Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

 

September 2006

Hi Dick,

Been reading you since I saw a review you did for Stereophile on the Focal Aria DIY speaker kit. I even saw the back of your head at a VSAC a number of years ago. Recently I read your review of the Altmann Attraction DAC. I’ve since received my own Attraction and it truly is a stellar performer. Thank you, Sir for bringing this great sounding product to our awareness. I do think my digital upgrades are history. 

BTW, have you played with the Hemp Acoustics FR8.0DIY fullranger yet? With the Attraction feeding a Charlize T-Amp (on battery) feeding the Hempsters, I am flat blown away. That combo sounds like a 211 SE amp feeding vintage Altecs. Pure bliss.

BTW2, have you tried Charles BYOB amp?

Cheers,

Steve Jones

 

Hi Steve,

Many thanks for the positive feedback; it is much appreciated. And I'm glad that you're now enjoying the music like never before! The Altmann BYOB amp is on my list of things to do, so please be patient. 

Best regards,

Dick

 

September 2006

Bill,

I enjoyed your review of the APC S15 Power Conditioner. That is not why i am writing you however. As good as that piece of equipment may be, the company behind it is fantastic.

APC has stood behind me as a customer for 10 years now. In 1997, i bought a APC power conditioner on EBay for a few hundred dollars. A great deal! When the battery ran out, i called APC. They had me ship back the unit and they sent me a new unit. I only had to pay the shipping which cost me about $60.

Last December i had a trailer fire. The APC unit didn't burn, but i did get smoked. I was concerned about the batteries and the corrosiveness of the smoke. I called APC. They again, said ship it back. They sent me a new unit. Again, i only paid $60 shipping. I highly recommend them to anyone!

Bearcat M. Sandor

 

Bearcat,

Thank you for the kind comments. I have also found APC to do a wonderful job  at follow up, but I thought it was because of the review. Obviously, its a company policy to have excellent customer relations.

Bill

 

September 2006

Hi Dick,

Following your enthusiasm and my personal inquiries of various others on the AMM Attraction DAC, I gave it a shot and ordered one. My current system comprises of SlimDevices Squeezebox Network Music Player (strongly suggest you take a look at it, I see that Scott Faller is very much enjoying his) driving the DAC, which than feeds into McIntosh MC275 version IV, into Quad 988 Electrostatics. Analog cabling is Sonoran Plateau series and digital cable is Fadel Art Reference One.

I cannot be happier with the result. I have listened to and tried many Digital equipment (including Naim, Linn, AudioNote, Electrocompaniet and Musical Fidelity in my system, others elsewhere) and have yet to face such a performer on all regards. With this DAC in the system, I really find it unnecessary to comment on bass, detail, layering, soundstaging, etc. All audiophile buzzwords seem to be lost in music and it is just music that is important after all. I just want to listen more, and unlike some other high end gear, this listening is not the pursuit after detail or "can you hear the guy tapping his feet" or anything else. It is just how beautiful the music flows as a whole.

Thanks for bringing this wonderful product to my attention.

Regards,

Kunter Kutluay 

 

September 2006

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the article on high efficiency systems. I'm just about ready to fire up a new pair of speakers I've developed with the help of Filip at AER Loudspeakers in Germany. I thought you might like some pictures. I live in Brandon Manitoba Canada, not much of an audio community here, but then again I've only been living here a year so I may soon find some fellow hobbyists.

Henry Venema

 

Hi Henry,

in a word... WOW! Dude, those are VERY cool. One of these days I'm going to get my hands on the AER drivers. I keep reading about them and really want to play with a pair. Who knows, maybe Burt will loan me a pair for a review. Good luck in finding some fellow audiophiles in Manitoba. You might try the Full Range Driver Forum, Audio Asylum's Hi Efficiency Speaker Forum and maybe even Audio Circles.

Great job on the speakers.

Regards,

Scott Faller

 

September 2006

Hello Scott,

I enjoyed your MHDT labs DAC review. Am now looking into purchasing a unit. Especially, the USB Constantine. Am hoping they might put a 3 way selector switch on the front panel.

I’m curious as to why USB is not the preferred method for transport and DACs to communicate. Everyone seems to believe in the two way, bidirectional, jitter canceling effect of the USB architecture. Given how much engineering and expense go into making old technology like TOSlink work, seems a simple USB just bypasses all that. Any insight into that? Would be interested to know what some hardware designers think.

