Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

 

March 2005

Hi Chris,

I read your review of the Outlaw Model 950 and am now curious about how the Outlaw 950 compares to the B&K Reference 50. The Reference 50 has THX certification and currently costs $1999. The Outlaw 950 currently costs only $699.  Both have 5 year warranties and similar/equal specs. I originally liked the B&K until I read up on the Outlaw, and am now seeking advice. I am replacing an old Lexicon CP1+. I have Acurus amps driving 7 speakers. The main and center speakers are B&W (DM640 & CC6), the sides/rears are BIC (V52s), and the subs are MK (MX-350THX & VX-3B). Also, have California Audio Labs CD/Transport (Delta/Sigma). Will be upgrading the DVD player soon too. Room is 16'x22'.

1) Is the B&K worth the extra $1300?
2) Are there other pre/processors that out-perform these and under $2000?

Thanks in advance,

Andy Hawk

 

Hi Andy,

Interesting that you should ask about the B&K preamp. I'm expecting a review sample of the Reference 50, Series 2 to arrive shortly. You can read a little about the B&K Ref 50, S2 in Part II of my CES show report. Without question, the Outlaw pre/pro is a phenomenal value at $699 and I've been very pleased with its performance overall. But the B&K does offer several key advantages, including Dolby PLIIx processing, video upconversion so that composite and s-video signals are passed to the component output as well as on-screen display via the component output and a more advanced universal remote. It also includes more inputs/outputs than the Outlaw, with 3 high def component video inputs, 11 digital audio inputs, 2 balanced stereo inputs and both balanced and unbalanced multi-channel outputs. I can't comment on the sound quality since I have not listened to it yet, but the specs and features look pretty impressive. Hope that helps.

Enjoy The Music,

Chris

 

March 2005

Dear Mr. Faller,

Thank you for your very informative and witty review of the Sony SCD - CE595. And thank you for providing a contact address. I find myself, again, having to buy another CD player. The first CD player I purchased was an entry level Sony, single play, unit that lasted until I had to replace it 3 years ago. I chose a Marantz 5 disc changer. The less said about it the better. It's surprising that amps, tuners, receivers, and speakers can last for decades but this will be my third CD player in 20 + years but the CE595 may be just what I'm looking for - a good, cheap CD player.

I do have a purpose in writing you, other then to divulge my fascinating personal history with audio equipment, and that is to ask you if you think the CE595 is a good choice for someone looking for a replacement CD player and who has no great in having to feed the SACD "beast." Thank you.

Best regards,

Julian Sargisson

 

Hiya Julian,

Thanks for the kind words regarding the article. Unfortunately, if you are looking for an inexpensive CD player to last a long time, I don't think it will happen. See, trouble is, there are too many moving parts that wear out, especially in a cheap player. You've got the CD tray that is gear driven (usually plastic or nylon), the drive mechanism that spins at umpteen thousand RPM's, the laser mechanism that travels on a worm gear drive not to mention all of the chips (IC's) that are inside operating things like the display, the remote and its programming plus the DAC and output stage. Cheap players just aren't meant (or built) to last. For that matter, expensive players have been known to die after a (longer) period of time.

I've had pretty good luck from my main two players, the Arcam 8se and the AH! Tjoeb, though I really shouldn't talk about them cuz I'll certainly jinx it. I'm afraid to get a decent player that should last a long time, you are going to have to up your ante. If you are willing to spend somewhere in the $1k range, you should be able to find something like a well built Arcam, Rega or some other nice sounding player.

If you aren't looking to spend that kind of money, that Sony 595 should serve its purpose well for some time to come. I don't have a clue how much 'time' it has, but as inexpensive (relatively speaking) as decent sounding players have become, $150 isn't a horrible investment.

Good luck,

Scott Faller

 

March 2005

Hi Steven,

I am the proud owner of a new pair of Magnepan MG3.6's. I am very happy with the speakers. My question is how much power do these speakers need? I am currently powering them with an Anthem MCA3. I plan to purchase a higher end product to power these speakers. My problem is that dealers and reviewers seem to have such different opinions about what will work. I would greatly appreciate your advice here.

Thanks,

Blaine Davy

 

Blaine,

Thanks for your e-mail. When i reviewed those speakers i found they did indeed enjoy plenty of wattage. During the review a pair of Bryston monoblocks were used. Basically they seem to enjoy 200+ watts with plenty of current/drive. Just be careful as the tweeters are sensitive and during louder than normal play the tweeter fuse on my pair would blow. This is a protection device as better to blow the tweeter fuse than the tweeter ribbon! Hope this helps my friend. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

March 2005

Mr. Flood,

I admire your courage in speaking your mind about the Omega loudspeakers and I applaud your publisher, S. Rochlin, for letting the review see the light of day. While I am not a fan of reviews that bash, a review that analyzes with a critical ear and relates to reference points of better sound is always refreshing. Now that your baseline for "average" performance is established in my mind, I look forward to reading your promised "rave" in an upcoming issue of Enjoy the Music.com™.

