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Letters To Us


December 2004


I greatly enjoyed your "Maximizing My Turntable" article. I see you still have a MMT tone arm. I have the MMT with a Grado Sonata on a Merrill/AR turntable. I and am thinking about an analogue upgrade. What current tonearms, would you say, are in the same league as the MMT. In other words, in the current market, what level of tonearm is the MMT comparable to.

Thank you,

James Jailer



Thanks for the inquiry. It is not clear if you are considering upgrading just the tonearm or the entire table/cartridge/arm. I do not have a lot of experience with tonearms, so I cannot be of much help there. I have been told by numerous people that the MMT arm is very good, and very underrated. It has certainly been a pleasure to use from an ergonomic viewpoint, in spite of its lack of vertical tracking adjustment.

I also have read that the Merrill/AR table is very good, too. You didn't say anything about your shelf/mounting situation, or current use of any vibration absorbing technology. These kinds of things can make enormous differences for a lot less money than than a new tonearm upgrade, not to mention replacing the entire analog rig. I had an old AR table once and I can't remember if it had a bottom on the box, but if it does, you might try a set of the Stillpoints that I wrote about in my article. If, down the road, you decide to move on to a different table, you can always use the Stillpoints under another component. I like the Stillpoints, rather than say the Symposium Acoustics rollerballs under the turntable, because they do not rock'n roll if the table is accidentally bumped. Granted, shelves and Stillpoints may not be as glamorous as the purchase of a new turntable or arm, but they can be just as effective, if not more so. Another pair of great products includes the Extreme Phono None-felt and Speed turntable mats.

Feel free to give me some more specific clues as to what you are thinking of upgrading if you would like additional input, and best of luck, James, with whatever you decide to change.

Rick Becker


December 2004


I just read the article on the Pro-ject Xpression turntable. I need a new table and I am betwixt and between in rendering a final decion among these products:

l. Music Hall MMF 2.1

2. Project Debut III or the Xpression (the latter I understand is more $)

3. Rega Planar 2 ( a bit of a stretch for me)

Can you please advise subjectively/objectively which of the above units would be your # 1 and #2?

Much obliged.

Len Bloom


Hi Len,

Thanks for your letter. My understanding is that the Music Hall MMF is made by Project, and that the Project 1Xpression is a better value for money than the Debut III or the Music Hall due to the high-tech carbon fibre arm. I can only base this on hearsay since I have not reviewed either the Debut III or the Music Hall. The Rega Planar 2 has had an excellent reputation as an entry level turntable for decades but has now been replaced by the upgraded Rega P2, with the excellent RB250 arm. Again I have not heard the P2, although I am familiar with the older Planar 2 and I think the Project 1Xpression is a stronger performer than the Planar 2.

My advice is to find a store where you can listen to both the P2 and the 1Xpression, then decide based on the audition. In either case, the included arm is capable of excellent performance with a more expensive cartridge you may aspire to later.

Enjoy the music,



December 2004

Hello Mr. Donnelly,

I recently read your review on the Meadowlark Osprey speaker. I have just started to carry the Meadowlark Speaker line and from what I have been reading most reviews of the meadowlarks are conducted with tube components. I am curious to get your opinion on how the Meadowlarks perform with solid state components. I am looking at setting up a room using the Accustic Arts amp 1 and pre amp 1 (balanced). Cary 303/200 CD player. Are/or have you heard of any reviews coming up on the Nighthawk loudspeaker? I would greatly appreciate your comments.


Gary Clarke


Hi Gary,

I suspect that one reason Meadowlarks are popular with tube lovers is the company's philosophy of using first-order crossovers with pretty consistent impedance curves, which are very tube-friendly qualities. But over the years I have heard Meadowlark loudspeakers with a variety of solid-state amplifiers, and they have performed splendidly.

I don't know who might be reviewing the Nighthawks. I have heard those speakers at some length, and were I to review them I imagine it would be a very favorable review. FYI, I will be reviewing the Meadowlark Blue Heron 2s in our January issue.

Best wishes,

Wayne Donnelly


December 2004

Hello "Joe Audiophile,"

I was wondering how the Audio Note AZ-Two review was going. I asked Steven R. Rochlin if I could bother you a bit <wink>. When will the review be published? I'll be receiving my AZ-Two pair this week and was wondering if I will need stands for them in a smallish room (sitting about 6 feet from the speakers) because of the inverted driver position. I'm not gonna ask how they sound like (thumbs up or down perhaps?)! Looking forward to the review!

Thanks in advance,

Dalibor Bauernfrajnd


Hiya Dalibor,

Unfortunately, the US distributor never sent them. That happens more often than you might imagine. I would think that you would want speaker stands for your new Two's otherwise you will be listening too far off axis (vertically) with them sitting on the floor. As a temporary measure, try a using a few concrete cinder blocks and then use standard red bricks or lumber to (sort of) fine tune the height adjustments.

