Your space to participate, comment & critique

Send your e-mail to srajan at 6moons.com.


For published correspondence April 2006 thru June 2006, click here.
For published correspondence February 2006 thru April 2006, click here.
For published correspondence December 2005 thru February 2006, click here.
For published correspondence September thru December 2005, click here.
For published correspondence July thru September 2005, click here.
For published correspondence April thru July 2005, click here.
For published correspondence February thru April 2005, click here.
For published correspondence December 2004 thru February 2005, click here.
For published correspondence September 2004 thru December 2004, click here.
For published correspondence August 2004 thru September 2004, click here.
For published correspondence July 2004 thru August 2004, click here.
For published correspondence February 2004 thru July 2004, click here.
For published correspondence June 2003 thru February 2004, click here.
For published correspondence June 2002 thru June 2003, click here.

For an upcoming article on copy-protected CDs, Marja & Henk would like reader feedback on personal experiences where such discs refused to play back or caused other unexpected issues. If you'd like to participate in their informal survey to help them collect user information, please e-mail to marja at 6moons.com

Hello Marja,

I was reading the archives with interest about the EAC/Nespa trials. I am wondering if you've also tried Nespa-ing, then ripping via EAC?Wondering if it would have an effect? I am running everything off a RAID array and am interested in the Nanotech for this purpose. Ideas?

Best regards,
Ben Jarrett

Hi Ben,

When EAC'ing a disc, we have found no differences whether a disc is pre-Nespa'd or not. It does make a difference however when the CD-R is Nespa'd before burning.

As you run everything of a RAID, we would suggest you just stick to EAC because the Nespa works its wonders in the analog environment which you cancel out with your magnetic rather than optical data retrieval.

M&H

Hi guys,

great and interesting articles about the fringes of the RMAF! Indeed interesting views of a great fest are shown, thanks! But: don't torture the DIYers for too long, please tell us exactly which Smooth-On product was used by Matt and his dad for the Empire 208 in Stephaen Harrell's interview! There are about a million variations on their website (www.smooth-on.com )!)

Thanks in advance!
Christoph Koelle

Matt and his dad are planning on a writeup once the table project has concluded. At that time, all shall be revealed.

Stephaen

You guys are mean! ;-)

Since I read 6moons regularly, I look forward to a follow-up very soon! Till then, thanks for an excellent website. As a customer of both Paul Speltz (Zeros) and Atma-Sphere, I'm sure that Matt has received excellent tutelage regarding enhancing the qualities of this great turntable from Paul and Ralph.

Good on ya for looking outside the box for different perspectives on hi-fi and bringing interesting insights to your readers and fellow inmates.

Be well,
Shep
Hi Srajan,

It has been awhile since I wrote and I hope you and Ivette are still doing well in Cyprus. It is Spring in Cape Town and the weather is fabulous. I'm still doing the cart. thing at night and here is the current incarnation hanging ten on one of my 301s. This one is made from Berchimia Zeyheri aka the "Zulu Royal Wood" and is fitted with a Gyger FG11 ruby cantilever.

I'm pleased to see the increase in analog-related mail you're getting. Did you eventually get the Manitas CD-R as this is the very cart which played it?

Regards,
Andre Hanekom

I indeed enjoyed the CD-R very much. For the benefit of our readers, I should add that transferring well-kept vinyl beautifully mastered in the first place to CD is quite the treat, making the end result superior to many commercial CD pressings. In other words, the original's qualities translate nicely and whatever may be lost in the process still nets a fabulous transfer.

Srajan

I'm a dedicated reader of 6moons. I regularly read many online audio magazines. But, I must say that 6moons is by far my favorite. All of the contributing writers are amazing in their coverage of the audio industry.

Im in the market for a good solid state amplifier. I recently re-read your review of the Red Wine Signature 30 amplifier. It's such a great read. But, I don't remember reading anything about the soundstaging and imaging abilities of this amp. Also, in your opinion, how does this amp compare in performance to such super amps like the Halcros and Lamms?

Are you planning a reveiw of the new Signature 70?

Thanks again for putting such a great magazine online.

Julius

I've never had Lamm or Halcro amps through my review system to offer any comparative glimpses. Re: The Signature 70, Paul Candy is signed on and delivery of his review loaners to Canada is expected for the end of November.

Srajan

Another great article on Mark & Daniel (preview, in this case) - cannot wait to read more.

Keep up the great work!

Donald
Srajan,

Marvelous, marvelous poem (Bugle Boys). No review site but 6moons would print something like that ...and if they did, they'd crap it up with a page and half of unnecessary rhetoric. Poetry speaks for itself - or it doesn't. If the former, any amount of rhetoric is just a distraction. If the latter, all the rhetoric in the world won't help. Thanks again.

Steve Harmon
Jeff:

I just wanted to congratulate you on the Garrard series of articles. I thought they were very informative and very colorful. While I do not have the means to procure such a setup, it was a lot of fun to read about. I look forward to more of your reviews. Maybe you could do something mono oriented? I just found a copy of Dave Brubeck's Jazz, Red Hot and Cool. I am thinking about a second table setup for mono. Maybe you have some ideas? You are a very talented writer and your enthusiasm is reflected in your writing. Keep up the good work and the good word.

John Marty

Srajan,

Just a heads up. I had a chanch to listen to the Apogee Mini Dac the other day and I was really taken. We compared it to the the Benchmark and it seemed pretty clear that the Apogee was more relaxed and had a more natural decay. This is one of the best efforts that I have heard in awhile. I was turned onto this unit by several friends in the production end of the business. It has the same chipset as the big DA-16X multitrack converter. I am so used to Phillips-based 16-bit players/converters that I usually don't have much interest in the bulk of the product on the market. The Mini DAC and the Altman Attraction are the two products of interest. I think that I asked about the possible review of that one in my last note to you.

In any event, the Apogee was a real surprise for me. Once I get a chance to hear the Altman, I will more than likely purchase one of these. The added benefit of the Apogee is that there is a USB option for computer/web connection. Good for web broadcasts or HD connected background music etc.

Just a suggestion. Let me know if there is any chance for a review on these.....

Take care....thanks for the great on-line publication...

John Shepherd
Dear Srajan,
noticed this in the letters section.

"Dear Editor,
A very nice article [Interconnects - Theory and Practice], and a pleasure to read. I had heard about the Stealth Indra before but more details on their construction were in this article than I've seen before. Thanks. Another fascinating review by Marja and Henk was the one on the Greatech GmbH muVAC. Terrific.

An error though: "Cable manufacturers next worried over conductor purity. The fewer impurities a copper wire contains, the less obstructions are encountered by the passing signal. As a result, we know expressions like 5-nines and 6-nines to represent 99.999999% conductor purity. Additionally, pure copper can be drawn in such a way as to build up molecules many hundred meters in length. Here reduced molecule-to-molecule transitions are the aim."

I know this is a misprint. When we say 6-nines purity we mean that the material is 0.999999 (six nines after the decimal point) pure. This, of course, can also be represented as a percentage. The representation would be 99.9999%.

Regards,
Geoff Thompson (Metralla on Audio Asylum, AudiogoN, Steve Hoffman's Forum"


Well, 6N is a loose term and generally includes the first two whole numbers (99.xxxx). Statisticians, computer geeks and conductive diamagnetic material handlers generally use the term in this way. It's not a specific technical term, more a marketing thing. Not that it really matters. Does anybody care as long as it performs? And who has ever cut one open for testing and published the data? Just because a supplier says 9N does not make it so. Be careful, cable markteting companies. And how critical can you be of a term that has a loose definition? If we desire to accurately and precisely communicate with terms that have more than one definition, they must each be clearly outlined and qualified to get back to basic science while never letting the art of music far from you. To help with understanding, it would also help if the audio engineering trade would get back to using references and credits.

Strangely, the more mankind seems to understand about nature, the further removed from art we become. The natural relationship between music and science is marriage with lots of spicy romance. But since roughly WW2, they have become increasingly separated. It's like the work Helmholtz laid dow. It was used for experimental rocket fuel instead of increased intimacy between sensation (music and hearing) and physics (devices). Anyway, here are a few references on 6N: Handy and Harmon, a large silver wire drawer and supplier, notes 6N as 99.9996% purity. A quick search provided a second reference and I guess if you follow the lead of one of the biggest industry players, 6N would be noted as 99.9999%.

So why do some cable companies use xx.999999 to mean 6N? Not sure but the possibilities should include "we don't know for sure and nobody else will either, and we have to one up our competitors or ourselves to justify the price we are going to charge."

That conductor impurity equals electrical obstruction is both true and false. Super conductor research is all about boundaries, alloys and tunneling -- about lots of impurities and obstruction reduction -- but this is not normal I agree. However, there are many who postulate the intelligence of the signal as being in the E/M domain and that electron migration is simply a measure of the medium. Introduce power and you have a whole other set of variables to consider. Yes, processing and refining the medium can certainly help fidelity but I honestly believe this is very much a secondary concern. There really a very few absolutes and we don't really know why things work. Certainly you can have a conductor without any significant purity level that can be worked around to create an interconnect that really serves the music. But this would make selling at absurd prices pretty difficult, at least to the "gold conductor must sound rich" buyer.

For me and many music freaks, device selection comes down to a few main points - does it work with my gear to bring me pleasure; what is it going to cost; how much effort will it be (and the naughty forth that few like to admit - does it look cool.)

Thanks for all you, Marja & Henk and the rest of your team put into 6moons! It's by far my favorite audio review and happenings resource.

Best,
Sean Casey
Srajan,

This is simply a quick note to let you know that initially I had a ton of noise on the ModWright linestage at idle. Vexing it was to say the least. The noise in the Klipschorns was eventually worse on one channel. I swapped 5687s and the noise moved. Eventually the noise floor grew to intolerable levels.

