Please bring back Leonard Norwitz, aka the Mono Maven. His reviews are terrific, and there is really nothing like them in print or on the net.
Very encouraging. Maybe it will be enough to get out of my recent funk and do what shy persons need to do. Thanks, Roy.
I have just read your review of the Bella Extreme 3205 Signature Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier on enjoy the music.com. First thank you for your passion - my first passion is actually sailing (also my job) but my second passion would have to be music (family doesn't have to be ranked right?).
Anyway, I've been pouring over the net for about a week and am simply lost - yours was the first review that resonated with me. As for music I take my System of a Down and Zep as seriously as my Brahms symphonies. I know everyone says they have eclectic taste in music. So I'll skip that and just ask the question - if I'm ready to splurge for a tube amp scenario where do I start?
My speakers are Klipsch RB5s on proper stands on pins on hardwood floors and pushed back nearly against the wall, with a "matching" Klipsch powered sub. I've had a Sony TA-FB740R† (ES) amp and similar line Sony CD player. I've got some budget but probably need to stop around 10,000US and my parents have a huge classical collection on vinyl that they would pass on if I ever wanted it, mines all on CDs. So really looking for specific advice about clean bass, warm horns, and true violas/Fender Strats from the pre-amp on back.
Anything at all would be an amazing and much appreciated start - a brand, a component philosophy, or even just the right place to continue research.
Thank you very much for your time and good grooving!
Thanks for your kind words, they really do mean a lot. Your budget is generous and gives you lots of choices. The best place to start building your system is with the speakers. They will have the biggest impact on the outcome of your system. Also, your choice of speakers will dictate your choice of amplifier. For example, you would not choose a low powered amplifier to use with planar or electrostatic speakers, such as Magnepans or Martin Logans. You don't need a high powered amplifier for high efficiency speakers.
I am sure you know that the end result is subjective: one man's "warm" isn't warm enough for another. The important thing here is to listen to as much music through in store auditions as possible. Hopefully, you will find a store and a sales representative which which you are comfortable, that has your interests at heart instead of their commission. Make sure the store has an "in home audition" period. Your new speakers will sound differently at home than they did in the store. For example, my Infinity Kappas had a slight nasality in the midrange in the store, but were so close to what I wanted that I bought them and took them home. The nasal quality disappeared. I've had these speakers since 1993, in 4 different homes, and have been pleased with them in each one. The opposite, of course, can happen as well. A good salesperson will ask questions, lots of them. He will need a lot of information from you to guide you to gear that you will be happy for the long term.
There are also some excellent choices available only on the 'net, or sold directly from the manufacturer. You may want to be doubly sure here, as you will have to bear shipping charges to Spain, as well as possible import duties.
There are lots of choices, obviously. If I were starting today, my short list for speakers would definitely include B&W (England), Magnepan (U.S.) and Triangle (France.) As far as electronics, you will need to decide if you want a separate preamplifer and power amplifier, or an integrated amplifier. I would avoid any of the tube electronics sold directly from Asia on Ebay. I've heard some of the offerings, and overall, with a few exceptions, your chances of getting something musically satisfying that way are about as good as playing darts and hitting the bullseye while blindfolded. Tube wise, I'm still thrilled with the Bella Extreme 3205 Signature. I have no plans to replace it. It's also available in both integrated and power amp versions, so it will fit whichever way you decide to go, depending on your choice of speakers. While I prefer tubes overall, Odyssey Audio makes some great solid state gear at reasonable prices.
As far as a CD player, I have and will continue to recommend the JoLida JD-100A. It's a bargain at $900. I would avoid the modified versions of this player. I heard one some years back that was hot rodded all the way to hell and back, at a total cost (including the player) of $2000. It was a really nice player, but the modifications stripped the player of the qualities I liked about the player in the first place. The player was improved in an absolute sense technically, but stripped bare emotionally. I felt like I was listening to a technically perfect CD player, instead of listening to music. More money does not always mean more music.
A couple of other thoughts: make sure to leave room in your budget for quality cables, as well as a record cleaning machine for all that vinyl. You will not get close to the music on vinyl if your albums are dirty.
One last thing: if you can, pull your speakers ot from the wall. Placing speakers against the wall increases bass response unnaturally, and destroys the stereo image. Proper speaker placement can make a larger improvement in a system than a new component. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to buy what makes you happy. Don't be concerned with what anyone else thinks of your system. If you are getting into the music, that's what matters.
