Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

  We always welcome letters to the magazine. Letter from you can be seen at the lower part of this page. Please share in your wisdom, ask questions to us, and compliment our work if you so choose. We are all here to help you. Simply clicking here to send us your e-mail. Alas, only a very small handful appear below as we receive many letters each day. To post them all would take a separate magazine itself! Of course what really matters to us is that you...

Enjoy the music,

Steven R. Rochlin


And now...
Your Letters To Us



Based on your review, I would think that you like the Gram Amp better than the Phonomena. Are your ratings in absolute terms or price relative? BTW I ordered a Gram Amp yesterday b/c I am in dire need (previous SS phono amp died). Thanks.

Cotie W. Jones



Thanks for the query.

My recommendations regarding the two are price-relative, insofar as the Phonomena can be adjusted for a low output cartridge, whereas the Gram is set for a higher output cartridge.

Nonetheless, the Gram Amp 2SE outperforms the far more expensive Phonomena. If you have a low output cartridge, I would still buy the Gram and just turn up the volume, even though that is not the ideal situation.

The price to quality ratio of the Gram Amp 2SE is exceptionally good. In absolute terms, the Gram Amp 2SE is a very good phono pre-amp.

I would like to hear your reactions to the 2SE after you have it broken in (always a very important step) and running.

All the best.

Neil Walker




Enjoyed your review of the Manley Snapper/Shrimp; however, it didn't really say much about the Shrimp. As an SET-user, the amp is overkill for my system. I was really more interested in how the preamp sounded. I can understand that the excitement of discovering an extraordinary EL34 amp might overwhelm other considerations, but believe there is more so say about the preamp. Could you consider a follow-up review that focuses on the Shrimp, perhaps trying it with other amps?

Thanks for your time.

Vade Forrester


Hi Vade,

Thank you for your email. A follow up on the Shrimp pre-amplifier sounds like a good idea, it is a really nice piece. I have played with the Shrimp in a few other systems and I found the exceptionally low noise floor mated very well with single ended triodes (and the horns often connected to them). The Shrimp is also very dynamic, which really helps recordings come alive and gives it the flexibility to work well in bigger powered systems. Most people do not really appreciate just how much a pre-amplifier can make or break the dynamics, transparency and soundstage of a system, and the Shrimp excelled in all these areas.

All the best;

Tony Maresch



Hi Wayne,

I found your interview of the Meadowlark Blue Herons articulate informative. I appreciate how you described performance with respect to specific types of music. I don't know how often you get mail from complete strangers. The fact that Hear-the-Music has a link to your email suggests that you may expect this kind of mail. I hope so.

I'm struggling with a decision on a speaker purchase. I know there is no substitute to critical listening to each candidate speaker. Unfortunately I'm not able to audition each speaker under controlled conditions, so I'm looking for all the analysis I can get my hands on.

I'm want to decide between:

Meadowlark Blue Herons
Von Schweikert VR-5s
Siverline Sonatas

I've heard these with different equipment in different size rooms. I can purchase any one for within $1,500 of each other so cost is not a factor. Each one sounded great when I listened to it but I haven't been able to do a side-by-side comparison.

I like articulate imaging with a deep soundstage, and neutral, life-like tonality (not much to ask for). I like piano and string solos and female vocals like Diana Krall. I'm a critical listener and I like to hear every instrument and event and have it be life-like.

Any information or insight you could give me about how these speakers can be compared and contrasted would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

John Mandeville
San Luis Obispo


Hi John,

I'm glad you enjoyed the Blue Heron review. And I certainly sympathize with your decision dilemma -- we've all been there sometime. I'm afraid that by can't give you any "definitive" answer, because I have not heard the Silverline speakers except for a few minutes in a bad room under show conditions.

Your other two candidates are both excellent loudspeakers. I believe that between those two I would favor the Blue Heron. The Von Schweikert offering that I would rate on a par with the Blue Heron is the dB-100 (you can read my review of that speaker in the
Enjoy The Music.com™ archives), which I feel is a sonic improvement on the VR-5. The dB-100($10,000/pair) and its somewhat smaller and less expensive ($7,000/pair) sibling dB-99 are optimized for use with low-power amplifiers and have active bass systems, so they represent a different design approach. 

I hope this helps. Good luck on your search, and keep enjoying the music.

Wayne Donnelly



Hi Wayne Donnelly,

I am contacting you about the VTL 5.5 preamp. I'm a rock diehard, only listen to classic rock music. I have heard the 5.5 at a dealer and liked the tonality.I can't bring one home for a demo though. Do you think this preamp is dynamic and open enough for rock music. My tube vendor ( we all know him out of california) cationed me that this pre tends to congest when the music gets busy. I've owned Audio Research LS-25 for many years but just sold it. Need a good replacement.

Thanks for your help

Bob Battino

Hi Bob,

The 5.5 tends to congest when the music gets busy? That's news to me. I played all kinds of music, busy and not so busy, while I had the 5.5, and it did a fine job on everything. In my experience, VTL equipment delivers consistently excellent dynamics and better than average bass reproduction. If you are a tube lover, I think you'll be happy with the 5.5. But I hope your dealer will at least give you a grace period so you can satisfy yourself that this is the right preamplifier for you. Good luck, and enjoy the music.



Dear Alvin Gold,

I have read your review on the Tannoy TD-12 and like it very much. I really admire your expertise on this area. Could you please let me know if you have ever reviewed the B&W Nautilus 802? I'm comparing between Tannoy TD-12 and B&W Nautilus 802 and like to have different opinions on these speakers (none of these two speakers are anywhere close to my hometown).

Thanks in advance your help,
Tim Nguyen

Dear Time Nguyen

Thanks for your e-mail. I have reviewed the Nautilus 802 in Gramophone magazine in late 1999. They should be able to supply reprints, I have referred to the model in some detail in a review I'm preparing of the Nautilus 800, which should be on the
Enjoy The Music.com™ website shortly - perhaps at the end of this month. The Tannoy TD12 is a fine loudspeaker, but altogether more characterful and system fussy than the B&W, and careful listening prior to purchase is essential in my view, even if this does involve traveling some distance. 

I hope this helps.

Alvin Gold


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