Letters To Us
I was intrigued by your review of the male RCA connectors. You said which was best without describing the differences in sound quality. Could you elaborate? Also, I am keen on the Nuetrik ones as used by Nordost in their upmarket ranges - could you try these too.
Thanks for your e-mail. Glad you found the male RCA review to your liking. It would be hard to give specifics on the "sound quality" of each RCA connector as it would also be dependant on the cable used with it. What truly intrigued me was the minimalist approach of the Eichmann. Alas, never had the opportunity to try the Nuetrik and as the review was done almost a year ago, maybe a revisit is in order a few month from now. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Just wanted to drop you a line letting you know that there are other cable manufactures out there that are using the wonderful Eichmann RCA connectors on their products. Our Rebel interconnect cable has been using them for quite a while now. I know it is hard to keep up with all the manufactures, esp. the lesser know ones, who market their products via the internet and who have not had their products reviewed by major publications. Keep up the great publication and the review of products from us lesser known companies!
Silver Audio Technology
I read with interest your two reviews of the Audio Note DAC kits on Enjoy the Music. It is interesting to see the various ways in which red book
CDs are being made to sound so much better than once was possible, and at such great prices. That being said, have you listened to the new stuff coming out of Musical Fidelity, and that Sam Tellig raves about in Stereophile? How would you compare that way of approaching red book (upsampling instead of oversampling) with the Audio Note approach? I'm interested because I'm getting ready to begin that long process of finding a good sounding digital front end that is also affordable. Any thoughts on these two systems would be appreciated.
Thanks for the e-mail and enjoy your enthusiasm. As for the Musical Fidelity equipment, have not heard it. Still, i have heard various "upsampling" devices and found them lacking. Please audition the Audio Note unit as it is not just a band-aid of sorts, but a different way of decoding the data using as little digital intervention as possible. In my book, there are times when less = more. Less in the signal's path = more music :-) . Of course in the end what REALLY matters is that YOU...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Can you comment a little more on the comparison between the snapper mono's and your Audio Research amp? How do they compare sonically? BTW, loved the review.
Thank you for your kind email.
The Audio Research M300 Mk II's are 300 watt monoblocks using solid state input and driver stages and eight 6550's per amp for the output stage. They are over 15 years old. The M300 Mk II's project a bigger soundstage and soundscape both in width and depth than the Manley Lab Snappers and have more "weight" in the bottom end (they are 300 watt amps after all). In comparison 100 watt The Manley Lab Snappers are more resolving and articulate in their presentation. The Snappers are tighter in the bass and more transparent when listening to electric guitars, for example, the highs are also a bit more extended. I was pleasantly surprised at just how dynamic the Snappers were, they gave up virtually nothing to the three times as powerful M300 Mk II's under that test. The Snappers do a fantastic job of offering soundstage and soundscape while at the same time keeping an underdamped woofer from misbehaving.
I hope this helps, but I really hope you get the chance to listen to a pair yourself. Let me know how it works out.
All the best.
I was reading your review of the "Cool Audio System on the Cheap" I am trying to get in to the "Audiophile" type listening and was wondering if this is a good place to start. I love sitting back in the dark and listening to classical music with my eyes closed, but I don't feel that my current system does the actual music justice. I like music very clear and well defined. I'm not (hopefully) going to turn in to an Audiophile Freak and start getting home equity lines to finance my hobby, I just want to have something that sounds good.
$2,000 is still a pretty decent investment but if that's what it takes to get started and to get down to some good quality listening, I'm there. Anyways, it was a wonderful review and I think almost perfect for guys like me looking to get in to the field but not sure if it's right for them.
Thanks for your e-mail. Our Senior Editor Dick Olsher has a great article for the $2k system. Please see
review by Dick Olsher. As always, in the end what really matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Just wanna say that the reviews are great on this site and I can't get enough of it. Please keep doing the great job you've done and I hope more people will turn to it for their unique perspective on the sound of equipments.
Enjoyed your review of the VTL 5.5 preamp-Was wondering what version of 2.5 you were
referring to when you wrote "It represents a significant step up from the 2.5" And also in what ways it made you feel that way. I have the latest version of 2.5(I believe the power supply and tube complement were changed) with some NOS tubes that are unbelievable.
Appreciate your feedback
My favorable comments about the TL 5.5 are in no way meant to diss the TL 2.5. I reviewed the 2.5 in FI magazine about four years ago, and rated it best in its price class. And I have for several months been using the 2.5 line stage in my second system. I still regard it as a great value, and have recommended it to several friends. It's a definite winner.