Cheers,

J.D. Glaser

 

Hi JD,

It's interesting that you bring this up. Though I can't say for sure because I'm not one of the hardware designers but I've got a feeling many are sitting back and seeing where technology takes us before they invest loads of money on R&D. Many times on new designs, it can take a year or often longer to get it from the boards to a state of finished product. Since technology is moving at light speed and has been for several years, I suspect very few high end guys are willing to take that kind of risk. There are a few though, Gordon Rankin at Wavelength, Steve at Empirical Audio, Jim Hagerman at HagTech and obviously MHDT Labs are the ones that come to mind immediately.

When it comes to the 'big guys', many of them are making a good living selling CD players. Consequently they are absolutely missing the boat when it comes to computer based audio. The same holds true to the 'audiophiles' out there that don't think PC based systems could ever sound better. They are dead wrong.

Want my personal take on this? Sell your CD player quick while you can still get a decent buck for it. That is what I'm doing.

Thanks for the note and kind regards,

Scott Faller

 

September 2006

Scott,

After spending much time & money tube rolling and performing endless tweaks, I finally got my modest, first ever tube system (push-pull) to where my listening sessions were replete with dreamy smiles and rhythmic head bobbing. But a few days ago, I was visiting WrightSound.com, window shopping phono pre-amps, when I spot their little SET amp. What's up with that, a 2-5 watt amp?!! Well, a couple of Google searches later and I'm convinced (typical once you get bitten by the gear bug) that I must be missing out on something. And then I stumble upon your article, and I'm more convinced than ever.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to ditch my system (my wife would kill me after what I spent on NOS tubes) but I'm anxious to read your forth coming articles.

If possible, I'd like to start a second system for my never finished, full of guitar gear/junk "studio" in my attic. So I'm hopeful you'll also be reviewing new "affordable" gear as well as diy amps - never soldered in my life, but how hard can it be :-/

BTW, any thoughts on the Wright Sound WPA3.5 SET mono block? There's a pair on Audiogon going for $1000 and the fellow lives in my area. Sorry, you probably get a lot of that, just thought I'd ask.

My humble, entry level gear
Speakers: Onix/Rocket Reference 3
Subwoofer: Rocket UFW-12
Amp: TAD-60
Preamp: TAD-150
Table: MMF-7
DAC: Apple Airport streams from iTunes- still shopping for a CD player.

Thanks much. Looking forward to your work.

Luis M. Lopez

 

Hi Luis,

Glad to hear you are thinking about heading down the SET path. Though I've not listened to the Wright Sound amps, I know a couple of people whose ears I respect and they tell me the Wright Sounds amps are very good. At $1k for a pair of monoblocks is a darned good price too.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article and there will be plenty more devoted strictly to the low(er) powered amps and Hi-E speakers. And yes, I've already been in contact with several manufacturers to include some affordable horns and amps in this series. This should be a fun journey for everybody.

Kind regards,

Scott Faller

 

September 2006

Mr. Flood ,

I enjoyed your review of the ACI Titan, but has given me a slight problem? It gives me another Sub to consider in what I might need for my listening needs. I know your time is valuable so I won't pose a great many questions. I'm building a Home Theater with a 7.1 or 7.2 surround system in mind. I have B&W 704 towers for the fronts and comparable B&W inwalls for the sides and rear.

How would the B&W ASW750 and the ACI Titans match up? I've also am open to any suggestions. Music has always been important to me, since the time I was able to pick up a horn. But I also need something that won't leave flat, when I want to watch a movie.

Thank you for your time, 

John Papas

 

John,

I have heard B&W floor standing speakers on Nelson Pass’ incredible X250 super amplifier. In the test chamber, the 704 reaches down to 40Hz within 3dB. When powered by an amplifier suited to B&W’s impedance curves, B&Ws produce some of the best mid-bass I’ve heard. So the typical sub, which adds so much to the mid-bass, is not a solution. You need a very deep and powerful sub.

Both the B&W and ACI subs have prodigious output at a deep 20Hz, but what I like about the Titan is its steep EQ. The Titan has two low-pass filters. Using both filters together cuts the upper end – not the lower output - of its frequency response by a steep 24dB/octave. As you can see from their chart, this steep filtering helps the Titan get out of the way of mid-bass from the main speakers plus they have a HT line input to cut low bass and increase dynamics for movies.

Yours in listening,

Colin

 

September 2006

Phil,

Just wanted to let you know how useful I found your review / shoot-out between the Shure E4c's and the Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pro's - on the strength of which I have ordered the latter....

