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September 2005
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Audiolics Anonymous Chapter 71
Mods & Tweaks & A Reality Check
Article By Bill Gaw

 

  Welcome to another meeting of the Insatiable Tweakers Society. It's September, time to forget about the outdoors and get back to your favorite hobby, audio. Since my last diatribe, several changes have occurred in the Gaw Media Room.

 

Hi-Rez Electrohome Projector Updates
First, video was out for a while, as my Electrohome 9500LC projector had been removed for modding and tube replacement for about three weeks, by HI-Rez Projection. The projector was reinstalled last Thursday, and the improvement in picture quality is amazing. While the mods were expensive at $6,000, the improvement in blacks, contrast, vividness, and resolution have brought the picture quality up to the best I've seen from a projector on a 10 foot screen at any show or home installation, and I'd put the picture up against any from the $60,000 plus units sold previously by Runco, Vidikron, etc.

A 9-inch CRT projector still beats any LCOS, DLP or Plasma HDTV out there, except for possibly maximum light output, and is well worth the cost. Off the air and HDNET from DirectTV are outstanding, giving almost a 3D appearance. With their color mod to the red and green lenses, the colors are truer to life, with skin tones especially close to natural. Last night I actually was able to tell that a wine Rick Steves was drinking on his travel program was a Rose. It's blown my budget for audio and video equipment for a while, but what the hell, "Man cannot live by music alone."

 

Walker Audio Velocitors
Second, Lloyd Walker, of Walker Audio notified me two weeks ago that he had a new update for his Velocitors, and two of my four units were sent in, as I can't bear to be without at least two for  the front channels. They came back on Friday and were immediately placed on the front channels. Happily, the two other original units were still here for comparison. While not as marked an improvement as his last mod, the new update did significantly improve the signal to noise ratio, especially at mid afternoon listening sessions when the electrical grunge normally imparts a haze over the sound, decreasing the ability to hear the micro ambience information in the best recordings. Digital playback was also smoother, more analog, and bass information was tighter and more natural. Best news was that for those who already have the Velocitors, the update will cost only $150 each. Even better, new Velocitors are being built with the improvement without an increase in the price of $2,995 until Jan. 1, when they will go up to $3,195. So order your units now. I've sent my other two in for the update.

Thus, for two weeks, I was without both video and surround sound. This has been a Godsend for my record collection, as I've actually spent more time, (read several hours a day,) listening to vinyl. It still amazes me how much information is on that outmoded reproduction system compared to CD and even most SACD's and DVD-A's. Of course, not every recording sounds spectacular, and as with other recording mediums, probably 90 percent are garbage. But over the years, I've kept only the best of the best, and still have about 300 recordings I wouldn't sell. Most are still those old reliable RCA's, Mercurys and London FFSS recordings from the 50's and 60's, and some of their reissues on the specialty labels and Japanese pressings. The only digital recordings that come close are the SACD's of the original RCA's are being sold today. Even the Victrola reissues of the original Shaded Dog recordings are superb, and beat anything on CD today. So go out there and buy up that used vinyl.

While I have a top of the line vinyl playback system, even an inexpensive turntable-cartridge-phono stage will beat an equally priced or even significantly more expensive CD playback system. Paying $1 to $2 at used record stores, thrift shops, such as Goodwill, or dumpster diving also surely beats the $16 to $20 prices for digital media.

 

ELP Laser Turntable
Speaking of vinyl playback; way back in AA Chapter 55, I discussed a laser turntable from ELP of Japan, and gave it an excellent rating for sound, but a so-so rating for reliability. This month, I found part of my article used as an advertisement in The Absolute Sound, which at first flattered me, until I realized that it was being used without my consent. Of course only my kudos was there and not the problems I had had with the unit. This was especially important to me as Jonathan Valin, a well-respected reviewer, panned the unit in the latest The Absolute Sound, after Michael Fremer and I had given it a good rating. Was there something different that had changed its playback since my review?

It seems that the US distributor, Norm Schneider of Smart Devices, had been replaced, so there was concern that something had changed with the product. At the Smart Devices sight, they still had a web page for the ELP turntable which seemed a little strange as they were no longer selling it.

Well, the page certainly laid out a litany of problems that the company had had with the ELP people, which I highly recommend that any person read prior to buying the unit. While most of it could be taken as sour grapes from a distributor who might have been dumped by the manufacturer, I have known Norm Schneider for several years and have reviewed several of his products and can attest to his honesty. Interestingly, many of the reasons he dropped the line revolved around difficulty with replacement and repairs, as his was the only place doing minor work on the unit, with most of them having to go back to Japan for anything major. As the two units sent for review had several mechanical and electrical problems, which were mentioned in the article, and there appears to be no way to get them serviced in the USA. Add to that there may have been changes in the machine that have caused Mr. Valin to give it a poor review, as is done with Stereophile Magazine's Recommended List, I will have to withdraw my recommendation of the unit until such time as it can be evaluated again.

While they do have a money-back guarantee trial at home, one still needs to plunk down several thousand dollars to try it over a 10-day period of time. Read the article at the Smart Devices web site before thinking about the unit. Caveat emptor.

