Letters To Us
Enjoy the Music.com™ Staff,
Another fine effort. You deserve a break.... I'll drink a toast to you, and continue to enjoy the music.
In the past year, I have discontinued my subscriptions with Stereophile and
The Absolute Sound because your magazine was all that I needed. You can imaging my dismay in finding out that
Listener has closed it's doors.
Will Listener be starting back up under different owners? If not, will the contributing editors and writers be starting up under new guise? Please let me know how I can find them.
Alas, it saddens me to report Listener is no longer. You can
read more about this in our recent, exclusive interview with Listener's
previous owner and editor Art Dudley by clicking
here. Wish the news was more upbeat my friend.
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Hi Mr. Donnelly,
I just read your review of the new Aria amps, a pair of which I am considering. I currently have Pass 600 monos driving Avalon Osiris speakers, which present a very difficult load. They are a 4 ohm, 86 Db speaker, but the impedance
varies drastically. Avalon suggests up to 1000 watts a side. I like the Pass's but they sound kind of "thin" in the midranges. Other amps that I plan to try are Bob
Crump's new JC-1's, monoblock Plinius 250's and possibly Clayton M2000's. Halcros and Boulders are way out of my league. I read with particular interest the part of your article where you felt that the Aria's drove your difficult speakers without a problem. If you get a chance, I would really appreciate any further insights that you could give me regarding the Arias. If you can't or feel that you would be compromising yourself in any way, I understand and will still continue to enjoy your excellent writing.
I'm afraid that I can't give you very specific advice, as I have no personal experience with the Plinius, Clayton or Pass amplifiers, and I am just beginning to listen to the JC-1's for a future review. (Initially, they are quite impressive.) It does sound as if the ability to fine-tune the tonality of your system with the input tubes of the Arias might be of interest to you. I suggest you talk to Michael Elliott about how his amplifiers handle very wicked impedance shifts. I'm sure he'll give you a straight answer. a good luck in your search.
I love your reviews!
Are you planning to do any Mark Levinson gear (specifically the #336 and #390S)?
Plans are being, or have been made. Stay tuned!
Enjoy the Music,
Steven. R. Rochlin
A. Colin Flood,
I am considering the Pass X250 & X-1 or the Simaudio W5 7 P5 to power my Aerial 10t speakers. Any thoughts as to which would make the best match?
If the Aeriel 10T is anything like the newer 20T model, then it should be a serious contender for one of the best cone loudspeakers you can listen to, since it has a admirably flat frequency response, within 2-dB, and above average sensitivity (90-dB/w/m). Impedance however is only a nominal 4-ohms, with the 20T model admitting to dips below 3-ohms. In my mind, this means that the greater impedance control of superior solid-state amplification is required to add slower decay and better mid and lower bass tone and definition. In this regard, incredibly powerful, yet refined amplifiers like the awesome Pass X250 or the well-regarded Simaudio are required in order to get speakers like the Aerial to open up and sound clear and solid.
So yes, I do think either one would be a good match. I have not heard the
Simaudio, but I thought the silver Pass block is a massive and potent monster amplifier that does almost everything well. At that price range and capability, it is hard for me to believe that any other amplifier would have material differences compared to the Pass amplifier. Some minor tonal nuances, perhaps, but nothing that added up to a significant advantage. If they are both equal, I would have to give the nod to the one with the name brand recognition and therefore, probably higher resale value. Besides it is hard to beat the Pass Labs’ polished good looks and muscle.
I do have to point out however, the incredibly shrinking rate of return for loudspeaker performance as their price climbs into the five and even six digit areas. Loudspeakers are the only bargain in audio - they are where you get the most bang for your buck. If the amplifier is the heart of the music and movie reproduction system, then the speakers are the voice. More than any other component in the chain, the loudspeakers determine how your system will sound. Therefore, I must tell you the
are great moderate-price loudspeakers with most of the high-end qualities that many tweaking audiophiles seek from cone loudspeakers. They have a noticeably smooth midrange, deep bass reach and extended high-end. They are a good match for front-end equipment costing two or three times their price.
I read your review on the Audiomat
Prelude. What is your opinion now, as time as lapsed? And, do you have any opinions on the Solfege model?
Thanks for your query.