They arrived this morning and I haven't been able to stop listening to them! Astonishing sound, certainly the most impressive consumer earphones I have ever experienced - and I'm a senior engineer with the BBC, so I've heard a few! :)

First impressions weren't good when I had them plugged into the venerable old Arcam Alpha I use as the amp on my PC - loads of peak distortion as low volume settings. I guess when they built the Arcam they weren't expecting such low impedance headphones to be connected. However, on the Zen Micro I bough them for they behave perfectly.

Thanks once again for such a well-written review that was the key to me buying them.

Cheers,

Steve Roberts

 

September 2006

Steve,

I have a Parasound DAC-1100 digital to audio converter that I would like to use with an inexpensive CD transport. I was using a Rotel RD-855 as a transport that has since died. Can you please suggest a few inexpensive CD transports that will do justice to the Parasound?

Thanks,

Bob Gaumont

 

Bob,

Thanks for your e-mail, NAD and Rotel would be my first two choices for good inexpensive transports. Admit i have not not used either, their reputation is very high and they have been making great products for a long time. Always glad to help.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

September 2006

Scott,

Your help please. I recently purchased a Mhdt Lab Paradisea DAC and I am very impressed with this DAC (my first DAC purchase). I have sent an email back to Mhdt asking for 2 things:

1. Advice on changing the tube (this is my first anything that has a tube in it, so I am a complete tube novice) as I cannot move the existing tube and wish to try Western Electric 396 A I have purchased. Gentle persuasion has not worked so I am currently at a loss what to do next.

2. A copy of the parts list in English so that if the DAC becomes faulty, I at least have a fighting chance a getting it repaired. There is a copy on their web site but page 2 does not print and therefore the parts list starts on page 3 and is incomplete.

I have sent two emails back to Mhdt but have not received a response from them to date. I would really appreciate your assistance and advice.

Keep up the good work, I enjoy the music and the reviews.

Rob Bebrouth

 

Hi Rob,

Congratulations on purchasing the Paradisea! I am still amazed at just how good this little DAC sounds. When it comes to changing the tube, gently 'roll' the tube in its socket (in a circular motion) while you pull at the same time. As you pull, you should see the tube slowly coming out until it finally releases. To insert the WE396, just mate the pins to the holes in the socket and push it in (no rolling is required).

It appears that MHDT has updated the PDF file that contains the board layout and parts list. I just downloaded one for myself and its all there. Hope that helped and thanks for the kind words about the article!

Kind regards,

Scott Faller

 

Scott,

Your advice on the Paradisea was “spot on” though I was, and probably still am, not use to the relative “force” required to remove a tube from the Paradisea. I could have held that little DAC up by the tube; and easily.

Well I eventually got the "guts" to use the necessary force to remove the shipped tube using your instructions (this is from a guy who in his mad 4 & 2 wheeled youth managed to snap a head bolt on a modded engine I was building at the time; s#@* happens when a torque wrench stops "talking") and replaced it with the Western Electric 396 A. Phew!!!! What a relief; I did it and did not break anything. Awesome!

So what does the Paradisea sound like with the Western Electric 396 A residing within its innards. Suffice to say that the recommendation of the people at Mhdt Labs was right on. I hear things now I have never heard before and this from a very average hi-fi set up (even by my standards). The drum stick hitting the centre of a symbol, the decay of instruments but especially with my speakers the realism of female performers.

Eva Cassidy's Songbird album is an absolute standout, with the top 2 tracks according to me, being Songbird and her wonderful version of Over the Rainbow. Through the Ambience ribbon/woofer hybrid speakers, you can close your eyes and feel the realism of a "live performance." WOW!!!! I am impressed and then some.

I am using a $350.00 (AUS$) NAD 521 C BEE as transport through the Paradisea and I just cannot speak highly enough of a product that cost me a little less than AUS $700.00 on the net for the difference it made to my system. I am just "blown away." Now make sense of that; a little DAC that cost twice as much as the CD player yet yields "mountains of detail."

Now if only those people at Mhdt Labs understood the value of responding to existing customers queries, they would not need to auction their DAC’S, they could be sold by the best sales method of all; word of mouth. Hmmmm…, I do not have any semblance of the skills necessary do design and build anything hi-fi but I do know a marketable product when I hear one.

Keep up the great work to all at Enjoy the Music. Fantastic!!!!

