well-known automotive product to the playing side of CDs, only to subsequently recant, with dire predictions of the treatment causing those CDs to deteriorate. Impressionable youth that I was, I had done the ArmorAll treatment on about half a dozen of my favorite CDs, and by golly they sounded better. Of course I stopped doing it when the recantation appeared, and begin anxiously monitoring the health of those extra-shiny discs. After all these years-- and trimming them with the Audio Desk lathe, they still look and sound just fine. 

Without more information I don't think I'll be losing any sleep over 1,000 psi. 

Best regards,

Wayne Donnelly

 

06/01/03

Wayne,

#1
The subjectivity and hyperbole in audio reviews is frustrating. It's amazing how often I've read a review on a particular item of audio equipment and come across some sort of statement about how similar this item is in quality compared to other items costing much more. This type of comparison is done often enough that it seems like there shouldn't be any audio equipment left to compare to in that same price bracket. Just once I'd like to come across a $1,000 item that is only as good as a $500 item. It makes me wonder if the reviewer is trying to find the truth about the audio product's quality, or simply producing advertising for the company of the product being reviewed.



#2
There are alot of items in the audio world that don't even make sense to me. For instance, so much concern is made over cables (some costing thousands of dollars for a small length) when all the wiring and welds within a particular audio product are seemingly ignored. How could one cable with two connectors make any noticeable difference when connected between products that consist of dozens and dozens of wires and welds along that same signal path? It just doesn't make sense.


#3

I was once in a listening room of Paradigm speakers consisting of about ten pairs ranging from the lowest Cinema speaker to the upper mid-level Monitor 9 speaker. They were all connected to the same CD player via a switch that allowed me to instantly listen to any pair of speakers. I listened to several different types of classical music, including vocals, and was prepared (and expecting) to hear significant differences. I was shocked at how little the differences were. In fact, if I had to value the differences between speaker pairs, each better pair might receive a higher score of about 1 point on a total scale of about 50. What was most shocking was that when I switched between the Cinema and Monitor 9 I didn't get the 10 point jump that logic would tell me, but rather more like about 3. This comparison opened my eyes (and ears) to the subtleties of the audio world.



#4
What annoys me is that the reviews often use words like "shocking" and "drastic" to describe the differences between lesser and better products, giving me the impression that color is being seen for the first time in a world of black and white. However, a Fisher-Price toy is not being compared to a high-end audio product.


#5

Why can't audio equipment be compared in a way that is much more scientific and objective? Why aren't actual measurements of the sound made? If our ears can hear a difference, then certainly a device can detect that difference and plot it out to prove it. Frequency response graphs are made for speakers, so wouldn't this data also show the difference among audio products?


#6

I wish that a reviewer was given a 10 or 20 second piece of music to review, not knowing what he was reviewing (players, cable, speaker, etc.). He would listen to the piece over and over again for about 20 sessions in order to evaluate it for each of the categories that Enjoy the Music.com™ evaluates (tonality, bass, resolution, etc.). Then he would listen to the same 10 or 20 second piece over again for another 20 sessions, not knowing what or if anything had been changed. He would go through this procedure about 10 times to test 3 or 4 products. Then another reviewer would be subjected to the same analysis. Ultimately, we would discover if there would be consistency in the reviews, especially when the reviewers don't know what audio equipment combination they are listening to. For example, you could review 3 CD players in random order for 10 times so that some players might be played in repeated succession. Then the review would be valid because it would eliminate subjectivity and bias. You would then have a review that would produce the truth of the audio equipment's quality, and not what the company wants you to tell your audience. People buying audio equipment that was favorable by this review method would be able to have confidence that their money has made a good purchase, because most audio equipment cannot be properly auditioned.

Thanks for your response.

Michael

 

Dear Michael: 

Well, I hardly know where to begin. Your letter exudes frustration, and your view of all reviewers is so pervasively negative that I'm not sure any reply from one of the species will satisfy you, but I'll give it a go. Because your letter is so long, and not exactly linear in its progression of argument, I have taken the liberty of numbering your paragraphs so I can respond specifically to the issues raised in each one. 

