Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

August 2007

Hi Jeff,

I just read your review of the NAD L53 DVD receiver. I started the search after seeing an advertisement for the Bose 321 system. From what I have read the Bose 321 is junk compared to the NAD L53.

The NAD L53 answers the first question but I am lost on what speakers to pair up with it. I am no audiophile. I want a solid sound system for my Samsung 52 inch LCD flat panel TV. Size is kind of an issue; I'd like the speaker to fit in a 12 inch wide and 18 inch tall area. I don't really want or need a sub woofer, it can be avoided. Our use would be 90% TV and DVD and 10% CD. Any help you can provide would be very much appreciated.

Thanks,

Duane Sharpe

 

Hi Duane,

I am glad you found the review useful. I still maintain that the NAD L53 is the best value one box shot at hi fi sound and pictures out there. We use our L53 every day. As to speakers, while I don't quite believe that there is no disputing taste, there are without doubt greater differences between how different speakers sound than between how different electronic components sound.

Indeed, while Linn was famous for maintaining that it was all in the source, good speakers -- to my ears at least -- connected to a bad source sound better than bad speakers connected to a good source. Speakers are of course the end of signal path, where the rubber hits the road, and any deficiencies in the speakers cannot be ameliorated by even the best gear up the chain.

It sounds awful to say this, but I would try to buy the best speakers you can for that space and if possible and only if possible reconsider the space. (It would be shame to get the wrong speakers that fit rather than the right speakers that didn't.) And the only way you will know which speakers are the rights one for you are by either auditioning them or taking an informed leap of faith.

At the moment, I am using a pair of Role Audio speakers. Role unlike many other manufacturers have really seemed to get the balance right between domestic friendliness, sound quality and price. I also understand that the L53 was voiced using PSBs -- NAD and PSB share the same building -- and that others have had very good luck with the very good looking Totems.

Really, what you have to do is pick a few favorite music discs and audition as many speakers within your budget that you can with a good solid-state amp so as to minimize variables. The NAD has quite a stiff power supply and seems rather insensitive, so to speak, with choice of speakers.

With regard to a subwoofer, if you're not a bass head, why bother? There are far too many bad subwoofers out there for you to waste your money on an inferior one. Any money saved would be well spent on the speakers.

All the best, 

Jeff

 

August 2007

Bill Gaw,

I am thinking of buying an Esoteric SA-60 and read your review of the SA-60 in AA Chap 92, and wanted to know if you had heard the SA-60 modified by a company called Reference Audio Mods. Or if you have heard anything about this company. Are they like the companies (Parts Connection, APL, etc.) that modify the Denon 2910 and 3910. I am wondering if I should leave well enough alone with a new SA-60 and use it as is.

I love your column. Wished you lived in Tucson,

Maurice Deutsch

 

Maurice,

I wish I could answer your question, but I contacted Reference Audio Mods several months ago and asked for a modded unit to be able to make direct comparison but they were unable to fulfill this request. I guess they don't buy their own units but modify only those supplied. I can understand this as small modifiers working on tight budgets and cannot loan out multi-thousand dollar equipment for reviews especially without being sure of a good review.

I did find the mods to my Denon decks by Parts Connexion were cost efficient, but they are a different company. If you go ahead and do this, I'd be happy to use your unit for review purposes.

Bill

 

August 2007

Hi Nels,

I re-read your review on the TVC SE since I ordered mine last week. I ordered the Reference version (dual mono). I read somewhere that the TVC can be used "even" in conjunction with an active preamp. Did you get around to do that? I wonder what the results would be (sound-wise)? The AC thread I had been following on and off, but I'm afraid I may have missed a lot of comments. One of these days, I may just go down the entire list. I may even get around to listen to Rollo's 2-box contraption.

Thanks,

Shek

 

Hi Shek,

Thanks for you email. Promitheus Audio manufactures an optional gain stage that can be used in conjunction with the TVC for those systems that benefit from additional gain. Some systems can sound wonderful with the TVC alone, while others will lack punch or rhythmic drive. These are the systems that will benefit from the use of the active gain stage. Any active preamp can be used with with the TVC, but I have not tried it yet.