The sound of the 5.5 is not radically different from its little brother. I give the 5.5 an edge primarily in bass power and overall dynamics, benefits of the dual mono architecture and heavier power supply. And, as you no doubt gathered from my review, I very much value the remote polarity flip. but either one of those fine preamps will get out of the way and let you Enjoy the Music.
First of all I would like to let you know how much I enjoyed your article "Battle of the Noise Reducing Headphones!" I have been considering purchasing Etymotic headphones, and have several questions that I hope you can take the time to answer.
I noticed that you said that you used a Dell laptop as one of the sources during your testing. I will be going to college next fall, and I am trying to figure out a good setup for my audio. I am probably getting a Dell laptop (Inspiron 8200), and want to use this as the source for all my audio needs
(cd, mp3, dvd). In your opinion does a laptop do an adequate job? Would it be worth getting Etymotic headphones and an amp with a laptop as the audio source?
I also was wondering if you've had a chance to test the Etymotic ER-6 (toned down ER-4P). Headroom has a package deal with an Airhead amp and an ER-6 for $200, and that price is definitely more in my range, but only if they are good.
Thanks a lot for writing that great article, and thanks even more if you have a chance to answer my questions!
Thanks for the note and I'm glad you enjoyed the article!
In answer to your question, I'd say that a laptop will do a decent, but not excellent job on music playback. If you're perfectly happy with the sound of MP3s or use the unit mostly for background/party music then you'll probably be just fine with a laptop as your CD and MP3 source. But if you do any critical listening, you'll want something better. The DACs on most laptops are really cheap and have a very high noise floor. You can get an inexpensive CD/DVD/MP3 player from a company like Pioneer or Panasonic that will have vastly superior sound to any laptop and will set you back less than $250.
I have heard of the new Etymotics but have not listened to them yet myself. For that price, I'd say go for it! It's pretty unlikely that they would suck. Plus Headroom has a good return policy in the unlikely event that you hate them.
Good luck and Enjoy the Music!
Hi Chris Boylan,
I travel quite a bit and about the only thing that makes my flight time shorter is listening to music. I enjoy all kinds of music and was looking at getting the Bose earphones. I was reading your batlle of the 'Noise Reducing Headphones' article and found it interesting that you picked the Etymotics earphones as your favorites. I have never heard of them and feel that I'm up to date with new products (perhaps not!!). A few questions I have for you. Are the Etymotics only available through the mail or are they available at high end stores? second, which Headroom amp were you using during your comparisons? and third, how did the headphones perform without the amp in comparison to the bose earphones?
I thank you in advance for your response.
Thanks for your note and I'm glad you found the review interesting.
In answer to your questions...
The etymotics headphones are sold directly on the etyomtic web site or through headphone dealers like headroom
You can find a complete list of dealers/distributors on the etymotic web site -
http://www.etymotic.com in the "Partners and Distributors" section.
Etymotics just introduced a lower cost version of their sealed earphones called the ER6. Haven't heard them yet myself but friends tell me they're great for the money.
Headroom sells a package - the Airhead amp plus the new Etymotics ER6 for around $200. Again, I have not heard this combo myself, but if budget is an issue, then this could be a viable choice. Just make sure you have a decent trial period.
The headphone amp that I used (and still own) is called the Total AirHead.
In order of preference, my choices would be:
1.) Etymotics plus Headroom amp
2.) Etymotics alone
3.) BOSE system
The BOSE didn't sound bad. I just didn't like the audible artifacts introduced by the noise-cancelling circuitry.
Your mileage (and taste) may vary.
Enjoy the Music!
I stumbled upon your site as I was searching the web for good reviews on
mid-to-hifi CD players, and I must say, I really enjoy this site, and have spent countless hours at work browsing through it.
I specially enjoyed reading your review of the AH! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. I do have a question about your
review of the AH! unit, and in particular, how in your opinion it compares to the Rotel-971 or 1070. There is another review on your site from Dwayne Carter who gives higher marks across the board to the 971 relative to the AH! and I am wondering whether these two reviews are calibrated on the same scale or not. I
appreciate your opinion on this. I would not consider myself an audiophile by any means, but one that enjoys "engaging and involving" music. My system is an RA-972 integrated amp and a pair of Vandersteen 2Ce's.
Thank you for the kind feedback and we sincerely hope that surfing Enjoy the Music does not land you in serious trouble at work.
Re the reviews of the Rotel 971 and AH! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD players, keep in mind that the associated numerical ratings are relative and not calibrated to an absolute reference. They are firmly based on each reviewer's experiential base. The reviewer's background plays a major role in the ratings.