I rolled the Joint Army Navy Phillips that Dan sent and replaced them with Tung Sol 5687s . . . wow! Dead silence on 105dB speakers. Nice. Now I can listen to local artist George Winston’s piano notes disappear into darkness instead of a “babbling brook” noise floor. Incidentally, according to Dan, the Raytheon 5687s are the same tube as the Tung Sols, i.e. the same manufacturer.

Thanks for a great publication.

Rgds,
Guy Gordon
Srajan,

I've long enjoyed your site and the detailed reviews you and your team put together. Thank you.

I'm writing, though, not for general thanks, but specifically to let you know that John Potis has been a tremendous resource. I've twice contacted him with some questions and he has twice taken the time to respond, not simply with his insights, but to ask about my own listening preferences, and in so doing has helped me better define my preferences and hone my skills at articulating them. I consider this going above and beyond the call. There's really nothing in it for him, but he has always responded with a warmth and concern that bespeaks a love for what he does. I can't praise that highly enough.

I've thanked John via email, but wanted to let you know as well what a great asset he is to your 'zine and the general audiophile community.

Many thanks and all the best,
Robert Dahlgren
Hi Srajan,

just read your prereview of the Nespa Pro. I bought one four months ago and it ranks way over any component upgrade I've made in recent memory. The Nespa Pro and an Audio Desk cutter were bought with a view to offering a service which would hopefully recoup the costs of both machines. The masses remain unconvinced - people keep asking for A-B comparisons, like I can afford two of each CD? My patience stretches to "if you can't hear the improvement in the first three bars, take up fishing."

The Audio Desk cutter is 'usually' a lesser improvement than the Nespa but both together have me listening (very happily) to more Redbook than ever before. Since I have netted £11 from the service so far ( a few bottles of wine and some record cleaning fluid also), it will not make me rich. However I cannot now listen to an untreated CD. I now practice a weekly or fortnightly ritual of 'cutting & flashing' four of five more CDs. I do hoover the cuttings but my wife still thinks I've lost the plot. But flabby lost in-the mix bass on Kind of Blue - not anymore!

Having carried out numerous comparisons, a CDR copied from a fully treated disc (using Exact Audio Copy software) shows such a large improvement that treating the copy with the Nespa and Audio Desk afterwards gains only a fractional icing on the cake. The Audio Desk improving a CDR I can understand but the Nespa? Scary.

The nicest part is I'm so pleased with CDs now that all my styli incur a lot less wear! As far as I know, no dealers offer the Nespa here in the UK - I wonder why? Hints on the forums fall on deaf ears. The deaf leading the deaf?

I'm still intrigued by 30ft bass horns, please tell us more. Do the amps that look like robotic dogs sound like they look or is this guy a nutter? Sure as shit no one else will give us the lowdown.

Regards,
Simon

More on the Nespa soon. The amps you're referring to are by Josh Stippich of Electronluv and while he is a nutter of sorts, that's a compliment - kinda like Michelangelo on planks painting the Sistine Chapel. It takes a certain kind of madness to be an artist/artisan and challenge yourself with unreasonable projects.

Srajan

Dear Mr. Ebaen,

A short note to thank you for a wonderful publication and to thank you for your recommendations re: amps to drive very high efficiency speakers some time ago.

Just to show you that your recommendations were followed with stunning sonic results.

The two F3s drive the midbass and tweeters of the speakers shown. The Yamamoto does the midrange. The Mac in the bottom has to cope with the punishing load presented by 5 x 15-inch drivers per channel in parallel handling the bass.

Ironically, although I have been paying good money since the 1980s for the magazine on the table , I have never followed their recommendations. Who said you get nothing good for free?

Yours sincerely,
Johan Dreyer

Hi Srajan,

I hope that this email finds you well and enjoying the music :-)

I thoroughly enjoyed your recent review of the Melody I2A3 integrated amplifier. While I am still very much enjoying my Yamamoto A-08S with EML 45 solid plate tubes on the Zu Definitions, this affordable product from Melody strikes me as a future candidate for a second system. I sincerely hope that you decide to pen a brief follow-up report on using KR Audio or Emission Labs 2A3 tubes... now that will be interesting! I share your curiosity regarding a push-pull amplifier design using matched pairs of EML solid plate 45s... now where do we find such a beast?

I am also looking forward to your review of the new Music First Audio TAP (formerly Bent Audio TAP) modular remote controlled TVC, specifically compared to both the Wyetech Labs Jade and Supratek Cabernet Dual active preamplifiers into the little Yamamoto A-08S.

Of particular interest to me, and I am sure your other loyal 6moons readers, would be a full feature article on Cypriot Dan's exotic system... maybe as part of your RoadTours series?

Kind Regards,
Aaron Reynolds

Hi Srajan,

I just read your piece on the Audio Sector/Plitron transformer - welcome to the club! That is, the club for those of us who need to meddle with voltage compatability - my Wyetech Topaz 572B SET amp needs a step-down transformer and I've searched the world for a "decent" piece. Looked at step-downs from Sweden, Japan, UK, Canada, USA, and locally here in Korea.

I know this is another piece that can muck up the balance and all the work put into fine-tuning a system, but I am sure you realize a step-down is another that would fight for a piece of your hair in terms of being a "legit" sonic contributor (along with AC conditioners, contact enhancers, Quantum thingies, etc.).

I thought I'd just add my few cents worth and let you know of my favorite. It's the step-down offered by the Swiss tweaky gurus at Audio Consulting. I use a 1.5kV copper version (the silver wiring version costs a few multiples more) encased in a nice custom bubinga wood body, which I then use a set of Shun Mook Ultra Diamond Resonators as footers. Hah, and the wood itself is another killer...it drives me nuts to find the "right" wood for my taste. I've come to the conclusion that spruce wood treated with C-37 violin lacquer will be the way to go and I also found that mixing softwood (like spruce) with hard wood (ebony) makes a killer combo. Thus my next project is to move the Audio Consulting 1.5kV piece into a C-37 treated spruce chassis. And these fellas at Audio Consulting are also big on wood.

You can check them out at http://www.audio-consulting.ch/

Happy listening!

Cheers,
Kenny
Following your excellent review of the Fist watt F3 amplifier I decided to take the plunge and buy one. As I live in England I emailed Reno HiFi to arrange purchase and delivery. Mark at Reno HiFi was very helpful. The amplifier after being adapted by Nelson Pass for 240 volt working only took around 4 days to arrive, excellent service by all those involved. Having now received the amplifier I couldn't wait to install it in my system. The main system by the way comprises of Tannoy DMT12Mkii loudspeakers, these are around 95db efficient, supplemented with a pair of LCY ribbon super tweeters (recently purchased and highly recommended). The souse is a Mcintosh cd player which is used as a transport only, the digital signal being fed through a Behringer DEQ24/96 equaliser and into a Benchmark dac. Initially I tried the amplifier being driven by the adjustable outputs from the Benchmark dac. The sound was very open with a large sound stage but I suspected that I could achieve a bit more by introducing a proper preamp between the dac and amplifier. Initially I tried a Gamut CR2 preamp (Danish design) but this was not a good match due to the low gain of the preamp. So I decided to use my old work horse the Trilogy 902 valve preamp which I have had for many years, sadly this preamp is no longer in production, but is a relatively simple design using two 6922 valves (one per channel) with a valve rectified power supply. This preamp proved to be an ideal match with the First Watt. The sound now had improved dynamics with an even larger sound stage, with the bass and treble further extended, the stereo separation by the way is superb even though the First Watt from your earlier review photos only shows a single power supply transformer. I have as yet not tried it with my Omega loudspeakers or my AKG K1000 headphones which I believe could be ideal partners for this amp. After around 30 hours of use I'm sure I am detecting even further improvement with the overall sound. To anyone who is considering whether to buy a First Watt F3 take it from me contact Mark at Reno HiFi and buy one you won't be disappointed. There is however one proviso, depending on how loud you play you're music, you will need relatively efficient loudspeakers preferably above around 92db efficient to allow for some headroom. I think you will also need a very good preamp as the F3 is so revealing.

Thanks for a great internet magazine I'm always checking out your site for new reviews and industry updates, carry on the good work, it's much appreciated over here in England.

Regards,
Mike Bearne
Dear Jeff,

I read with interest your report of your visit with Matt Rotundo of Pitch Perfect and your experience with two of his systems. I have not been to Pitch Perfect, but I know Matt from his time here in NYC and in Chicago. I also have a great deal of experience with Shindo electronics and the Shindo/Garrard 301 front end having owned basically the same system Matt has on display. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to afford the big Latour field coil speakers. Your descripton however struck me as spot on. If I would add a couple of observations - having lived with a Shindo system for over two years: First, there is a dynamic realism that is unmatched in part because it is so balanced from top to bottom no matter the change in volume.

Second, the system is as highly resolving as any so-called high end system I have heard without once calling attention to that fact about the system. Other systems sound more like hi fi than music once you've spent a good deal of time with a Shindo system. Congratulations and yet another well written and fun read, and one that was spot on to boot.

Keep up the good work.
Jules Coleman

Srajan:

Just wanted to thank you for your advice about the pairing of the HornShoppe Horns and the Red Wine Audio Sig 30. Together they are stunning. They were made for each other. As for the finish, Ed has taken a big step up as the real wood veneers are first rate. Not museum quality but they have that handsome home-hewn look. I don't see myself upgrading anything again.

On another note, it struck me as odd, at first, that you said that if a preamp were to be used, it would have to be on the order of something very special (and costly) to equal the performance of the amp. I just found out that goes for the front end as well. My Consonance CD-120 Linear had to go in for repairs for the drawer mechanism (microswitch?) and when I put my old Rotel RCD-971 in for duty, the sound just went flat and became somewhat lifeless. It seems the design of the CDP, Horns and the RWA amp all have the same thing in common: simplicity, purity, quality of parts (except for that drawer mechanism) and making music as real as possible.I've never heard anything remotely close to what I'm experiencing now with my setup.

