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Letters To Us

June 2008

Dear Dr. Gaw,

In AA chapter 79 you mentioned using Charmin Ultra Toilet Paper as a cleaning rag, noting it occasionally left material that could be blown off. I would like to suggest you try using micro fiber towels as they are softer, more absorbent and can be washed and reused as long as you don't use fabric softeners when washing, as this will cause the micro fiber towels to stiffen and would then scratch the discs. I got this info from a automotive site I visited when researching the proper way to wax one of my treasured cars. I have tried this on my discs and it works well with no lint. I also use Nanotech fluid although I don't know if it is better than others.

Keep up the good work I always enjoy your articles.

Craig Mattice

PS: Let me know if this works for you.



Thank you for the information on the micro fiber towels. Do you have a brand name that you prefer and have you used them on your discs? Were there any microscratches after using them? I've used the Nanotech fluid in the past and actually have about 3/4 of a bottle left. While I did like its effect on the discs, I found that if you didn't wipe all of it that was visible off, the discs would show high data errors, and would skip or not play back.


Editor Steven adds: I buy in bulk and use those from www.euroworeilly.com. Craig is 100% right about fabric softeners, they should never be used for anything imo. All they do is use wax or a wax-like substance and coat your fabric. My father is a garment construction expert (literally) and knows more about fabrics than 99.999% of the world's population.

June 2008

Hi Scott,

I just read your review of the Aperion Audio Intimus 632-LR bookshelf loudspeakers and Intimus 634-VAC center channel. First of all great article. I just bought Aperions 5.1
system and am as blown away as you were by the sound for the money ratio. Being that you've heard them and have them at home and know infinitely more than I will in my life times about audio I wanted to ask you a question. I'm currently running my HT system via and older (although I love it) NAD t754. In my search to upgrade my receive I took a detour to "separatesville". I've had some great offers made to me on some multi ch amps, and I'm thinking of getting the amp now and upgrading my receiver to a pre/pro down the road.

I was hoping you can maybe guide me to what would (in your opinion) be the best matched amp for this system. Currently in the running are: (and I'm totally open to any suggestion...really).

Earthquake Cinenova 5
Bryston 9b-st or 9b-sst
Sunfire TGA 5400

Any help would be absolutely awesome. thank you so much for your help in advance. Keep up the great work.

Ilan Ferdman


Hi Ilan,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Been busy at my real job :-|

Separates are a great way to go if you've got the room in your rack. Of course a separate pre/pro is great because when technology advances you only have one piece you need to upgrade. Problem with that is most separate pre/pro's can get really pricey. Personally I'm getting ready to upgrade my great sounding Arcam AVR 100 to something that does HDMI switching plus has a staggering amount of other features. The one that most interests me is the ability for it to reside on my home network and stream my FLAC files from my music server and eventually stream my movie collection (once I build my server. The unit that has caught my eye is the Denon AVR 3808ci. You may want to surf over to the Denon website and give it a look. It's rated at 130wpc. It's really impressive for the money.

On the other hand if you want to go the separates route, Outlaw makes a fine multi channel amp that is reasonably priced. I can't offer much on the pre/pro line as I just don't have enough experience with the high end side of video gear. That probably didn't help much, sorry.


Scott Faller

June 2008

Hello Neil,

I own the Audiomat Prelude Ref. as well. Good amp. I don't know if you've noticed from your prelude but, I tend to lose the magic a bit after the amp has warmed up and settled down. It seems to sound its best the first 10 minutes when I cut it on. I can hear the over tones in the key strokes of the piano. But after an hour of playing it loses that bloom and the piano starts to sound almost like an upright piano. I have change the power tubes ordered from Mutine. I have the Electro Harmonix 12ax7 as suggested from Mutine. My speakers are Jm Reynaud Twin signatures Creek Audio CD 53, and audience maestro cables. Is it Ac coming from the wall? I live in a apartment Could it be that? Just checking if you've noticed the same thing with your prelude ref?





Thanks for the question. I have not noticed that, but I will turn on the amp now and get back to you after I look for what you are hearing -- or not hearing.


June 2008

Great concept folks!! I'm ready to join your mailing list!


Al Marrocco 

June 2008

Hello, Tito here,

I have a question about sound improvement. Have 2 monoblocks 125 watts VTL and a musical design pre amp with Cerwin Vegas (15 inch woofers) speakers and would like improve the bass. Are EQ's helpful in improving the sound of tubes or do they distort? What do you guys normally recommend?