Health!

Jim Saxon

 

Thanks, Jim!

It was a shocker to read the way I blasted the poor Omega TS2 single driver loudspeakers two years ago, especially since I turned around and declared their bigger brothers (TS1) my Winner of The Wife Acceptance Award two months later. Don’t forget at only $579 a pair, "off-the-shelf loudspeakers at your local Audio/Visual boutique are only beginning to sound competent... Most of them suffer far greater, and more annoying, problems than the TS2's minor deficiencies." But that is what I like about Steve. He lets me make hard comparisons and low scores the way miserly audiophiles do in the real world. Every piece of equipment is not above average, just as every student doesn’t get "As." For a real rave, check out the good things I had to say about the CAR Cinema Ensembles or watch for my upcoming reviews of the ACI Titan subwoofer and Behringer DEQ2496 equalizer.

Yours in Listening,

Colin

 

March 2005

Scott,

Nice review. However, you don't mention whether the unit does proper bass management. BTW, I just bought a Philips DVD963SA. Amazing unit - DVD - (Faroudja processing), SACD + upsamples regular CDs. Price when introduced almost 2 years ago was approx. $375. Price (new) now is approx. $415 (go figure that one). Last week, I got a superb, almost new, unit from eBay for $152.50!!! If you get a chance, you should try it out.

Thanks,

Saunak Basu

 

Hiya Saunak,

Thanks for the kind words. The Sony 595 doesn't have any sort bass management or the filtering capabilities that are built into the better models that Sony offers. Maybe one of these days I'll get my hands on the Philips. If I can, you can bet I'll do a review.

Regards,

Scott Faller

 

March 2005

Dear Neil,

I was reading your review of the Vecteur Transport from May 01. In it you mentioned getting rid of your Nak MB1 CD player and called it a big mistake. I currently have an MB1 into an Aragon D2A2 DAC, and am thinking of upgrading to the Vecteur or to NorthStar 192 Player and DAC. Was curious why you regretted getting rid of the Nak? Know it has been a long time since you said those words. But if you remember - I would love to hear from you.

Thanks,

Joe Gallenberger

 

Dear Joe,

I regretted it because, even though it was a changer, it was a superb CD player and sometimes, one wants a changer. The Vecteur is an excellent player, better than the MB-1 in terms of detail, musicality, and all the other stuff I noted about it. Nonetheless, the $$$ I got for the Nak are long gone, and so is the player.

Neil

 

March 2005

Bill,

I can't thank you enough for something you mentioned in one of your Enjoy the Music.com™ articles. I just ran across where you mentioned that before you installed power conditioning your system would sound great one day and just good the next. It was a mystery why until power conditioning, after which your system was much more predictable. I AM EXPERIENCING THIS SAME PHENOMENON in my system, and was at a loss to understand it until I read your article. Thank you! I can't afford the units you use, but I'm sure I can find something in the $2k to $2.5k range that gives me some stability.

Regards,

Steven Lefley

 

Steven,

Thanks for the kind words. Everybody experiences the phenomenon of electrical grunge. The better the system, the more grief it causes. Look back in the archives as I have written several articles on the subject with evaluations of several relatively low cost fixes.

Bill

 

March 2005

Hello,

Where can I get my 33 phonograph transferred to CD's, or how can I do it myself?

Thanks,

Polly Pillsbury

 

Hi Polly,

There are several options. First would be to buy a CD recorder and hook it to your preamp's tape outputs. Second would be to use a computer with a good sound card from such companies as M-Audio, RME, etc. There are several programs out there that will allow you to do 16/44 recordings to the hard drive and then make the transfer to CD's. For the ultimate, you could use a pro program such as Adobe Audition to record to hard drive at 24/96 and then transcribe to DVD-A with the Discwelder Bronze program. All of this was discussed in my article AA Chapter 59.

Bill

 

March 2005

Hi,

I am trying to decide between Aperion 522dpt or Axiom M80ti for tower speakers. Have a M&K v75 Mark 2 Subwoofer, Integra DTR 6.4 Reciever, in a 16x14 foot room. Noticed you reviewed both products, please advise which you think would be better for Home Theatre and CD (classical/heavy metal) usage.

Thanks,

Ron Case

 

Ron,

It has been awhile since I heard the Axiom M80tis, but since you like classical orchestral music and heavy metal, plus you already have a sub, I think the Axioms will cast a larger soundstage with more mid-bass punch and upper end sizzle than the Aperions will. Both are very good choices though. If there is anyway to audition them both and decide which ones you like better, that is the best route.

