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More Letters To Us


August 2004

Hi Bill,

You reviewed the Denon 5900 and I enjoyed your opinion. Unfortunately, I am just learning the language and don't yet make sense of everything. However, I do have a question that I hope makes sense. I have read that the Denon 5900 and the Denon AVR-3805 allow for a digital (versus analog) link. I am also considering purchasing the AVR-3805. My interest in purchasing these components is due to my recent lovefest with DVD-Audio (I have one of those new Acuras with a DVD-Audio system and have rediscovered music). Is it worth the extra $$ to move up from the Denon 2900 to the 5900? Is part of the value of the 5900 its ability to connect digitally via "Denon link se" with the AVR 3805?

Any insight would be appreciated.




The digital link has the advantage that the pre-pro can do all of the signal manipulation for bass management, equalization, etc. The problem with all of these high density digital links is that they are only good for their company's pre-pros or receivers. The only high end companies that have excellent pre-pro's with links are Meridian and Linn. If you are happy with the sound of the Denon receiver then by all means the 5900 with the link would be the way to go. Otherwise, unless you are into high definition video, the 5900 is much more expensive than the 2900 and may not be worth the added expense. If you like DVD-Audio, get some SACD's as they are at least as good if not better at obtaining the best sound possible from today's recordings.



August 2004


I read your review of the four Stereophile test CDs on Enjoy the Music.com™ website. If I am not wrong you found the test CD 3 to be the best. I would like to know how it compares with Chesky's Gold Stereo And Surround Sound Set-Up Disc . I am in the process of buying one Setup CD and would be very happy if you can let me know your opinion. Any other suggestions for setup discs are much welcome.




Hi Ashish, 

You’re not wrong. In the
Stereophile selection I reviewed, I did indeed find the number three disc to be the better value, compared to the rest. I have not heard the Chesky Records’ Gold Stereo And Surround Sound Set-Up Disc. I have heard their Chesky Jazz & Test Tones Volume 2, and will be reviewing it someday, when this series continues. I can say I like their tests and their music recordings. They provide some very interesting information and useful music samples. The Gold Stereo disc mixes every other useful test track with music samples; so I am not sure how much I like that arrangement. The disc does provide for "Room Acoustics and System Response," which sounds like it charts your frequency response. For $16 plus shipping (try Amazon.com for used ones), how can you go wrong? The objective information that Test CDs provide the tweaking audiophile is well worth the price of admission. Chesky adds to this value by proving some of their interesting music and unusual tests. It will be interesting to see how the older Chesky Test CD measures against the others in my stack. But that, as they say, is an article for another day.

Yours in listening,



August 2004


Question about dedicated power. Just got a quote for 3circuits with 10 hospital grade outlets. Tech said each plug needs a dedicated Romex ground run back to panel. Thus price was 3500dollars.Its not like he has to tear out walls, and run wires thru walls .Just drop wires behind wall and go through subfloor . What should I expect to pay for such a service?




In my humble opinion you
do not need a dedicated run of wire to every outlet as that should also entail each socket receiving a dedicated fuse. This would also mean he would need to (probably) add another fuse box to hold all new fuses. If, and this is a big IF, your gear needs a vast amount of power (do you have huge amplifiers), then only two fuses would be needed. Perhaps have a fuse for your amplifiers and another for analog. If you desire going "all out", use another fuse for your digital gear (so in total three fuses).

As for pricing, call around as it really should only be $800 or so, though it also depends on the actual work involved of course. Yes, the outlets need to share the same ground to your home's grounding avoid ground loops. Hope this helps.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


August 2004


Hello regarding the Dotson DAC ,have you compared this to the newer Audiologic DAC, I am told the soundstage is wider, the Dotson is excellent as you said... My question is Ralph Dotson mentioned one time you can get excellent results without spending a lot on a decent transport, CD player or DVD ,any suggestions what I could use in a pinch with a good DAC ,you always have a very interesting way about your articles my compliments , I would appreciate any help in this matter .

Thank you,



Hello Paul, 

Thanks for the compliment. I'm afraid I can't help you with the Audiologic DAC -- haven't heard it. If it produces a better soundstage than the Dodson DA-218--which I would have to hear to believe--it must be a spectacular performer. As to transports, I use a Modwright-modified Sony SCD-777, which includes Bybee purifiers on the digital out. That combination gives the best sound I have heard with the Dodson. But I have also gotten very good sound using a similarly modified Pioneer 434 DVD player as well as an unmodified Arcam Alpha 9 player and an aging CAL Delta transport. I suspect that the extensive upsampling used in the Dodson DA-218 tends to minimize sonic differences from different levels of transports. 