#1 
With the near-infinite variety of audio products at a similarly wide variety of prices, it is not all that unusual to encounter a lower-priced component that in sound quality is competitive with much higher priced components. For instance, a "luxury" component might well incorporate expensive materials and cosmetic or user interface features that add considerably to build cost, with more of an eye toward promoting pride of ownership than strictly quality of sound. I for one am happy to find what I would call high-performance high-value products, and to evaluate them for the benefit of readers who want the best sound they can get within their budgets. In fact I interrupted writing a review of just such a product in order to answer this letter. Your suggestion that giving exposure to such lower-priced value equipment is somehow dishonest simply puzzles me. From my experience, a greater danger is that a reviewer may be so dazzled by a high-price component that he overvalues its sound. 

#2
This at least is an unusual take on the eternal "cables are bunk" argument. Usually it's more like "After power goes through the power grid and miles of wire, what makes you think that plugging in a six-foot cable can make the component sound better?" That one used to bother me quite a bit, but after listening to dozens of different cables--power, interconnect, speaker--I now accept that the connectivity aspects of a system can make substantive differences in the performance of that system. Is the cable segment of the industry completely devoid of absurd claims and overpriced products? Of course not. But there is a lot of very good cable out there at reasonable prices, and it is up to the consumer as well as the reviewer to try to reach sound conclusions about these matters. 

#3
I used to work in a very good audio store, and we routinely used A-B switching setups that in fact had deleterious effects on the performance of the electronics involved. This was no conspiracy, just how things were done. Possibly something like that was happening in your Paradigm comparison. Or, perhaps your expectations for the audible differences between various models was simply unrealistic. I for one have no idea what your "difference of 3 on a scale of 50" would sound like to me or anyone else. But any experienced audiophile knows that once you reach a certain performance plateau, further improvements become comparatively more expensive. 

#4
I agree that reviewers should steer clear of hyperbole, even if that is not required of their readership. 

#5 & 6
The "measurements vs. listening" and "blind testing vs. sighted auditioning" controversies are as old as audio reviewing itself, and it seems that the twain will never meet. Clearly I am one of those subjectivist reviewers you decry, so let me just point out a couple of things. 

It has been years since I paid attention to mass-market--or what we audio snobs like to call "mid-fi,"--equipment, but I'm willing to bet that just about any product in that category will have published specifications so good that they make your head spin. Great measurements are not hard to achieve, especially if it doesn't matter how good the sound is. One example: let's say you're comparing a $200 solid-state Japanese integrated amplifier with a THD spec of .002 against a $2,000 integrated tube amplifier with a THD spec of 1.0%. Which do you think is likely to sound better? That vanishing low value is pretty easy to achieve simply by using lots of negative feedback--a technique which usually equates to mediocre sound. 

As for your suggested reviewing methodology--frankly, it's a vision of hell! I wouldn't do it if it was a requirement for reviewing, because it bears no resemblance to the process of listening to music and appreciating its beauty. The mind--or at least my mind--simply doesn't make sense out of repeated musical jump cuts. 

Finally, I think you share with many others the notion that we audio reviewers have infinite access to all the equipment we want--so our refusal to consider 4 or 5 directly competitive products in a review is a sign that we lack integrity or energy. You also seem to assume the existence of some sort of "review center" with elaborate switching facilities for double-blind testing and an infinite variety of components for comparisons. Well, it ain't so. I have occasion been able to directly compare 3-4 similar components in a single review, but that was lucky coincidence. At
Enjoy the Music.com™ we are supposed to keep review units no longer than 90 days, and then either return or buy them. We are not encouraged to hoard components for possible future review comparisons. Most of us do our best to make meaningful comparisons whenever possible, but lot of times it's just not possible. 

Great audio is ultimately both art and science. So, ideally, is audio reviewing. And the science is certainly imperfect. Are there lapses in judgment-- and, occasionally, in integrity--among reviewers? Sadly, yes. We are imperfect creatures, just as you are. But in the years I have been writing audio and musical criticism, I have for the most part found my fellow writers to be people of conscience and good will who do their best to help consumers make good choices not to posture as oracular authorities. Most of them, again like me, do it for the love of music and audio. And remember, the customer has the final vote. 