I also let Michael know as he was very helpful as well. I also took note of some of your recommendations on your Diva listings and found two that I just love. They are Marta Gomez and especially Azam Ali. What a voice! I just ordered 4 more CDs of Azam Ali's work from Amazon. I could listen to her sing forever.

Thanks for everything,
Tim Patchet
Dear Srajan,

About your doubt "I could never figure out how to reshuffle the sequence of tracks the way I wanted them burned" in your Olive Symphony review, neither could I. The only way with ape, wav and flac file is to include the track number before the name of the track. If you discover another way, let me know but for now I have to do this additional step if I want a different sequence.

Cheers,
Bob Parish
Dear Srajan,

Long time since I sent something in. This time it's a pirate map and the horde of live recordings it leads to. Over the past year, I've hardly bought a CD, instead I've been wandering through a wilderness of digital downloads - sampling electronica from Finland, music from Morocco, but mostly a wealth of America delights. Since I have had the pleasure of following the rise of 6moons' Big Daddy from hired scribe to internet publishing mogul over the past many years, and benefited from this community of music lovers' advice and tips, I thought it was high time to share the pirate map with any who might want to try the journey on their own. All it takes to find this dragon's horde of buried digital treasure are a couple of freeware decoder programs – one for .FLAC and one for .SHN files, though if you want to just have .MP3s they are there for the taking too. These high-end file types are worth all the added detail stripped out by lesser decoders and are easily dug up with a little googling. So, what am I talking about:

The Internet Archive (IA) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to maintaining an archive of Web and multimedia resources. Located at the Presidio in San Francisco, California, this archive includes "snapshots of the World Wide Web" (archived copies of pages, taken at various points in time), software, movies, books, and audio recordings (including recordings of live concerts from bands that allow it). The Archive makes the collections available at no cost to researchers, historians, and scholars". (wikipedia)

Where's the damn music stuff? The Live Music Archive section of the site is probably most famous for its huge trove of audience recorded live Grateful Dead shows. From the earliest performances in the 1960s up through recent ensemble productions by Phil Lesh & Friends, it is possible to ride the auditory history of a performing group. But, the site isn't just for dead heads. There are entire live concerts by plenty of other departed and living musicians, 100s of them in fact, to keep you busy.

Here's three top favorite surprises, artists I either had not listened to in years, or never listened to before.

Jack Johnson Live at Dodge Theatre on 2005-08-05 -
Keywords: Live concert

Warren Zevon Live at The Main Point on 1976-06-20 – (69 shows)
Keywords: Live concert

Ryan Adams Live at Electric Factory on 2005-05-20 -
Keywords: Live concert

Each concert that gets posted to this site includes the kind of reviews and comments you'd expect to find at Amazone.com, but the big difference here is that those comments might reveal just one particular song caught the magic. One of those gems for me is from a Phil Lesh & Friends show, Live at Beacon Theater, from 2006-02-12 of this year. You get Joan Osborne on vocals and Trey Anastasio Guitar. Having never listened to Phish it was fun to discover what an excellent guitar player Trey is, and to rediscover that Phil Lesh is still a great bass player. But what delighted me most about the show was discovering a single tune, a one time, one night only recording of Dylan's "Bucket of Rain" with Joan Osborne. Soft and gentle, electric mandolin, guitar and bass, with Joan and Trey(?) harmonizing through the song.

Well, that's the story, the trail to the treasure is laid out in the web links buried here. Enjoy the journey through the mountain lair, and enjoy the rough magic of endless live nights of music.

Kevin Teixeira
Srajan,

I'm not really sure why I'm writing to you except, perhaps, through sheer excitement. Thorsten does not know I am writing to you and this is not an attempt to 'shill', so to speak. I just think your in for a treat. I note from your website in your article 'State of the (non) Union: 08/06' that you can't wait for the arrival of the Abbingdon Music Research CD-77. Having listened to the whole system at the recent London/Heathrow Hifi Show, may I say you have good reason to be excited. Moreover, I think that the system as a whole presents an event which is definitely worth more than the sum of its parts and as another (horn and tube using) visitor to the show had pointed out on the AA, he was "blown away" .

I have known Thorsten for a number of years now, first through the London DIY Hifi Circle and then as friends and can attest to his amazing talent first-hand. However, with this latest venture I have endeavoured to avoid reading anything about the equipment on the website and even your commentary/preview. Why? So as to avoid either disappointment resulting from heightened expectations or to have thoughts about the design cloud my judgment and have me 'think the sound' rather than 'hear the sound' when I eventually got to hear the system and experience the concept. I had heard a prototype CD-77 at Thorsten's place previously and it definitely sounded extremely good but nowhere near as special as it did at the Hifi show in the system (AMR presented LS-77 speakers as well).

Zandens were at the show, and I've also owned, among others, the Marantz CD-7 and the Sony SCD-1 and auditioned many other players (notably 47 Labs digital systems, Micromega, Audio Note UK, Wadia, Esoteric). Currently I have a TwinDAC USB nonos DAC hooked to a media PC and had been using a Fi system until recently and then a Klangfilm system (KL-V502s and V551s) with Fertin field-coil drivers in a JE Labs-style open baffle. I've been a confirmed tubie for ages, despite the Gaincard/-clone saga (many of which sound great) and have enjoyed horns and single drivers prior to the open baffles. Basically I was not of the high-power amp, medium to low sensitivity speaker brigade for all of the well-rehearsed reasons about dynamics, coherence, 'life' and 'liveliness', tonality and so on. The AMR system sounded so much like a live event that it felt almost as if the music and musicians were in the same psychological space as me, the listener. By comparison, other digital systems sound re-produced.

I simply can't get over the experience. I kept expecting to turn around ans the performers - and this was on the strength of the tonality and seemingly unfettered dynamics alone and not on account of crystalline imaging or gargantuan sound-staging, good as they were in a small hotel room. The sound was vital, fresh and joyous and wholly consuming. As smart845 said on AA, "This is going to compete with the Esoterics, Meitner gear and dare I say it the Zanden players. When Srajan gets to hear this he'll be writing pages!". I disagree - having heard Zanden systems and Esoterics, I think that the AMR might even be better at the thing horn/tube lovers hold so dear.

Anyway - I have splurged too much already. Very jealous of the review you're about to do and I hope it performs for you at least as well as it did in an acoustically compromised hotel room. Good luck.

Best wishes and thanks for a great site,

Justin Benn
Hi Srajan,

After reading your very positive review of the Eastern Electric M520 integrated amp, I pulled the trigger and bought one on Audiogon for $900. For that price, the seller even threw in Mullard AU7 NOS, Mullard EF86 NOS and E80F Phillips Gold pin tubes. He bought it for his wife but she didn't want her child possibly getting burned by the tubes. Nice break for me. Even before reading your take two review, I installed NOS EI 6CA7 power tubes and Mullard 5AR4 rectifiers. I also found this cheap and easy tweak to the amp that I feel makes a noticable improvement . I replaced the 4 x 220uf 63V stock electrolytic capacitors in the output section with Elna Cerafine 220uf 63V ceramic particle capacitors. I wanted to use Black Gate FK caps but they didn't make a suitable value cap. If you must use electrolytic caps instead of film or oil-filled caps, I believe in buying the best you can get your hands on.

Black Gates are undoubtably the best but since they didn't have a 220uf 63V , I remembered Wellborne had a bunch of Cerafines in stock. Cerafines use fine ceramic particles as opposed to the fine graphite particles used by Black Gates. Both are much quieter than the typical electolytic paste used in cheapo caps. They also don't dry up and last forever compared to cheap brands. The Elna Cerafine caps cost me less than $10 for 4 mostly due to the fact that they are no longer produced, a fate that nearly befell Black Gate caps made in Japan by Rubycon. They are now pretty much the only audiophile electrolytic caps available to us DIYers and tweakers. The Elna caps are about 4 times bigger and heavier than the stock caps in the M520. I just installed them today and expect them to improve even after break in . It took me about 15 minutes to install them. Here's a link of where to buy them and some pics of them compared to the stock caps and the Elnas installed. The M520 is far and away the best amp I've ever owned. I sold my Primaluna Prologue 5 amp and Rogue 66 Magnum preamp after buying the M520.

I was a little too slow and just missed out on a pair of Von Schweikert VR2 speakers for $800pr. One day I'll get a pair, for now I'll have to make do with my Monitor Audio S6s. Thanks for turning me on to this wonderful integrated amplifier!

Chris Sherman

Thanks for the upgrade tip, Chris. I'll have to leave mine stock so I can use it for future review comparisons but other M520 owners are under no such obligations and might well enjoy following your expert example.

Srajan

Dear Reviewers,

I find it interesting to read about the new Chinese-made QUAD electrostatics. Very interesting. I do find it disappointing however that you do not make a close comparison with the former models. That is a major issue for most audiophiles I think. For whatever reason is this not done and we still lack knowledge made on known references.

Best regards,
Hans

Hans,

the answer is as simple as can be: we never reviewed the former models. And then, making a comparison based on 'memories' is -- at least for us -- not realistic. The only way to compare the 989 to the 2905 is to have them sitting side by side and we didn't have that opportunity.

M&H
Greetings,

I'm a reader of 6moons and have just read your excellent review in 2004 of the Exact Audio Copy, I'd like to thank you very much for that! I do not normally copy CDs but out of curiosity I tried the EAC with your audiohpile suggestions as described, using ordinary Hewlett Packard brand CDRs, yet despite using new original CDs and while the EAC indicates no errors detected on copying, the copied CDs despite sounding less harsh still aren't as good as the original CDs especially in terms of ambience, soundstage, depth, dynamics , the differnece in recordings, can I ask for your enlightenment on this if possible?

Thanks very much for your advice,
Tom

Tom,

you give the answer already in part - the CD-R you use. Other causes might be the writer you use, the setting of that writer and the settings of EAC. There are lot of parameters to shuffle on the burning side. Also, your CDP might not like the CDR and has some problems interpreting it.

