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Your Letters To Us

May 2004

Dick Olsher,

Is there such a thing as potential impedance mismatch issues when connecting a source like a CD player to an amp via a passive pre-amplifier? If so, what sort of specifications (input/output impedance) are required for both the player and the amp in order that the preamp volume control be effective throughout the volume range? Thanks for your thoughts.

Michael Weilmeier



Dear Michael,

Yes, impedance mismatch is an important consideration when inserting a passive preamplifier into the chain. That is because a passive preamp is nothing more than a volume control and lacks a buffer stage. There are two basic connections to effect signal attenuation with a volume control, namely, series and parallel. Series-connected controls are to be avoided use the resistive element directly increases the apparent source impedance. Most passive preamplifiers feature a parallel connection since it does not increase the source impedance of the source component.

However, even with a parallel connection, the job of driving interconnects would be left to the output stage of the CD player, and most CD players are not designed to drive long cable runs. Look for a CD player with a buffer stage whose output impedance is less than 500 ohms. The associated input impedance of the power amplifier should be greater than 20,000 ohm.

Best regards,

Dick Olsher

May 2004

Bill,

On the walker audio super silver treatment, when putting it on s-video cables, do you put it on all the pin tips? On speaker cables do you put it on the + and -- contacts? On power cables where do you put it? On TV cable where do you put it? On stereo receivers where do you put it?

Thank You,

Richard

 

Richard,

The easiest method is to apply a very small amount to the male pin tips on small connectors, and apply a very thin coating to larger pins and AC prongs. Don't put it on too hick or you may get some bridging between the pins which would short the signal. I have not found an electrical connector where it hasn't made an improvement, even on my wife's microwave.

Bill Gaw

May 2004

Hello,

I enjoyed you review of the UltraVerve Line Pre-Amplifier and couldn't help thinking that many of the positive attributes seem to match well with those I am enjoying with my Eastern Electric MiniMax Pre-amp. Thispurchase was an upgrade from a ARC SP9 MKII that I used for about a decade but what a step forward it was! I thought you might just be interested as not only does it share the minimalist approach (uses only 3 tubes and one of those is a 6x4 rectifier), but it is even more cost effective. It does use 12AU7s for gain and buffer stages which, if I not mistaken, is not given a lot of respect in general, but it does seem to deliver the goods IMO.

Regards,

Bernard Hickey

 

Hello Bernard,

Many thanks for the kind feedback. Minimalist circuit design and tube rectification would appear to be a sound strategy for sonic supremacy in line-stage amplification. I hope you're able to unload the ARC SP9 MKII at a good price.

Best regards,

Dick Olsher

May 2004

Hi Mr. Olsher,

I have read some of your review on audio gears. Knowing that you are very expertise on audio, I would like to have your opinion on my recent query posted on Audiogon Amp/Preamp discussion forum (as follow ): Hi, what's the sonic differences of using 12AT7A vs. 6SN7 tubes on tube preamp configuration ? (AVA uses 12AT7A; AE-3 uses 6SN7 for example). Your explanation is highly appreciated and thanks in advance.

Simon

 

Hi Simon,

You question pulls me back to the issue of the 6SN7 vs. preamplifier miniatures such as the 12AT7A. It is impossible to give a definitive answer without also considering the tube's operating parameters - its DC voltage and current. Assuming, however, that each tube type is optimally driven for linear operation, I believe that the vintage 6SN7 (not current production Russian types) possesses a richer and more musical harmonic structure. It's partly a question of internal construction and inherent linearity; it's difficult to pinpoint magic, but it's certainly hidden in the details.

Note that some of the 6SN7's inherent big tone sound can be negated by the use of solid-state rectification. You should definitely audition the deHavilland line preamplifier for an education of what 6SN7 sound is all about.

Enjoy the music...

Best regards,

Dick Olsher

May 2004

Bill,

Great review of the ELP Laser Turntable; much better than Michael Fremer's in Stereophile. You really gave a flavor of how the thing sounded. Of course, absent unexpected results in the lottery, I'll never be able to afford one, but who knows; maybe we'll see trickle-down technology.

Vade Forrester

 

Vade,

Thank you for the kind words. Sure you can afford one. Just sell your car, or maybe one of your kids. Think of the extra savings by not having to buy gas or a college education. Then you can buy more records to play on it.

Bill Gaw

May 2004

Hi Bill,

I just wanted to extend my thanks for your honest and accurate review of the SP Technology loudspeakers. It was your review and posts on AC that led me to SP Tech and my pair of Continuums. They are truly magnificent speakers with truly unlimited dynamic range and lifelike presentation. I look forward to one day hearing one of your mastered compact discs. Talk to you soon.