I hope this helped.
Want to share with the Enjoy the Music.com readers a very simple spike support and isolator.
2 coins 25mm or so across, held together with a 2mm fill of clear silicone sealant. Sealant take 36 hours to cure. Drill a centre recess for the spike and place between speaker and floor/support.
I have 4 under my Kef 203ís they weigh about 30kg each and this seems a good match vis a vis weight of speaker and compliance and silicone layer, smaller coins didnít work as well, too floppy and were easily off centered, and larger flat discs over 50mm were nearly completely rigid in the horizontal plane.
There is definitely a best trade off between diameter of disc and height of sealant layer. My room floor is wooden beam and it feedbacks vibration into my speaker even though they are on spiked plinths, and were spiked to the plinths. Itís a bad bouncy floor. With these in place individual instruments and sounds tighten up and have cleaner decay without any loss of soundstage. A subtle but noticeable effect. And at 32pence for eight isolators + silicone, itís pretty damn cost effective compared to Symposium roller blocks.
Hope itís of use,
Well, I read and read about Nordost's Thor and the APC S15. I've been demo'ing the S 20 for the past 2 weeks. Yikes! Flat, one dimensional sound with diminished hi end. I plug everything back into the wall sans conditioner and everything comes to life - the music is fun to listen to again.
Am I missing something? Am I doing something wrong? You love the APC, but I'm certainly leaning toward the Thor at this point, or nothing at all. Have I expected too much? If you have time, I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments. Conrad Johnson LP 70 S amp, CT 5 pre-amp, Nordost Heimdall interconnects and speaker cables, Marantz SACD player, Totem Forest speakers.
Thanks for your enjoyable articles,
Sorry, but I really can't tell what's happening. Every house's AC problems are different, depending on the original quality of the AC plus the junk that gets added on both before and after entering your house. Just like any other piece of equipment, the results are system dependant. I've heard the THOR cause marked improvements on other systems, but did very little for mine. As in everything else in high end audio, one needs to experiment with one's own system to find the best equipment for one's own taste. Unhappily, this is extremely important for AC cleanup.
I really believe that in the near future there'll actually be specialists in this field going from system to system to diagnose electrical problems and clean them up, as unhappily, the AC is getting worse rather than better. Our electric grid is getting outmoded and being asked to do more and more which, adds to the grunge.
Dear Mr. Phil Gold,
I've just read your excellent comparing review between Shure and
UE Ssuperfi 5pro.
I come from Koss sparkplug (yes, I'm a basshead!), but I would to improve my overall sound quality, and if possible, maintaining bass power. I listen a lot of progressive rock (Styx, Italian band pfm and New Trolls), a lot of early 70's hard rock (deep purple, rainbow), a lot of live concerts (such as alive IV by kiss), but I like very much Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Rolling Stones: only "old" music.
What do you advice to me? Can I buy 5pro, or it's bass is a little shy? Alternatively, may I buy 5EB, but it's bass is overwhelming?
Thank you very much in advance for your help
I havenít tried the 5EB but I think youíll be very pleased with the bass on the Super.fi 5pro, provided you get a good seal in your ears. From what Iíve heard, the 5EB may be too bass heavy. For even better results look at the custom fit phones.
Enjoy The Music,
Hi Steve & RIck,
I was interested by the article on the GREATech ĶVAC Amplifier & Singlepower MPX-3. Thank you both for the observations. Iím setting up a small system to use in my office/reading room as a second system. I play mostly Blues, Jazz & blues/rock and listen through a Mark Levinson 390S/380s/334-Wilson Watt Puppyís. The system was initially going to be for headphones only Ė at some point I may install speakers for the small room, but itís not on the horizon for a at least a year.
So Iím in the market for a new set up (lucky meÖ lovely wife!).
The headphones are most likely Grado GS-1000ís. After that rambling introduction it gets me to the point of the mail - I was thinking of the Singlepower MPX and came across the review for both that unit and the Greatech ĶVAC. There is a price difference, but for $500 extra for the ĶVAC, but I could live with that given the dosh Iíll be forking out for the new system overall. Local dealers here in Massachusetts are few & far between, unbiased ones even rarer.
