Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

April 2008

Dear Steven,

I really enjoy your website and find it very informative (and read it every day)...

Sincerely,

Richard Holbrook

 

Richard,

A most humble thanks for the very kind words. It is a team effort and everyone here at Enjoy the Music.com works extremely hard to offer the best reviews and think pieces. Thanks again and as always...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

April 2008

Steven,

For any number of reason you are probably not able to provide a direct endorsement of any one product. What I am hoping for, is for you to narrow my search a little.

I have a pair of B & W 804's driven by an Arcam Alpha 10. The sound is not what I thought it would be. It is dry, without a fast and sharp bass response. The vocals lack definition and the overall sound is homogenous. I am seeking a integrated amp, that has the power to drive the 804's while correcting the above mentioned shortcomings. What brands could you suggest that I look into. I prefer solid state with a budget of no more than $5000

In advance, I appreciate your consideration on this matter.

Tim Hall

 

Tim,

Thanks for your inquiry and would love to help. Alas, what you described to me sounds like what I have heard from those speakers to some degree. My apologies if this sounds a bit harsh, yet that model of B&W, while being good, does have some drawbacks and I am a super picky type of guy. Still, perhaps you are getting a bit too much on the side of homogony, so the brand new Pass Labs INT 150 integrated amplifier may greatly help over the Arcam. It I around $5500 and Pass Labs are known for making truly impressive gear. Would be hard to fault a Pass Labs amplifier, that is for sure. Hope this helps and as always...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

April 2008

Dear Bill,

I just read your article regarding the Allen Wright diy audio cables, 
about using Ennemoser C-37 Speziallack to coat the bare wires. What sonic improvements does the Ennemoser C-37 Speziallack varnish impart on the wires?

Very curious in N.J. Thank you, Bill. I look forward to your reply.

Best Regards,

Steve Wilson

 

Steve,

I can't believe it's been almost seven years since I experimented with the Ennemoser product, and those interconnects have long ago been replaced by others. As I remember, the C-37 was used instead of polyurethane as a oxidation preventive and for electrical isolation. Unlike polyurethane, which seemed to produce a metallic glaze, the C-37 smoothed out the mildly accentuated high frequencies imparted by the pure silver wire. Like with many tweaks, after a while I realized that the benefit wasn't really worth the additional cost and have since not used it.

Dr. Bill Gaw

 

Hi Bill,

Wow!! This is great that you replied!! I'm giddy with glee!! Thank you!! I hope all is well. I eat, sleep, wake, toil and think about audio tweaks and wires. 
I'm sure, like yourself, we tweaky geeky types live a fulfilled, passionate life of music and an ever increasing clarity of reproduction as new and better(?) tweaks are experimented with.

My current project is taking the fine silver foil interconnect (speaker cables next project), ideas of Allen Wright, and Omega Mikro, but trying something a bit different. I have on order some very thin .005 x 1/4 fine silver foil from Myron Toback, and plan to make the cables virtually unshielded, using only, well I'm not exactly sure yet, but, well, I'm considering a loose, fine cotton mesh as the wire covering, having mostly air be the dielectric. Maybe something like cheese cloth, but still open to suggestions. I've been making 30 gauge solid core fine silver interconnects for years with just scotch tape as a dielectric, and I've never had any audible hum in my system at all, and I'm using tube equipment; a Music Reference power amp and Audible Illusions pre. I read somewhere, and this read kind of validated my thoughts, that the wires in an amp are basically unshielded, just the plastic covering. If anything should cause humming, I'd think that would.

I've always heard that the best dielectric is no dielectric, and want to see how far I can push that envelope. What wires are you using now? Any good ideas / projects, tweaks you can suggest, I'm always open. Thanks again for taking your time reading this e-mail, Bill. Have a great day. I'd be thrilled if you'd reply again.

Best regards,

Steve Wilson

 

Steve,

You might try some thin-walled Teflon tubing sold at lab supply places. The foil that they call Bezel from Toback is about three to four times times thicker than Alan Wright's. I've used it internally on amplifiers but have never made interconnect with it. Alan has been using the Scotch tape idea for several years now with good result. It has the added advantage of supporting the very thin silver foil which had a tendency to break at bends in the wire.