 

RealityCheckCD
Audiophile Grade Duplicator RCCD-AG 2.2

My original audio guru, Clark Johnsen, illustrious long time columnist for the Positive Feedback magazine, called this week asking if he could bring something up for us to listen to. Wednesday night was free; the second set of Walker Velocitors had arrived and had broken in, so up he came to the woods of New Hampshire from Boston. After dinner, we adjourned to the media room where the equipment was warming up.

RealityCheckCD Audiophile Grade Duplicator RCCD-AG 2.2 (ACARD) UnitAfter watching some video, which brought us to about 9:00 pm when the electricity up here improves, he pulled out three CD-ROMS, copies of the Mercury Harry Janos with Dorati, a Columbia of Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, and a compilation CD of original Everest tapes, called The Sound of Everest [EVC 9050], the Everest and Mercury being CD redos of Golden Era recordings. He had sent the originals to George Louis, owner, inventor, designer, etc., of Digital Systems & Solutions , of San Diego,the inventor of Finyl, the first digital disc cleaning solution.

Clark Johnson had brought a couple of George's discs up here several months ago, and I was impressed then with the effect his process had had on the copy, but did not follow up as other things intervened. I won't make that mistake again.

While the Dylan disc showed improvement in voice clarity and image placement, the Mercury and Everest discs sounded like complete remasterings using state of the art equipment and the original master tapes. Being very familiar with the Everest, as I have used a copy of it for several years as one of my evaluation recordings, I was floored at the improvement Mr. Louis' process effects on a CD.

The first thing noticeable was an apparent 1dB to 2dB increase in sound level. I say apparent, because when I took out my trusty Radio Shack meter, there was absolutely no level difference with the original CD. George states that the recordings are bit for bit reproductions of the original; so that would make sense, but why psycho acoustically the apparent volume increase is there I have no idea.

Second, is a widening, and deepening of the sound stage, with an increased feeling of that space, almost as if a bit or two of information had been added. Again, he claims no change in the bits.

Finally, each instrument or voice takes on a more natural presence and clarity. All of this added to the Everest disc that I had already considered being one of the best CD's available, makes the new disc truly one to take with me to that desert island. The Dylan disc actually sounded significantly better than an SACD I have from the same recording era tapes of Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde, CS 841. Could it be that George has found a way to actually make a 16-bit/44kHz recording sound as good or better than a high bit one?

According to Mr. Louis, he has found that the problem with CD's revolves around jitter, lost bits and something he calls "synchronous harmonics." He has developed an algorithm, which corrects for the above, and has made up a program with a CD burner for producing the corrected discs. He will do the process at his facility for $65 per disc, and guarantees that if you are not satisfied with the new one, you may keep the new disc and he will refund the $65 plus $5 more for your effort. He claims that no one have so far taken him up on the return offer, and from what I've heard from the discs Clark brought, can understand this. If the price of a single disc sounds expensive, he will also sell a complete CD production unit with a one-year free updating policy on the algorithm, which can be done by CD-ROM, for $575 plus postage.

He has also developed a CD cleaning fluid for $16, called ClearDisc, and a surface improver fluid, for $40 called ClearBit, which also comes with a special cleaning cloth. Both will do approximately 400 discs, and can also be supplied with the machine at a reduced cost. Finally, he sells for $1.25 each in lots of 100, a type of CD-R's with a most unusual reddish-black surface on the recording side which is supposed to be far superior to other CD-R's. If you buy the burner, the discs drop to $1.00 each.

This is a preliminary report, as George has thankfully offered to supply me with one of his units to try for myself, and as soon as I can, it'll be written up here. Until then, take my word for it, the process does work, and for those scoffers who believe bits are bits, they are in this case but they aren't. Figure that one out.

 

And now a few words from Mr. Louis:

Dear Bill,

Thank you for the very kind words and your astute music loving audiophile let the bits fall where they may evaluation.  A few minor corrections are in order here. My Company is Digital Systems & Solutions; RealityCheckCD is one word that's trademarked as is ClearBit and ClearDisc. The price of the GSL/Black CD-Rs is $125/100 or $70/50 without a spindle. ClearBit is $40 for a 2-ounce bottle and MicroTex cloth that should be enough to treat 200 to 400 CDs or DVDs.  ClearDisc is $16 and is enough to clean 400 to 500 CDs or DVDs.  The above prices are discounted for one year after purchase to buyers of a RealityCheckCD Audiophile Grade Duplicator & Compliation maker model RC-DC 2.2.

I call the process by which the original CD is improved sonically UltraLog Bizier Curve Re-Algorization and the improved harmonic structure of the sound Synchromonic.

I can attach a picture of the duplicator if that's O.K. and I also have a quite a few attachment that I've use to give out general information regarding the duplicator that I can email you if that works for you.  They also include many reviews from individuals that have compared their original discs with their RealityCheckCD counterparts. To clarify the $65 price a bit, If one doesn't like the RealityCheckCD counterpart then they keep both their original and the RealityCheckCD and I refund $70. I also have a $10 trade in credit for those who no longer feel the need to keep their original disc. The $65 dollar price is to companies that use RealityCheckCD's to demonstrate their equipment because it's just another expense as a power conditioner might be and if they make one sale that they wouldn't otherwise have made they've paid for the RealityCheckCD. I trying to figure out a pricing structure that brings the price down to $45 to music loving audiophiles since they're not in business and have no way to get their cost back.

Best Regards,

George Louis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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