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My audiophile friend Dan was eager to check out the Tron so we had a listening session right after I had broken in the machine by playing a CD player through it in a silent system for over 100 hours. Since Jeffrey had provided the WSS power cord and Graham Tricker seemed to like it, I defaulted to using it. After some switching back and forth between Hovland and Tron, we decided it would be good to use the same power cord on both preamps. We greatly preferred the PS Audio Mini Lab power cord on both preamps. As far as tonal balance was concerned in fact, we found more difference between the sound of the power cords than preamps!

I would not want to be without the Mini Lab power cord in listening to either preamp. While I bet that there are a number of other power cords that would outperform the Mini Lab on these preamps, none of the others I have on hand did, including Acoustic Systems Liveline, WSS, Harmonic Technology and Bastanis Epilog (although these power cords are better on other components).

Close at hand was the Ian Schumacher CD Demo 1/5/05 that I’d taken to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest earlier this year so I gave it the first spin. Also useful was the fact that I had listened to this CD in many different systems at the show. As an aside, I hope that Ian writes more original music. I believe he could really go somewhere.  Having heard him perform twice, he does a lot of covers.  His website shows he is playing mainly in Georgia bars now.

On "Shedding Old Rhymes", the bass line was more in the background, hence less prominent than over my Hovland. I am not pointing this out as a weakness by any means. Some would argue that the bass should be in the background since it usually serves as a rhythmic underpinning to the more properly emphasized lead instruments.

On this same cut, the Tron gave Ian’s voice more fullness in the chest and felt more relaxed and natural in this respect.  On "The Candle", Ian strums his guitar forcefully throughout the entire song. Switching back to the Hovland, the leading edges of this strumming were more clearly defined and energetic. The Hovland brought excellent dynamics to the party and as such, was highly involving. The Tron’s dynamics were very good but a shade less impressive. 

The Tron’s strength was a musicality that lent itself to long hours of listening. The Seven had a very easy quality especially in the midrange. After more extensive listening, I determined that this quality was not only due to its great tonal balance but also because it allowed each note to be heard with a very pleasing equality between fundamentals and harmonics. In contrast, the Hovland can shortchange the fundamental a little, leading to a slightly less rich quality. This was not a large difference but consistently noticeable.