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Letters To Us

 

10/01/03

Hi Wayne:

Having just read your lucid and informative review of the Jolida 202b matched with the Meadowlark Swifts, I am eager to read the review you say is forthcoming for the JD-100 CD player. This because I bought a 102b, jd-100 and Swifts a month and a half ago, with decent interconnects and aftermarket power cords (first ever foray into the hobby), and find myself sliding reluctantly deeper into this maelstrom of audio-equipment uncertainty. 

Specifically, I can't help wondering what I am NOT hearing by not upgrading something or other in my setup, probably amp (in fact, I wrote Todd Warnke the other day asking about the Blue Circle CS integrated amplifier, though I understand Swifts respond better to tubes). My listening habits lie somewhere well beyond casual but not really detail-fixated, on squeaky modern jazz, contemporary chamber, Beefheartian rock, and lots of vocals and acoustic music, all in a midsized room, at moderate volume.

I guess then the question is two-fold: 1-any plans for testing the JD-100 with the 202 and the swifts; and 2-how noticeable is the difference in my setup between sticking with the 102b and enjoying its virtues of musical smoothness albeit relative detail-and-bass lightness, and moving up the amp ladder to some far more breathlessly lauded piece of gear like a Unico or a Blue Circle or a Rogue? I've actually asked this last question of others, but it seems more and more apparent to me from what I have read that system synergy, regardless of price, counts far more than individual components, thus I wanted to ask you, since you seem to be listening to pretty much the same slabs of metal and wood that I am, and yet, unlike me, you have also heard more highly regarded equipment and understand the nature of the tradeoffs.

Thanks in advance for any comments.

Joe Hirsch

 

Hi Joe, 

First, let me return the compliment for a lucid and informative letter of inquiry. I think you have a very good grasp on the essential factors that should inform your decision. 

My review of the Jolida JD-!00A CD player should appear in November or December. I don't think I'm giving away too much by saying that it strikes me as a near ideal choice for a system such as yours. 

I'm not sure where you got the idea that the Swifts "respond better to tubes," but I think that is at best an oversimplification. There are, as you say, trade-offs to consider, especially in the sub-$1K price range that would seem to be indicated given the rest of your system. Solid-state will almost certainly give you better bass and a wider dynamic range, although most likely at the cost of the relaxed warmth and smoothness you value in your little Jolida 102b. 

As much as I like the 202b, I don't see much point in your changing amplifiers for such a small gain in power. In terms of maximum loudness, the gain from 25 to 40W is minor. So here is one possibility: I recently reviewed the ZERO autoformers, which can be placed between the amplifier and speakers to show the amplifier a 16-ohm impedance. (Most tube amplifiers perform best into 16 ohms. ) In your situation, a ZERO might well make your 102b noticeably more muscular. You can buy a bare-bones ZERO for $500 from www.zeroimpedance.com, with a 30-day return for a refund. You might like it. 

If you do decide to try a more powerful amplifier, the brands you mention all have very good reputations. I can't contribute much there because I have not listened to any of them outside of show conditions. One amplifier that doesn't get mentioned much but that I consider a standout value is the Rega Mira: solid-state, 60wpc, and to my eye gorgeous industrial design. It also has a quite decent phono stage, should you get interested in vinyl. Last year I bought one as a wedding present for my daughter, and I can tell you that it makes her Kestrel Hot Rods boogie. 

I hope you find these ramblings helpful. Good luck and good listening! 

Wayne

 

10/01/03

Hi Steve,

Came across the so called music awards a few nights ago. Didn't know if should laugh or cry or go for a sanity checkup. Used to enjoy these shows immensely 10/15 years ago even though it was not my bag, i.e. jazz, i can always appreciate good talent. After listening to this garbage, All i can say is thank G-d i was born in a era where artists were deemed that only on the basis of exceptional performance, in whatever gender, and not as a result of some tone deaf executive deciding what the sheep will spend their music money on. Kids growing up in this environment have been robbed.