I am presently using wire from Black Mountain cable from Nevada. They advertise at audiogon.com. Its very fine 28-30 gauge alloy wire made from silver and gold with a loose Teflon tubing for insulation. Well made, sounds great and is very reasonable. Still use Alan's for shorter interconnects.

Dr. Bill Gaw

April 2008

Hi Scott,

I saw a couple of your posts from several years back regarding speaker cables made from CAT 5 and 6, and was impressed with your responses. If you have any interest, I wondered if you might have some ideas about the situation I am facing.

I'm now writing proposals for sound artwork, which may be going into huge cathedrals. I've already worked in St. James Cathedral-Chicago on two occasions, but these two spaces are much bigger. The set-ups could easily involve 60 speakers and the speaker lines will have to be pretty long in some cases. One of the spaces is about 600 feet in length with lengthy overhead galleries and staircases leading up to windows looking over the nave from perhaps 90 feet above.

I will run balanced audio lines to sub-mixer stations wherever possible and then output that to amplification, but I will still be faced with the need for hundreds and hundreds of feet of audio speaker cable. Obviously it would be prohibitive to use high quality speaker wire for something like this. What would you think is the best cable I can get at the cheapest price for running lines like this? CAT 5 or something else?

Any help very much appreciated.

Thanks.

Jeff Talman

 

Jeff,

Considering the length of the runs, CAT5 or 6 would not be a good choice for speaker wire. The capacitance and inductance would cause the roll of the frequency extremes plus your amplifiers could start to oscillate. I think for those long of runs, I'd be looking at a 70 volt distributed system. Here is a website that handles all kinds of pro-sound gear www.proacousticsusa.com. If you do a Google search you should be able to find many more. I'd also do a search for pro-sound/distributed sound forums. Those guys should be more than willing to help in your design.

Hope that helped,

Scott Faller

April 2008

Dear Scott,

I saw your comments on using 1st order crossovers. I got the same story for decades from Bud Fried who I knew very well. But the question always was where to get the drivers with bandwidth wide enough so that there wasn't cone breakup with 1st order crossovers. Bud always claimed that manufacturers didn't make them except when he forced them to for his own use. While I liked Fried speakers a lot it was difficult to believe Bud could get the extra smooth drivers he claimed given how badly every driver curve I've ever seen looks. Bud's designs seemed to work in spite of cone breakup. I'm very curious which drivers you think are relatively free of breakup so you would use them in 1st order designs.

I have another friend, Murray Zeligman, who designed lots of speakers, both private and commercial, over the  years. Murry designed the Nova line of speakers from the mid 90s and the SEAS Froy III kit among many others. He liked what 1st order crossovers promised but never found drivers to use with them. He ended up using acoustic Linkwitz/Riley 4th order designs to very good affect to my ears. 

One of the properties of Fried speakers I always liked was their ability to accurately reproduce dynamic variations, both macro and micro and I always felt this was part of their life like performance. I attributed this dynamic ability to the inherent low energy storage of 1st order crossovers (at least when they weren't made complex with zillions of parts to equalize the drivers like Thiel does). But my friend explained to me that there are ways to get low energy storage from high order crossovers though most designers don't seem to know this and don't do it. And indeed my friends later designs which incorporate this technology are very dynamic and alive.

I know 1st order also simplifies speaker design  but I'm not convinced it's the way to go with current driver technology. But your article did bring back lots of discussions with an old and sorely missed audio pal.

Allen Edelstein

 

Allen,

You are exactly right. Manufacturers today have given up on designing speakers that will work well with a 1st order crossover. They figure everybody is going to be using a 2nd order or higher slope so what is the point. Sure, that is a sweeping statement I just made but when you really start looking at the response curves as you and I have, the statement fits.