I hope that however useful or useless you find any review, that you take the trouble to find and acquire equipment that brings you musical pleasure. As our Editor says, what really matters is that you 

Enjoy the music,

Wayne Donnelly

 

Wayne,

Thank you for taking so much time to reply. I really appreciate your effort.

My frustration with audio reviews is simply that I don't know how much of each review I can trust. If the review is subjective, that's a big difficulty right there because it ultimately makes the review useless. If there is no absolute reference point to compare to, then how do I know what "good" or "great" means? When audio products are talked about like they are day and night from another product, or even just significantly better, is that the difference between driving 60 and 90 mph, or 60 and 61 mph? Furthermore, whenever the differences are described as "slight" or "subtle", is that really like 60 mph versus 61 mph? If so, could any human actually notice the difference if they were asked to guess the speed they were going without looking at the speedometer or feeling the difference in acceleration/deceleration? And therein lies the issue. What's the point in a reviewer making a statement that actually MIGHT have no significant difference given a blind test condition? A reviewer doesn't have to go through my analysis example exactly. He can use some sort of variation that still enables the reader to establish some sort of objectivity in the reviewers results. Then the reader knows the results have truth; results he can trust; results he can bank his money on. I am a reader that doesn't have auditioning access to most of the audio equipment I am interested in. I need to rely on the judgement of reviewers. I need objectivity. I think almost all your readers would prefer an objective review over a subjective one, given that choice.

Thanks. 

Michael

 

Michael, 

I fear we are still traversing the same ground as in our earlier exchange. I think your discomfort with the prevailing review methodology may lie in your conception of what SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE really mean. As I read your letters it appears that you more less equate SUBJECTIVE to arbitrary, capricious, probably biased, and not reliably transferable from reviewer to reader. Conversely, you see OBJECTIVE--specifically as manifested in measurements or elaborate blind testing--as the only route to valid judgment. 

I have already stated my reservations about specifications and listening tests that involve quickly switching back and forth, etc.. I think you might be surprised at the actual percentage of audio enthusiasts who would prefer your kind of reviews; there seems to be no great demand for such an approach among, for instance, the continually growing readership of
Enjoy the Music.com™

For me and other like-minded reviewers, the term SUBJECTIVE essentially means reaching conclusions by means of careful and extended listening, a process in which I have found that many flaws in the performance of audio equipment--flaws that can easily escape notice in short-term A-B switching comparisons, but which can gradually affect musical enjoyment over time--become noticeable. It certainly remains the obligation of the reviewer to perform his or her analysis in a disinterested and unbiased manner, and to avoid equating sonic performance with price, flashiness or other extraneous factors. Obviously there is no standard qualifying test for audio reviewing, nor is there any way to predict and adjust for variations in reviewers' listening preferences. Absolute certainty is unattainable, no matter what critical method is applied. 

The bottom line of objective evaluation is probably what you read in Consumer Reports. Alternatively, you might find the reviews in Stereophile to your liking-- they combine listening tests and measurements, and sometimes those results don't match. The magazine is not my cup of audio, but it may be yours. 

I wish you luck in your audio pursuits, and I urge you to pay more attention to what your own ears tell you than in review pronouncements. 

Wayne Donnelly

 

06/01/03

Dear Dick Olsher,

Allow me to ask your opinion about the Manley Labs Stingray: is it a good match with a pair of Avantgarde Duo Speakers? I read a review (Charles Hansen and Nancy and Duncan MacArthur, The Consumer Products Reviewed) where they say that this amp is "...highly recommended, unless (...) you own bright speakers". Do you agree with this? 

Thank you very much for your answer.

Jorge Galhardas

 

Dear Jorge:

I would agree with that conclusion - but only as far as the sound of the Stingray when outfitted with a stock complement of EL-84s. Roll in the JJ electronic EL-84 and the Stingray's voicing becomes a bit darker and more lush - just about the perfect harmonic tapestry for the Avantgarde Duo.

Enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher

 

06/01/03

Hi Bill,

I recently came across your Audiolics Anonymous by accident and i'm embarrassed to say I'm one! 8 ) I'm just getting back into my hi-fi after a year long break and reading your articles really inspired me to get back into it. I'm therefore after some advise to get biggest bag for my very limited buck.

First up, my kit:

- Shanling CDT100 valve HDCD
- N.E.W. P3 valve pre
- Pass Labs Aleph 5 power
- RedRose Rosebuds ribbon bookshelves
- interconnects are JPS original superconductors
- spk cables are Acoustic Zen Holograms Mk 1
- i have 3 Shun Mook mpingo discs
- 2 x Yammamura Churchil 4000 power cords w/ 2 x Cable Co. Cable Jackets
- the speakers are sitting yammamura churchill speaker plates (horizontal
sliding/floating plates)
- components are sitting on Clearlight Audio RDC cones
- all these are then sitting on a non-hifi table (i know, i need a proper rack)

Q1: If I have to decide on either spending money on Power or Vibration Control - which would it be? p/s: i live in a flat central London hence power is shared. On the other hand, room has high ceilings and lots of thick carpet and sofas.

Q2: If answer to Q1 is power, what's the biggest bag for buck in terms of power? Could you rate your various recommendations in order of impact? Note, I currently have NO power tweak bar the power cables & cable jacket.

- Toshiba UPS
- Richard Gray's Power Company AC Line Conditioner
- Sound Application CF-XE-12 AC Noise Reduction Unit
- Walker Audio Velocitor Power Line Enhancer
- Quantum's Symphony, Symphony Pro, and the Octave

Q3: Also, where does the Walker UDL sit on the priority ladder? I've heard the HDL and was very impressed but I want to 'build' up my tweaks, adding the 'essentials' first before moving to 'finishing touches' tweaks.

Anyway, hope it all makes sense. If you haven't any fans or AA members over this side of the Atlantic, let me be the first!

Your London AA member,

Clinton

 

Clinton,

Thanks for the kind words. I don't know what the electricity is like over there, but I would start there first. Get the Velociter with a Silent Source power cord irst. If you have more money to spend go for the Sound Application's unit, plug the elicitor into one of the CF-X12 outlets, put all low amp stuff through the Velociter and amplifiers through CF-X12 if there are insufficient outlets on the Velociter. The Walker replaces the Quantum products as it uses their system. UPS is unnecessary and the Richard Gray is secondary.

Next comes vibration control. Best bet is a Vibraplane with a stand on top of it to hold al of the equipment. That way one Vibraplane can hold everything. Use Walker Valid Points and discs for all equipment as a next step.

Finally room and loudspeaker correction. If you are using digital only, I would recommend looking at the Tag McLaren AV 192 pre-pro if you are planning on going multi-channel in the near future as it has built in room and speaker correction. I'm hoping to get a review sample in the near future, but from what I've heard it will be the pre-pro to beat.

Good Luck,

Bill Gaw

 

06/01/03

Hi Bill Roberts,

I have read your on-line review of the ROTEL RB 1050 / RC 1070 audio equipment after I have already bought the equipment at the local high end audio store. It was the cheapest and (in my opinion) best sounding thing in that store. I was amazed - but that's store and I wasn't sure that in my place it would sound as good as there - but it was even better when I paired it up with B&W DM 601 S3 pair of loudspeakers.

All together now I have high end sound for less than $1,400. Unbelievable! Then I started my research on the web in order to see what other people think of this thing, and bumped on your review - could not agree more! For some reason many snobbish reviewers of high end audio equipment avoid giving positive reviews to Rotel. I really appreciate your honesty and realistic approach, beside the fact that you seem loaded with many years of high end audio experience and have listened to almost any amplifier/pre-amplifier/loudspeakers out there in your career.

