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Letters To Us


July 2006

Hello Bill,

I have just read your June 2006 article about Electrical Gremlins - I have also read several of your earlier articles about this subject but not everyone yet. If you don't mind, I do have a couple of questions that I hope you can answer for me pertaining to 2 channel audio:

1. I believe you have used (perhaps still do) the Sound Application power units and also the Walk Audio Velocitor units. Do you have a preference between these units and if so, what are the sonic differences that you hear in your system?

2. Have you had any experience with the Shakti Stones and/or Shakti onlines? If so, what is your opinion of them as to their effectiveness and do they provide a positive sonic improvement in your system?

3. Have you ever tried the Quantum Resonance products (I realize that Walker has some of this same technology in the Velocitor) - but I was wondering if you have tried any of the Quantum standalone products like the Symphony Pro and again what was your opinion of the product in you system.

Thanks for any info you can provide.

Arnie Sanders



In answer to your questions:

First, every system is different on what will work best for stopping electrical gremlins. It all depends on what sort of distortion causing anomalies are coming through the AC. So what works best for my room may do absolutely nothing or worsen the sound in your setup.

1: I stopped using the Sound Application units a couple of years ago as other products came to market. There are still four Walker Audio Velocitorsin the system. The Sound Application have been replaced by one Nordost THOR unit which in my system works much better at removing electrical gremlins. My August column wil be about another unit which works better than all of the others, the APC S15 (hint, hint), but you'll have to wait until then.

2: There are still several Shakti Stones in my system, but with the above products they seem to have little if any effect on the sound.

3: There is also a Quantum Symphony Pro still hooked into the system in parallel at the junction box in the room, but again, it doesn't seem to have any effect with the Walker Velocitors in place as they also use the same technology. The Symphony Pro is significantly less expensive though so it may be enough for your system.

Bill Gaw


July 2006


I hope I'm not intruding, but I just read your letter to the editor of Stereophile. First, I agree with your points. Second, I fondly remember my pair of smaller Advents as well. And third, and to my point, I noticed your mention of your Bottlehead amps. I'm interested in that very model and wondered if you'd share your experience with them. In short, "How do ya like 'em?"


Steve Schneider



I hope this helps, see this link.

Yours in Listening,



July 2006


I read your review on MP5 in March, thanks! I'm interest in this product. I'm trying to figure out a "very" entry level system using computer as source instead of CD transport, the USB DAC in MP5 is dead on for me.  My question for you are:

1. How do you like it at this time (assuming you've kept MP5 after testing it)? What kind of speakers should I be looking at?

2. Are Canadian speakers good for MP5 (Well, I'm living in Markham, Ont and want to support my own country if possible!)?


I've been looking at other USB DAC such as Stereo-link etc. and not yet ready to make up my mind, I hope you can shed some light. My budget is around $1,200 (w/o computer)

Thanks and have a nice day!

Kenneth Yu


Hi Kenneth,

I like it. In fact, I bought it and use it in my office every day. I am using it now with a pair of Role Audio Sampams, but I have also used it to good effect with Axioms, TWQPs, and even Tannoys. The thing to remember is that the amp is not the most powerful one on the block, so good efficient speakers with a benign load would seem to be the order of the day. With regard to Canadian built speakers, I’d look more towards Axiom and PSB, as it is my experience that Mirages are rather power hungry.

I have never tried Totems, but I feel they might just be the ticket, though I don’t know how efficient they are. I haven’t had a chance to listen to listen to many or any of the speakers sold at the big box stores, but I am prejudiced to give them a wife berth.

Jeff Rabin

PS: The MP5 also has an analogue input which you can switch in on the back, so you can use it as a two source integrated.


July 2006


Read your review on the Audio E and J speaker. I was wondering if you had any follow up on those experiences, in particular, the J midrange being better than the E. I listened to the Jspe at my home, loved the midrange but was told by the dealer that the E would undoubtedly be better as it was the top of the line speaker. I unfortunately bought the E only to find out he was wrong. I liked the midrange a lot more on the J than the E. The E had a bigger sound stage but the J had that magic.... voice in your room effect that I am always searching for. So I'm about to dump the E and buy the J. I was told by dealer to try Audio Note equipment but my equipment is good as well, I have the Wytech Topaz 23 watt single ended amp, a matching Wytech tube preamp, the Reimyo CD player and a VPI table with a Lyra Helicon cartridge, so I don't think the equipment is the problem. Like you, I just know that the J has a better midrange than the E, a lot better. Are you still of that opinion?

