Enjoy the Music.com

Letters To Us

October 2008

Hi Rick,

I used your idea of making a sandwich of Tuneplates and Tuneblock Minis for
my Von Schweikert VR-4 Jrs. Instead of using six sandwiches (three per speaker), I used eight (four per speaker) for safety reasons. I also experienced the same gratifying results that you did. Later, I will buy more Tuneplates for under the spikes of the bass modules.

Thank you.

Paul Hnida

 

Paul,

Thanks for the feedback on the TunePlate sandwiches. The VR-4JR is worthy of being surrounded by really good equipment as I said in my review of it some years ago. You  might also want to check out my Mid-Winter Tweakfest review in the archives to fine tune your rig even further for very little money. But don't let obsession with the equipment keep you from enjoying your music.

Rick Becker

October 2008

Hi Dr. Bill Gaw,

How would you rate the Marchand XM 44 versus the Bryston 10b?

Thanks,

Steven Rowan

 

Steven,

The Marchand is an excellent tube based product, and their XM9 solid-state  unit is superb. While I've never heard the Bryston, they have an  excellent reputation for fine solid state components. Other companies to look into at considerably less cost would be the Behringer 3400 or the Rane AC 24, both excellent deals for the price but not quite in the quality range of the Bryston or Marchand units.

Bill.

October 2008

Dear Steven,

I enjoy reading Enjoy the Music.com, and try and make it a part of my internet experience at least once every week. I read your review of the Audioengine W1 wireless adapter, and purchased it some time ago. It is a nifty little device, very convenient. My question has to do with the laptop you used. Did you try to use ASIO4ALL to bypass the Windows KMixer and get the audio signal directly to the W1? Or maybe your laptop has Vista on it and does not use KMixer.

Thanks,

Ashok Gopalakrishnan

 

Hi,

Thanks for your e-mail and it is indeed a very handy device. Yes, my computer is Vista-based.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

October 2008

Hi and thanks! I really enjoy reading the different articles that Enjoy the Music.com publishes

Gilles Gagne

October 2008

Dear Mr. Gold,

I'm looking to upgrade my earbuds, and I read your review on the Shure ec4 vs. Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5pro. 
How's the Ultimate Ears with classical? My experience thus far has been, whenever reviewers boast of great bass, it works for pop music but classical music sounds blurry. Is that true of the super.fi 5pro?

Thanks,

Ed

 

Hi Ed,

I always include classical music in my listening tests. The Super.fi 5pro would get no recommendation from me if it sounded blurry on any kind of music. By the way, reviewers shouldn't boast of great bass - that's the manufacturer's job!

Enjoy the music,

Phil Gold

October 2008

Hi Nels,

Great review of the Song Towers. I've been reading a lot about the ST's and the AV123 Strata Minis. Have you ever listened to Stratas? If you did, how did the two compare?  Also, any more impressions of the STs? Can you play them @ loud levels without distortion?

Thanks,

Mike

 

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your email. Unfortunately, I have not heard the Strata Minis. They do look quite interesting. We have a quite positive review of them on Enjoy The Music.com. The SongTowers will play quite loudly, without any type pf compression or distress. Powered by a 60 watt per channel tube amp in my smallish listening room, I backed dowm before the SongTowers did. If anything, my opinion of the SongTowers is more positive now than when the review was written, I cannot imagine that anyone wouldn't be thrilled with them. They really are that good.

I hope this helps.

Nels

October 2008

Nels,

I read in your review of the Keces DAC that you use a Trends UD-10.1 to feed an Entec DAC. Have you ever tried using the DAC which is in the Trends without the Entec? How do you feel it sounds?

Thanks,

Uri Nussbaum

 

Hi Uri,

When I purchased the Trends from the U.S. importer, he told me that the Trends was designed primarily as a USB to SPDIF converter and recommended that I buy a separate DAC. I did use the Trends by itself for a week or so until the Entec arrived. The importer is right, the performance is on a completely different level using the Trends with an outboard DAC.

I hope this helps.