My opinion of the Prélude is every bit as positive now as it was when I wrote the review. I cannot begin to tell you how often I still think to myself as I start listening, "What a pleasure this amp is! I am so glad I bought this amplifier! [or words to that effect]"
The accuracy and musicality of the amplifier are still outstanding. Not that I have never heard better amplifiers, because I have. However, they have been pre-amp and amplifier combinations, such as the Sira pre-amp and the Wavelength Duetto which Ian White had for some time. In that case, combining Gord Rankin's lovely 300B power amplifier plus the exquisite Sira pre-amplifier (all 18 tubes of it) provided gorgeous sound, but at a cost about 2 or 3 times as great as what the Prélude sells for.
As far as the Solfège goes, it could be the greatest or the worst buy you could ever make. Unless you are using an excellent source and the right kind of cables, you could detest it. It is a superbly accurate and powerful amplifier, which qualities make it very demanding of excellent input. It is also, in its accuracy, a relatively "forward" sounding piece of gear. Thus, although I have not lived with the Solfège, I believe that if you use it in a system in which it enhances the synergy of the other components, it can be the greatest amplifier buy you could make. For example, a very good CD drive such as that in the Vecteur L-4 player or a CEC; an excellent DAC, such as one of the high-end Audiomats, the Tempo 2.5 or Maestro.
If, on the other hand, the synergy is not right for it, you then can show off your expensive French boat anchor to your friends because you will find listening to it an irritating experience, further embittering you with the frustration of either changing your system (sell it off, replace components, try different cables, re-arrange listening room) or selling the Solfège and replacing it with the Prélude Référence.
Replace it with the Prélude? Yes -- the Prélude offers the best of both worlds: it is demanding, but does not add the edge of sonic pain of which the Solfège is capable. It is very musical, but does not achieve this quality by short-changing you for speed, slam and accuracy.
I hope some of what I have written helps. Now I get to ask the question: why do you ask? Are you contemplating purchasing either amplifier? If you are, and if you do, you will appreciate the build quality, the neutrality and musicality of which the Audiomat amplifiers are capable.
Make no mistake, the Solfège Référence can create a magic you will not soon forget. So will the Prélude Référence, but with less power, and less of all the good things which the Solfège can offer. If you are deciding between one or the other, you have a happy dilemma. Please let me know the outcome of your investigations.
Today I have been told by Mr. Ennemoser, that you have been experiencing with alternative Harmonix room tuning devices. I just
finished to read your article in the web and feel to tell you about my own experiences.
First, I agree with you, that any devices pointed at the proper wall- and ceiling-points have an
harmonizing effect in any room not to large. But you certainly can't use those pads you are suggesting in your article! This is why the pads not only
harmonize, but also give their own tune back to the room.
A year ago I tried it first with the pads you suggested... of course the effect is quite positive, but then I replaced them with coins (1 Deutsche Mark with some thin felt to cover). Later on I realized, that even the manner of sticking them to the wall is important - the best is in fact some double-sided tape. As you know, we got the Euro this January. I tried this coins (50 cent a piece) which meant a dramatically improvement in any way... and all without any layer of felt! Try this and handle them with C37 and you will understand all of a sudden what I am trying to talk about....
But most important. When using any room tuning devices you must not leave the half way line in any direction (except the corners of course)!! If you do so,it is true that the sound will grow clearer and clearer. But you are not listening to music anymore for it is like
bondage, without any freedom. So stay in the lines, which cross the middle of each wall and the ceiling. What you can do is to check how many pads might be in one row. But the pad in the middle has not to be moved! According to my
experience in my room (7meters X 4meters) the best is 3 coins in the short line and either 7 or 9 coins in the 7 meter-line. The more coins, the less free the sound will sound.
Sorry about my poor English and that I can't be more detailed right now. If you have any questions, please contact me. However, the most important is to follow the advices I made above. Then you not only
harmonize the room in a certain way, but you will get the Sound-Theater the Harmonix people promise on their website...
First of all congratulations on your website. It is extremely informative and quite up to date!
I was browsing your Hi-Fi Show & AV Expo 2002 coverage and saw the new Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor. You mention a 8 inch midrange/woofer, but it seems more like a 5.5 or 6 inch unit. Are you sure it's 8"? Also, I was expecting on a new SF centre speaker for the Cremona range (as well as the monitor on display). Was there any mention on this new unit?