Regards,
M&H
Marja and Henk,

Thanks for the review of the Greatech uVac amp last spring. It (the amp and review) has only recently come to my attention, and as I am an all-headphone listener, I am interested in it as a headphone amp.

My headphones are Sony MDR-R10's (the rather large beasts, earcups made of zelkova wood, grown only on> the northernmost island of japan), and I am currently feeding them from a Sony DVP-S7700 transport/Reimyo DAP-777 DAC via a Berning MicroZotl heaphone amp w/ NOS Sylvania tubes.

The Microzotl, also 1 watt/channel, is wonderfully transparent and open, and has nice bass with the Sylvanias, but might be just a tad laid back. I wondered if the Greatech might put a little more zip on the ball. And to that end, I wondered if you still have the review unit, and whether you might be tempted to part with it. If so, my brother-in-law, who is Dutch and in the Netherlands at this time, could help facilitate a transaction.

Please pardon my bluntness, but I'd love to get my ears on one of these, and any money I can save off strict retail pricing, can go toward more gear or more music. Thank you for listening; I look forward to more of your reviews on 6moons.

Best,
David Greenberg

Hi David,

thank you for your note. However, don't think reviewers of 6moons get any reviewing gear for free. Even more, there is a very strict code we all abide by. That code, as you can find on the site, does not allow reviewers to sell reviewed equipment except under the guidelines mentioned. [In which case it was first purchased by the writer for personal use - Ed.]

It is a shame to receive your request as it undermines any normal and decent reviewer conduct and is based on the assumption that reviewers get things at bargain prices or even for free and then make money from selling it.

The only thing from a Dutch standpoint we can advise you to enhance your 'zip on the ball' is to experiment with the 6SN7 tube. There are heaps of wonderful sounding tubes around that set you back only a couple of tenners. Try to find a RCA tube from the 40s or a carbon-coated Mullard.

Marja & Henk
Aloha Jeff,

Inspired by your series of articles, I'm thinking of undertaking the acquisition and restoration of a Garrard 301 turntable myself. But I've only been able to locate ones in England on eBay. Is there a problem with the voltage settings at all? I see on most that they list both American and European voltages on one of the plates.

I realize they are made in England, of course. I've written Loricraft too, but shall I expect them to ignore my email? I may, if all these prove blind alleys, instead try restoring my father's old Empire turntable, if I can find it next week when I travel to visit my mother in Los Angeles. She's said if I can find it, I can have it!

Finally, I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your article and the enthusiasm for the project you captured in your writing. I loved how you included your proposing it to Srajan, then how you characterized his response. In fact, I want to tell you how much I enjoy 6moons and not only its approach to reviews and articles but to writing itself -the openness, the ebullience and then the esprit, so evident in others gathering at your home to listen to the results of your efforts.

Garrett Hongo

Hi Garrett,

Thanks for the kind words - appreciated.
Garrards are set up to work at either voltage with a quick wire swap. I've never had to do that to one, but Jonathan Halpern tells me it's a snap. If I were you I'd get your Dad's old Empire and do a project with it. Out on Srajan's news page I just saw a note about restored Empires getting popular: "Mike Paschetto returns - The source for 'new' Empire 208s plans a new website this fall to coincide with two new products, the tubed phono stage pictured and a new turntable project currently in final beta testing stages..."

The old Garrards are really nice, but the sentimental value of having a nicely restored Empire that belonged to your Dad would be tough to beat - I'd go for it if I were you!

Let me know how you're project turns out! :-)
Kind regards,
Jeff
Hello Srajan,

I read the Olive Symphony review a couple of times, and each time, I conclude with the very same question: Why?

I'm not sure I understand the idea of a $1548 piece of equipment that is neither a CD player nor a computer, while a real computer with real music handling capacity such as an Apple computer costs less, seems more user-friendly, is battery operated and can serve as the base for a true audio wireless home network. Apple ditched the Power PC IBM chip (the same chip fitted in the Olive Symphony) a while ago and went for more potent high end Intel chips. Apple has probably the most complete, user-friendly, and powerful GUI and OS ever, so why Olive and why not Apple?

I tested an Air Tune I-Tune system last week and it seems to me that the new would-be-audiophile generation would embrace the medium. I mean, the evidence is, well - evident. A low cost high style portable battery operated computer let you fit all your music -- uncompressed -- on a drive, for wireless playback anywhere in the house. For super audiophile duty, you can access uncompressed music on RAM instead of hard drive and send the data to any dock in the house.

Our test setup included a portable Mac, uncompressed music files, Air Port dock (a tiny box), Flying Mole 30-watt amp (another tiny box) and speakers. Total cost was probably less than a pair of high end interconnects!

I still wonder why.

Best, as always,
Robert Gaboury
If there is such thing as a John Potis fan club, I might end up joining one of these days. After a few e-mails with John a couple weeks ago and a few auditions at my local dealer, I decided to jump in and bought the A5 CD and integrated amp to pair with my FJ Om speakers. It was still a bet as the various speakers I got to listen to at the shop were not my cup of tea but they were varied enough that I could get a good feel for the qualities of the A5 - and John said they were good so little risk there.

I've had them in my system for a week now. Right out of the box they sounded good then at the 24-hr mark everything closed in (a lot less dynamic, a lot less bass) and then around 50 hrs everything sounded great again and the sound has undergone only very minor changes since then.

It is hard to summarize what has changed vs. the Onix SP3 + Accuphase CDP55 I was running before, as the changes are numerous but strikingly enough none is radical - it is just a lot more of the good stuff and less of the not so good. In order of impact to me,here is what I have noticed:

1- Deeper and better controlled bass - the SP3 did a good job here but the A5 just gets bass notes out of the OMs that my brain tells me should not really be there considering the size of the speaker. But yet the bass is a lot more controlled, it starts and ends with precision making it a lot more impactful (if you remember we discussed once my system lacking jump factor - consider that problem taken care of; at least for me but I am not a bass addict - even though this allowed me to experience what you have always said, that a solid bass foundation makes the rest of the spectrum sound better and the music come alive)

2- Macro dynamics have reached another level altogether. The SP3 could handle dynamics pretty well but there was a point when it just would not take the next step (I have noticed it on Garcia Fons' Oriental Bass in many of his crescendos - the A5 just continues on going, level after level when the onix just refused to go louder). It had never bothered me when I was listening to the SP3 as I did not know the music continued getting louder but I now suspect it was the cause of some of the frustration I could feel on some classical pieces that I know well.

3- Tone density is just as good as with the previous combination; that was my big surprise. With only tubes in the output stage of the A5 CD player I was expecting a decrease in tone density and richness of the medium range that I cherish so much. I was wrong with one exception, brass instruments - they just lack some of the richer harmonics that the SP3/ Accuphase produced. But voices are just as rich and smooth as with the tube amp - that is an accomplishment.

4- Clarity and transparency just improved in all sorts of ways. I can hear deeper into recordings with complex orchestras. The SP3 stacked the instruments on top of each other to produce music like what you can hear at the back of a concert hall - music's there but you can't hear individual instruments. The A5 allows more air and room between instruments without being chirurgical about it. It's more a "row 5" type of view - the instruments are fully integrated into music, yet you can still locate the cellos coming from a different space than the brass section behind them. I have heard systems that delineate each instrument and will analyze them for you and spit them out one by one... I hate that - not what the composer wanted, not what I hear in a concert hall. The A5 + OMs shows you the music and its depth but does not choose what to focus your attention on for you.

Also, transparency did show itself in note decays that are more complex and extended (although in all fairness the introduction of a Monster Power unit did bring 90% of that improvement to the SP3 already).

5- The treble is just sweet and extended - but energetic as well. I did not know until now that there was a jump factor for treble attacks as well - I now do and I like it. Finally my first combination where very high pitch at high volume does not have my ears bleeding; those piccolos are finally fun to listen to. All my cables have been picked for their slightly rolled off treble, just because nothing ruins my pleasure like pain from aggressive treble (and I am ultra sensitive to it) - now I can see myself starting upgrading to more neutral and transparent cables (Zu Varials here I come!).

I could go on for ever on all sort of small things that have improved to some level - bottom line is that the A5 CD and integrated are everything John said they are (and I have not received the butcher blocks yet - can't wait to hear what they do when hey sound really good !) and that they are a perfect match for the OMs. I loved the sound of the OMs with the SP3 but I had not realized how much of the potential of the speaker that combination left untapped. The A5 just digs deeper into what the OMs can deliver.

Also, I bought the A5s mainly for the CD player but like John, I feel now that the sleeping giant is the amp - or maybe even better, the combination of both. They really are voiced to be together.

As far as the Accuphase and SP3 go, they are now "retired" to my bedroom system where they give life to my Rogers LS3/5as as in the past. I do not know if it is the very high impedance of the Rogers or their less than ruler flat frequency curve but they just come alive with the Onix SP3; more so than the OMs ever did. It is a fun system to listen to, even if a lot less refined; and my wife just loves it (better than our main system actually) - probably because I am running the Rogers AB1 bass units separately out of my old Sphinx Project 10 and she can crank up the bass levels as much as she wants which suits her hard core punk music just fine (the Accuphase has 2 line level outs so I run one into each integrated and adjust level on each one independently, setting the integration between bass unit and speaker "by ear").

So John, as far as I am concerned you hit 3 out of 3 - my only request now is that you do not publish the review of the Tidal Audio Pianos that you got me drooling about - I can't afford them either ;-)

Have a great Holliday week-end. The weather here is dreadful with a tropical storm pouring rain over Pennsylvania - Oh darn, more time to listen to music ;-)

Frederic Beudot
Thank you for an outstanding website. I have taken full advantage of the insights found on 6moons in a recent upgrade of a 25-year old stereo system. I chose the Omega Super 3 XRS by audition, looking for an efficient speaker for my FirstWatt F3 amplifier. I found Jeff's initial impressions puzzling. My wonderful Omega Super 3 XRS speakers are never harsh or bright and reproduce the full weight and beauty of symphonic material in breathtaking style. If I crave the lowest of pipe organ notes, I will add a subwoofer, but do not feel compelled to do so. Small combo swing jazz, rock, massed voices and acoustic solo instruments all appear with incredible realism. Both analog and digital sources yield music so pure it stops me in my tracks and keeps me listening.