Regards,

Frank

 

Frank, 

Yes SP technologies has invested close to a quarter century developing that line. I am happy you have found their loudspeakers to be supplemental to your audio nirvana. Truly they are some of the finest loudspeakers I have witnessed at any price.

Bill Gaw

April 2004

Steven,

It has been a while since i "did it myself", surfing the web for a tube project for a first timer made my head spin.... Would you please suggest a DIY pre-amplifier or MC phono pre-amplifier. Something to get my CD player and my soon to be hooked up again record player sounding better.

Thanks,

Stan Thomas

 

Stan,

Thanks for your e-mail. There are two different DIY pre-amplifiers i can suggest. One is at by Audio Consulting and the other is by DACT. As for phono stage, we recently reviewed one and it can be seen by clicking here. Always glad to be of service.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Dear Wayne,

Your review of the JC1 brings up a question I have been longing for an answer. Perhaps you can help. If the JC1 takes such a long period of time to break in, will it lose its "broken-in-status" if one were to leave the amp switched off for a long period of time say, one month, 2 months or a year? Does it need to be broken in again?

Thanks,

Al

 

Hi Al,

Good question. My experience has been that an electronic component that has been unused for some time will not need a lengthy break-in from scratch like a brand new piece. However, I do remember occasions where it took some hours of playing time before a component "settled" fully into its characteristic sonic presentation. These intervals are determined by, among other things, reaching thermal equilibrium throughout the circuitry and "re-forming" capacitors whose residual charges have fully drained. I do a system "tune-up" every month or two by putting a frequency-saturated break-in CD on repeat for about three hours; that tends noticeably to restore dynamics and low-frequency extension. 

Best wishes,

Wayne

 

April 2004

Steven,

I enjoyed your review of the Almarro A318 tube amp and have questions about speaker matching. I am learning more about tubes, since I have never used them, and want to make sure I'm headed down the right path. Specifically, what speaker recommendations would make to pair with the Almarro? My room is 12' by 18'  and my budget is up to $2,500. I know that offers a decent amount of opportunity, but give me your best of suggestions, please. By the way, I am also very interested in the De Capo-I and am currently auditioning the Dulcet.

Regards,

Craig

 

Craig,

Congratulations on the wonderful road of tubes! Yes, the De Capo-I would be a great match in my opinion both sonically and also in that the loudspeakers are an easy load for any amplifier to drive. Alas, never reviewed the Dulcet, so can not comment accordingly. In the end what really matters is that you...



Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Dick, 

I enjoyed reading your review of the AH! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. As an owner of one I was particularly interested in the substitute tubes that you recommended.

I checked with Richardson Electronics, and they offer a number of Amperex tubes. I am not absolutely sure which of the tubes they offer is the one that you recommended but I have narrowed it down to 2: 6DJ8/ECC88-BB and the 6922/E88CC - BB. I would be grateful if you could put me right on this matter as i am a bit of a novice with tubes.

Thanks in anticipation of a reply.

Andrew Harrison

 

Dear Mr. Harrison:

Welcome to the world of tube rolling. The Richardson re-branded Bugle Boy tube I would recommend, and the type I'm currently using is the 6922/E88CC - BB. These are typically new old tock, made-in-the USA, tested on the original Philips/Amperex test stand, and selected for performance.

Best regards and ... enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher

 

April 2004

Hi Steven,

I fell for the little Almarro 318 amp at CES this year. Ordered it right then. I am now a dealer and am demo'ing it. It makes music! and I agree it is a very balanced performer. I have not been a fan of lower priced SET amps because they weren't a reasonable balance to my ears. Yes so how does he retail this sweet thing for $1500?? Wanted to let you know we're a dealer and are in the Portland, Oregon area.

Best Regards,

Ron Hedrich

 

Ron,

Congratulations! Yes, it is indeed a wonderful performer that is very well-built, uses very good iron, etc. So how does he do it for $1,500? Magic pixie dust? Sold his soul to you-know-who? Whatever it is, the point is to simply sit back and bask in the money saved while you...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Wayne,

I saw your recent review of Jolida and had read Dick Olsher's review of the AH! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 (upgraded aka Super). (I also saw the earlier plain 4000 review) I am a fan and frequent reader. You both have very educated ears and I enjoyed the reviews.

