Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

 

March 2006

Bill,

I thoroughly enjoyed your review of the XM-44.  I have been eyeing Marchand crossovers for several months now, after connecting my previous subwoofer's speaker-level outputs to my amp and hearing what a dramatic difference a crossover slope steeper than 6dB can make. I'm curious, have you compared (or heard others' opinions who have compared) the XM-9 to the XM-44 in a configuration with the crossovers in line just before the amplifier(s)?  I ask because I intend to use a Marchand crossover to split the signal to a pair of powered subs up to about 100Hz and cut those bottom frequencies from my monitors, which should reduce or eliminate the midrange distortions that come with the woofers trying to reproduce the bottom octave.

I called Mr. Marchand last week, and he suggested that the only difference between the XM9 and the XM44 is configurability, but I note the RCA jacks appear of higher quality on the XM44, and the XM9 appears to have a connected power cord, where the XM44 has a detachable cord.  These lead me to wonder if there are more differences (under the hood) in quality of parts, resulting in the XM44 being more transparent in my intended application as well as it was in yours.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Howard Clayton

 

Hi Howard,

Thank you for the kind comments. I sold both units about two years ago as they were being used on surround speakers where I didn't really need that kind of quality and purchased some pro 24 dB balanced crossovers by Behringer. They are also superb units, have the advantage of being able to reverse absolute polarity and are significantly less expensive. Only drawback is that they do D/A/D conversion, so are a no-no for those wanting to go straight analog.

The XM-44 was a much better built unit with the ability of going balanced if one wished, but was also significantly more expensive. You should be happy with either unit depending on your needs and pocketbook. The xm-9 does also have the ability of delivering both channels of bass to one subwoofer, which may make a difference to you if you have only one of them.

Bill

 

March 2006

Hi Scott,

I just read and enjoyed your review of the Slim Devices SB3. I have a SB2 and a friend just loaned me the Boulder Cable Power Supply. What a difference! What a price! As a cheapskate newbie modifier I was struck by your $7 power supply solution. Could you please tell me what specific power supply you used and where you got it? Thanks in advance!

Kent Layden

 

Hi Kent,

Unfortunately most of the online sources for the cheap power supplies have dried up. It seems there has been a run on them since that article got published. But fear not, I have another solution that is even better. Go to your local used computer store and firmly plant yourself in front of the orphaned power supplies. Start looking for a dedicated 5 volt unit that is rated at 1.5 amps or larger. Make sure it doesn't have a secondary supply voltage like 12 or 14 volts. Also make sure its a linear rather than a switcher. You can tell (mainly) by the size and weight of the case itself. It should weigh in at at least a couple of pounds because of the beefier transformer. Then once you find the right power supply, cut the 5 volt plug off (assuming its the wrong size) and solder a new properly sized plug on the end and you are ready to go. Just make sure that the center is positive an the sleeve is ground.

In my case I found an old Lexmark power supply and it works great. Considerable better than the $7 unit I found but still not quite the quality of the Bolder PS. Its a good compromise when you are on a budget. Mine cost me $5 per amp or $10 bucks.

Hope that helped,

Scott Faller

 

March 2006

Hello Scott,

Thank you for your review of the Squeezebox. My father lives in the Caribbean and is thinking of adding a Squeezebox 3 to his system. My question concerns DAC converters. Would it make sense to add an inexpensive DAC (AMC DAC 8’s are available on eBay in the $50 - $120 range) between the Squeezebox 3 and his NAD receiver? Or, is the Burr-Brown DAC in the Squeezebox 3 better than an inexpensive DAC like an AMC? We would love to get the Benchmark DAC1 described at the end of your piece, but that is beyond his price range. Are there other good DAC’s in the under $200 range that could improve the sound of the Squeezebox 3?

Thanks again,

Sincerely,

Cp Manning

 

Hi CP,

Many of the NAD receivers have a DAC built into them that don't sound too bad at all. In the price range you are looking at (<$200) I'm not sure you will hear much of an improvement. That said, I haven't hear the AMC DAC 8 so take what I said with a grain of salt. You may want to consider having your Squeezebox modded by somebody like Bolder Cable. It drastically betters the performance of the analog output and digital output of the stock SB. The cost isn't that much more than what you were looking to spend on a used DAC.

Hope that helped,

Scott Faller

 

March 2006

Hi,

I just read your review of the Bolder Cable Modified Squeezebox. Great review, but I have a question. You compared the stock Squeezebox with the stock switching power supply with a stock Squeezebox with the Bolder power supply. Then you reviewed the stock squeezebox w/ a generic regulated power supply vs. the modified squeezebox with the same regulated power supply. But I'm wondering, how does the generic regulated power supply compare to the Bolder power supply. I ask because I have one of those generic regulated power supplies w/ my squeezebox, and it's a nice improvement over stock. I only paid $8 for it, but I'm wondering if the Bolder linear power supply is an improvement of this. There's a big jump in price $8 vs. $250.