For me, I really like the response of the old Focal lines, primarily the 5K and 7K lines. The new 5W and 7W are close but they aren't quite the same as the K series. Unfortunately Focal took these lines off the market to DIY'ers. I'm not sure they even offer them for commercial manufacturers anymore. I'm lucky, I've got a half dozen or so drivers stashed away for future projects that I bought before they yanked the lines.

I'm sure the low energy storage 4th orders can be done as your friend does. I've not delved quite that deep into crossover design to educate myself on them. Anymore, if a speaker can't do a first order (which I already know the ins and outs of), I simply use an active crossover and bi or tri amp them. The active crossovers I use have variable slopes where I can compensate for breakups. That and I don't have the passive XO losses so loss of dynamics aren't an issue.

I'd bet Bud Fried was using custom designed drivers that he had made from some manufacturer. I know of a couple speaker guys that are doing that. They pick an existing driver that closely meets their needs (say from Seas) and then they have them tweak it to meet the T-S or response parameters to suit their design.

As I've mentioned so many times, high order crossovers just suck the life out of music. I've heard one or two that didn't but those were definitely the exception rather than the rule. They simply have too many parts, all of which get in the way of the music. This really becomes evident when you try driving the speakers with tubed gear.

All of this of course is just my opinion. YMMV :-)

Enjoy!

Scott Faller

April 2008

Very cool site!

Thanks,

Carl Yoshihara

April 2008

Hello "Joe",

I really loved your review of the Sony SACD changer in 2005. I recently bought the SONY SCD CE595 and have been burning it in. You are right, I have to feed the beast so my collection is up to 7 already but I wanted to ask you a question. 

I seem to experience some harshness on SACDs more so than with Redbook discs when listening through my headphone amp. Actually I don't notice very much harshness from Redbook at all. It's not volume dependent. Is it necessary to burn in the SACD playback chain separately from the Redbook, if they are separate to begin with that is.

Jacques Fournier Sr.

 

Jacques,

Yes, the SACD processor will need several hundred hours to fully burn in. Like CD's, SACDs can be inconsistent when it comes to recording and mastering quality. I have several SACDs that are almost too "bright" to listen to. The Sony player is also mildly to blame. The less expensive stock units tend to be a bit bright sounding also. Not too bad but when compared to their flagships, they are a bit tilted up.

Enjoy!

Scott Faller

April 2008

Steven,

I would like to say a quick thank you. I have consulted your publication on a few occasions while researching different audio options and found the reviews quite helpful....

Best Regards,

Kevin Souza

April 2008

Hi Steven,

I love reading your site. Your last column, "Audiophiles Are Not Crazy!", hit home because of an experience that I had once in my local audio store.

You wrote:

"Nevertheless, i have just seen a study to blow away the TGs yet again. Remember, some TGs think that demagnetizing CDs is utterly stupid. While audiophiles do hear differences between non-demag'ed and demag'ed CDs, the TG crowd says we are crazy. C'mon, aluminum and gold is intrinsically not magnetic so why would one need a demagnetize them? Well TGs, you are wrong and as of today there is now science to back up the demag CDs sounding better audiophile claim!"

Well, I remember hearing the Bedini CD Clarifier for the first time. I was actually shopping for new speakers, but the salesman wanted to show me the new (at the time) product. I could certainly hear the difference. Problem was, the Bedini CD Clarifier made the CD sound worse. And it was not just one CD -- every CD I auditioned that day or since sounded worse to me after being given the treatment. The soundstage consistently was more veiled and distant after the Bedini did its thing, as if a very light, small ball of cotton was placed in my ear canal. I didn't feel that this effect made the listening experience better at all.

The salesman asked me what I heard, and I told him. The temperature seemed to drop instantly. Even worse, I felt that I went from being one of their good customers to being treated differently because I didn't feel that the Bedini worked well to my ears.

And here illustrates the inherent weakness of the subjectivist school of thought in audio. We are often told, "Trust what your ears tell you, even if the measurements tell you otherwise." But if my ears tell me something that the audio folks may not want to hear, I'm dismissed. I don't think that this is a "tin ear" issue. I've played instruments all my life, and I can hear things like the difference in timbre between a Martin and a Taylor guitar. I can hear the difference in CD treatment. I just happen to think that it's not a good thing for CDs, to my ears.