Tito Saldana



Thanks for your e-mail and as I am familiar with high-powered VTL amplifiers and year ago worked for a store that sold Cerwin Vega speakers. As such, if there is not enough bass for you then try using some self-powered subwoofers. The CV's have a lot of bass on their own, so if you need more you may best be served by adding more power and cone area by purchasing self-powered subwoofers to augment your current system.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June 2008

Mr. Steven Rochlin,

I realize you are probably a very busy person, but I was wondering if you could answer a quick question for me since you write a magazine for audiophiles. I have a disability where I can't filter out background noise which makes it difficult for me to concentrate. As a coping mechanism, I listen to white noise/classical music. Hence, my journey to become an audiophile to get the best sound quality possible so this method can work even better. 

I know that if one uses WAV format quality is not at all compromised from the original source. However, do iPods have comparable sound quality to a CD player? (I am presuming/hoping they are better due to the fact that they don't have a laser or a loud spinning disc.)

Thanks so much for your help!

Kate Williams



Thanks for your e-mail and yes the Apple iPod can handle uncompressed music files. I suggest one of the older units, as the new 160GB unit uses a lower quality sounding DAC, whereas the older ones employed the Wolfson chipset. The best of the new units, for sound quality, is the Microsoft Zune. It also handles uncompressed music files (lossless WMA is quite good). Hope this helps and in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June 2008


A few months ago you asked out of interest in comparison of cMP and the Memory Player on a discussion board. I would love to get a copy if you are still offering it.

Richard Gerber



Unhappily Nova Physic's offer of sending me a review piece has not come to fruition. They claim that they are selling every unit they can make, so why screw it up by possibly getting a less than stellar review. Anyway, next month's article will be on my further adventures with the cMP.


June 2008

Hi Steven,

I really enjoy your reviews. I am intrigued by your glowing recommendations for the classic Kef 104/2. I own two pairs. The first pair I bought came with three fried woofers. They are now relegated to be back up part donors. The second pair I bought are mint except for the requisite woofer surround rot. At any rate, I love these speakers and find them to be the greatest bargain in high end. Really, there is not much in the sub-$6k range (new) that can produce as well.

I would really like to know what your modifications were to your personal reference units. Is it possible to recreate these mods? What is the sound difference and cost? I hope you will find it in your heart to divulge your secrets to another 104/2 fanatic. I plan on having the woofers done in Florida per your recommendation.

Thanks for your time,

Mike Metzger



For the surrounds, call Sound Ideas at (352) 378-0192 and ask for Paul (tell him Steven says hi). As for mods, I basically rewired using Audio Note silver wire. Also, I eliminated the terminals that connect the M/T/M panels to the main speaker/crossover so have a single wire run (per se) from the driver wires to the crossover. Naturally you could modify the crossover with tweak parts as your budget permits. A good checks/modifications are at this link. Always glad to help.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June 2008

Beautiful job partnering with HiFi+ Steven! HiFi+ is the best hi-fi magazine I've ever read and, in spite of its price of almost 18$ in Italy, I never miss an issue, also because it is generally written in a very good English. I am longing to see what this partnership will bring to Enjoy the Music.com and the other way around.

Fabio Raimondi 

June 2008

Dear Jeff,

Two years later, your review on the Dared MP-5 Vacuum Tube Amplifier proves to be still very useful. I'm very interested in the amp, but I have no idea what sort of speakers to associate with that. At some point I was interested on getting the Duevel Planets, without even being to listen to them because they are not sold in stores in NYC. Maybe you would have a suggestion?

Do you still recommend the amp? And there is something I'm not sure about, could you hear a major difference when you plugged the amp with the USB cable to the computer or with the RCA cables? I'm now setup to use an external USB drive to hold my music collection and an airport express to stream from my computer to the amp.

Thanks a lot for your advice,

David Mimran


Hi David,

I liked the MP5 so much I bought the review sample. It has sat on my work desk (with only a few intermissions) ever since. I eventually replaced the stock Chinese 12AX7s with some Joint Army Navy Phillips 5571s which dropped the noise floor a little (only noticeable through headphones) and brought out a little more detail at the expense of some gain. As to the USB input, I haven't played around with it a whole lot other than connecting the input directly to a USB port on the back of my computer.

I occasionally flip the input switch to the RCAs to listen to an old tuner I have on my desk. It also makes a fine headphone amp. As to sound quality through the USB port, it blows the pants off the onboard sound card I have in my PC. I checked. A really good sound card, particularly an external one, could trump it, but I think it would be very close. I think, however, that what you are planning could be a bit tricky with the MP5. The MP5 is only designed (I think so anyway) to take a USB feed and is incapable of doing any of the fancy stuff that I am increasingly seeing on USB inputs, including playback from iPod, external drives, etc. The best thing to do is just write Joe. He's a very affable fellow and will be sure to set you right.