L. Weinstein


Mr. Weinstein,

Wow, that is a big question(s). In the end i am not a fan of MBL and the HUGE megawatt amps. The J's are VERY special and i agree bass could be deeper if you want 25Hz pipe organ. Perhaps a REL or high-end powered sub for that very last octave or so of bass. As for highs, they seem extended to me to a point. i compare to live music, but i can see where some techno/electronica can ask for that 'crisp' extended highs. The reason i love silk soft-dome tweeters is that they do not 'offend' the ear like many metal/ceramic dome units. In life there are tradeoffs and i prefer sins of omission versus sins of commission.

A very different approach is the Avantgarde Acoustic Duo. They are fast, have deep bass and extended highs, but the midrange is different than the Audio Note J's. Am not saying better or worse, it is simply a different presentation. If you love jazz music with trumpet and trombone, the AG Duo are mindboggling 'real' and effortless in the midrange and upper registers. Guess what i am saying is to audition the Duos but be forewarned, they are VERY, VERY, VERY revealing and optimizing a system means each step (source, preamp, amp, cables, etc) had better be up to the task. Have heard the AG's sound downright horrible due to a bad setup, and also have heard them sound jaw dropping in the right system.

Hope this helps. 

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin



Thanks, I'm going to go for a new "pretty pair" of Js'. I'm just interested, you seem to hear what I hear when you listen to equipment. What speakers if any would you recommend that have the great midrange in room presence of the J with deeper bass and extended treble and a more open soundstage that will work on 23 watts and.....if there is no such animal, is the path to audio nirvana obtainable through a great solid state amp and say MBL speakers? or is it your opinion to stay with single ended triodes and a speaker with simple paper drivers?

L. Weinstein


Mr. Weinstein,

Hi and yes, still love my J's, but as i have about 12+ pairs of speakers here life is getting quite full. The E's are long gone, as Audio Note wanted them back and i own the J's.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


July 2006

Dear Dick,

Nice review for the Attraction DAC. I finally bought one myself...and indeed it also pushed a few of my buttons. One thing wasn't to my likings, and that is the bass was not as detailed as I was used to...just sheer power. I am also using this DAC http://users.pandora.be/tony.de.lobelle/toon/. So I went looking for a solution to solve this problem.

I finally connected a capacitor (ELNA "audio grade" 2x 3300µF + 2x 1000µF) cross the supply connections on the DAC and yep...this baby sings now better then my other DAC. Meanwhile I have ordered a Black Gate FK 10.000µF to do this job...I will let you know about the results if you are interested. By doing this the bass is as detailed as I was used to and the rest of the audio spectrum also benefits from this measure. Because this capacitor brought me so much more musical pleasure I urge you to try it! (and maybe tell your readers about it).

Kind regards,

Tony De Lobelle


Hi Tony,

Thank you for sharing your findings with me. I strongly suspect that you are not using an Optima Red Top automotive battery. That is what both Charles Altmann and I use and recommend. Any lesser battery may require add-on filtration, but the best solution is to start with the best performing battery money can buy. Please let me know what battery you are using and if you plan to try the Optima Red Top.

Enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher


July 2006

Dear Mr. Olsher,

Thanks for this very interesting review of the NONOS DACs. After your positive review I am seriously thinking of testing the Altmann DAC. (Actually only "test purchases" are possible. Mr. Altmann is confident that no one will let the DAC go again without a serious battle.)

One question about your review: The test unit had the JISCO option installed, but nothing is mentioned about its' effect (it is claimed to be switchable). Could you still make statements about the marginal benefit of this option (only useful with cheap dvd/ cd, effects when used with decent players like the 47Lab, etc.)? Is the Altmann Dac really (nearly) unaffected by the quality of the drive (jitter problems in the broader sense) as long as it reads the 0 and 1 correctly from the disc?

So much money and effort is spent on drives which all produce bit-identical streams (in most cases at least), yet they sound different. The same could be said about digital cables. It would be nice to find a DAC which is unaffected by the sources & cables subtle timing, vibrational and power problems (that's what digital is about, or not?). So many companies which produce DACs with reclocking techniques claim this (like Benchmark, Apogee), but this is only half true. 

Could you continue the quest? Are UPCI (... that's reclocking) and JISCO (... that's something strange) the solution?