Originally budgeting 5K for speakers, I was stunned by the sound of Louis C.'s little wonders. Choosing these amazing speakers allowed me to splurge for awesome source components and power conditioning. I use a BPT 3.5 Signature Plus power conditioner with Bybee option, the incredible ModWright SWL 9.0 SE and the equally amazing FirstWatt F3 JFET amplifier. I have heard friends' systems, among them a system worth more than twice the cost of my house, based on Wilson Audio speakers and a host of components I could never afford, including large power amplifiers which required reinforcement of the floor before they were brought in! My system won't fill the same space with sound, but the quality of the sound easily stands up to the high dollar systems. In my listening room, I have found audio heaven. Thanks for pointing me to components which I could not audition, but created the perfect system for me. I very much enjoy reading your reviews, Jeff's reviews and those of your whole stable of writers. Keep up and the great work!

B. Karaman
Dear Srajan,

I write to you to say that I appreciate your website and thanks for all of the hard work on our behalf. You seperate the wheat from the chaff for us although we must take it from there.

I am responding to the letter you have posted where a prospective buyer is looking at Zu Druids and wondering whether he should also consider the Acoustic Zen Adagio. I happen to have both in two different systems and they are entirely different speakers. After reading the letter of your reader, I moved them both to the same room and listened on the same equipment (Cary digital/Mac tubes/AZ cabling).

I won't repeat all of the hyperbole about the Zu Druids as I can communicate nothing additional than what you already have. Super efficient, no crossover colorations and just plain fun when it comes to a speaker.

The Adagios on the other hand seem to be a more formal presentation. The bass goes a bit deeper, the midrange and top end are silky smooth although setup is a tad more involved to get the transmission line loading correct to the room. Both speakers are world class but if you were going to force me to choose which I could not live without, I would keep the Zu Druids.

I'm not saying the Adagios aren't the more accurate speaker, I believe they are. I'm not a paid scribe like you but the Adagio takes you into the recording studio with the artist and upstream changes are readily identifiable. But I don't live in a perfect environment that is accoustically dead and sound treatments everywhere. The Druid takes you into the jazz club with the same artist and you hear everything necessary for a thoroughly involving experience, making the Druid a more forgiving component for a home environment. A perfect example is on the Bill Evans Trio Complete Village Vanguard Recordings...the Adagios present all the glass-clinking and you hear all the background voices of those in audience. With the Druids, you can concentrate and listen to their conversations without taking anything away from the performance, if you were so inclined. I just hear more of the recording with the Druids and I enjoy what I hear. Detail without the overanalysis if that makes sense. By the way, Chip Stern got it pretty much spot on with the Adagio review although he sure took his time writing it! (haha) The Druids also seem to be much less fussy about the upstream equipment although I believe tubes are a wonderful complement to both speakers.

Like all other equipment, an in-home demonstration of material duration is in order. I would definitely try the Druids first (Zu has the best in-home trial period in the business) and see if the additional $1500 for the Adagios is worth it. If you like what your hear from the guys at Zu, for the same money as the Adagios, you can add a Mini Method subwoofer and the Zu bass will kill the Adagios. The finish on the Adagio is so nice though that you have to look hard to find better construction for less than $10K - over the top WAF.

All of this is my opinion, I have no corporate affiliations and nobody better take my advice. Trust your own ears and find out what you like. Good luck in your speaker search and you can not lose with either speaker.

Srajan, peace and enjoy the nice weather.

Geoff Hasley
Hey Paul,

Great JM Reynaud piece. I was waiting for that review. It's great to finally see a reviewer who really gets Reynauds. Now you can understand how I've gone back to them 3 times. They are so hard to leave. Lots of speakers do things better but they are missing that certain expressiveness that the Reynauds deliver so easily. My immediate mission is to just try and get the most out of them I can. It's strange how the entry level speaker in this line is an end in itself. I'm never going to let my Twins go again. Even if I eventually go up the price ladder considerably, the Twins are here to stay.

Drew McAllister

Hi,

fascinated by the Acoustic Zen review - but there's no mention of how it compares to the 6moons favorite just below that price i.e the Zu Druids. I have just recently bought my first ever Hi-Fi equipment - Tube Technology Fusion CD + amp and am now thinking of buying the Druids but wonder if it's worth the while to hear the Zens too.

Any comments/opinions would be very welcome.

Thanks
Naveed Latif

I reviewed the Druid last year, Chip reviews the Adagios this year - two writers, two locations, two speakers, no comparison. I haven't heard the Adagios, Chip hasn't heard the Druids. But you should certainly put the Adagios on your audition list as well. These are very different designs and one would have to expect a very different balance of relative strengths and weaknesses.

Srajan

Chip, bravo!

You're like the Hunter S. Thompson of audio reviewing! Love the Acoustic Zen Adagio review and of course, love 6moons - keep up the great work!

Kind regards,
Donald N.
Srajan,

Having recently heard the Omega Super 3 XRS in a local shop, I have been most anxious to read the complete review on your excellent site. I thought them so outstanding but I am having a hard time trusting my own ears and desparately need the confirmation of someone else's esteemed opinon. I have heard other Omega products before at a trade show and have built my own speakers with Fostex drivers, but these little puppies had tone, detail, speed, and balance far beyond all of those. I wish I was getting half of the bass out of my single-drivers as these new ones offer with their tiny drivers. Note that they were situated far out into the room and had little boundary reinforcement. Was there congestion and harmonic distortion in the bass at high volumes? Sure there was, yet they offered a complete and beautiful rendition of the recordings in a largish room at what I thought was a true 90 decibels. Much of the success of the sound, I'm sure, was the wonderful but expensive Cary amps that powered the system. I had only heard Omega speakers powered by (much) less expensive Class D Red Wine amplification at th! trade shows, and my little tube amps are no match for the truly great Carys. You get what you pay for, or slightly less. Except, apparently, with these speakers.

My little hand keeps reaching for the "6" button day and night on my computer to summon your webpage. And here I sit, alone in my study, hitting the refresh key over and over in vain, hoping that the complete review will be posted.

This is not funny anymore, Mr. International Stereo Editor. Please put up the final review on this exciting ballsy beautiful wonder. And please let me know if it has a R-I bafflestep correction circuit incorporated within. And please tell me that I wasn't just hearing things again, and that these boxes with little circles of paper on their fronts are actually amazing beyond belief. My very life is in your hands. Thank you and good night.

Your loyal reader and wannabee writer,
David Sundby

This is Jeff's beat but his schedule's gotten delayed due to a death in the family that's taken up a lot of his time to sort out and manage. He feels bad that he's late on a few reviews but I told him that life comes first and that whatever he had to do, the manufacturers and readers would understand. More relevant in your case, however, is that you already know. You loved 'em. Do trust your ears. They're the only ones you've got.

Srajan

Dear Jeff,

Congratulations on your excellent article on the Groove+. I had been waiting for it for a few months and finally read it. Since we had the same issues with cartridge matching, I would like to share with you my experience.

I've owned a Groove+ for several months now and before I bought it, asked the factory to set it properly for my Lyra Helicon. The unit came back with a 0.2mV/563R settings. Unfortunately I never managed to make the Lyra sing with the Groove+. I also own a Denon DL-103 and here too it wasn't a good match. I currently have an Audio Technica AT33 PTG that is a good match but that was a lucky try. I can now feel the amazing qualities of this phono stage.

I'll also soon try a Denon DL-304 soon because Tom Evans told me this was a very good cartridge for the price and even a cartridge that beats many very expensive ones. Could you let me know the settings from the unit you had on test? If the settings are the same as on my unit, I'll then know the Mc Bee and the 17D2mkII are good alternatives.

Did you receive any other advice from other Groove+ owners? It would be great if you could share that with me.

Best regards from Brussels, Belgium.
Gregory De Prins

Hi Gregory,

Greetings from Washington State in the US! Thanks for writing and the kind words about the Groove + article - appreciated. I looked back through all my e-mail correspondence with Tom during the review period, but I couldn't find a reference to the loading for the Groove+. If I remember correctly -- I think I do -- it was set to 200 Ohms.

I haven't received any feedback from readers about other good combinations so I'm not much help there. The Groove+ when matched with the MC Bee was really phenomenal, but I couldn't duplicate that performance with other cartridges. I'm still looking for the ultimate phono preamp but haven't found it yet. If I wasn't a reviewer who needed flexibility to work with a lot of different cartridges, I would just use the MC Bee & Groove+ and never look back. As it is, I'm still on the look for a phono pre that sounds as good as the Groove + with the Bee, but sounds that good with lots of other cartridges too.

You might read the Manley Steelhead review I did, I also do a lot of comparison to the Groove+ in that.

I hope I have been of some help to you, and thank you for reading 6moons!

Kind regards,
Jeff
Srajan,

I enjoy your writings and am a fan of Mick Maloney's stuff. I had a very similar experience with one of his products. I have one of the first Syrahs imported into the US in 1999. It has been upgraded and converted to run a 6N1P as the output, transformer-coupled.

At the encouragement of someone from Audioasylum, I plunked down $800 for a pair of WE 350B to run in the regulator position of the Syrah. My jaw dropped. To this day I'll still put in some of the twenty or so other regulator types back in (many quite expensive NOS types) just to remind me of the power of the 350B at that position. Sad thing is, I think many Supratek preamp owners do not have a clue what they have without the 350B at that position.

Your article on the 300B swap reminded me of my experience.