Some time ago, Promitheus Audio promised a sample of the gain stage as well their phono stage, but neither has arrived.

Best Regards,

Nels

 

August 2007

Hello Steven,

Craig here again.... question for you? I'm going to be adding a Phono Stage to the SAP Anniversary integrated amp. Suggestions on one that would compliment it? I won't be able to afford the projected $5K for the S.A.P. stand alone unit. trying to keep the expense under the $3500.00 mark (new) used??? not sure. Just looking for a phono that will mate well sonically SS or Tube.

Cheers,

Craig Gaglia

 

Craig,

For solid-state, the Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline XR-10B MM/MC Phonostage should would work well. Hard to find them used, though well worth the extra money in your budget. Also try the better phonostages from Lehmann Audio, a used Manley Labs Steelhead or the like. Check our archives section for analog and read the various reviews.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

August 2007

Hi Mr. Gaw,

I was wondering how much you'd charge to build me a set or two of the Flat DIY cables? Now I could probably do part of it, but being blind I don't think I could do the varnishing maybe the heatshrinking, and maybe the soldering, but I'd rather leave the building to someone who knows how to build these cables.

Regards,

Ray Bronk

 

Ray,

Sorry, but I really don't have the time or energy. On the other hand, if you go up to the VacuumState site, they have pre-built cables at a reasonable cost and the workmanship is probably far superior to what I could do.

Bill Gaw

 

August 2007

Hi Steven,

I may purchase a pair of Galante Audio Buckinghams. What good single ended amplification have you heard with these speakers? Do you still have your Buckinghams?

 

Dre,

Thanks for your e-mail and wow, what a great find! Returned the review samples long ago and the best single-ended tube amplifier i used with them were the Wavelength Audio Cardinal monoblocks. Great amplifier, well made, and above all excellent sound quality.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin,

 

August 2007

Hi Bill,

I enjoyed your review of the APC H15 (S15) power conditioner. Do you still feel as strongly today about the unit as you did nearly a year ago? I just purchased one and am afraid that it seems to have added a bit of harshness and cluttering at the high end of the spectrum. Does this unit require any "break-in" period? Also, I have the APC plugged into a PS Audio high current ultimate outlet as opposed to straight into the wall. This shouldn't make much, if any, difference. My power cord lengths dictate the insertion of the UO. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you!

John King

 

John,

I am still using two of the units. They do need a significant break in time as with all complex components. Give it at least 100 to 200 hours before making comparisons. What it may also be doing is unmasking something in your system that was being hidden by the electric grunge. You may also try replacing the power cord shipped with the unit with a high end high amperage cord. Let me know your results for publication.

Bill

 

August 2007

Ron,

Thank you for your review of the Mini Strata speakers. Any opinion as to how the Stratas compare to the Onix Reference 3 speakers?

Thanks,

John Krstich

 

Dear Mr. Krstich,

I would like to remind you that I praised the Strata Mini speakers because I believe they broke new ground on a price performance basis. Let me say upfront that I have not listened to the Ref 3 this is a newer product. This is a speaker that cost's an additional $1,500 Dollars so the question is do you get that back with better performance, more believable music, I don't know but remember the law of diminishing returns. I have faith however that AV123 is the place to look for cost effective audio....

Ron Nagle

August 2007

Hi,

I must tell you how glad i am with your publication... Your website however feels to me the most "objective" to me...I discovered Altmann, Welborne labs, Steve Deckert and other jewels via your website and enjoy reading it.

My regards,

Kyrill Goosseff

 

Kyrill,

A most humble thanks for your e-mail. All of us at the magazine work really hard. Of course in the end what really maters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

August 2007

Hello,

I am in the market to upgrade my system; however I am unsure what to buy. There must be millions of combinations and choices and itís simply confusing. What should be an exciting time for me is becoming stressful, as I am afraid of buying the wrong item and getting buyers remorse when I hear something else better. I highly regard Enjoy the Music.com for your unbiased reviews, and although reviews do come down the reviewers personal preference, I do trust the experience of the reviewers on hand and Enjoy The Music.com.