Yours in Listening,

Colin

 

March 2005

Hello Steven,

Greetings from Denmark. With great pleasure I have been reading your reviews. On several occasions you have mentioned your "beloved" modified Kef 104/2. As a happy owner of a set of 104 loudspeakers (bought second-hand after using Audiostatic ES300 electrostatic speakers for many years) I am very interested in hearing what modifications have been made on your speakers. I hope it is possible for you to find time to answer my e-mail.

Kind regards,

Peter Rysholt Christiansen

 

Peter,

Thanks for your e-mail. Basically remove the bottom of the cabinet and tweak the crossover by upgrading the capacitors with higher quality ones (Hovland, Audio Note, etc). Also, the mid/tweeter/mid panel connects via push-on connectors. i would opt to solder the wires directly or, if you have the time and patience, use silver wire throughout and solder all connections (including those on the crossover. These are a few of the tweaks and i am always glad to help. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

March 2005

Hi,

Just a quick note to tell you that I appreciate the fact that you actually have your magazine published on time every month. I think it's very unprofessional to say that you publish on the 1st, but don't have it up until the 2nd. Many review mags think that because they are online, that somehow the deadline doesn't really apply to them. Poppycock I say! They owe it to the readers, and the manufacturers whose products they're reviewing, to have those reviews when they are supposed to.

So thanks, for doing what you are supposed to.

Drew McAllister

 

March 2005

Todd,

Enjoyed reading your article on the Shunyata Anaconda and Taipan power cords. I just purchased my first "higher end" system which is comprised of Roksan Caspian CD player and Integrated Amp. My cables and interconnects are Nordost's Blue Heaven line and the speakers are Soliloquy 6.3i. I am now in the process of buying a Shunyata Hydra 8 from a friend of mine. My question to you is which power cord should I purchase to power the Hydra? Then, which of the cords should I buy since I will need one for the CD player and one for the Integrated Amp or is this overkill on a sub $10K system?

Thanks,

Ralph Hersom


Hi Ralph,

First, thanks for your kind comments, I sincerely appreciate them. Second, you have a nice system there, one that needs no apologies in any way. And I like your commitment to the sound, which shows in the purchase of the Hydra 8. In my experience, money spent on power conditioners is well worth it as it settles down the whole system. Given a choice between adding power cords to separates and using the stock cords with a conditioner, I'd take the latter route every time.

Anyway, to your question. If your budget allows for cords, sure, get some. But I would not go all out and the reason is due to two over used words - system synergy. To use Shunyata for example, they have many different cords and are quite up front saying that some are just different sounding, not necessarily better. Or, rather, that which cord is better is a system issue. A Shunyata Diamondback on your source and a Copperhead on your integrated is probably a good place to start. Of course other companies make great, affordable cords as well (I really like Cardas, Acoustic Zen and Audio Magic among others) and experimenting with reasonably priced stuff can be fun. But, if I may, before spending a bunch of money of anyone's cables I'd go out and have an electrician run a dedicated power run to your system, one on its own breaker. This alone can make enough of a difference that cords become secondary, especially if you already have the Hydra 8. Besides, the cost (depending on a bunch of issues, but typically not more than $150 or so) is reasonable and will have a positive effect regardless of what else you do with your system.

Good luck, and I'd enjoy hearing what you end up doing.

Peace,

Todd

 

March 2005

Hi Jeff,

I am setting home convalescing from the flu reading your review of Eric Clapton's Me and Mr. Johnson. Like may Blues enthusiasts I was anticipating EC's cover of Robert Johnson's songs. I have a CBS Masterworks of Robert Johnson songs and found it very entertaining. I have been collecting the original works of BB King, JB Lenoir, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Water to name a few.

Clapton's Me and Mister Johnson was a major disappointment. What you noted in your excellent review was an album lacking the soul of the great blues singers. It is a slick pop album nothing more.

I read an interview with Eric Clapton once where he professed that he didn't feel that he was in total awe of Robert Johnson and his music. 
This feeling led him to believe that he could do justice to his music and maybe that is why he put out this album as more of a pop album than an acoustic Robert Johnson that I was anticipating.

Maybe someone can talk Buddy Guy into doing an acoustic Robert Johnson.

Thanks for the great review!

Best regards,

John Knox

 

Dear John,

What an amazing set of coincidences. We have the flu here also, you and I both share a like of my review and a dislike of Clapton's 'homage' to Johnson. That said, I haven't read the interview you cite -- wish I had, it explains a lot -- but it seems a strange reason for Clapton to believe he could do justice to Johnson's songs. Justice I believe can be done. It's merely that Clapton has failed us and Mr. Johnson. Happily though, we still do have Mr. Johnson in the original.

Jeff

PS: If anyone should run into Buddy Guy, please let him know of John's great idea for an all acoustic recording of Johnson. After all, Johnson's original recordings were already 'unplugged.'

 

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