Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

June / July 2009

Mr. Becker,

Hope you have a moment for a rather naive question. I'm just getting into collecting classical vinyl LP's. Can you suggest any on-line sources I might browse for quality items--other than eBay.

Thanks,

Frank Lifrieri

 

Hi Frank,

I don't know what makes you think I have a lot of classical LPs. My collection is on the largish size, but most of them are Rock and Pop with a little bit of everything else, including movie soundtrack LPs, which are usually in excellent condition because people tire of them rather quickly.

I amassed my "treasure" over years of scouting out garage sales, but each one was hand inspected and selected. As long as you don't live in my home town, you could try your local Salvation Army store. They get a lot of donations because people think LPs are worthless. But it involves skimming through stacks of them, and inspecting them by hand. It also is very, very helpful to have a record cleaning machine so you can select them and clean them at random when you want to listen. They usually charge $1.00 each, which is considerably more than the $.10 to a quarter that I usually insist on paying at garage sales. And the sales help at the Salvation Army is not authorized to dicker on the price.

Best of luck...assuming you don't live in my home town. 8~)

Rick Becker

June / July 2009

Steven,

As I am listening to music before bed and am researching high sensitivity speakers and got to your website. Do you fellas ever look back at some older equipment that is still available. Looked at triumph signature speakers from February 2003 review for $1200 pair. Hmm, not much of a deal. I live out in the boonies of north Dakota-have only 1 city Fargo 300 miles away that has anything. Hard to sample or see what is good and new. Where do you go to listen and maybe buy. In 1978 I bought four Sansui SPX 9000 speakers 101dB/W/m for $820 and a 9090 for $400 with equalizer and reverb for another $300. Dam near broke me for a year. Still listen to them almost every day. Friends have brought over Klipsch, Cerwin-Vega, Pioneers, Infinity... when hooked in system you can't even tell they are there. Looking at Pioneer SX1980 receiver and old Altec Lansing or tube receiver... would just like to listen to them or hear something else out there. Still think there is a lot of good stuff out there. I looked at your listing of equipment you have and would be like a kid at a candy store, as it would take me a week to research it all. Hope you read and respond would make my day.

Thanks,

John

 

Hi John,

Thanks for your e-mail and we do indeed have a few vintage magazines we have partnered with including VALVE and Sound Practices. They focus on now vintage gear and also some DIY/tweak articles. Coming in a few days is an article on the vintage Tannoy dual concentric speakers and a few weeks back we had an article on the Dynaco Stereo 70. Thanks again and as always... 

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June / July 2009

Thanks Steven as I adjusted the cartridge using the Enjoy the Music.com free protractor and the sound is a lot better. Thanks again!

Dave Hansan

 

Dave,

Thanks for your e-mail and yes, if the cartridge lines up on both dots without moving the protractor then the cartridge is lined up. As for the cartridge angle on the headshell, as long as it lines up with the lines on the cartridge you should be fine. Always glad to help.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June / July 2009

Nels,

Great review of the Audiomods arm! I am waiting for delivery of mine, #53. Thanks!

Mark and Lisa Blackmore

June / July 2009

Hey Steven,

I ran across your review for the old Sony CD portables, especially the D-5. It perked my interest since I own an original D-5 manufactured in July of 1985. It has the slide in electrical unit to play through a stereo receiver with dual phono cords. I never did get the battery pack for the unit, due to size and no need to carry it around except to put in my car back in the 80's. 

Thanks for bringing back good blasts from the past.

Glenn

 

Glenn,

Thanks for your e-mail and yes indeed, the old D-5 battery pack took something like 4 or 6 C-size batteries and was a beast! Indeed it is great to have this now nearly historic devices.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June / July 2009

Dear Dr. Gaw,

Thank you for the wonderful review you have done for the Oppo BDP 83. Thanks for looking at the player from different perspectives. Your review is the only one I have seen so far that mentions a much more expensive competitor--that the Oppo in multi-channel analog out being comparable to your $6000 Esoteric CD/ SACD player really got my attention. I am in a situation and would like for your feedback if possible.