Regards,

Des Stanley

 

Des,

Alas, in some ways award shows, in general, are best to serve themselves and marketing agents. In the end it is best we each find out own path :-)


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

10/01/03

Neil,

I read your review of the Vecteur I-6.2 and I am very impressed by the musicality and soundstaging ratings for it, so much that I am making a trip to Montreal to demo it. I am somewhat sold on the convenience of an integrated to drive my B&W N803s (source is a Rega Planet 2000 CD player, room is 13' x 17' x 8', listen mostly to classical/jazz/some rock at low volumes). I am considering a (less convenient) pre and power amp alternative, like the VTL 2.5 preamp and the McCormack DNA 125 or the Bryston 3B SST. Would you be able to offer comments on the relative merits of the Vecteur vs. the pre-power amp combination ?

Regards,

Sridhar

 

Sridhar,

Thanks for your query.

Unfortunately, I cannot answer your question in detail, since I have not tried the combination you describe.

Generally, a good pre-amp power amp combination will give you greater detail, more subtle nuancing of the music and a greater sense of the space around each note than will an integrated amplifier, but usually at about two or three times the price of the integrated.

What is special about the Vecteur I-6.2 is the price at which you get such fine performance.

While you are in Montréal, you might also audition the Audiomat Prélude Référence amplifier -- it is a 30 watt tube amplifier and it is superb, although more expensive than the Vecteur.

I would love to hear your impressions of the amplifier(s) and your final decision.

Neil

 

10/01/03

Hi Wayne,

I just read your review on the 'Bybee Interconnect filters' and noticed you are using the same amps & speakers as me (MB-750/Andra).

You mentioned you modified the Andra's/MB-750: how many Bybee filters did you use for each speaker/driver (1/2/5/10) /amplifier ?

Also since you use the same amp/speaker combination: I always felt the Andra's lack some descent bass response which why I tried a Plinius SA-250 (considered as one of the best bass performers) which had better bass than the MB-750's but still there was something missing when I compare it to other speakers. Any helpfull thought on this that might help ???.

Thanks a lot,

Jozef

 

Hi Jozef, 

Before answering your question, let me give you a news flash. Jack Bybee recently told me that the interconnect filters I reviewed have now been discontinued in favor of a design, based on new technology, that is more compact, sonically superior, and less than half the price--projected to be $350/pair. These, as well as some new Bybee cable products, should be available on a new Bybee Web site within a month or two. 

The original Eggleston Andras are indeed limited in the deep bass, which I acknowledged when I reviewed them in Fi magazine back in 1996. They roll off sharply below 60 Hz, and are effectively finished around 40 Hz. 

I modified my pair with Bybee Quantum Purifiers 3-4 years ago, putting one device on the + terminal of each driver--5 per enclosure. That modification did wonders for the overall sound in every respect. However, although bass quality--transient speed and pitch definition--benefited greatly from the modification, there was little change in extension. That's because the volume of the Andra's bass enclosure is simply too small for the two 12" woofers. 

Last year I sent my speakers to Albert Von Schweikert, who had been retained by Eggleston to design the Andra II and subsequently the Savoy. Albert's team did a substantial makeover that included increasing the bass enclosure size by adding a pedestal, in addition to a new no-holds-barred crossover and new internal wiring. The bass performance of the revised speaker, which is suppose I would call a "Super Andra II," is totally changrd--unrecognizably better than the original speaker. 

Von Schweikert Audio does not want to perform that modification again, however--if is too labor-intensive and expensive. I believe the Eggleston factory also offers an Andra-to-Andra II upgrade, although I have not heard the results of that procedure. 

If, like me, you really like the Andras, apart from their inherent base limitations, you might look into selecting an appropriate subwoofer(s). I suspect that may be the most cost-effective route to the deep bass performance you are hankering after. I will be addressing this question in a subwoofer review that will appear soon on
Enjoy the Music.com™. Stay tuned. 