Once you decide on the height you like you can buy a pair of commercial stands or build a pair of my Stubby's as seen on the TNT Audio website. The Stubby's are a really easy weekend project. They sound as good some of the best commercial stands available, plus they are cheap to build.

Have fun!

Scott "Joe Audiophile" Faller


December 2004

Hello Mr. Olsher,

I read your super tweeter review with mounting excitement... only to get to the end and see the price. It was a stretch, a long one, to afford my Quad 989s (continuing a Quad tradition in my music room). Much as I might wish to, I am not going to spend another $2000 to enhance the sound with an additional tweeter. Dang! Why does everything in audio have to cost so much? I have always enjoyed your work.


Jeffrey Teuber


Dear Mr. Teuber,

I share your sentiment concerning the cost of high-end audio. Though in the case of the muRata super tweeters, high-tech does add up in manufacturing costs. Keep in mind that the ES-105 version is slightly less costly at $1,825.00 per pair. These super tweeters constantly remind me that there is no substitute for transient speed!

Thank you for your feedback and best regards,

Dick Olsher


December 2004


I am looking for good loudspeakers for my tube amplifier, the Cayin A88T. It is based on Svetlana 6550 tubes and its power is about 45 watts. My room is about 25sqm big and has square shape. Listening position is about 12 feet from the speakers. The loudspeakers can stand about 4 feet from sidewalls and about 9 feet apart. I have read Your review of Dynaudio confidence C2 speakers. You have a good experience with C2. Could You give me advice, if these speakers will go good with my amp. in my listening conditions? I would be very grateful for Your advice.

Best regards,

Andrzej Walega



I have not had personal experience with the Cayin amp, but it seems to be very robust and well-made. The Dynaudio C2s are pretty efficient. I used them with two larger tube amps, one of them (the Music Reference RM-9 II) at 125 wpc. That would only be about 4dB of ultimate difference relative to your amplifier. I never turned it up very high at all -- there was LOTS of room left -- and they played very loud without any evidence of the amp running out of power. I doubt I used more than a watt or two in most cases. My room, however, is smaller than yours -- only about 16m2.

The other variable is how you listen and what you listen to. If you listen to large-scale orchestral work with huge crescendos, or to techno at 120dB, you may want more power. Still, in a room of 25m2 my best guess is that you would have sufficient power for all but the most ear-splitting listening. More important, the C2s were driven so easily by my amps that there was never a hint of strain at any volume level. Dynaudio specifically designed the C2s for spaces just like yours and did not presume that customers would have kilowatt monsters to drive them. I think that you would probably be very happy with the combo, again subject to what kind of music you like and how loud you listen.

Good luck,

Rick Jensen


December 2004


Dick Olsher states in response to a letter that he has a concern about the sensitivity of the Acapella Ion tweeter -- as it is used in speaker systems of circa 100dB/W/m sensitivity (Triolon, Sphaeron),. I wonder what his concern is, or did he just not do any basic investigation before responding to the letter?

Eric Statman



I would like to thank Mr. Statman for wondering out loudly about my reservations concerning the Acapella ion tweeter. This gives me the opportunity to be more precise. Ionic tweeters are notoriously inefficient transducers, as they move very little air. This means that horn-loading is mandatory in order to obtain a practical sensitivity rating. My concern has to do with hanging, what may potentially amount to a megaphone, on what is otherwise a pristine transducer. It's a valid concern since horn loading, if poorly implemented, can generate significant standing waves, meaning harmonic colorations. That is why I still consider (the now defunct) Plasmatronics tweeter, and its helium-gas "plasma," radiating into full space, as the best treble transducer ever.

Take care,

Dick Olsher


December 2004


Regarding the story on non-compatibility of DualDisc on Sony components, you mentioned DVD-Audio as "industry standard". Really? "Industry standard" for what? Hi-rez music format? I would think SACD should be considered the "industry standard", with over 2,500 titles currently available worldwide and growing. Don't you realize that DVD-A is morphing into DualDisc? It's the death of DVD-Audio, in another word. I would call a dying format as "industry standard."

Danny Tse



Enjoy the Music.com™ Industry News page is quite correct. The industry standard is dictated by the WG4 and the like. They set what are approved formats for various types of discs. The SACD format was not chosen while DVD-Audio is. DualDisc is an approved format that is currently being finalized and it surprises me that Sony does not support TRUE industry formats. Quantity of releases does not make a format a true industry standard. Might i suggest you see www.dvdforum.org/forum.shtml to learn about how the industry decides what formats are standard. SACD is all well and good, yet it reminds me of the CD-I format by Philips, MiniDisc, Elcasette, and many others...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


December 2004

Hello Bill,

I haven't done a complete search yet, so if you have completed any further reviews mentioned please disregard this. How about reviewing less expensive mods? Several including Parts Conexion and Modwright mod Pioneer and Sony units. I believe Parts Conexion currently has a Pioneer 563A mod listed on Audiogon for around $500. The point being that everyone may not be able to afford a $1000 plus unit and another $1000+ for upgrades. Adding a clock and Bybees to a well designed less expensive player may be nearly as good perhaps.