Thanks!

Kevin Fernandez

 

Hi Kevin,

There is a definite difference between the cheap linear power supplies (like the one I referred to in the article and the Bolder. Waynes power supply uses better capacitors, a better regulator plus he bypass's the larger power supply caps giving it better (apparent) speed and control. Estimating the difference, the Bolder would give you an additional between a 30% to 40% improvement beyond your $8 power supply.

Unfortunately, it all comes down to how much you want to spend. I personally think the Bolder PS is well worth it but then again its a matter of how much a person is willing to spend for incremental gains in sound quality.

Hope that helped.

Regards,

Scott Faller

 

March 2006

Scott,

Loved your review of the DRD 300. However, I was more interested in sharing the secret handshake that Lowther/Medallion owners share. Especially the purist owners like us who do not ruin their Lowthers with filters and or networks that rob them of their reason for living.

Thanks,

Lance A.

 

Hiya Lance,

Thanks for the kind words about the DRD article. You're right, we are in exclusive company not using filters on the Medallions. When I first got the PM2As I built the MLTL enclosures so I could break the drivers in while I was waiting on the Medallion cabs. With the notch filter, they didn't sound too bad. After installing the PM2As in the Medallion cabs, and using an active crossover and vintage 15" subs, there was no looking back. It was pretty amazing how the notch filter choked the life right out of the drivers.

So, are you using yours 'straight up' or are you actively crossing them over and bi-amping like I'm doing? Oh, you'll be interested to know that I've got the Lowther Alerions here for review. They are basically the small version of the Medallions using the DX55 driver. I'm going to hook them up today and start breaking them in. You should see the article in a couple of months on the website.

Thanks for the note!

Regards,

Scott

 

March 2006

Hi Steven,

Your excellent review prompted me to go out and look for the old Sony players you wrote about. I too think that modern portable players pale in comparison to older units. My preferred unit is the Radio Shack CD-3400 which is still going strong and the Panasonic SLS-320 which I think is the best sounding of all the Panasonics ever recommended by Headroom. I couldn't find the ones you mentioned but I did pick up similar looking units, the D-33 & D802K. Both are very square and heavy dated Nov. 91 & Sept. 93 respectively. The latter was pretty dead sounding. Didn't have that magic musicality of my references. The D-33 however had a wonderful musicality and tangibility to it's presentation with a delicate airiness and sense of space that the others lacked. It was only missing a touch of weight and heft in the lower regions. It does however have excellent attack and dynamic contrast, surpassing my references. Are you familiar with this unit and if so, how does it compare to the ones you reviewed?

Thanks,

John Grammatico

 

John,

Thanks for your e-mail and agree the new portables appear to pale in comparison to the new units. If memory serves me correctly, the D802K was a car unit. I actually owned one of these and agree with your assessment. As for the D-33, it has 8x oversampling and I never owned one so can not comment. Please try to find a D-25 as it has what some feel are the great 4x chip. Happy hunting and of course in the end what really matters is that you... 


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

March 2006

Hi,

As i scrolled down the page looking for the link to enter the contest i lost it 
sitting transfixed as images of audio nirvana saturated my mind. My girlfriend gently nudged me back into reality (dope slap) as she repeated "are you listening?"

Carl Moeller

 

March 2006

Colin,

I'm 82. That's just for a reference point. I am looking for a bookshelf speaker that I can have next to my TV set as external speakers and sometimes to be used for stereo music. They will be connected to a Denon Receiver DRA 395: 80 watts per channel. Regardless of price difference, I have narrowed down the speakers for external TV speakers to The Odyssey Epiphony and the Axiom 3Ti...both of which received excellent reviews from Enjoy the Music.com®... different reviewers, however.

My Stereo System, apart from the TV arrangement, which is in another room - consists of an NAD C 370 integrated Amp....A Cary CD player, 308 I think... and Magnepan 1.6 QRs. The Maggies seem to have tonsillitis lately as I haven't been enjoying them fully because of some anomalies. Also they are really to big for my 12 x 15 room - I can hardly see what's on the hutch behind them.

Oh well, I have lived with them for a long time and would like to replace them with something less massive... but with good sound, especially for symphonic orchestra music but even moreso for operatic solo work, especially tenors and sopranos... not to mention bass-baritones..HA!

Questions:
1. Do you believe that the bookshelf speakers I mentioned would not intefere with the TV set? I'm thinking magnets etc.