I have recently acquired a brand new Lexicon RT-20 universal player for cheap($5K retail, now obsolete) which plays CD, SACD, DVD-A, DVD, VCD, etc… and am quite please. However, for the $$$ I paid for the Lexicon, I could get the Oppo and still have money left over for some software to enjoy. My question is since I am essentially using the player to play only CD (as a transport) and started getting my feet wet with SACD, would going to the Oppo be a better choice as it also plays blu-ray in addition to better upconversion, DSD streaming via HDMI, hi-rez music/movie formats, etc... to be paired up in the future with a nice HDMI-equipped pre/pro or receiver.

Currently, I also have a PS3 for Blu-ray. My concerns are as follow:
1) Whether or not the Oppo will serve as a close enough competitor to the Lexicon (as a transport which is a very nicely built unit)?

2) Is the tray sturdy enough?

3) Have you tried running the Oppo as a transport and any observation compared to your Esoteric piece?

4) Would it essentially replace the RT 20 w/o loss in performance with either CD or SACD not to mention the added bonus of Blu-ray and other capabilities the Lexicon can only dream of?

Your advise would greatly be appreciated.

Regards,

Luc

 

Luc,

Lexicon makes superb equipment and until just recently was using their MC12-B as my primary pre-pro. Would have kept it except they went against their word and didn't give any way of upgrading to HDMI input without buying a whole new unit. I haven't heard their RT-20 for several years and never in my system, so I have no way of comparing it to the OPPO. Since you are only interested in CD and SACD and are thinking of going into Blu-ray down the road, I'd suggest waiting a bit. Several other companies including Denon and Pioneer are planning universal players, so why switch at this early date. On the other hand for $500, which may be less than what you spent on your last interconnect, is a steal for what the OPPO does.

As far as build quality, the tray is one of the best BLU-Ray transports I've seen, and the unit is built like the proverbial brick outhouse. Plus I've now heard of a couple of modifiers working on the units now.

Dr. Bill Gaw 

June / July 2009

Steven,

We've corresponded before, and I need to make an important audio purchase.
If you don't mind. Have you or your staff ever heard the Lavardin amp AND the wyred4sound amp (a better than average Class D amp)?
Sorry for this intrusion. I've read all the reviews of each and I have a chance to buy a used Lavardin.

Thanks Kindly,

Laurence

 

Hi Laurence,

Thanks for your e-mail and sadly we have not tried either amplifier. Each week I receive well over ten offers to review somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 pieces of gear from manufactures, plus of course when certain impressive items are announced various writers may ask to me to review them. Even with the nearly 40 writers on staff it is impossible to cover each and every company/product. Sometimes great products slip past us, yet other times really great products from reliable small niche' companies do get reviewed. Thanks for your suggestion and will look into them when they release their next new products as we are focusing on providing World Premiere reviews. Wishing you and yours a great afternoon and as always, in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June / July 2009

Dear Steven,

I began reading your review of Audio Note speakers and before I finished the opening family based presentation, I just had to write. I am now 60 years of age and I have had in my home a lot of speakers, many all at one time, in hard times maybe one pair. But, I can definitely relate. 
My son can honestly begin a review as you have.

At present I'm listening to a pair of home built Morel driver based 12litre sealed boxes that my son and I built, scrounging the drivers (4ohm 6inch woofer and big 28mm tweeter) from my old '89 Honda Civic hatchback. Madisound provided the big yellow Hovland tweeter cap and the woofer rolls off mechanically. One other, have to have, tweak, are felt donuts around each tweeter. Cheap and extraordinary.

Now, in the closet are Morel Octaves, Triangle Titus XS', Monitor Audio Silver S-1's, Radio Shack's copy of Braun's Little David. In the laundry room-KEF Corelli's, and again a set of car audio drivers-Focal 6inch mid/woofers and fiberglass inverted dome tweeters. In the main system-ATC SCM12SL's. And these are hard times. I just can't get rid of any of them. Part of the fun of HiFi for me is swapping out a pair of speakers because I want to and I can!

And I almost forgot the three pairs of headphones and the 4 dedicated headphone amplifiers. Now, that's a great sounding, value driven hobby. What sound for so little money. Thank you for the review of the AN speakers. I hope to possibly buy an AN speaker kit from Brian of AN Kits just across the border in Canada to go with my AN pre and AN Turntable system. My first listen to an Audio Note preamp sold me on the spot, and I have not been disappointed yet with any of their products I've purchased. I read your Enjoy the Music.com reviews because of the fair grading system and the insights you all have toward a difficult subject and it's huge product base. And I really do "Enjoy the Music".