Thank you for your attention, I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
I just read your review of the Audio Aero Capitole II with keen interest because I had just finished auditioning the same, current unit myself and left with a very mixed bag of emotions. I have read nothing but unanimous praise for the unit until now and was eager to read a review that seemed to echo my own experience, so I know I'm not just crazy! I ran the thing direct into my ultra-neutral tube amp, which is about as honest and clear a set up as I've heard. These amps really have virtually no "sound" of their own, and what you hear is almost 100% the contribution of upstream components.
So I was wondering what you think of my final synopsis: After the initial seduction I experienced from the amazing smoothness and "gentleness" of the unit, I came to feel I was listening to some very intense digital trickery. Sort of like a "digital simulation of analogue" if you will. In particular, the effect was very similar to looking at a photograph that had been overly airbrushed and smoothed out. If you've ever seen before and after photo's after being digitally airbrushed out in Adobe Photo Shop (the workhorse of the graphic arts industry) you'll know what I mean. On old analogue re-mastered cd's that were pretty "tizzy" sounding on other players, they really sounded so much smoother and "polished" through the Capitole II. But on already smooth, clean recordings, I really felt like there was some significant "texture" missing from the tone of instruments.
I heard what seemed to be some pretty heavy work-over of the 10-20K region of audio in particular and I'm very sure, much lower into audio as well. I play classical guitar and a good friend of mine plays violin. He was the first to notice something wrong with the violins in recordings he knew very well. Again it was just that they were somehow too stripped clean of normal bow noise, etc. Things that you could imagine a computer mistaking for noise, but in this case, musically relevant noise. Same for me with older classical guitar recordings, I was not hearing enough of normal finger scraping sounds on strings etc. All those things were somehow evaporated along with, in fairness to AA, a lot of legitimate true noise too.
So that leaves me wondering more about the technology of this unit. I'm trying to get a deeper understanding of the pro's and con's of up-sampling, over-sampling, stacking DAC chips in multiples, etc. But if this did some pretty intense interpolation and simply wrote in too much presumed information that wasn't really in the recording to begin with (as opposed to "revealing" it as they claim) that could explain my sensation of hearing more of a very high quality "computer simulation" of the original recording through it rather than the original music that I knew. Basically, the pervasive smoothness of the player had a major downside for me, because that also meant I just couldn't get any "bite" out of any of my recordings that
should have had bite.
The one that did it for me was Hendrix Blues and as a former Stratocaster into Marshall amp player from my rock days, I am very familiar with one track in particular which on any other player into my rig, gives you a vivid portrayal of that mean "wall of nails" vintage Marshall guitar amp sound. Through the
Capitole, however, all that immediate crunch and in your face edge that WAS well captured in the recording was way too softened and far away sounding. Once I heard that, I knew for sure that smoothing and softening had been taken way too far to an extreme for my taste and that left me unable to connect emotionally with the music I heard. On more refined delicate music, I just found that ambience and subtle human touches had been removed along with noise. I suppose I can imagine how this player could maintain its charm on a really grainy, edgy sounding system however.
I'm tired of seeing so many expensive pieces of gear with serious issues get glossed over in reviews, thus the reason I really respected your review.
You are a very interesting critic of this unit. I did not hear everything you describe but expect that if I had the unit back here again, I might. I am a serious and attentive listener but at this stage, still a relatively amateur one. I don't hear everything! Yes, there is something funny going on here and yes, I believe it has to do with the processing. I am generally suspicious of this kind of thing, though I try to keep my mind open, and as I said in the review, apparently it has been done right in the (expensive) dCS gear. Perhaps doing it absolutely right is expensive. I have heard some folks describe the dCS gear as a little ultra-smooth too though, come to think of it. I am used to a very straightforward cdp, the Naim, and so while I can have my head turned by something more ambitious, in the long run I tend to see behind the curtain, though not as clearly as you seem to have.
Very much appreciate your note!
I was very impressed by your article you wrote on B&W's Nautilus 800 series
loudspeaker. I just happened upon your review while doing a search and thought you did a terrific job of critiquing it. Do you have other articles or a website where you post other reviews of yours? I found it very informative and educational compared to other reviews I have read....