Best wishes, 

Wayne

 

10/01/03

G,day Steven,

First of all i really enjoy the site as it keeps me up to date with what is happening as it takes a while for info to get down to New Zealand. My specific question relates to the Sophia Electric Baby amp. I have put about 60-70 hours on mine and enjoy it more everyday. At the moment i am running a pair of Rogers LS8a(90db) which sound okay but don't really give me the headroom I am looking for. I am looking at two different speakers to replace them. Audio Note ANJ/L or Omega Grande8.As you run Audio note AN-j/spx and Colin flood has reviewed omega TS1 im just wondering on your thoughts as to what sort of match up would suit. The front end will be Meridian 507 Or Unico CD run directly to the amp. Medium size room/lots of furnishings/drapes etc. I know it is always a difficult ask but any info/advice you can give will be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Peter Ball
New Zealand

 

Peter,

Thanks for your e-mail. All things considered, i'd prefer the Audio Note as they are very sensitive and sound wonderful to me. Have not directly heard the Omega in my system, yet the Audio Note loudspeakers have provided me with YEARS of wonderful music... not just a "flavor of the month". Always glad to be of service.



Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

10/01/03

Hello Mr. Olsher,

I am writing to you because of your review of the Magnepan MMG speakers. I am a little confused by the specs. (Some background: I am an engineer by trade so I can understand basic electronic specs, but the stereo world seems to have some conventions that I am unfamiliar with when it comes to ratings.) 

Here is the question: I am trying to figure out if my Cambridge Audio A500 will drive the MMG speaker adequately before I order a pair to try them. I already own the A500. 

I have contacted both companies and both companies are hesitant to comment on compatibility with another companies products. Magnepan says they don't know anything about the amplifier. Cambridge Audio says they don't really know how much power the speaker needs. 

The Magnepan web site says the Magnepan MMGs want 40-150 watts. The representative on the phone at Magnepan says this is at 8 ohms so at 4 ohms this is 80-300 watts. I am a little skeptical of her interpretation of the wattage. Why would they rate the power requirements at 8 ohms when the speaker clearly presents a 4 ohm load?

The Cambridge Audio A500 integrated amplifier is rated as
speaker impedance 4-6 ohms with max power output at 65 watts RMS in to 8 ohms / 85 watts RMS in to 6 ohms. Does this imply that at 4 ohms it will deliver 130 watts? (and safely?) The reviews I have read for this amp claim it is a "high current" amp.

Any advice or insight you can lend would be gretly appreciated. 

thanks in advance, 

Andy Bajorinas

 

Hi Andrew,

It's clear that you received confusing guidance from the folks at Magnepan. The MMG is an honest 4-ohm load, and as such represents an easy load for most solid-state amplifiers.

The Cambridge Audio A500 should have no problem at all driving the MMG to reasonable volume levels, though keep in mind that the speaker's maximum dynamic range is limited. The A500's peak current delivery should be able to accommodate over 85 wpc into the MMG. Therefore, power reserve should be no problem; I can't comment however on the sonics of this particular coupling.

Enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher

 

10/01/03

Hi Dick,

I enjoyed the review of the ASL KI22-FOX. I am seriously considering purchasing. Do you have a recommendation for a phono section that might work well with it as well as a reliable source for tubes?

Thanks,

T.J.

 

Hi T.J.,

This may come as a bit of a shock, as the last thing you probably expected from Toobman was a non-tube front-end recommendation. But I think that you should seriously checkout the Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline XR-2 ($1,050). The matching line stage pre-amplifier (CA-2) is featured in the current edition of the Review Magazine, while the XR-2 was reviewed in the June 2003 issue by Wayne Donnelly.

It's detailed, yet smooth, very dynamic, and with lots of clean gain: an amalgam of solid-state and tube virtues. Avoid running the XR-2 into a high-gain line stage. A transformer-coupled volume attenuator works really well.

Enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher

 

10/01/03

Steven,

The BP-2ex battery for the Sony D-25 is available online at this Sony parts URL:

https://servicesales.sel.sony.com... 

The battery is in the list near the bottom of the page. I ordered a couple for my player, dormant until I was reminded of it by your review, and had them in my mailbox three days later.

I ran a test on the D25 and a D15 I have, comparing sound quality between battery power and wall-wart power. With either my vintage Stax SR5 electrostatic headphones or SIlverline SR-16 speakers on my Audion KT90 ETSE tube amp, the complete musical rendition of any CD was audibly improved sans AC.