Thank you,

John Martin

June / July 2009

Bill, 

Have you had a chance to do much comparing of the OPPO to the Esoteric yet? I, too, have both pieces and would be very interested in your experience with them. I enjoyed your review of the new OPPO Blu-ray player. Well written and very informative. I am especially interested in your opinions because I am to receive the new OPPO player tomorrow and I, too, have the Esoteric DV-60, which I love. I am especially interested , therefore, in any comparisons that you have made between the two units. I understand your review to indicate that on multi-channel SACDs you believe the two units are indistinguishable. Am I reading you correctly? What about the OPPO as a CD player or 2ch SACD player versus the Esoteric? Also how does the OPPO compare on upsampling DVD's vs. the Esoteric. I find the DV-60 to do a great job on making DVD's look very close to Blu-ray. I'd be very interested in your thoughts on the DV-60 vs. the OPPO on that issue. Any thoughts you have would be very welcome.

Bob Vogel

Bob,

The Esoteric DV-60 is slightly better at SACD decoding but after hours of evaluation I can hear no discernable difference with CD or DVD playback, and for both video and audio, they are both excellent. Of course the OPPO can also decode or transmit the Blu-ray high definition video and audio signals for about $5000 less. It can also transmit the SACD signal in DSD if you have a pre-pro that does an excellent job at decoding DSD. So the extra $5000 is buying you SACD but no Blu-ray playback.

Bill Gaw

June / July 2009

Hello Dr. Bill Gaw,

Thank you for your review of the Esoteric P-05/D-05. I've just ordered this combo and they actually got shipped today. I was wondering which brand/model AES/EBU cables you were using during your review because you seemed to like them so much.

Regards,

Burbid

 

Burbid,

I'm sure you'll enjoy them. It really broke my heart to send them back but I just couldn't swinfg them at the time. If I remember right, I used one of their MEXCEL AES-EBU cables which they supplied.

Dr. Bill Gaw

June / July 2009

HI Phil,

I was impressed with your recent review of the Cary CD player and integrated amp, so I thought I'd ask for your thoughts on some starting points for my particular situation. I'm re-building a stereo system after a lightning strike. It actually did me a favor; it got me off my backside and finally got me to do something about some very old equipment. I'm looking for recommendations for separates or an integrated amp. Here are my vital statistics:

1) I have a pair of Focal 826 V speakers.
2) I have a Rotel RCD 1520 CD player, although this might change.
3) I listen to classical, jazz, rock, metal... anything but country.
4) I like the sound of this stuff. As you can tell, it probably seems a tad bright to most people, but I've lost some high-end hearing and this sounds quite clear, airy, and detailed to me in the high ends and mids. I hear stuff with these components that I don't on other speakers.
5) Problem is that the bass can get "boomy" at times. I don't need a lot of bass. And when this stuff gets to the low bass range, the boom catches all your attention. I'm running a Moon integrated right now; it's tightened up the bass really well, but i'm looking for something to tune the bass down and make it a bit more musical. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Steve

 

Hi Steve,

The Rotel is quite a strong performer, using Wolfson DACs and while you can easily improve upon it, it should do quite well in the bass. The Cary Integrated amp may do a very good job for you here, as will the Moon and a number of others (Creek, Arcam, YBA etc). But I think that is not the only thing you have to look at, nor even the most important. I would suggest you look instead at where you have positioned your speakers, and the amount that you have angled them in towards the listener. You may need to bring them further away from the corners of your room, or improve the quality of the cable you are using to connect them and the interconnect cable in your system or the power cables to your electronic components to get the desired effect.

I would start by making a series of adjustments to the speaker locations, and write down the results of your experiments. When you have optimized these things, then it may be time to consider upgraded components.

Enjoy The Music,

Phil Gold

June / July 2009

Dear Enjoy the Music.com,

Firstly thank you for publishing my article of 1997 originally in Electronics World concerning overcoming deficiencies of SPDIF. I have recently found the combination of a Type 1 DBX dynamic range enhancer DBX 150x and a Hard Disk Recorder Yamaha CDR HD1500 when recording CD's dramatically improves the presentation, to the level of making the CD player where the sound had been recorded from - sound fairly poor.