Anyway, I have a budget of about $8000AU (about $6500US). I currently have:
NAD 753 Receiver
NAD 542 CD
Monitor Audio B4 Front Floor Stand
Monitor Audio B1 Rears
Monitor Audio Centre
Amber Sub

The system is ok; however it does have lots of hum in between tracks when the volume is at a moderate level. The speakers do not have enough bass, which is why I need to back em up with the Amber Sub. I also have fount the that I donít use the surround sound as much as I thought I would so I am looking to stick with two channels this time. This will give me a bigger budget as I need less speakers, cables and connectors. I am looking for a system to give me this high end sound that I hear every one talk about. I have heard this sound before but not on my system.

I am looking for a:
New Amp, integrated or split up, I donít mind.
New CD player or Transport and DAC
New front Floor Standing Speakers, capable of giving me bass without the need for a sub.

I want this all for $8000AU and I want to be able hear a BIG improvement on my current system. I donít want to be sitting there thinking is it or isnít it better. I want to put on the first CD and go wow thatís better, thatís were the extra cash went. Is this possible or do I have my head in the clouds?

Oh and by the way it has to look nice and modern too. Not to keen on big black boxes with no character, on the flip side, not to keen on bells and whistles either. I donít really like it when my system has flashy lights and welcomes me with ďhave a nice dayĒ. Bit tacky I think.

Thanks in advance,

Michael Smedley

 

Michael,

Wow, so many questions! Frankly, it is impossible for me to give specifics other than to say get out there and visit various local stores. Bring your favorite music discs and carefully listen to various combinations. Am sure your local stores would be happy to help you find a system that meets your needs. As you said, there are literally millions of combinations and if there was a single known good combination then everyone would have it. Fortunately there are many great pieces of audio gear and everyone has a preference, too. Therefore you really need to get out there and find what suits your personal needs the best. Enjoy the journey and never worry about hearing something better after your purchase your system, as there will always be something better out there for more money or as technology develops. My basic advice would be to invest in the best loudspeakers you can, as they make the largest difference in a system and hoe it interacts within your listening room. Happy listening and as always...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

August 2007

Hello Steven Stone,

As you were kind enough to consult with me over a period of a couple of months as I assembled my nearfield system, I thought it only right to take a moment to write and tell you how it all turned out, now that I've been listening to the finished (for now, of course) system for about a month.

1. Here's where I came out in equipment:
Bel Canto 300i integrated amp/preamp
Reference 3a Dulcets
Earthquake Model 10 sub
Audioquest Gibralter bi-wired speaker cable
DreamstateVerdical power cord to the Bel Canto
Exclusive Source: SlimDevices Transporter, currently feeding approximately 600 CD's in Apple Lossless format
Audio Magic power cord to the Transporter

Comment: Though I find the Transporter not quite up to the "big" system I run downstairs, it's a great choice on my desktop for this system. Not only does it sound great as long as I'm not doing an A-B test with a stand-alond CD player on the big system, it's just wonderful to have the computer in front of me at my desk, with my browser open and one tab devoted to the Transporter's music library (which is draws from iTunes). I can hop around at will, without hauling CD's up and downstairs and I love the instant jukebox effect. 2. So how does it sound? Well, it's .....GREAT!! I'm having so much fun and musical satisfaction with it, I can't get any work done in my home office!

It took a little trial and error to get the sub balance right, but when I got there it was - bam! That was it and away we go. Honestly, I think the music is so well articulated throughout the tonal range - and so involving - that I'm discovering new things in music I've heard many times before. And considering the whole system cost about a sixth of what I spent on the system downstairs, it's an amazing bargain. Since I started with just the Transporter, Bel Canto and the Dulcets, I was able to easily hear the contribution of each subsequent item. All were great contributors, including the cables and power cords, as seems always to be the case (though I can never mention this to non-addict friends for fear of either being burned at the stake or laughed out of town).