Having briefly auditioned the Rotel player, I would have to say that in my scheme of things I would consider Carter's ratings inflated. For the record, I consider the AH! to be a more musical performer, especially when it comes to reproduction of dynamics - something that music lovers should take note of. And by the way, your choice of the Vandersteen 2Ce reflects very nicely on your musical priorities. This is a music lover's speaker that few audiophiles would appreciate.
...thanks for a great site. I think it's really improved lately with the new reviews showing a greater
diversity of audio sensibility.
I read your review on the ASL Ki-Fox amplifier and as far as tube amplifiers
go, is it really is that good? Someone told me not to bother with this brand because of unreliability problems. Your input would be appreciated.
The ASL Ki-FOX is well built and has worked reliably over the past year. No hint of trouble.
This integrated pushes my buttons on several levels. First, it's a great design that gives the 6C33B output stage full scope to sing. Musically, it is competitive at any price point. I also enjoy a bargain. At its asking price, you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Of course, as with any power amp, speaker matching is critical, which is to say that it isn't automatically going to sound its best with just any speaker load. I would recommend an audition with your speakers.
Enjoy the music,
Thanks for the Antares review. It is one of the best amplifiers I have ever
heard... I replaced a highly modified $8,000. tube amplifier with it, and was blown away. Detail, attack, decay, natural tonality, breathtaking soundstage, iron-fisted bass, and all the reviewer cliché's apply to this
unit. It is stunning....
I enjoyed your review of the VTL 5.5 pre-amplifier. I purchased one several years ago to replace my solid state preamp that made my listening experience analytical and fatiguing to listen too.
When I placed the VTL 5.5 in my system things became very musical. My daughters noticed the difference and commented on how much better the system sounded.
I have to say that I experienced many of the sonic benefits that you described in your review. Jazz and Blues have become staples of our listening experience.
Just a couple of questions:
Could you explain the why using one of the tape inputs could produce an audible improvement in the sound ?
Did you have the opportunity to test the to see if there was a sonic difference between the single end outputs and XLR outputs in your system ?
I wasn't clear on the phasing issue. How does one determine if this is a problem?
In closing I want to congratulate Steven R. Rochlin for creating Enjoy the
Music.com™ and reviewers like yourself that provide insightful reviews.
Enjoy the Music.com™ provides us with an alternative to the mainstream audio magazines. It provides us with a fresh venue to learn about products that probably never be reviewed by those same
magazines (the exception is Listener).
By the way I'm not bashing them, I just "enjoy" the reviews that are published on your website. I just like the honesty and
openness of the reviews without a lot of flummery.
Keep up the good work!
First, let me answer your questions. The benefit of connecting a CD player through the tape input is that the signal does not have to pass through the selector switch. The switch that VTL uses in the TL 5.5 is of good quality, but the sound of no switch at all is better yet. The difference may be subtle, and if it is not significant to you, there's no imperative need to do it.
The TL 5.5 is a true differential balanced design, although my beloved VTL 750 Reference
monoblocks are not. First, if you need to run unusually long interconnects between your preamp and amplifier, the balanced connection provides common mode rejection that can eliminate noise that might otherwise be audible. Secondly, the balanced option may be useful for a
listener who is integrating the TL 5.5 into a system that otherwise uses balanced interconnects. In my own listening, both the TL 5.5 and the 750s sound better with single-ended interconnects. I was remiss, however, in not discussing the balanced connections, and I thank you for reminding me. (BTW, VTL has just released its new statement, the TL 7.5 line preamplifier, which is a fully differential design -- and offers many more intriguing concepts.)
As I suggested in the review, the question of correct phase (polarity) in listening to recorded music can be a bit tricky. Some listeners -- e.g., long-time polarity advocate Clark Johnsen and my good friend Peter McGrath, a great recording engineer -- are exceptionally sensitive to polarity. So am I, although I would not put my perceptiveness on the exalted level of those two gentlemen. For you, it is very easy to decide for yourself whether polarity matters to you. Since the switch is right there on your remote, just try changing polarity as you listen. Go back and forth -- not rapidly, but giving yourself time to refocus on the music after each change. It's helpful to time I the switching so that you don't do it when the music is changing -- such as right at a dramatic change in volume. Try using recordings made with simple microphone schemes, and start by listening to things like solo piano or solo voices. (Polarity affects more complex music as well, but sometimes it take! s a little more practice to hear it in larger contexts.) Ask yourself which of the two alternatives gives you a more solid piano tone, a warmer, "fleshier" vocal sound, a more solid image.... My guess is that if you pay attention, you'll begin to hear the differences. And remember, there is little consistency of polarity in recordings. Not only may the proper polarity change from disc to disc, but sometimes even from one track to the next. And finally, assuming that you do hear the difference, it's up to you as to whether you think it's worth worrying about. Lots of blissful listeners never give polarity a thought.