Is the Greatech a different animal completely and would it be overkill for headphones only? Or putting it differently, is the Singlepower equal in sonic qualities for headphone use (saving the $500 difference)? Any thoughts or comments would be welcomed on the headphone unit (or CD player choices). Thanks chaps. Nice articles & now Iíve discovered the site Iíll be a regular reader.
Wish i could help, yet have not compared the uVac to the Singlepower. Have a feeling Rick hear the Singlepower but not the uVac. So in a sense it is possible we have no real clue PLUS there are YOUR personal preferences that needs to be taken into account.
Oh, if only there was a perfect unit everyone owned and worked with everything perfectly. Sadly, that is not the case. Of course Iíd suggest the uVac, and have a feeling Rick would suggest the Singlepower, as this is what we each HAVE heard/reviewed. Either way, they are both very good units, with excellent design, quality parts, reliable, and made by a company that has a very good reputation.
(Said in good humor my friend) Anyone have a coin I can flip to decide which is better ;-)
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
I regret that I cannot help you here since I have not heard the Greatech. I read about it with interest as well but haven't ever heard it under any conditions. I will defer to Steve, who is as expert as anyone I know in regard to low-power, high-quality tube amplifiers. Perhaps he has heard the SinglePower amps and can offer a comment or provide some illumination.
I can tell you that I own the MPX-3 and continue to enjoy it. It is well built and works flawlessly. It has just a touch of tube sound, but I tend to lean in that direction, anyway. Sounds to me like quite an auspicious office system to go with a darn good main system...buy your wife some Manolos if she goes along with this!
Dear Mr. Rochlin,
I read your October 2006 review with great enthusiasm. My wife and I are looking to add a turntable to our music system. The Oracle Delphi MKV has been high on our list of turntable choices. Admittedly, we are novices to this level of TT having shifted to CD playback quite a number of years ago. Our last TT was a model made by Pioneer. The Pioneer TT is long gone, but our modest collection of vinyl has been waiting in the wings for its replacement.
Given our inexperience with this level of TT, we're a bit anxious to buy anything that requires a lot of tweaking. Our plan is to purchase a TT with a tonearm so as to leave the assembly process to the experts. At the same time, we would like to purchase a very nice, well reviewed TT. Your positive remarks about the Delphi MK V were quite pleasing to read.
Is this a [more or less] plug 'n play TT after being purchased with the tonearm and cartridge in place?
My Sincere Thanks,
Thanks for your e-mail and yes, the Delphi is a 'plug and play' once someone professionally sets it up. As you mentioned, having an expert do the setup is your best bet. Once properly setup you should not really need to do anything other than enjoy the music. Perhaps check the cartridge counterweight (also called the vertical tracking force), which is really easy. Maybe in 3 years have the setup person stop by the check things. Always glad to help and in the end what really matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
I noted with interest your review of the APC S15 unit and subsequently your impression of the Environmental Potentials 2450 unit. I was wondering how you now employ these units. Has the EP2450 replaced all other power conditioners including the APC in your setup or do you use them in series? Have you continued to enjoy what the 2450 does and is it still your impression that power cords do not contribute nearly as much if at all as they would in the absence of the 2450. I look forward to your reply.
For a complete discussion of my present AC setup go to my article here. I am presently using the following power protection and improvement equipment: The house is being protected by an Environmental Potentials 2050 at the main junction box. The 2450 is now being used on my secondary video system. The main system has two Torus Power isolation systems protecting the right and left sides. There are two APC S-15 units for the front right and left channels, and two H-15 unit for the video and rear channels running off of the Torus units. This combination has successfully cured the bad power problem I've had for 29 years. Thank God. In addition, this setup has allowed me to get rid of some very expensive AC cords which are no longer needed except for some reason on the digital equipment. Guess digital is more susceptible to AC grunge than analog.
Dear Steven Stone,
Your review of the ATC passive SCM7 loudspeakers was very interesting - thank you for taking the trouble to describe in detail their sound - and particularly as you have experience playing acoustic instruments and recording an Orchestra you will know the nature of instruments' Timbre; natural Dynamic Range; etc ... to greater degree than some Reviewers who have no live Reference.
I listen to various types of music, including a lot of Classical Orchestral and Piano, thus have a priority for the above-mentioned qualities in a loudspeaker. I will have to travel a long distance to audition ATC speakers, thus if you have the opportunity to review either or both their next up their range 2-way passives - SCM11 and SCM19 - I will be an enthusiastic reader!