Aussie Rob 

 

September 2006

Steven,

Just read the review of the SAP integrated you wrote, any updated information, and has your opinion of the cabling changed? Also have you had the opportunity to review the speakers "Trios" in conjunction with this lovely amplifier? I own both and have been very pleased with the outcome. As a matter of fact they have replaced my Zanden/Sonus Faber set up.

Craig Gaglia

 

Craig,

Thanks for your e-mail and you have a great system! My cable choice has not changed and still love the Nirvana cables for that system. As for the Avantgarde Acoustic Trios, unfortunately i have only enjoyed the Uno and Duos. Am sure the Trios are amazing! As always...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

September 2006

Bill,

I just read through your comments on AC line noise, or should I say the latest in the series. Cutting to the chase, it was not clear which of the many AC line enhancements you would ultimately keep. Although it sounded as if starting over you would keep the APC and EP units, some of the power cords and maybe the Thor. Two questions, i) starting from scratch what would you AC look like and ii) I have 2 of the Isoclean transformers feeding their 80 watt AC distribution block and many of their Super Focus cords. In that case, what would your recommendation be?

Thanks for whatever help you can offer. I very much enjoy your writing style and suspect that you have a very good system and great ears.

Fred Crowder

 

Fred,

If I had to start from scratch, I would do the following in order of 
importance:

1. Have the electric company check the lines back to the high voltage transformer in my area to make sure all wiring and connections are up to spec.

2. Try to get my own home transaformer rather than sharing it with  neighbors. At least now thjere are only three houses attached to mine.

3. Put in a 200 to 400 amp service, with a separate subfeed off the top of the box to the media room. At the service install an Environmental Potentials EP 2050 Home Protection Waveform Correction Unit to absorb the worst of the AC noise entering the house and stop electrical spikes. Run copper only 6 gauge Romex to the media room. Make sure you have an optimal ground with at least a 10 foot copper pipe into wet clay or attached to a metal well head if you have one.

4. In the media room have the subfeed installed with four fast acting 20 or 30 amp circuit breakers with digital off of one, video off another, and analog off the other two.

5. Apply Walker Audio Extreme SST silver treatment to all AC connection

 6. Run 50 amp Silent Source cables hard wired to the circuit breakers to either the Apc S 10 or 15 or H 10 or 15 power conditioners. How many would depend on the complexity of the system. Have at least one Walker Audio Velocitor in the system to reduce so-called quantum noise.

7. Run decent power cords to each piece of equipment, their quality depending on how much further control you need of the AC gremlins, how much EMI is invading the room, and how much digital noise is being produced by your system.

8. Eliminate any noisy appliances from the media room area, such as fluorescent lights, dimmers, digital clocks, and household appliances.

This is basically how my system is set up now and it is giving me the best sound I've had in 26 years of high end audio, and as a bonus, the best video available.

Bill

 

September 2006

Hello Bill,

Thanks so much for your "gremlin" reports on AC noise - these have been some of the most informative and useful columns in all of high-end audio. Great work!!

Question 1: Did you find the APC power cord to be "on par" with the (very expensive) Nordost Valhalla ?

Question 2: You said that the unit performed as well as all the other "gremlin eaters" in your system (combined). But then you said it was even better when used WITH those others. Please clarify what you mean by this.

To repeat, your column has been in a league of its own. As strange as this sounds, I will both miss it (if it goes away) AND will be glad its gone. This because we won't be needing it anymore - like the old Dunkin' Donuts commercial for muffins. Wow!!

John Phelan

 

John,

Thanks for the kind comments. To answer your questions: The Nordost are in a league by themselves, both in what they do, and the cost. No, the APC cables are standard 12 gauge IEC power cords, well built but not excellent. What I meant was that the S-15 unit does such a good job cleaning up the power, that the cords may become superfluous, as it is before the unit, and at 12 gauge, certainly has minimal resistance to flow. Most power tweaks act as low pass passive crossovers, and therefore may in parallel or series add their effects on the electricity, be they bad or good. Like passive crossovers, their rate of drop-off or slope, where the drop-off begins, or crossover point varies from component to component. Obviously the ideal would be one that passes only 60 Hz. with a very steep drop-off on either side so that very little out of band noise is allowed to pass through. Like crossovers, steep slopes can produce problems themselves.

Thus, the answer is that sometimes AC units will improve on each other while at other times their intrinsic faults will worsen the AC. In answer to your question, after further listening, I have sold the Nordost, which, while a very good unit itself, did not add sufficient difference in the AC to pay for its cost, while the Walker Audio Velocitors act in synergy with the APC units. Hope that answers your questions.

Bill

 

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