While reading your article it seemed that their was no changes between the Signature series and the Nautilus series except for the finish on the loudspeakers. Has B&W changed the tweeter in the Signature N800 and N805 series lately to be different than the Nautilus series...?
Thanks for your kind remarks. I don’t have my own website right now. I write for
Hi-fi News, Hi Fi Choice, Home Cinema Choice and What Video in the UK, among others, and write a regular column for
The Star in Malaysia. All have their own websites, where my copy can often be found.
The Nautilus and Signature 800 are indeed one and the same apart from finish and price, but the midrange driver has been updated in the 800 from the 802, and the enclosure are only similar in basic configuration. I would agree that they are in a different performance ballpark altogether; it is not just a matter of the 800 having a deeper bass. By contrast, the Nautilus 805 and Signature 805 are quite different speakers, as different in their way as the N802 and the N800. In particular, the Signature 805 tweeter and the one in both 800 speakers are changed in detail design, and sound a great deal better than the others, which look almost identical. I would agree that it is B&W’s first truly transparent tweeter. With the editor’s permission, I will be writing about the Signature 805 in the not too distant future.
Thanks for the articles on HTPC's. I have been doing lot's of research in the last few months over what components to choose from etc. As an experiment I once plugged my laptop into my direct view HDTV as it has a VGA socket. Playing Crouching Tiger.. I was impressed how natural trees and plants looked and started to think about
When I first got into High Def. TV I used my computer monitor and Boy! was I stunned by the picture quality as I forgot that most monitors are of a higher quality than standard TV's. The biggest decision is whether to buy a name brand PC for $800 and modify, e.g., Dell, or buy the parts and put it together yourself or go to companies such as Falcon Northwest and Voodoo PC who make great game PC's that would be the basis for excellent
Looking at the parts cost and time needed to put things together, I will probably go to Falcon or Voodoo and then modify. When I think of the money I have spent on IBM laptops in the last ten years I am looking forward to saving money! What has really spurred me on is the new Immersive PCI card that has SDI digital video and Component inputs that link through to the graphic card for scaling. So one has the choice of using the internal DVD player or an external SDI source through to the digital video output of the graphics card and then to a digital input on the monitor.
Other parts I will use will be as follows:
HiPix HDTV card so that I can record HDTV, particularly the PBS feeds.
GeoForce 4600 graphics card
ThearterTek DVD software
...and the various software scalers
Immersive sell a modified Panasonic DVD player with a SDI digital video out for about $600 which I think is worth taking the risk.
Spending anywhere between $1000 and $3000 will get a system that would cost at least five times these amounts if one when for separate components.
Keep up the great work!
Dear Mr. Neill,
Thanks for your engaging and very well written review of the Harbeth Monitor
40. I will look forward to reading more reviews from you in the future.
Concerning your editorial Are We Living Or Just
Existing?", so very true, these are the things what we have been pondering on for quite some time. I especially liked the toy train example. So very true.
What's the story on the demise of Listener magazine? I have not heard any news of this except in your letters to the editor. I have a
three year subscription with two years left. Does Art Dudley send any correspondence to his
subscribers as to this fact? Or is this premature conjecture? Just curious if I have to eat the subscription. That magazine was pretty decent. Thanks, and if you know anything...
PS: Your Review Magazine is excellent.
Thanks for your e-mail and glad you "Enjoy the Music". As for Listener magazine, we have just published an interview with Art
that can be seen by clicking
here. Hope this helps and we are all sorry to see Listener cease publication.
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
Great review of the Audio Aero Capitole MKII, you nailed it's spacial qualities (check my review on AA). I only wish you had held off until after the 500 hour mark as this is when the player gells together and becomes a whole. It's all a matter of personal taste but I love the feeling of being there and play more live discs and Living Stereos than ever before. Try One Fair Summer Evening
(Nanci Griffiths) or Live 88 (Shawn Colvin) and you will know. I run it direct into 845SET monoblocks, a preamp compressing the scale of the music in my system. I'm sure you've got room for both the Naim and Audio Aero in your system for when you want to please your head or your heart.