Yes, though the larger bass/mid drivers in those two models will likely give extension to lower pitched notes' fundamentals, there may be some loss of midrange accuracy. I expect the SCM19 will allow greater dynamic range towards a realistic reproduction of a Piano or Orchestra, thus when I can afford to buy SCM19s I will be traveling to audition them, well, here's hoping!
Thank you again for your review,
Thank you for your note. I understand why you would like to see a review of the larger ATC speakers. But, since my particular area of interest is desktop and nearfield listening environments, the larger speakers would be less appropriate for this purpose than the SCM7s.
I read, what you wrote about the Behringer Ultra curve 8024. Do you still recommend this equalizer? I have a Accuphase DP-78 CD-player. Do I destroy the good sound quality of the Accuphase, if I put an 8024 in my chain, because its a digital working equalizer?
Many thanks for your answer.
Yes, I still have high regard for the Behringer EQ; along with classic Accuphase equipment, the Swiss and their chocolate. I donít think that you will destroy the good sound quality of your CD player. The UltracurvePro ďdoesnít modify any serious room or system anomalies. It canít make a bad room sound great, but it can make a good stereo sound better ó much better.Ē
Yours in listening,
I have great interest in finding audiophile grade line level signal attenuators, which I have been told don't exist in the US marketplace. I have discovered the Rothwell ones from the UK.
Your published review cited above points out many degradations in the sound quality that are caused by these attenuators. This is in very sharp contrast with another review I found on-line, and with carefully chosen review excerpts used by the manufacturer on their web page.
Have any other of your staff tried these attenuators and found them not to have the serious drawbacks cited by George Pappas? I am wondering if Mr. Pappas had chosen to use cabling which partially blunted the harsh sound of his CD player, and then continued to use them with the attenuators. There is no US dealer for these that I have found selling them with a trial period, so I am trying to decide if I would be just wasting my money. Any experienced comments would be appreciated.
George has his own opinions, mine differs than his. There are many great transformer-based and simple stepped attenuators on the market that offer true adjustable attenuation/volume adjustment. See my review of the DACT attenuator that is available worldwide. We also plan to have a review of a transformer-based unit appearing within our Review Magazine shortly so keep checking back.
As for the Rothwell, as you know it is a 10dB straight attenuator using two resistors within an RCA jack for around $60 USD. Frankly, am not sure why someone would want to add these into their system unless they know all they need is 10dB of reduction to totally eliminate their preamplifier. As for it being used like an equalizer, to each their own I guess. As a side note, George Pappas no longer writes for our publication and we wish him all the best.
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Really enjoyed your Rotel review. I compose and conduct and am looking for power for my Magnepan speakers. Very encouraging.
Steve Rochlin has asked me to respond to your inquiry as I happen to have a pair of the Magnepan MG-3.6/R speakers on the premises. Actually, I've yet to audition these speakers with Rotel amplification, but my favorite power mate for the Magnepan at the moment happens to be the EAR 834T integrated amplifier. Please see my recent review by clicking here. Yes, I know, it's more expensive, but worth every dollar!
Thank you for your interest, and ... enjoy the music!
I have been enjoying audio since the 70's. I have owned several Reel to Reel recorders and Dragon Cassette Decks. For those of us who like to record music what are our options these days? I miss being able to make cassettes for road trips and sitting in the listening room reading a book while the listening to the Tandberg.
Alas, it appears the tape formats have pretty much disappeared from the new consumer goods marketplace. They have been replaced by digital disc counterparts. i agree analog, especially reel to reel, can be very good, this digital world of ours seems to have forced out those options in all but the recording studio environment. On that note, you may want to visit your local pro audio store or online places to see what the professionals use like Nagra, etc.
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Just a quick note concerning Steven Stones review of the Oppo DV970HD. I've owned a 970 for about 4 months and my unit displays none of the operational idiosyncrasies that Mr. Stone reports. No problem advancing tracks, forward and backward both work well. My unit has also never exhibited any sort of "Drop Out."
The Oppo DV970HD is a good value at around $150. It both sounds and is built better than the similarly priced Pioneer combo-player that it replaced in my bedroom system. What the Oppo DV970HD is not is a giant killer. The internet is all a-buzz about how the little Oppo trashes everything up to the megabuck players, and unfortunately it just isn't true. It's a nice player that works perfectly and is suitable for use in budget or secondary systems.
I really enjoy your website, keep up the great work.
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