How is this achieved well if you DBX compress sound -the recording medium is relieved from processing peaks. Listening to the compressed sound which is a bit strange you can hear everything that is in that recording including recording engineers creating finishing the track with a click - this level of detail suddenly appearing is certainly interesting but fairly pointless as when the sound is then expanded on playback that detail disappears I suppose it is assuring to know that in a compressed state everything in the recording is being transferred.

Now upon playback what improves, to my ears stereo balance is now perfect and bass is much better, dynamic range being the purpose of the DBX too is of course improved. Some listening tests using Martin Logan Request Electrostatics being powered by Quad 909 for panels and 405 for bass with Jeff Becks album Who Else... well it was almost too much, there was so much going on. Quieter material like Vangelis Conquest of Paradise opened up that recording. Now switching back to just the CD that the sound was recorded from made that source nearly unlistenable. With lesser equipment being improved by DBX rerecording, the improvements are just as obvious.

My feeling is that this is so much of an improvement that DBX need to build the 150x again - maybe improve the OpAmps to opa627 or AD825 and combine that effort with Yamaha and other Hard Disk Recorder manufacturers to release a DBX Hard Disk combination aimed at preserving and easily accessing large CD collections.

I hope this is of interest to your readers.

Chris Daly

 

Chris,

Thanks and yes I have tried expanders and whatnot over the years. The problem is, of course at its core, the compression (generally) used during mastering. They average out the dynamics. If you have tried one of the new audio software programs that can expand the dynamics, you may be amazed at their capabilities. Am not diminishing the use of a DBX box, though with the DBX you are also adding quite a bit of distortion-causing parts/electronics that handle the analog information where as staying pure digitally you are simply altering the digital data's volume 'flags' as it were and expanding them.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

Hi Steven,

Yes I am showing my age a bit discussing age old tape techniques such as DBX. I would be very surprised if Software Plug-ins could do what a 150x does. A read of a DBX Manual explains their intention with audio and how DBX works. The best CD player you can find will sound pretty poor compared to the DBX enhanced recording - ironically recorded from the same CD player. Unlike many digital effects this is not an effect. Unlike plug-ins the sound is not altered rather it is being allowed to be heard. At the core of Yamahas CDR HD1500 recording is a WAV file. But getting tied up in Oggs MP3's WAVs AAC etc is missing the point. The point is that a Type 1 DBX compander ( compressor expander ) is the best device to allow CD's to be heard. 

There is the next step for you to try this, it will be instantly apparent that this is a major step forward using old shoes for anybody enjoying music.

Regards,

Chris Daly

 

Chris,

Thanks for your e-mail. As I understand it, nowadays many people use plug-ins for various software to achieve the same thing. Once the files are pure digital.... Of course all analog guys could use a good dynamic expander if they choose to stay analog.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June / July 2009

Steven,

I have a McIntosh MC2125 power amplifier and a Dynaco Pat 4 preamplifier, I would like to purchase a pair of AKG K701 Headphones, would you know if it is necessary to purchase a headphone power amp as well or would the MAC or Dynaco be just as good?

Appreciate any feedback. and kind regards,

Paul Shields

 

Hi Paul,

I believe each unit has a headphone output and yes you can use it. The McIntosh should be especially nice, so you do not need a headphone amplifier. As for something more dedicated being 'better', it may be or may not be. Depends on the quality of the dedicated headphone unit you choose.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

June / July 2009

Bill,

If you are able, could I get your thoughts on my spon to arrive Oppo  Blu-ray player? First off, great review on enjoy the music. I plan to primarily use the player for 2 channel listening. I plan to use the variable output of the Oppo directly into my two channel amp. Given that do you have advise on the best Oppo configuration?

Many thanks,

Andrew Latham

 

Andrew,

Use the two channel analog outputs rather than the multi-channel. It has a better D/A converter and plenty of output voltage to drive your amplifiers straight in. Try not to use too much volume control with the OPPO as it is digital and may decrease the resolution. Also make sure to set the audio setup for two channel output and the speakers as large. Also make sure you turn off the video output.

Dr. Bill Gaw

 

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