Nels

October 2008

Hello Nels,

I enjoyed your review of the Keces DA 131 DAC and would like to ask you a question. I would like to get a DAC that I could use to play Red Book CDs between my CDp and preamp and then use in a future music server system. My question is, I currently am using a Marantz SA 11S1 CD player I would like a DAC that has better sound from RB CDs than it does, although it is no slouch in this area. Do think that the DA 131 would out perform the Marantz or should I look for a better DAC and if so what would you recommend?

Aside from my vinyl playback, my system consists of the Marantz, Herron Audio VTSP-3 preamp, Parasound JC-1 mono amps, and Duntech Princess speakers with Vandersteen 2WQ subs. I am a violinist and listen 99 percent to classical music. I would appreciate your opinion on this situation.

Thank you very much for your time.
Regards,

Carte Asbill

 

Hi Carter,

Thanks for your email. You have a very nice system. I have a couple of thoughts. Although I have no direct experience with the Marantz SA 11S1, my experience has been that SACD players tend to short change red book CD playback to varying degrees. I can't tell you whether the KECES DA-131 will be an improvement over what you are experiencing now, but I can definitely tell you it will be different. Just as the Soundstream DAC-1 was a fabulous match to my old Harman/Kardon CD player, it was a poor match to the Sony ES series machine that replaced it. It's really a crapshoot.

The KECES unit will work quite well in a music server situation. It will connect easily to a Macbook or Macbook Pro with a Mini Toslink to Toslink cable, and will connect just as easily to a Squeezebox, Transporter or Sonos system as well. Also, keep in mind that the KECES will decode high resolution music files that can be downloaded from a growing number of vendors.

The price is low enough that you really can't go wrong. Should you not be pleased, or should your decide to upgrade, you should be able to recoup most of the purchase price. Scott Faller is working on a review of a more upscale DAC as we speak.

I hope this helps.

Nels

October 2008

Nels,

Thanks for your review on the Keces 131. I was wondering if you ever got the 151 hooked up to a Macbook long enough to make a comparison to the 131?

Thanks for your time,

Michael

 

Michael,

Thanks for your email. I did get a chance to compare both the DA-151 and the more advanced DA-131 with the Macbook. I believe the more advanced model performed better, but I am not sure if it was because I knew the DA-131 was more advanced, or because it actually did sound better. I may have been predisposed to prefer the more advanced unit.

That said, it is only a $70 step up to get the benefits of the DA-131. All you would need to get the most out of all of your music files on your Mac would be a Mini Toslink to Toslink cable. Monster Cable makes just such a cable, and I am sure others do as well. A conventional Toslink cable will not work: you will need a Mini Toslink on one end to connect to the jack on the left side of your Macbook.

I hope this helps.

Nels Ferre

October 2008

Hi,

While searching for information on finding a quality CD player, I reread your 2003 article on vintage portables. (You may be surprised to know that it came up on the first page of three different searches.) I think you are /were right on the money regarding the paucity of portable hi fidelity available ( even more so today with the current compression of downloaded musical content).

I belong to an obdurate group of semi dinosaurs who won't give up their CDs in favor of newer formats. We realize ( like King Canute, who commanded the tide to stay, to teach his courtiers a lesson ) that inevitably, high quality music reproduction on portable mega memory digital storage devices will be the standard. But not yet. Maybe not affordably for quite some time. Meanwhile, I want the best music reproduction I can get while I'm outside doing chores around the ranch.

The alphabet soup of vintage Sony Discman ( d-5,9,25,50,34,311,515,555......
is bewildering and more than I can manage the time to try to read reviews on every model. Also, there are lot's of D-9s ( or similar ) on EBAY, but I can't seem to find whether replacement battery packs are available, or are these early models rather too big, heavy and impractical to lug around outside anyway?

That said, I would like your expert opinion, given my preferences.

Mostly classical listening
Sure SCL 3k earphones
Reasonable cost ratio vs. best sound quality ( so $50 to $100, not $200 cd players )
light but sturdy
cancelable or no anti-skip and sound limiting. ( I'm retired, so jogging is not even an option )
rechargeable w/out removing batteries if at all possible, since battery life may not be the best on these older players ( and it's convenient)

Perhaps you have since written more on this general topic of high quality "sound on the go", but what models of Discman or Walkman strike the best compromise of really good sound, cost and practicality?