Regards,

Milos Dunjic

 

Milos,

Thank you for the complement! I really liked those pieces quite a bit because of the value aspect and the ability to  really put out top flight sound. As an owner of them, I feel confident you will get many many years of enjoyment! I appreciate you writing me.

Thank you Milos!

Bill Roberts

 

06/01/03

Wayne,

I enjoyed your reviews of the M-60 II.2's and the Von Schweikert db-100's. I own a pair of M-60 II's... as well as a pair of Von Schweikert 4.5's. I also have a pair of Cary 300SE's. My dilemma is that I am addicted to the lushness of the Cary's and favor them over the M-60's. Every so often, I hook up a solid state monster amp for change of pace. The thunderous bass that issues from the 4.5's with the solid-state amplifier. I just can't replicate with the M-60's... and can't come close with the 300B's. The db-100's sound like a speaker that could help with my 300B addiction... but over the last few years, a growing family has left less disposable income for hifi purchases. I was wondering how the db-99 prototypes sounded in comparison to the db-100's? Did Albert say the new itteration of the db-99's would be greatly changed from what you listened to.... and did he say when the new version would come out?

Thanks,

Rob Caldwell

 

Hi Rob, 

I'm not surprised that your amps have problems in the bass. The VS 4.5 is nominally a 6-ohm impedance, but the woofer impedance is 4 ohms--probably significantly lower in the deeper bass frequencies-- and neither of your tube amplifiers is happy with impedance that low. The VS dB-100, steep price aside, would be a perfect solution for your problem, combining 100 dB sensitivity in midrange and treble with earthshaking bass out of its dual-woofer transmission line and 600-watt active amplifier. But the dB-100 is now being built only to special order, and its smaller sibling dB-99 never made it past prototype stage. Those speakers performed fabulously in my system, but have not caught on with their principal target audience, low-powered SET amplifier lovers. My guess is that those folks are generally horn-oriented and not terribly receptive to any loudspeaker featuring solid-state amplification, even if only in the bass. (I can almost see them holding up crosses to ward off the solid-state Antichrist.) 

So, what to do? If you wish to keep your current loudspeakers and amplifiers, you might investigate the ZERO autoformers made by Paul Spelts--the Atma-Sphere web site has a link. These attractively packaged little transformers provide for a variety of connection options, with the purpose of presenting a constant 16 ohm impedance to the amplifier. I am currently reviewing a pair of ZEROS, and while I don't want to spoil my review, I can tell you that the M-60 Mk. II amplifiers kick some serious ass with them on some fairly difficult-to-drive speakers. 

If you are willing to consider new loudspeakers, I suggest you listen to the new Von Schweikert VR-2 (review also in progress). They are smaller than your 4.5s and have very nice wood cabinets rather than the brown cloth we all know so well. They retail for $2,495, and don't give up much to the 4.5 even in the bass. What makes them so recommendable for your amplification is that with 88-89 dB sensitivity they are extremely tube-friendly because their impedance runs between 10 and 20 ohms! 

If you decide to try either of these options, I'd love to hear about your experience with them. 

Best wishes,

Wayne Donnelly

 

 

06/01/03

Steven,

A few reasons manganese batteries work in this situation and alkalines don't within the Final Labs products. Firstly, manganese are higher voltage. When you put a bunch in series configuration, that voltage becomes meaningful.

Of course they have a higher internal resistance so the voltage is tugged down by a greater percentage with any given current demand than the alkaline, but you are starting with a higher voltage. Obviously this is planned into the design. That's partly what all those tiny capacitors are for, to store charge thereby filtering the voltage dips and spreading them over time (if not isolated by a regulator - which they probably are (regulators burn off excess voltage as heat, which would be valuable wasted battery life - having a battery which is voltage stable would allow choosing a more efficient regulator). Beginning with sufficient voltage to begin with, decreases the current demand. Undoubtedly, knowledge of the maximum current draw on the manganese batteries has been taken into consideration in deciding how many batteries to series together. And undoubtedly, this has been decided with concern toward the limitations of the cells as they approach the end of their life. Anything but the power amplifier will have a relatively constant and low current draw anyway. That brings up the next point and probably the deciding factor.