Best wishes,

Wayne Donnelly


August 2004

Hi Steve,

I'm writing this letter because I feel like I don't care anymore. I don't care about absolute detail because I can't be bothered to concentrate absolutely. I don't care about absolute power because my room and ears give up at 80db. I don't care about honesty and transparency because half my CDs are mastered poorly. What I do care about it enjoying the music, so I found your site. I've got a Rotel rcd-991ae/Arcam a85/Celestion a1 setup at the moment and it sounds harsh/mushy/bright/lazy some of the time. I know it's because modern rock is poorly recorded and only when I'm listening to music like Ennio Morricone, the white stripes or even tenacious d does the sound...sound right. So Steve I need your help, what is the minimum I need to spend and on what to get that 'spine tingling' feeling and the good sound I'm after? I have no preferences for valves/solid state, ribbons/silk domes or Chinese/European/American. I just want a CD player, amplifier and loudspeakers for under $3,000 that will make me love music again, and bring out the best in whatever played on them, not the worst. Thanks for your time I look forward to your reply.




Thanks for your refreshing and honest e-mail. It is THE MUSIC that matters most! If you can stretch your budget a bit i can highly recommend the Linn Classik and Reference 3A MM De Capo-i. This is a deceivingly simply, yet excellent system i listen to for literally many hours every work day. i did add a Linn Sizmik 10.25 to achieve greater deep bass extension for those "loud and rockin'" moments yet may not be necessary depending on your listening tastes. Since you seem to not be a "head banger", the Linn Sizmik 10.25 subwoofer is probably not necessary yet felt the need to mention it due to "full disclosure" as to what i use here. Please e-mail me when you have the system as i highly value your feelings on this wonderful system. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


August 2004

Hi Steven,

I've just read your excellent review of the Stefan AudioArt cable for Sennheiser, can I just ask what "small timing cues" are?





Thanks for your e-mail and compliment my friend. As a percussionist/drummer my ears are well trained to the timing in which instruments "happen.". To better explain, think of the difference of drum beats in rock versus jazz versus funk. The same 4/4 "straight beat" is slightly altered due to the subtle timing of the snare and bass drum and this can make for a huge difference in the perceived rhythm.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


August 2004


What is the difference between a CD player and a CD Transport and what makes them different?





A CD transport simply reads the 1's and 0's on a disc and has a digital output that will send the data to an outboard DAC (digital to analog converter). A CD players has the DAC built in, though some CD players also have a digital output so you can use a "better" external DAC. Always glad to help and in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


August 2004

HI Steve,

I discovered your sight thru ebay cartridge sells and have enjoyed the use of the cartridge protractor. You definitely are the guy to ask concerning all things turntable so here's a couple. Four years ago I bought a Kenwood 2055, I have everything except the cartridge set gauge. What should I do to ensure the needle is set at the correct distance? If the cartridge is set with the protractor should I be concerned not knowing the correct distance the cartridge should be set at.

I have my Turntable hooked to a Sansui G 8000 and 15" Cerwin Vega and notice when I play the turntable the Woofers move back and fourth like I have never seen, Is this normal? They don't do it with the radio or disc player. What is causing this and is it normal.


Dave Johnson



If the cartridge has one screw on the side, that is called a P-Mount and no need to make any adjustments. If the cartridge has two screws on the top, then yes, use the protractor (free by clicking here). As for the woofers going back anf forth, that is "normal" if you do not have a low pass filter on the phono stage. i would suggest you purchase a better phono stage (see reviews of various units by clicking here. Large woofer movements are not a good thing for various reasons. Always glad to be of service.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


August 2004


I was fascinated by your revies of Alan'a amps. I'm involved in a horn speaker project-check it out at www.magico.net. It's a five-way with compression drivers-Ale-from 300-25000-horn loaded-straight not folded-from 100-300 and a standard cone driver from 20-100. We've played with a number of SETs-Audiopax, Gordon's Napoleon adn 45 special, modified KR 850s, Wellbourne's 330Bs and 2A3s, Viva 845s etc. and are about to get Joe Fratus's PX-25s sent out for a listen. So far none of the above has cut it on the mid bass. We're presently driving the mid bass and bass with Jeff Rowland's newest creations and while they are certainly doing a very creditable job I cannot help but think a tube amp would be preferable on the mid bass-thus my interest in Alan's amps. Are you still as enamored of them as you were? What has been your reaction to the 300B version-assuming you have gotten them-on the top? And how does it compare to the other SETs you've tried? Other aspects of the project-the speaker is all Aluminum-the crossovers active-and that's a whole other project-going the digital route to preserve time and phase coherency. At any rate it's been a long and fascinating process with the end finally in site. Again I'd appreciate any comment regarding Alan's amps.