There may be science to back up the "demag CDs sounding different audiophile claim". Whether it's better is a bit of an assumption, in my experience.

Thanks,

Wilbur Pan

 

Wilbur,

Thanks for your great e-mail. Yes indeed the article does help to verify that there may indeed be a difference. I especially like how you so rightly said that it is different and not necessarily better or worse. Perhaps at some point audiophiles will find some discs sound better magnetized(!).

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

April 2008

Hello!

I've enjoyed your e-zine for years.

Ken Lawing

April 2008

Steven,

Great writing....

Edwin Huie

April 2008

Steven,

I enjoy reading the articles on your site. Thanks for all the work you and your staff do, to keep us informed.

A friend of mine, E. Tomlinson, wrote the following: "Music is the anchor that keeps me from drifting totally away." I have always considered him a wise man, and myself fortunate to be able to call him 'Friend'. Like him, you 'get it'.

Regards,

Ernie Burke
Administrator, Audio Karma

April 2008

Dear Steven,

I was hope you and the gang at Enjoy the Music.com could provide me with a little insight. I am trying to buy my first tube amplifier and while I'm not loaded, I trying to get something of good quality. As a result, I decided to buy something used, figuring that I would definitely get something of higher quality, if I were willing to make a small compromise as to the age of the unit. In any event, I am at the point of finalizing my short list and I need you help regarding a key issue that will affect my choice.

I was hope you and the staff could give me your opinion as to which sounds better - 845's or 300B's. Additionally, which type of amplifier will most likely offer me fewer reliability issues. I know this is a bit harder to judge, as it depends on the selected manufacturer however, I guess I am asking is & prices I've listed below, which would you choose:

Bel Canto Set 40 $2200
Canary Audio CA 306 $2400
Ayon Audio 32B $2200

or should I stick with an EL 34 / 6550 design

Conrad Johnson Premier 11a $1700
Conrad Johnson premier 4 $1100
Rogue Audio 150M mono blocks $2250
Rogue Atlas $900
Audio Research Classic 120's $2200

Please keep in mind that I have been thinking about getting some Final Sound M300 electrostatics.

Thanks,

Cliff Wallace

 

Cliff,

Well... wow, quite a list and sadly I have never heard any of the amplifiers mentioned within my home system. For me to broadly paint any comments would be a disservice to one or the other. Personally, I like 300B over 845 BUT you need fairly good efficient speakers that present a nice stable (no lower than 4 Ohm) resistance. The 6550 has 'guts and glory' yet the EL34 ha this great harmonics. Of course this is all very generalized and, frankly, there is no way to really know as the supporting circuitry and iron (transformers) can make a HUGE difference to all the above. 

Of the amplifiers within your price range I have heard, how about a nice Manley Labs Stingray or Almarro 318?

www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0500/stingray.htm

www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0204/almarroa318a.htm

Check out the articles of the Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine as we have reviewed many amplifiers within your price range. www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/archives/equipment/amplifier.htm. Hope this helps and wish I knew more about the choices you presented. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

April 2008

Dr. Gaw,

Enjoyed your review of the SA-60, i got one for Christmas and am astounded by the improvement over my Lexicon RT-10. Could you confirm my understanding that you preferred the -60 doing the D/A in all cases except stereo Redbook... because the L7 on the Lexicon added 'surround'?

My Pre-Pro is a Lexicon MC-8 and (if the above is what you in fact said) have come to the same conclusions. I was not aware the -12 did room correction, in fact I am sure my  dealer said it did not when i asked a year or so ago, is this a new option and is is helpful ? Is this what the B designates (-12B)?

Did you read the Feb (maybe March) TAS review of the $15k Esoteric word clock with the -60 ? Apparently it can be made to sound a whole lot better.