Finally, I value your time, and appreciate whatever information you would think helpful, even if it's just a short list of some better CD players.

Thank you for your your guidance,

Jeff Konicek

 

Jeff,

Thanks for your e-mail and while I love the D-25, and yes batteries are available online at this link  . Since writing that review, I have chosen the MicroSoft Zune 30GB model as my favorite for portable audio. You can then 'rip' your CDs on your computer and save the digital files on the Zune. This way you need not worry about skipping, carrying multiple CDs, finding new batteries, etc. The reasons I suggest the older 30GB Zune is that it offers various tone equalization settings, whereas the newer ones do not. As for the Apple iPod, the sad fact is that Apple appears to no longer consider sound quality key as they have changed the chipset within their new units and quite a few people who truly care about sound quality find the new iPods lacking. Thanks again for your e0-mail and in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

October 2008

Hello Steven,

Seeing your usual terrific online effort -- especially the reprint of the BAS Peter Mitchell article -- reminded me of so many stories, I thought I'd share one with you... In 1971 I had placed an ad for myself (very Norman Mailer-ish) in the local Boston underground paper:

AURAL GRATIFICATION?
Audio Engineer looking for a job

But let me back up a bit about the Aural Gratification: in 1969, my friend Alice Brock wrote the Alice's Restaurant Cookbook, and somehow she convinced Random House to let her take poetic license on their 'house' logo, and add flames to it... and she called her tiny wing of the publishing corner ORAL GRATIFICATION, so I thought I'd expand on that...

So as luck would have it, a couple of fellows answered my ad; they owned a printing company and were in the process of building a recording studio (supposedly...) Since I had had printing and photography experience they hired me on the spot, and for the next two years I had a day job running an AB Dick 360 with a pair of Altec 604's about five feet in front of me, driven with a pair of McIntosh Tube amps, and with a Revox reel-to-reel in the closet.

I remember the joy of repeated playings of Jackson Browne's Doctor My Eyes --- little did I know that some 7 years later I would be in LA working at Crystal Studios where that was recorded and mixed... 

The printing operation was in Kenmore Square in Boston - a social experience if there was one. Between running the presses and running out the front door to catch the B.U. students going by it was an exhilarating time.

One day Al Foster came by; he was a Dean at BU. He heard the Altecs and somehow we started talking about audio. I was fresh from working at BOTH Moog and ARP synthesizer companies, and when Al heard we were going to build a studio he got very excited indeed. The topic of the day was Henry Kloss and the Advent cassette Deck with Dolby B. I had met Ray Dolby a few months earlier and immediately thought that they were somehow diluting themselves very early in their engineering career! So Al and I went out to lunch and I don't think we finished up until midnight. Then he would bring a couple of buddies over and one day we called up Dave Blackmer at dbx on a speakerphone I had rigged up (using a ham radio phone patch transformer -- but that's another story...) and all of us engaged in a 3 hour free-for-all about Voltage Control Amplifiers and noise reduction. Somehow Al got it into his head that these audio meetings should have a wider audience since they were so enlightening. Al talked to everyone he knew and came up with the astonishing number of about 40 people he would add to his "mailing list".

The first informal notice for the meetings is here.

As years went by I was very busy in the Boston area with both my audio classes and building other studios, then in '78 moved to LA to hit the big time... and I sort of lost contact with the Boston crowd. But in 1999 I ran into Al again and I decided to take over the BAS website and give back a little (well, more than a little...) to the Society which by this time had turned into quite a bunch of old audio curmudgeons -- everyone but Alvin, who to this day retains the happy wide-eyed audio joy that sometimes tends to disappear.

And that's how the BAS started...

Again, kudos to your efforts! 

Kind regards,

Barry Ober
Senior Audio Engineer
Owner and Chief Science Officer

 

Barry,

A most humble and deep thanks for sharing that with me. Indeed I recall dad teaching me to solder at age 5, working for Heathkit at age 18... Amazing how time passes and what began as just a fun time with newfound friends becomes something so much more. Once again thanks for your e-mail, it truly perked up my day!

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

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