Best regards,

Phil

 

10/01/03

Hello Mr. Rochlin,

I enjoyed your article "Us Against Them Mentality". Sorry to say, but I believe the concepts you presented that show your uncompromising ethics are lost to most readers. Obviously it is not in the words used, but in the inability of others to comprehend the "big picture" in all aspects of commerce. "Success" or "winning" has become an ends-justifies-the-means no-face activity, without rules of engagement. I truly believe other professionals in your industry should take note of your offering in this article and amend their positions. Although it is the duty of all to support integrity and to suppress poor ethics, it doesn't happen because most do not perceive the potential consequences.

Keep up the great work! Your reviews have moved my audio choices in ways I would have previously never imagined. I am grateful to you for allowing me to "enjoy the music" and to get closer to the realization of audio "truth".

Thank you.

Best Regards,

Randy Yoshida
System: 47 Labs/Duevel Bella Luna

 

Randy,

A most humble thanks for your e-mail. Have a feeling most readers have long been aware of the "state of the nation", yet have become so accustom to it that they have naturally compromised accordingly. The great news is that guys like you are out there and spread an alternative view. Thanks and keep the faith! As always...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

10/01/03

Hi Bill,

I have a slight problem with my present system. It consist of a Philips 963sa DVD SACD player connected with Cello interconnects to a Sun Audio SE 2A3 (completely Black Gated with type N, VX, WKZs) with Belden vintage 1970s speaker wires to a Cerwin Vega V-37D PA speakers (modified with Hovland Musicaps).

My problem is with the speakers. The speakers are 2-way with a horn mated to a 18" mid woofer and the dimensions are 36"x24"x16". I think the efficiency is around 105db with a 1200hz crossover point. 

I don't think the speed of the horn and the woofer mate very well. I've tried using different kinds of stuffing in the box n every time I get them to gel a little better the low frequencies sound kind of dead. I was wondering if bi-amping with a electronic crossover will help? Will it take my system to another level? Or is it just impossible to get 2 drivers with such different mass to gel? I've heard a lot of vintage 2 way speakers i.e. Altec, JBLs, Tannoys etc that seem to blend quite well n most of them use 15" woofers. Any suggestions are much appreciated.

By the way, Enjoy the Music.com™ is the best. I really enjoy your reviews ann articles.

Regards,

Peter

 

Peter,

I have tried to find this speaker on the web, but 
couldn't, so I can't really comment on it directly, but I'll guess that the woofer is not horn loaded, and the tweeter is a metal horn, and it has a fairly steep crossover. There are several things that stand out in your 
letter.

1. PA speakers are set for voice intelligibility and not musical fidelity, with usually fairly steep rolloffs at the upper end, and boomy bass to carry across long distances.

2.A 15 inch driver is very large and slow due to its mass, and would certainly have trouble keeping up with the signal in the upper octave of the range it is being asked to cover.

3. The unit probably has a fairly steep crossover to protect the tweeter horn, which in PA usage has to throw out high dB sound and can easily be overdriven if allowed to reproduce sound below a certain frequency range. Obviously this is not a problem with 2A3 amps, but would be in a stadium with megawatt solid state amps.

4. The tweeter is also probably being significantly being padded back to adjust its volume output to the woofer's sensitivity, which also dulls sound.

Thus it is probably not the discrepancy between the horn sizes, but how they are being used. My own horn system consists of 12 and 15 inch woofer drivers in horns and TAD 2001 and 4001 drivers for mid tweeters with a crossover at 350 HZ. While this forces the TAD's to work below their frequency range, I am only driving them with 300B amps and using fourth order active crossovers, which decreases the risk of frying the mid-tweeter voice coil.

My suggestion would be to either ditch the units, and get some decent horns, or get an active crossover, such as the Marchand Electric 48dB unit, www.marchandelec.com, which will also will allow padding back of the tweeter horn, and get a second amp, preferably solid state or non-SET tube for the woofer, and experiment.

Bill

 

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