I will say that as great as the Dulcets are, they just don't ultimately cut it without the sub-woofer. This is something I didn't really get from your review. When I added the Earthquake, it was as though the whole anchor system fell into place. "OH". Yes, ahem. There's the rest of the music. I did, however, find an astonishing bargain online and got the sub for less than $400, so no complaints about the speaker system, all in all (or anything else, for that matter).

The Bel Canto also turned out to be a perfect match to the system, even though it's my first integrated since I got started in stereo equipment more than 20 years ago and I was pretty dubious about it going in. I also found both the Dulcets and the BelCanto in near mint condition on Audiogon at great bargain prices. Everything else was purchased new. One suggestion you might try: I found a hugely beneficial effect when I put the Dulcets on a set of Finite Element Cerepucs (not Cereballs, which I tried and don't cut it). Marvelous improvement in cohesion. You can try them at Elusive Disc and places like that. They're not cheap, but this system isn't either.

I'm not a professional reviewer, and after all, you've already got this stuff, but my main point in writing is to simply tell you how very much I'm enjoying having this system. It's honestly adding a new dimension to the music in my life, by giving me another time and place to access the high end experience, and that's really saying something. As you noted in your intro to the series you wrote on the nearfield, I was just looking for a decent set of desktop speakers when I began, and now I've got all this. I especially appreciate you taking the time to coach me through a few confusing spots along the way. What a cool idea, and a great series of fascinating articles. Most important, a great outcome I look forward to enjoying for many years.

Thanks for all of it and kind regards,

Jeff Mandell

 

Hello Jeff,

Because some subs have funky wiring from their high level inputs. The Earthquake is wired correctly.

Steven Stone

 

August 2007

Bill,

I appreciated your article in Enjoy the Music reporting on your test of the XM-44 crossover. I am building Dick Olsher's BassZilla using his latest recommendations -- Tonian modified Ribbon Tweeter with my Lowther PM2A as a midrange and the 15 inch woofer. I plan to use my 2A3 SET amp for the mid and tweeter and a B&K solid state power amp for the woofer. Therefore I need to get an two-way active crossover that I plan to have set for 250Hz/6dB per octave for the High Pass to go through my 2A3 SET amp to drive the upper frequencies and the Low Pass driving the woofer through my solid state amp set at 250Hz/18dB. At least these are the cut offs that Dick arrived at as sounding the best for this speaker system. He used the Marchand tube XM 26 crossover.

My question is: Will the XM 26 really be worth the extra cost over the solid state XM-44 crossover for my system? Both seem to be top quality. But using my tubed SET for the mid and high drivers, do I also need the tube crossover? Or would the XM-44 give me top quality sound as well? I value your experience in this matter. You state in your review, "While the 44dB did not have quit the tube magic that the 26dB does, I actually preferred its more open and clean sound." Would you recommend the XM-44 as the better choice for my system as described.

Thanks, 

Larry Roth

 

Larry,

It may sound flippant, but only you can determine whether it would be worth the extra cost to go with the XM-26 rather than the XM-44 crossover. There is indeed a large price difference and they do, from my recollection from way back then sound very similar. See if you can get Marchand to send you a used one of each to try before you buy. After all he is selling directly so should be amenable to allowing a trial of the units.

Bill

 

August 2007

Hi Steven,

Totally agree with your article "Using Your Senses" in the May 2007 edition - that music enjoyment should also be coupled with the way we listen to it, esp in the comforts of our listening room. As a budget audiophile, the furniture (most cost at least US$1000) that you have mentioned is however, out of reach for me.

Perhaps we can add to that, a budget/best-buy section and the winner, in my opinion, is the Poang armchair from Ikea costing US$99.99. Add to that a $60.99 Poang footstool and we are talking an excellent listening chair for less than US$161. And they are comfortable, really!

Sincerely,

Wei-Kwan Ng

 

Wei-Kwan Ng,

Thanks for your e-mail and yes the Ikea chairs are indeed comfortable, i have two of them with foot rest in my home! For serious listening though, I generally prefer chairs that do not cover the back of my ears.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

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