My budget for a new CD player is a little lower. Unfortunately it is hard to audition together the players I am considering (and of course the Tjoeb can only be auditioned after a purchase). I find the magazine published reviews to be either inconsistent or contradictory. For example, Absolute (?) Sound named the new Rotel 1072 product of the year and raved about it while one of the British magazine reviews listening panel's found it second rate, not up to prior Rotel CD players and critical of it for using a lesser Burr-Brown HD chip for a player in this price range. If some of the experts disagree so much what are the amateurs supposed to conclude especially when AB comparisons are not often possible. I am considering the new Cambridge Azur 640C, the Rotel 1072 and the basic Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. Have you or any of your peers at Enjoy heard these three or even two of them either together or apart?. I am more interested in your opinions after reading your reviews than those of certain other magazines. (Do you have any general thoughts on buying an older used CD player on Audiogon in the same price range $450 to $700 -- Would any older used but originally priced a little higher player be able to provide superior sound to these three newer players and would you hesitate to but a used CD player? Overall is there certain equipment (amp/pre-amp or speakers) you would buy used?)

Finally, I will admit to having some old (perhaps some would say antique) equipment (Adcom-GFA555 amp and NAD 1155 pre-amp). I am replacing the old Philips cd player first. Should I replace with newer separates or an integrated amp if my budget is $1,500 or so. Any specific suggestions? Is the NAD the weaker link and even if so does it also have less impact on the sound.

As long as I am writing I will impose with one more-- What floor standing speakers in the $2,000 range do you like? I am just starting to search but based on reviews so far would consider the Cain and Cain speakers Enjoy reviewed, Triangle Celius, Paradigm 100v3, but welcome comments and suggestions. I would like a speaker that is not only lifelike but not fussy with room placement.

Thanks so much for any help you can provide your opinions are valued!

J. Kropp

 

J,


I certainly sympathize with your frustration about inconsistent and contradictory reviews. As to the specific CD players you mention, I'm afraid I haven't heard any of them, and I really don't know whether any of my
Enjoy the Music.com™ colleagues have done so-- as a "virtual" magazine with staff scattered around, it's not as if we get to assemble around the water cooler and chat about things. :) 

As to your general question, buying used equipment can certainly allow you to shop for originally higher-priced equipment. Generally, core electronics are a fairly safe bet. I would be a little more cautious about components with mechanical aspects, e.g., CD players, transports and turntables, but even there you can find some very good values. 

I think your Adcom and NAD components are in pretty much the same class, giving decent value for the price. If you plan to replace both of them, I would suggest you do check out some integrated amplifiers, which will probably give you better sound within a $1,500 budget. I haven't reviewed an integrated for a while, but I Invite suggestions from my colleagues. 

Finally, to your preliminary list of $2k loudspeakers, I would add the Meadowlark Kestrel2, a Dali (whose name I have forgotten), and if you want to stretch your budget a little, the Von Schweikert VR 2, which I recently reviewed. 

I'm sorry I couldn't give you more specific advice. Take your time, and trust your own ears. 

Best wishes,

Wayne

 

April 2004

Hello Wayne,

I have read your reviews for many years now and have always them to be concise, very informative, and most of all helpful, in my own quest for "sonic nirvana".

I currently own M.L. Prodigy's, with the Parasound Halo JC-1's (party due to your 2003 Best Amp pick) and am mostly satisfied, but (well I wouldn't be a true "afflicted" audiophile if I wasn't always thinking about other gear), so...

This brings me to my question. Do you still have the Meadowlark Blue Heron's, or were these strictly review "loaners?"

If so, (or not), how do you think they compare to some of the newer things that are out there now? I have a chance to perhaps buy a pair, but due to the fact I'm an average working stiff (with three kids, wife and a dog!) can't buy 'em without unloading the Logans first, nor do I have the luxury of hearing them prior to purchase, so I'm looking for some professional guidance.

I certainly would appreciate any thoughts, advice, etc! Thank for your time and great reviews. Keep up the good work!

Dennis Francis

 

Hello Dennis, 

As much as I liked them, I did not keep the review pair of Meadowlark Blue Herons. They were shipped on to the noted reissue producer Steve Hoffman, and to my knowledge he is still using them. 

I appreciate your kind words and your confidence in my judgment, but I hesitate to dip my toe into this particular audio pond. Broadly speaking, your Prodigy and the BH are in similar groups for both price and performance. I have never lived with the electrostatics, but I have been favorably impressed when I've heard them. Given your "no going back" scenario, you could be letting yourself in for some true buyer's and seller's remorse. The one distinction I can make unequivocally is that the BH has the better bass performance of the two. Whatever you choose, you're still going to have terrific sound. 

Best wishes,

Wayne 

 

April 2004

LOVE THIS SITE!!!

Steve sez: Awww, now you have us all blushing :)

 

 

April 2004

Karl,

I have a question about the Musical Fidelity A3.2 CD player. How does this compare to the MF pre-24 CD unit? That unit is now available for approximately $1,500 and seems to be a good deal. Thank you for your assistance. 