2. Which of the two I mentioned would YOU recommend. I'd like to stay on budget, but prefer to stretch a bit on speakers.

3. Which speakers do you think i could consider for my main stereo system - the one with the Maggie 1.6's... I tried Infinity Kappa II (7.1) and did not like them. I'm tempted to go to M80ti by Axiom. Axiom does have a 30 day return policy if you don't like them.

Gee, that's a lot, but I will appreciate your response. I'd also appreciate your suggestions of speakers I never mentioned here. 

Thank you,

Nolan Fremin

 

Nolan,

That is some reference point. Glad you’re still kicking.  I think the Axiom loudspeakers are shielded to reduce TV interference. Sorry, but I can’t seriously speak about the Odysseys, for I have not seriously auditioned, in my own home, with my own equipment, for Enjoy the Music.com®. I have heard that Maggies can wear out. I also heard that they love big amplifiers with lots of low ohm control – as do the Axiom M80 towers. Depending on what the anomalies with the Maggies, you might try plugging another NAD amplifier in-line to give them the push they need. Otherwise, I say order both and send the ones you like the least back.

Yours in Listening,

Colin

 

March 2006

Dick,

Back in Sept 2005 you reviewed the Pacific Creek SE300I and the assessment was not positive. I was wondering if you had a chance to review the SE300I that Jerry Wang sent after discovering the defect in the original review unit? I heard the Pacific Creek 90I 50wpc amp power the Von Schweikert VR4jrs at CES and was mightily impressed. I purchased both the 90I and SE300I The SE300I is in my opinion, betters than my $7k Wavac and my reference Bel Canto SET40. I was quite shocked with the revelation,, and that’s with stock tubes!

Anyway, hoping you had a chance to re-review this piece. This affordable amp is headed for glory given the right press and user feedback!

Reguards,

Jack Bornstein

 

Jack,

Thank you for the feedback re the Pacific Creek power amplifiers. Unfortunately, Pacific Creek changed its mind and declined to provide Enjoy the Music.com® with a unit for a follow up review. To be perfectly honest, I don't understand the rationale for letting the review process end on such a sour note. Due to the Chinese attitude of "it's good enough," quality assurance has been reportedly a chronic issue for product built in mainland China. I was shocked to find out that Jerry Wang never tested or listened to the SE300I sample he originally sent us for review.

Best regards,

Dick Olsher

 

March 2006

Hi,

Thank you for the contest!

Amy Bond

 

March 2006

Hi, Scott.

Thanks for your readable and informative review. You mentioned one downside to the Slimserver software -- you said that it can't handle more than one music storage directory. This is incorrect -- Slimserver handles as many directories as you like.

I think your problem is that you're running Windows, which as far as I know still doesn't handle symbolic links. I recommend running Linux, FreeBSD, or MacOS/X (which is based on FrreeBSD). The filesystems on all of those support symbolic links, which can make a directory on another hard drive appear as an ordinary subdirectory of your local drive. Another option would be simply to "mount" the second drive "under" the first. Both the above options are relatively trivial under Linux or a *BSD-type OS.

Slimserver works fine on Linux.

Happy listening!

Tony Rein

 

Hi Tony,

I bet you're right about Windooze. I hadn't thought about mounting another drive. I'll have to try that one.

Thanks for the info! Regards,

Scott Faller

 

March 2006

Hi Rick,

I enjoyed reading your article about Stillpoints & Stillpoints ERS, but in the end i stumbled upon your list of used equipment. You user Kimbler Illuminations D-60 as digital interconnect? (Or is it the original D-60)...

Cheers,

Michael Rinus

 

Michael,

Thanks for reading Enjoy the Music.com®! I have used the ERS paper to greatly improve the sound of my Muse Model 2 DAC--both with large pieces covering the entire circuit board (but NOT the hot transformers) and also small pieces of ERS taped directly to the DAC chipsets. I have also replaced the Kimber D-60 interconnect with the new Stereovox HDVX digital cable which I have also reviewed. You can read about it in the Archives.

Rick Becker

 

March 2006

Hello Steven,

I enjoyed your analog article too much. I agree with you that analog source and valve amps are much superior. After years of using CD players and having best solid state amps like very expensive big Krells and Levinsons and very expensive speakers like the Wilson audios , now with a pair of quad II monos , McIntosh mc 275 IV power amps and a pair of not expensive Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors and Thorens 126 turntable and Revox B77 mk2 tape recorder ,i have the most sweet, relax ,realistic, holographic, non fatiguing and satisfying musical experience . i think these are the best amps on the planet for ever.

Viva analog and tubes.

Sincerely, 

K .Mckee

 

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