James B. Martens



Thank you for your comments. While this old curmudgeon seldom reviews the best of the best, otherwise known as the most expensive of the expensive, I am at a point in my life, and have my system at a high enough level, where I would prefer to review those products that come close to the best but at a significantly lower price. ( I am Scotch-Irish after all.) While I don't believe any amp is worth $30,000 or any CD player is worth $12,000, I have yet to hear anything in the price range you mentioned that would be worth taking up what little listening time I have now in a lengthy evaluation. I usually spend at least a month playing with each piece of equipment before writing about it, and this is time taken away from the enjoyment of music and my system. Any reviewer, or dealer for that matter, will tell you that audio becomes a job, and not a fun listening experience if one is trying to do a fair evluation. On the other hand, I do love reasonably priced tweaks that bring lower priced equipment up to their higher priced competition, and have reviewed many over the years....



December 2004

Dear Steve,

I am reading the Review Magazine for several years now, always with great pleasure. I am now in the market for a new tube amplifier. I am writing regarding your review of the SAP KT66 Anniversary integrated amplifier from May 2003. To make a long story short, there are maybe hundreds of push pull integrated amps on the market. The SAP is one of the more expensive ones. Is it worth that money? Is it that much better than all the other EL34 other KT88 based amps for that price? Since we have no distributor for SAP here in Germany it is not easy to compare. I know SAP from the shows in Frankfurt quite well and always liked their demonstrations very much....

Many thanks in advance and best regards,

Markus Weinert

PS: which other tube amp could you recommend? Due to the problems with the mains (quality) I would prefer a push pull design.



Alas, have not heard all the PP designs so i really could not say it was the best, yet SAP makes very impressive, well-built gear. Wish i knew more.

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


December 2004


I spoke to Bob Neill (former Enjoy the Music.com™ reviewer) who now owns an audio store. I needed advice as to what integrated he would recommend to pair with my new Spendor S5e's. He suggested the Manley Labs Stingray. I read your review of this integrated and would like to know if you agree? I'm a tad intimated by the Stingray. I don't know if it's the looks or all of the tubes. But, I do want the best possible match sonically for the Spendors (within my budget).

Hope to hear from you soon!

Lori Frislie


Hi Lori,

Greetings from Enjoy the Music! The Manley Labs Stingray merits a solid (no pun intended) recommendation in the integrated amplifier genre. And please don't be intimidated by all of those tubes. The Stingray is a reliable product that is easy to maintain, and for a tube newbie offers a safe gateway to the sort of soundstaging magic and harmonic color only tubes are capable of. Since I have no personal experience with the Spendors, I cannot comment on such a mating. However, it is generally impossible to predict an amplifier's performance with a particular speaker model and front-end electronics. I would, therefore, encourage an in-home audition whenever possible.

Best regards,

Dick Olsher


December 2004


Has there been an update yet on the article Audiolics Anonymous Chapter 45: Power Cords?


E. Sutter


Gruss Gott Herr Sutter,

Thank you for your letter. I did update my AC cord review in Chapter 47, AC Line Cords: Final Thoughts, and haven't done any further experimentation. I am now using the Silent Source 50 amp cables to run from my junction box to my Sound Application CF-XE and Reference Linestage conditioners, and use the Elrod EPS Signature 3 cables from them to my Walker Audio Velocitors. From there to the critical equipment, I use Omega Micro Planar 3 cables. Non-critical equipment use Silent Source 20 amp cables. You'll have to look to my younger colleagues for further reviews as I am getting too settled in my ways and an now extremely happy with my AC situation.



December 2004

Hi Bill,

Enjoyed your review on the Antique Soundlab AQ 2004 DT. I'm just getting involved in tweaking gear and am wondering what could be done to improve the AQ 2004 DT.


Mark Nicholls



You must be digging back into the files as I reviewed that unit about two years ago, and haven't had it for quite some time. First make sure you have the tubes in their proper positions. Another reviewer had confused their positioning, which is easy to do, and had given the units a poor rating.

Second, look for some NOS tubes, especially mil-spec. The best I have found that won't kill the pocketbook are BRIMAR CV-4004 (12AX7) and CV4024(12AU7) tubes. I had a stash of 50 of each I had picked up years ago from England, and just recently converted for a significant markup towards tubes I need now as I've stopped using them.

Bill Gaw


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