Have you ever used a battery checker (a cheap one that provides no load. Or a high impedance multimeter) to check a manganese that won't even begin to light your flashlight. What you will find, is that with no load, a manganese measures almost at its original (new) voltage. That's what makes manganese ideal for any situation where you have low current draw but want to maintain a reasonably constant voltage reference - cheaply and with decent energy capacity (such as clocks, and ohmmeters) You can use them right up to the end of their life, with little voltage change. An alkaline's voltage wilts almost proportional to its remaining energy. This is probably not what you want in an amplifier. You'd prefer to have a constant voltage, even if at the expense of instantaneous brute current - especially if you have designed as to not need great current.

Lead/acid batteries seried as to produce the required voltage would work better, but the charging system would need to be just unbelievably accommodating, and the weight, danger, and corrosive fumes you'd rather not deal with.

We know the problems with NiCad memory effect, self draining, and such (which could mostly be overcome with sufficiently well designed charging system - but the problem is; when cells here and there, begin dropping out - it's a headache and beyond the technical abilities of most people to keep such a system working. Of course the initial cost would be very high and you'd need yet more cells to get your voltage. The voltage would also taper off similar to alkalines. The same, but to a lesser degree, goes for NiMH. Lithiums would be one expensive proposition.

I think manganese was chosen for their stable voltage characteristics, low upfront cost (as far as a battery system goes), cleanliness, and for the simplicity of upkeep by the layman. Putting alkalines in their place simply reduced your voltage (potentially fighting with the regulator)( or if no regulator, especially if there are any FETs, potentially upsetting the bias (and thereby linearity) - a little tiny bit in each stage would multiply distortion on down the line). The possibility exists that it could be as simple as; the battery contacts on the alkalines you tried, where of poor quality, and all that comes with it (you should make a point of never touching battery contacts - on the battery or in the battery box. Acids in skin oils are isolative and corrosive. A little alcohol and swabs are great to have around.) Gold is good - not a gimmick.

These guys know their batteries and their customers. They definitely chose the best throw-aways for the job, and designed the system to work with those characteristics. Unlike any rechargeable and its related circuitry, a fresh set of throw-aways are pretty much guaranteed to give a reliable and expectable life.

Ken Sweet

 

Ken,

Many thanks for your wonderful information!

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

06/01/03

Hi,

Your website was awesome with helping me find definitions for my school project i went to like 300 different web sites to try and find these words then i came to yours and all of them were on it (except Monophonic, Ab, ABA (form), Call/ Response, and Rondo) but i'll find them some how and who knows they could not even be words knowing my band teacher ;)

Thanks for the help!

Megan

 

06/01/03

Steven,

I really enjoy your reviews and enthusiasm for audiophile products and the greatness of music. I have a question about balanced power conditioners. Do you still use the Furman IT-1220? I'm interested in getting one, but I see that Furman has the IT-Reference. While it looks a little cooler (However, I do like the industrial look of the IT-1220), its cost is twice that of the IT-1220. Is there that large of a difference between these products?

Also, do you recommend Furman products over those from Equi-tech? Finally, on the IT-1220, are the voltage meter lights annoying to you? I listen to music in the dark and wouldn't like to see lights moving. Of course, I'd have no problem with taping over the meter or even disconnecting those lights, but I was curious what you thought.
Thanks,
Erik


PS Here is my system:

Mark Levinson ML-10 preamp
Mark Levinson ML-3 (200 watts per channel into 8ohms)
NAD Tuner
Linn LP-12
Linn Mimik CD
Linn AV-5140 speakers 

Erik Huddleston

 

Erik,

Thanks for your e-mail and must say, very impressive system! Am proud to say a review of the newest offering from Furman is now available within this month's Review Magazine. Years ago i compared the Equi-tech to the old IT-1220 and the Furman was leagues ahead. In fact a representative from Equi-tech agreed some of their (then) products did not "sound" good. Have not tried their newest units. As for the light meters, they have been eliminated in the new Reference unit, though a simple solution is to use electrical tape to cover the lights.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

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