Thanks to all at Enjoy The Music.
cheers Barry Black
Thanks for your note. Life to too short to have to wait 500 hours for a component to "gel together" unless you own it. If it takes that long, the manufacturer or importer should deal with it if he wants a reviewer to truly hear the product. That said, I have compared notes with several trusted ears who have listened to their Cap II's for a long time and their impressions pretty much matched mine. I have sent the unit on to
Positive Feedback from whom the next review of it will be forthcoming.
Thanks for the article on DVD-A. It really explains things well for the average consumer I think. Unfortunately, you did not touch on something that is of interest to a small niche of us that have already started making our own recordings at 24/96. Field recorders of live music, and musicians recording their own material. We need affordable "gapless" DVD-A Authouring software. Any suggestions?
Thanks for your e-mail. I really don't have any experience currently with making home-made DVD-Audio discs but I do agree that it's an exciting proposition. DVD-R burners are getting cheap and blanks are now available for under a buck a piece in volume. In fact, I think that this issue alone gives DVD-A a huge leg up over SACD in format acceptance factor.
I do recall seeing a recent press release from Minnetonka about their new basic $495 DVD-A mastering software, but I have no idea if it's "gapless." The press release can be found
This is probably something you already knew about, but if not, then I hope it helps. I think it's just a matter of time before DVD-A mastering software gets better and cheaper as the format starts to pick up steam and "pro-sumers" like you make their demands heard.
Enjoy the music!
After reading your report I've decided that I was entirely correct in my assessment of DVD-A. You do have to have 5 channel analog inputs to listen to DVD-A in its high quality form. Why would anybody buy a DVD-A if they were only going to listen to the less than 5% of the disc that contained the DD mix? Nothing that you mentioned in your report came as a surprise; nothing persuades me that I should buy into DVD-A.
Now here's a question: What is the maximum running time of a DVD-A disc that contains both the DD mix and a stereo-only mix?
Thanks for the note. I'm not here to persuade, just to enlighten. Whether you decide to buy DVD-A discs for yourself is entirely up to you.
Why would anyone pay for a DVD-A simply to listen to a Dolby Digital surround track? Well, simply put, because Dolby Digital is probably good enough for a lot of people. Not for you and me, perhaps, but what about those crazy folks who rave about the quality of MP3 audio files?
Plus all of the video material and extras are still accessible *and* they won't need to upgrade their equipment if they already have a DVD player and a Dolby Digital receiver. Not all music fans are audiophiles. In fact many of my most rabid music fan friends have very inexpensive systems - they spend their money on the music!
Higher audio and video quality wasn't the only reason that DVD-Video sounded the death knell for laserdisc and video tape. Three words: extras, extras, extras! People want MORE for their entertainment buck and that's what they can get with DVD-Audio if it's done well. Plus let's not forget that folks who actually DO just want the higher quality 24/96 and 24/192 options can upgrade their gear to get the most out of the format.
As for the maximum running time of a DVD-A disc that contains Dolby Digital, plus a 24/192 Stereo mix and a 6-channel 24/96 mix (encoded with MLP), this is really an open-ended question that depends on the style of music, as well as on how much supplemental video or data content is included on the disc. MLP is a variable lossless compression algorithm. It doesn't take as many bits to store solo piano music as it does to store uncompressed full-range orchestral music so maximum running times will vary, based on genre.
I can say this: a dual layer DVD-A of orchestral music that includes all of the above (Dolby Digital, Stereo(24/192) and 6-channel(24/96) could fit 85 minutes of music assuming there is little or no video content on the disc. For solo piano, you could fit over 100 minutes. This will vary considerably however if you get a nice disc full of supplemental material, such as interviews, videos, stills, lyrics, etc.
It's a trade off. For a pop album, with a running length of 40 to 50 minutes, the producers have lots of room for extras. For Wagner's "The Ring" cycle, I would think they'd pack as much high quality music onto each disc as possible and maybe go a little lighter on the supplements.
The overhead of including a Dolby Digital track on the DVD is nominal - 85 minutes of Dolby Digital music takes up only around 300 MB or 4% of the disc. It would be nuts for a label NOT to include it at the expense of making it incompatible with current players.
Anyway... I hope this helps and enjoy the music!
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