Funny things, these stereos. I also enjoyed your recent review on the Supratek Dual. I learned a few years back that this idea of "conditioning" the signal was a key component to free-flowing and unstrained sound. I would go as far as to say that it applies at every level. A few years back when I inserted a ten-year old highly modified Resolution Audio Dac which is a killer design from yesteryear with two fully discrete power supplies (two separate power cords per chassis) and a whopping 4V output, it "drove" if you will my Supratek preamp in the same way that the Supratek usually drives the amps it's front of.

Excess and waste in the audio chain can be a good thing.

Regards,
Paul Petelin
Hi,

I just read your mini review of the Olive and can totally understand your frustration. I went through 3 -- count'em 3 -- before I was satisfied. The first unit was giving me these weird outworldly sound clips on one or two tracks on an average of 1 in 5 CDs.I called Olive, spoke to Matt their tech and we went through a series of troubleshooting procedures without sucess. I asked for and received a replacement overnight. The second unit had the same problem but to a lesser degree and only on AIFF imports yet this unit sounded a little noisy. The third one finally was the charm.


Joe Gutowksi

It looks 99% certain that I suffered a sub-optimal CD/ROM drive and/or hard-drive which probably were responsible for the noise and read-error issues. Also, my application (headphone listening and CD compilation burning nearly exclusively) got stumped a bit by the interface issue with the on-screen menu which wouldn't affect "ordinary" use such as playback and importing of files to the same extent. A replacement loaner will be dispatched so I can investigate these matters further and then report on my findings.

Srajan

Hello Srajan,

As a recent -- and quite happy, at least thus far -- owner of a Supratek Chardonnay line stage preamp, I cannot agree more on its "hair conditioning" effects (or more academically put, Sofia Loren vs. anorexic bikini model). In short eactly what the doctor -- i.e. you ;) -- prescribed to the "speed vs. weight conundrum" (that was apropos music and not female models btw ).

Joking aside, I have one question on the virtues of a "dual preamp" as the Dual Cabernet: If one employs for bi-amping a subwoofer amp that was designed and tuned for that specific purpose (e.g. Gallo Reference 3 SA) doesn't that negate the whole purpose of a such a dual preamp ? Or putting it less bluntly, what would be the added value of such a preamp be in a downstream system consisting of a Gallo Ref 3 + SA ?

Regards,
Florian

Fair question. First off, there's a $3,000 difference between the all-6SN7 Cabernet and the 101d + 6SN7 dual version which, in a manner of speaking, is really two preamps in one which happen to share portions of the same power supply. Regarldess of what amp drives the woofers in a bi-amp scenario, it'll get its signal from the preamp, either from the single or dual version. Hence the preamp will determine not the quantity of bass (in your case, adjusted with the Gallo amp/crossover) but the quality. In either case, that'll be a 6SN7-based circuit with Supratek. The real question to ask is, would you appreciate the difference the direct-heated 101D makes for Gallo's MTM array? That I can't answer. Seeing that the price difference between the normal and dual version preamp in this case would buy a pair of your speakers, it's not an easy recommendation to make. By the way, Mick Maloney feels that best results with his dual preamps will be achieved when you perform bass amp gain adjustments on the amp itself, not the preamp. That's what I'm doing - the bass leg attenuator is wide open and the bass sytem gain is set with the Rane EQ. To wrap up, no, I don't believe Supratek's Dual Concept is defeated at all with a basic scenario such as yours - just that expenditure wise, it wouldn't make much sense for your speakers with the particular model I reviewed.

Srajan

Srajan, Marja, Henk:

Thanks for piquing my interest enough to shell out bucks for a Nespa Pro. Indeed, after only treating a half-dozen discs, I feel your review is an understatement. Being a long-time DIYer, I never thought I'd be singing the praises of an $825 "tweak". But, hey, if it works, it works, n'est-ce-pas?

The results tell me that what I'm now hearing is what the recording engineer and masterer wanted me to hear. The difference is akin to listening to a master tape and a sixth-generation copy. The medium, in this case though, is the culprit. The ever-widening efforts to reclock, correct jitter, add tubed output stages to CDPs and DACs, filters, only deal with symptoms. Some do a better job than others, but a flawed source will never sound as good as one unflawed, no matter how many dollars are thrown at correcting the problem.

I have accepted a challenge to demo my modded $200 Chinese Zhaolu 2.0 DAC with a Nespa-treated CD in a system with a Dodson 218 (and an untreated CD) next weekend. I know which most will prefer!

Thanks again.

Regards,
Larry Welsh
Dear Mr. Potis,

what a great review on the Sound Mechanics devices!

Your findings are 100% the same as my experiences. For 6 months now I have used the Performance platform under my CD transport. The sound becomes much more integrated and -- very important for me -- wider in all dimensions i.e more natural.

To ground the platform via the connector at the backside has the same effect as the well-known Shaktis. The sound becomes more focused, but someone a little bit too focused which means a little bit cool (maybe this depends on what the end of the cable is connected: metallic window frame or water tube etc.) Very interesting is that nearly the same effect results when I use two Shaktis forming a sandwich with the external small power supply of the CD transport. One Shakti is good, two give a somewhat overly focused cool sound. I am not sure if the grounded platform acts as an antenna or if it kills EMI. Interesting is also the reviewer's finding in a test of Shaktis (July issue of Germanys "Stereo"-magazine): "please don't use too much Shaktis".

Regards
Wolfgang Zöllner

Hi Stephæn,

Thanks for always entertaining articles. I wonder about the differences between your TRL-modded Sonys, the 595 and 2000. Is there a chance you could do a brief review update comparing the two?

Thanks!
Kristian Soholm

Hi Kristian,

I doubt that I will do a side-by-side of the two but TRL did contact me recently to ask if I'd be interested in taking my 2000 to the next level (retail price for mod estimated at $200). I will likely give that a go in the near future.

In brief, the differences between the 595 and the 2000 are very much like those between the 775 and the 595. And, you can easily hear the differences with the units in their stock form (hint, hint). The 595 is warmer, darker and a touch denser; while the 2000 leans a bit more towards neutral while offering easily discernible improvements in frequency extension and lower midrange clarity. If the 775 was whipping cream (35% butter fat), and the 595 was half and half (12%), then the 2000 is whole milk (4%). The key word here is "whole," as in nothing missing with respect to musical substance. I have heard players that I would describe as skim milk (0.1% butter fat); those simply won't nourish my musical hunger.

As always, the mods don't change the tonal palette, but do, in both cases, deliver as expected on the typical TRL House goods:

  • More air, image dimensionality and tonal saturation
  • Deeper, tighter bass and an improved sense of rhythmic drive
  • Better frequency extension at the top
  • A soundstage that opens wider and deeper
  • Significant reduction in digital edginess

The 595 retails for $150; the 2000, for $400, a relatively small incremental cost if you are going to spring for the mod anyway. The latest word on full mods from TRL adds $750 to either [up from $550 and now includes some improvements to the power supply (hence the additional $200 mod noted in the first paragraph)].

Thanks for writing, and keep visiting 6moons!
æ

Hi Srajan,

I love 6moons. You have cost me lots of money but never regretted any of it yet.

Please, please do a feature or two on this guy's system in Cyprus - it's mad in the extreme & could feature as a sculpture even it it didn't make a sound. However, I surely can't be alone in wanting to read how this creation came to be and how it sounds. The moons have often left me drooling but this setup had me running about with the laptop saying check out this! Very few takers - "Is it a therapy room in a lunatic asylum?"

Please Lord, one day I should be smitten with such a Madness.

Best Regards,
Simon Addison
Hi Srajan,

I am a novice hifi enthusiast based in Hong Kong and very happy to have come across your wonderfully informative website. It has been a great help to me as I move over to a tube-based system. You guys do a great job with fine reviews and the photos are truly amazingly.

I read your review of the Hyperion HT-88 monos and of how well these 18-watt amps drove your 88dB Gallos. I own a pair of B&W Nautilus 803s nominally rated at 90dB and wonder if the HT-88 is powerful enough to drive them. FYI, I'm currently using a Krell SS system (KRC- FBP 200) in a 16' x 12' x 24' listening room.

I hope you can find the time to answer my question.
Keep up the good work!

Regards,
Colin

While power might be sufficient (your room size could be borderline), the 803s are likely to present a less forgiving impedance and phase angle load to the amps than the Gallos. To be safe, I'd contact Albert Wu, Hyperion's US sales manager who has always been exceptionally prompt in all my communciations with him. Use the website contact info for the East Coast office.

Srajan

Srajan,

Browsing the web, I came across your review of Original CD-A9.3 Leonardo. Desperate people tend to reach for any opportunity of help. Since I joined this group recently (at least in the case I'm going to describe for you), I'm reaching to you hoping that perhaps you'll be able to at least suggest any remedies if not some help with my problem. Let's get to the point. a few moths ago, trying to save few $$$, I've purchased second hand Original CD-2008 player on eBay. It arrived promptly and for the price I paid, it looked and sounded phenomenal. Unfortunately after just a few weeks, it stared to produce static in one of the channels. I checked everything to locate the problem and unfortunately came to conclusion that it was the player itself. My attempts to contact the seller ended up with no succes and AAA-Audio's Mr. Ping washed his hands saying that player wasn't purchased from him and that there was nothing he could do about it (despite the fact that apparently all of these players are covered under a 5 -ear warranty). 3 emails I've sent to Original remain unanswered. I'm devastated.

Hoping perhaps you'll will have any suggestions or if there is nothing that can be done about this 6 or 7 months old beauty, at least you warn potential buyers to be aware of still questionable quality of Chinese products and lack of any support from their manufacturers (at least Original).

Would you have any suggestions? Is my player qualifying for trash only and should I stick with European and US products?

Hoping for help.

