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Letters To Us


November 2006

Hi Steve,

Is there good synergy between Reference 3A MM DeCapo and a low power SET amp?



Yes :)


November 2006

Hi Steven,

I read your review of the GREATech VAC Stereo Amplifier and am very tempted to make the jump. I'm hoping to use the little amp to power one of Grado's GS 1000 headphones. A couple questions for you: do you think this would be a good combination? and if so, how would I go about connecting the two, as the little amp has speaker connections, but no headphone socket. Also, what do you think about connecting an iPod (5th generation)?

Any help/ideas are much appreciated.

Lee Phifer


The Grado headphones and iPod should work quite well. To make a headphone output from the speaker terminals all you need to do is wire the negative together and each channel's positive to the appropriate part of a jack. Am sure if you call/e-mail and of the major audiophile cable manufacturers they could easily make one for you.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


November 2006


I just ran across your site today. Very nice. Recordings: I like the reviews and want to get some of the CDs. I always find it frustrating to buy "recommended" CD's by audiophile publications, as I usually have to go to 5 different CD sales sites to order them all. Do you have a recommended site for purchases? Also, I understand the mfrs. Are abandoning SACD? Do we need to try and move to DVD-Audio?

Thank you,


Hello Bruce,

Thanks for writing. It's always encouraging to know that someone out there is actually reading the music reviews. Sources for CDs? Really, I generally find almost everything I want-- even smaller labels--on Amazon.com. my colleague Max Westler, a more relentless pursuer of rare recordings, recommends Arkivmusic.com. I hope you find these helpful.

Rumors abound about the prospective abandonment of SACD, but I personally don't know of any concrete plans along those lines. Should that take place, I seriously doubt that DVD-A will prove to be the winter, as that format has won even less acceptance than SACD in the marketplace. There seems to me to be much more movement towards down market formats--not just back to Red Book CD, but even more to lower-resolution formats such as MP-3.

Best wishes,

Wayne Donnelly


November 2006

Dear Steven,

I read your review of the 1 watt Vac amp with great interest and excitement. I would like to purchase this amp but need some advise since I'm not at all technical. I own a pair of 100dB Bastanis 'speakers with active subs and have tried quite some amps in search of audio bliss. According to the designer these 'speakers work best with 300B amps. Currently I'm using different amps: a DIY 8 watt 6B4G integrated which sounds very good. I have recently upgraded the tubes to new Sovteks which have 30% more power and 40% less distortion. I feel I need the power, especially with orchestral work. Though I'm fascinated by your review I have some doubts, what do you think? Your advice will be highly appreciated.

Kind Reguards,

Xavier Alberto


Thanks for your e-mail and if 8 watts is not quite enough it concerns me that going to 1 watt will be a disappointment. Within the low to medium power the Vac should do surprisingly well, but during louder orchestral crescendos i have a feeling the Vac will run out of power and leave you wanting more. Perhaps it is time to consider the 25-watt Consonance 211 monoblock amplifiers i reviewed in Superior Audio? It is more than just adding watts as the 211 tube also has quite a bit of amperage. Think of it as being akin to high-performance automobile engine specifications of horsepower (wattage) and torque (amperage). Hope this helps.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


November 2006


I enjoyed your review of Shure e4c vs. Ultimate Ears Super fi. 5 Pro I just purchased the e4cs and I agree that the bass is present, well defined but not deep enough. Do you think that boosting the Bass a bit using the equalizer in my mp3 player would bring the low tones back to life? Have you tried doing that in your test? Looking forward to your insight on this...

Thank you and regards,


Hi Jacob,

That's something I haven't tried myself - I don't have any kind of tone controls or equalizer in my system or on my iPod. So please try it yourself and let us know how it works!

Enjoy The Music,



November 2006


Don't blame Media Center for the VAIO problems. You really need all the SP2 updates to get good performance out of MCE2005. I've used MCE2004 & 2005 and I have to say that MCE2005 with the SP2 rollup is a very good product (lack of cablecard tuner support notwithstanding). On the other hand, my brother-in-law had a VAIO that came with Media Center 2004 (and, of course, you couldn't upgrade to 2005 from Sony) and it was nothing but trouble. Hardware failures right and left (and broken MCE functionality as well). You should know by now (especially if you ever dabbled in LaserDisc in the 80's or 90's) that Sony ships beautifully designed (appearance wise) shit.

With regard to the ability of MCE to recognize commercial DVDs and CDs, part of that depends on whether or not the manufacturer is correctly displaying the metadata on said DVD or CD, and also whether or not the online catalog of media that MCE uses for reference is up-to-date. I usually only have issues with obscure titles (or Lyle Lovett, for some strange reason) and then I can edit them within Windows Media Player (easier than MCE, although it can be done there as well).

My advice is check out The Green Button (http://thegreenbutton.com/default.aspx) for advice on maximizing your Media Center Edition 2005 experience. And get a better computer - hell, build one yourself on a Core 2 Duo platform and to your own personal specifications. :-)

Derek van Veen


I agree with you on all accounts. I have built my own HTPC in the past and it functioned superbly. Unhappily the Sony cannot be updated to Media Center 2005 because of some sort of error with Sony's software. Supposedly their newer unit has cleared this bug but I'm not willing to spend more money on one. Maybe I will build another PC but will wait until the new Windows operating system is available. The discs I've had problems with are home-made DVD's of family films and copies of television programs. There appears to be no way of telling the computer what's on the disc so it just labels all of them as an unkown DVD.