Roger

 

Roger,

Yes. I prefer the output of the SA or DV-60 to the Lexicon for most D/A conversions. On the other hand, sometimes, especially with purist mic'ed recordings, the L7 surround or concert hall mode does a great job in adding ambiance. The MC-12, level 5 does indeed do room and some speaker correction on all channels but one also needs to purchase their four microphone KIT which adds substantially to the price. On the other hand, if you don't need HDMI input, there are many MC-12's being sold used for garage sale prices, under $5000 in some cases.

If you look at subsequent articles you will see a review of the new Esoteric
05 units which sound better than the DV-60, but for twice the price and only for two channels. On the other hand, one can use the DV-60 for multi-channel decoding, and as a transport for a D-05 with or without word clocks for two channel, or purchase 3 of the 05 units for surround. Of course that will cost you about the same as a brand new Mercedes, Lexus or Infiniti. But then you're reading this magazine and not Motor Trend like our illustrious editor Steven.

Dr. Bill Gaw

April 2008

Hello Steven,

How are you, hope all well. Request your assistance on the HUM problem on my Turntable if Possible.

I have a Technics SL-1600 turntable with a Ortofon Concorde Pro S
cartridge. My AV receiver has a phono button feature and phono inputs. I'm
getting an annoying hum when I access the phono input on the receiver
and turn the volume up (75%) with no LP playing on the TT. The volume
of the hum is dependent on the volume level set by the receiver.
Normally playing level its not audible. The hum is loud at ordinary listening
levels when the bass is boosted making the use of the turntable
impossible.

I have the ground wire from the turntable attached to the ground
terminal of the receiver. I tested the ground and the tonearm is
continuity-connected to the chassis of the receiver. What could be at play here
and what might I do to eliminate the hum? 

The HUM does not exist on the receiver at full volume without the TT
connected no HUM or disturbance at all. No ground loop is involved.

One possibility, is it possible the cables from the TT are not good
quality. I had then changed few years back to a Transparent cable good
thick copper cables with Gold plated Phono connector. Lately I noticed
the color of the copper in the transparent cable become blackish not the
bright copper color as before. Is the quality of the cable a problem.
Is it possible the cable has got oxidized and not grounding well.

Your a assistance would be appreciated

Thanks And Best Regards,

Clayton Rana

 

Clayton,

You have done a GREAT job at troubleshooting and it seems to me you have the classic 60Hz humm problem. So few people do the work you have done and it makes assisting you easier. I'd first suggest you run the ground wire to the center screw of your electrical outlet, as this usually connects to your home's ground. If that does not work, it could very well be the interconnect cable. Some cables do 'go bad' over time and from what you have said it seems there is tarnishing to the cable. I got some bum cables like that from a major hardware store (with the initials H.D.). So try the ground screw first, then new cables second. Let me know how it all turns out.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

April 2008

Steven,

If you could elaborate on how a "magnetized" CD would prevent the laser from properly reading the Ones and Zeros that would be great. That must be some powerful magnetic field to bend or cause oscillations in a high energy beam of light.

Raf Apelian

 

Raf,

Thanks for your e-mail. I never said it would prevent a laser from properly reading a CD. Am simply reporting on the new scientific fact that they have discovered what was once considered inherently non-magnetic is not found to be magnetic. Am sure our readers can go from there deciding for themselves how this may affect end result. If you have the equipment to measure what you are suggesting, then I welcome your data and second/third party verification from scientists within the field of magnetism.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

Steven,

I just think that the whole idea of neutralizing magnetization of the source in the digital realm is contradictory. Try demagnetizing your hard drive to improve the sound of the music stored on it. It makes sense to demagnetize interconnects, wires and the like because if magnetized they effect the signal passing thru it because it would see it as resistance, the lack thereof or create distorting interference and potentials. In the source in the digital world can only be a finite given.

My ¢2

Raf Apelian

 

Raf,

Thanks for the fast reply. As a side note to our 'conversation', there is some who feel that running your cables so that the signal is transmitted (from source to receiving unit) to true magnetic north. They claim it has benefits to sound quality. Have a great weekend and as always, in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

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