As to the Duevel Planets, I have never had the pleasure of hearing them. I would like to though. In my experience though, any speakers that are not enormously insensitive seem to work a treat with the MP5, even ones with a less than benign impedance load. I think this may have to do with the MOSFET output stage having firmer grip than an all tube amp with inadequate output transformers of similar power. As to the MP5, I am not really sure you can go wrong. It is still the amp with the finest fit and finish I have ever had the pleasure of owning. You will not however scare the neighbors.


June 2008


I read you review and found it interesting, did you have a chance to compare them to Seymourav units and others like Rotel, BelCanto, Rowland they all use ICE Power technology! This would be a great review and would give customers a better  understanding of what they are paying for? Sound or looks.

All the best,

Williams Ettouati


Hi Williams,

This is the first of the B&O ICE units I've had in for review. While it would be very interesting to do a comparison of the various units it would be practically impossible to get several in for review at the same time, plus the fact that no manufacturer wants his units compared to others unless he's sure of victory. One bad review can close a small high end company.


June 2008


I'm curious as to what modifications you have made to your 104/2 speakers. I've owned a pair for a while and noticed that you still use them as a reference in some of your reviews. While at times I've considered replacing them, they seem to possess an overall coherency I enjoy. I would appreciate any tips you might share.





Thank for your e-mail and one day I really need to write an article about tweaking them. Basically, either solder the wires that connect the Mid/Tweet/Mid panel the body or replace the entire wire run with silver wire (Audio Note or Kimber is my preference.

In the crossover, replace various passive parts with higher grade manufacturer types, depending on your taste and budget (V-Caps, silver foil, etc).

Those are the very basics, and one day I hope to write an article. If you run into 'road blocks'/questions feel free to let me know.

Oh, lastly, check the woofers as the center of the cone are foam surrounds. It seems these are getting old and naturally showing signs of age and, perhaps, falling apart. This is natural due to age. You can get replacements at Sound Ideas in Gainesville Florida.

ALWAYS glad to help.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June 2008


I need your help with a problem. Since I don't have access to certain pieces of equipment, but I've read your top notch reviews of Squeezebox, I'm hoping you might be able to lead me in the right direction. I've ripped my CD collection to take to a vacation home. I'm buying a system that will only play lossless computer files.

Due to the smallness of the room and the fact that the speakers need to be against the wall, I made the following choices:

Modified Squeezebox (like yours) with best power supply
Art Audio PX-25 SET amplifier (no preamp)
Ikonoclast3 speakers

The designer of the speakers tells me that these speakers are too revealing for a computer source (below). I had thought that a modified Squeezbox, or a modified computer/DAC system by Empirical Audio, offered better quality than 90% of the CD players.

Can you give me any insight?


Richard Lewis

PS: Robert from another magazine said, "...You really need to think of them as an unbelievable bargain for a cost-no-object speaker. In fact, if entry-level high-end equipment is used with them, you just end up hearing everything that is wrong with the equipment. They deserve preamps like Vacuum State GmbH's $19,000 preamp, or one of the best Shindo's. They deserve amps like the deHavilland, WAVACs, Shindo's, or something in that league. They must have the best SACD or vinyl you can afford. I'm not saying you can't play Redbook on them, I have many that I have enjoyed on them, but I want to say again they are very unforgiving of digital glare. They deserve the time, effort, and cost of a room properly set up for them. If you buy them to go with an entry-level system, you will probably send them back; but if you put them in a good high-end system, especially one with a very good and very quiet SET, I think you will be amazed..."


Hi Richard,

To a certain extent I do agree with Robert regarding the Iconoklast's. They are brutally revealing and require extremely clean electronics upstream. That said, the Bolder modified Squeezebox (Ultimate) with the Ultimate Power Supply (not the Nirvana) is hands down the cleanest and best sounding non-oversampling digital I've ever heard. In fact, the non-oversampling aspects of the SB should help to make the I3's even more listenable. You may also want to consider the Bolder modified Burson Buffer as an addition to the SB setup. This will increase the output of the SB to a full 2.5 volts (all the way up to 5 volts if you want). When Wayne modifies the analog output, he removes the OpAmp from the circuit thus lowering the output voltage. Depending on the overall gain of the Art PX25, you may need that extra volt or two.

When you set the I3's up close to the wall, you will likely need a fair amount of acoustic panels located behind them to tame the back wall reflections. I'd also be concerned about the bass output of the I3's. Depending on the type of music you listen to, this could be an issue. Be sure you get a chance to audition them prior to making the final commitment to make sure they suit your tastes.

You may want to consider another SET friendly speaker designed to be placed against a wall, primarily Audio Note speakers. I've listened to a number of the AN speakers and they are very, very good IMO. Again, try to audition some of their line before you make the commitment. With AN, they have a nice sized dealer network set up around the country so hopefully there is one near you.

Hope that helped. Regards,

Scott Faller


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