Finally, thanks on behalf of all of us at Enjoy the Music.com™
for your kind words. It's encouraging to hear that we are filling a need before our readers.
A great review! Totally agree with you. All of Manze's discs are highly enjoyable and of excellent production quality.
Thanks for the kind words. Tell your friends about this great musician.
Hello Chris Boylan,
I thoroughly enjoyed your review of the noise reducing headphones. I just bought the Sony pair and left them on an airplane so I am now looking for a new pair. I saw the Bose
advertised in a AirLife magazine.
I have never heard of Etymotic Research ER-4P pair that you prefer. I find the hard Walkman 'in-your-ear' headphones painful to my ears so I must say that I am skeptical if I will find these soft ear plug style headphones comfortable enough. I am a doctor, and I even find the soft ear pieces of my
stethoscope a little uncomfortable but hey, goes with the profession. I watch DVDs on the plane with my Dell and also fall asleep on my side with the music on wearing my headphones so comfort is far more important than sound quality. (Sorry to say that to you as you are obviously a major audiophile) Not to say I want to sacrifice much quality. I want it all.
I will look around for the Etymotic Research ER-4P ear plug variety that you describe to try them on your advice. Also I will look for the little amp.
Thanks again for the excellent review. If you have any further info or if anything new has come out, please let me know.
Thanks for the note. Glad you enjoyed the review! I find the Etymotics quite comfortable, but this is a very personal thing. I also do a fair amount of listening on the plane and falling asleep with my ear directly against the seat has not been uncomfortable to me with the Etymotics in my ears. But if even the stethoscope earplugs are annoying to you, then I would guess that you might not be comfortable with the Etymotics.
You can certainly try a pair from the folks at HeadRoom. Tyll Hertsens is the proprietor - he's a great guy and an excellent source of information on headphones. I believe they have a good return policy, so if you decide they're not for you, then I'm sure they'd allow you to return them. They also offer a good selection of traditional sealed (circumaural) headphones that offer a decent amount of noise reduction just by virtue of the sealed design.
I believe Sennheiser also makes a noise canceling set of phones (similar to the Bose in design), which might be worth a listen. In my opinion, the noise cancellation circuitry messes with the sound too much, but your taste may vary.
Good luck and Enjoy the Music!
Cyborg's High-Predictability "Scientific" Method by George M. Middius
1. Decide what conclusion you want to reach. It's best to do this at the outset -- it simplifies your experiments and eliminates the need for all that time-consuming hypothesizing.
2. Line up the data that support your premise and invent rationalizations to show that these data are "better" than the rest. Also, if time permits, jot down some notes on why data reported by people with whom you disagree shouldn't be considered in your "experiments".
3. No hypothesizing is necessary because the desired conclusion is already known, so go on to the experiments.
4. Set up an experiment that is bound and certain to reinforce your desired conclusion.
5. If people are watching, pretend to run the "experiment". Make sure to fake a demeanor of impartiality and devotion to truth.
6. Promulgate the results of your "science" as noisily and as obnoxiously as possible. Be especially thorough in shouting down and ridiculing anyone who criticizes your hypothesis (chuckle), your method, or your conclusion. Experience has shown that you can usually deflect criticism, no matter how well-founded it is in reality, by impugning the motives of your critics.
7. Sit back, complacent and smug, and trumpet to all and sundry that you've "proved" your theory and that no more "science" need be brought to bear on this issue.
In Re: Taking a Bite out of Music Industry Troubles
Big Media shuts down Napster. CD sales fall 10%. Does it occur to Big Media that maybe the two are connected? Napster was the best thing that ever happened to the music industry, only they were too dumb to realize it. What is Napster? Free advertising for the music industry.
What is the most effective advertising for a CD? Not print ads. Not TV. Not a thousand visuals. Hearing the music is the best advertising of all. Big Media knows this - that's why they submit to payola to get radio stations to play the albums they want to promote. (The bribes go through middlemen, but it's payola all the same.) Here's Napster, offering a far better service than radio for FREE and the industry in its infinite stupidity shuts it down. Then they wonder why CD sales are down.