November 2006


Would you mind answering two questions for me before they ship me to an asylum? With your protractor, as well as the Shure V15 Type VxMR one, the Hi-Fi News Test Record one, and the mirrored one from Turntable Basics, I get a fore-aft position for the stylus tip that ranges from 3-4mm advanced (forward) from the overhang specified by the manufacturer of the table. The manufacturer specifies an effective tonearm length of 221mm and an overhang of 15.5mm. I've measured this out carefully and have a fairly good idea of where it would be. I've also measured the spindle-to-pivot distance and according the tables at Turntable Basics the optimum overhang would be about 18.5mm, which would seem to agree with the protractors. But why the difference, and such a big difference at that? The turntable is about thirty years old.

I am using a microline stylus and am told that for the best sound alignment is critical. My eyes are getting dim and my hands are getting shaky. If I knew what to listen for in terms of correct cartridge position, it might be a lot easier on me. Do you know of any place on the internet that would describe the sonic effects of too-far forward vs too-far back?

Best regards,

John King


Thanks for your e-mail. Basically, what we are trying to do is reduce the overall amount of distortion. No matter that, a normal arm WILL have distortion as it tracks the grooves due to geometry. The only way to solve it is to have a Linear Tracking tonearm (one that moved in a straight line and held on a tube). Sounds to me like you are over thinking things. Once you have a good alignment i would relax and enjoy the music :) Seems to me you have a good alignment, and some protractors can vary the null points as this variance changes where and the quantity of the distortion.

It's a long and boring geek story. 

Relax... enjoy the music :)

Steven R. Rochlin


November 2006

Hi Scott,

I really enjoyed your review of the drd 300 amp, and am considering purchasing one. (Should I say saving to purchase one). I was wondering if you'd heard an Audionote Kit1 or Kit 1 Signature, and if so, if you could compare them briefly? I am trying to figure out which would be right for me. Thanks a lot, and thanks a lot for your excellent reviews!

All The Best,


Hi Perry,

Good question. The kit for you depends on how you like your music served up and what speakers you are using. First lets talk about the sound you enjoy. If you like a warmer, fuller presentation (I'm not talking veiled) then you would probably enjoy the AN Kit ++ depending on your speakers ++. If you like something that is a bit more exacting, then the DRD is probably right up your alley +++ depending on your speakers ++.

There is a large difference between the two topologies. The DRD has one part (a resistor) in the signal path besides the two tubes. The AN Kit has three resistors, two caps and the volume pot in teh signal path besides the three tubes it uses. As you can surmise, the more parts in the signal path, the less detail you will get out of an amp.

All that said, lets talk about speakers. Here lets talk about three different types, front loaded horns (ie Altec, Klipsch, etc), Single driver speakers (i.e. Lowthers, Fostex, AER's), traditional box speakers (two or three ways with a crossover). this is just me talking here so take this with a grain of salt but if I were doing a traditional box speaker such as the Audio Note A series, I'd mate it up with the DRD. Reason being, paper driver box speakers with crossovers tend to have a more relaxed sound. The DRDs would add some detail giving very good balance to the pairing. Now, if you are going with a single driver or a front loaded horn, this is really a toss up. It will depend on how you like your music served up. If you like more detail, the DRD would be the way to go. If you are looking for something a bit more laid back, go for the AN Kit.

All that said (again), if you go with the AN Kit, it comes with the Jensen PIO coupling caps. They are a nice sounding cap but they have a very 'full' sounding quality to them. Upgrading them to a nice film and foil or Teflon will get you more detail. Same goes for the resistors supplied with the basic kit. The AN Tantelums are expensive but they are awesome sounding. That and I'd go with the TKD volume pot upgrade too.

So in the end, it really depends on your speakers and how you like your music served. Hope this helped.


Scott Faller


November 2006


Im looking for a DAC to make my NAD 541i sound better. Ive been using the Musical Fidelity X10d with a DIYed power supply to smooth it out, sort of mild tubey without loss of detail or punch. I read your review of the MHDT Constantine and the Paradisea DACs. These sound good on paper. Dont know how a Scott Nixon might sound for comparison. But am interested in these not overly expensive NOS DACs. So of the two, knowing that I do like the MFX10ds effect and that I have that as a zero gain buffer, which do you think might fit my bill best, the Constantine or the Paradisea?


Bart A. Charlow

Hi Bart,

It sounds as if you aren't overly happy with the sound of the NAD's 24bit, 8 times oversampling scheme. Adding the X10 just covered up some of sound you aren't happy with in your NAD. I think you are looking in the right direction thinking about the MHDT. The Paradisea is an 16 bit NON-oversampling DAC with a tube buffered output stage. With the MHDT, you are going to find a far smoother and less fatiguing sound than your NAD/X10 combo. The other thing, you won't sacrifice detail in the process.

Since you seem to enjoy the punch of your X10, I'd personally suggest the Paradisea. It gives you all the detail and extension you would hope for while adding a bit of tube flavor to your CD collection. I think you'll like it. When it comes to the Nixon, I've listened to it and it was nice for the money but I honestly feel the Paradesea sounds better to my ears. It does a better job retrieving detail IMO.

Hope that helps,

Scott Faller


November 2006

Hi Phil Gold,

I currently owned a Project Debut II turntable. My question is whether I could replace the tonearm to their newer 8.6C tonearm in order to reap more the benefits of cartridge replacement rather than to buy a new turntable.

Thank you and best regards.

Y.C. Chan


This is not a simple question to reply to. The answer is not a straightforward yes or no, according to the Canadian distributor. You should contact your local distributor for help. A complete list of distributors can be found on the Pro-Ject website at www.project-audio.com

Enjoy The Music.



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