Thanks in advance,

Jim Langham



Your speaker project sounds wonderful. Wish I could hear them. Could you let me know what horn curves, drivers, etc., that you are using, and maybe a picture. I did bring back Alan's 300 B amps for review, which will appear in September's article. They are wonderful, beating out the 32B amps previously reviewed. One can now balance the outputs of the push-pull tubes right down to less than 1 millivolt. Yes, I am still excited about them and hope Alan can get them into steady production. That's all I can say for now.



August 2004


Thank you for a very informative review of noise reduction headphones. I have two problems with my hearing, excessive industrial noise before the OSHA standards, of course these standards didn't apply to rock concerts then and not even today and the second is the normal problem of old ears. Background noise is murder.

I have been looking into portable headphones since I do allot of flying, problem is $300 is a little steep for ears that probably can't hear half the sound as it is.

So how do some of the less expensive models like Koss and Sony stack up, both of these brands have models under $100. 

Will you respond back directly or will I have to go to your Website for an answer? Interesting conundrum. 


Nick Phillips


Hello Nick,

The answer is both (I reply via e-mail and it'll most likely get posted in the letters section on the site as well). I’ve listened to a few of the lower priced noise-reducing headphones. To my ears, the active ones (with active electronics to cancel the noise) introduce too many of their own artifacts. I'd go with the in-ear canal type (noise reducing phones).

For pure passive noise reduction, I believe the cheapest of these is the KOSS "The Plug" which actually don’t sound horrible, for only $14.99/pair. They’re no match for the Etymotics, of course, but they’re also less than 10% of the cost of the ER4P. Their main problem is that the foam earplugs don’t create a very secure seal (at least not for long, and not in my ears) so you end up losing most of the bass unless you keep fidgeting with them to reseat them in your ear.

But Etymotic has introduced a lower priced version of their own noise reducing 'phones, called the ER-6, which sells for around $129 and retains a good portion of the sound quality of their more expensive siblings. I tried them out at a trade show and actually found them a bit more comfortable than the ER4s. I still prefer the ER4P for sonic reasons, but I could live happily with the ER-6 also.

Get them somewhere like HeadRoom that has a good return policy, so you can try them out in your own ears and see how you like them.

Good luck and Enjoy The Music!



August 2004


I was just reading your review about the axiom m3ti's. I am currently trying to decide on a stereo setup to purchase. I have narrowed it down to Vandersteen 2ce Sigs with exposure amps. The problem is the price and I'm not sure how it would look in my living room. My other option is something a little cheaper. So after reading your review, I'm considering the axioms with a wave 8 monoblock amp. However I'm not sure where to get the amp. What preamp and cd player you might recommend that is high quality yet affordable. Or is there some other inexpensive set up you can recommend.

Thank you,

Richard Lindzon


My fellow Canadian, 

The Axiom Audio bookshelf loudspeakers are indeed charming, well-made, very good sounding little loudspeakers for the price. And price is always the issue. I've briefly heard Vandersteens, but have NOT seriously auditioned them, in my own home, with the same music and equipment. I have NOT heard the Exposure amps. ASL now makes a revised version of the amazing Wave tube monoblocks, but the remarkably similar WAVE AV-20 DT is now 20 watts and $249. 

Yours is a common question and the editors at EnjoyTheMusic.com have tackled it two ways:

One is our publisher’s Cool Audio System on the Cheap, where you will no doubt recognize the ASL tube amplifiers. Another approach is Dick Oshler's The Y2K Audio System. In addition to those excellent approaches, I am a fan of vintage Klipsch horns, like Heresys, with sweet, vintage, solid-state harmon/kardon receivers (less than $100). All three approaches are excellent paths to audio nirvana. Yours in listening,



August 2004

Hi Phil,

I just re-read your recent Denon 5900 review and can't resist to contact you, so please excuse if I am too direct. In fact my work is as journalist (but cars and bikes, no audio/video...) so I know well what is being asked by readers to comment "more" on things... 
I have to add that I like Enjoy the Music.com™ since the early days (it is a long ago I read Steven's pages) and find some of your reviews quite enlightening. In fact my main amplifier now is a Pass Aleph 30 and Dick Olsher's review in Enjoy the Music.com™ has something to do with this, keeping my (beloved) Krell KSA50S in the closet...