Dirk Gehl


Dear Mr. Gehl,

Thank you for the positive feedback. In my view, an audition of the AMM Attraction DAC is mandatory, as it "walks on water' relative to other DACs such as the Benchmark, 47 Lab, etc. Regarding the JISCO, in the context of my system with a good CD transport, it only made for a small difference - on the order of 10 percent. Switching it in and out, I did however prefer the enhanced focus effect of the JISCO. In the context of cheaper CD transport, I suppose it could have had a greater effect.

Note that I am in no rush to continue the quest, as I am living happily ever after with my Altmann DAC.

Enjoy the music,

Dick Olsher


July 2006

Hi Steven,

Having both Zu Druid and Definition on hand, I decided to take the chance on ordering a Microvac. I had the unit delivered with 4 ohm output. The surprise is it works incredibly well with the 12ohm Druid, which made me revist using the KR VA340 on Zu's Druids, which I'd written off as a poor sounding combination. But that was on the 8ohm tap of the KR - I'd never bothered trying 4ohm, which works really well. Obviously no compression or volume limit on 20w, and more body to the mids & bass. The Microvac tends to lighten up vocals - for example Ray Lamontagne sounds a little more female at times, lacking that deeper chest /body from the KR (but what's more accurate? I don't know). What's obvious is the Microvac sounds just gorgeous and is one of the most finely detailed and engaging amps at any price. And within it's limits, very well balanced with good bass performance.... I'll get a chance to try it on Duos and more efficient horn systems soon - will let you know my impressions... I really enjoy your site


Peter Hardie



Congraturlations and glad you like the unit. Oh yes, the power limitations will have you looking for higher sensitivity speakers. This is especially true if you like higher volume levels like you do. Agree with you, as you said "...finely detailed and engaging amps at any price. And within it's limits, very well balanced with good bass performance."

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


July 2006


Thanks for your review of the Squeeze box and the Boulder Cable modified units. Both articles were very informative and readable for this neophyte! I plan to go out and buy a new power supply today per your recommendation. I am definitely not (yet) what you would consider an audiophile but am interested in learning more. I have been doing some other reading and checked out your 2nd review on the Boulder Mods for the SB. I am thinking about sending my SB out for the mod and had a quick few quick questions.

For background I have a Carver CT 26V Preamp/Tuner and a Carver AV 505 Power Amp that is powering a set of Bowers & Wilkins LM1 speakers (more of a home video/audio setup). So as you can see, it is not a real high-end set up.


1) First, in your opinion would it be worth investing in the Boulder Cable mods with my current set up?

2) You mentioned that plugging in your external DAC made a marked improvement in the music – would it be better to update the power supply and buy an external DAC than to go with the Boulder Cable mods – it would save me “down time” but am not sure what a “decent DAC” would cost and have been drowning in the technical details thus far.

a. Now for the related “stupid question”. Where in the line of equipment does the external DAC get hooked up (before or after the SB)? And what type of connections do you need to hook up the SB and DAC?

b. Do you have any recommendations on a reasonable priced DAC that you believe would make a nice improvement?


I have been thrilled to have my CD’s truly accessible via my computer and SB. Now I am looking into taking my first few baby steps to upgrade the sound quality. I look forward to your response and appreciate your well written reviews.


Patrick McBride


Hi PatricK,

Thanks for the kind words regarding the articles.

To answer your questions as best I can;
1) I think I'd go ahead and do the Bolder analog mods to your SB3 if you can swing it. The improvements are pretty great over the stock unit. You'll definitely hear the difference.

2) When it comes to DAC's, you have a lot of options. First, the DAC gets installed from the Digital Output located on the back of your SB. The DAC means Digital to Analog Converter. There are some economy DACs on the market but they are still fairly expensive ($400 - $500 range). The best I've found so far are the MHDT Labs DACs. If you go the DAC route, don't bother with the analog mods and just have Bolder do the digital mods. When it comes to the upgraded power supply, go for an inexpensive one first. Try the used computer store and see if you can find a power supply from an old printer that is rated for 5 volts and at least 1.5 amps. This will get you about 85 percent of the way to where you want to be for only about $10.

Honestly, I think I'd settle on the Bolder analog mods. They are extremely good, as good and most any DAC under $1000 unless you are looking into a tubed DAC which is a completely different issue.

Good luck and have fun!


Scott Faller


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