Sincerely,
Marek Kapszewicz

There are a few issues at hand. Certain manufacturers limit their warranty to the original buyer, others extend it to subsequent owners. I'm not sure where Original falls. You don't tell me where you live nor where the seller lives (or where he shipped the unit from). If you are in the US, Mr. Ping should honor his obligations as the importer and provide service even if that means you'll have to pay for it. If you're outside the US and Original hasn't responded to your e-mails, one would hope that Mr. Ping's fluency in both English and Chinese could at least assist you in locating a service department in your country. I have forwarded your e-mail to Mr. Ping in the hopes that he'll be able to help. The least I would expect from him is to contact Original on your behalf (if you live outside the US) or furnish you with the contact info for a service department (if you live within the territory he acts as the importer for). Please keep me appraised of your progress. From the sound of it, a simple repair should fix your player. If you cannot get service, this would reflect poorly on the brand and impact our ongoing willingness to review their products.

Srajan

Ping Gong replies:

I have talked with Mr. Kapszewicz many times on the phone. He called me first, I called him too. I tried my best to help him.

It is a simple fact that Mr. Kapszewicz's CDP is a grey market item. It is an old Chinese domestic version of 220v. I told him that I do not have this version, I have CD-2008 Mk-II. Go look at the spec of the two CDPs. I do not have the parts and the schematic of this version to do any repair. The manufacturer does not supply it to me. I have tried my best.

I should have just told Marek that this was out of my territory the first time he called. If you buy a grey market Sony from some stores in NY city with international warranty ( they tell you it is international warranty), you are on your own. Sony will not take care of it for any problem in the US.

Every body knows the grey market of Chinese audio products. You "took the risk" (I use your own words), you are on your own. Still, I feel bad about the situation. My advice is to be an honest consumer. You want to save a few bucks, it hurts you back one way or the other.

Several people called asking for products information, then they bought 220v version from the oversea grey market. They call or e-mail me asking for any number of things after their purchasing. I know they have not bought from me, but I answer their phones and reply to their e-mails. I will continue to provide free advice and let grey market sellers make money.

I still offer my sympathy, I tried to help Marek in any way I could.

Best Regards,
Ping Gong

Srajan:

With your former contributor Jules Coleman writing for them, I wonder whether you know what happened to American Wired? I enjoyed the site but haven't been able to log on for weeks now. If they experienced server problems, shouldn't those be resolved by now?

Frank Miller

Fair question and one that has indeed been posed repeatedly over the past few weeks. Here's something that promises a definitive answer from the site owner. A current Who Is domain search shows the contact as Ian White and americanwired@yahoo.com (that's for americanwired.net but Ian also operated AW.com). You might try that e-mail and ask him yourself.

Srajan

Nice eval of the Signature 30. I have found similar results from the $111 Charlize version. Of course I needed to supply a case (I put it in one of my wife's purses), and am using a big ol' Astron power supply from my ham radio. The Charlize does not offer some of the really nice after market parts supplied in the Sig 30 though. But, I am stunned at what this little inexpensive thing can do. I also have an F3 here and prefer the Charlize, even though I feel that it could use some more refinement in the high frequencies. Of course I am using Lowther DX-4's in horns.

Anyway, I think that maybe the days of $20,000 mega amps may be numbered. I think that you are unique in your desire to tell your readers that such an inexpensive amplifier as the Sig 30 offers at least as much game as the big boys. I, for one, have grown bored with the obviousness of most professional audio reviewers. Thanks for your honest reviews, Srajan.

Lance Armstrong
Srajan,

Mike Rodman's new column is a great addition to 6moons.

Regards,

Bill O'Malley
Down the tube. When did 6moons become a forum for the uninformed to pretend they know what they are talking about and review music/equipment? Reviewers such as Ryan Clarin, who have about 6 months of time on an amateur site such as Head-Fi before shelling out the cash for equipment they most likely can barely discern form an iPod, then writing reviews full of verbose statements with no substance are a joke. Formerly, I trusted this site for legitimate reviews. Now that any two bithack can become a reviewer capable of doling out awards (such as the Blue Moon award, which actually garner some respect) I've lost all respect for this website.

Will Jarvis

If you want professional writers, you'll have to concentrate on print magazines who employ a few with the proper formal qualifications. SoundStage! Editor Marc Mickelson too enjoys formal writer's training and there will be select others here and there. We, however, have always only billed ourselves as an enthusiast publication for other enthusiasts and such we shall remain. Rather than professional writers -- who'd enjoy a far larger audience and commercial success in books or newspapers -- our writers are all amateurs, starting with their Editor whose formal education was on classical clarinet and whose first language is German, not English. All we do is combine our love of music and audio with an ambition to share it in writing and apply professional standards of conduct and presentation. As with most things in life, practice makes perhaps not perfect but better over time. Hence less experienced and newer writers will likely improve their skills. To make cherry-picking from amongst our contributors easy, each review link plainly states the component and reviewer and the archives are accessible by individual writer as well. If you don't enjoy specific ones, you needn't read them. Or, you can write off the site as such. Your call. One last thing I will say on the subject? Our focus and standards have remained the same since the beginning. We're now simply providing more expansive coverage and viewpoints. And certain things can only be learned in the doing. Ready-made audio reviewers don't exist to be plucked from trees. To become one, someone has to give you a forum and take a risk. I'm willing to take that risk. If not every one turns out as hoped for, that goes with the territory. Should the time come to admit defeat in individual cases, then actions will be taken. That will be an Editorial, not reader decision.

Srajan

Srajan,

To give closure to our discussion of a week or two ago: The combo of Gallo Ref 3.1s and Art Audio Carissa is wonderful together. To my astonishment, the bass amp is not even necessary. The Carissa goes lower and has more authority than my 50-watt AES Six Pacs did. Of course, the bass amp adds that bottom 10Hz and I do run it.

SPLs of 90dB at 2-3 meter are no problem, show no strain. This amp is a performer. And sounds wonderful all-around as well, of course. One more product purchased mostly on the strength of a 6moons review. You guys are the guys to trust.

Later,
Paul Folbrecht

P.S. The Zu Druids I have in my 2nd system powered by a super-cheapie Dared 2a3 amp are giving lots of pleasure as well.

A day later: Well... tonight I was listening and experimenting and found that I can push the Carissa into clipping with volume levels only slightly beyond what I normally listen...like two clicks on the Sonic Euphoria PLC's VC. Bit of a bummer, as I'm rather tired of auditioning amps for the Gallos, actually.

I thought I was sold on SET, but am now listing thru the Bel Canto S300 (that I have for sale) and it's sounding pretty darn good to me. I didn't care for the NuForce Ref 9s, but maybe the Channel Island blocks are worth a listen. My attitude is still to pick the speakers 1st as they're most important, and so the Gallos are staying because I love them. I think the only SET in the world possible that could drive these things would be the parallel-845 Mastersound 845. Big, pricey beast that. What to do, what to do... sigh. At least the girlfriend is supportive of the hobby - if we were married, I think she'd be about ready to castrate me.

Hello Srajan,

In the end, I can only blame myself for being nice.

When I read the notice of Cain & Cain's new Noogi loudspeakers, I suddenly remembered an upcoming birthday celebration for the female half of a favorite young married couple living in a remote township in Utah. They have become an inspiration for me in the years since I have met them for their ability to enjoy their lives despite living on a shoestring budget amidst spartan surroundings. For them it is the open door and the warm hearth fire welcoming guests that is far more important than any sort of material wealth or ostentatious displays of same. It was with that in mind I ordered yet another of Sonic Impact's compact amplifiers for my friend's use along with a call to Cain & Cain for a pair of their new entry level loudspeakers to be delivered when ready: I thought the duo would be a fitting replacement for the thrift store castaways my friends have made do with for the past few years.

The first telephone call expressed some bewilderment with the amplifier until I explained that it was only the first part of my friend's special birthday present. The second telephone call was to express equal parts of gratitude for the loudspeakers and astonishment at the construction of the crate: with the addition of a piano hinge, a few finished blocks and some smoothing and painting the crate has a new life as a simple storage container.

The third response via email was the one that hit me hard: it seems the new loudspeakers and amplifier have gone a very long way to reducing the frequency of my friend's chronic migraine headaches. My friend has expressed sadness than in recent years she cannot listen to music for very long before the sparkles dance before her eyes and the pain begins. She recently finished a four hour long listening session using Noogies and T-Amp with no ill effects and that is over three hours longer than her prior limit. She can now enjoy her music library in ways that have been denied to her for close to ten years, when her listening problems began.

I do not know if it is the limited bass extension of the Noogies, their wideband single driver performance, a simple, clean amplifier or a combination of all those factors - nor do I care. All I do know is that a simple gift has transformed a dear friend's life in ways unforseen and brought equal measures of joy to all parties involved. Her enthusiasm is also very contagious: I took delivery of my pair of Noogies last week.

Thank you for your time.
Peter Cooke
I first heard Ohm speakers when I was twenty years old. I never forgot the sound off them because it was so different from every other speaker I had ever listened to. In the last six or so years, small legacies left by loving parents have allowed me to afford some very nice electronics. AudioZone PreT1 and Amp II's, Underwood/Parts Connection modified Shanling SACD player and now finally the beloved Ohms for which I shall shortly mail payment to Mr. Strohbeen. Sometimes I think speakers themselves are 'musical instruments'. They all are different in some ways from live sound. For me, the Ohms are the unsung Stradivarius speaker 'instruments'. Between them, Mr. Walsh's and Mr. Strohbeen's 'instrument' allows me to hear the stuff that restoreth my soul.. :)

Vladimir Wardell

Srajan,

Re: Happy EU Legislature, tell Keith not to worry. There are still many people in other countries willing to copy his ideas, so he won't need to export per se. Welcome to the tech bread line.

Fred Crane
Dear Srajan,

I am an enthusiastic hi-fi lover, and I can't say enough about your website and reviews - not at all pretentious and bold enough to have an independent opinion. After reading about the Onix SP3 integrated valve amp, I imported one about 2 years ago. I love it. It is partenered with a DHCD player (brand Moon Harbour/Jungson depending on where you live). My speakers are old Celestion A1s, which are great, but certainly the weakest link.