Now I face an upgrade on the digital front end, now an Helios Stargate (french) CD player as well as a Toshiba SD900 (our European SD9200 equivalent) DVD-A player. To be honest, I have off course "temptations" as anyone, but the new "high resolution" media are not for me, at least right now...

I was very interested but unable to listen to a Teac DV50 ("temptations", you know...), and you mention both this unit and G08 on your Denon review. I see you also give top value to the G08, looks like even over the DV50 (CD media), but this is not totally clear to me. Modded Denon sounds "different", for what I understand not far from how my Helios sounds compared to Meridian's.

Best regards and congratulations,

Josep Armengol
Madrid (Spain)


Hi Josep,

Thank you for writing and giving me such interesting feedback.

You are asking me to compare the Redbook performance of the Esoteric DV50 with the G08, and I have to warn you that I did not have the two of them in the system at the same time, so I'm going on memory and notes here.

I would say the DV50 is a better player than any other Universal player or SACD player I've heard, especially on Redbook, but I would not place it above the G08 for Redbook alone. Actually the presentation is quite different, much more forward and stronger in the bass. I could happily live with either, but I think your choice is a matter both of personal preference and how well it sits with the rest of your system. My guess is that you like your digital to sound like analogue, and the Meridian will have the edge here. But either is superb, and I hope you can audition them both in your home before you decide.

You may wish to know that the Esoteric is about to be replaced with a new model, the DV-50s which has a DVI output to a digital amplifier and some other enhancements on the video side.

Enjoy the music,



August 2004

Hi Wayne,

I'd say any product - outside of a cruise ship - that takes 2,911 hours to "break-in" is... well, possibly defective. Note no retort from the manufacturer.

Looking at actuarial tables for my current age, I don't have that kind of time to burn. Speaking of which, at idle, these amps would cost me $183 in electricity for break-in. I hope you filed an expense report for power costs. Wide open, they would cost me 32 cents an hour to run. Sure would like to see power consumption specs in amp reviews.

You didn't mention the feet or the little wings on the front panel. If they are the same as the T3 tuner... well,... not sure they belong on a $3k amp.


Chuck Beaman


Hello Chuck,

Thanks for sharing your calculations--although I already knew that the road to fortune is not paved with audio reviews.

As to the JC 1s, a couple of paragraphs down from my complaints about the break-in time I noted that there had been some anomalous parts substitutions in the first batch of amplifiers from Taiwan. After the review was published I learned more details about all that, which satisfied me that the problem had been solved. The latest information I have is that the amplifiers now require a more customary 200-300 hours of playing time to run in fully. Also, the amps feature a high/low bias toggle, which allows them to use less electricity when idling in the low setting.

I'm not familiar with the Parasound tuner's styling, but the amplifiers look just fine to me.

Here's a tip: listen with all the lights off and save those pennies :-)  The music will sound better too.

Best wishes,



August 2004


Read your article on the CD lathe. I probably don't fit the economic profile of the person most likely to own a lathe, as my system consists simply of a Pioneer SX-980, a Denon DVD-2900 (which will be sent to Dan Wright for his tube mod) which he said produces "absolutely class A sound." I have yet to purchase speakers but am leaning towards Axiom M60Ti's. Eventually I may go to a B&K separate set-up and then upgrade speakers again. I am considering Greybeards, but don't have the cash right now.

My question regarding the lathe: Is it the only lathe available, and in addition to the two benefits you outlined in your article, I am aware of a possible third benefit, and that is, because the CD is perfectly round and the laser can track straighter, over time, this will prevent or help reduce the amount of times you need to have your player sent out for a re-alignment of the laser reader. For me, spending $2,000 is a lot of money for a player, so even though it's not a ton of money, if the lathe can offer better sound AND prevent mechanical problems, it might be worth it. The price tag IS a little over the top, for sure.

Do you have an opinion as to the re-alignment "repair" and the lathe possibly curing this problem? Is there something that you can actually put on top of the CD to balance it also -- thought I heard something about that too.

Also, even though it's slumming for you, do you have an opinion of the Axiom M60tis??

Thanks for your advice and tech know-how,

Robert Barry

Hello Robert,

The CD lathe is a very good product for the reasons I outlined in the review. But if you're making the key decision factor its ability to make your player's laser mechanism last longer, I thank you would be better off to spend your money on your basic system. On a well made player such as a Denon, the chances of laser problems are pretty slim even with years of use.

There are aftermarket discs that ride on top of CDs; Audioprism and Marigo Labs come to mind. But again, my impression is that such products have more to do with sonic improvement through damping than with mechanical balancing per se. Finally, I'm afraid I can't help you with the Axiom speakers; haven't heard them.

Good luck and good listening,



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