I just got Elvis Costello's latest in preparation for his upcoming concert. Sticker shock! $16 for a CD - and that was the sale price. Regular would've been $20!!!
RX for a sick industry: start up Napster again and start pricing your product at a reasonable level. The industry can be profitable at $5 per CD - if they
eliminated the overhead of their marketing departments, which wouldn't be needed with Napster pumping out free samples. But this would require bold, imaginative thinking on the part of record industry execs - so don't hold yr breath.
My prediction: big media will go the way of the dinos. Musicians will bypass big media and push their music through Napster type networks. Musicians earn the big bucks through touring, not CD sales. To them, a CD is just a promotional tool to get people to come to their concerts.
-- Ray Chowkwanyun
Hi Mr. Rochlin,
Thanks very much for creating such an informative and valuable website about audiophile
equipment. I have benefited immensely from the wisdom of your writers, and particularly wish to mention that Jim
Merod's review of the Acoustic Zen cables made me decide to buy the Satori speaker cables like a pig in the poke! I could not be more
pleased with the results. Consumers need to have such information, and I believe your website has given the consumer more choices in the
selection of good value products before they part with their hard earned money!! Plaudits indeed go to you...
With Best Regards,
I was one of those first guys to get the Apex 7701. The unit I had had trouble playing DVDs
wouldn't play any! Mp3s wouldn't play. I sent it back. I wonder if it was a bad unit and the model would be worth another try? I really want a SACD player. Would you
recommend anything else that is reasonable priced. I already have an Apex DVD player that I have upgraded so I can make my own copies of DVDs. So I am mostly
interested in the SACD function.
They are coming out with the 7702 in a couple of months. Many people reported problems with the 7701, and Sony changed one of the boards for Apex. I had problems in the beginning also, but just let it cook for three weeks, and it has been playing perfectly since. On the other hand have just reviewed the Pioneer 47-A, which also sounded poor out of the box, but after four weeks of breakin, sounds much better than the 7701. Price of $750 for the Pioneer.
First of all, let me say that I really like the site, clean navigation, tolerably quick (until everyone has at least 100Mbs nothing on the net will be properly quick), always interesting and a whole bunch of useful stuff.
But your missing a trick with the archived equipment reviews. One of the main reasons for delving into the mass of information held there is to get help when compiling a shortlist. So it would be nice if we could search the archive for a specific category of equipment, e.g. stand mounted speakers between $X and
I hope this doesn't land you with too onerous a task.
Many thanks for the suggestion! While price breakdown can
be tough due to the ever-changing prices (let alone the difference in world
prices!), we have further delineated our Equipment
Review Archives section into separate categories. This was a much
needed additional feature and hopefully it aids those who are seeking a
specific category within our vast product reviews. As always, what really
matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
I auditioned the BC Music Rings over the weekend and I wanted to share with you my impressions. My system is ML Ascents, BC21, BC26 & Sony XA-ES20 CD player,
Radio Shack gold interconnects & speaker wire.
I agree with most of your review with 1 notable difference: my friend and I heard the difference as soon as we plugged them in. Everything sounds smoother, more airy & analog-like. Bass was markedly tighter, more slam. The sonic improvements we heard are consistent with your review. Initially, we plugged in the BC21, BC26 & XA-20 and noticed the improvement immediately. Then, we tried plugging in the Ascents - I could barely tell the difference, while my friend thought the sonic improvement was palpable. Perhaps the reason it took you 4 days to detect the difference is your system is of much higher quality than mine.
This was over about an hour's listening in my dedicated listening room. We were having a party Sat night and when my friend asked if he could bring anything, I suggested the Music Rings. We snuck away for an hour to try them out. I heard enough to convince me of their benefits in my system.
We were initially highly skeptical that a power supply could produce this much of an improvement. In fact, my friend said Gilbert was also
skeptical before he built one and tested it on his system. Once Gilbert gets the production line going, I plan to purchase one, budget permitting. Happy listening.
I am very glad to hear that they do even more for a reasonable system than for my admittedly unreasonable one. Gilbert will also be pleased. Thanks for your note.
P.S. Gilbert informs me they are currently in the production line.
Just so you know someone else out there sees through the boredome of the "Look of Love" Krall album, I couldn't agree more. I like her too, but this album just does not exhibit a pulse as in heartbeat. Thanks for saying stuff out loud or at least in print.
And thank you for your encouragement. Here's an idea -- all of us who are sick of commercial pap from artists who can and should do better, right to their web sites and let them know how we feel.
Keep enjoying real music,
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