I am very excited by both the Gallo Ref 3s (I see the 3.1 is now available), and the Zu Cable Druids, both of which I could stretch to if my wife did not kill me first! In the UK there are no suppliers that stock both of these brands, so a comparison test will be difficult if not impossible. I understand that these speakers have very different characters, but if you have any thoughts on this matter (even if it is "flip a coin"), it would be much appreciated.

Once again, many thanks for your valuable, thorough and direct reviews!

PS: America certainly has some advantages in life - the prices in the UK are murder - take the number in dollars - that's what we pay here in pounds - so almost twice the price!

Regards,
Justin Hareb

Flip a coin. That's a good one. Actually, there are a few easy identifiers that distinguish these two stellar products. The Gallos do the 3D holography disappearing thing perhaps better than anything below $10K. They're downright eerie in that regard. They are more resolved especially above the upper midrange and into the treble. In the bass, both speakers are comparable but with a lot of power, the Gallos will win due to their sealed alignment. The Zus are denser and do more tone, in trade for a treble that's more turned down. They are even more coherent or seamless, something I think you notice most in the vocal range. Think of the Druids as a speaker version of a good but traditional SET. The Ref 3.1s would then be a Pass Labs X amp - more incisive, more detailed and a bit cooler. Your SP3 integrated can drive both speakers but ultimately, it'd be even more ideal for the Druids. And yes, you could flip a coin and be very happy either way but you wouldn't end up with exactly the same sound. Both are brilliant speakers in this range and they present two distinct flavors.

Srajan

Dear Jeff Day,

You may be interested in this slightly unusual Garrard plinth which was largely inspired by your articles http://www.theanalogdept.com/anthony_hind.htm

Sincerely,
Anthony Hind
Dear Jeff,

got your contact from Srajan regarding all things 301.Your pair of articles was fascinating and have spurred me into action regarding a new plinth. My current plinth is a layered, dished and shaped job of MDF f faced with oak which I now realise is far from ideal. The design which attracts me is the Cain unit which I will do my best to copy from the photos. I think this is the best for my room/system as I do get a lot of bass which can be a bit overpowering. The room is square and the speakers are quite gutsy sounding.

Having used a quality lightweight design, the Rega P9 on loan, gave me a very open and fast sound which was very attractive but too bass light for my tastes so I bought the RB1000 and fitted it to the 301. This is mated to an Ortofon Kontrapunkt B with a Michell clamp to top it off. I am hoping that the new plinth will tighten up the sound and add a bit more openness.

I have compared the 301 as it is to a few friend's decks, i.e. LP 12, Roksan, Rega p25 and it blows them all into next week so I am keen to hear what an improved version can do.My 301 was purchased from a friend 15 years ago after spending 10 years in his loft. Once it was removed from his Radiogram cabinet, it cost me the not so painful sum of £50 and the plinth materials were lying round in my garage. It started with an RB250/AToc7 then RB600/AToc7 and finally the above .I have never been tempted to sell it and I am glad I didn't after reading your articles. It's great to know there are kindred spirits out there.

A small mod I have carried out regarding running fast - I experimented with gluing a small piece of flexible magmetic strip on top of the eddy current brake arm which slows the deck down and putting on just the right size piece gives center setting on the speed dial after 30 minutes running. It's a lot easier than sanding down the spindle and its reversable!

The rest of my system is a Roksan Phono SE head amp, a home-brewed passive pre built into my old Luxman C-12 preamp box,t his uses double pole relays on the inputs and a 31-way Farnells silve- plated stereo switch fitted with 0.5% resistors. This is fed to a pair of Leak TL12 plus amps all via TCI Cobra interconnects, to a pair of Chario Delphinius speakers on filled Epos stands. Speakers are 91dB and very big sounding with suprising punch for a standmounter. These are connected with a pair of vdH Revelation cables which are expensive but fantastic. I also have a CD player but that's not important right now.

The new plinth will be made from maple as this seems to be the cheapest suitable wood which I like working with. The deck is currently sitting on a base consisting of a 500x400x50mm flagstone cased on all sides but the base in solid ash. The feet are 80x50x30mm blocks of ash. This again was free as I had the timber left over from a house diy project. It made a small but noticable improvement to bass tightness but beware of having to hand a suitable surgical appliance before attempting such a job!

I will keep you posted on the 301 project and can't wait for your next installment. More power to your canteliver!

Regards,
Alan Lovelady
Hi Jeff,

Don't know if this will make it through to you but, I just wanted to tell you a story, say thanks for such a great article and ask when's the next one coming?

Okay, short story even shorter, 5 hours ago I didn't have a turntable. I have quite a decent amp (it's an Audiolab if you're interested) and a CD deck. This morning my wife and I walked up to our supermarket to buy the week's groceries and I noticed what looked like an old valve amp in a pile of rubbish and broken-up old furniture that had been pulled out of an old college building in my neighborhood. Monoblocks! Turntable! I came back asap with a few tools and and some transport. I am extremely excited to say I am now the proud owner of a a Garrard 301 and a pair of Dynatron monos with preamp! In another life I worked in a second-hand musical equipment shop, old valve guitar amps are more my area of knowledge but we used to deal with some nice HiFi stuff too so I had an idea what I had my hands on but I didn't realise quite how special. And to think it was going to be thrown away. I can't tell you how exciting this is. I have so much old vinyl I haven't been able to listen to for a few years. Anyway, thanks again for a great article, very inspiring. Maybe I will send you a picture, when I have restored it!

All the best
Simon
Hello Michael,

I have spent several happy listening session at Pitch Perfect Audio as well as reviewing three Shindo products for Dagogo. I really enjoyed your piece on going to visit Jonathan. It's always good to find out others agree about the great sound of something as rare as the Shindo stuff is in the States.

Thanks,
Jack Roberts
Dagogo.com
Hello Michael,

I just read your informal review of Shindo gear at 6moons. Although I have yet to conjure a pretext for visiting Mr. Halpern and hearing Shindo gear without buying anything, I have spent quite a bit of time at the In Living Stereo showroom listening to it.

Your report reflects my experience. It is frighteningly addictive stuff. Thanks for the report. It gave me an impression of what the rest of the Shindo line sounds like.

Sincerely,
Jason Marshall
Dear Srajan,

I enjoy the fact that you publish such e-mail correspondence as between you and R.A. McCormack; they are often enlightening. In this particular case, I feel that the issue raised by the ideas and concern put forth by Mr. McCormack due in no small part to an article written by Mr. Speers will prove to help raise the awareness and debate as to what is the current reality of our source medium (regarding its strengths and limitations). More than this, I am hoping that such discussion in the long term will encourage people to seek an even better result, especially from digital.

The key point I want to address in this email to you has to do with what appears to me to be apparent contradictions regarding the above. To be more specific (and I am no engineer here), I remember quite clearly and can play them at will should I feel so moved to do so, that the Redbook CD recordings of 1985 were and remain underwhelming. In contrast to the poor performance of such dated CD releases have been the far better CD releases from the mid 1990s to today. The most advanced and sensitive audio testing equipment available on the planet rests between our two ears, and regardless of claims and graphs to the contrary, 1980's CDs are sonically unremarkable. I am a huge fan of dynamic range and greatly appreciate its value, even necessity in reproducing the real live musical event. However, I must acknowledge to myself that if Speer's argument is the "magic bullet", then CD issues from the era of the 1980s should profoundly hold their own in comparison to later issues; but I don't find this to be the case.

I also remember an audio discussion from some time ago regarding the promises of digital playback, in which it was pointed out that the dynamic range of digital is not as it appears on paper. Again, I am no engineer here, but it was explained to me that digital resolution has something to do with signal level. I may have misunderstood the entire discussion but I remember that it was argued that a human voice recorded in 8-bit was awfully distorted, and the more bits available in theory, the better. However, the bit number was somewhat dependent upon signal level, and the higher the signal level the more bit resolution required. If this has any truth to it, it would suggest that low level signals recorded at low-bit resolution in digital are not advantageous. I have also heard that much of the poor performance of early digital was in the recording and mastering process. Again, it has also been suggested that inferior analog output audio sections in DACs were responsible for the poor sonic performance of early CDs. What is noteworthy to me is that most of my LPs of that era seem to have a far greater dynamic range than that of the digital recordings of the same 1980's decade. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter to me, except to say that I am sure the likely answer to poor or limited digital recordings are due not to one issue of dynamic range/compressed recording issues, but to many diverse and complex contributing factors.

Though I am sympathetic to Mr. Speers' concern for preserving dynamic range, I cannot agree with the claim that modern CDs are distortion with a beat, except to say that all recorded music is essentially so. Personally I don't care for MP3 recordings - they are too compressed for my tastes. However, it seems rather hypocritical of me to criticize other new teenage listeners and the like for enjoying such a sonic result; aren't my higher rez CDs also compressed? My beloved LPs compared to 78s? And for that matter even the holiest of grails in audio the "original 2-inch master tapes" compared to the live event?

On a positive note, I am hoping for two things to occur for the music industry and audiophiles alike: 1. that the digital format will continue to improve so that some day, much of what we hope for in "true" high-fidelity might come to pass; and 2. that we who love music will come to realize that nothing can ever replace the real live event of musicians and their artistry played ever so temporally before us. I think that one of the greatest losses would be to feel we no longer needed to go out and experience with our own ears the wonder that is live music played by people who have spent a life time seeking to express the human condition simply and beautifully through this art.

Hi-Fi audio is an illusion and an enjoyable one at that. No, this is not a sin, it is simply the desire to enjoy music, even compressed music. We humans have some unexplained need for it; the existence of countless iPod users only confirms this. I think that we forget that the majority of the human race throughout history never had anything like this. We live in a time where one can actually reproduce a facsimile of Beethoven's 9th Symphony in our living rooms! The fact that it is a facsimile and not the real thing is not in my mind something to moan about, rather something to celebrate and enjoy. If we want more, then push for more, but let's not complain and grumble about it along the way.

Sincerely,
David Vair