Martin Nussbaum

 

Martin,

Sorry for the delay. I have been meditating about your situation. I have not heard the other model you mentioned -- I wanted to, plus a couple of their other offerings but I heard and reported on a slightly irritating quality on one of their models. Seems as if that is a no-no with them, as no one else ever mentions a flaw and I believe as a result I am no longer sent their products for review. 

In any event, unless there is a real reason to hurry, I would suggest you at least consider waiting awhile and see if the situation clears up before long. You might be very unhappy if many future releases were in SACD or DVD-Audio, both of which definitely can and usually do sound even better. My personal crystal ball is a bit cloudy but at CES this year many manufacturers seemed to now be leaning toward DVD-Audio. That would probably not even play in either of the models you mentioned. 

Sincerely,

Karl Lozier

 

April 2004

Hi,

I'm thinking of constructing a passive preamp/volume control. I've seen a simple shunt type design that uses a single resistor and potentiometer, and another that uses a DACT stepped attenuator. The DACT seems a little pricey, but the design is extremely simple and I've read favorable reviews of this product. Can you give me any advice?

BTW, I found the site very informative and entertaining.

Thanks,

JP

 

JP,

Thanks for your e-mail and compliment my friend. As they say, you get what you pay for. The DACT is an advanced design offering very high quality and very short signal path. The only other alternative is a more expensive transformer-based attenuator such as the Silver Rock design we reviewed.


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Steven,

How did the Cabasse room sound? I am interested in the Iroise II speakers and thought I would ask.

Walt Roman



Walt,

Thanks for your e-mail. Alas, do not really listen at shows for obvious reasons. Do you plan to own the exact same products they used at the show? Is your room the exact same size as the one at the show? Is the acoustics in your room the same as the one at the show?

Am not being critical of you my friend, the point being that shows
are not the appropriate venue to judge the sound of a single component. This is especially true with loudspeakers as the way they integrate with a room and their positioning are key factors. At shows, they really have very little time to tweak and tune a setup PLUS the electrical delivery at shows is usually lackluster.

As always, best bet would be to find a local dealer and hopefully be able to have an in-home audition. In the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Steven,

Thank you for your web site that I find really interesting.
I have a question regarding the reviews: are your ratings (blue note) expressed in absolute terms (no matter the price of the element testes) or are they weighted according to the price of the element.

Thanks again,

Vincent Gilles

 

Vincent,

Thanks for your e-mail. The Blue Notes as we rate gear are absolute, regardless of the price. As many seasoned audiophiles know, higher price does not
always equal better performance over lower cost items.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

April 2004

Steve,

If you have a minute I'd like to ask your opinion. I've been laid off and I'm not happy with my B&W Silver Signatures, so to replace them means to sell or trade them in towards something.

I'm not happy with the Silver Sigs. because even though I'm 50, I'm an old rocker who not only listens, has played out in the bars on the weekends for ten years. I like to listen at the point were the emotions kick in, which of course means loud.

I just traded my Krell KRC-3 and KSA-50S for a Musical Fidelity A308cr Pre and Amp, and purchased the Tri-Vista 21 DAC, giving them my conrad-johnson D/A-3. Now I have a lot more transparent sound and 250 Wpc into 8 ohms, 450 into 4 ohms instead of the 50 Wpc into 8 ohms with the Krell.

The shop where I got the Musical Fidelity equipment also carries the Reference 3A MM De Capo-i and would be willing to take my Silver Sigs in on trade. I really, really like the De Capo's, but I wonder if they're 'better' than the Silver Sigs, in turns of sound quality and loudness for the levels I'm looking for. The Silver Sig's are rated at 87 db where the De Capo's are 92dB, but final volume is what I'm looking for with some bass, and the Silver Sig's do go down to 35Hz supposedly.

I talked to Wayne since he reviewed the Von Schweikert's (which I've never heard) and the Meadowlark's (which this shop also carries). Wayne suggesting that I probably would be fine with the VSA VR-4jr's and I don't doubt it with everything I've read. But since I'm limited to between $3,000 to$3,500, my options seem to be the De Capo's, Meadowlark Osprey's, VR-2's or my SIver Signatures.

The shop is so small and only six months old, so borrowing the speakers for a home audition is unfortunately out of the question. Do you have any personal experience with the Von Schweikert's or Meadowlarks, and what do you think of the De Capo's given what I'm looking for music wise?

Thanks for your time Steve, have a great day!

Chuck Davis

 

Chuck,

Thanks for your e-mail. You are right in the Ref 3A do not have deep bass down to 35Hz like the Silver Sigs. The Von Schweikert may be a better choice in your case. In the end what really matters is that you...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

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